My niece, Alexis, turned FIVE on May 30 and I still can't believe it. She's getting so big! In a few years, I fully anticipate that her feet will be bigger than mine. Obviously she'll be taller than me.
Those are temporary tattoos, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.
Now that I am breaking the door down on my thirties, I realize that I have become part of the establishment. I am "The Man," if you will.
But what I don't understand, and what I refuse to believe my generation was like, is the fact that there seems to be a complete lack of personal responsibility belonging to students today.
For example, and this is indicative of more than a few conversations I had over the past semester, enjoy the idiocy I deal with on a weekly basis:
Me: That was due last week. The due date was printed at the top of the document and it was sent to you over one month ago. And it was announced in class. On numerous occasions. You just had to upload it to the worksite. Student: Yeah, well, I didn't have your fax number, so I couldn't submit it. Me: KILL DIE IN A FIRE BURN.
Aren't these kids supposed to be internet superstars or something? Weren't they one of the first generations to grow up with a computer from birth?? Is it really that difficult to discover that information? If it were me, the first thing I would do is check out the sites to which I've been added and learn about due dates and policies.
I mean, these are kids who have never used a card catalog. They've probably never used the yellow pages in a real, actual phone book. I mean, I haven't used a card catalog in over twelve years, since I finished high school, I'm guessing.
When I was working at the dinosaur museum, I supervised several students who had never rolled coins before. And why would they need to learn that, what with Coinstar and its evil machinations? I mean, it's totally brilliant, don't get me wrong, but I am too much of a cheapskate to give them any percentage of my hard earned change.
I realize that I sound like - and am well on my way to becoming - the old lady who screams at the kids to get off her lawn, but I refuse to believe that my generation was this lazy. This non-committal. This... apathetic.
Of course, each generation hates those below it. So whatever. I'm the establishment, and they are NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
And now, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Glee... True Blood.
Remember how the Twilight series made me feel like a total retard for reading the insipid books? This show is about vampires, too, but it's pretty much the opposite of embarrassing. It's intriguing with impressive character development (with likable, lovable characters), gratuitous sex scenes (unlike stupid G-rated Twilight), and really appealing storylines.
I watched the first two seasons of True Blood - with the help of netflix, my library, and the internets - in under four days.
So I raved about them to the many people I've seen in the last three days, and my words have easily found willing ears.
For example, let's cut to Kelly at Blockbuster today:
Kelly: (at the counter) "I'd like to rent disc one of season one of True Blood, please." Clerk: "Oh. Honey. You have a free rental coupon. You should get disc two as well." Kelly: "Yeah, my friend raved about them. She and her crazy eyes said that they're pretty addictive." Other Clerk: "Yeah, you should rent the second disc, too." Kelly: "Wow, okay." Clerk: "Also, there are only two episodes on the first disc. Get the second. Trust me." Kelly: "OKAY."
And now she and her boyfriend are hooked. Hee.
Based on an ever-growing series of books by Charlaine Harris, True Blood tells the tale of waitress Sookie Stackhouse and her encounters with vampires and other such supernaturals. Recently "out of the coffin" due to a Japanese invention of synthetic blood, vampires made themselves known to the rest of the world after centuries of hiding in the shadows. They're involved in politics, they are lobbying for vampire rights, and they are successfully inserting themselves into society.
Not a vampire.
Like any unknown, many humans are unwilling to accept them. And they have a point, right? Vampires... drink human blood. While the talking heads claim that vampires only live synthetically, humans remain wary.
Also not vampires.
Sookie can reads minds, and the many in the parish of Bon Temps, Louisiana, think she's nutty. Very few are aware of her secret, but trust her to stay out of their heads.
Possibly a vampire. Also possibly in need of a shower.
When vampire Bill Compton walks into Merlotte's Bar and Grill, Sookie is surprised and ecstatic to learn that she cannot read his mind. And after certain events unfold that evening, Bill is in Sookie's debt.
Not a vampire, but possibly one of the best characters ever.
Basically it's awesome.
With an amazing cast of characters, the viewer is drawn not only to the story of Sookie and Bill, but to her best friend, Tara, Merlotte's owner, Sam, and an awesome array of friends, coworkers, and family members. The stories just keep getting better, and before you're even aware, you are completely mesmerized.
I think that I need to own the DVDs soon. Very soon.
Childhood is a funny thing. We become attached to things that most definitely will be completely uninteresting and unentertaining - and possibly have become terrifying - by the time we reach adulthood.
Of course, the immortal Gummy Bears, Muppet Babies, Fraggle Rock, and any and all Saturday morning cartoons do not fit into this category. Kids these days? They have no IDEA what they are missing come Saturday morning. They've got crap. We had PURE GOLD.
Anyway. There are movies, especially, that stand out. Movies that gave us pure entertainment or unadulterated joy back in the day sometimes... do not age well. Again, like television, there are the standards that will never die and never become stupid in our minds (the first that comes to mind is, of course, The Goonies, but there are more), but there are some ridiculously mind-blowing things that were in the theater and on television in the eighties that will either scare you shitless or leave you wondering why on EARTH you were such a retarded psychopath of a child.
No, this rabbit-man is not creepy at all.
Movies that somehow didn't scare me as a child, but give me chills today? Number one, for the boat ride alone, will always be Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What. The fuck. Happened? There was a millipede on a person's FACE.
A close second? The Neverending Story. The Nothing. Artax dying. Big bullies being mean to Bastian. Good God, I think that it's scarier now.
Anyway, I will now return to the story I started telling.
Right, so Mike had become a little obsessed with getting a certain version of Alice in Wonderland on the Netflix. He remembered watching it on VHS at his grandparents' house and he remembered that he liked it. So after weeks of waiting (mostly because we were holding on to three different DVDs that we hadn't watched nor had the get-up-and-go to mail the damn things back), it arrived.
And we watched it.
Well, we watched about forty-five minutes of the THREE HOUR-LONG MINISERIES before realizing that it was the weirdest, creepiest, most mind-fuckingly insane thing we'd ever seen, and we recently watched Super Mario Brothers.
What the shit is going on with that lady's hat?
It was a 1985 television miniseries starring practically everyone who was anyone in showbiz in the 1960s and 70s, none of whom I will list here, because I know very few of them. Of course, when I read the cast list to my dad, he nodded at each and every name. But then again, he knows everything, so that's to be expected.
I'm guessing that this miniseries was quite the television event, with the never ending cast list, but I could be wrong. I was only five, after all.
Anyway, it was weird and it kind of sucked. Really sucked. And that's my warning about revisiting childhood obsessions.
I don't know what the fuck is going on here because we didn't make it this far into the film.
This was the only scene to make me laugh, mostly because Alice was getting SO PISSED OFF at the Madhatter for being insane.
If you end up watching this travesty, let me know how it turns out. Forty-five minutes was MORE than enough.
The last time I was out visiting Em and Tim, we watched the first four episodes upon our return home from the bar. Or from dinner. I think it was dinner. I said "bar" because I wanted you guys to think that I was cool and that we were out drinking all night, but the truth is that I am pretty... not so very cool. And I don't really go to the bar much anymore. I mean, now that Michigan passed the smoking ban, I think that it's a possibility that I'll be out more, especially to places with outdoor patios and whatnot. Patios are nice.
Plus, I am back to being the lightweight I was in college. Two glasses of red wine? Nice. Three glasses? Oh sweet God. Just ask Mike about that. Actually, nevermind. Don't.
Oops, sorry. That was more of my peripheral nonsense.
So Glee? OH MY FANTASTIC. Set in an Ohio high school, Glee tells the story of the school Glee Club, led by the dreamy dreamboat Mr. Schuester, an alum of the school and a former club star.
LOOK AT HIM. Imagine he was your Spanish teacher. In the world of Glee, IT WOULD BE TRUE.
It is so entertaining and fun, with just the right number of romantic triangles and the perfect amount of teen angst. They know that they are losers because they are in the club, but they don't care. (Reminds me of some people in my high school. But we didn't have a glee club. Theater? Marching band? Oh wait. Yeah. I was in marching band. I knew I wasn't the coolest, but I was still proud of it. Hmmm. Yeah, that sounds about right.)
There's the talented overachiever, Rachel; the quarterback, Finn; his "cliche of a blond girlfriend," head cheerleader, Quinn; the sassy black chick, Mercedes; the in-the-closet guy, Kurt; and an impressive bunch of supporting classmates.
The adult characters are the reason to watch the show, however. Mr. Schuester, or "Mr. Schue," is married to Terri, his high school sweetheart. She's a bit... selfish and crazy, but they were the golden couple in high school.
The principal, Mr. Figgins, is best known to me as Joey's doctor in an episode of Friends ("Kidney stooones!"), but he plays a hilariously understated role. His main concern seems to be money, and he's constantly forced to act as mediator between Will and Sue Sylvester, the cheerleading coach and "arts administrator... or something."
Sue is played by the fantastic Jane Lynch, and the show would be fine without the character, but it wouldn't be half as funny. She's an overzealous, overly confident woman who plants fear in the hearts of everyone around her - including her cheerleaders, The Cheerios (hee!).
This show grabbed me from the very first episode and continues to get better and better. The musical interludes are amazing, and if Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" doesn't get you, then perhaps you're not good enough for Glee.
I got this brownie yesterday. By today, I had only eaten some of it. That's how rich and chocolatey it was in its deliciousness.
I watch more than a few shows on the Food Network, and The Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorites. Ina made brownies once and added a little ground coffee to the batter. It enhances the chocolate, apparently.
"Make sure you use good vanilla." (If you watch her show, you'll understand why this is funny.)
I thought to myself, "Ina is a smart cookie, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley, but coffee? That is strange." (This coming from a girl who covets cafe mochas on an almost daily basis.)
Right, so I think that I detected a smidge of coffee in these brownies and it was beyond delectable. It was brilliant. I could barely eat more than a few bites.
I mean, look how much was left:
Here it is next to my chapstick, to give you an idea of the size of this brownie monster:
My cell phone was only slightly larger:
The purple pen... well, it made the brownie look foolish.
But the staple remover cowered in fear of the brownie!
Right, so I still have that much brownie left, and it's been two days. I suppose that I should be proud that I didn't eat it all in three seconds, but still. That is a DAMN LARGE BROWNIE.
I'm sure that you know this already - because in my egotistical brain, I believe that you all have my birthday circled and starred and highlighted in your day planners or crackberries or facebooks - but my THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY is in less than three months.
I am going to be thirty and I can't hardly believe it.
So clearly the things that a newly anointed thirty-year-old needs most are whale t-shirts, birdie keychains, and adorable squishball T-Rexes. And nesting bowls. Obviously.
I drove a friend's daughter to her driver's ed session recently, and it was quite a trip down memory lane.
I am having trouble trying to remember how old I was when I took driver's ed. Obviously I was yet to turn sixteen, but I don't recall if I had my permit for a year or only a few months. Whatever
The instructor was also one of the high school track coaches. He was one of the nicest, sweetest, friendliest staff members, and we were lucky to have him. Then again, he would wear bright pink tracksuits with red shoes to invitationals so we would be able to find him in an emergency, but I also think that he was more than just eccentric - he liked to stand out. Everyone probably thought that he was a little loopy, but he wasn't. He was just a genuinely good person.
(Of course, nothing takes away from the fact that he looked liked Gargamel. The boys track team used to do their warm-up half mile by jogging around singing the tune to The Smurfs. )
So when I discovered that he was teaching my section of driver's ed that summer, I was happy and relieved. I was absolutely terrified to drive, but determined to get my permit as soon as humanly possible. I was scared of being on the road in my mom's minivan, sure, but I was more scared that I would never get my license and be doomed to rely on other people forever.
The classroom portion of driver's ed was more than painful. It was the middle of the summer, the school was completely sweltering, and though I had been getting more sleep than I probably did as an infant, it was still a struggle to stay awake in that class.
I do remember one thing - one of the videos we watched was about merging onto the expressway. "PICK YOUR SPOT AND GO" was drilled into our brains over and over again. So why is it that NO ONE seems to do this?
Anyway, my first road session was fine. I think that it was just around the school parking lot and then into the surrounding neighborhood. My driving partner, Beth, was a good driver. She seemed to be in control and never freaked out. Plus, she was much taller than me and had no trouble reaching the pedals.
I think that I did fine my first time out. I don't really remember. I do, in fact, remember my first venture on the expressway. It was terrifying. Gargamel yelled at me and made me cry. I had to let Beth drive the rest of the way home. But it was a downpour and I started freaking out with two other people in the car. It was necessary.
He made Kelly run several lights, seemingly because he couldn't make a decision as the lights turned yellow.
Anyway, it's been quite some time, and I still wouldn't consider myself a great driver. I drive way too fast, I'm on the phone way too much, and I get annoyed when people don't seem to read my mind and GET OUT OF MY WAY. But I can parallel park! And when it rains, I don't get freaked out. At all.
A recent conversation with one of the baristas at my favorite coffee place really got me thinking.
First, she was born in 1991, which doesn't really compute with my brain, though it should - college freshmen this year were born around 1991 and 1992.
She thought that it was awesome that I was both a child of the eighties and that I came of age in the nineties. I think that it's hilarious that she thinks that, as I feel like we got a little short-sheeted.
First of all, the eighties. I was young enough to avoid the lacy gloves and bustiers, but not young enough to avoid stonewashed jeans. Oh no, not young enough.
Leggings, oversized sweatshirts and t-shirts, jellies!, thick socks, and pegged jeans. What the fuck were we thinking?
And don't even get me started on crimped and permed hair. Shudder.
I had to show Bri what "pegging" my jeans meant by putting my foot up on the counter and carefully folding my pants to one side and rolling them up twice. She thought that it was awesome... Well, we did too, didn't we?
Then the nineties. I think that the first half can be summed up, at least for me, in one word: grunge. Flannel, clunky shoes, mixing feminine with masculine, and trying every day to look like Angela Chase.
My absolute favorite outfit in 1992 was a pretty flowery dress, pulled together in the back with an elastic clasp. I had a lacy white vest to wear over it, and to top it all off? White socks and Doc Martens.
Of course, those shoes were the Payless version of Doc Martens, because there was no way my mother would have bought the real thing for me. She wouldn't even buy me the ones from Payless because she thought they were the ugliest things she had ever seen. Don't get me wrong - my mom never criticized anything - not my wardrobe choices, not my life choices, nothing. But she fucking HATED those shoes.
And I looked AMAZING. Let me tell you.
(This is where I would include pictures if I had any way of scanning them and if I had any idea how to make them picture-sized and not 8x10 sized. I have no idea how to do things.)
And now leggings are coming back and it's a little more than irritating.
I've heard that you are not to take part in a wardrobe fad if you were old enough to live through it the first time. That's why I think that no one my age should be wearing leggings except maybe for recreational activities.
Oh, and I saw someone wearing stirrup pants, too. And jeans with zippers at the ankles!
I think that once the next decade rolls around, and we're forced back into grunge attire, I won't be so annoyed. It really wasn't that bad. Flannel is comfortable!
So I got my latest issue of National Geographic in the mail yesterday and glanced at it quickly to see if there was an article about dinosaurs, upon which I would read it immediately. Obviously. Unfortunately there was not, but there was an article on "The World's Rapiest Cat."
No, wait. That's "The World's Rarest Cat." Hmm.
(Also, here is what the "World's Rarest Cat" looks like, in case you were wondering:
My guess is that if he were to be in fewer kung fu movies, he wouldn't be as rare. Because even if he was a powerful fighter, he would still be but a cat.)
Anyway, I was relieved that the cat was the "rarest" and not the "rapiest," because though I don't want to think of cats as rapists, sometimes you do have to wonder about the animal kingdom. I mean, have you seen video of elephants? Male elephants? I mean, that shit's scary.
Wait, I seem to be getting into a weird area here.
Forget about the elephants. Rapey cats, now, those are difficult to ignore. You just don't know what they're thinking. They might just get all rapey all of a sudden, and you would have no way of preparing. We have no way of knowing. CATS DON'T TALK.
God. The whole point of this insane narrative is that I think that I have some form of disorder where I read words incorrectly. Like, ALL OF THE TIME. Part of it is that I read too quickly, scanning groups of words rather than reading one word at a time, so I can sort of see how I could mistake one word for another.
And the weird thing is that, more than anything else, I see dirty words instead of normal words. "Rapiest" is clearly a dirty word, but what about seeing "public," but without the "L?" Or "sex" instead of "six?"Or "naked" instead of "building?"
In The Graveyard Book, wordsmith Neil Gaiman explores the trials and tribulations of Nobody Owens, a boy raised in a graveyard . So it's a classic coming-of-age tale... in a graveyard. With a title like The Graveyard Book, this book has the potential to be macabre and disturbing. But instead, it is uplifting and encouraging, engaging the reader and cultivating a strong, heroic character toward his eventual adulthood.
Late one night, a man named Jack murders an entire family - save one. The entire family was to have perished that night, but a small child wanders out of the house on his own and toddles into the nearby graveyard. The ghostly residents soon realize that the child must be protected, and conceal him from Jack.
Over the years, "Bod" learns from the multi-generational and historical graveyard denizens. His closest teacher and confidant is Silas, a mysterious being who seems just a little different from the rest of the ghosts. Silas is appointed as Bod's guardian, and sees that Bod always has food to eat, clothes to wear, and books to read. But mostly, Silas is to keep Bod safe, for it is clear that the man, Jack, will be returning someday.
This was my first foray into Neil Gaiman territory, and I'm very glad that I finally took the chance. I love his writing and his imagination, and the story was hypnotic. Because it is a Young Adult book, the storyline and its parallels were a little obvious (The Jungle Book), but the twists and turns were not.
It's a quick and enjoyable read, and while I found the ending to be a little bittersweet, it nicely brings Bod out of adolescence and into the rest of his life.