Category Archives: movies

7 Things

Even though I just did this on Facebook, lovely Lisa of The Zahn Zone retaliated on her blog, and re-tagged me for this.

Since my ear feels much better (though my right cheek still feels like a railroad spike was jammed through it) and I feel just conscious enough to do a meme and not a more thoughtful post, here goes:

List seven random things about you. Tag the person who tagged you. Tag seven others. (I dislike tagging other people even though I’m game to be tagged. I break chain letters too.)

  1. I love bacon. I could eat it every day. Not veggie bacon, not turkey bacon. I’m talking about fried strips of smoked pork. I’m sure I’ve now offended at least 1/3 of my readers. Sorry. I love it.
  2. When I go to sleep I have to have whichever ear is facing up covered by my hair. Goes back to a childhood vampire paranoia (don’t you love the kid logic: if the vampire can’t see my neck, he won’t be tempted!). It was pretty dicey there when I had short hair after an ill-thought-out experiment three years ago.
  3. I have those weird earlobes that are connected instead of hanging down. And I have a big mole on the left half of my forehead, with a matching one underneath my right (attached!) earlobe. There. Now you can all identify me in a lineup.
  4. I have never seen the movie Titanic, and never plan to. At first it was out of a feeling of opposition to all the hype; now it’s just the momentum of the idea.
  5. I once needle felted a rather accurate “Venus of Woolendorf” out of golden wool. Sadly, I gave her away, and can’t show you any pictures. But  it’s OK, because I really don’t need a fertility goddess around mucking things up. Two offspring is plenty.
  6. I feel a rather strong sense of satisfaction and personal power every time I pull a newly baked loaf of bread from my oven. It’s like I can take a handful of simple ingredients, do some magic, and feed my family.
  7. I twice portrayed the angel Gabriel on stage. In costume, singing. No wings, though.
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Who Does She Think She Is?

Heidi over at there is grace recently posted about this wonderful documentary about the struggles women have in modern society in balancing their need for artistic creativity and the demands of motherhood.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but something in the trailer caught my attention: people on the street were asked if they could name five female artists. They couldn’t even name one!

At first I was self-righteously disgusted. These were people on the steps of the Met Museum in New York, for heaven’s sake, and they couldn’t even name ONE woman artist? I could name a dozen right off the top of my head, right?

Hmmm. . . .

Writers

This one is easy for me:

Ursula K. LeGuin
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Edith Wharton
Christine de Pisan
Jane Austen

Susanna Clarke
Judy Grahn
Mary Balogh
Christina Rossetti

Margaret Atwood
Mary Stewart
A.S. Byatt

J.K. Rowling
Zadie Smith
Jane Yolen
(and I could go on.)

Visual artists

Hmm . . . getting a little harder:

Frida Kahlo
Liane Collot d’Herbois
Tove Jansson

Mary Cassatt
Diane Arbus
Annie Leibovitz

Georgia O’Keefe
Elsa Beskow
(I had to reach into anthroposophy land to find two of them!)

Now, I’m not going to do actresses, as that’s too easy, as is musicians/singers. And of course there are quite a few writers and artists in my own blogroll! But it was interesting to realize that while I can name many female writers, it wasn’t that easy to name more than five visual artists.

As I mentioned to Heidi, I don’t know if that’s a reflection of poor arts education or the patriarchy of the art world. Even if artistic work is easier for women without children (if only because they have more time!), why aren’t more women prominent in the visual arts? Why can I think of fifteen male visual artists in a few seconds and struggle to think of that many women?

Patriarchy certainly plays in there — notice all of the female artists I thought of date from the late nineteenth century at the earliest, but I can think of male artists dating back to the early middle ages. On the other hand, apparently writing has been an “acceptable” female activity for much longer. I wonder why that is?

Try it — how many can you name?

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The Things We Forget

Forrest J Ackerman at his Ackermansion, 1990 -...

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I read yesterday that Forrest J. Ackerman is dying at age 91. I haven’t thought about him in many years.

Now, I see that this will take some ‘splaining, because it’s a long way between a suburban mama/editor like me, and “4E”. Anthropapa may have worked on some odd, sciencefictiony movies, but not me.

You will need to go back with me to fifth grade. I had a very kind, but very unusual teacher named Mr. Grossman. I’m sure Nana will chime in with some fond memories of him, but what I remember was this:

  • horrible pea-green polyester clothes
  • a blessed understanding that the “gifted” kids needed some space to do their own thing intellectually
  • a very, very strange personal interest in cartoons, comics, and science fiction

It’s that last one that applies most to this story. If we could get our eleven-year-old selves to behave sufficiently throughout the week, on Friday we would have a treat: Mr. Grossman would cover the windows and play us old radio shows, including The Shadow. For school assemblies, our class performed old Abbott and Costello routines. I distinctly remember arguing with him about who was smarter: Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck.

Odd, you see.

One particular highlight of the year was a field trip to the Ackermansion. High up a winding road above Los Angeles, Forry had a home filled to the brim with science fiction memorabilia. And this was prime stuff: Bela Lugosi’s Dracula cape and ring, the original Maria from Metropolis, and even tribbles from Star Trek.

It was pretty much geek heaven, and I’ll hazard a bet most of my classmates didn’t get the appeal.

Ackerman was a founding father of science fiction. I have to look fondly on anyone who inspired some of my favorite authors (including Ray Bradbury, who seems like a founding father himself, and Marion Zimmer Bradley) as well as directors like Steven Spielberg.

He and all his wonderful weirdness will be missed.

(Now I’m outed as a complete nerd, eh?)

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A Hot Date and a Coupla Films

Well, yesterday I forgot to include something in my “interim” post, and then we actually did something interesting last night. So:

Thanks to a good friend who had the kids for a sleepover, Anthropapa and I got to go out on the town last night. Probably not the best financial decision given that we’re moving soon, but sometimes mental health  takes precedence. Also probably the last major fun we’ll have before the hellish insane big move.

We had dinner at Casa del Sol, a funky Mexican restaurant in Nyack. I had Caribbean jerk chicken over mixed field greens with mango, avocado, and pickled sweet red onion. Yum. Also a margarita, which I could only drink half of. I’m just not a drinker.

Then She Found MeImage via Wikipedia

Then we sauntered over to Riverspace to see Helen Hunt‘s new film, Then She Found Me, her directorial debut. It was really, really good. People actually developing and maturing, right up there on the screen. Adoption, death, divorce, reuniting, parenting, infertility, aging, sex, work, religion, betrayal . . . no wonder the film was not produced by a major studio. And Colin Firth, you just can’t go wrong with that.

The big downer was the two tickets on the windshield when we went out to our car after. We never put the new registration sticker in the window, so they thought it had expired. And we hadn’t gotten the car inspected. And the court date is scheduled for after we’re gone! So it looks like we’ll have to pay up, just what we need right now. Grrr.

On the way home we drove through a huge thunderstorm, with enough rain pelting down that Anthropapa drove about half the speed limit. It was amazingly beautiful, and we badly needed the rain. I’m a bit sad that Idaho is so dry, because I love storms. It’s going to be just like Sacramento, I think: sunny and hot pretty much all the time, except with a little added snow in the winter.

* * * * *

The other night we bought this very silly mini-film from iTunes.

Joss Whedon, of Buffy and Firefly fame, made this with his friends and family during the recent writer’s strike. It’s pretty unique in content and format: a supervillain musical! And the good guy is kinda bad, and the bad guy is supposed to be a hero, and the girl is very good but kind of wishy-washy…so it’s kind of a mixed bag. All you geeks out there (and you know who you are) will get a kick out of it. Neil Patrick Harris is really expressive and subtle (when he’s not practicing his evil laugh), and Nathan Fillion sports some major smarm and enormous biceps.

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The Real Dirt…

…on Farmer John.

I thought Netflix had delivered us a documentary about a Midwestern farmer, his life, and how he lost most of his family farm in the 80s farm crisis and then regained it. Wonderful home movies and photos of farm life in mid-century. Painful and heartbreaking losses, financial and personal.

Image of a family farm near Stockbridge, Wisconsin, United States

Image via Wikipedia

Oh. No.

First of all, Farmer John is…quirky. He sometimes drives tractors wearing funny hats and feather boas. He once hosted large numbers of hippies on his farm, letting them do their artistic thing while he raised hogs and soybeans. He talks a lot about his feelings. Much more than I expected from someone who essentially looks like a Norwegian Bachelor Farmer from Lake Wobegon. And the DVD featured a music video of him and his girlfriend dressed up in bee costumes.

Then, about 2/3 of the way through the film, he dropped the bomb. The Biodynamics bomb.

I had no idea he was a BD farmer! So unexpected, so delightful! I accused my husband of springing this on me as a sneaky surprise, but he claims total innocence.

Evidently Farmer John’s farm, Angelic Organics, has one of the largest CSAs in the US. The man loves his farm, loves farming, loves crops and animals and the whole shebang. His story of how he came to learn about biodynamics is fascinating!

So, I know the film has been out since 2005, but it was new to me. I recommend it. If you live near Chicago, check out the CSA!

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2008 Vacation: What We Did

Seems like this year’s vacation was uneventful in terms of activities (I’ll describe how it was eventful in terms of calamities in the next post). We didn’t take any big side trips or go to any big venues. But it was generally relaxing and filled with family.

One particular highlight of the trip for Anthropapa and I was the food. There was lots of (too much) food. We ate many meals of Mexican food, because it is so, so good in California. We had sushi twice, and excellent Greek food with my dad. A big highlight was a somewhat fancy dinner with my dad and stepmom. They took us to the Saddle Peak Lodge, a landmark and highly regarded restaurant in Malibu Canyon. Their specialty is game, so I went all out and had the chef’s trio: elk, squab, and buffalo. The buffalo tasted pretty much like beef, the squab was tasty though I felt a bit disturbed at the tiny little bird body on the plate (though roasting whole chickens and turkeys never bothers me), but the elk was outstanding. I think I ate my meat allowance for the month! Especially after the huge burger we had at In-N-Out, home of amazing fresh burgers and fries, and Bible verses on the underside of the cups (I kid you not!)

We went to Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu:

A huge flock of pelicans flew back and forth over our heads, but not over the water. I wonder what they were looking for?

We made castles and dug holes all the way to China:

And some lucky seagulls were very grateful that Grandpa packed us some bags of stale bread:

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2008 Vacation, Quickie Update

Sorry, no photos in this one, just a quickie before I forget everything that’s happened.

The kids and I all got some icky cold the first day, probably from the plane flight. We’re all OK, though I am yet again glad we always bring the nebulizer on our trips, because SillyBilly’s asthma kicked right in (the cold plus a modicum of cigarette smoking in Nana’s house plus their new dog, has taxed his system a bit).

We’ve done a few little trips, to the beach and the LA County Museum of Art. Grammy and Grandpa came down this weekend from Washington, so we’ve had three sets of grandparents to enjoy the kids. Today we went to a Memorial Day barbecue at the home of Anthropapa’s cousin who happens to live in the same town as two sets of the grandparents. It’s more relatives than you can shake a stick at…enough relatives to choke a horse…well, there’s some turn of phrase to describe it.

Day before yesterday, Napoleona slipped off the arm of Grandpa’s armchair, and landed hard on the wood floor. At first we thought she might have dislocated her elbow again (she has had nursemaid’s elbow several times) but the trick to reduce the dislocation the pediatrician had showed me didn’t work, so off we went to the ER. They thought she might have a hairline fracture (which didn’t show up on the xray) based on her pain level, so they put her in a splint and sling. Now I need to figure out if my insurance will play nice with covering the follow-up visit with an orthopedist, since we are very far out of our service area.

And of course today she was seemingly without pain and just complained that her arm itched. But one of her grandmas, the ER nurse one, said that sometimes a tiny fracture doesn’t hurt right away. So we’ll see.

Assuming that Napoleona’s arm continues to be OK, and SillyBilly’s asthma doesn’t get worse, Anthropapa and I are looking forward to two nights in a hotel with one slightly fancy dinner out with my dad and stepmom. We’ll probably spend some time with the kids during the days. Probably. (Full disclosure: we haven’t been away from the kids in a very, very long time. The other day we did get away to lunch and movie — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Wacky Mayan Crystal MacGuffin, which was fun and silly and fluffy, as expected (note to self: Shia LaBeouf is waaaay too young. Quick gawking. And how awesome that Karen Allen looks appropriately older, not some preserved Barbie doll. But, I digress.) But having some truly adult time, plus the luxury of sleeping in, is too good to pass up. Plus then Nana gets the kids to herself too.)

I think that last paragraph had some issues with parentheses, but I’m not going back. More vacation details soon.

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Filed under Family, Health, holidays, movies, Napoleona, Parenting, Silliness and Mayhem, travel

Another Reason to Like Margaret Atwood

I just read this wonderful tribute to Anne of Green Gables that Margaret Atwood wrote for The Guardian. I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about this, as I have loved the Avonlea books since I was a girl, and Atwood is one of my favorite authors as well.

The first Anne book is 100 years old this April, and aside from a new edition of the first book and a biography of L.M. Montgomery, Atwood warns us that there are sure to be more products and Anne-related tchotchkes than you can shake a stick at. I knew that Prince Edward Island had some touristy stuff about Anne, but I had no idea there was a musical, or raspberry cordial for sale, or carriage rides with a fake Matthew Cuthbert.

Call me naive, but I never imagined people wanting Anne products–the books have always stood alone in my mind, and any material goods related to them would just take away from my imaginative pictures of the stories. (The films with Megan Follows were wonderful, but the actors’ faces have now supplanted my own mental images of the characters. Luckily I’ve read the books enough times that it’s not such a problem.)

In the article, Atwood explains why Anne is so popular in Japan, what a real orphaned girl might have faced at that time, the dark underside of the Avonlea books, and who the real central character is in the Avonlea books.

I may have lost my XY-chromosome readers here (the Anne books are decidedly girl-oriented), but I’m counting the days until my daughter (and maybe even my son) can read these books and hopefully love them as much as I do.

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Two Little Reviews

Sammar is a young Sudanese widow living in Aberdeen, Scotland working as an Arabic translator at a university. She is depressed and grieving over her husband who was killed in a traffic accident, and has left her young son to live with relatives in Khartoum. Sammar lives alone in a small apartment with little personal effects, and has few personal interactions other than with her co-workers. Her daily prayers give her something to hold onto, something that sustains her in her grief. Sammar is an observant Muslim: she wears a headscarf and only eats halal food, fasts for Ramadan, and she cannot marry the man she comes to love until he becomes Muslim.

Ria is a young Hindu woman hoping to study in America to advance her writing career. She is part of a large, well-to-do Delhi family that would love nothing more than to see her marry. However, Ria seems unable to form intimate relationships with men, and only after confronting and exposing her childhood abuser is she freed from her fears. Ria feels pressured by her family to conform: they believe she will be a successful writer, but the cultural expectations of marriage predominate. She also feels this pressure more acutely as her cousin’s wedding approaches, engulfing the family in money worries, adulterous liasons, and chaos of all sorts.

The Translator and Monsoon Wedding work together as amazing portraits of women and family — the former of a woman isolated and adrift until she can reunite with her far-off family and culture, the latter of a woman who learns to fight for her independence and selfhood within an almost suffocatingly close family and culture.

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