Thursday, November 29, 2007

Singin' in the Rain

"I'm dancin' / and singin' / in the rain"

How do I know magic exists in the Universe? Because this is it:



I miss you, Gene Kelly. When I grow up, I want to be a dancer just like you.


This song is from the movie musical of the same name. When I was your age, videos were called musicals.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vacation

"Back here at home there's nothin' to do... / Vacation / All I ever wanted / Vacation / Had to get away"

Behold the first TV commercial in New Mexico's controversial new ad campaign:



The ad campaign, titled "New Mexico, Earth: The best place in the Universe", is drawing ire from folks like Ken Mompellier, head of the convention and visitors bureau in Las Cruces. Mompellier rightfully asks, "What does this campaign show of the things that we are known for?" After the aliens have their tête-à-tête about how awesome New Mexico is, there is a three-second flash of a mountain and a lake, but the commercial doesn't do justice to the state's desert landscapes, its art galleries, or even my favorite part of New Mexico culture, its cuisine.

While it is hip, bold, and funny, the campaign is also turning people off with its alien office workers, who look more like they're ready to tear into you than go golfing with you. Dale Lockett, president of the state's largest convention and visitors bureau in Albuquerque, wonders "why the state is targeting its centerpiece ad campaign to a younger crowd when baby boomers have time and money to travel."

I understand that baby boomers may traditionally be the ones with time and money, but baby boomers' kids are doing all right for themselves and we, too, have resources at our fingertips. I think New Mexico is missing the boat on younger travelers looking for a desert getaway. Arizona has successfully marketed itself as a destination for high-end spas and I, for one, am considering a trip there with a good friend to escape the harsh Edmonton winter and get a little pampering. New Mexico just needs to find its hook, the reason why people would have it at top-of-mind recollection when thinking about vacation planning. Dusty and I go there all the time, but we have family there, so that's our hook.

The ad company that created the campaign is supposedly planning to redesign it by featuring "less harsh" aliens and showcasing more of what makes New Mexico "The Land of Enchantment". I have two suggestions:

1) The friendlier, cuddlier aliens should be depicted visiting the lovely Georgia O'Keefe gallery in Santa Fe or enjoying the yummy pozole and sopapillas at Los Cuates in Albuquerque or walking around any New Mexican neighborhood at Christmas Eve when the simple and stunning luminaria light one's path.

2) Make the aliens look like this:

Look how happy and cuddly they are! I bet they just filled up on pozole and are getting ready to walk around Old Town. See? One of them has a walking stick and everything. Awwws!

One thing this new campaign has going for it? It gets everyone to visit the tourism board's website. Gotta love that controversy. It sells better than hot sopapillas.




"Vacation" by the Go-Gos

Friday, November 23, 2007

Can't Buy Me Love

"Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can't buy /
I don't care too much for money; money can't buy me love"

Today is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day across the United States. There were people lined up outside of many retail outlets at the ass crack of dawn this morning, waiting to storm the gates for the very latest must-have inane Elmo toy. Or, in the case of this shopper, a big ol' fancy teevee.

[John Gress/Reuters]

I like to call this official start to the holiday season Hell on Earth.

Every year I resolve to buy Christmas gifts piecemeal when I see them on sale or something and stash them away for Christmas. If executed properly, my plan would pluck me from the depths of Hell on Earth, and save me from dealing with holiday crowds and relentless holiday marketing. This plan never works, for two reasons.

1) My hate for shopping burns brighter than the twin suns of Tatooine. Therefore, I don't go to stores or to the mall unless I absolutely MUST. And when I go, I take a list and buy only what is on it. Stick and move, man. Stick and move. I don't really window-shop except at the antique or thrift store and there are only a handful of people in my life who share my penchant for previously loved items.

2) If I do manage to buy gifts throughout the year that would be great for Christmas, I tend to give those gifts away to the people I bought them for almost as soon as I buy them. I like instant gratification [who doesn't?] and I usually can't wait to see the looks on people's faces when they get their unexpected treat on a random Tuesday.

So I end up in the same damn place I swore I wouldn't be in the year before: shopping at the last minute. Goddess bless online retail. It's the only thing that makes holiday shopping bearable.

In recent years, a Great Evil has risen like a bloated leviathan from the murky depths of consumerism to haunt the already nightmarish landscape of shopping for your loved ones. It is the small, hard plastic abomination called a Gift Card. I have looked it dead in the eye and seen that IT HAS NO SOUL. AAAAAAAGGGHHH!!!

A section of my family [who shall remain nameless for their protection] LOVE gift cards. They claim that gift cards make life easier, both for the giver and the receiver. The giver no longer has to agonize over "What should I get for my cousin who likes grilling food and building things with his hands?!" Answer? A gift card to Home Depot, apparently. Receivers of the Great Evil gift card can then simply go to Home Depot and buy whatever they want or need, as long as it's done before the card's expiration date.

On the surface, gift cards are convenient, but mostly for the giver. I can't count the number of times I have forgotten about gift cards given to me until about a week before the expiration date. Then I'm forced to go to the specific store and spend the money on things I didn't necessarily want or need, but as long as I'm here and I have to spend this money... anyone need a wooden fruit buggerer-- um, I mean citrus fucker-- dangit, I mean lemon reamer? Only slightly *ehem* used.

Also? Can we talk about the inherent silliness of exchanging gift cards? Here's what happens:

Receiver 1: [unwraps thin, tiny package] Oh, it's a $50 gift card to Best Buy. Thanks!

Receiver 2/Giver 1: You're welcome. Merry Christmas! [unwraps similar thin, tiny package] Ah, it's a $50 gift card to IKEA. Thanks!

Receiver 1/Giver 2: You're welcome. Merry Christmas!

IT'S THE SAME FUCKING FIFTY DOLLARS! Givers are just limiting the places where the receivers could spend that money. They could save each other the time and effort and agree to get each other nothing but the joy and relief of not having to buy one more damn gift. Or soulless gift card.

And another thing: there's no mystery, no surprise, no allure in a gift card. If you're handed a thin, tiny package wrapped with giftwrap nibs from the end of the roll, you KNOW it's a bloody gift card! Half the fun of getting Christmas presents is trying to guess what you got by shaking the box or assessing the shape or using x-ray glasses that you won with Cracker Jack boxtop-- you get my point.

GIFT CARDS ARE THE DEVIL'S HANDIWORK!

If I had my way--and I hardly ever do--I would get my family to institute a $200 limit on all gifts. Not each gift, but ALL gifts. I think that would bring some imagination and inspiration back to Christmas gift-giving. It might lead to some very creative gifts like handcrafted photo collages and homemade jams. Laurel's homemade jams and sauces are among my favorite gifts every year. Mmm... jalapeño jam... Funny that out of all the gifts I have given in the last three years, my Prairie Wife Jammy Jam also seems to come out on top as the one that people remember most.

I wish we could have grown-up Christmas craft bazaars like the ones from elementary school, where I would pool my allowance for weeks to get gifts for both my parents and both my siblings. Since I usually only had $30 or $40 to spend, it made me really think about what to get for each of them, something small but well-thought-out. Anyone can spend money on gifts, but do you remember what it was like to spend time?



If you don't know who sang this song, then you're not old enough to read this blog.
Run along now. Go on.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank You

"I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life / Oh, just to be with you is having the best day of my life"

Happy Thanksgiving, Shatner-stealing Mexico-touchers! We who live in the Great White North celebrated Turkey Day last month, so today is just Thursday to us. However, in the spirit of the holiday, I want to acknowledge that a lot of things for which I am most thankful are also the ones to whom I am most thankful, on this day and every day.

Thank you, Coworkers. You have really allowed me to let my geek flag fly. Where else could I proudly show off a glowing replica of Sting [the sword, not the singer, you n00b] on my desk? We made the Game of the Year, bunnies! I can feel it!

Thank you, Friends. You make even the longest distances disappear with one Instant Message. I can recognize any of you in a crowded room just by the sound of your laughter. You make summers funner and winters warmer.

Thank you, Family. Y'all have put up with my shenanigans since the day I was born. You figured out long ago that understanding me is not as important as loving me. You recently sent me three boxes of grits because these crazy Canadian grocery stores don't stock culinary gold. THANK YOU.

Thank you, Husband. You're cute and smart and funny and kind. Your neck smells good. Your ears are soft to pet. You let me cry on your good shirts. I like you a lot. A LOT.

Thank you, Universe. You've really surprised me a bunch this year. You've pushed me--sometimes too hard, but we cool--to grow and change and evolve. I think we can make this Life thing work, ya? Ya.



"Thank You" by Dido

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Swear

"I swear by the moon and the stars in the sky / And I swear like the shadow that's by your side"

"Swearing on the job can reduce stress and boost employee morale, a British study has found."

Dear Managers,

All those times I yelled out "Suck on my assault rifle's left nut, you flying space pig motherfuckers!" and "I spit upon your rotting carcass, you son-of-a-donkey-whore editing software program!" and "You went to Pyrogy Hut without me? You fart-knocking bastards!" at the office? I was just trying to boost morale.

You're welcome.

Your loyal employee,
Cookie


"I Swear" by All 4 1 [Shut up. You know you can sing all the words.]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sometimes When We Touch

"Romance and all its strategy / Leaves me battling with my pride / But through all the insecurity / Some tenderness survives / ... / I wanna hold you 'til I die / 'Til we both break down and cry / I wanna hold you 'til the fear in me subsides"

All right. Seriously. Fer reals this time. Everyone needs to back off with the hate on my Kai-Kai. "Back off with the what on Whosafudge now?" I'm talking about Staff Lieutenant Kaidan [pronounced KAY-den] Alenko, the human male squad member and "hunky" love interest for a female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. Here he is exhibiting his biotic powers:

Egli è adorabile, sì? Sì. When you talk to him in-game, the guy seems pretty well-read and intelligent. But seriously, he's quite yummy. Kaidan is an Alliance marine, so he's got a hot little bod going on, plus--ok, hi--he has incredible biotic powers. Power is sexy; you can't deny it. He also has brooding, darkly handsome features reminiscent of Adrian "So Very Pretty" Pasdar from Heroes, including Lovely Angular Cheekbones.

I am a GIANT fan of LACs on The Pasdar, Sendhil Ramamurthy [Sendhil plays Mohandsome a.k.a. Mohinder on Heroes. Goddamn they have a fine collection of cheekbones on that show! Even the Haitian - shit, that dude could probably cut through your mind with just his cheekbones!], John Taylor from Duran Duran, Johnny Depp, and my beautiful and angular husband:

SIIIIIIIIIIIGH... Where was I? Oh, yes! Kaidan. Yeah, he's hot, too.

So what are people's issues? I've heard various complaints about how Kaidan is "boring" and "straight-laced" and even "whiny". I played as a female Shepard and romanced Kaidan and I didn't find him boring or whiny at all. Yes, he's wound up a little tight, but as a fellow butt-puckerer, I can respect that. Besides, Kai-Kai being wound up means I can be the one to wind him down. Meowr!

What I don't get is that some people call Kaidan "too sensitive". Erm, if I just spent 15 hours trying to save the galaxy by shooting aliens in the face and throwing robots in the air, the last person I want to come home to is an insensitive jerk. After tramping through all those planets and completing vital missions, what I really need is a back rub. And who's going to give me that? A sensitive man, that's who!

Here's where my editorial bias might come in. I was there when the romance plots were being written; I edited them. In a rare opportunity for BioWare's writers, the boys could bounce ideas off AN ACTUAL GIRL in the room, to see if they won their wives and girlfriends by accident or if they really can write this stuff convincingly. I remember one of the boys once asked, "So if I were Kaidan and I said [insert romantic cheese here] to you, what would you say?" Answer? I would giggle. Most of the time, the giggling gave way to outright guffawing, but sometimes, the giggling was girly giggling i.e. the response they were hoping for.

I know that a lot of guys like to play female characters in RPGs. After all, if you're going to spend 40+ hours in a game where the camera will be trained on your character, you will probably want to look at an attractive female avatar. However, this means that Kaidan will be a romance option for you. And here is my point, friends: Kaidan was girl-tested, girl-approved. By the end of the game, I had a special fondness for Kai-Kai. So much so that after the final grueling battle, I was looking forward to some shore leave with the boy.

So next week, while you're playing through Mass Effect [T-minus five days!] as a female Shepard, listen to some of the things Kaidan says and note how he says them. Observe how he interacts with Shepard, the way he comforts her during times of crisis, yet still respects that she is a strong, badass woman out to save the galaxy. This game just might get you laid.


"Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Need A Hero

"Up where the mountains meet the heavens above / Out where the lightning splits the sea / I would swear that there's someone somewhere / Watching me"

WARNING: Spoilers ahead forthe TV show Heroes.

Dear Hayden Panettiere,

Hi! I just want to say I enjoy your work on Heroes. I think you're an incredible actress and you are just about 97 kinds of adorable. Based on all the photos and videos floating around the Interwebs, your cutieboy co-star Milo Ventimiglia seems to agree with me.

Okay, so three things:

1) Way to go with the Milo! Yes, he is 12 years older than you are, but you're 18 and legal, so have fun and ignore all the haters. I admit I watched that video of you and him dancing to Duran Duran at the Emmys after-party--only because it accidentally flashed up on my screen after I clicked on the link by accident, I swear!--and you two looked sweet and cuddly together. Awws!

2) Just remember to keep your underpants on in public. You seem like a nice girl who has so far avoided the intense tabloid scrutiny your fellow starlets court. I'd hate to see you get caught in some nudie photo scandal like that Vanessa Hudgens. Tsk tsk.

3) If you're going to continue going out and about with Milo, please wear something other than this:

What in all of Fugly Hell is that? It looks like a gray sack worn over a black sports bra. No wonder you're trying to hide your face, and with white plastic sunglasses, no less. [Oh, honey. NO.] I would hide, too, if it was my job to be photographed in public looking cute and I wore my beach cover-up to lunch with my hot older man. Maybe if you didn't match it with a gigantic purple tote big enough to carry your beach items, it might be better. Wait... no, no. It would still be a shapeless gray sack.

Listen, I am proud of you for milking this "Are they or aren't they?" thang. It's like something right out of Old Hollywood, when there was REAL glamour and superstar scandals. Innocuous little intrigues like this got ratings then and it gets ratings now. I love that you and Milo are denying everything, even as you are clearly cuddling within sight of cameras. I love that he plays your uncle on Heroes. I love that your new boyfriend on Heroes is also a dark-haired flying cutieboy, like your father and your uncle. West could be related to you, girl! Eew! Now THAT is compelling television.

It's just... Please, for the love of Aphrodite, don't go out in public looking like this again. I loves me a sundress as much as the next girly girl, and I appreciate that you were trying to go all matchy with Milo in his all-black outfit [sooo broody and delicious], and you are probably wearing cute, sturdy panties beneath that tent [good girl], but you are WAY MORE ADORABLE than this! You seriously look like you were running out to the Whole Foods real quick for some organic raspberry yogurt. You don't look like you're going out to lunch amongst a camera-heavy public with your new man. Your HOT NEW OLDER MAN. Cute it up, girl. Enjoy your youth while you still can.

I'm glad we had this talk. Love you on the show. Keep on keepin' on, Claire Bennet.

Hugs,
Cookie



"I Need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Games

"Think of what you say, think of what you do / Think of what you try to put us through / We're just singing our song"

My darling ading Wendel tagged me for his little blog game and I'm not one to back down from a rousing game of tag. The rules of this game are:

A. Post these rules at the beginning of the post.
B. List six [6] facts about yourself.
C. At the end of the post, tag six [6] people and post their names, then go to their blogs and leave them comments to let them know they have been tagged and they should read your blog for details.

Facts About Cookie

  • When I was growing up, our family pet was a dwarf lop-eared bunny named JJ. His initials stood for "Jordan Jonathan". My sister and I were HUGE fans of New Kids on the Block [hence the song for this post] and we particularly adored the brothers Knight i.e. Jordan and Jonathan. They were just about the most beautiful boys we had ever seen, with their dark hair and light eyes and angelic voices. We used to imagine that we would marry them--Jonathan for me and Jordan for her, which was perfect because Jonathan was the older brother, just like I'm the older sister teehee--and live in a big house together in the Boston suburbs. It would have been the hippie commune of our dreams. sigh

  • I am the only one among my siblings who has never had a retail or food-service job. I have always had office jobs with regular 9-to-5 kind of hours.

  • How fitting that one of the goddesses I most identify with is Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. My volatile temper is legendary. [For those of you who come here for the geeky content: I've been told that I con purple at my spawn point.] I've been known to bite people's heads off for what some might think are minor offenses. The worst part is that those incidents sometimes happen because I tend to bottle things up for a long time, such that when I finally explode with rage, my venom is sometimes directed at the wrong person. I don't take pride in my temper. It is something I can and should control, especially at work. It's just that sometimes, PEOPLE PISS ME OFF. If they would just stop doing that, then we wouldn't have this problem.

  • My favorite curse word is FUCK. I fucking love to fucking say "fuck" whenever I fucking can. FUUUUUUUUUUCK!

  • I still wear a couple of dresses that I've owned since high school. I enjoy pointing this fact out to people, especially women who tell me that I have gained SO MUCH weight since they last saw me. Even if I have gained weight, I can lose it tomorrow. You're gonna be an ugly heifer for the rest of your life, you bitter old hag.

  • I've had a GIANT crush on Drew Barrymore for the last 12 years. If I ever got the opportunity, I would totally tap that. Totally.
Tag! You're It!

  • KPAX - Because I like tagging him. Meowr!

  • Tricky - Because OMG enough about D&D.

  • Cricket - Because he needs something to do now that he's passed the bar.

  • Laurel - Because she hasn't posted since September!

  • Alice - Because I don't know nearly enough random facts about her.

  • Stan - Because I want to help him procrastinate.
    Let the games begin!




    "Games" by New Kids on the Block [Shut up.]

    Friday, November 9, 2007

    Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

    "Do you really want to make me cry? / Wrapped in sorrow, words are token / Come inside and catch my tears"

    We packed up to move to our new offices today. I have only been with BioWare since April 2006, so I don't have much to pack away. Some people, though, have been at the company long enough to accumulate things that don't even belong to them. Like my friend Mac, who was packing up the contents of his bookcase and found a book called Anguished English that apparently belonged to Derek. Inside the book, you see, was an inscription to this Derek, presumably from someone who thought he might enjoy the book.

    How did Derek's book end up here? Why would he leave it in Mac's bookcase? Does he even remember that it was a gift from someone? Doesn't he miss it?

    When I am browsing in a used book store, I am always surprised to find books with inscriptions inside them. If the date of the inscription is older than 10 years or so, I usually make peace with it being re-sold at the store. I imagine that there is a reasonable story behind how it ended up in this place. Maybe Julie was a college professor. When she died and left an office full of books, the people who were in charge of cleaning up her office decided to give away or sell the books. I'm sure Julie, the one for whom this book was meant, would never casually discard a gift with so much thought put into it.

    When I find a more recent inscription, the story I imagine is a little different, a little more heartbreaking. Maybe Elise and Ollie broke up, and it hurt Ollie too much to keep this volume of Pablo Neruda's poetry that Elise gave him on their anniversary. Maybe Katie's mother didn't know Katie hates Stephen King books, but Katie would rather give the book to Goodwill than talk to her mother honestly. Maybe Derek just finished the book and thought he'd clear out his junky bookcase by leaving the book in someone else's office.

    I secretly fear that I will one day find a book with "Love, Cookie" written in very familiar glittery ink inside the cover.



    "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" by Culture Club

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    These Apples 2 - The Reckoning

    "Sometimes I stammer / or mix up my grammar / you get what my meanings are"

    Oh, my darlings. I wish I didn't have to do this, but you've left me no choice. You are still abusing the written English language. I mean, just punishing it. I'm calling out your newest sins right now. This will hurt me more than it will hurt you, mostly because you choose to ignore me. It's okay, though. I plan to be a mother someday and I should get used to obstinate disobedience.

    So! *ehem* If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times!:
    • When you give someone peace of mind, it's a good thing. When you give someone a piece of your mind, it's not such a good thing. In fact, when you give someone a piece of your mind, you are quite literally disturbing the peace of that person's mind. So be careful with that.

    • One must not try and do something; one must try to do something. Unless, of course, you mean that you will do two things: (1) try some unnamed activity and (2) get that PDF proof to me on the frickin' deadline like you promised, you jerk! *cough* Moving on...

    • If you must use they as a gender-neutral pronoun, use the plural antecedent. Awkward: "Before the player engages the Space Pig Boss in combat, they should equip their assault rifle with face-melting ammo rounds." Better: "Players should equip their assault rifles with face-melting ammo rounds before fighting the Space Pig Boss." We struggle with this a lot when we write our game manuals and tutorials; we can't assume that only boys play videogames. And we definitely don't need angry gamer grrls calling our shit out. We have enough issues.

    • To quote my boys Strunk and White: "A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses. Use a dash only when a more common mark of punctuation seems inadequate." The trickiest species of dash is the em dash, which--trust me on this one--should only be used by professionals. Do not use a dash where a comma will do. You'll put someone's eye out.

    • There are many commonly-used words and phrases that simply create unnecessary padding. If these were food items, they would be empty calories that just give you gas. You don't want that, do you? Then at least stop using:

      • "In terms of" - Bloated: "That skirt was hideous in terms of the lacy, irregular hem." Better: "The lacy, irregular hem made that skirt hideous."

      • "Due to the fact that" - Bloated: "Due to the fact that she was an hour late, Jane missed out on the crantinis." Better: "Because she was an hour late, Jane missed out on the crantinis." Best: "Jane was an hour late, so she missed out on the crantinis."

      • "S/he is a wo/man who" - Bloated: "She is a woman who takes pride in her impeccable taste in clothing." Better: "She prides herself on her impeccable taste in clothing."

      • "The reason why is that" - Bloated: "Lori should get a flu shot this year. The reason why is that she is in a high-risk group for getting sick." Better: "Lori should get a flu shot this year because she has a higher risk of getting sick."

    I imagine that in 20 years, one of you will write me a heartfelt, grammatically perfect letter saying, "I understand now. I'm so sorry." There will be hugs and tears and "I love you"s, then we will retire to the veranda for almond tea and all will be well.




    "These Apples" by Barenaked Ladies

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Dear God

    "And all the people that you made in your image / See them fighting in the street, 'cause they cant make opinions meet / About god / I can't believe in you"

    It's official! My niece and I will be reading The Golden Compass together this winter after we watch the movie. It has apparently made Christian groups mad and there are e-mail campaigns* urging people not to take their children to see the movie or support the book. Go go Gadget Christian Controversy! My favorite quote describes author Philip Pullman as the writer "atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed." Someone ought to put that on a t-shirt.

    I'm only on Chapter 5 of the book, and so far it just reads like an adventure story with some dark overtones. I think the Munchkin can handle--and even really enjoy--it. More importantly, I think it's about time we start discussing the idea of questioning institutions like the Church and formulating your own belief system. I wouldn't be doing my job as her tita if I didn't help her ask questions that will make her mother's brain hurt. I can see it now: "She asked if she can start her own Circle? Yeah, um... hey, my house is on fire. Gotta run!"

    Mind you, I'm not working with a blank slate here. Munchkinface has already asked her mom if Uncle Dusty will go to heaven even though he doesn't believe in God. I applaud my sister heartily for responding that the only thing that matters to God is that Uncle Dusty is a good person. Really, that's the only thing that should matter to anyone, deity or not. I'm not sure if heaven or hell or purgatory exist, but I'm damn sure that it just feels good to be a good person here on Earth. It feels good to be bad once in a while, but usually only until the tequila wears off.

    Supposedly, the later books in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy talk about a senile God that the children have to kill or something. I imagine that Pullman is speaking allegorically about God, but the Christians--those cute widdle angry, conservative, literal-minded bunnywabs--probably think he means THE God. So long, flowing gray locks and beard, robes, stern countenance, etc. Sortof like Zeus, minus the debauchery with mortals. Come on, Christians. You steal all your holiday ideas from the pagans, who clearly know how to throw parties, and then you steal your godhead figure from the Greeks, but make Him a petulant party pooper? Psh.

    You know what I think "God" is? Remember that scene at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Whos are gathered around where the tree used to be? They clasp hands and start singing their Christmas song, and this ball of light emerges from the center. It grows brighter, stronger as it rises, buoyed by their voices and strengthened by their hearts. I think that light, that love, is "God". And it's fairly obvious that this god knows how to get a party started. Bring on the roast beast! That's the kind of god I can believe in.



    "Dear God" by XTC
    * Thanks, Betsy.

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Reading Rainbow

    "Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high / Take a look, it's in a book - Reading Rainbow. / I can go anywhere! / Friends to know and ways to grow - Reading Rainbow. / I can be anything! / Take a look, it's in a book - Reading Rainbow."

    Munchkinface and I share a deep love of books. Whenever we talk on the phone, she likes to tell me about the latest book she is reading and I tell her a just a wee bit about the Grownup Books I'm reading. She is really into fantasy and has exposed me to a lot of books I wish I had read when I was her age. I try to keep up with her reading list because she likes to ask me about certain plot points in books.

    When we read The Chronicles of Narnia together in the winter of 2005, she asked me, "Why would Lucy go to Mr. Tumnus' house by herself when she just met him? And he's half-goat! Wasn't she scared?" After a lot of hemming and hawing, I replied, "Kids in books and movies sometimes do unsafe things they normally wouldn't do just for a taste of adventure." I should have added, "Not that you should do that, young lady! No tea in caves with fauns for you!"

    This past summer, we read Nancy Drew: Murder on the Set together. I'm glad that it was for a school assignment and that she doesn't seem interested in reading any more Nancy Drew books. I found Nancy arrogant, passive-aggressive, and self-centered. Sistergirl was tied up in a basement about to be blown up by the evil baddie and she says: "I thought of my dad... of Ned... of Hannah, and Bess, and George... They were all going to miss me terribly." Swear to god I laughed out loud at that part. I never thought I would actually wish for the protagonist of a children's book to be blown to smithereens, and yet there I was, hoping against hope that Nancy Drew would go BOOM!

    When it came time to debrief about the book, I asked the Munchkin how she liked Nancy's character. She said it was cool how Nancy quickly solved mysteries that stumped even Chief McGinnis. I asked her if she thought there was anything not nice about Nancy, but it seems the 10-year-old mind does not compute that Nancy Drew is a dark-hearted little bitchcake. I even asked leading questions like, "Didn't you think it was mean for Nancy to talk about how Bess, one of her best friends, is five pounds overweight?" Munchkinface didn't remember that part, but she was intrigued and wanted to go look it up. Damn! Bad Tita for bringing it up. So much for open discourse.

    Thing is, Karincita and Jen were both big Nancy Drew fans when they were my niece's age and they didn't recall her being so stuck-up and snotty in the books they read. Maybe Munchkinface and I should read those Nancy Drew books together; this series and this character must have endured this long for a reason, right?

    For now, I'm reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman to see if it is worthy of sharing with the Munchkinface. Perfect timing, too, since the movie will be out by Christmas and we can see it together. I'm enjoying the story so far; I have high hopes that this will be our winter 2007 book.

    What was the best/most memorable book you read when you were in Grade 6 [10-12 years old]?



    "Reading Rainbow" TV theme song