Sunday, July 30, 2006

Random Thoughts in the Movie Theater, Part 2: Monster House

WARNING: Spoilers to follow.

It's troublesome being a feminist at the movies. I'm used to seeing sexist plotlines and underdeveloped female characters, but I keep thinking, "hey, it can only get better. I'll try again."

And Monster House is a cute movie. The basic plot is that the house across the street comes to evil life, and the three children - DJ, Chowder, and Jenny - who are the main characters know this, but of course, none of the adults believe them. Two windows in the front of the house become it's eyes; the doorway is the mouth, with a long runner snaking out to grab unsuspecting victims. (Everyone who gets eaten manages to survive at the end of the movie, which makes it palatable for older kids.)

But there are two major problems with this film. First, although it is two boys and a girl who fight the house, DJ and Chowder do the work while Jenny mostly just comes along for the ride. While Chowder is driving a steamshovel, simultaneously battling the now-mobile house and leading it to a strategic point under a crane, DJ and Jenny are scaling the crane, DJ with explosives in hand that he will drop into the house's chimney, blowing it apart. Jenny has a minor role in this - I can't remember the exact sequence of events, but it's something like, DJ stumbles and drops the dynamite, she grabs it, throws it to DJ, and he drops it in. It was all so predictable - and so unnecessary. Why couldn't Jenny have dropped it in? Why are girls almost always accessories and rarely the heroes? Allowing Jenny to be the one to finally drop the dynamite would have made it a group effort, rather than a boys' effort with a girl tagging along. (Sound familiar? It's the same tired pattern we see in most adult movies.)

Second, and perhaps more disturbing, is the house itself. It has an insatiable appetite. It swallows balls, kites, people: anything and anyone who trespasses on its lawn or front walk. DJ and pals assume that the house becomes haunted with the ghost of it's recently departed and extremely cranky inhabitant, Mr. Nebbercracker, who has for years confiscated toys and frightened children that wander onto his lawn. But as they learn later, it is in fact haunted by the spirit of his wife, Constance, who was accidentally killed and buried when the cement floor of the basement was poured. Not coincidentally, Constance was a circus fat lady who had been terrorized by the public and who, embodied in the house, attacked anyone who came near.

As the house, Constance is therefore enormous, insatiable, crazed - just as she was in life. Mr. Nebbercracker, in contrast, is small and skinny, the one who placates her great rage. This portrayal of a fat woman as out of control with huge appetites (whether for food or for sex) - as, literally, a maneater - is unfortunately all too common. In fact, the very difference in size between a large wife and a smaller husband, whether in literature, film, or real life, communicates the message that she is the dominant partner. These stereotypes of fat women are particular to fat women - the reverse wouldn't work. There are no cultural figures of fat men whose appetites must be controlled by their skinny wives.

Further, the house is only silenced when it is destroyed, at which point we see Constance's ghost dancing with Nebbercracker before swirling off into the sky. Nebbercracker then breaks down in relief that he and Constance have finally been set free. Thus, it is only through Constance's destruction that her appetite is forever controlled.

What's wrong with this picture? Monster House doesn't merely reinforce negative stereotypes - it depends upon them. There would be no plot if not for the purposefully grotesque figure of Constance. Further, as the film makes clear, DJ and Chowder are just entering puberty, and so their interaction with Jenny is one in which they must be heroes in order to impress her, while her role is simply to be impressed. Given the target audience for this film, that means that the film models for children "appropriate" gender roles: good boys are heroes. Good girls are observers. Bad woman are fat, hungry, and out of control. Bad men are skinny and small. Balance can only be attained through the destruction of bad women.

Only a movie? Perhaps. But these notions about men's and women's appropriate sizes and behaviors are real, not imagined, and ingrained in our culture.

If you doubt me, try this: ask the heterosexual women you know - especially the tall ones, the fat ones, and/or the athletic ones - if they date men who are shorter than they are. Then ask them how it makes them feel when they are taller or bigger than their dates.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Random Thoughts in the Movie Theater, Part I

1) Queen should stop performing "We Are The Champions."

(I got to hear a sampling of "hot" hits while waiting in the near-empty theater for Monster House to begin. More on that in a future post.)

The guy can't sing like Freddie Mercury, which means that during the chorus, you can't really hear him, and he can't hit those nice high notes, as in "we'll...keep on FIGHTing...'til the end..." - he doesn't even try. That's bad enough. What's worse is that the he adds a lot of cheesy "whoah-oah-oah yeah"s, which I think is his attempt to really own the song, but which makes it crappy instead of, if not good, then at least not a horrible rendition.

2) Transamerica is a great movie if you think "transwoman" means "prissy drag queen." Or if you really want to see Felicity Huffman with a penis. It's basically a trans version of To Wong Foo, but without the small town and with one born woman playing the lead instead of three straight men.

I mean, really. Was the studio all out of good scripts? This is, no question, a movie for straights, not as in strictly heterosexual people, but as in "don't scare the straights." This has all the important components: self-loathing, awkward attempts to "act" like a woman, the hating family that miraculously becomes supportive almost on a whim. Couldn't we have a transwoman character who isn't uptight and doesn't have a penchant for bad makeup? Cripes. I felt like I was watching Tootsie.

And, for that matter - what? Are there no transwomen who can act? Whatever happened to Jaye Davidson? Surely there was a role for her somewhere in there - perhaps during the transwoman house party?

3) Firewall. Yawn. Even the title is boring. Poor Harrison Ford is running out of opportunities, and even I am getting tired of seeing him play the same guy over and over, seeing the same tired expressions cross his tired face. I swear, one of his opening lines is lifted right out of one of his many other films (something about asking the maid to take his blue suit to the cleaners). Also, his name is Jack in this one, which is weird, considering. I kept wondering what had happened to Anne Archer, if she didn't want to do another sequel or what, until I realized that he wasn't playing THAT Jack.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why This Democrat (Probably) Won't Be Voting for Stephanie Herseth

It's always frustrating when we have to vote against some of our deeply-held convictions in order not to violate others of our deeply-held convictions. And so, since Rep. Stephanie Herseth has decided to ally herself with the unconstitutional and homophobic effort to push the Federal Marriage Amendment, she has lost my vote. Probably.

Herseth is also a strong advocate of women's reproductive freedom. But I am sick and tired of being manipulated in a battle to ensure that the least offensive candidate get into office. I don't want to vote for the least offensive candidate. I want to vote for the best candidate. That may mean that I do not vote for any candidate for the House in the next election.

This is not the first time that Herseth has disappointed me with her stance on gay rights. After her last anti-gay vote, I saw her at the fair and told her how upset I was. The usually cool and poised politician surprised me with her anger. She had clearly had enough of being challenged by queer activists and allies, and she lost no time in telling me that Democrats could not allow the Republicans to set the agenda.

And I do realize that all of this furor over same-sex marriage is a smokescreen to move our focus away from the devastation the Bush Administration has caused to the U.S. and to the world. It's a very effective one! And I'm torn between not wanting to help Herseth sell out her constituents and not wanting to allow the smokescreen to work.

But at the same time, I am troubled by Herseth's statement* that "marriage is a religious based institution and should be reserved for one man and one woman." In fact, and despite her belief, marriage is a legal contract. Making same-sex marriage legal would not mandate that church clergy perform such ceremonies. In fact, and despite her belief, the United States Government should not be in the business of dictating religious belief - that, in fact, is unconstitutional. In fact, and despite her belief, church clergy regularly officiate at same-sex unions. In fact, and despite her belief, it is the legal rights and benefits that come with the legal - and not religious - contract of marriage that same-sex couples so desperately seek.

Herseth goes on to say that "an amendment should not prevent individual states from recognizing civil unions." Gee, thanks. It's good to know that in Herseth's fantasy-land, some states, like Maine and Massachusetts (for the time being), will recognize same-sex marriages. Of course, in the real world that the rest of us live in, such an amendment makes it possible for individual states to refuse to recognize such unions, and that, of course, is exactly what's happening now, as state after state passes legislation to this end. (It's coming up for a vote in SD this fall.)

"It is my hope that both sides will use the debate on this issue to engage in a respectful dialogue that will result in a better understanding of the deeply held convictions on both sides." Because that's really the problem, isn't it - all of us queers just don't understand how much the good Christians of SD hate us.

"I believe that all Americans should be treated with respect, which is why I supported efforts to increase penalties for crimes motivated by hate." See? There's some good that she does. And so I can't say for sure that I won't vote for her. After all, the other options are even worse. But - and I say this with all due respect - both her couching of same-sex marriage as an issue of mutual respect for and understanding of people who OPPOSE same-sex marriage, and my waffling about whether or not to hold my nose and vote for her, are copouts. And I expect better. From Herseth, and from myself.

*In a letter to a local gay activist, who shared her comments with me.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Kathy Griffin: D for Personality

I used to be a huge fan of Kathy Griffin, back when she'd only had one Bravo special and in the early days of her reality show, "Kathy Griffin: Life on the D-List." What made her so much fun was her willingness to laugh at herself - that and her dishing of celebrity gossip. Kathy was just like the rest of us. She was a hard-working woman struggling to make it in an industry that doesn't much care for women, especially women who don't have money, who aren't thin, who aren't white, etc. And Kathy would get out on stage and just pop all of those little fantasy celebrity bubbles. She would tell us which stars thought they were something special (Sharon Stone) and which ones were cool (Celine Dion). And we would sit back and laugh with Kathy, because she was cool, too. As she told us, we were her "peeps."

Except lately, I'm not feeling so much like I'm one of her peeps. Before, I always had the sense that if I were to run into her in an elevator or a waiting room somewhere, we'd make eye contact and immediately "get it" - we'd chuckle about the obviously closeted gay guy standing next to us and the equally clueless matron trying to fix him up with her granddaughter. We'd laugh at the fashion fiasco that is the '80s revisited (boots with capri leggings? I don't think so.). And I'd feel that she was real and genuine and down to earth and friendly, just as she acts like she is in her stand-up routines.

Except that she isn't. She's still real and genuine and down to earth and friendly with the poor schmucks who have the audacity to book her for dog shows and fundraisers, which are never high profile enough to suit her and at which she is never given the diva treatment she obviously feels she deserves, never hesitating to point this out to us, the viewers. (It's funny, though, that she never turns down these gigs that are so beneath her.) But as soon as the poor schmucks turn their backs, there's Kathy, making nasty comments about how low rent their special events are, how pathetic her life is, how terrible it is that she has to put up with small crowds, with people not recognizing her, with no large private dressing rooms, and how Jennifer Aniston has no idea what it's like.

This is, of course, the whole gimmick of her reality show. As the title tells us, the show lets us know what life is like for a D-list star, and it is funny to see her get the key to a city when there is no one there to see her receive it. But it's hard to reconcile this image of poor, hard-working, friendly Kathy with the Diva Kathy who hires an insane L.A. dog trainer instead of actually working to train her dog (what do these people think? If you have an animal, you need to train it. It doesn't just magically happen.). Just for example, insane dog trainer tells Kathy to dress up as a huge squirrel as part of the dog training, and Kathy is so far gone that she has the balls to tell her assistant, Jessica, to do it (Jessica flat out tells the camera that she will not, and eventually, Kathy backs down). The Diva lives in a huge and very expensive house; she stays at fine hotels; she even brings her DOGS to fine hotels. It's hard to feel like she's one of us when she is constantly telling us that she's better than us, that she deserves more than we do, and that we (meaning America) had better start appreciating her.

And, sort of off-topic but not really, her fag hag routine is kind of humorous, given her husband's and parents' obvious homophobia, but it's also kind of offensive. I can't help but notice that when she talks about "the gays" as if they're her private fan club, she always means men. Queer women never make an appearance in Kathy-world, and I suspect, though I can't say for sure, that if Kathy were to make a statement on lesbianism it would be something akin to Carrie Fisher's and Madonna's insulting conversation from several years ago, in which they decided that lesbianism was ultimately too ridiculous and too lacking to get them off. Oh, and demeaning - lesbians packing dildos were demeaning, too, if I remember correctly. So anyway, I can see Kathy saying something like that, with the added jab that lesbians have a poor sense of style. So I guess I'm glad that I haven't heard her speak on the topic.

Frankly, she was a lot funnier when I didn't know what she was really like.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Oh, Dear Lord

This is just NOT ACCEPTABLE, people.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Are You A Curly?

Man, I just blew $100 on hair product. (It'll last me a while.)

Check it out.

And if you're looking for product recommendations, I use the Gentle Lather Shampoo, the Too Shea! Extra Moisturizing Conditioner (I leave it in), and then just a bit of the Confident Coils Styling Solution. What I like about these products is that they are never too much for my hair - it's never stiff or sticky, it always looks and feels totally natural, but it doesn't frizz.

(My curls aren't nearly as defined as Jess' are on her site - she's using a lot of product. Looks great on her.)

For those of you who are languishing somewhere where few hairdressers know how to treat a curly, let me also recommend the book that saved my life: Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. It's revolutionary - REVOLUTIONARY, I tell you. Say goodbye to your shampoo and hello to gorgeous curls!!

Oh, and one more thing. If you read the book, you'll find that you might well be a curly - only you just don't know it yet. Try the no-poo test: stop using your shampoo for a few days. Keep washing your hair - scrub your scalp and rinse really well. If you prefer, use conditioner to scrub. If your hair gets curly after a few days or a week - congratulations! You are a curly!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Currently Reading...

Ah, summer. The time for catching up on all the books and movies and t.v. shows and exercise that you missed all winter.

Well, at least I'm getting back into the gym these days. I haven't seen many films, though there are many I want to get to - Pirates, X-3, MI-3, etc., etc., nor have I watched any of the episodes of Lost from the second season after, say, Thanksgiving (I have, however, managed to keep nearly current on animated films that are appropriate for four-year-olds. Go figure.)

But I'm reading. I just finished Inga Muscio's Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, which I read most of last summer, and which I enjoyed picking up again. I didn't pick it up for the longest time because of the title - not that I was offended (I love that word when used in reclamation), but I thought it was going to be all about the word and then, perhaps, about vaginas, and the thing is that I've done quite a bit of reading about vaginas already. But the book is more of a feminist manifesto, the kind of feminist manifesto that pulls in all people who are oppressed (my buddy Drek will hate my use of the term, but it fits here), the kind of feminism that speaks against all injustice. The book largely focuses on women and the kind of crap that we face in our lives, from low self-esteem to violent attack. What's cool is Muscio's response to this - she has one for everything. My favorite: know a guy who sexually assaulted your friend? Why not get all the gals together, go to his place of employment, and tell his boss what kind of guy he is? Why not picket his house?*

(* Before someone leaves a comment to the effect of "but what about women who make up sexual assault stories? What about being innocent until proven guilty?" - let's keep in mind that false accusations of rape are something like 2% of all reported rapes.)

I'm in the middle of a few others. I started The Motherhood Manifesto on one of my recent plane trips, and it's a quick read, but I kind of stalled out partway through. For one thing, it was kind of preaching to the choir in my case, and I didn't learn a whole lot of new information. For another, the new information I did learn was horribly depressing, like the fact that the U.S., Estonia, Slovakia, Poland, and the UAE have the same mortality rate for children under five - and the U.S. spends far more on healthcare than any of these other countries. But it's an important book, nonetheless. I'm particularly interested in its discussion of flex time, job-sharing, parental leave, and other creative ways to help parents keep good jobs and still parent.

I'm reading Nancy Mairs' A Troubled Guest: Life and Death Stories. Mairs is one of my favorite nonfiction writers, though in this book she seems to have a different voice than the one I remember, perhaps because of the topic. I admit that, at first, reading the book made me feel a bit depressed, but as I read on, I'm finding that it's helping me sort out my own feelings and fears about death.

I just finished Spike Gillespie's Pissed Off: On Women and Anger. People who know me have proably heard me say that I firmly believe that most people don't know how to express their anger well - and that this is particularly true for women. This book is an exploration of moments of anger, of how women have expressed their anger (positively and negatively), of the catharsis of anger, and of the importance of moving beyond anger to a place where one can let go of anger. I liked it, though I did think that in the case of some of the angering moments Gillespie writes about, it was not clear to the reader why certain people deserved her anger. In fact, I found myself identifying at times with the people she had set up as the villains, simply because her own anger seemed so out of place in response to the events in question. But then, that, too, is part of the discussion of anger - processing when it's appropriate, and how, and why, and what to do about it.

Finally, I'm reading Marilyn Abildskov's The Men in My Country, a travel memoir about her time in Japan and - I think (I'm not very far along) the men she met there. I just finished a class with Marilyn at the Iowa City Writing Festival, so I'm hearing her voice in my head as I read (which is sometimes cool and sometimes annoying. You know how it is. You want the only voices you hear in your head to be yours.). I was reading a little bit of her book earlier, and hearing her voice put me in mind of being back at the workshop, a whole week of dedicated time to write, and it compelled me to come out here and sit down and write this.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Devil You Say

I admit to having read The Devil Wears Prada when it first came out, and also to not being terribly impressed. I mean, I enjoyed it, it was a fun book, but it was not very well-written and it was not very interesting. It was also pretty over-the-top, I suspect because Anna Wintour (on whom the villain of the book, Miranda Priestly, is supposedly based) is pretty over-the-top. I think what made it not work, in addition to the sophomoric writing, was that truth really is stranger than fiction, and that these fictionalized truths were so Andy Warhol-esque that they weren't believable (though I suspect they really did happen).

But here's the thing. The New York Times reviewed the book twice, both times giving it a poor review (see here for the Book Review and here for the review in the daily edition). Kinda begs the question of why they'd bother to review it, not once, but twice, doesn't it? Makes you wonder what pressures might have been brought to bear? The Times' reviews focused on poor Anna Wintour who was being so unfairly maligned. And now, the film version is out, and again, the Times has something to say - in its Business section. There's also an actual film review, and not a bad one, but I think it's interesting that the Times felt the need to publicly defend Anna Wintour from the movie - and when I say "to defend," I mean "to noisily and wetly kiss her ass":

David Carr
The Devil Wears Teflon

Published: July 10, 2006

"The Devil Wears Prada," a chic, not-so-veiled look at the fashion magazine world and its empress, Anna Wintour, depicts a demanding, occasionally toxic editor named Miranda Priestly who cares deeply about the semiotics of a particular choice of belts.

The movie, based on a casually vicious roman à clef by a former assistant of Ms. Wintour's, is diverting enough. But is it accurate?

Having spent a few hours here and there watching Ms. Wintour do her job, I would say that although the devil resides in the details, the broad strokes resonate. When she came into a room to survey finished magazine pages or racks of clothing, the air seemed to ionize, with minions moving quickly after she exercised summary judgment.

However, the movie's other chief preoccupation — is Miranda Priestly née Anna Wintour really happy? — seems entirely beside the point. It is a question that seems to come up only when the successful executive happens to wear a dress.

Ms. Wintour has been the editor of Vogue for 18 years and is consulted by every major fashion house. Editorially, she has reinvigorated Vogue and created a platform sturdy enough to build an empire with Teen Vogue and Men's Vogue, and next fall, Vogue Living, reaching at least 2.3 million readers.

She does not put a finger in the wind to judge trends: she is the wind.

And her imperiousness, the precise thing that is parodied throughout the film, means that the movie is just one more spitball against a battleship. Most mortals would have responded to a wide-screen depiction of their excesses by dressing in sackcloth and hiding in the basement. Ms. Wintour donned Prada, natch, and went to a New York premiere.

IN that way, "The Devil Wears Prada" has become just one more lesson in Ms. Wintour's indomitability. A dead raccoon, a gift from antifur activists, dropped on her plate at the Four Seasons, is calmly tented with a napkin by Ms. Wintour before she orders coffee. A flung tofu pie is remarked upon for its benefits as a facial. And when she's satirized on the big screen, she makes sure she's in on the joke.

When the real Ms. Wintour wears Prada, it seems to be woven with Teflon.

"I'm sure she would rather have great press or no press," said S. I. Newhouse Jr., chairman of Condé Nast, which owns Vogue. "She rises above it. Anna has had great success in all aspects of her life and has tremendous inner strength and confidence."

A funny thing happened on the way to Ms. Wintour's cinematic impalement: she not only survives, but her place in the world is curiously ennobled. The movie, a more complex story than the book, tells a cautionary tale about the sacrifices that everyone — big and little, boss and worker — makes to get to or stay on top. But at its heart, the movie is paean to the transformative powers of fashion.

Anne Hathaway plays the schlubby assistant who succumbs to the allure of the fashion closet of the magazine, like Cinderella with a lot more slippers to choose from.

And in spite of what you see in the movies, Ms. Wintour has lots of friends. A brief call to Vogue about this column in the works brought a hail of phone calls from people with names like Harvey and Oscar. To a person, they say that she is nothing like the cartoon of an editor in the movie, that with Ms. Wintour, it is always about the work.

Part of the loyalty is reciprocal — Ms. Wintour sticks by her friends — but the other driver is her enormous power in the industry. Large, multinational concerns involved in fashion do not make a move without first consulting Ms. Wintour. In return, they can expect friendly treatment in the one magazine that brings high-fashion class to a heaving mass.

"She knows how to inspire and provoke the best in her staff," said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. "But she also does something that is very rare: she projects and makes effective use of her public persona. That's a high-wire act that takes talent and daring, as well as pure presence."

Ms. Wintour has managed to be the public face of Vogue, but has done so in a very private way. Bonnie Fuller, another successful magazine editor, reveals more about herself in just the title of her how-to book, "From Geek to Oh My Goddess: How to Get the Big Career and the Big Love Life and the Big Family — Even If You Have a Big Loser Complex Inside," than Ms. Wintour has revealed in her entire career. Ms. Wintour's idea of showing a little leg involves a miniskirt and nothing else.

"She is one of the greatest creative executives working," said Barry Diller, chief executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp. "She has absolutely no fear of performing her role. Many male executives have fears and insecurities. She has none."

Powerful women in the media always get inspected more thoroughly than their male counterparts. One of the movie's running jokes occurs when Miranda Priestly, Ms. Wintour's cinematic doppelganger, arrives at work and flings all manner of jillion-dollar handbags and coats on the desk of her hapless assistant. A boss who is always dumping on her underlings: imagine that. Katie Couric's backstage mien was the subject of breathless speculation, and Martha Stewart's executive approach was scrutinized long before her stock trades were.

Male media stars can ingest illegal drugs, make obscene phone calls or hire prostitutes without apparent consequence, but the failure of a female media figure to say please when ordering coffee can lead to wholesale indictment. In her everyday life, Ms. Wintour has a stable, dedicated team that has been with her for many years, never mind her bedside manner.

That is not to say that Ms. Wintour is anything approaching warm and cuddly — while she can be exceedingly droll and funny, she wears her impatience as others might wear a brooch. But that same characteristic in a male executive would seem not really worth mentioning. No wonder she has learned to wipe the pie off her face and keep moving.


And if you've read this far, check out Wikipedia on the subject. An excerpt:

The Wintour angle was of great assistance in promoting the widely-anticipated book. It sold millions of copies in hardback, stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for six months and has since been translated into 27 languages.

Critics, perhaps resigned to the knowledge that their reviews would be irrelevant to the book's runaway success, and also mindful of its subject matter, were largely unimpressed. Kate Betts, a former editor of Harper's Bazaar who also worked for Wintour at one point, spared no barb in the Times Book Review stressing the author's ungracious ungratefulness at the unique opportunity of working at Vogue: "[I]f Andrea doesn't ever realize why she should care about Miranda Priestly, why should we care about Andrea, or prize the text for anything more than the cheap frisson of the context?" Janet Maslin, in the daily paper, joined in: "a mean-spirited Gotcha! of a book, one that offers little indication that the author could interestingly sustain a gossip-free narrative ..."

It was, however, duly noted that Maslin tactfully avoids naming either the magazine where Weisberger actually worked nor the woman she allegedly modeled her main character on (the latter practice continued on the Times' part when the film came out[1]), and that Betts, as a former Condé Nast editor herself, was hardly an impartial reviewer).

Critics who favored the book admitted it had problems, as any first novel might, but praised it as a "fun, frivolous read."

No Condé Nast publication reviewed or otherwise mentioned The Devil Wears Prada.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Your Mama Is

We have a rule here that if, when I am taking the child to the store, he should get separated from me, he should find a mommy and ask for help.

Today at the mall, he wandered off to look for toys and lost track of me. He found a mommy. She was of little help, as it turns out, but he shortly wandered back.

"I found a mommy!" he said.

"Great!" said I. "Did she help you?"

"Well," he said, "she asked me what you looked like. I said, sorta fat, with lotsa hair."

I kid you not - there were GASPS from behind me in line. I burst out laughing (what else could I do?) and got the hell out of there.

And if that's not humiliating enough, let me add that my child tells me I'm beautiful at least once a day, usually in a voice reserved for admiring fine art. "Mommy!" he will gush, "you're beeyouuuuuutiful!" Except for one day last week, when he informed me: "Mommy. I think you're a little bit ugly."

"What?" I said, surprised.

"Right here," he said, pointing to my tummy. "This part is ugly."

"That kind of hurts my feelings, sweetie," I said, giving him a hug.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Mommy. Let's try that again: I love you."


But how, I ask, can one hold a grudge against a child who pulls down his pants during gymnastics class to show his teacher his The Incredibles underwear?

Thursday, July 06, 2006



Bad enough I gained back the 10 or 15 pounds I lost last summer over the course of the spring semester (blame the students and their damn papers). Bad enough that I stopped going to the gym regularly during this time and have forfeited most of those gorgeous muscles it took me weeks to develop (they're not totally gone, and they're coming back, but still). Bad enough that I look all lumpy now in my not-even-cute-anyway workout clothes.

Did I really have to look up on my way from the car to the house after hitting the gym tonight to see several good-looking, muscly guys hanging out on the balcony, looking at me?!


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Random Kid Tricks

"Hey, here's a tongue twister: One smart fellow, he felt smart. Say it three times fast."

"OK - one smart fellow, he felt smart. Three times. Fast."

"No no - say the whole thing. One smart fellow, he felt smart. Fast."

"OK - the whole thing. One smart fellow, he felt smart. Fast."

"No, sweetie, Mommy's trying to tell you: something very funny happens when you say the whole thing fast."

[Daddy helpfully begins saying it three times fast; child protests loudly.]

"One smart fellow, he smelt...fart… HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"


"Can you say, 'Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?'"

"I can say some of that, Daddy. ...'Peter.'"


Stage whisper from behind me: "Daddy."
"What?" he replies.
"No, whisper!"
"Why are we whispering?"
"I want to talk to you without Mommy hearing."


In the back seat, a soft child’s voice quietly sings "Doe...a deer...a female deer..."

At which point I chime in with a song I once heard David Arquette sing on Letterman:
"Dough – with which to buy my beer
Ray – the guy I buy beer from
Me – the one I buy beer for
Far – too far to go back home
So – I guess I’ll have a beer
La – (drunkenly) la la la la la laaaaaa
Tea – thbthh (spit) I’d rather have a beer
And that brings us back to dough!"


"What do you think of that?"


"It’s good."

"Oh, good. I was worried."

"I wasn’t talking to you, Mommy!"