Friday, March 12, 2010

Gnorm hates spring break

While Heir 2 was home from school, he was pretty involved with getting caught up on homework. So I left him to his own devices.

However, something about Heir 2's presence stirs up Ungnome and gnome-like activity in general.

Target Practice

Hung by the Gneck

Ungnome gets his

Gnomes on a toot

Unfortunately, Heir 2 didn't get quite as much done as he should have.

The gnomes, however, were exhausted.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Curmudgeon Alert: Who are these people and what are they doing on The Oscars?

I rarely watch The Oscars. Dirtman runs it in the background so, if I’m dying to know who won what, I need only listen in.

Given an unlimited budget, I’d be in line for every first run movie. I do love the films themselves. I just wish the people who make them would be a little more low-key. The rest of us somehow muddle through our jobs without a seven-figure salary and an annual televised pat-on-the-back; why can’t they?

This year I sat in front of the television and watched – and even paid attention to – The Oscars. This was no small feat – there wasn’t a whole lot to capture my attention. If I hadn’t had such an emotionally-depleting weekend, I would have opted for something a tad more interesting – like doing my taxes or balancing the checkbook.

Now I realize, as a middle-aged person, most of my curmudgeonly griping will be written off. I also realize I’m not exactly the trendiest of middle-aged people (as my sons remind me on a regular basis). And so I do have a few questions:

Who are these CHILDREN the Oscars are passing off as established actors? And why, if they have impressed the industry so much with their performances, can’t they manage to read a teleprompter without looking like Ben Stein on Seconal?

Another thing: is there some sort of collaboration between gown designers and set designers to see how many vacuous ingĂ©nues they can force to walk to their mark looking like they have a load in their thong? If so – good job! It provided the only excitement of the evening.

I must say, it was good of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin to keep their jokes so lame and stilted that they made the rest of the show look almost riveting by comparison.

The only genuine moments came from the group around the movie Precious. They probably didn’t imagine they’d ever make it to the Oscars – well, at least not until their fairy godOprah waved her magic wand. I was kind of pulling for them, though it’s good to know Oprah doesn’t call the shots on everything in this country…yet.

I have to insert here that, other than Inglourious Basterds (Heir 2 brought his DVD of this home for spring break), I saw none of the movies up for awards. So it’s purely personal when I say I had to be happy that The Dude won for best actor (when researching for my job I came across Jeff Bridges’ website for his foundation for hunger in the U.S. – so he immediately jumped a few pegs in my esteem. And…he’s The Dude!).

I was trying to think of a clever way to end this, but I’ve decided to just let it stop, like how The Oscars end with a bunch of people just milling around on the stage.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Trolling the Past

Heir 2 is home from Roanoke this week (leaves today, as a matter of fact and THAT’S JUST SOMETHING IN MY EYE, YOU HEAR?) and has been cleaning out the storage unit – the one where we tossed everything we had time to salvage during the exodus from the House That Shall Not Be Named.

Needless to say, a lot of bittersweet moments came and went as we unearthed things I thought were gone forever and didn’t unearth things I thought surely had been saved. For the sake of my sanity, we’ll focus on what we kept rather than what we lost. It’s the credo by which I live.

My hardcover copy of Dr. Zhivago with an inscription from John Boy – saved.

My trolls (c. 1966) – saved.

This piece of garbage egg carton and these rusted beach chairs – well, thank God we saved those.

Barbie’s Dream House – saved, if you don’t mind the fact that it’s been providing bedding for mice for the past two years.

THE Tiara – saved. (I KNOW. This is important to a lot of people. It is one of the most important representatives of Linguini silliness.)

The set of Bobbsey Twin books from the 1910s Dirtman found for me – SAVED! CHICK TALK ALERT! ALL GUYS SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH! See, the Bobbsey Twins, Good-n-Plenty, my flannel pajamas and a cat on my stomach is the only known antidote to severe PMS (which I think is totally unfair to still have – you shouldn’t have to be 52 with a reproductive system that thinks it’s 1985).

We haven’t gone through all the boxes yet – most are full of books.

I still hope to unearth the rest of my Barbie dolls. Ken seems to be peculiarly absent – we found his carrying case – filled with trolls and Barbie’s ballerina costume, yet no Ken (which, I guess, would explain why he split from Barbie). I sense Dark Garden’s hand in this, but he may have been too young at the time to remember. I do remember Ken taking a leap out the window with GI Joe – but I’m pretty sure he survived.

It’s been suggested that I can put some of this stuff on E-Bay and make some cash. Anyone want to buy a dusty egg carton?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mastering the Art of American Whining

I’m probably the last female on the planet to see Julie and Julia.

First-run movies are, for the most part, out of the Linguini budget and anything even approaching a “chick flick” is certainly destined for the very bottom of the Netflix queue. However, Dirtman, in an obvious ploy to get on my good side, allowed this to rise to the top of the list; or maybe it was that it was the one movie I put on the list that depicted people familiar with indoor plumbing.

For the record, it was a good movie. Meryl Streep playing a beloved icon; lots of food shots; Paris and make-believe Parisians being all warm and inviting – what’s not to love? And that’s what I kept saying to myself while I was watching it, “I love this but…”

… you have to put up with that annoying, insipid side story about a morose 30-year-old who is in desperate need for some real problems in her life since, obviously, complaining is her hobby – even more so than cooking. (I apologize in advance to any morose 30-year-olds. But, I’m sorry: When Julie says that “Julia saved me,” I wanted to ask, “From what? TOTAL self-absorption?”)

Up against Julia Childs’ rich and varied life, Julie Powell is nothing but a spoiled, whining Gen-Xer (or whatever Gen she is part of – I sure lost track of which is which). That may not be the truth in reality, but Movie Julie deserves a good ol’ Cher slap on the face and a, “Snap out of it!”

Honestly, though – I really liked this movie.

I will admit to catching just a hint…a whiff…of condescension. Yes, that’s it: condescension. Perhaps it’s just me, but I sort of winced at the movies’ incredulity over the true love affair between Julia and her husband Paul. Almost as if director/writer/producer Nora Ephron were saying, “Isn’t this INCREDIBLE? Two middle-aged people without movie star looks, absolutely besotted with each other! What a hoot!”

I overlook it though, if only for all the nifty vintage eye candy.

And then, of course, there is Meryl Steep’s lovingly elegant performance as Julia Child. I’ve read critics who defend Amy Adams’ inane performance as Julie Powell, saying she didn’t stand a chance when juxtaposed with Streep’s experience. But, let’s face it, this isn’t Adams’ first time performing with Streep, though she faired considerably better the last time.

Stanley Tucci and Jane Lynch (Childs’ husband and sister, respectively) are always treats in every movie I’ve ever seen them in.

A movie completely on Julia Childs’ life would have satisfied even more. Ephron could have spared us Powell’s whiney grousing, paid her some sort of “reminder’s fee” for highlighting Childs’ career, and allowed us to revel more deeply in the story of a strong, vivacious, powerful, inspiring woman.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Animal House

In my mind, I live in a lovely little cottage with a tidy husband, two doting sons and six sedate, well-behaved, quiet dogs. This cottage is draped with all kinds of personally-made items like doilies, sewn ruffled curtains, knitted pillows and crocheted afghans. When you walk into this cottage you are greeted by either the scent of sage, cinnamon, lemon or lavender, depending on the season. In this cottage you never have to check the chair before you sit down to see if there is a soggy, smelly sock toy nestled into the cushion.

Also in this cottage, there is a massive mud room where those six dogs, muddy from romping in a melted-snow drenched yard, are happy to curl up and nap until they are dry and all the dirt has fallen miraculously from their paws and fur. Then they calmly join me in front of the fireplace and sit or lie down calmly in front of my large stone fireplace while I knit; and it never once occurs to them to form a semi-circle in front of my chair and stare me down in some sort of mind control laser-gaze designed to force me into flinging Kraft Singles at them to make them stop.

Did I mention that in my mind, when I'm in this cottage I'm a size 8 and all my clothes are made of fabrics that drape like melted chocolate?

Just so you know how very far from reality is the inside of my mind.

I enumerate all these disparities between what is in my mind and what it in my reality because late winter is the exact time when those two manifestations are the farthest apart -- like the sun is from my hemisphere of the earth.

It's not the snow -- it's the remnants of the snowstorms. It's the mud, the slush, the tire gouges that fill with water; it's paw prints everywhere and it being too hot for the fireplace, but too cold not to run it.

C.S. Lewis called it "this nothing time."

Then there's that whole decor issue. There's been plenty of handmade doo-dads around here. One particular set of pillows served to snuff out a wood stove fire that occurred when Someone wasn't watching Someone Else who thought the fire embers could be revived by opening the stove door and "giving it some air" -- all while the Someone Who Knows to Watch Someone Else Like a Hawk was at choir practice (and we all know the identity of the only person in this household who would have any chance of being in a choir). Turns out Someone Else was right, to the extent that the "embers" began spewing out of the stove and the only alternative seemed to be to smother them with my carefully knitted and cabled -- let me repeat: cabled -- throw pillows...cashmere -- did you hear me? CASHMERE.

Then there was the crocheted afghan that made it to the emergency room during one of Dirtman's many bouts with MSG, but never made it back. Then there was the filet crocheted table cloth meticulously unraveled by a newly-adopted Jack Russell Terrier who had suddenly become "too quiet" while I was in the kitchen trying to master making homemade pasta in bulk.

I said it once, five years ago and I now reiterate: I live in a frat house.

The perk to this is that those I live with ("My Three Sons," as they are locally referred to) are perfectly happy with the way things are. They keep my "prideful" side in check. I've tried on occasion for a candlelight supper (al a Hyacinth Bucket) and spent the meal watching Dirtman and Heir 2 reheat their meat over the candle flames while Heir 1 did his Ray Charles impression.

See what I mean? Frat house.

I just want you to know, though, that in my head I live in that really cute cottage that smells like gingerbread and all the books on the shelf are at least 50 years old (though, sorry -- they still have my silly pencil notations in them because, ya know, I have to have the last word...).

And I know what you're thinking: But -- yes, I would still have six dogs; but they would all smell like cookies.