Monthly Archives: January 2008

ladies and gentlemen, John has left the building

I just read that in a couple of hours, John Edwards will announce that he’s dropping out of the race. According to the New York Times, he isn’t going to endorse Clinton or Obama.

Personally, I wish Obama would grab him as a V.P. right now, although I don’t know that Edwards would run in the second spot again.

In dropping out before Super Tuesday, Edwards does the others the favor of allowing a clear division of delegates between the two front runners. I’ve been trying to learn what happens to the delegates he already has, and I haven’t been able to find an explanation. (Anyone know?) I hope that the formerly Edwards voters will swing to Obama; I know I will although, given that we don’t vote until May (*snort*, *fume*), it isn’t like my vote is going to matter.

I think Edwards would have made a great president; it just wasn’t meant to be.

movie miscellany

I’ve updated my Movies page to include The Ritz, Mystery Men, and Strictly Ballroom — all films that are tremendous fun to watch.

Coming next from Netflix (today, I hope): the new, definitive, director’s Final Cut of Blade Runner. This is the only version over which Ridley Scott has had complete artistic control, and I can’t wait.

And I’ve preordered my copy of the very, very wonderful Enchanted on Amazon. The DVD comes out in March, and I’ll be delighted to see this movie again.

Last week, S left the following comment on my Movies page:

My comment is about ‘I Am Legend’ – I never got around to writing my review for that, but let me say this, you MUST see it.

… I was pleasantly surprised! It’s not your typical horror – in fact, it’s more sci-fi. It wasn’t really effects heavy, as I would have expected. The story is very good – though, from what I understand, not terribly true to the book.

It’s a fantastic character study, and Will Smith acts his ass off in it. It was, however, one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in a long time – don’t know if that’s a put-off or not, but it’s a fair warning.

I highly recommend it.

S, thanks very much for the recommendation, but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline. I’m sure Will Smith is wonderful — the thing is, I much prefer the Will Smith of Men in Black, rather than the one in Pursuit of Happyness or I Am Legend. You sum up the reason in this sentence: “It was, however, one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in a long time.” My daughter confirmed this opinion when she came home from seeing the movie — the story was great, the setting was amazing, Will Smith was superb, the ending was an incredible downer.

I will now quote from myself:

… I read books for the same reason I go to movies: for diversion and enjoyment. … I do not read or go to movies to experience wrenching emotional moments or sob at the loss of a beloved character (or their child, or their pet). Some people find sad or otherwise emotionally overwrought books and films cathartic and speak happily about how much they cried after reading or seeing such-and-such (the movie Terms of Endearment comes to mind). All I have to say to that is, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

What the heck, I’ll quote from myself again, regarding action films:

I also expect a happy ending for whoever has braved all this mayhem — as I’ve said many times, I don’t sit through 2 hours of a movie just to be shocked or depressed by the ending. If I’m not sure how things will turn out in a given movie, I’ll wait and hear about it or read it online, to be sure I’ll be satisfied.

Call me silly; call me limited in my approach to film; tell me I’m in denial about the cold, hard realities of life. Maybe so; but I’ll watch The Fifth Element or Moonstruck or Noises Off for the 58th time, and leave the thought-provoking, weepy films to other audience members with tastes very different from mine. 🙂

one big happy family

There’s always room for one more. All the cats and dogs are getting along famously (except Myra, who doesn’t get along with anyone).

For much of his life, Archie (the orange tabby) has loved to sleep under the warmth of my desk lamp while I’m working. Yesterday, while he was away, Alice discovered this comfy, warm spot for herself. Later, when Archie jumped up there and found his spot taken, he didn’t get upset — he just shoved her over a little bit and settled down.

You can see the corner of my computer monitor above him. It’s lucky this happened at the end of my work day, because it’s hard to work when about a quarter of the screen is obscured by orange fur. 🙂

safe, legal, and available

Blog for Choice Day

This is Blog for Choice day 2008: the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in America.

Let me be perfectly clear about one thing: I am not “pro-abortion.” Nobody is “pro-abortion”: getting an abortion isn’t on any girl or woman’s list of things that she wants to do during her life. It isn’t something that you can be enthused about and in favor of, like being pro-chocolate or pro-cats.

However, I am absolutely pro-choice: the right to choose an abortion is something I’m enthused about and in favor of. If, by some medical-procedure-defying miracle, I became pregnant today, I wouldn’t have an abortion. Having a baby at age 43, with two teenage kids, would certainly make life more complicated and would stretch our finances, but we’d cope. But this is my life, and my situation: Who am I to make such a world-shaking decision for any other girl or woman, whose life and situation I know nothing about?

In the best of all worlds, birth control would be available everywhere, and children would be offered comprehensive, quality education about reproduction, making good choices, family planning, and more from an early age. (Ideally, kids should be having open and wide-ranging conversations about sex with their parents throughout their lives. But as long as so many people seem to be scared to mention the S word around their children, the schools need to help.) Information and birth control are the two best ways to ensure fewer unwanted pregnancies and, thus, fewer abortions.

But we don’t live in the best of all worlds. Instead, we live in a country where many of our elected leaders want to eliminate public sources of information, cut off easy access to birth control, and then, having done their best to create more unplanned pregnancies, deny women the right to end those pregnancies safely and legally if they so choose.

It’s vital that pro-choice Americans vote this year, to ensure that we elect Democratic, pro-choice national leaders who will protect us from an even more ridiculously skewed Supreme Court and the specter of restrictive, choice-trampling legislation.

My body: my choice.

hoping for good luck a month, I play poker.

It’s a long story. I played poker with members of my dad’s family from when I was little until I was a teenager and they all became born-again Christians and decided that God frowned on a flush beating a straight. My dad played poker with a group of other local school administrators, and when I was grown up and back home he’d invite me to play when he hosted. Eventually I became the group’s first Permanent Female Member. I’m the youngest by at least 20 years, which is nice because that isn’t often the case for me any more. We now have two women in the group, and the guys like to bitch about how they used to win once in a while, until they let all those females in… 😀

The group has 6 members, and we take turns hosting.Tonight is my turn. But here’s the thing.

  • A year ago, the evening I hosted, our golden retriever went into a seizure that we couldn’t bring her out of. We called our veterinarian, who told us to bring her to the clinic (at 10:00 p.m.) and he’d meet us there. Our guests left early, and we spent an hour at the clinic while the vet pumped increasing amounts of valium and phenobarbitol into our golden girl until she finally relaxed. It was a scary night. (The dog is now on maintenance meds, although she still seizures occasionally.)
  • Six months ago, when I hosted, it was the night before school started. Part way through the evening, my daughter called me into the living room to say that it hurt her to pee. Shades of horrible, UTI-cursed, pre-child-bearing years of my life: I knew what it meant. Called various urgent care centers; all closed. Called our pediatrician; she refused to call in a prescription, saying we should bring C to her office the next day. The first day of school. C was frantic. Called Humana’s nurse line, where a saintly woman gave me an authorization number to take C to the ER. Our card-playing guests once again went home early. Spent a couple of not-too-awful hours at the ER and came home with prescriptions, so all was well.

I don’t believe in Fate, Destiny, Bad Karma, etc. But you know, these things come in threes… Will a blizzard knock out all power in the region? Will one of the kitties fall over, deathly ill? Will my son fall off his bike and break his arm? Or will the night be crisis free?

Wish me luck — and I wouldn’t mind winning some money, either!

movies updated

I’ve added to my Movies page: MirrorMask and The Simpsons Movie.

I can save you the trouble of seeing The Simpsons Movie by showing you what is, in my opinion, by far the funniest thing in it (actually, it isn’t in the movie, it’s a special feature):

my early birthday gift

The kids and I went to the animal shelter thinking of bringing home a male kitten named Randall. Instead, I’m delighted to introduce our new little girl: Alice. we were at the shelter it was clear that she was the one for us: outgoing, friendly, and curious about the world. She’s about three months old and tiny (especially compared to our other cats). Her left side is entirely white; her right side, her back, her face, and the underside of her back feet have a few random splotches of tan and grey — and her tail is entirely calico, as if some other cat’s tail was attached to her by accident. other cats reacted as we expected: with shock and horror that we would bring this Vile Thing into the house. They took turns hanging around, 15 feet away or so, watching her with suspicion, and occasionally coming closer to hiss and generally act silly.

Once Alice got comfortable she started skittering around the room with her tail puffed up, doing her best crazy-kitten romp.

After a long of evening of playing and exploring she finally went to sleep for a little while. When we went to bed, though, she began crying, so I brought her up with us; she slept a few hours and spent a few other hours mewing, purring loudly, and playing with my hands and face. I think I did sleep a little at some point… But all our kittens have done this on their first night (they’re in a big, new, strange place, after all), and tonight she’ll be more confident in her surroundings.

I almost forgot to explain her name. When we chose a female kitten, the kids and I had no name ready. As I filled out adoption paperwork, we sifted through possibilities from our favorite movies, but nothing clicked. Then my son suggested Alice, for the heroine zombie-killer in the Resident Evil trilogy (which he finished watching yesterday — for more about that, see my Movies page). Our new kitten seems like a kick-butt, take-no-prisoners sort of girl, I like Milla Jovovich, and the name also could be from Alice in Wonderland or even Alice Cooper, so Alice it is. 🙂

I don’t get it week before Christmas, the mother of one of the girls in my daughter’s church youth group died of breast cancer. The woman was 49 years old and had known she was in a terminal condition for well over a year. I don’t know the details of what treatments she underwent and when exactly her treatment options ran out, but I do know that she spent the last months fighting fiercely for every possible day.

The daughter my daughter is friends with is in high school. An older daughter is in college. The woman’s divorced husband had shared entirely amicable joint custody for more than 10 years.

At the memorial service, held at our church the week after Christmas, a small, sturdy box made of dark wood, reminding me of a miniature treasure chest, held the woman’s ashes. The box was surrounded by greenery, photographs, and dozens of tiny candles. Numerous friends and relatives came forward to speak of the woman’s love of life, of her adoration of her children as well as any other children she encountered, of her humor, her kindness, her intense caring for those around her.

The minister who led the service wasn’t our minister, but a pastor who, among other things, leads support groups for women with advanced breast cancer. Often, when I attend funerals, I’m offended by the lack of attention paid to the individual who has died: the clergy person puts forth a few generalities that too often indicate he or she didn’t know the deceased personally, and then proceeds to offer endless doctrine-specific prayers. In this case, the minister was both eloquent and personal; she was gentle and understanding in her guidance of the service and her dealing with the family. Her prayers were meditative and, although Christian, open enough to encompass the thoughts of mourners from many faiths.

But (you knew it was coming, didn’t you?) she made one statement that yanked me completely out of the quiet thoughtfulness of the moment and sparked a quick flare of anger that I’m obviously not yet over. In one of her prayers, after referring to the deceased woman’s joyful life and loving family, the minister said something like the following: “And now she is with You, the one who loves her most of all.”

Excuse me? Which part of a God loving her most of all relates to letting her suffer during her treatments and deciding that she should die? Which aspect of love is linked to allowing a still-young woman to waste away before the eyes of her children? How exactly does the God who supposedly loves her more than anyone else justify her months of pain, her too-early death, and all other aspects of removing a marvelous person who had so much to offer the world? And how does a minister dare to stand in front of dozens of grieving family members and suggest that anyone loved the dead woman more than they did?

I’m at a loss to understand or forgive such a statement.

movies! I got off track on my Movies page, and it’s been languishing, un-updated, for nearly a year. I don’t make new-year resolutions, but I’m going to try my best to keep my list of watched films current this year. Today I’ve updated the page to include all the movies I’ve watched since Jan. 1, 2008.

Yes, I’ve watched 5 films in 7 days (one in a theater, the others on DVD). A friend asked me recently how often I watch movies, and I replied that in our house, we watch movies the way other people watch sports. None of us watch any TV series regularly (although my son does watch Desperate Housewives with his grandmother most Sunday evenings, and last night we all got caught up in the general badness and excitement of American Gladiator), and we almost never watch sports (with the exception of a little college basketball in February/March and a little football this time of year). Insead, we watch movies. We talk movies. My kids and I can quote dialog and plot elements like other people quote baseball stats.

To each their own — and mine is on the silver screen.

room for one more birthday is a month away, but I’m getting my present early. As soon as my kids are home from school on Tuesday, we’ll head to the animal shelter and choose a new kitten.

We’d like to get a white kitten, to fill out our color set, but they’re relatively rare. Some variety of tabby is more likely. And the most important factor by far is personality. Our four cats have all found their way into our homes by virtue of being outgoing and friendly — they came to us, rather than us forcing ourselves on them. Now, as adults, they’re always around us, purring and lying on our laps and asking to be held or petted. When we enter the visiting room at the shelter to meet whatever kittens are available for adoption, we’ll be waiting for the little guy who immediately makes his way over to climb our legs and express his fervent desire to be Our Cat, purring all the while.

I much prefer a male kitten, based on past experience with assorted cats. Yesterday my daughter and I spent considerable time in discussion of what his name should be.’ve used up the names of my favorite book characters (see this entry and this one), so we branched out into movies: Jason, Bourne, James, Neo, Bruce, Clive… nothing seemed quite right. Then my eye fell on the Clerks II DVD. Dante? My daugher made a face. Elias? Not quite. Randall? Yes! I hear the name and instantly see a highly energetic ball of fur racing around the house and announcing his presence with authority. (Bonus points to whoever tells me what movie features a character who wants to announce his presence with authority.)

Somewhere tonight there’s a kitten who doesn’t know yet that his name is Randall and he’s coming to live soon with 4 other cats and 2 dogs in a very loving home. Sweet dreams, kitty cat.