Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eclipse x 2, The Passage, Remember Me - I love good stories!

(The sun is out. It's actually shining. On the ground and through the trees. There is a soft breeze, and I'm NOT wearing wool socks or a turtleneck sweater. It is June 29. I don't want to speak too loudly or else the weather might unexpectedly change, but thanks, Weather Gods. We do appreciate the reprieve from the oppressive cloud cover. Just in time. I think that last call may have overfilled my shrink's voicemail.)

SO--today is it. The countdown. The one my daughter, Princess, has been ticking off on her calendar for months. No, it's not due to final report card day, or yearbook day. She is going to the movie theatre at 12:30 pm to wait in line for six-point-five hours to get into an auditorium with 400 other screaming teenagers (and a few moms) to watch seven-point-five hours of vampire/werewolf carnage and mayhem (well, sort of mayhem--dude, the vampires sparkle???). Yeah, I'm going. But I'm in a diversionary state right now, so I'd pretty much clean moss off the side of the house with tweezers and my toothbrush to get out of doing what I know I should be doing. And I don't want my sweet little thing to be in a movie theatre for that long without her mommy. She may be 16 but she's a good 16, not the snotty, booze-guzzling, authority-questioning little shit some of her Facebook "friends" are. Holy. Cow. You wanna feel old? Look at your teenager's Facebook account. Half the time I don't even know what the hell they're saying. (I think it's English. Scary, frightening English, but English nonetheless. I think.) Some real geniuses on there, I tell ya.

Anyway, watch for the Twilight Saga: Eclipse review this week on ChicMomMagazine.com. I'll probably do a DVD review on another delicious-looking film, ironically called The Eclipse, about a widower whose dead wife may be stalking him from beyond. It looks incredibly sinister, brilliantly acted by a cast of Irish actors (and Irish-American Aidan Quinn). Check out the trailer at http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/theeclipse/. It comes out today on DVD, so watch for the review, either here or on ChicMom, over the next week or so. OH, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is out on DVD today. I think Bueno's head is going to explode. My little Greek mythology nerd...! Princess gets seven hours of Twilight, Bueno gets Percy Jackson. Yeah, movie freaks. The cool thing is, these movies started out as books. And my kids have read them. Which means they're using their brains. I like.

The good word this week:

MOVIE: Remember Me, Robert Pattinson, Pierce Brosnan, Emilie de Ravin = pretty good. Kick-in-the-ass, grab-you-by-the-throat ending. Wow. I sort of saw it coming but thought...nahhhhh. Yeah, I was right. But it was good. RPattz is so good at the brooding thing, and FINALLY, we get to see him gettin' it on with a hottie with some spunk. Sorry, Bella and Edward, but come on, already! Some of us want to see the Deed! Tyler and Allie...yes, they deed it. It's pretty good. Oh, and the acting--yes, the acting. Good. Thumbs up. Again, more brooding, but the real story is between Tyler and his little sister (Caroline, played by Ruby Jerins--she looks like an Osment kid--I had to check IMDB to make sure she wasn't Haley Joel and Emily's little sister). Heartbreaking. Like Lauren said, it'll make you wanna hug your kids a little extra today.

BOOK: The Passage, Justin Cronin. Suspense, suspense, suspense! This guy obviously scores in the higher echelons of IQ-dom. Dude's a genius. I tried to put aside my green-with-envy attitude (I wish I could write like he does) as I chewed through this weighty novel in just under five days. Cronin integrated post-apocalypse and vampires, and though it had an I Am Legend feel to it, he does a noteworthy job bringing the characters to life throughout the story. No details are spared, and the histories he has woven for his people are vast and rich. This is not light reading, however; though Cronin's prose is tight and descriptive, it's heady. Like I said, he's a smart guy. If you like supermarket bodice-rippers, I'm thinking The Passage ain't for you. And if you tend to obsess about the end of the world (like I do), maybe you should hold off, especially if you've watched The Road and Book of Eli back to back like I have. I seem to be on an apocalyptic bender right now... I can tell you, I don't have nearly enough canned beans in the cupboard, no propane, and I have no idea where my pocketknife is. All good things to have when the end befalls us. Oh, and Band-Aids. And some Neosporin. LOTS of Neosporin. Maybe a flame thrower, too.

Overall, good read. Worth the cover price of the book (even if I did buy it at Costco).

I have to go put makeup on and be wonderful. If this post is disjointed, it's because school is out, and I've been interrupted about 14 times. Please forgive me for sounding lost. Then again, I always sound lost, don't I?

Yak soon...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book review - terrific book by young Hannah Moskowitz

The review for teen phenom Hannah Moskowitz's first book, Break, is up! Check it out at http://www.chicmommagazine.com/book-article.php?id=172. Terrific book from an incredible talent. The girl will become a household name.

Enjoy! (And go buy the book!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Memo for Planet Jenn inhabitants: my personal shopping days

On Planet Jenn, when I decide it is my shopping/errand day, the only other souls who will be allowed on the road are the people who need to be at their respective places of employment to serve ME. Yeah, this is narcissistic, selfish, egocentric, blah blah blah. Whatever. It's my planet.

Dude, seriously? Yesterday--I make the trek out into the Big Bad Current World and there are people. Everywhere. I'm not an agoraphobe (at least I don't think I am), but c'mon, either I'm getting old or the world is getting more stupid. (BTW, the comparative/superlative of "stupid" is correct as either more/most stupid and stupider/stupidest. Personally, I choose more/most stupid. Today. That could change tomorrow.) We, as in me, the Princess, Bueno, and Baby Luci, were on a mission. We have a birthday party to prepare for, and as such, we have stuff like cake, party favors, balloons...all that shit. And I am a kick-ass goody-bag maker, so this is not something to be brushed off by a quick trip to the dollar store.

We ordered the cake--a Wall-E themed cupcake cake (brilliant design, by the way--everyone gets a piece but there are no knives, forks, or plates--just cupcakes!) for Baby Luci's FIRST official birthday party. Poor thing--we call him the Satellite Baby because everyone forgets about him. Every year we promise him a birthday party once we get to California, but it never happens. And no one ever buys him birthday presents, except us. It's pathetic. So, for this year, turning 6 (which actually doesn't happen until July), we're having a bowling blow-out with five of his closest buddies from school. Yay, Luci!

Anyway, I digress. The cake deal was fine. In, order, out, whatever. Despite the drizzling, stupid weather, we fared okay. But then it was on to the mall where we did make a stop at the dollar store to buy gift bags and balloons. And the place is crammed with shit. CRAMMED. Shit and people. People with stupid-big strollers, some with asses the size of all three of my kids standing shoulder to shoulder, teenagers who don't care that you're standing there (SO glad my teenager isn't an insolent ass!), people of cultures who don't understand the concept of DANCE SPACE (please don't stand where I can smell what you had for lunch oozing out of your pores), indecisive housewives who don't know if they want blue or yellow napkins for their Father's Day brunch...seriously??? There are OTHER PEOPLE here!

As the four of us huddled together trying to be as considerate as possible for our fellow customers, it seemed that no one else had gotten the memo about etiquette for shopping in crowded dollar stores. It didn't get any better at Zeller's (Canada's answer to Target...their lame answer...) or Michael's--I was standing in front of a mesh rack looking at some small thing and this woman, again with a huge butt, walks right in front of me, stands there, oblivious. I wanted to hit her in the head with one of the plastic champagne flutes on the wedding display behind me.

Yeah, so I have a mean streak. But I wouldn't if people paid each other the same consideration that I grant to total strangers when I walk out the door. (Exception: I am a holy terror when I'm driving. In this neighborhood, you have to be. These people are freakin' IDIOTS who know little beyond the gas pedal is on the right, brake is in the middle. And don't get me started on the turnaround at the elementary school. Yesterday, it was a Dodge. Today, it was a Hummer. Your kids have legs--they can walk--which means you pull all the way to the end, not stop at the very earliest spot on the turnaround and block the driveway for the rest of us so your precious princess can climb out and not soil her Keds in the puddles. And you, in the Dodge, please--for the love of Christ almighty--can you PLEASE pull down the street to text your ugly friends about coffee? Please? I'm asking nicely. No, really, this is nice for me.)

I told you not to get me started on the turnaround...now look what you've done. I've lost my train of thought. (Lucky for you.)

Bottom line: When you leave your house, whether it's to go to your shrink, get your Botox, have your tummy tucked, buy your children food, pick up crickets for the chameleon, meet your lover for an illicit affair in the parking lot of Tim Horton's (I've SEEN this!), buy yourself a case of beer, WHATEVER--please, be courteous of the people around you. Don't flip anyone off in traffic, don't fart and then walk away in the cereal aisle at Safeway, don't take up the entire aisle directly in front of me, especially if your ass is the size of Rhode Island. Let's remember that little thing our first grade teachers taught us (thank you, Mrs. Ripper!): "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." I hear that little rule has interesting applications in the bedroom, too, but I'm so not going there.

Friday, June 11, 2010

About the missing-in-action sunshine...

(Repost from Facebook. Apologies for duplicating, but I don't have good funny very often.)

We were supposed to have sun this morning. After, like, 22 consecutive days of rain with one break:

This morning, I was standing in my yard with my bathing suit on, my beach umbrella, a drink with yet another tinier umbrella in it, some sunblock, some '80s tunes on my boom box, just waiting for the cabana boy to show up and shower me with attention. But because the sun hasn't appeared yet, I'm soaked to the bone and risking hypothermia, my umbrella fell over under the weight of the mist in the air, my drink is watered down, the sunblock washed off, my boom box shorted out, and I think the cabana boy must've overslept due to the dark skies and missed his bus 'cuz the only thing I've been showered in so far this morning is shame. All of the soccer moms driving by in their minivans are staring and pointing and laughing at me. Damn you, rain!!!

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

About movie reviews...

It's been raining here. A lot. The area's reservoirs are at 100 percent capacity, a rarity even in the sopping Pacific Northwest.

But all this rain has been good for one thing--I have seen LOTS of movies lately and in turn can spread the word about what's hit and what's miss. Yay for you!

Be sure to check out movie reviews weekly at Chic Mom Magazine (.com!). This week's new releases (DVD) include Shutter Island and The Wolfman, as well as theatrical release Get Him to the Greek

And if you haven't seen Invictus, about the South African rugby team fighting against insurmountable odds in the tinderbox of a post-apartheid country, you MUST. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are effing AMAZING.

For the kiddos: 

Shrek the Final Chapter is worth the price of admission--another of those "don't know what you got until it's gone" stories, but a fun romp nonetheless. Who doesn't love that big green ogre?

How to Train Your Dragon -- adorable! Loved it! I might be partial because I'm a closet dragon nerd, but whatever. It was clever, quick, and funny. And my 5-year-old sat through the whole thing without begging to go home. That's an impressive endorsement. 

Alice in Wonderland -- Not sure if this is really a kids' film, but my kids loved it. Then again, my kids are pretty sophisticated movie watchers. Favorite movies for them before age five included Lord of the Rings and Nightmare Before Christmas. So...Johnny Depp is terrific, as usual, and the visuals are stunning. This is one film I wished I would've seen in the theatre, simply to see all those colors on that ginormous screen.

Here are a few QUICKIE REVIEWS that didn't make it into last week's posted review online (these titles are DVD new releases from the last few weeks):

Uncertainty—Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lynn Collins: Strange little film. The story of a young couple faced with a major decision: she’s pregnant, they’re young and broke, just starting their lives in the Big Apple. The approach taken by the filmmaker was unique. You are presented with two scenarios—Yellow and Green—and the story details what would happen to Kate (Collins) and Bobby (Levitt) depending on which path they chose. The paths are divergent: green is safe, a day spent with Kate’s family at a 4th of July barbeque. Yellow, however, is a whole different ball game after the couple finds themselves in possession of a cellphone that some very angry, very well-armed men want back. (This path is really the one that gives the film its legs—green is flat and sort of boring. Something is missing.) If you’re a film purist, you will enjoy this movie for what it is—a film lover’s film. There was no scripted dialogue; the actors were given a scene and they worked it out between themselves. From that perspective, it is an impressive piece of work as Levitt is a sublimely talented actor, and Collins is great as his opposite. But if you’re less prone to watching avant-garde practice on screen, you might find the premise a little too much, a little too off-putting. It’s not your typical date-night fare, for sure, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s worth a shot.

Dear John—Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum: The truth? Boring, cliché. Even though this story is from the same guy who wrote The Notebook, at least that film had some oomph to it. Noah and Allie had killer chemistry, and their characters were larger than life (as was the real off-screen romance between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling). But Dear John’s romantic couple, John and Savannah, lack the same powerful connection, the same urgency in their relationship. Yeah, it’s a war story—they meet, fall madly in love after just two weeks, but he’s got to do his tour of duty as an Army guy.  The two of them agree to stay together over John’s year of playing GI Joe and Savannah’s year at university. But when his tour is just about up, 9/11 hits, and all bets are off. John’s unit re-ups their commitment, which means he has to do the same (it’s an honor thing among soldiers), and Savannah is left on the homefront to sit with her candle in the window and hope he survives. They write back and forth constantly, but when the stream of letters from home begins to wane, John suspects the inevitable. Savannah has moved on. The only saving grace with this film is the unexpected twist toward the end. And of course, happy endings are never in short supply with a Nicholas Sparks’ lovefest. Enjoy, but don’t expect the searing intensity of The Notebook.

Daybreakers—Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan: More vampire fare? Noooo! But wait—it’s okay—this isn’t a romantic tour of adolescence, no one sparkles, and human blood is always on the menu. Fast forward to 2019: the world has flipped on its head. A plague has turned everyone vampire, and if you’re not a vampire, then you’re among the dwindling 5 percent of remaining humans who is likely hanging from a scary tower of medical tubes while they drain the last drops of precious hemoglobin from your still-living body. Ethan Hawke plays human-sympathizing hematologist Dr. Edward Dalton who’s been charged with finding a blood substitute to deal with an impending global blood-shortage crisis: the humans are running out, and running dry. And if a vampire does not get a minimum daily intake of human blood, creepy things start happening to their bodies, and eventually they morph into sadistic, unrecognizable monsters. But when Dr. Dalton comes across a small group of human survivalists, including Elvis (Willem Dafoe) and Audrey (Claudia Karvan), they embark on a mission to reverse the vampirism and save the world from imploding on itself. This is a taut, suspenseful film, the evil pharmaceutical head played by the always-charming Sam Neill, that will give the horror lovers plenty to nosh on. Early buzz about this film touted it as an allegory for modern society’s voracious appetite for natural resources, and it may have served that purpose if it weren’t for the ending. Note to directors Michael and Peter Spierig: less is more. There was one point where I thought perhaps they had production assistants standing off camera just throwing buckets of fake blood onto the melee happening in the shot. Pretty silly. Overall, this is an okay film with a cool premise and a strong cast. It was worth the cost of the rental.

And as a final note…I tried, really tried, to watch Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, especially since I, like many others, love(d) Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Firth, but I couldn’t get through it. Too weird. And for kids’ fare, Tooth Fairy (Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, and Ashley Judd) should’ve been a TV movie instead of a theatrical release. Gave me a toothache.

There are a number of really amazing films coming out in the next few months, but if you want the drop on what's on the cinematic horizon, Apple's Web site has trailers galore and is one of my favorites. Check it out at http://trailers.apple.com/, and of course, check back at ChicMomMagazine.com for my latest reviews!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~ English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

Nelson Mandela spent TWENTY-SEVEN years as a political prisoner held by the apartheid-era government of South Africa, most of that time on Robben Island, 7 km off the coast of Cape Town, SA. Mandela found the strength every single incarcerated day to keep the flame alive, and upon his release forgave the people who persecuted and punished him, going on to become "the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election."

And according to the story told in the poem's namesake movie (Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela, as well as Matt Damon, directed by Clint Eastwood), Henley's poem played a significant role in keeping Mandela alive.

If he can do it in a 6x6 cell, for twenty-seven effing years, I can too. No matter what they say.

If you haven't seen this film, do it. Soon.