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Archive for August, 2010

There she is!  Oh, um, sorry, I mean, please come see me in two other places today.

Such a day!  I have a piece up at Faith and Family Livean interview with Kathy Rivet, who has been teaching Creighton Model NFP for over 30 years. Kathy has also been my instructor for about eight years, so I can personally attest to the fact that she is a woman of supernatural patience and fortitude.  Come check out what she has to say about the changes she’s seen in the world of NFP.

And today The Anchoress is going to Rome, and I’m not jealous at all, do you hear me?  She has very generously invited me, Danielle Bean, and Sally Thomas to write guest posts while she’s gone.  So come on over and see the video of Dolly Parton that I found!

How should I do this?  Should I post the same thing here and there?  Or should I just leave a note here to remind you to see me there?  What should I do?  Where did I put my coffee?  What’s that smell?  You thought it was okay to just step over this mess and keep on walking? And with a track record like this, you think I’m going to get you a dog???

Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to again.  Nooo, I wouldn’t rather be in Rome….

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1.  I just got home from school supply shopping.   Well, I’m used to checking out with heaping full cart, but usually that’s when I’m buying a week’s worth of food for ten people, not desk supplies for four little kids.  Sheesh.  Sheesh.  Sheesh.  Those kids had better learn something this year.  Two of the kids had flash drives on their supply lists from the teachers!  Okay, that’s actually kind of cool, but still.  When I was in 6th grade, we were using computers to run the following program:

10  PRINT “I LOVE UNICORNS”

20 GOTO 10

RUN

and then Mrs. Blanchard would get all mad because the boys were making the computer run “DEAD MEAT DEAD MEAT DEAD MEAT DEAD MEAT DEAD MEAT.”

2.  In two weeks, I will have my first very own linky list!  So get ready to share your SEARCH TERMS POETRY.  This stuff practically writes itself, and sometimes tells you a little more than you wanted to know about what kind of thing you write about.  For instance, every single damn day, at least one person finds me by entering “Horshack” into a search engine.  I write about Bach; they want Horshack.  I mention adoration; they clamor for Horshack.  I write about Horshack; they search for “when simchas go wrong.”  I’m not making any of this up.

I don’t even actually know who this person is, this Horshack.  But I realize that, in writing this, I’ve now eternally cemented my and his relationship in this strange and stupid place called the internet.

The only rule for SEARCH TERMS POETRY is that you may only use words and phrases which are direct quotes of search terms for your blog or website. Or if you want to add other words in, you have to make it clear (with quotation  marks or italics or something) which words are direct quotes.  Everything else – style, length, rhyming or not, etc. – is up to you.  If you don’t have a statistical thingy on your site, you can install the free version of Sitemeter, easy peasy.

On Monday, Sept. 13, post your poem on your site, and leave a link to it on my blog, and we can all have a good laugh at the poor suckers who Googled “spiritual help” and ended up with youHere is the search term poem I came up with.  Spread the word!

3.  The one and only, the fabulous, the indefatigable, the outrageous and yet humble, the incisive, the witty, profound, and now globetrotting Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, has done me the inadvisable honor of asking me to write guest posts for her blog at First Things while she is in Rome!  Danielle Bean and Sally Thomas will be there, too!  I believe that officially makes me the Gummo of this particular group, but I don’t mind.  I will be cross-posting the same silly stuff here and there.  Posting will probably start Tuesday!  I still can’t believe she asked me!

Here is The Anchoress’ lovely introduction of Danielle, Sally, and me.

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Seven Quick Takes:

“Pearls Before Swine” Edition

In choosing movies, my kids have more or less beaten me down.  Of course I don’t let them watch just anything they want, because, obviously, some things are harmful or inappropriate in themselves; and some things are just so dang stupid, they do damage to immature aesthetic organs.

On the other hand, it’s so unpleasant to spend an evening shushing and chastising sulky kids while they ruin a perfectly good movie.  And all they remember about the movie is that you yelled at them all the way through it.

So we more or less compromise, and let them watch a small amount of really worthless stuff (Scooby Doo); a lot of accessible stuff that has some merit, even if it’s only the merit of well-crafted entertainment (Daffy Duck); and then some Good Movies They Ought To See (High Noon), whether they want to or not.

The following list is a subcategory of accessible-with-merit:  things they ought to easily enjoy, but don’t, just to drive me crazy.  For these movies, I wait until the kids are really desperate for entertainment, and then gradually wear them down until they accidentally start enjoying themselves.

–1–

The Thief of Bagdad (1940) (available to watch instantly on Netflix)

Is this actually even a good movie?  I sure loved it as a kid.  It’s a Sinbad-ish story about a (remarkably white-bread) beggar/king Prince Ahmad who goes adventuring with his little brown buddy Abu, and wins the princess with the help of a gigantic and greasy genie with Brooklyn accent.

I sometimes think that the more clumsily-executed special effects of this era (together with the garishly brilliant color scheme) portray magic  better than slick and perfect CGI.  The roughness makes it all the more startling and otherwordly, which is how it ought to be.

Why the kids didn’t like it:  It’s dated and goofy.  I think there are songs, too, which is intolerable to sophisticates like themselves.

–2–

The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986) (often on sale for $5-7 at Walmart and Target)

A completely charming live action dog and cat buddy story set in the lovely Japanese countryside.  Dudley Moore narrates and does the dialogue, perfectly giving voice to the natural gestures and expressions of the animals.  He’s clearly ad libbing in places, and some of it is just comic genius.  I thought the turtle part was especially funny (for my TMC classmates:  the turtle always made me think of Mr. Shea), and I really like the fox:

Why the kids didn’t like it:  I really don’t know.  They do show a dog giving birth in more detail than I would like.  It’s not a typical computer-manipulated, squeaky-voiced animal picture, which takes some getting  used to.  Also, it opens with an irritating folksy kid song “We’re gonna take a walk outside today,” which really gives the wrong impression about what kind of movie it is.

–3–

A Christmas Carol (1951)

The only movie version of this story you will ever need.  Most convincing (and entertaining) conversion story you will ever see.  So many elements of this movie are unforgettable:  the pagan grandeur of Christmas Present, the terror of Scrooge alone in his cold house, hearing the dragging chains coming closer and closer; the the brilliance and sincerity of Alastair Sim’s timing and facial contortions.  A nearly perfect movie.

Why the kids didn’t like it:  It’s black and white.  Some of it is pretty hokey, and the emotionalism (Scrooge’s sister’s deathbed; the miniature lost souls in agony waving their arms around) made them uncomfortable.

–4–

West Side Story (1961)

A modern (50’s) retelling of Romeo and Juliet with unforgettable music by Leonard Bernstein.

Haven’t actually made them watch this one yet (it’s not so much the sexiness as the sad ending that’s made me hold off.  I’ve been really chicken about exposing them to sad endings)–but I’m pretty sure they’ll hate it when I decide they’re old enough.  The baby, however, loved it:  lots of jumping and dancing, loud drums and swirling skirts.  Boy, the music is so great.

Why the kids won’t like it:  the dated scenario and slang, the gang members doing menacing jetés and arabesques, and some of the plot points (the wedding scene comes to mind) are important but subtle.

–5–

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

How did they pull it off?  It’s a story about a small tribe of simple and noble Bushmen being threatened by the violence and consumerism of the western world.   But it doesn’t preach.  It doesn’t even teach.  It’s more of a funny, moving, and unusual fairy tale with a happy ending, which creates strong affection for several of the characters (and not just the Bushmen).  I remember the sweetness, but was surprised at how much slapstick is in this movie, too.

Why the kids didn’t like it:  Because they’re bad, bad kids.

–6–

The Iron Giant (1999) (available to watch instantly on Netflix)

A little boy discovers a giant robot, who has to develop a conscience and save the world.

Why the kids didn’t like it:  I suspect it’s because they were made nervous by elements which they thought I wouldn’t approve of:  the main character is really bratty, occasionally uses bad language, and there’s an irritating anti-establishment vibe.  But I think the good of this movie outweighs these slightly distasteful aspects, and one scene (when the Iron Giant murmurs “Superman . . . “) makes me (and–shh!–my husband, too) leave the room when I know it’s coming, because it makes me cry.

———

Whoa, that’s only six!  Oh well.  I also forgot to list which scenes might not be good for kids.  Sorry!  Going to bed now.

Don’t forget to check out Jen (and excuse her dust.  I love that phrase!) at Conversion Diary, where she is hosting the weekly 7 Quick Takes linkaround.

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Hi, I’m the Jerk. I’m allowed to write movie reviews on Simcha’s blog once a week under two conditions. One: I keep the language clean. Two: I have to wear pants when I write. (Somehow, she can tell.)

I know, some of you were made SAD by my review of Yentl. I know some of you thought I should probably go to the beach for a STAYCATION, and maybe cool it for a while. I even know some of you,…thought I should,…stop writing,… altogether,…

And you know, I was gonna ditch the whole thing this week. I wanted to concentrate on my philanthropic work, hand write some letters to loved ones, and organize the agenda for my next Opus Dei meeting. (We’re gonna complain about our wives this time!)

But then I got a letter from one of my fans. Not a letter, really, but a fan fiction comic book he had made of Point Break, this week’s movie. OK, more like a set of obscene drawings of Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves with Lori Petty. OK, and maybe he glued pictures of his head on Lori Petty’s body. Hallie, you might want to find a good attorney.

"I do have a JCL and can assist with you annulments! Call Now!"

Point Break

You can pretty much smell 1991 all over this movie.

First you got Swayze in full bore Swayze mode. Scruffy beard, long hair, Zen nonsense. It’s practically a Ben Gazzara cameo away from being Road House. (And yes Dan, there are plenty of boobs in the movie. Now quit it.) But you see, this movie is working on a totally different plane. They give us a complete Swayze – BUT HE’S THE BAD GUY!!!

Mind Blown!

That’s right, he’s the leader of the Ex Presidents, a surfer gang that goes around robbing banks so they can surf year round. Hey, you know, now that I’ve typed that out, it doesn’t seem that stupid after all. Hmm.

But you know what? There’s this totally cool FBI agent who is on to them. Yeah, he’s brash and he plays by his own rules, but he gets the job done. You know who I mean. Agent Pappas as played by Gary Busey.

I got a Cademy Reward at home!

No Gary. That’s your BAFTA award. Jon Voight won that year. Remember?

Nevermind.

So Agent Pappas is out to get Swayze when he is joined by rookie agent Johnny Utah, as played by Canoe Reeves.

That's Keanu.

Geshundheit.

Here is where we hit the Keanu Vortex. How did this guy ever have a career? He makes Tom Cruise look human? He has the charisma of wet cloth. HE HAS BEADY EYES. The existence of Keanu Reeve, Movie Star, is one of those unfathomable mysteries of the universe.

At least Lori Petty’s time as a movie star was short lived. For some reason, she kept getting cast as the spunky, tom boy heroine who fell hard for some meat head like Canoe. Then she made Tank Girl.

I now teach gym.

Good for you.

So Canoe goes undercover and learns the ways of surfing from Swayze. They totally become like soul mates. And they jump out of an airplane. But that was really part of some nefarious plot by Swayze to outsmart Canoe.

Yeah, you can outsmart Canoe by taking him skydiving. You can also outsmart him by telling him if he closes his eyes, he’ll turn invisible.

Here’s the thing: Aside for the terrible, terrible acting, this is a really good movie. It has a classic tension between two leads. Like an old Western. If they weren’t on opposite sides of the law they would be friends.

Check out this clip of the chase scene. The action beats are terrific.

Alright, I totally want that red Lincoln.

If you don’t own Point Break already, you must. Be warned, though, members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers make cameos throughout the picture. There is a lot of bad language, quite a bit of nudity, and even Lori Petty gets nekkid. Yeah.

As some of you may know, my parole officer says this does not count as time off my sentence. Basically, between the halfway home restrictions and the time it takes for me to pan handle enough for a 40, I have a little less free time now that I have to show up for the community service.

What I’m saying is, I’m gonna start writing these in advance. But that means I won’t be able to do a poll for a while. Send your requests to thejerkdoesnotlikeyou@gmail.com

Next week: Sean Connery’s sci-fi adventure Zardoz. It’s directed by John Boorman, who made Excalibur, one of Simcha’s favorite films.

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Since as many as two of my readers have asked for pictures of my van (which I described here), here are some pictures of my van:

You know what, I think one picture is enough.  You get the general idea.  Contain your jealousy!  If anyone deserves to tool around rural southern New Hampshire in a vehicle this awesome, it’s me.

As you will see, it is an intimidating vehicle, weighing in at two-and-a-half tons of pure kid-schlepping menace.  If you are unlucky enough to find yourself stuck behind our van in traffic, you’ll have this stonelike visage to contend with:

So what we have here is not so much a picture of how the decals under the back windows resemble the mustache of Muammar El Qadaffi, as an illustration of the law of diminishing returns, exacerbated by the husband who brings around gin.  That is to say, the harder I worked on this stupid picture, the stupider it got, until my husband came along and asked what I was doing.  So I explained it, and then he decided to bring around some gin.

Oh, the time stamp on this post that says 7 a.m.?  Don’t think about it too hard.

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A couple of people have asked why we’re not home schooling any more.  We will be, a little bit — my six-year-old son will be at home for first grade, and my four-year-old daughter keeps handing me notes composed of random letters, in a pathetic plea to be taught how to read and write.

And of course we’ll keep our feral three-year-old, whom no school can hold, and the smartest baby in the world (16 months old), who is not only putting together two- and three-word sentences, she can say “Come ON!” just like Gob Bluth.  So clearly, we will be maintaining a richly educational atmosphere, even though I’m sending the oldest four off to a classroom.

I don’t know, is it too passé to say I’m burnt out?  It wasn’t the hard work that wore me out; it was the crappy job I did, and the worrying about it.  That’s what was so exhausting.  And then there was this:

(This was the first day of school last year.  We wondered why she was letting us get math done.)

We had nice times,  when the kid would have revelations about free will, or when they’d groan because it was the end of our Latin lesson.  The dining room is still decorated with the heraldic coats of arms we designed for our Medieval unit, and there were some thrilling moments in stovetop meteorology experiments.

But I was sitting here ordering the math books for the school year (yes, now.  Shut up!  It isn’t even labor day yet) and feeling nothing but weariness.  We enjoyed some of the benefits home schoolers promise:  the closeness, the leisure, the freedom, the intensity, the depth.  But really just not often enough.  We did it for six years, and I’m about ready for something different (not necessarily easier!) for a while.

If I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years (and I haven’t), it’s that you never, never know what your life will look like this time next year– so who knows?  Maybe we’ll go back to home school next year.  Or maybe the world will come to an end, and I won’t have to explain place value again.

The four oldest kids have a lovely, rural charter school to go to, and I want them to be happy and busy.  Also, a couple of them turned out to be more complicated than we thought.  And I’m not the kind of mother that it’s okay to be around all day.

I do know that all my kids have learned that reading is a wonderful way to spend your time, and that figuring out things and hearing new ideas is thrilling.  They aren’t embarrassed to talk about ideas, and they have no idea how dorky they are.  So I feel more or less okay with the start I’ve given them.

Boy, I wish I still had that gin in the photo.

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That poem

Dear everyone,
Well, I did it again.  I thought the joke was really obvious, but it turns out that it was just me being a big weirdo again.  I hope no one was offended, disgusted, or, you know, weirded out.  The poem in this morning’s post was made up of search terms for my blog.  Each line was an exact quote of a phrase that someone entered into a search engine, and then ended up at my blog.
“Hallie Lord the jerk,” for instance, is not a statement of opinion — it’s just a sad statement that Hallie Lord is now inextricably linked (at least as far as Google is concerned) with people like me.
Sorry!  Are we all still friends?

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