Saturday, December 30, 2006

Can I get a w00t w00t ?

It's official, y'all.

I pulled a 4.0 for fall semester.

Been questioning whether I'm going to want to pursue a graduate degree, but obviously don't need to 'worry' about that now.

Feels good to have survived Summer school, Fall Semester, and Christmas holidays!

Now I'm going to nurse the cold I've got so I'm not totally wiped out for our (thankfully mellow) New Year's Eve festivities.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Went to see "The Pursuit of Happyness" last night with a friend from my writer's group. He wanted to see it with a single parent who would 'get it', and I sure did. The film is relentlessly grim for the first hour or so, and that was hard. Even harder was the portion of the film when he had hit absolute rock bottom...

But our conversation afterward was good, and I ended up feeling better about the past 12 years of being a mom than I have in a long time.

I have concerns about the film, and I'm unsure what people will take away from it. It did not make any statement on the fragility of the family, choosing instead to show how this particular family fell apart. It did not show any other homeless families - I don't recall seeing any even in a scene in a 'women and children' shelter. It's as though Chris Gardener and his son were the only homeless family in Oakland. There was stuff that is really difficult to articulate here, but I'll just be blunt: I find it difficult to believe that he didn't encounter more, um, racism in his pursuit of a brokerage job at Dean Witter. Just sayin'.

And to me it is crazy to make a film like that and not make an explicit statement about the state of society. Obviously Chris Gardener believes in making his own way, and that's not bad. But to me it is so wrong that some people can be so broke and others so well off and have little mediating that gap. Man, I'm such a socialist (I'm just *meant* to be a social scientist). It was heartening to see him make it after all of that trial, but it was portrayed as happening in such a vacuum, that bothered me.

But it was a good film in many ways, Jaden Smith, who is Will Smith's real-life son, did a wonderful job as his movie son. There were some moments where I just cried because there was a 6-year-old boy on the screen. My 7-year-old has some of the same mannerisms, and the wonderful physical presence that children have at that age. And one scene in which the father is very close to his breaking point and yelling at his crying son just sent me over the edge. Being at that breaking point with a kid to take care of is pretty harsh.

So I guess I am recommending it. Plus it's a film with black people in it (although with the exception of Thandie Newton and two bit parts, the only black characters in it are Will and Jaden Smith).

Today my exhusband is having a really hard time with the whole single parenting thing, and I wonder if seeing this film will help him or not. For me it renewed by urge to fight for the family and life that I want. And that is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cheer up, dear.

Oh well. The glee I feel at having dismantled my broken VCR, thereby releasing the library tape stuck within is tempered by the melancholy brought on by watching the wonderful "Vera Drake", about an unassuming woman in London (circa 1950) who is convicted of a felony for 'helping young girls out' by inducing abortions. (oh, no wonder it felt so sad, Mike Leigh directed it!)

I want to holler out my back door and wave a sign around - something about safe, legal, available and affordable abortion.

No more waiting periods.

No more "cooling off" periods.

No more "this is how your baby would develop" lectures.

Just medical care provided to women who need it. Safely, with dignity.

Anyhow, I rec the movie, but it's pretty good at bringing the mood down. Great period costumes and look at social strata...

But I have to say, tearing apart a VCR was quite a bit of fun.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Hey, it's over!

Fun Christmas, after awhile. The weeun and I went to see "Night at the Museum" at the IMAX, then we snagged some Sesame Chicken and head home to eat it while watching "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou".

My very first xmas without an extended family component, and I have to say I needed it. Really really really missed Maddie, though.

If my camera is working (been having trouble) I will take some pictures of all of the cookies I still have. And there are two kinds I haven't even baked yet!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Well, then

I wish I'd had a plan for today, but alas, I didn't. Woke up unspeakably early at bf's and we hung out in bed, not being able to sleep but not wanting to get up. He head out of town and I to the grocery store for more cookie ingredients and various supplies.

Came home and cleaned the kitchen (nothing short of a miracle) and then messed it up again with cookie baking. And then... Then the day just sort of slipped away. I read a book, a short novel, just 270-odd pages. And drank a glass of wine. The urge to stay home and not interact was so strong I went down to the bar in my basement (instead of going out to the liquor store for the booze of my choice) and found a bottle of wine that has been down there since before we moved in. It turned out to be a dry riesling, which is my new favourite! So perhaps I was meant to nest?

Took a wine-induced nap then got up and wrapped gifts, made a sausage-hashbrown casserole for tomorrow's brunch, cleaned up a bit, took out garbage, etc.

Now I've got more books to read (far too many), or DVDs to watch, or cleaning to do...

One day I will figure out how to negotiate all of this Christmas mess, life, etc., but today is not the day.

My bog I'm a glum one.

I'll have to write about my fantastic Festivus Dinner (although honestly we didn't call it that, it just fell on the 23rd) with bf and his roomies. It was a blast, with prezzies and everything.

When I whinged to bf about hating Christmas, he said (in his insensitve practical way), "It will be over soon." Yep, but in between being anticipated and being over, I still have to DO it.

Okay, I'll go be crabby about it over here for awhile. I think I'll read some more. Happy Sunday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's the most [adjective] time of the year


I'm not too thrilled at this time of year. The idea of spending time with my fam is torture, my friends are not around, bf is out of town (well, not until Sunday), kids are oot and aboot...

whinge whinge whinge.

On the upside I am DONE with school for a few weeks, looking forward to reading (I have a stack of books, mostly thrillers and mysteries, both of which I haven't read in a while) and watching movies (the library lets you take out 10 DVDs at a time, you know).
Cookie baking has gone well. I have to get pictures of all the cookies I've made. A few more left (gingerbread, kolachy, russian tea cakes and just maybe holiday nuggets, an old family favourite) and by Christmas eve I should be done.

Now I've got to get a very late dinner finished for me and the weeun. Ooh, I do hope he sleeps in tomorrow... I could use some quiet time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mr. Death

Huh. An Errol Morris Documentary about a guy who built electrocution systems for executions.
It's interesting so far. Kind of fits my odd mood today.

Later, cookies!

UPDATE: OMG, I'd heard of this documentary. Turns out "Mr. Death" became a holocaust denier after being called to 'investigate' whether or not any of Auschwitz had ever been used as a gas chamber. He decided that, no, they hadn't, and being extremely egotistical (like blinded by his own self confidence in a pathological way) that it meant there was no Holocaust. Nice, huh? It's creepy and well done (a few too many re-created scenes for my taste, but that is Morris' style).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Because it's not a death threat if it's got quotes around it...

Ugh. Just got back from court (the 'family' kind). Man, I hate it. The 11 year old has a horrible troll for a father. At least he doesn't live under any bridges around here...

(Finger Quoting Margo Generator found here)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Here's what we're going to do

First, we make some homemade marshmallows (I knew I bought that candy thermometer for a reason).

Then, a few batches of Kolachy and some russian tea cakes, a batch or two of cinnamon buns to freeze and bake later. Perhaps something unusual involving the huge package of prunes I picked up at the store today.

Then some Thai or Indian food, or a hybrid to use up what's in the freezer.

Then we make some salt dough ornaments in the shape of cookies.

Then a long hot bath, maybe a pedicure.

We watch a whole passel of DVDs.

And READ. For pleasure.
And write things for fun.

And sleep.

But not today. Not yet. It's still Finals week, and other junk that's no fun calls as well.
Time for fun and frolic is nearly here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chilly? No. Chili? Yes!

It's warm this week (I am not complaining) - the bit of snow we've gotten is nearly all melted. It's supposed to get to 49 F tomorrow! I wonder if we will ever have snow on Christmas again?

Tonight bf is coming over to make up a scorching pot of chile con carne w/Porter and Chocolate (yeah, I've got to name the stuff). This time I *am* gonna put habaneros in it... Hopefully it won't be too hot for me to eat! It's for Tyranena Brewery's Hopluck dinner. Everyone brings a dish with a Tyranena brew.... I made this a couple of months ago in anticipation of the dinner and it was tasty. Looking forward to it.

What I am not looking forward to is trying to get all the school work/studying I have to do done by Monday. I'm in a not-small state of panic over it. I figure I will likely not sleep until Tuesday night...

Today I'm heading to the beauty parlor for a new 'do. It's been years (probably 4) since I had my hair "done" by a professional. I'll post a picture, eventually.

Now it's time to get out of the house so I've got time to stop by the post office before class. Yeah, it probably won't happen, but I should at least *try*. The coffee is kicking in...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mumzes Sticky Chicken

7 year old has Pnuemonia! Luckily caught early and not too bad, he's on anti-biotics (which he hasn't had for at least 2 years if not longer) and should be ship-shape by next Monday.

He got his first xrays today and I realized how unquestioning I am when it comes to medical procedures. It's not that I'm not a skeptic, but that I still have a lot of trust in medical procedures without giving them much thought. Of course, that doesn't count the doctor who barely looked at him 6 weeks ago (when, perhaps, his pneumonia may have been prevented by proper treatment). I didn't trust her cursory examination of him, but since he wasn't *VERY* ill, it was more an annoyance.

In this case I thought xrays were a wonderful idea. The doc had him do a nebulizer treatment which was very helpful, examined him twice and had xrays done before prescribing him anti-biotics. Today's more thorough examination and positive doctor performance reminds me to be more vigilant and insist on good health care.

In other news, as he recuperates on the couch I'm working on my paper (okay, I was working on it until the cooking smells reached me) and making up a batch of Mumzes Sticky Chicken. I made these a month or so ago with bf one weekend and have been craving them since. It's a simple, sweet sauce poured over chicken wing "drumettes" and it's plenty tasty. The aroma as they cook is really wonderful and I can't wait to try them again.

Now it's time to get back to the paper. I'd been hoping to slam out half of it today, but for now I'm going to accept 3 pages and up tomorrow's output by three. I figure if I can get the first draft done by Wednesday morning I can edit on Friday and have it all done and pretty by Monday.

Okay, now I have to get the rest of my notes into my Word document and go decorate the tree with the boys!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

El Maquinista

I was wondering why "The Machinist" came up with a Spanish name! The film was produced in Spain. It was filmed in Barcelona, which gave it an interesting not-quite-real look. Not that Barcelona doesn't exist, but that the look of nearly everything is just different enough to smack of the unreal.

The film is brilliant (in the English, er, British sense of brilliant). I was scared, thrilled, moved. Christian Bale looks as though he is starving to death, mostly because he was method acting and actually starving himself. I feel torn about this, because it's obviously not healthy and I hate to say "wow, that's amazing", but wow, he looks so awful. It's amazing, and awful.

To me the film is somewhat indefinable - the other films I'd liken it to are "Jacob's Ladder", "The Jacket", and "Memento". What they have in common are tortured (white male) leads, questions of what is real and what is not, and creepy shit happening. All four films are good and rec'd.

"The Machinist" is notable for the locations and sets. Again that Barcelona-isn't-California thing works in the film's favour. The shop where the titular character works is wonderful and archaic and frightening, the nightmare amusement park ride is really superbly done and scary, and the bit in the underground is wonderful too.

The acting is good across the board (okay, one exception: Ivan. Overacted, and my guess is that it's likely the actor is British [isn't Bale? during one scene I heard something that wasn't an American accent] and it's more the not great American accent I was reacting negatively to, not the acting), Jennifer Jason Leigh has a turn as a hooker with a heart of gold, which really fits here, as cliched as it is.

The music is interesting - I just watched "Spellbound" for class and it has that classic Hollywood music, dramatic and intense. The score for "The Machinist" is also full of swelling violins which are almost too much - they added to my discomfort during the frightening scenes and at one point near the end they pulled on my heartstrings a bit. Apparently the screenwriter hoped for Nine Inch Nails to do the soundtrack. Had the film been financed/produced in the states it may well have, but it would have been somewhat of a different movie. I think the choice of music was spot on. This is a timeless and classic piece of film (cliches and imperfect accents aside).

A bit frightening, a lot creepy and a mite bloody, I look forward to watching it again. Preferably not alone next time. It gave me the shivers!

Some Families are Fun, some Dads are Funny

Via Ze Frank, Ray's Song. I've been feeling decidedly unfamilial lately, or at the least conflicted about my fam.

What is up? Started working on my paper (due in 8 days) this morning. Ugh. It's not so bad, I'm just not writing it. I was really worried about my Mass Comm grade because I got a B on an assignment. Feel better now. Damn it, I really care too much about grades.


I gotta go finish putting the lights on the tree and watching The Machinist. OMG, Christian Bale is a SKELETON in that film. He lost 60 pounds for the role. From the IMDb triva page for the film:
The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 180 pounds in weight down to about 120 pounds in weight to make this film. They also claim that Bale actually wanted to drop down to 100 pounds, but that they would not let him go below 120 out of fear that his health could be in too much danger if he did. His diet consisted of one can of tuna and an apple per day. His 63-pound weight loss is said to be a record for any actor for a movie role. He since gained the weight back for his role in Batman Begins (2005).
So far it's good and creepy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tidy Labia, Finals, and Cheesecake Bars

I've been pretty low key for the past few weeks (hey, did you know that low key is a film term? - that's what I get for studying!), and that is the predicted trend through the next couple of weeks.

So much school work due, and I inflate things in my head, so instead of worrying about them, I'm concentrating on one piece at a time. Tonight it's "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "The Incredibles". A couple of quizzes and three brief writing bits.

I *finally* saw an uncensored picture of Britney Spear's hoo-ha last night, and the short story is: that woman has some tidy looking labia, which unfortunately, sans pubic hair, look like a kid's. Creepy. Keep the hair, ladies (and you too, gents)! It's much better.

Finals are going to be okay, except for my Mass Comm class. I just know I'm getting a B in that class and it burns my britches. But I've been doing a lot of thinking and I *nearly* have it in my head that it's not worth sweating the small stuff.

Right now I've got a batch of cheesecake bars in the oven. I've been hoping to make some and tonight I finally put my foot down. I put some mini chocolate chips in the batter, it looks very tasty.