Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Double Life of Véronique

This movie is #14 on the ICS Top 100 of the 1990s.

I have never seen, nor do I recall hearing about this one, and the director was responsible for the The Three Colors trilogy, which I did watch.

This one confused me a bit and while I enjoyed the cinematography and the lead actress, the story left me wondering if I was lost in translation.

The story is about Weronika and Véronique, two different women; one from Poland, the other from France.

I think I did not "get" this initially so all I really felt introduced to was Weronika. I fell for her instantly and when she died, I was like 'WTF? The movie just started and I lost the main character?!' I was stunned. Weronika was beautiful and fun.

Véronique is now, what I thought, introduced to us. Well, we meet her when Weronika sees her alter-ego (more like doppelganger...which, BTW, is one of my favorite words) in a town square, while Véronique is vacationing in Poland. Weronika is mesmerized; I am confused.

I take a sneak peak on IMDB and figure out that the story is indeed about two different women, who live parallel lives. They both sing. They both have heart problems. And both make choices about what to do with their lives. Weronika chooses to sing and ends up dying at her first performance, as she sang beautifully but collapses from what appears to be a heart attack.

Véronique, on the other hand, decides to quit her singing career and becomes a music teacher. This would seem to be an interesting storyline but another odd factor enters the picture: Véronique receives a mysterious package which contains a leather strap...the same leather strap that Weronika wraps her finger around while singing for someone, who later is responsible for her being hired to perform.

Who sent the strap is never answered. Or it is and ends up that the marionetteer that Véronique meets, and subsequently sends her a mysterious (and creepy) tape recording. Why would he do that doesn't make sense (for either package received).

The cinematography - just the way the scenery and imagery was filmed - is quite beautiful and haunting. The actress who plays Weronika/Véronique, Irène Jacob, is simply beautiful beyond words. I was entranced by her and realized that she is also in The Three Colors trilogy (which I will be watching again, since each movie from this trilogy are in the top 100), as well as in Au revoir, les enfants, another movie that I have been wanting to see for a long time.

The puppeteer was played by a very sexy actor, Philippe Volter...who I looked up, only to find, sadly, he committed suicide in 2006. The marionette part of the movie is probably the best for me - creepy and haunting to a soundtrack that is just as creepy and haunting.

Season Finale

CJ's last volleyball game was yesterday. What a great one to end with too!

All season, our girls have played extremely well. During practice. Once they get on the court for a tournament, it's not quite the same. It's like they get stage fright, or something.

But yesterday? From the first play of the game? It was a totally different team. These girls have never played like they had in any other tournament. They were on FIRE. And they were rock solid.

They lost the first match but not without a fight. The second? They kicked ass. As they won the last point of the match, I stood up clapping with the other parents. I teared up. I was so proud and I was thinking to myself "I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT ALL ALONG! These girls are the baddest MFers out there!" And a little bit of me wish they had played this way before but as I know, Tim hates the "wishing" so I was pleased as punch that they ended the season with a bang.

It's pretty darn amazing watching competitive volleyball. And I could see each of the girls on that court get a taste of competition...it was like they drew blood and they loved the taste of it. The transformation of these girls begin and I am glad to be witness to it.

And while this Cinderella season is over, I won't forget the feeling I have about how CJ entered this new world, a new independence that I have no control over...no matter how much I rant and rave.

We are on to new pastures now. Until next season, we have sand volleyball. CJ is already planning the important things like: what kind of bathing suit is she going to wear, where can she find a sunglasses holder, and what kind of tanning lotion she needs to buy.

Head Rush

I have posted in the past about my odd health ailments, one of them being these TIA-like symptoms. I had numerous tests done: EEG, a bubble test...if I think back hard enough, I believe I had an MRI too.

Anywayz, the end result is that no one could figure out what it was and I was to keep track of anymore incidents of these TIA-like things. Yes, the continued to happen but very randomly and infrequently. The mild ones, which feels like a head rush: you know, when you stand up too fast and blood feels like it rushes to your head? Those happen more frequently (and I don't have to be standing up; they just happen if I am idle or up and about; they are equal opportunity rushes!) but I don't document those as they are not as severe as the ones that make my right hand go numb.

But I had a big one yesterday. This time, in public with Tim at my side.

We were at the final volleyball tournament for CJ. I had one of those mild head rushes earlier in the morning but I set it aside, as I have those quite often.

But I was sitting on the bleachers, taking pictures of CJ and her teammates on the court, when I felt the head rush start to happen. I knew I had one earlier, so I sat still and "let it" take its course. But this time, it peaked and, how do I describe the sensation? It feels like I am about to pass out except I can see everything...there is no blackout...and my right hand goes numb. I feel like I am going to panic because the feeling is quite intense (albeit, indescribable). I clutch Tim's arm with my left hand to notify him that I am having one of those episodes. In hindsight, I wish I had said something because I often wonder if I can speak coherently when it is happening.

Somehow I motioned to my right hand, which I look at as though it's someone else's hand, and it lies limply in my lap, "clutching" my camera. I think this is odd because I can't feel my hand but it looks like it is holding on to the camera and then I see the flash go off, so somehow, that hand managed to take a picture of my knee.

But I was completely out of it...like an out-of-body experience. And then slowly, it goes away.

But I am not the same for awhile after one of these episodes.

I get a headache, not a bad one, but a weird head ache. This is where the doctors surmise that my affliction is a migraine.

I accepted that notion, halfheartedly, until I saw this news bit about Serene Branson's on-screen migraine attack.

After the attack, I feel like I am in a fog...not quite a fog, but a glow. Everything seems to be overexposed. I can't talk well...meaning, I can talk fine - I don't slur but I have a five second delay and I feel like I am going through the database of my brain to find the right word, the right sentence, to relay a thought. It's tiresome and I prefer not to talk at all because it seems obvious to me that there is something wrong with me.

But I pulled an all-dayer and spent the entire day with CJ and the gang until 7PM (started at 8:30AM) at the volleyball tourney, then celebrating the last game and setting up cake and cupcakes for the final farewell.

My hand still feels funny. In fact, I woke up to it tingling. Tim thinks I should go back and get re-tested; even my fellow volleyball mom, who happens to be an RN/medical EMT (the ones that ride on the helicopters!) suggested I see a new neurologist. I might. But I'm so skeptical since every medical anomaly I encounter is never diagnosed (which is actually good!).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conversatin'

My conversation with Tim, my construction-workaholic-adventure-racing-triathlete husband, last night:

Me: I did my biathlon training class today.
Tim: Cool. How was it?
Me: It seemed pretty do-able. Then I got off the bike to run and when I came back to the bike, it felt like the tension was tightened.
Tim: That’s good.
Me: Then at the second run, Army Amy had me SPRINT to the finish. I mean, I was peered pressured into it. We were only supposed to run easy one way, then run faster the other way. She urged me to sprint beyond what I am capable of. I thought I was going to die.
Tim: Good for her! Shake it off! Don’t be a wimp.
Me: Um…it’s not supposed to be a SPRINT! And she made me do this TWICE. I couldn’t finish to the end the second time. And then she was like “DON’T STOP RUNNING WHEN YOU SLOW DOWN!
Tim: Damn skippy.
Me: And you know how Army Amy is…she was like, running backwards with me: “if it makes you feel any better, that’s as fast as I could go.” Well you know that’s bullshit because she was talking to me the entire time we were sprinting…Anyway, she was like “seriously, that’s all I could do…and if I went any faster? I would have puked.” Puked? Oh my god. I felt like I was going to puke once she said puke.
Tim: uh-huh
Me: I mean, I was shaking! And I felt dizzy! I thought I was going to throw up.
Tim: That’s good. That means you were working hard.
Me: And I got a headache from it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fly Mi to the Moon...

I was going through MiMi's Monday folder and here is one of her completed homework assignments.

Pretend you are taking a trip to the moon. Use complete sentences to list eight or more things you will do there.
I will go in the craters and dance around. I will have so much fun. I would jump in the sky. I would place a flag there & I would touch a star.
Not quite eight but lovely, nonetheless.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn

My friend Meg loaned me this quaint little novel.

I had a hard time reading this at first. I was in a "reading block" and I read and re-read the first page without absorbing anything. I decided to switch to Less Than Zero, in hopes of jump-starting my reading frenzy.

It worked.

I then picked up this one again, skeptical that it would be as interesting as I hope and I was so wrong.

This is such a cute, odd, unique, funky little book. I couldn't help laughing at each "chapter". You'll understand as I describe it more...

There is an island off the coast of South Carolina: Nollopton. The island was named after their great source of fame: Nevin Nollop, the author of the pangram The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Then strangeness hits the little isle when one of the tiles on a cenotaph, a tile representing the pangram of Nevin Nollop, falls to the ground and shatters. In what becomes a dark, twisted, humorous-but-not interpretation by the town's High Island Council (and priests) that this is a sign from Nevin Nollop himself -- the town bans the use of the letter. First offense: a public oral reprimand; second offense: a public lashing or headstock; third offense: banishment from the island and any refusal to leave? Execution.

What entails is chaos. The first letter lost was the letter "z". A teacher hit the first offense by inadvertently:
She was teaching arithmetic and made mention of a sum of eggs. Twelve eggs to be exact.
So you can see how quirky this little book is: reading the unusual words (I had my trusty iTouch nearby so I could look up words, only to find that a great many of them were "made up"), the descriptions of how offenses were made, and then towards the end, deciphering the words themselves.

The novel is written in a similar style as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society which is a series of letters exchanged to a few, which outlines what is happening on the isle of Nollopton.

To be exact, the letters that fall are not to be written or spoken in any way, shape of form. And what happens is, more and more letters fall to the ground and become banned from usage.

Most islanders end up being banished from their infractions and many leave the island due to the stringent law and fanatical interpretation of the fallen tiles. It is eerily similar to real life religious fanaticism, where the 'gospel' is subjective and locked as the truth.

But Ella Minnow Pea (one 18 year old letter writer Nollopton) believes that creating a new pangram, thereby showing the Council that it doesn't take a 'spiritual' figure to create such a sentence, will absolve the insane laws and bring her island back to normal.

When the letters "q", "j", "z", "d" are gone, the Council then deems the following as substitutes for the days of the week:
Sunday = Sunshine
Monday = Monty
Tuesday = Toes
Wednesday = Wetty
Thursday = Thurby
Friday = Fribs
Saturday = Satto-gatto
And by the book's end, the sentences read like:
Pharewell. Pharewll. Tho we were not phrents 4 long, I will so miss ewe.
Definitely a fun book with a bit of a dark side, a reminder at how fun words can be and how stupid people are when they get too fanatical about symbolism.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Breaking Up Is Not Hard To Do

Dear GPS,

I remember the first time we met. I think it was for Christmas 2007...OK, so our first meeting is foggy. But what I do remember is how much in love with you I was.

You knew exactly where to take me and even though sometimes you were being funny, telling me "You have arrived at your destination" and I had no clue "where" that exactly was, you were always right. *I* just had to look around me to see where my destination was.

You made me feel safe and secure. I knew that you were always by my side and if I made a wrong turn, you would get me back on track.

I loved you so much that I would use you when I didn't need to. We played games: how can I get there by a shorter route vs. faster? You showed me shortcuts that I would never have figured out on my own.

You were my right-hand woman. I trusted you with everything.

But something happened. You stopped talking to me after our
trip to West Memphis in 2009. It was strange...after we reached Memphis, TN, you were telling us weird directions. It was as if you were drunk, or something.

And you haven't been the same since. For awhile, you simply refused to talk to me. But then you got over the silent treatment but what you said to me made no sense. You were telling me to turn on roads that didn't exist. I don't know what happened but I soon became very annoyed with you.

But I tried to work with you. I tried to give you space. That didn't work. I "reset" you, in hopes of getting all the bad feelings out. It would only work for a minute. And then you would steer me wrong again.

I soon grew to hate you. Just looking at you made me angry. But I would always try to give you another chance. And when you refused to cooperate, it made me want to hit you. I would curse you because you had no qualms about refusing to tell me where to go. I was so angry that I almost thought about replacing you.

But I didn't want to! We have been through some great times. But you wouldn't change. You decided to go your separate way and despite the fact that my wish for Christmas was for you to be "fixed" came true, you decided that our relationship was no longer sacred.

After what you put me through yesterday, it. is. over. You and I are through.

You wouldn't tell me where the BCBS building was in Durham. I decided it must be the big building off 15-501. I read google map's directions because, for so long, I have not trusted you. But I didn't print them, hoping, praying to your GPS goddess, that you would help me *even just a little bit*. But you did no such thing and I had to ask for help.

I was about 10 minutes late to a seminar and could not sit with my peer because it was so full by the time I got there.

And then when I was ready to head home? My gas light had come on trying to find the BCBS building. I needed gas to get back home. And what did you do? You led me on the gas hunt to nowhere. I think you did it on purpose so I _would_ get stranded in Durham. You had me on MLK Jr. Blvd. and you know the irony behind anyone ending up on a road named by such a great man! I just KNEW I was going to run out of gas TRYING TO FIND A GAS STATION! And you did nothing. I even sensed you were laughing at me.

But I was lucky. I found gas on my own.

So screw you.

It's over between us.

You are lucky I didn't punch your fucking panel in. I hate you. And I am finding someone new. And I am taking you out of my car.

I never want to see your panel again in my life.

Sincerely,
The only person who will ever care about you

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Almost Up and Running...

Mike Destefano was a comedian that I first heard about on last season's Last Comic Standing. He died March 6th from a heart attack. He was only 44.

I stumbled upon that piece of information on Wikipedia, where I read about it in the "Recent Deaths" section (an often read section for me). I thought it was sad and he haunted my brain for a few days after that.

Then I listened to the KATG episode Six Years Down with Myq Kaplan, who is another comedian that was also on Last Comic Standing (who I was excited to see on the show because I have "known" him for so long, listening to KATG). Myq had been touring with Destefano and he spoke about the shock of hearing about his death, about what a great man this guy was. He mentioned Marc Maron's podcast WTF, where he interviews Destefano and what an amazing interview that was.

So I found Marc Maron's iPhone app and downloaded that particular episode and man, Myq was right - an amazing interview with a man who has had an amazing life. Destefano came from a wiseguy neighborhood (as in Mafia), became a heroin addict, sobered up, relapsed, sobered up again, got AIDS, married, took care of his wife when AIDS took a toll on her (they met in a rehab center), lost his wife and then went on to live until the age of 44. It touched me deeply to hear this tough guy talk about his life, his wife, and his struggles...and he was on the road to success, as much as a comedian can become successful without being a Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, etc...and then, it's all gone.

I highly recommend listening to the episode, which is #130 from WTF with Marc Maron. It's just a very interesting and touching human story.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gut Instinct

The trial of Brad Cooper is going on in Raleigh right now.

Brad Cooper is the husband of Nancy Cooper, a woman who was killed in 2008. She was found in an empty housing development, strangled. Brad Cooper stated that she had gone for a jog last time he saw her.

Almost immediately, Brad was accused of her murder. They were going to divorce; she was moving back to Canada; he had an affair; she had an affair: all reasons Brad had to kill her. What's missing is evidence.

Well, there seems to be evidence leading to the fact that Nancy _was_ jogging but right now, the prosecution is up-to-bat so we'll hear about the other stuff later.

In the meantime, here is the evidence the prosecution has...which will convince most of the people who DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO EVIDENCE AND INSTEAD, WANT TO THINK THEY KNOW BETTER THAN ANY PROFESSIONAL that Brad Cooper is guilty:

From our own WRAL news article from today's trial:

"I didn't have a relationship with him, and I didn't think there was anybody else who could have possibly killed Nancy," Damia Tabachow said Monday of her contact with Brad Cooper in the days following her friend's disappearance on July 12, 2008.

Duncan, who lived across the street, told jurors that at one point that afternoon, he saw Brad Cooper sitting alone on the front porch and went to talk with him.

"He was sitting there, holding his hands, looking forward. The conversation was not one in which he looked me in the eyes, and he kept repeating the same thing," Duncan said. "My personal opinion was that it was not natural, and I got the feeling that it was almost like a rehearsed statement."

"I knew Brad killed Nancy when I walked over and sat on the stoop with him. I knew it in my gut. I could tell he was not acting naturally," Duncan told Brad Cooper's attorney on cross-examination. "In my heart, I believe he had killed Nancy and he was trying to put on a show."

These are "witnesses" for the prosecution. They should be ashamed of themselves for putting these people up to testify this bull crap. It's not even circumstantial, for god's sakes! Just people speaking what they _think_ happened...almost what they _hope_ happened.

I am not quite stating that I believe Brad Cooper is 100% not guilty; I'll be paying attention to what is presented -- and the good stuff, the stuff that no one pays attention to because the media puts it between the lines, since it isn't sizzling enough to make a great story -- and determine, for my own mind, body and soul, whether I feel the man is guilty or not.

For now, and as it always should be, he is innocent until proven otherwise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If the Shoe Fits...

Sigh. I tried with all my might to find a clip from The Bernie Mac Show to use in this post. It would be perfect. But apparently, I can't search well enough for it or the show is just not indexed enough for me to find the episode I want.

Wanda, who plays the absolutely gorgeous wife of Bernie Mac, is cleaning out her closet of shoes with her niece, Bryana (aka "Baby Girl")...she picks up a pair of shoes and she says something like 'these are my black shoes with a 2" heel'...she picks another pair of shoes and says 'these are my black shoes with a pointy heel'...and then picks another pair of shoes and says 'and these are my black shoes with a _real_ pointy heel'. I laughed so hard because it is a realistic way to depict how most women view shoes.

I love shoes. A few months ago, I was looking for a pair of shoes and found a "new" pair: a pair of really pointy brown shoes (mules, really) that I apparently purchased last fall or winter at a thrift store. I totally forgot and since it was winter, I wasn't wearing them to keep them in my recent memory. It made my day...

Today, me and my girls stopped at TJ Maxx and I loved trying on different pairs of shoes. I did this a few weeks ago at Marshall's but this time, I made sure to take some pictures. And to make this even more weird for most of you: I didn't buy a single pair.

I love the way these looked on my feet. They felt great to walk in too, although I probably wouldn't wear them (if I bought them) during my run days. Don't need to fracture my foot again.

You can't see the heel on these wonderful sandals but there is a good 1 1/2" heel to these. THESE ARE SO COOL. Great for the summer and also perfect with my new orange nail polish that I put on my toes.

These were funky but another great look for a sandal. I would get these if they were cheaper. Or if I were less cheap...

I don't care that this is blurry. These shoes looked amazing on my foot. They weren't easy to put on or take off because they were laced. But I would annoy myself to just to wear these and look good.

Born This Way?

First, my disclaimer.

If you abhor homosexual activity, stop reading.

If you think homosexuality is a sin, do not go any further.

I do not agree. And I will *never*, ever agree with you. Don't try to change me; I am happy to leave you with your ignorant views. You can never be happy when you feel that someone else is doing something that someone told you was wrong. YOU WILL NEVER BE TRULY HAPPY BECAUSE YOU WILL ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SOMEONE IS DOING SOMETHING WRONG when it is NOT WRONG AT ALL (and that will drive you crazy). How you feel IS WRONG.

So if you continued reading after my disclaimer? I warned you!

As many of you may or may not know, I love the podcast Keith and the Girl. I can't say how long I have been listening to it but it has been YEARS, like maybe five or six years?

I love this show. I almost stopped listening to it when Chemda (the "girl") and Keith announced they were no longer together, and hadn't been for nearly a year. It was surreal and strange and weirdly, had a more than serious affect on me emotionally.

But I struggled through and continued to listen. And I'm glad I did because it is still a great show.

They curse. All the time. They are liberal but not just politically...they just live in a world that fits the performance artist, comedienne, strippers, musicians, and other freaks and geeks that live in a world with monetary struggles. They are not corporate workers and have no health insurance. They do what they love to do, whatever that is, and they do it in NYC, one of the priciest places in the world to live in, even for the rich. And their lives are fascinating to listen to and relate to.

Chemda is now in a relationship with Lauren Hennessy. "Now" being loosely used since they have been together for over a year, possibly closer to two years.

And yes, Chemda is a girl and so is Lauren.

But before I knew Lauren was Chemda's girlfriend, we (KATG listeners) learned that Lauren has always been exclusively a woman type of gal. Heather Matarazzo, the star of Welcome to the Dollhouse was once Lauren's girlfriend.

Anyway, you have to know the entire year and half, from not knowing about Keith and Chemda's break-up, knowing that Chemda and Lauren were fooling around, to now to understand the gist of all of this but it's normal and not at all weird to me now.

What is fascinating was listening to Lauren come out as a transgender during the More than Meets the Eye podcast. I think I was half listening to the episode until around 15 minutes into it and later, the words that Lauren said just hit me hard in the heart (paraphrased from the podcast):

Basically I felt twisted all my life because I knew I liked girls and that was bad because I was a girl but I didn't feel like a girl and I felt as though god just fucked me and I was just given the wrong cards. Every day of my life I wake up emasculated...and every day that I can't defend my girlfriend from some guy making fun of us, I knew that wouldn't happen if I had the body I should have had...

Absolutely chilling, poignant and sad.

It's a great episode to listen to - she goes on and you can hear Keith continue to mock her, as Keith does with everyone. And better yet, check out more of Keith and the Girl podcasts. They are hilarious, eye-opening and most of all, entertaining as a true "reality" show should be.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

After watching the movie Less Than Zero, I decided I wanted to read the book. I didn't much care for the movie so I hoped the book would do better.

I was in for a big surprise. The movie is NOTHING like the book. The only thing that matched were the names of the characters. It makes the movie even worse, to me, so it was probably a good thing I saw the movie first.

Less Than Zero was published in 1985. Ellis wrote this when he was a mere 19 years old. It became an instant 'classic'; a literary revolutionary for the youngest of the 20th century.

The novel is about a group of teens-becoming-adults. Not just any teens but very rich children of very rich families in Los Angeles. Clay, the protagonist, returns to LA after attending college in New Hampshire after high school. It has been four months since he has met up with the rest of his entitled friends.

In the movie, Clay returns to his hometown to woo back his girlfriend and eventually, help his druggie friend Julian out. He stops using drugs and wants to help these two, his BFFs, get clean.

In the book, none of this happens. Clay returns and continues to do coke and drink. He has sex with his ex-girlfriend, but not before he has sex with an old guy friend.

Clay is affectless. He is completely and utterly unemotional. He floats from place to place, meeting up with people with no rhyme or reason. And these people also do coke, do not work, float from place to place, have sex and party all night long.

At one point, Blair, the ex-girlfriend, asks Clay if he ever loved her. He struggles to find an answer but tells her no. And while she walks away, she calls him later because, Blair doesn't seem to care either.

The novel was OK for me. It is written as someone on coke would write (I think, since I am only making an assumption at what that would be): run on paragraphs written in Clay's voice. There are a few sections, in italic form, in which he is reminiscing about the past. I am not sure why the font style changed because, the voice didn't really. It was still Clay. It was still his ramblings. I guess the 'flashbacks' were a little more intimate with feeling from Clay vs. the rest of his ramblings with just careless attitude. If anything, he gets easily annoyed at any remote chance of intimacy through conversations.

I do like Eliss' style, while trying to get used to his rhythm. I plan to read his next one, The Rules of Attraction and especially look forward to American Psycho. I like controversial books and the movie itself was controversial, although I think it was played up too much because I didn't love it all that well.

The parts of the novel that were disturbing-but-not-really-but-must-have-been-in-1985 were: the snuff movie that Clay catches a glimpse of at one of his friend's house...and everyone in the home was entranced, and turned on, by the movie.

The almost recreation of the rape scene of the snuff film with a real girl and that Clay's friends were participating in it...eagerly, without guilt or remorse. Just something to do because they can.

Clay doesn't partake in these and is somewhat disgusted by it but not enough to actually stop being friends with them or call the police.

In the end, his BFF in the movie, Julian, is not necessarily his BFF in the book. Julian is just another friend who floats to whenever they appear. Julian *is* a drug-addicted heroin user; he's also a prostitute working for his drug.

There is no single redeeming character in this novel. No one that I could feel sorry for. No one that I would be sad to see leave this world. I wondered if there were truly people in this world that could be so...monotonous? No real desire to live and do anything but self-gratification in any form.

I am sure that is what makes this book so controversial. It was a good read for me, to just get an idea of Ellis, who was deemed as one of the 'literary brat packs' of our time. It's a quick read too which made it easier to stomach.

Rally in Ramseur

Today was the second-to-last tournament day for CJ and her volleyball team. Our season will end in about two weeks. I am really sad about that.

For now, we headed out at approximately 6:30 AM for the hour and 20 minute drive west of here. Ramseur is literally a blip off of HWY 64, with Randolph High School being a hop, skip and a jump away from the highway.

We got there early and the ritual of arrival is: grab our chairs and secure spots as close to the court action as possible. I arrived first, with two chairs, listening to the official explain where we can set our chairs. Well, I actually got there at the _end_ of her explanation and caught something like "...stay behind the white lines".

So I moseyed over to one side of the court and planted my chairs - above the white line. I then see this woman - peripherally - and hear her say to me, in the most annoying, obnoxious voice and tone: "MA'AM? MA'AM? YOU CAN'T PUT YOUR CHAIRS THERE. THIS IS THE SERVING ZONE."

OK. I pick up my chairs and head for the sidelines.

She then says, in a more serious and more obnoxious, and more annoying tone "MA'AM - THAT IS WHAT SHE TOLD ME. *I* AM JUST TRYING TO SAVE YOU FROM GETTING SETTLED!!!"

I stand still. Not facing her. And I sigh. Dramatically. Not on purpose (dramatically) but because that was exactly how I felt: Why is this woman talking to me again? I moved my chairs like she said. I don't recall making a face of exasperation at her.

Sooooo...of course, my dramatic standing-still-and-sighing caused her to FUCKING CONTINUE TALKING TO ME IN A MORE*2 SERIOUS VOICE, *2 ANNOYING AND *2 HIGH PITCH: "I. AM. JUST. TRYING! TO! HELP! YOU!!!"

I see Tim walk in to the gym and I look at him, agog. I walk over to CJ, who is looking at me, agog. And irritated with the same antics that I am. I think I say something like 'JEEZUZ!' and I walk away to get my blood pressure down because, I am on some kind of hissy fit streak and for some reason, I am willing to bite my tongue at a Saturday volleyball game with a total stranger, vs. being at another place, which I spend my M-F at...

ANYWAY, I think she is still talking...I later learn from Tim that she immediately ran to her clique of moms and started whispering...most likely about me...which actually made me happy.

On to the games...CJ's team started first. They played so well, so competitively. I thought we had the game in the bag.

We didn't. Lost both sets in tight matches.

Break time for about an hour, after watching two kick-ass teams play some great games.

Next, the girls work: this means they referee the games. There is one official that stands beside the up-referee (one of the girls), while three girls become line judges, one managing the scoreboard while another one or two take care of the official record book). Refereeing games looks very complicated and I am glad I am not doing _any_ of it.

Game Two: so close. We get a lead, we lose the lead. We almost win but we don't and again, lose both sets in tight matches. Oh-and-two.

Game Three: we lose the first set after much controversy with the official official. We play the second set and we pull off a win! We, the parents of the team that plays so well in practice only to suffer from stage fright during tourneys, were ECSTATIC. We haven't seen a win in, well, I don't want to count back but it's been a loooonnnnngggg time.

We are now on a tie-breaker and lose it after yet another close game where we were >thisclose< to winning.

It sucked. It's not fun losing. The girls seem to not mind. They play, lose, and go back to their little group and giggle about other things. This, for them, has become a social gathering. There is no TRUE desire to WIN. I mean, sure, they want to win but if they don't? Whatever.

Tim mentioned that, last week, there was a girl who just cried and cried and cried, a little too much and too dramatically for his taste, when her team lost. Today I thought: you know, I wouldn't mind seeing that in any of our girls at least once; it would at least let me know that they actually cared more than I thought they did.

I sound bitter. I'm not. I just want to "add water" and have these girls -- MY GIRL -- play to win. I know that comes with time, with more experience but I can't stop myself from wanting more. Ironically, several tournaments ago, I had a kanipshit and had to leave the gym because my heart and my blood pressure could not handle watching them fall to pieces. Tim told me 'they are just not going to be the big winners this year...they are young...new...and they need more experience...i have given up on seeing those wins and just showing up and supporting her'...so I found that "zen" and despite getting frustrated, I can deal with the loss better than that day. However, Tim is now the one, writhing in anger and impatience, every time we lose a point. He told me that advice was _for me_ not for him.

The penalty for being the losingest team of the day is: the girls have to ref the semi-championship match. For us that meant having to wait until 3:30 for them to start their ref gig...after LOSING their final game of the day at around 1:45 PM. Another team plays...then it's tally up who were the top two for each pool (we had two pools)...then each team gets warm-up time...then they finally get to play.

Apparently, at one point during the game, one of the team's parents started yelling at the refs, AKA our girls, about the scoreboard (the plastic number-thingy with the scores) being wrong. I dismissed them because, I learned early on after doing the same stupid thing, that the scores on the written log is usually correct and the girl flipping the numbers could be off. So the scoreboard is not always reflecting the score correctly. But at some point, the refs notice it and fix it but the written score is what is used for the actual scoring while in game mode.

*anyway*, CJ was the scoreboard keeper. And what Tim and I found out _after_ their reffing gig was over, was that the douchebag who was trying to do me a 'favor' and tell me where to move my chairs SCREAMED AT THE REFS AND CALLED THEM STUPID. Called MY CJ STUPID.

I cannot tell you how happy, and unhappy, I am that I did not hear any of this. Happy because, after my encounter that morning with her, I would not have had the ability to not say something to get ejected. I know this.

Unhappy because I did not get the opportunity to go and tell her something *and* get ejected from the game.

But more happy that Tim didn't go after her because that would have been much worse, I think, than anything I could do. And I probably would LET him vs. him pulling me away.

It's too bad she is such a douche because I love the team her (I assume) daughter plays on. They are great players.

We finally make it out of Ramseur around 6:30 PM. Yes, 6:30 PM. We pass through Siler City with nary a nice restaurant to stop and eat at so we hit IHOP in Apex. About 8:43 PM, I finally got to settle my big ass on the couch, after a big belly full of food and gas, and a nice shower to clean off the long day.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sheening Tiger Blood Is Winning

Do I dare jump on the Charlie Sheen bandwagon?

It is pretty incredible, that in the span of barely two weeks, we now have a new meaning for "winning". I didn't know what any of that meant but I saw it pepper tweets from people I follow..."not winning"..."winning"...WTF? I knew it was in relation to Charlie Sheen but I hadn't had the pleasure of hearing his interview.

And "Sheening" or "Sheening Out", for going cuckoo. In fact, I used that term today in a conversation.

I heard on the radio, his rant about getting fired from Two and a Half Men, as well as his youtube show but Tim had actually posted the video of the latter and seeing it was like WOW. He is really, really cuckoo. What happened?

Well, he's definitely been a loose cannon for as long as I remember knowing about him. BTW, I was never a fan. I have seen many movies with him in it but only because he was incidental. I never quite understood the take on Spin City (without Michael J. Fox) and especially, Two and a Half Men...but whatever.

For the young folk out there, in 1990, Charlie Sheen shot his then-fiancee, Kelly Preston, aka Mrs. John Travolta. I know it was labeled "accidental" but she was out of the picture shortly after.

Then he was dating porno stars like crazy. And was involved in the Heidi Fleiss fiasco.

Then his dad, Martin Sheen, went in front of cameras, begging for help for his son. That didn't happen just now...this was years ago.

I was reminded of Charlie's recent debacles when I watched a crap movie this weekend, Love Happens. It had Martin Sheen in a small role and he was just amazing.

So I think about Charlie...and his legacy...and his dad Martin Sheen...and his legacy. Is this how he wants to be remembered? Can he rebound from this, if he doesn't die first? Robert Downey Jr. did it, so I guess it's possible.

But it's sad. It's sad that the nation (including me) is watching this man go nuts and use it for fodder for new slang, new impressions.

Charlie Sheen said, to his firing from the TV show, that he didn't care about himself; what he cared for most of all were his children. Really? Which ones? The younger ones or his adult daughter Cassandra, who is well in to her 20s.

I guess the sick soap opera will continue until those 15 minutes are up.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Less Than Zero

Amazingly, I never saw this movie. Not in 1987, when it came out. Not anytime after that until this past weekend.

It's been on my 'to-watch' list for maybe the last 10 years. I started hearing about it, especially around Robert Downey Jr.'s character vs. his real life drug troubles. Later, I learned that Bret Easton Ellis wrote the novel that the movie is based on and then I was really hooked on getting the movie watched.

It wasn't bad. It certainly wasn't great, in the sense that I think Ellis probably writes more dark than how the movie came out. The movie was a true 1987 starfest: James Spader, Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, along with Downey Jr. So it was a flick to monopolize on the stars vs. creating an artistic movie (oh yes. I went there.) Much like the destruction of the Twilight series today. (and I went there too)

But it was intriguing enough to get me to read the novel, which I just got today. The gist of what I got from the movie that I look forward to reading in the novel: rich, entitled young adults, partying, doing drugs, having sex, and in the case of Downey Jr.'s character, becoming addicted and pimping himself out. Now _that's_ what I'm talking about. Shockingly, it was depicted, discreetly, in the movie and I am guessing that is why this was mentioned so much over the years..."we" didn't really show a lot of homosexuality back then in movies. And the sex scenes were pretty mild too.

Having the book might put a spark back into my reading routine. I tried picking up a book that was loaned to me and I read the first two pages three times, with no desire to continue...yet. The book is fine; I am just not in the mood for that one. Or the other two loaned to me right now. Fortunately, there's not a wait list for Less Than Zero at the library so I'll give it a go tonight and see how it stacks up with the movie. I think, though, I already know what will win.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Silence of the Lambs

This movie is #36 on the ICS Top 100 of the 1990s.

I watched this when it was first released in 1991. Tim was in the military and in Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm. I was working in accounts receivable at a home goods manufacturing place in Goldsboro, living in base housing with my two dogs, Zimba and Sugar. I had seen the previews for this movie and I wanted to read the book before the movie came out. I was sick and I left work and bought sudafed...I remember getting so fucked up off the sudafed, and feeling so crummy, and lying on my gray pseud-suede sofa, reading the novel within 24 hours.

I had a dictionary next to me and I would read, consult the dictionary, read some more. I loved the novel. I don't remember if it scared me -- but I have no problems scaring the shit out of myself and being alone...well, if it involves mice, then I do give a shit...but monsters, vampires and serial killers? Fuggedaboutit.

Then I went to the premiere and? Humdrum.

And of course, that would be my reaction. All books are better than the movie!!! And while I appreciated Jodie Foster (a childhood idol, no, obsession?) and Anthony Hopkins' roles, I wasn't blown away as the rest of the nation was. I remember hearing reactions to scenes in the movie, especially the phone call at the end from Lecter to Clarice, how chilling it was and I was pissed that I didn't have the same feeling...BECAUSE I LOVE WHEN MOVIES DO THAT TO YOU!!!

So fast-forward 20 years (wow. i mean wow.) we watch it again with CJ.

It was much better not knowing the novel so well. :) But it was still just good. I mean, really good but not in any of my top favorites list. I may read the book again because, at the time, I loved Red Dragon (the predecessor to Silence and the movie, Manhunters, is pretty darn good too) and loved this book.

The movie shows its age in our digital world: no cell phones, computers are big and bulky, cars are ugly too. Did we really not care about how cars looked in the 90s?

But fortunately, the dialog and interaction between Clarice and Lecter is electric. Hopkins, who over the years I went from extreme like to just 'whatever', is spot-on with a chilling portrayal of a sick serial killer.

But in true Hollywood style, it still ends with a nice ribbon - meaning Clarice gets spared by the sicko because he actually _can_ feel for another human being (not!) and the inept psychiatrist Dr. Chilton, gets his in the end from Lecter -- portrayed in a way that we root for Lecter.

For me, it's another notch in getting this movie challenge accomplished. Still have a ways to go and so far, I have watched the 50 movies on this list that I've already seen!

Mapple

At least, that's how I say it in my head. It is actually MAPL - Mid-Atlantic Power League, which was held (being held) this weekend at the Raleigh Convention Center.

What does that mean? It means 24 action-packed courts of volleyball.

CJ and her team were able to make it in for a day of competitive volleyball games, all of which were lost. :( No matter, the girls were able to get a taste of the sights and sounds of volleyball adrenaline and power play. CJ managed to use, and successfully get, her overhand serves over, a feat she has been trying to do since she joined the team last November. It was a proud moment for us, especially when she managed to get two aces in a row. If you only knew the struggle she has had with that skill throughout the season. It's been a monkey on her back but through true grit, she has practiced, and practiced, and practiced and it paid off.

I soaked in the sounds and sights too. I watched 15 year old teams play like they were in college. I couldn't believe they were that young and here I was, a part of a crowd of spectators who were just as entranced as I was, as each team dove for unbelievably OUT balls, never giving up a point. In this particular match, the sets were tight across all three: 25 points to win...each team would be within one point of winning. They split and went for a tiebreaker, which is first to win 15 by two points wins...that wasn't enough, it had to go to 18.

I roamed the entire center, watching a set here or there. It was truly an amazing experience and reinforces my love for this game: to play, to watch, and perhaps one day, coach.

But our day was over around 5PM. I chatted with BFFs Ashley, Kris and Eric (and Eric, you know I *do* like you more than the other guy :) :)) and we headed out to celebrate with some guacamole. Ashley, Kris and Eric are back today, which is amazing because, despite the excitement, it is EXTREMELY TIRING, even just as a spectator. But that's what I foresee in the future, as CJ grows into the volleyball player I would have liked to become.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Boys Don't Cry

When I picked Mi-Mi up today, she asked if I wanted to hear about her day. Of course! This is what she said:

At recess today, we were playing soccer and these two boys started cheating. We told them they were cheating so the boys told on us so the teacher took the ball away. We got mad at them so then one boy said "We are going to sue you" and so I said "um, you can't sue a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds". So he said "My dad can" and I said "No he can't" so then they both started crying. So I was like "why are YOU crying since you are the ones that were cheating!" and the one boy said "I was just trying to make the other boy happy". And I said "What the heck?"

I gave her a fist bump for making boys cry.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Just Kids by Patti Smith

This was the last of the three novels I wanted to read as part of National Book Foundation winners book challenge. It also was the second (of three!) that I stopped reading.

Just Kids is a memoir written by Patti Smith, the songstress. It chronicles her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. I think part of the problem, for me, is not really knowing the "characters".

Yes, I have heard of Patti Smith, but I don't know anything else about her...other than she was some kind of hippie? And that I get her confused with Patty Smyth, another songstress.

And Robert Mapplethorpe? Never, ever heard of him. Based on this novel, I could surmise that he was something special at some point and that he was an artist and that he was dead.

I would then learn that he was also gay. This doesn't bother me *at all*. But intially, he and Patti were lovers so it was a wild disclosure, for someone who knew nothing about where this book was going to go.

And I won't know, unless I read someone else's detailed account of the novel. I enjoyed what I read but only to a certain degree. It's a big book. It has a lot of build up. And because I don't know these people, it edges on pretty boring. Perhaps if there was autobiography about Nikki Sixx, the love of my life throughout my growing up years, I would have the same interest as someone familiar with these folks.

But again, this detracts from the relevancy of the winners of the National Book Foundation when two of the three novels are bad (for me). The first one, MockingBird, is amazing and they get huge brownie points for that one. But these other two take so much away from their credibility for me. How old are these people? How much of a literary snob are they? I mean seriously, there are A LOT OF BOOKS out there and these two are the ones you picked for best fiction and non-fiction?

Not sure I'll challenge myself with them again. I need to move on to another book foundation.

Shhhhhh!

I have done this, many times, at movie theaters. As many people, one major pet peeve is people talking during the movies. Sure, I'll let you talk during the previews, but you are on my shit list. You have to redeem yourself and shut the fuck up once the movie begins. But before then, you get a chance.

I am pretty serious about my movies. Years and years ago, Tim and I went to see Casino when it came out. It was a packed theater. There was a row of couples sitting in front of us. They were a bit older than Tim and I were at the time...and LOOKED conservative. Women with bobbed hairstyles; men with their haughty nature. At first glance, they were nothing to me. The details of their look were only taken during the film...

They kept commenting on elements within the movie.
Oh my god. This is so violent.
I know! This is just sick!
and on and on with the "Oh my gods", "I can't believe this", "this is terrible", etc.

And of course, I am thinking "WTF brought you to *this* movie then?" I recall Tim and I hushing them up to no avail. And when the movie's finale hit, where the men are getting beaten up then burined alive? They whispered their disappointment but it was still loud. By this time, I was so annoyed with them that the movie became secondary. I think I'll have to watch it again one day to get the full picture. But as the closing credits roll and people get up, I start chanting, quietly but loud enough, "SATAN! SATAN! SATAN!"

Don't ask me why. I was around 25 at the time with a bitch attitude. But the stranger thing is this: Tim starts chanting with me. There is no plan, there is no "hey tim, let's start chanting Satan!" It was me being spontaneous and reactionary and Tim just going with the flow.

Needless to say, we scared the shit out of those folks.

Then I listen to my KATG podcast relaying the story about a man telling a bunch of teens to stop being unruly...those teens getting kicked out...then waiting at the theater for the movie to finish in order to seek revenge on the man.

Upon searching for this article for this post, I found this one: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Moviegoer-Tells-Woman-to-Stop-Talking-On-Cell-Phone-Gets-Stabbed-in-the-Neck-87144462.html.

Seriously? This is what going to the movies in peace has become? I will be KILLED if I pull that SATAN shit on someone else, let alone SHUSH. I would almost say *Tim* would be the harder person to pull back from hushing others at the theater (he doesn't say "shhhh", he says "put the phone away" or "be quiet", no please, no thank you) but I am guilty of it too.

But don't you too? I can't be the ONLY person in the world (besides those mentioned in these articles) that wants to watch a movie without people disrupting it!

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I read this blurb on USAToday sometime last year:
Here's a scary what-if scenario.
Suppose you were the only victim of a rapist/serial killer to walk away with your life? Suppose two decades later this convicted criminal sends you a note inviting you to visit him in prison?
I was instantly hooked. Until I saw the author's name.

I read What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman several years ago. Again, the premise of this book was up my alley. I re-read my "review" and it sucks. I remember this novel disappointing me greatly but I have no idea why, without some clue in my post, which is not there.

My fear of spoiling a novel for some reader prevented me from being more detailed. I have since changed my thoughts on that and now give myself to permission to write whatever I want about a book.

This one, while not as disappointing as the previous novel I read, definitely did not stand up to my expectation.

First: Eliza Benedict and her family have just moved back to the US from England. She is surprised by a letter sent to her by a name she hasn't used in years, Elizabeth Lerner and once she reads it, she realizes it is a letter from Walter Bowman, the man who kidnapped her when she was 15 years old and held her hostage for 39 days. He is on death row for murdering two other younger girls, possibly more.

The story had an interesting flow: Eliza's current life, 15 year old Elizabeth as the crime takes place, Walter Bowman in real life and Walter Bowman during the time of the crime. This was a great way to play out the story. Unfortunately, the "substance" of the story was not very tittilating.

Eliza, as an adult, is annoying. She is weak, timid, and a big scaredy-cat. Yes, perhaps she should be, being a victim of a heinous crime. But, the crime took place over 20 years before, and she speaks of Walter as a person she knew, still knows, extremely well.

And the same goes for Walter Bowman, who also points out how weak the young 15 year old girl was...how unattractive she was, and she was merely a victim out of happenstance: he was burying his teen victim, she was crossing a creek and saw him (although the body was already in the ground; but Bowman didn't know what she had seen...which was nothing). The Bowman parts are about an egotistical man who searched for attractive young girls to "meet" but Elizabeth was just someone to manipulate and control.

In the current time, Bowman still uses the grown-up Eliza to manipulate and get her to recant her testimony, his only shot of getting out of being put to death.

And Eliza is allowing it to happen, under the premise that she is trying to find out how many other victims he had; that Bowman, after over 20 years, will now confide in her as to the number of his victims.

There was no substance to Eliza and it was difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her as an adult. As a child, yes, but there is often a blur in how Eliza/Elizabeth act/react/think that makes it muddled.

Bowman is an interesting character, but again, his true nature isn't developed enough and the actual number of victims and what he actually did to them does not become very clear.

The one thing I did actually become more intrigued about was the fact that Lippman based this story on a true event. Because I am fascinated with crimes, especially something like this, I wanted to know more about the actual crime. Unfortunately, I can't get the right search terms to get close to something so I'm waiting until someone else figures it out then I'll jump on that bandwagon.

Where is me?

I know I haven't been active on my blog of late; I don't know if "you" (anyone who actually takes time to read this) notice. In case you have missed me, I'm still here, still writing blog posts *in my head*. If only I would make the time to put it down on "paper"...

Let's see if I can get my act together this month...