Google Something Clever 2.0: March 2013

Mar 29, 2013

The "Star Wars" Experiment: Episode IV (in which we watch "Episode III")

If you haven’t read the previous episodes, you can catch up here.

Here we are, the third-lamest movie, but also kind of the most important one, I guess? Because now we get to see how Anakin becomes Darth Vader. 

She cheers for R2 when he sets the other droid on fire in the opening sequence. “R2’s pretty bad ass! I knew he had it in him!” He’s her favorite character. Good choice.

She’s really good at picking out all the weird inconsistencies and nonsense things in the series, like General Grievous: “How can a robot have emphysema?” and the elevator being out of order:  “Don’t they have stairs?” Hmm, I never thought about that. Are there any stairs in the Star Wars universe? I don’t think I’ve seen any. Anyone out there read the books or watch “The Clone Wars”? Let me know if they have stairs.

When Amidala appears in the side-buns, she comments on her “Leia hair” and I almost correct her that Leia has Amidala hair. But wait, does she? Or is it just the style in that galaxy? Later, she asks if Amidala’s pregnant and I bite my lip.

She asks why Yoda talks like that, and I tell her to be thankful that he speaks English. Side note: it’s always bugged me that everyone in the series speaks their own language, but understands other languages. Two characters will carry on a conversation, each speaking in their native tongue, like it ain’t no thang. What’s up with that?

When we first see the Wookiees, she got all excited and called them “a whole bunch of Chewies,” which is adorable (she actually did know the term Wookiee, but she’d forgotten). It made me think of the time I called the clownfish at the aquarium “Nemos” and my son corrected me.

She did not take the padawan slaying well. We had to break out the tissues. (Okay, fine, I used one, too. But only because the one who actually comes to Anakin all scared and “What’ll we do?” who is clearly the first to die, looks to be about my son’s age. And I think he had the same color hair.) She texted me days later saying “I still can’t get over Darth Vader killing kids.”

She called the lava fight scene “not even remotely believable,” and was thoroughly disappointed in it. She did concede that “he has those things in him that start with an M,” so maybe that’s how he survived.

One observation I must add, that I don’t remember from the last time I watched it (in 2002 or whatever), was those god-awful wipes! Remember those? It’s like George Lucas just got iMovie and was super psyched to try every single one. They really brought down the quality of the movie for me. Not that I held it in super high esteem, but you know.

Stay tuned for our exciting conclusion!

Mar 28, 2013

Don't Pick a Tattoo Off of the Wall

Dear 16-year-old Jenn,

Yes, you are tiny. But you won’t always be. I know you can eat a bag of Ruffle Sour Cream & Cheddar chips for dinner now, but it won’t be that way forever. Do yourself (myself?) a favor and learn how to cook. Also, look into what a “calorie” is. Maybe you’ll be able to pull off those size zeros for a couple extra years. I won’t even tell you what size you finally get up to before you figure that out…

Don’t pick a tattoo off of the wall.

I know school is lame. And the people are lame. But again, it won’t last forever. When you’re an adult, you will need money. Try to hang out for a full day and maybe take a test or two. Then, you can go to college, which is full of more lame people, but you’ll be able to get a job that doesn’t involve wearing a name tag one day. When you’re in your early twenties, you’ll really wish you’d gone to dental school. Seriously!

While we’re on the subject of teeth… Enough with the candy and soda. I swear, if you switch to Diet Dew now, you won’t miss regular Dew in a couple weeks. If you don’t, you know what you will miss? Those three teeth you’ll have to extract because you can’t afford a root canal. And in two years, do not get that tongue ring. Just don’t.

Quit smoking. It’s such a bitch to get someone to buy them for you now, anyway. You know what’s even more of a bitch? Quitting in twenty years.

You’ve already met your husband. Whoa, freaky, right? You probably won’t guess who he is. Just remember that every dude you meet from here on out is not your husband. And that guy in that band you’ll meet a party in four years? Stay the hell away.

Don’t gloat too much about your awesome skin now; you’ll get your acne eventually. Yes, adults get acne. And wrinkles. At the same time. Sorry, dude. It’s called foundation. You know, that beige crap that your mother wears.

You’re right to stay out of the sun. Everyone makes fun of you and calls you a ghost and a vampire now, but when you’re in your thirties (and wearing that foundation) you will still get carded when you buy wine. Oh yeah, you’re going to drink wine. Lots of wine.

Practice your guitar more often.
You are a good judge of character. The friends you’re making right now will still be around when you’re an adult. Most of them, anyway. The ones that make you think twice? You’re right. They suck, and you’ll be rid of them soon enough.

In 2004 you will get two cats. Get pet insurance on the black and white one. I don’t mean to scare you off; she’s awesome and totally worth all the money you’ll end up spending on her, but it would be nice if you could save a few thousand bucks.

Don’t buy that condo when you’re in your twenties. I know where you live sucks, like, so bad, but trust me, you should wait another year and buy a house. Because you’re going to have… Never mind; I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say you’ll want another bedroom.

Learn to swim already.

He’s going to die in eleven more years. I know that seems like a long time, but you’ll make it. And guess what? It’s painful. So that’s cool.

Do you know what “stock” is? Take all that money you plan to spend on cigarettes, and buy stock in something called “Google.” Trust me on this one.

Good luck!
Old Jenn

Mar 27, 2013

I'm at Kim's House, Drinking Wine

I'm gonna make you click an extra click today. Kim from One Classy Motha! is detoxing (in a hip, dieting way; not in an "I have the shakes" way), so she asked me to step in and help her out with her weekly wine review series, Cheapo Wine Review Wednesday. So please click the picture of her non-shaky legs to see what I have to say about Rib Shack Red...

Mar 25, 2013

Today, I Use My Blog Powers For Good

With great power comes great responsibility. You don't have to have a wise, elderly aunt to know that. Well, I have the power of... hundreds?... of people who sort of care what I have to say, so today, I'm going to use it responsibly. I'm using it to save The Funniest Show on Television.

You read that right. The Funniest Show on Television is in danger of being cancelled. It's called "Happy Endings," and chances are you've never watched it. Shame on you, sir or madam! This show gets no love, for some reason. It's been shuffled all around, from Tuesdays to Sundays, back to Tuesdays, and now Fridays, that no-mans-land where good shows go to die.

"Happy Endings" is calling on their fans to save them. And I am a superfan. They need ratings. They need you. You can help. All you have to do is tune in this Friday. I know most of you are parents. You don't have plans Friday night. Even if you do, you can still DVR it. I'm pretty sure it counts towards their ratings as long as you watch it within a few days.

If you like my brand of humor, I guarantee you will like this show. Yeah, I said it. Guarantee. I'll give you a quick rundown:

Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) were engaged. Then she left him at the altar. They became friends again, and now they're back to dating. Dave owns a food truck called "Steak Me Home Tonight," and Alex owns a boutique, somehow, because money is no object for people on TV (except on "Roseanne"). Also, Alex is impossibly stupid, but in an endearing way.

Their group of friends includes Alex's sister, Jane (Eliza Coupe, who you might recognize as the only good thing on that last, unfunny season of "Scrubs"), who's super type-A and pretty much the "dude" of her relationship. She's married to Brad, who is kind of the lady. He is played by Damon Wayans, Jr., who is a funnier, better-looking version of his father.

The other friends: Max (Adam Pally) who is gay, but doesn't have a gay accent. And he likes sports! What?! Where else on TV can you find a gay guy who's not a caricature? Nowhere, that's where. Rounding out the group is Penny, Max's best friend (who he dated before coming out). Penny is a hot mess, but she owns it. She also pronounces words all crazy, like "a-mah-zing." It's cute when she does it, I swear.

Oh, and if you're looking for eye candy, and Elisha doesn't do it for you, Penny has this boyfriend with impossibly perfect skin. I think he's somehow airbrushed in real life.

If you're super-rad and your kids are napping, and you want to watch an episode right now, there are a few episodes available on Hulu. I recommend "The Marry Prankster" to start. Just trust me, please? Unless you want to read nothing but my complaints about this show getting cancelled for the next year or so.

I thank you, and "Happy Endings" thanks you.

Mar 22, 2013

The "Star Wars" Experiment: Episode III (in which we watch "Episode II")

Please be sure to catch up on all the previous episodes first.

Last week, we watched Episode V, and the cousin heard Darth Vader utter the hard-to-believe line, “I am your father” (not “Luke, I am your father,” thank you very much). You’ll recall she reacted just how we wanted, asking “But, how?” So now she gets her answer! See? Perfect.

Jar Jar shows up on screen right away. “Oh, I hate him already,” says the cousin. See? We were right to withhold Episode I, Kevin.  She has some opinions about the other characters right away, too. On Anakin: “Is he supposed to be an arrogant asshole?” Um, yes. And that makes more sense than a little boy yelling “Yippee,” now doesn’t it? Then he delivers that ridiculous line about sand to Padme. “Ugh,” she says, “I can’t believe she fell for that.” Yeah, that’s why George Lucas isn’t known for his romantic comedies. The best love-related line of the entire series was actually ad-libbed by Harrison Ford. That’s cool, though. We’re not here for a love story. It’s just a necessary evil in the Journey to Vader, right? Right.

Now, she was briefly confused by Anakin being a teenager- “Is the next one the one with the little kid and the races and shit?” We did decide to show her that one at the end if she wants. I mean, if she’s super curious about Sebulba and crap… I did also have to pause it and explain to her real quick that his mother was a slave, because she questioned the line about her being “sold.” So I guess that’s another point in the Episode I column, but it was easily solved.

So Anakin delivers the “not just the men” line, and they play a little musical cue from the “Imperial March.” And everyone knows what that means. She gets it right away: “Hello, Darth Vader.” Mission accomplished, John Williams.

She noticed something that I never did- and I should have, because it’s obvious… The ships in the prequels are noticeably more advance than those in the original. What the heck, George? I mean, I know you wanted to show off your cool new CGI toys, but come on. She also took issue with the chase/fight/whatever scene with the clones- “They’re all breathing sand right now!” Good point. Either use less CGI sand, put some masks on them, or make them cough.

She was not happy with the wedding. “No, they didn’t. No, they didn’t! Darth Vader’s fucking married? Does she die at some point?” I shrug. She knows by now that I’m not answering any questions.  She continues, “This is the least believable thing… And the worst decision she ever made.”

Stay tuned next week for the Rise of Vader and Luke and Leia’s birth! Yay!

Mar 21, 2013

My Final Wishes

Funerals. I don’t like ‘em.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the… gatherings after the funeral. Is that what they’re called? We call them “sad parties” when talking to my son. As in, “We’re going to a sad party at Jim’s daddy’s house. We’re there to cheer up Jim.” Never mind why; he doesn’t need to know that yet.

And I honestly enjoy the “sad parties.” You get to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while, you get to make yourself a tiny turkey sandwich, and best of all, you get to share your memories about the deceased. At my grandfather’s funeral, I heard so many funny stories about him that I’d never known.

That’s the funeral I want. All “sad party,” with none of the other stuff. If you’re new here, I’ll mention again that I’m an atheist. Moreover, I don’t believe in anything supernatural, so the whole point of a funeral is lost on me. No service in a church or temple. And open casket… Ugh, why?? I want people to remember me how I actually looked, not as some creepy, chemically-treated wax doll. I feel like the whole concept of an open casket must be perpetuated by people who have never seen an open casket. If you’ve never seen one, let me tell you now: they never get it right. I won’t go into gory details, but they cannot make a dead body look like it is alive. They just can’t. Please stop trying.

In fact, I don’t want any casket. I don’t want to be buried. It strikes me as really weird and selfish that even when they no longer exist, humans still insist on taking up a spot of realty. Hello, we’re going to run out of room one day. But really, have you ever driven past a graveyard and thought of all the other things that could be using that space? A school? A park? Low-income housing? A homeless shelter, animal shelter, soup kitchen… Do I need to go on? Who the hell are we to demand that even when we’re dead and gone, we still need a big slab of marble proclaiming, “Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!”

Not for me. Burn me. I shouldn’t even say “me,” should I? Burn my body, because that’s not me anymore. The same way my fingernail clippings and my placenta and that wisdom tooth I had removed aren’t me, when I’m dead, my body isn’t me. I am over. And that’s a bummer for the rest of you, so please feel free to get together for turkey sandwiches and warm Pinot Grigio while you discuss how funny I was.

Edit: I decided to add a little something helpful to this post. You may know that I had a shitty father. I mean, really shitty. When he was dying of pancreatic cancer, my brother moved in with him and my mom to take care of him. I couldn't stand the thought of them spending a fortune to "honor" him. Then, I remembered hearing something as a child about his parents "donating their bodies to science." So I Googled it, and found LifeLegacy.

Finally, he could do some good in this world. I printed out the paperwork and had my brother broach the subject with him, withholding the fact that it was my idea, lest he turn him down based on spite. He agreed and signed it. When he died, they called a toll-free number and notified LifeLegacy that their package was ready. LifeLegacy instructed them to contact a local funeral home that they work with. The funeral home came and took the body away, free of charge, and sent it off to LifeLegacy.

When they're done doing whatever they do to it, they cremate the rest. If you want the ashes, they'll put them in a white plastic box and mail them to you for $20. So, that's it. If you don't want to blow your savings on getting rid of a dead person, I highly recommend it. I've done a little more research since then, for my own body, and I'm going to have my family donate it to a medical school. Luckily, we live near Boston, so there's no shortage of great schools who could get some use out of me.

For your last act, why not give instead of take?

Mar 19, 2013

My Google Advice Column

Today I'm guest posting over at The Sadder But Wiser Girl's house. She's got an eclectic roster of guest posts scheduled all week, so be sure to stick around for a veritable flea market of bloggers. Wait, that doesn't sound very appealing, does it? How about a delicious Harry and David basket of bloggers? Right? Yeah. I call the pepper and onion relish!

So head over there now, and find out the answers to all those burning questions you've been Googling...

Mar 18, 2013

PSA: Always Check the Cart Before You Use It

I've mentioned my son's love of car carts before. When we arrive at BJ's or Stop & Shop and find one in the vestibule, it is on. He'll even sit in a cart that's been out in the rain. Sure, they're unwieldy, but they keep him happy and relatively quiet so I can concentrate on browsing for nail polish- um, I mean, comparing prices on organic eggs.

So, the other day, we walk into Stop & Shop right behind another four-year-old boy and his grandparents (I'm hoping they were his grandparents, anyway, otherwise ew). The boys spotted the two car carts at the same time. I guess they both suck at math, because they had this stand-off moment where they locked eyes like Jeannie and Ferris Bueller, then made a mad dash for the carts.

The boy loads himself in, and I start my 12-point-turn when he says, "Jenn, this cart is dirty!" They're always dirty. I'm used to seeing a wayward Goldfish cracker or the odd used Wet One on the floor of the cart. He knows not to touch them. So it was odd that he'd mention it. I decided it warranted a glance. I took the long walk to the end of the cart and crouched down.

Both of the steering wheels were absolutely covered in dried vomit.

I almost took a picture, but I love you guys, so I didn't.

Luckily, Stop & Shop keeps an industrial-sized canister of antibacterial wipes by the entrance. I gave the boy one for his hands, and used about ten more to clean the cart. And when I said it was dried on, I meant dried on. There was a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease involved. And I only dry-heaved twice! A personal best.

So there you have it. Your kid may be old enough to climb into the car cart unassisted, but do yourself a favor and take a peek first. Your lunch may very well depend on it.

Mar 15, 2013

The "Star Wars" Experiment: Episode II (in which we watch "Episode V")

Please be sure to read the Prologue and Episode I before reading this post. And, if you haven't seen all of the movies in their entirety, please go do that. Also, you make me sad-face.

The cousin showed up very excited to see Episode V. I told her, "This is highly regarded as the best one." Then I corrected myself. "Not highly; universally." Before we even begin, she asks me, "Is it true that Darth Vader never says 'Luke, I am your father'?" Okay, we are on high alert, people. Does she know? I'm not sure! I always assumed she did, because she lives on Earth and all, but OMG, maybe she doesn't? I calmly reply, "Yes, that's true. Did you learn that from me?" (I like to post that on Facebook at least every other month, and I mentioned it in my blog a few weeks ago.) She says she thinks so, and I swallow a little bile and try to act normal for the next two hours. Moving on...

  • The first taun taun appears on screen. "That's a taun taun, right?" I'm so proud! I take this opportunity to tell her about the old toy with the hinged trap door in its back, so you could shove Han's legs inside him. She is baffled that they didn't have articulated hips on action figures back in the day. Sometimes I feel so old.
  • Luke is in the wampa's cave. He summons his light saber with the Force. "Wait, a minute, how long has this dude been practicing the Force? Because he sucked at it before." Good point.
  • Obi-Wan's ghost shows up. "You can do that with the Force?!" It is so hard to just smile and nod through this whole movie.
  • Han cuts open the taun taun. You know what that means? I got to tell her that joke. Do you know that joke?
Q: What is the internal temperature of a taun taun?
A: Luke warm.
  • Leia kisses Luke. She says something about "were they attracted to each other in the last movie?" or whatever but DUDE! SHE DOESN'T KNOW! Is that even possible? I am so excited now!
  • A few minutes later: "This might sound like a stupid question, but: Darth Vader. Human?" Holy. Fucking. Shit. She doesn't know!!! How is this possible? This is so great! "Um, you'll see."
  • The AT-ATs appear. She brings me back to the late 90's, when I worked at Toys R Us, and confused mothers would question me at the customer service desk: "That's an at-at, right?" As in, she pronounced it like the word "at," twice. I've been training 15 years for this. I smile, and gently correct her, "Ay-tee-ay-tee." She asks me, "If they knew those things existed, why didn't they invent a weapon that can just topple them?" I love that she's already thinking smarter than the Empire. "Wait for it," I tell her. "Does that stand for something?" Without missing a beat, I reply, "All-terrain armored transport." Wait, how did I know that? Sometimes I think maybe I'm a boy.
  • We see the back of Vader's head as he's putting his helmet on, and she straight-up gasps. Then turns to me. "So, kind of human?" This is killing me! "You'll see," I tell her.
  • After Luke crashes on Degobah, she asks, "Is that still a snow-whatever, or is that an X-wing?" I'm so impressed! "X-wing," I tell her. "Good job!" Then she tells me that she learned that from my son. My four-year-old son, who has yet to see any Star Wars movies. I don't know how I feel about that. I guess I'm a good mom, but up until now, a bad cousin.
  • Vader and the Emperor are chit-chatting about Skywalkers. "Wait, is Anakin Luke's son, or is Luke Anakin's son?" Okay, my brain just came thisclose to exploding. She definitely doesn't know! We went into this assuming she knew. Didn't you? Okay, okay, stay calm.... "Ahem. Luke is Anakin's son." (Pleasepleaseplease don't ask me any more questions!)
  • Luke fights with imaginary-Vader on Degobah. She is very confused. "But... Is that... Is this a dream?... Is he..." I explain it in the modern vernacular: "He's a Boggart."
  • Vader cuts Luke's hand off: "Gah, I didn't know that happened! Wait a minute, does his hand ever grow back?" I'm getting so tired of saying "You'll see" and "Wait for it."
  • Vader utters his often-misquoted line: "No... I am your father." I have been staring at her face for two minutes, waiting for this. She takes a long-ass beat. "But... He's lying, right?" I shake my head. "How?" "You'll see."
  • Luke calls Leia with the Force. She notices immediately. "She can use the Force?" I pretend not to hear her.
She's on her way out the door, and she asks me what episode we're watching next week. I tell her, "Episode II! See, you just learned that Darth Vader is Luke's father, and now we flash back and learn how that happened!" She asks me which episode is the one with Natalie Portman. I tell her, I, II and III. 

"And who is Luke's mother? What happened with that?" I am fucking flabbergasted that she doesn't know this by now. But I'm so glad she doesn't. Are you as excited for next Friday as I am?

Mar 14, 2013

Please Remove Your Tin Foil Hat & Take Your Damn Medicine!

If you tell me that you are against vaccines, I will picture you wearing a tin foil hat. Forever, or until you wise up.

It absolutely infuriates me that there are people out there right now refusing to vaccinate their children. It is neglect, plain and simple. I truly believe that the government should compel all citizens to be vaccinated against all preventable diseases.

Do you know what polio is? Seriously. Maybe you don’t, because you’re young, and your parents are young, and you don’t read much. Polio was the scourge of American children throughout the 1940s and ‘50s. That shit would paralyze you and kill you dead. Back in its heyday, 35,000 cases were reported annually. Let that sink in for a moment.

The polio vaccine was introduced in 1955. Ten years later there were only 61 cases of polio. The last naturally occurring case of polio in the U.S. was reported in 1979 (in an Amish community- they don’t vaccinate because they're crazy... come and get me, Amish!). The last imported case was reported in 1993. So, yeah, we pretty much beat it.

Then there’s smallpox. Are you afraid of smallpox? No, because it’s gone. We don’t even need to vaccinate against it anymore, because we stomped it out in the U.S. in 1949, and worldwide in 1977. That’s right, vaccines have completely eradicated smallpox.

So why do we still have pertussis, chicken pox, hepatitis, and a host of other diseases, ranging from inconvenient to deadly? Because of gullible people who believe celebrities like Jenny McCarthy know more than scientists. For the last time, people, vaccines do not cause autism! That “theory” was based on a falsified study. One fraudulent studyEvery other study has shown no correlation between vaccines and autism. And- this cannot be stressed enough- the only one that did has now been debunked.

I know someone who knows someone (sorry, I can’t get more specific, just in case “someone” reads this) who believes that vaccines are a government conspiracy. Honestly. This person believes that a portion of vaccines actually infect patients because… I don’t know, Obama? Whatever. Horrifying, right? Oh, did I mention that this person is a parent? And their child may very well be sitting next to yours in a classroom one day, because the parents can claim a religious exemption to get out of vaccinating.

Now, let’s talk flu shots. Flu shots do not give you the flu, or a cold. If you know someone who caught a cold shortly after receiving a flu shot, guess what? That person needs to do a better job of washing their hands, and learn not to touch their face. The flu vaccine contains inactive, or “dead” DNA from the three strains of the flu that you’re most likely to be infected with each season.  They cannot come back to life and mutate you into a Human Flu, because this is real life, not X-Men.  If you know someone who got the flu after getting a flu vaccine… First of all, ask for something in writing from their doctor, because that’s most likely bullshit. But if they really did (and I do personally know someone who did), this is because the flu shot only protects against three strains, not the three hundred other ones floating around out there.

Anecdote time! I worked with a girl who refused to get a free flu shot (on company time, no less) because she insisted that it gave you the flu. I directed her to all sorts of scientific literature, but she would have none of it. She contracted the Swine Flu. She deserved it.

And if you think that the flu isn’t dangerous, please know that although cases are underreported, the CDC estimates that between 3,000 to 49,000 Americans die from the flu every year. Die. Want another anecdote? A friend of a friend died from it this season. She was a healthy single mother to three children, two of whom were infants. Infants who will never know their mother, because she couldn’t be bothered to get a stick in the arm at Target for a lousy ten bucks.

So why am I so riled up about vaccines?  I shouldn’t care what other people do, should I? The dummies die from diseases, and as for their kids, well, they had stupid in their genes anyway, right? Not quite. There’s still the whole concept of herd immunity. I’m not vaccinated against smallpox, but I don’t have to worry, because there’s nobody out there to catch it from, see? And babies don’t get shot up with every vaccine right out of the gate. In fact, babies don’t get vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox or hepatitis A until they’re a year old. They depend on everyone else in the community to be vaccinated, and therefore unable to spread it to them. The problem is, the herd isn’t immune anymore.

In 2009, there were 20,480 reported cases of varicella-zoster (chicken pox) in the U.S. My 10-month-old son was one of those cases. Just a few weeks shy of immunity. And he gave it to my immunocompromised friend. If I knew who infected him, I swear, I would press charges. As far as I’m concerned, that’s two counts each of attempted manslaughter, depraved indifference, and wanton disregard for public safety (yeah, I watch a lot of “Law & Order”). Luckily, they’re both fine now. In fact, 20,478 people are fine… Two died. That is two too many. 

When I was a child, there was no vaccine for chicken pox. I never contracted the disease. When I was in my mid-twenties, I heard that there was a vaccine available, and I had to go to three different doctors’ offices to track it down. If you’re an adult who’s never had chicken pox, I urge you to get vaccinated immediately. Chicken pox is a lot more serious for adults- it can lead to cerebellar ataxia, encephalitis, myocarditis, pneumonia, Reye's syndrome or transient arthritis. If you contract chicken pox while pregnant, it can cause birth defects or life-threatening infections in the fetus.

If you’re still not convinced, please follow all the links peppered throughout this post. And after that, if you still don’t believe in vaccinations, do the rest of us a favor and stay the hell away, would you?

Mar 8, 2013

The "Star Wars" Experiment: Episode I (in which we watch "Episode IV")

Please be sure to read the prologue before reading this post. And, if you haven't seen all of the movies in their entirety, please go do that. Also, you make me sad-face.

Okay, here we go. We watched "Episode IV: A New Hope" with the cousin. 

  • Her first comment: "I wish I knew what R2 was saying." You and me both, sister. We can assume about 85%, but you gotta wonder if there are some swear-words peppered in there.

  • The epiphany: "What if C3PO's just a giant douche? What if R2 does deserve they way he's talking to him?" Good point. Most of us have grown up with Threepio, and learned to love him as a well-meaning, uppity bitch. But think about it. If you knew him in real life, how long would you put up with that shit?

  • Threepio drops his line, "Thank the Maker!" My husband and I cast excited sideways glances at each other. She doesn't know!

  • On light sabers: "It's a laser. Why doesn't it cauterize the wound?" Hmm. True, true. My explanation: "It's not a laser! It's a light saber!"

  • The "remastered" scene where Han is talking to a weird, green, cartoon Jabba comes up. Instantly, young padawan says, "So this is why everyone hates George Lucas." The force is strong with this one.

  • Obi-Wan delivers his famous line, "That's no moon; it's a space station." What does a human who has lived in America with a television all her life say? "There are people who don't know what the Death Star is??"
People. This is why you need to guide your younglings in the ways of the Force. Do not let the Dark Side seduce them. To do so is to bring about wonky ideas. 

Stay tuned for Episode II (in which we watch "Episode V")!

Mar 6, 2013

What's for Dinner?

I'm normally not a recipe-sharing kind of gal, but my pal Lucy from My Life as Lucille asked for recipes, and what Lucy wants, Lucy gets. So here it is, my signature dinner. I make this almost once a week. It is my favorite meal that I make, and maybe even my favorite meal, period. The entree was originally from Martha Stewart, but I've changed it here and there over the years, so it's probably pretty far from Martha by now.

Now, this does take a lot of time. And it is a bit of work. But it is fan-friggin-tastic, and your house will smell delicious all night (and into the next day, if you're a dish washing procrastinator). Please enjoy:

Chicken Cacciatore

2 large chicken breasts (a little under a pound, I think, but a pound would be fine)
1 large green bell pepper
1/2 large white onion
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (not Petite Diced, and not No Salt Added)
5 cloves garlic (I really like garlic. I believe the normal recipe calls for 3)
1/3 cup chicken broth*
1/4 cup white wine**
All-purpose flour
Black pepper
Oil (it's supposed to be olive oil, but I always use vegetable oil)

  • In a large pot, heat about 1/2 inch of oil to med-hi.
  • Slice peppers and onions, mince garlic. 
  • Slice chicken into tenderloins and season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour.
  • Cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and set aside.
  • Add pepper, onion and garlic to pot. Cook until onions are translucent.
  • Reduce heat to med-lo. Add wine, simmer 4 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, broth, chicken and a pinch of salt. Raise heat to med-hi and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to med-lo, cover partially, simmer for 35 minutes.
  • Remove chicken, cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

* I buy a 48-ounce box of College Inn broth (way better than Swanson) and freeze 1/3 cup portions in tiny Rubbermaid containers. Then I put all the cubes in a freezer bag. I always add the broth to the pot frozen, and it works out fine.
** I use Pinot Grigio. Use real wine; not cooking wine. If it's not good enough to drink, it's not good enough to cook with.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Now, this one's tricky, because I always eyeball it. I'm pulling the measurements out of my ass...
2 white potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced (same rule applies; I'm bonkers for garlic)
3 tbsp butter (not margarine!)
1/4 cup milk (I'm guessing here)
Black pepper

  • Boil potatoes until they're done. I dunno. Poke them with a fork.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter and garlic on med-lo for 5 minutes.
  • Drain and mash the potatoes. Add the garlic mixture.
  • Stir it up. Salt and pepper to taste.

This whole deal serves three. Which, in my house, means that it serves two for dinner, and then my husband takes the third serving to work for lunch the next day, and I'm jealous.

After you print this out (and I know you will), head on over to Lucy's house and give her a recipe!

Mar 5, 2013

Shut the Hell Up, Beyonce

I'm sorry, apparently this story is a couple of weeks old, but I'm not really one to follow current events, so I just heard... Beyonce is claiming that her 13-month-old baby can read. Seriously. (I'm actually really surprised that I didn't hear this from People I want to Punch in the Throat.)

What is with these celebrity moms and their outrageous brags about their babies? Remember when Gisele Bundchen, claimed that her son was potty trained at 6 months?

Gisele, you are a rich, beautiful supermodel. You are married to a rich, handsome football star. We get it. You're soooo much better than us. You do not need to make up lies about your baby being a superhero, capable of feats that no 6-month-old human body can possibly accomplish.

Beyonce, you are a rich, beautiful singer. Your husband looks like a camel, but whatever, he's rich, too. And you're friends with the damn President. And some of us are still suspicious of you after that whole "they may or may not have shut down a hospital" thing. We all know that a 13-month-old baby cannot read. Did you fall for that "Your Baby Can Read" scam, feel dumb, and then lie that it worked to make yourself feel better?

Just stop it.

A mother should be proud of her child just for being him- or herself. You don't need to make up fake accomplishments. Not only does that serve to make everyone else feel like they're not good enough, but it implies that your babies aren't really praise-worthy by their own merit. Is your baby not good enough for you? Is that why you make up crazy stories about them turning water into wine? Because that's what they're going to think when they grow up and read about this.

And why do you feel the need to remind the rest of the world at every turn just how much better you are than them? Is your self-esteem so low that you can only be happy when every magazine has your face on its cover, praising you as being the Absolute Best at Everything Ever?

We don't want to hear it. Please go away and raise your kid like a normal human. And if one day they win the Nobel Prize or something, then you can brag a little.

Mar 1, 2013

The "Star Wars" Experiment: Prologue

Have you ever met one of those people who hasn’t seen anything? You bring up a movie that everyone and their mother has seen 80 times, and they just shrug? We have a cousin in her early twenties who is one of those people. Sometimes, she’ll come over on a Friday night so we can educate her in the ways of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or Quentin Tarantino’s catalog. We recently showed her “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” and last Friday she came over to watch Volume 2.

The plan changed.

Before we started the movie, I was in the other room, and she mentioned to my husband that she doesn’t really remember much about “Star Wars” Episodes IV and V, and she’s never even seen I, II, III or VI! How does that happen?? We immediately set out to rectify this gross injustice.

Here’s the best part: as soon as my husband and I started talking about breeding, the subject of “Star Wars” came up. At what age should we show them to our future children? And in what order? We consulted my cousin who introduced me to “Star Wars,” and has three children of his own. He recommended age five or six (we’re going with five, because all three of us are very impatient). As for the order… We talked to a lot of people about it. We did a lot of research. It turns out that there are many (strong) differing opinions.

George Lucas recommends showing them in numerical/chronological order. That was his “original vision” and all that. But if a kid watches Episodes I-III, and is then presented with IV, with its crummy 70’s special effects (I know, I know, they were amazingly advanced for the 70’s, but still) will they be turned off? And even if you’re not in the “new episodes suck” camp, you have to admit that they’re not as good as the old ones. What if your kid hates Episode II so much that they refuse to watch any more, and they never even get to the old ones? (If you don't think that could happen, check out these reviews from nine- and ten-year-olds complaining about all the mushy love scenes in Episode II. They're adorable.)

Okay, so show them the way we saw them. IV-VI, then I-III. Except… Remember how disappointed you were with the new ones not living up to the originals? You were pissed. And you were in your teens, twenties or thirties. Imagine how a small child would handle that disappointment.

Enter the Machete Order. This guy has it all figured out. Machete Order is as follows: IV, V, II, III, VI.  That’s right, you don’t need Episode I at all. Anything that you need to know from Episode I gets mentioned in Episode II. No little Ani. No pod races. No boring crap about senates and trade agreements. And practically no Jar Jar Binks! The only down side is that there’s also no Darth Maul if you cut out Episode I, and kids really like him because he looks cool. But he’s barely in the movie, anyway. And they can always watch it later, if they want.

You really need to read the original post where the Maker explains it (see what I did there?), but it’s very long, and you may be almost done on the toilet by now, so if you want to bookmark it for later, I’ll summarize it here: You start out the same. Luke meets all his wacky new friends. Gets involved in the whole rebellion and all that. Then Darth Vader makes the big reveal (which, P.S., would have been spoiled if you watched them chronologically). So at this point, the viewer is all, “Whaaaaaat? Is that true?” Flash back twenty years for… Anakin turning into Vader, and Luke and Leia’s birth. See? That’s how he got that way! You also get the added bonus of learning that Leia is Luke’s sister before he does. Remember, she was born second, so it really presents it nicely.  Way better than someone just mentioning it to Luke. Then we go back and end the series with Episode VI (and now Hayden Christianson’s ghost makes sense at the end- it wouldn’t if you viewed it in release order).

Now, our cousin has been living on Planet Earth for the last twenty-odd years, so I’m pretty sure that she already knows who’s related to Luke at this point… Not that I’m going to risk spoiling it to confirm with her. But even so, having her to “practice on” a year before showing the movies to our son is pretty convenient. And it’s also fun to watch. I bet it will be fun to read about. So, for the next six weeks, I’ll be posting about her journey into “Star Wars” every Friday, so you can giggle at her child-like wonder, and also see how Machete Order works out for us. And then, starting in February 2014, I’ll post a series of my son watching them for the first time.

I’m going to link you one more time to the explanation of Machete order, because I really want you to read it. I left out a lot for the sake of brevity (and look how well that worked out), but what I left out was some really interesting shit. Please go there now.