Thursday, December 27, 2012

Streaming Consciousness: The Post-Birthday Edition

I began this post bitching about my Kid, and then about annoying couples, but decided to spare y'all the goth mom angst and just focus on the good birthday stuff instead.

...I let Balthazar accompany me to one of two museum visits I'd planned for the day. We went to The Whitney Museum on the upper east side of Manhattan, to check out two exhibits that are right up my alley: Sinister Pop and Dark and Deadpan: Pop in TV and the Movies. Both focused on Pop Art of/in the 60s, an era which rather fascinates me. (I'm especially into the surf culture—it's the ginchiest!) We sort of split up to check stuff out independently. By the time we reunited to grab a bite in the museum's cafe, I'd been thoroughly distracted from my earlier teen-induced upset by all the art and films and whatnot. I'd had a thoroughly engrossing art experience which, admittedly, made me think a whole lot more than I usually care to, but still, I enjoyed the stretching of my poor remaining gray cells. Balthazar and I had a nice meal together, talking about what we'd seen, what we'd enjoyed, what we hadn't, etc. Then he buggered off back to Westchester County to hang out with his friends, which was fine with me, because...

...my next stop was the Museum of Sex on Fifth and 27th, so I could cheer myself up with some smut. They have their standard exhibits (one examines sex in the animal kingdom, which is very educational indeed and absolutely the right place to take your kids if you really want them to learn about the birds and the bees), as well as more ephemeral installations. Right now, there's Universe of Desire, (though the Web site claims it would be gone after Nov. 4), which examines what turns the world on as evidenced by activity on the World Wide Web, as well as other electronic media. (Makes one more inclined to launch "Private Browsing" or its nearest relative when surfing the Web, eh what?) I have to admit to averting my gaze on more than one occasion for fear of succumbing to the vapors, but mostly I was able to look at all the kink square in the...well, you know.

...the next day, Saturday, I took myself to the Elektra Theater (at Times Scare) to see Silence! The Musical. This "unauthorized parody of The Silence of the Lambs" was hi-larious. The music was ok, the best of which, for me, was Hannibal Lechter's sweeping anthem, If I Could Smell Her Cunt. The gal currently playing Clarice Starling, Pamela Bob, executed the role masterfully, a high point for me being her response to Jack Crawford when he told her to stay put while he and the other FBI menfolk went to collect Buffalo Bill. Remember that scene in the movie? I remember feeling outraged that, after all the work Starling did, she'd be denied the glory of catching the murderer. Well, in the musical, Starling expresses that outrage with a convincingly stupefied monologue that riffs on the words, "What the fuck?" to uproarious effect. Loved it. Go see it, if you can.

...finally, on Sunday I took myself to see Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins (neat little connection with the above, huh?) and Helen Mirren. It was a bit slow-moving, though enjoyable. I thought it would focus more on the quirks and foibles of making the film, but the emphasis seemed to be more on the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife Alma. After the film, I had to pick up the book upon which it was based, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, as well as a honking huge book on pop art, Pop by Mark Francis & Hal Foster.

And that's about the extent of my birthday shenanigans. Please check back on New Year's Day for a topical post on facing the consequences of the previous night's revelry...

Monday, December 24, 2012

What Christmas Is All About...




Wishing you and yours peace, comfort, and joy, this Christmas and always.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Tuneage & A Birthday

First, my top 3 fave Christmas Tunes...

Thank God It's Christmas by Queen Released in Europe in 1984, this tune didn't receive much (if any) airplay in the U.S., as far as I can remember. I happened to hear it in 1985, the Christmas my Dad and I spent in Portugal with his mum, about two years before she passed away, God rest her. Anyway, the first time I heard this tune on Portuguese radio, I felt sucker-punched by the fatigued sort of sadness it expressed, this mournful ache which hoped to find relief in the holiday. I had my tape recorder ready to go for the next time it played and managed to capture it, but what's become of the tape, I've no idea. It was only in very recent years I was able to find it online, and I'm so glad I did, even if I get all onion-eyed every time I hear it.


It is deucedly difficult to find info about this track, so I gave up after a half-hearted Google search. But I will say that what I love best about this track, apart from how danged pretty it sounds, is that these two artists chose songs that actually focus upon what Christmas is really about. Rock on, youse guys.


And because I know how to have a good time...

C'mon, this one's just fun.



And the birthday...

Is MINE, MINE, all MINE! (OK, and Jane Fonda, Samuel L. Jackson, Kiefer Sutherlands, & possibly other folks', too.) In case you're wondering, the age I'll officially be at 10:41 a.m. today is the same number as the answer to life, the universe, and everything! (If you don't get the reference, do the research; us crotchety middle-agers think you young folk are shiftless layabouts who've never had to do an honest day's work.) I invite you all to drink to my health (seeing as I'm on meds which disallow the imbibing of booze, alas.) Still, there's always chocolate...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dadisms

My Dad in the late 50s/early 60s,
an unwitting Proto-Goth.
In honor of my Dad's birthday today, I thought I'd share with you some of the wise sayings (hence, Dad-isms) he's laid down on my sister Star and me over the years. But I feel I must warn y'all in advance—my Dad grew up in a village, among earthy farm-folk, hardened by years of near poverty, who didn't mince their words. What follows is tinged with scatological humor that may offend the delicate among you, so don't read on if you're squeamish.

OK, so...

On Putting Your Crushes On A Pedestal
When I was a teen, I plastered the walls of the room my sis and I shared with posters of my musical idols, mostly Duran Duran. One day, my dad entered and caught me drooling admiring their handsome visages. With a sneer, he said, "Eles são muito jeitosos, não são? Imagina-los a cagar." (Translation: "They're very handsome, aren't they? Imagine them shitting.") This is somewhat in the vein of Jonathan Swift's poem The Lady's Dressing Room, and just generally good advice on not getting carried away by a pretty face, I must say.

On Economizing
My sis and I begged our Dad to take us to the mall. "What do you want to go there for?" he asked in English. "We need to go to Macy's, to get some facial cleaners and stuff," we said. That infamous sneer put in an appearance as he replied, "Oh, you need some more shit to clean your face?" leaving Star and me in hysterics for a good five minutes before we could resume our begging. What he really meant was that we could manage our beauty routines just as effectively with drugstore products, rather than blowing our cash on the higher-end stuff. Probably.

On How to Take Command of Any Conversation
If we ever asked him a question he wasn't in the mood to answer, for some mysterious reason (so, like, all the time), he'd reply, "É o Judas, a cagar no deserto." (Translation: "It's Judas, shitting in the desert.") 'Cause, you know, he's a staunch Catholic and enjoys teaching us lessons he can relate back to the Bible. After that bomb, we'd generally sigh and repeat the question, which seemed to please him, as he'd smile at our exasperation. I've asked numerous members of the family if this "saying" was a common one with the Portuguese and was advised that the coarser folk employed it, though it's not very polite. Yeah, no kidding.

So, Happy Birthday, Dad, and thanks for all of the life lessons you've painstakingly taught Star and me through the years. May we remember them always.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Super Sweet Blogging Award!

My Dudes, the Gorgeously-Maned and Überly-Talented L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge gifted me with the Super Sweet Blogging Award at the start of November, and it's only now that I've been able to catch up to doing my duty by it. Part of the reason for the delay was my lack of functioning Interwebs at home (until now—I gots me some FiOS, folks!). Another excuse reason is that I was focused on my Resurrection Blogfest stuffs. And finally, I'm just lazy as sin, so there you are.

Anyway, here's what this involves: I have to answer a few basic questions, all about sweets, then pass it on to other deserving bloggers.  Allons-y...

Cookies or Cake?
Red Velvet Cake.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate, of course.

What is your favorite sweet treat?
Häagen-Dazs Rocky Road Ice Cream.

When do you crave sweet things most?
Haha...always. Evenings, really. The average individual may desire a nightcap. Pour me a shot of brownie, instead. (OK, or Baileys and/or Godiva chocolate liqueur.)

If you had a sweet nickname what would it be?
Uh...Death by Chocolate? (My recipe for it is killer.) (Not literally.) (Just sayin'.)

And now, to tag some folks:

Juli @ Surviving Boys

Tracy @ Pull Up a Toadstool

Tonja @ Tonja's Musings

JoJo @ Tahoma Beadworks & Photography

Elise Fallson

All right, damn it; now I've gotta have me some Oreo Coconut Fudge Cream cookies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dark Romance ~ Love, Actually

::OBLIGATORY SPOILER ALERT: DON'T READ THIS IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE, BUT PLAN TO. OK??? SHEESH...::

There, my duty's done. If you read on, don't bitch at me about the spoilers.

I know, I know—Love, Actually is such a fun flick that the words "dark romance" don't exactly leap to mind when you think about it. But beneath the smiles and hugs lies gloom, in rather a few of the tales told by this freakin' fantastic ensemble. Today, I'll examine three of them. (DISCLAIMER: I adore this movie. That doesn't mean I don't see the darkness in it, or that I can't have any problems with how some stuff went down.)

The dark romance of:

Sam (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster) ~ Sam and his stepfather Daniel have lost the woman who brought them together, Joanna (who was mother to the former and wife to the latter). I choked up with every scene of theirs, maybe 'cause I'm a mother and I can't bear the idea of a child losing his mom. Anyway, poor Joanna passes away and her fellas have to carry on, somehow. Daniel's clearly deeply affected by his loss. Sam seems to be equally so, so much that Daniel begins to worry. Thinking the boy's in really bad shape, Daniel confronts him, only to discover that, yeah, Sam misses his mum, but it's a new gal who's got him all down about life. OK, I understand; he's a kid and he needs some comfort and this chickie-poo is really cute. I geddit. But it's kind of cold, in my opinion, that it's his as-yet-unrequited-interest in a girl that's got him being all antisocial and depressed and whatnot. I mean, sure, I think it's adorbz when Sam utters that famous line, "Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love." I heart that line. I want him to get the girl, for shizzle. I just think they should've showed us more of his mourning for his mum. Anyway, as has been said, there's no cure for an old love like a new love. That's a bit harsh, but it's Christmas, and at Christmas, you tell the truth. Which brings me to the dark romance of...

Mark (played by Andrew Lincoln) ~ You may best know him as Rick, the noble leader of a group of zombie apocalypse survivors in AMC series, The Walking Dead. But in Love, Actually, his character was hopelessly in love with his BFF's new bride. He plays things like he just doesn't care for her as a person, but the viewer kinda knows there's something behind his behavior which points to the very opposite. Then the bride, Juliet, discovers his secret tendre for her and buggers off, all upset and shocked-like. What follows that is the super-sweet declaration of love Mark makes to her via placards, acknowledging only what his feelings have been and without any expectation of reciprocation. Bless him. That was incredibly brave of him, and perhaps, having unburdened himself, he can rest easy, even though nothing comes of it. Of course, burdens don't just disappear. Who's carrying it now, if not Juliet? What we don't get to see is how she lives with this knowledge, after her initial response of a chaste kiss to Mark's cheek. How are things between the three of them afterward? Does Mark stop aching for love of her? Can she simply forget what he's divulged? Does she feel any sort of guilt or responsibility for his feelings for her? Is there, perhaps, some reason unknown to the viewer why she should? Does she ever tell her husband, Peter, what went down? Folks, it is my feeling that, sometimes, Love keeps shit to itself, for the sake of the loved one(s), you know? And finally, what (to me) is one of the darkest romances of the bunch...

Harry (played by Alan Rickman) ~ Oh, Harry. What were ya thinkin', ya goofball? So, Harry's a Big Boss and a married man with kids, all of whom he loves. Then his new, skanky secretary messes with him, coming onto him and hinting very heavily about what she wants from him for Christmas. (And it ain't cookies 'n' milk, neither.) I think Harry's sort of swayed by her interest in him, not so much pursuing as being pursued.  But it seems he's beginning to return her interest when he goes to buy her a pretty bauble (the wrapping of which was a charmingly funny scene, brilliantly executed by one of my faves, Mr. Bean. Uh, I mean, Rowan Atkinson.) Unfortunately, Harry's missus, who's had an uneasy feeling about him, busts him and it all goes to hell. As far as we know, Harry never even slept with the skanky secretary, but the damage to his marriage has been done. Now, whomever authored the Wikipedia page for this movie says that, during the epilogue scene, when folks coming off a plane are being greeted by their loved ones, Harry and wife Karen reunite in such a way as to suggest they've gotten over their "relationship crisis." I say that whomever wrote that must've been high. Their intimacy sacrificed on the altar of lust, a deep freeze separates them. Karen can barely look at Harry and, from Harry's expression, he's well aware that he really screwed the pooch (without even having actually screwed her). And it's not just Karen whom he's hurt, but also his children, as there's no way in hell they can't pick up the weirdness between their parents. I'd love to know whether Harry and Karen were ever able to heal the wound in their marriage. I hope so.

What do y'all think? Was Sam maybe just a wee bit too ready to move on? Should Mark have kept his yap shut? Did Harry and Karen sort things out? Inquiring minds, etc., etc.


Friday, December 7, 2012

My Top 3 Goofy Zombie Novels! (Precious Monsters' Zombie Blog Hop)

Welcome, y'all, to my entry for the Zombie Blog Hop, hosted by Jolie du Pre of Precious Monsters! Participants can blog about anything zombie-esque, so I chose to tell youse guys about three zombie novels which make me giggle like a giddy schoolboy*.

*I believe in equal giggling opportunities for both sexes.

Click here to buy it! (The book, not me, obviously).
'K, so: first up is Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror, Version 2.0 (with a groovy one-year-later epilogue which is not to be missed). In TSA, Moore revisits the fictional town of Pine Cove, CA, in which tourists flock to the fake-Tudor-Christmasy-cheer while a local kid witnesses the accidental killing of "Santa Claus" (an Evil Developer and all-round douchebag, who totally had it coming). The titular angel, Raziel, grants the boy's Christmas wish that Santa return from the dead, while the Sheriff quits pot so he can afford a special gift for his wife (a schizophrenic ex-scream queen, who's gone off her meds so she can afford to get him something special), all while she's planning the town's annual Lonesome Christmas party, which just happens to take place at the Santa Rosa Chapel, which just happens to be located right next to a cemetery. You can see where this is going, right? I break this bad-boy out every December for another read, 'cause, you know, 'tis the season, and whatnot.

Buy PP&Z here!
Next is the book which sparked a new(ish) genre, the literary mash-up: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. As I noted in my Amazon.com review for this book, what I adore about it is the juxtaposition of well-known and well-turned phrases against the ludicrous. And Dudes, it's HILARIOUSLY funny. READ IT, if for nothing else but the helpful Reader's Discussion Guide (Question #7: Does Mrs. Bennet have a single redeeming quality?). Or for the nifty illustrations sprinkled throughout (with captions such as "Elizabeth lifted her skirt, disregarding modesty, and delivered a swift kick to the creature's head.") OR for sentences like the one Catherine De Bourgh utters near the end of the book, "Well? Have you anything to say before I remit you to Satan?" Too, when zombies (here referred to as the "Unmentionables" or "The Zed Word") crash the ball at which Darcy first disses Lizzy, Mr. Bennet urges his daughters to take them out by forming the "Pentagram of Death." C'mon, like that's not hysterically funny. (It's bloody well funny-as-hell to me, at any rate, and that's all I actually care about anyways, so...)

Click here to buy a good time! (Uh...you know what I mean.)
Finally, we have The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor. Now, I have to admit it's been quite some time since I first read this Prairie Home Companion parody, plus I've got Momnesia, so details are fuzzy for me. However, I do recall that it features a meteor which starts the whole mess, a murderess, dueling clergy, bachelor farmers, a serial killer, a dominatrix, and of course, the "zomboes," as one character calls them. Possibly the funniest thing about this book is how these stalwart Minnesotans manage to take the zombie apocalypse in stride and go about the business of living. *I* should be so hard-to-rattle!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Kid ~ Vignettes

Apparently, I can't do a nice thing for The Kid (my son, Balthazar) without said act of kindness being regarded with deep suspicion. A while back, he mentioned he needed gloves. I kept forgetting about this until one Sunday that I happened to be at work, I remembered to order him some and have them shipped to him up at college. So I ordered two pairs, each from a different vendor, 'cause, you know, they're easily lost or misplaced (though I didn't tell him he'd be getting two). He let me know when pair one arrived, but when pair two turned up a couple of days later, he texted me, "What is the meaning of this?"

*     *     *

When I moved back in with the 'rents at the end of September, I was appalled to discover that the closet in my "new" room reeked of mothballs. Reeked, I tell you! I tried simply cleaning/vacuuming/airing out, but the stench remained. So I took the advice I read on the Interwebs, to stick some baking soda all up in there, close the door, and wait for the malodorous offense to the senses to disappear. I'd forgotten to mention these to Balthazar, who visited for the Thanksgiving holiday this past week. He made it up to my room before I did and, when I arrived, asked, "What are those bowls of cocaine doing at the bottom of the closet?"

*     *     *

While he was home, he asked if he could hang out with friends Thanksgiving eve, which was fine, as my mother worked that day, so we didn't celebrate the holiday till Friday. I told him to be home by 12:30am, at the very latest (only 'cause my mom works nights and typically gets home by 1am, and if he wasn't home by the time she was, I anticipated us both getting grief). 12:30 came around and Balthy didn't. The following text conversation ensued:
Me: Almost home?
The Kid: Sooooorta.
Me: How soon will you be here?
The Kid: Er like 15. Sryyyy
Me: Sighs
Me: You're not walking, are you???
The Kid: Naw we're [at a diner] in larchmont
Me: Wtf
The Kid: We're driving back very soon about to pay the bill

(There was no way he'd get home before my mom. I then went through a swift succession of pre-set "smileys," seeking a frowny one which would adequately convey my extreme displeasure. Amusingly, I hadn't used many of these pre-sets, so I had no idea what image I'd get, half the time. Some of them were doozies. After a heart came up...)

Me (explaining): I'm trying to find a pissed off smiley

(I tried a few more and finally settled on a "smiley" that looked, to me, as though it was pissed off.)
 
Me: I guess that's the one
Me: Though the bat was pretty kewl
Me: But yeah, I'm totally pissed at you
The Kid: Oh, you
PS: He got home significantly later than my mom, who, when I told her he was with friends at a diner and running late, said the equivalent of "Poor baby!" in Portuguese. I'm not sure why she commiserated with him, when I was the one wigged out by his lateness, but there it is: for all the things that would've earned you a strip torn from your hide, your parents will readily forgive their grandchildren (and give 'em cookies, while they're at it).

There's no justice in this world.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Baby Faces Blogfest!

Howdy, y'all! Trisha over at WORD + STUFF is hosting the Baby Faces Blogfest. The rules be:

1. Between December 2nd and 3rd, post a pic of yourself as a baby, and/or;

2. Tell a story about when you were a baby

(You can choose to do one or the other or both.)

On December 2nd, when Trisha posts for her blogiversary, she will be giving away a little prize (your choice of a book she's selected, or some other book, from the Book Depository). More details about that on the day itself.

So, for funsies, I thought I'd present a snippet from an older blog post of mine titled Shooting at the Devil. (You can see how this would be about me as a baby, naturally.) I opened the post referencing Penelope Crowe's post about possession, then segued into my Great Uncle, Tio Nuno (TEE-oo NOO-noo)* who was rumored to be a witch/mystic/alcoholic (may God rest him and hold him close), who proposed a curious cure for whatever ailed me when my parents took my baby-self on a visit to their homeland, Portugal. If you'd like to read the full (long!) post, you can check it out here.

*       *       *

You wanna pass me over a what, now?
Mom and Pop brought me over from the States when I was a wee one so the family could meet their first born. Apparently, I gave them a bit of trouble - I stayed up crying the first nights they were in Portugal, growing cold and clammy from getting so worked up. Nothing they tried soothed me. I hadn't been colicky or anything up till then, so there was no reason they could discern for my fussing. They took me to a local doc who assured them that I was medically fine. So my Mom put it down to me feeling out of sorts from being in an unfamiliar environment. Or, you know, the evil eye (I dig that she didn't rule anything out). Shortly after the doc visit, Tio Nuno stopped by my paternal grandmother's house and my Avó told him about my peculiar spells. Because my Grandma's husband had recently passed away, she wondered if he might somehow be "visiting" me and generally freaking me out. Tio Nuno thought there might be a larger problem and asked her if any of my clothes or belongings were lying around. She found something of mine and brought it to him, which he examined carefully. After a while he told her that someone in the family wished me ill, but he wouldn't specify who (the big tease). He gave her the following instructions to pass on to my parents:
  1. Make the baby a wreath of garlic and sprinkle her with holy water.
  2. Make a bonfire and toss into it some rosemary, rue, and eucalyptus.
  3. Pass the baby through the smoke of this fire and pray to some saints (which specific ones is lost in the mists of time).
When my Mom heard all this from my Grandma she nodded politely but privately thought there was no friggin' way she was going to pass me over a bonfire (the Portuguese equivalent of this thought, obviously). Instead, when she went to put me to sleep that night, she laid me on my back and prayed the Apostles Creed over me three times, all the while making the Sign of the Cross over me, asking God to liberate me from whatever ailed me. And, according to her, from then on, I did get better.

I have to admit, I'm disappointed that she didn't try the bonfire thing. Also, I think I'd look pretty smashing in a garlic wreath (kickin' it old-school!). But seriously, I'm proud of my Mom for turning to her faith during this peculiar phase in our lives...I hope I'll always turn to God, in good times and in bad. Still, I'd love to know who hit me with the bad juju, so I could avenge myself (and my parents) by TPing her house.

*Nuno was not his real name, but it is a common - and unique - Portuguese name, for an uncommon man!
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