Sunday, January 20, 2008

I guess I didn't get the memo...

I was just catching up on a couple of blogs that I haven't read since well before Christmas, and both had lengthy entries and links to other blogs with lengthy entries dedicated to the "lie" of Santa Claus. Basically, these people are questioning whether or not it's appropriate to teach their kids to believe in Santa Claus, because eventually their kids will learn the "truth," which is that there is no such thing as Santa Claus, and therefore, they will a) be angry with their parents for lying to them, and b) begin questioning every single other thing their parents have ever taught them, leading in one case to c) questioning the existence of God and Jesus. And judging by the number of comments on both blogs -- which generally receive 4-6 comments on any given entry -- supporting the notion that Santa is a lie we shouldn't tell our children, this is apparently some new popular thinking going around. All the commenters were people who said things like "I felt betrayed when I found out Santa Claus wasn't real."

Hmm. I guess I missed the memo where we were all going to hate on Santa Claus.

I don't personally know a single person who felt betrayed when they found out Santa Claus wasn't real. Granted, my family and friends are extremely well-adjusted, so maybe we're the weirdos. But for the most part, I think we were all fully aware that Santa Claus was a game your parents played with you. A game, not a lie they perpetuated on you. It's definitely a game with me and Daniel. I think he'll react like I did when he finally figures it out -- he'll think it's awesome that I "tricked" him for so long. And he'll remember Santa as being a magic and happy part of childhood and he'll carry it on with his own kids. He won't be angry or disappointed because by the time he figures it out, he'll also be old enough to realize that he's still going to have a great Christmas with or without Santa's help. And that's really what Santa, when done properly, does -- he's a tool you can use to get your kids interested in giving, a mythical figure who teaches us that you can reap so many benefits from giving, maybe it's fun to just give and give to the whole world. Santa fires up kids' imaginations, gets them thinking about the whole wide world and not just their tiny corner of it. Kids will ask all sorts of questions about whether or not kids in China get a visit from Santa, and it's your opportunity to help them learn about life in China. Or wherever else your kid asks about.

If doing the Santa thing in your house is leading to your kids being selfish and spoiled, I don't really think the issue is Santa -- I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the parenting.

If doing the Santa thing in your house is leading to your kids questioning the validity of everything you've ever taught them, maybe you should thank your lucky stars that your kids have brains enough to not just take everything at face value and take the opportunity to help them explore their faith, or whatever it is they're questioning.

Maybe you felt betrayed by your parents because they were assholes who just up and told you there was no Santa one day and let that be their excuse to never buy you another decent Christmas gift again. Maybe this, then, is your opportunity to not be your parents.

I just the think the whole "debate" is ridiculous. I see where this is going -- people are going to teach their kids that there is no Santa Claus, and those kids are going to come to school and tell the children of normal people that there is no Santa Claus, thus leading to the normal people having to either make something up on the fly when their kid asks about it, or ending the Santa game before they had planned to. Some kid on the playground told Daniel and his friends that there is no Santa and that he saw his parents leaving the gifts out, but I think Daniel has one more year to believe in Santa and then he'll probably figure it out, so I told him that if he didn't believe in Santa, then Santa wouldn't visit. And I seriously doubt that this will harm him for life. In fact, when he confronted me with his theory that there is no Santa, he thought it was really funny.

It's all fine and well if you don't want to have your kids believing in Santa, but that doesn't mean it's okay for you to preach it to my kid.

You might assume that the people most concerned about this are hardcore Christians, and that is true of one camp, but the other camp is gay parents. Particularly gay men. A lot of gay men (and I'm sure lesbian women) have this thing where they have vowed, after coming out, to never tell another lie as long as they live, and they feel like teaching their kids to believe in Santa is lying. I find this perspective fascinating from a sociological viewpoint, but it's not something I could ever get behind.

We're Santa people in this house.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Home Alone 2, and some things that suck

Apparently I should have included Home Alone 2 on my list of movies with scenes that make me cry every single time -- I just realized this when I was watching it on cable for the 958th time this morning. And towards the end, there's the part where his mom finds Kevin standing in front of the tree at Rockefeller Center, just after he's made a Christmas wish to see her. I hate to be all "the Home Alone filmmakers were really good," but they were, because in this scene, the obvious thing would have been to have Kevin shout, "Mom!" and the mom shout "Kevin!" and have them run straight to one another and embrace. But instead, it happens a little bit differently -- she comes rushing up to where he's standing and stops about three feet away from him, and they look at one another, then Kevin apologizes, and she apologizes. And then they stare at each other some more, and then finally they embrace. And this entire time, certain among us are getting all weepy. Awesome! I can't believe I left this off my original list. What was I thinking?

Strangely, I have reserved judgment on Pearl Harbor for a long time, mainly because I was still in the midst of being hot for Ben Affleck at the time it came out, and also because it was so pretty ("Ooh, look, shiny things!") -- oh, and I was pregnant, so it seemed good because it played upon one's hormonal emotions. But last night, during half time of the Patriots-Jags game, I got bored of the commentary and switched over to Pearl Harbor on another channel, just to see what it looked like in high-def (seriously, that's what went through my head). And finally came to realize that Pearl Harbor is indeed a shite movie. Kate Beckinsale is quite lovely to look at, as is the scenery, and the casting of Dan Aykroyd as an adviser to the President was a really interesting choice, but let's face it -- Josh Hartnett can't act, and Ben Affleck is out of his depth in his attempts to be deeper than a romantic hero. However, if I had been, like, sick at the time, I bet I would've been all, "Pearl Harbor is the best movie ever!" Sick people and pregnant women -- that's who this movie is good for. Otherwise, it sucks.

Another thing that sucks is that song by Sara Bareilles -- I have no idea what it's called and am far too lazy to check, but it's the one in heavy rotation on The N and VH-1 right now, and is also featured in the ad for Music On Demand. She's banging away on a piano and singing something like "I'm not gonna zsazsazsazsa a love song something something." This song sucks. What sucks the most about this song is that it's very sneaky and it might suck you in to thinking you actually like it -- it's very dangerous. You have to overcome this one on an intellectual level. You actually have to learn to hate this song just because everyone else loves it. It's got the kicky piano chords, the plucky heroine with a not altogether unpleasant voice, slightly indecipherable lyrics, and then... it becomes very bland. Because of the very same qualities which first make you think it's okay. But it sucks.

Other things that suck:

- The ending to Once. Totally amazing movie, and then... they don't get together in the end. I know, I've been totally brainwashed by chick flicks and books with standard happy endings. If there's sexual tension, people should hook up -- that's what I believe. But they didn't. Thank God he bought her a piano, and thank God for the beautiful music, or this would be the worst movie ever.

- Acid reflux.

- Car repairs that were originally going to be $165 (woohoo!) and after all was said and done, are practically a million dollars. Well, maybe not a million -- but definitely the bulk of my paycheck. And yet all the repairs I've made to my car over the last year are still less than a third of what car payments would have been. So it's a very tough call. I mean, I do hate my car. I wouldn't mind a new car. It's just that the thought of a car payment sends me into a blind panic.

- Freezing feet. I thought my new lined Crocs would help with this, but no.

- When they show part of the "reveal" in commercials for What Not to Wear. Now I know this week's makeover is going to feature a dress I already hate.

- Weight Watchers new ads trying to pretend they're not a "diet." Okay, maybe you're not a "diet" using the common definition of the word rather than the nutrionist's definition, but you're still a weight loss program. Don't lie.

- Having to go places on Sunday. I hate this. I especially hate having to go someplace early on a Sunday. Sunday should be my day where I get to lounge about on my sofa doing nothing all day long. Even the bible says that Sunday is to be a day of rest! Instead, I have to get in the shower and get ready to go someplace by 11am or something. Blech. It's almost like having to go to work.

And on that note, I have to go get ready. We're going to a movie premiere today. Our friends Kyle and Steve made a documentary. I'll let you know more about it after I see it, but I'm sure it's going to be good.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

As Seen On TV!!

I am now the proud owner of a Craft Lite Cutter! As seen on tv!! This is a craft trimmer whose main selling point is the light beneath the cutting rail, so you can see exactly where the cut line is going to happen on your paper or photo or whatever. The first time we saw an ad for this (in true infomercial style, the ad depicts crafters using crappy cutter after crappy cutter, shredding paper and cutting in the wrong places, and then they break out the miraculous Craft Lite Cutter and never mess up a scrapbooking project again!), Rob got ALL excited and said, "Honey, we should get one of those!" And I was all, "Um, I have several perfectly wonderful Creative Memories cutters and there's no way in hell I would spend $19.95 on something with a LIGHT along the cutting rail, because I am not stupid enough to cut a photo in the wrong place. I fail to see what the big deal is." And Rob proceeded to look all kind of wounded and hurt and then I felt like a really bad fiancee, but he kind of laughed and we moved on with our lives.

Then, last night, I had this particular group of girlfriends over who I used to work with in my first insurance office; we get together once a month for dinner, and every December we have a Christmas gift exchange and dinner at someone's house. This year we had issues doing this in the month of December, so it was last night. And the very first gift I opened was from Leslie, who is kind of an odd woman (sorry, Leslie, but you are, odd yet loveable) and has been known to buy everyone fuzzy hangers and things of that nature. But this particular gift was a Craft Lite Cutter! And the way she had wrapped it, the first thing I opened was a small box containing six blades, which looked pretty cool, and then I opened the box containing the cutter itself, which came with a bunch more blades, and I gotta tell you, it actually looks like a pretty awesome cutter! One of the blades is a perforator, which I think I can come up with a lot of uses for. But what's hilarious is how EXCITED I got about it! I held it up to Rob (who got stuck at our Girl's Night Out through no fault of his own) and said, "Look, honey, it's the Craft Lite Cutter!" He looked a little confused, as he is sometimes does, probably because the last time the words "Craft Lite Cutter" had been used in this house, I mocked the whole thing pretty ruthlessly.

But I did get all excited, especially about the perforating blade. The light feature, I can probably take or leave, but I'll see how life-changing it is when I break it out later on to check the cutting power of this thing. I have to reserve judgment till I see how quality the blade is; the ads tout the blades as being all fabulous and wonderful, so we'll see. What else is nice is that it seems that the base of the cutter is about 15 inches, which will be perfect for working with 12-inch scrapbooking paper. I can envision making some cool borders with the different blades. I will never cut my photos with anything other than a straight edge blade, because that just makes the photos look completely hideous.

I've actually never owned anything "as seen on tv" before, so this a big moment for me. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year, and some movie notes

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great Christmas or whatever, and then engaged in debauchery last night. I know I did... if by "debauchery" you mean taking the crew (Daniel and Rob) over to Lianne and Sam's house and bringing along chicken chili for the assembled crowd (erm, Lianne, Sam, and Mr. Vinci); watching football and bad television throughout the evening; briefly breaking out Sam's Wineopoly game and then getting bored of it quite quickly; drinking one entire cider and two glasses of champagne before having to switch to diet Pepsi due to a stomach problem caused by sulfates in the beer and wine; watching old home movies of Sam as a small boy which were hysterical and cute; and then barely holding my shit together when Rob insisted we stay 35 more minutes until it was officially midnight when I really wanted to leave around 11... we could have been home, sleeping, by midnight, you know. Oh, and the freezing car ride for 59% of the drive home. But it was a fun night.

Rob and I had a goal to see three movies this weekend since we had so much free time on our hands: Juno, Walk Hard, and I'm Not There. We managed two of the three. Juno was Friday night's selection. We couldn't wait to see it as we had punked out on trekking down to the indie theatre two weeks ago when it was only playing there. I had a moment of panic upon getting to the theatre almost an hour early because we ate dinner too quickly and discovering the place was packed in a way I have never seen; we figured everyone had cabin fever after the holiday and snow and decided to get the hell out and see some movies. So this lady goes, as we were walking in, "Everything is sold out." And when we didn't immediately respond -- presumably by turning around and heading straight back to our car -- she repeated it: "Everything." And it was so cold out that I was thinking how pissed I was going to be if I got in there and Juno was sold out when I had just left the safe and warm confines of my vehicle to get into the theatre -- that's how long the walk is from the main parking lot to the ticket booth of this place.

But it was all good -- Juno wasn't sold out yet, although there were no tickets left for Charlie Wilson's War, Enchanted, Walk Hard, and two other movies I can't remember now. I'm sure that several movies being shown in that theatre got the trickle down effect from others that sold out... people don't like to just leave without seeing something after going to all the trouble of getting there and getting out of the safe and warm confines of their vehicles, so they'll just go see whatever at that point. So anyway, we saw Juno in what eventually became a theatre packed full of Highlands Ranch, CO teenagers and a smattering of adults. Needless to say, it was the adults who understood the jokes and pretty much everything else in the movie; I often find that just because a movie is about teenagers (or children) doesn't mean it's a movie for teenagers (or children)... although maybe there are teenagers out there who get Juno. Just not in this town.

And Juno was amazing. It was everything you've heard in the reviews and possibly more. And if you go see it and don't cry for the last 20 minutes of the movie, you're colder than I thought I you were. Ellen Page was incredible; the script was amazing. It is just a really great movie, and yet it's so quiet about it. If you don't see another movie this year, go see this one. P.S. The ads bill this one as a full on comedy, but it's really not -- it's what I believe the DVD sellers would categorize as Comedy/Drama. Just so you know. It's funny, but it's not lighthearted or shallow.

I wish I could get all excited and up in your grill about Walk Hard, but after loving absolutely everything to come from the mind of Judd Apatow for the last few years, this one fell flat... and I think it was because Apatow didn't direct it. I think if he had, it might have worked a little better. As it was, it was too conscious of being a satire, and therefore lost its satirical edge. It is more comparable to movies like Epic Movie and Scary Movie than to any really good satires (of which I can think of none right this minute, but I'm sure I could if I really felt like it... which I don't, since no one pays me to review movies, so I can be all lazy like that). I said to Rob when we left that it's a funny movie, but it's not a good movie. Like, Knocked Up and Superbad are funny and good. Walk Hard is just funny. And you almost feel guilty for finding it funny if you are also a fan of the movies it sends up, mainly Ray and Walk the Line (this more than any other), because a lot of the stuff it plays for laughs is stuff from the lives of Ray Charles and Johnny Cash that just isn't funny. What is funny are the artistic phases Dewey Cox goes through, and the sending up of those conventions of rock music, and the time he spends in India with the Beatles (played hysterically by Jack Black as Paul, Jason Schwartzman as Ringo, Paul Rudd as John and... crap, I can't remember the fourth one who played George). There is also a running gag about the Jews who control show business which is funny if not very clever, and these guys are played by three of the Jewish actors who regularly inhabit Apatow's films... so you see, it's okay to laugh... because they are Jewish and you're supposed to know that. It's all very wink wink nudge nudge. And maybe you're into that, but I prefer something a little more downright funny or clever.

The one place where the movie does transcend funny and moves into clever territory is with the music itself, which was composed by Apatow and a team of musicians such as Marshall Crenshaw and Dan Bern, among others (whose names I don't recognize, so see how I am? I just name the ones I actually know... again with the laziness!). The songs are hilarious. The best are Let's Duet, which is the song Dewey Cox sings with his love interest and makes all this sexual innuendo (in place of Walk the Line's Johnny and June duets); Walk Hard of course, which mocks Walk the Line while also paying homage to it; and a really hilarious tune from Dewey's Dylanesque phase where the lyrics make absolutely no sense but all the hippie kids love it and it's like their protest anthem.

I think the movie would have worked better as a mock-doc (a la This is Spinal Tap) than as an actual life story type film. I realize the danger would have been having the filmmakers accused of trying to remake Spinal Tap, but I really think it could have been done in an Office kind of way and not been too much like Spinal Tap, as it would have been looking back at the career of Dewey rather than taking place in the here and now.

We never did get to I'm Not There, as we once again balked at the notion of heading all the way downtown to the indie theatre and paying $12 a ticket to sit there in a decrepit seat while a bunch of drunk twentysomethings make stupid comments through the whole movie. You really have to be in the mood for that sort of thing. However, a new indie theatre just opened up right near my office, where apparently for $13 a ticket, you also get popcorn and beverages, and they will be delivered directly to your seat... which is brand new and hasn't been in the theatre since it first opened in 1910, and uncleaned since the Reagan administration. So we'll go see that in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, we have a lot of stuff we need to catch up on from the fall that just showed up on Pay Per View... I hate going into Oscar season without at least being familiar with all the Best Picture nominees.

All right, Daniel's restless and I have Bionicles to construct. Shannon out.