Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse

France will ban smoking in public places as of next February.

France. The country.

As someone who generally falls on the side of health advocacy, I know in my intellectual mind this is a great thing.

As someone who lived there during my younger years, I am shocked. What is this world coming to when the people who gave us Galoises are banning smoking from cafes and brasseries?

I think I need to take a quick trip to get one last look at the Paris I knew!

Then again, this could save them a bundle on restoring monuments, cleaning streets (though if they're sneaking cigs dans la rue, one can only imagine how many butts will wind up underfoot), and lower that pesky public healthcare bill...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Girl Weekend Nonsense

Want a piece of this?

(Source: www.dailycandy.com)

I can't title this post as I'd really like to, because I'm protecting the innocent. It's a he. It's a husband. It's not the man (I think it's a man) in this picture. But my friend's husband wears fur pants. While naked. So when this came out at a weekend retreat (along with the coffee through my nose) -- well, you can just about imagine the threads that were spun.

Actually, this is a little misleading. I find when I go away with friends (and no spouses or kids) that we spend very little time talking about our husbands. Okay, maybe not very little, but it's certainly not the focal point of the weekend, unless someone is having an issue she's trying to hammer out. I think our husbands think we're talking a lot about them, when in fact we are dealing with more important topics such as:

  • How we barely made it to the weekend. Any mom who has ever prepared to leave her home with someone else in charge knows that there is a universal law that states that chaos will precede the 24 hours of her departure. speeding tickets, clothing mishaps, ebola virus -- we've lived it.
  • Toenail fungus. Why people get it, weighing in on whether or not we have it (and comparing toes for the visual judgment), and how we can get my friend's podiatrist husband to prescribe something long distance without ever seeing us. Because we're too embarassed to actually show someone in person our gnarly foot problems. And snapping anonymous digital photos for her to email him later and plead our case.
  • Our families. Try as we might to "get away," our central focus always comes back into view. This husband's job situation, that child's latest developmental tilt-a-whirl. It's unavoidable, and let's face it, a great valve to let off whatever steam might be building up.
  • Muffin tops. I just saw a comedienne use this term to describe her paunch. And I use the term loosely -- she looked okay to me. We need to know why they just won't go away. That goes for the people working out and dieting, and those who aren't, the latter just believing that caring about it and bringing it up in the group should be enough for it to disappear.

This ain't a guys' fishing trip. But it sure does the job!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What Katie Holmes Cruise and I Have in Common

I was delighted to see that Katie Holmes Cruise and I have something in common. I'm told you can buy the generics at Target -- but this chiquita requires the Spanx Sky Highs. As a public service announcement/cautionary tale -- I knew it was time to hit the gym when my Spanx actually caused my back to spasm, such was the shifting of body, um, mass.

(The only portion of Katie's life that leaves me jealous, aside from the fact that she can afford as many pair of SkyHighs as she wants, is that she's in Paris...)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Hound Dog"

I haven't seen this movie, but I am disturbed by reports about the depth and nature of sexual content portrayed by child star Dakota Fanning. She turns 13 years old next month.

13 is practically fully grown in Hollywood. I get that. (If you have any doubts, the movie "Thirteen" will chill you to the bone, but it is well worth it for the great performances by Evan Rachel Wood and Holly Hunter.) But explicit scenes involving masturbation, nudity and rape for a 12 year old actress?

(Other accounts say that some of the more graphic scenes mysteriously disappeared from the cutting room floor when certain child advocacy groups protested the use of a minor actress in such disturbing scenes.)

Is anyone else bothered by reports that that Fanning's publicist and mother were attracted to the project, allegedly, because it had "Oscar written all over it."

For once, let's call a spade a spade. There appear to be good reasons that investors backed out of this film, which co-stars talented actresses Robin Wright Penn (one of my favorite actresses, BTW) and Piper Laurie.

In a bit of a Catch-22, I can't explore just how bothered I am about this without seeing the movie. But do I want to spend $10 to watch a child being exploited?

I'm not opposed to the telling of a great story, depressing or not. Child abuse is a serious problem and the more light shed on it the better. But at what expense? Certainly someone should be watching over Dakota's best interests as a not-yet-teenage child. Comparisons to Jodie Foster ("Taxi Driver") and Brooke Shields ("Endless Love"), who both portrayed sexualized teens don't even seem fair. I've seen both those movies. Both girls were inappropriately sexualized at a similarly early age, especially considering the time periods during which those movies were released. Interesting notion that we've slipped down a slope of expectations in that seeing characters like Tracie in "Thirteen" engaging in sex isn't too unbelievable.

But neither Foster nor Shields was hired, at age 12 and with the consent of her parents, to film an explicit rape scene. And providing the visualization, for the big screen, violence against a child, especially a rape of a young girl, seems unforgivable, especially in the name of art.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Photo Caption Contest #2

My friend Jane Doe is _____.

I'm calling her Jane Doe because although she agreed to let me use this anonymous version of her picture online, she, unlike some people we know, has her limits.

This photo was taken on a women's weekend affectionately called The Literary Retreat. Another friend's parents own a cabin on a beautiful, clear, peaceful lake (that shall remain unnamed to protect them -- oh right, to protect us) that our book club invades for shenanigans of the above sort.

Let's see if you were even remotely close to guessing what she was doing.

As I've posted before, I am a huge Project Runway fan. One of my fellow devotees, whose cabin this is, decided that this year we would add a PR challenge to our weekend. So everyone who attended had to bring three garments they didn't mind parting with, as well as assorted knick knacks, crafty items or whatever else they thought might be useful in the challenge.

We divided into three teams. Items were objectively divided into three piles, and each team got a pile, plus scissors, duct tape and whatever tools they wisely had brought with them.

Team One: Angeline Jolie

Team Two: Tori Spelling

Team Three: Bree VanDeCamp

I was on the Tori team. After tucking one of our discarded booze bottles neatly into a wicker basket/purse, Tori read a moving tribute to her late father, Aaron. Here's Tori getting into a little number (that come to think of it reminds me of that "Gift to Someone Special" Buddy gives his Dad in the movie "Elf") as well as her shoes, which were custom designed that day:

I swear she could be a foot model -- look how cute her toes are! But I digress...

Angelina looked like a vamp, and the outfit actually turned out pretty decently! And Bree, well the picture you saw in the beginning was Bree's racy housewife lingerie. I only wish I'd videotaped the festivities so that I had the scripts everyone used to describe their characters...

This is why my husband (and I'm sure he's not alone) can only scratch his head and wonder about "women's weekends." When I was describing all of this to him, he was silent. Later he said, "You know, when John and I go away for a 'man's weekend,' we fish, we eat, watch a little tv, and relax. There aren't any 'planned activities!' We don't schedule a craft or figure out who is making what for which meal! I don't get it!"

Which is exactly why they aren't invited.

Go Colts!

Yes, I have completely switched positions.

Earlier I was rooting for the Bears. Then my husband branded me unAmerican for not rooting for the Saints, all things considered. Frankly my plate has been so full lately that I didn't put together that the Bears would be playing the Saints. My bad. And I really do wish the Saints had played better than they did.

Anyway, after watching Peyton Manning lead his team from behind and beat the Patriots* I am absolutely hoping they win the Super Bowl. I can't even believe how interested I was in the game, and how genuinely excited I was that they won.

Part of it is -- I love Tony Dungy. I mean love him. (More than I love Lovey.) From back when Tampa Bay was in our conference and he was just a grade A guy. So between that and wanting to see Peyton Manning get his Vince Lombardi moment, here's to the Colts.

I understand that Dungy and Smith are best friends. That makes for good copy, even better than the angle that it will be the first time two black coaches will face off in the Super Bowl.

I take Indy by 14.

* It should be noted, that as a Packer fan, I am still bitter about that second in a row Super Bowl loss way back when. The Patriots just had to go -- their dominance reminds me of Dallas, another nemesis for Green Bay.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Photo Caption Contest

This idea is directly ripped off of Perez Hilton. Who allegedly rips off a lot of photos off the Internet. Thanks to Erica for the link on the first photo!!!

So here goes:

"This boy is really smiling because he _____"

Image from www.dailycandy.com

"Women across America are interested in David Beckham's coming to America because____"

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Da Bears

It's football season, and in our house, we fly the Green and Gold. My husband is a diehard fan. We are engaged in the state pasttime of wondering if Bret Favre's un-joining the Oneida Golf club really means he's retiring, or if former Viking nemesis Randy Moss will don a Packer uniform next year. (Interesting emotion, envy. When Moss played for Minnesota my husband called him a cancer to the team. Now he views him as a possible savior.)

This year, the Packers were slow to gain momentum, had a team full of rookies and didn't make the playoffs. My husband's main wish is that the Chicago Bears don't win. I love Chicago, the city. I can't stand Chicago, the fans. But no, I don't wear a cheesehead!

I'm torn on this one. I love Lovey -- the man and the name. I love that he had the guts to state that his main goal was beating the Packers. I also have no small amount of nostalgia for the 1985-86 team, led by Jim McMahon. They won the Super Bowl during the time I was in Paris -- and feeling more American than even I cared to admit. (Homesickness being what it is.) No hard feelings given our long-standing rivalry.

It was also concurrent to the space shuttle exploding and I recall being so shocked to be witnessing the videotape of it while eating in a Mexican restaurant (read: American) surrounded by other Americans. It was one of a few moments for me that is an "I'll always remember when..."

So, to our archenemies, I say, "Good Luck." Or should I say, "Good luck getting past the Saints, and then the Patriots."

New Product Alert

My friend Jennifer pointed me in the direction of this groovy new product called Road ID. It's a little metal tag that fits onto your running shoe that has your name and whatever other critical info you need on it in very small print.

I always love a good product, and this one fits a need for our family. My husband has high blood pressure and has had heart problems. This is the bad news. The good news is that he runs nearly five miles a day, often outside and always by himself. So in the event of an emergency, he has no information on him.

For a while I made him a little tag that we laminated with a brief health history bulleted list and my cell phone number. Now he wears this on his shoe -- and I don't have to replace it every so many miles after it gets drenched with sweat and you can't read it anymore!!!

PS on an "I Love This Packaging" note -- Have you seen the new vegetable oils using the no-spill measuring cup as a cap? Brilliant. (Second place: Anything powdered that used to come in a bag that now comes in a dispenser with a lid, think cornstarch, baking soda, etc.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Internet Joke Featuring My Two Favorites...

One day, when a seamstress was sewing while sitting close to a River, her thimble fell into the river. When she cried out, the Lord appeared and asked, "My dear child, why are you crying?"

The seamstress replied that her thimble had fallen into the water and that she needed it to help her husband in making a living for their family.

The Lord dipped His hand into the water and pulled up a golden thimble set with pearls.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked. The seamstress replied, "No."

The Lord again dipped into the river. He held out a silver thimble ringed with sapphires.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked. Again, the seamstress replied, "No."

The Lord reached down again and came up with a leather thimble. "Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked. The seamstress replied, "Yes." The Lord was pleased with the woman's honesty and gave her all three thimbles to keep, and the seamstress went home happy.

Some years later, the seamstress was walking with her husband along the riverbank, and her husband fell into the river and disappeared under the water. When she cried out, the Lord again appeared and asked her, "Why are you crying?" "Oh Lord, my husband has fallen into the river!"

The Lord went down into the water and came up with George Clooney.

"Is this your husband?" the Lord asked. "Yes," cried the seamstress. The Lord was furious. "You lied! That is an untruth!"

The seamstress replied, "Oh, forgive me, my Lord. It is a misunderstanding. You see, if I had said 'no' to George Clooney, you would have come up with Brad Pitt. Then if I said 'no' to him, you would have come up with my husband. Had I then said 'yes,' you would have given me all three. Lord, I'm not in the best of health and would not be able to take care of all three husbands, so that's why I said 'yes' to George Clooney."

And so the Lord let her keep him.

The moral of this story is: Whenever a woman lies, it's for a good and honorable reason, and in the best interest of others.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Minnie and Moo -- A Tribute

I have a friend, I'll call her Drae (because that's her name, but not her real name) who is incredibly dear to me. Our coming together is a sort of cosmic happening, since my husband and I went to college with her husband before she even him. Fast forward a decade or so later and I'm sitting next to her at an OJWC meeting and when she says her name, I say, "I knew a [so and so] in college," and she says, "That's my husband!" The rest is Herstory.

About the time I met her, we started laughing together and haven't stopped since. Over the years I have heard many people espouse the "Laughter is the best medicine" theory, and I have to tell you that Drae is my litmus test for that. We have gone from the sublime to the broad comedy together and I always come up gasping for air and wanting more, even as I'm grabbing my ribs because they just ache.

Early in our friendship, when we were working on a Kids Who Can committee together, I told her that our ramblings reminded me of the "Minnie and Moo" chapter books by Denis Cazyet. Stay with me (my kids and I love these books)! M & M are two cows who find themselves, largely due to Moo's philosophical bent and Minnie's undying support, in the most unimaginable situations. I am Minnie to Drae's Moo. Over and over again we have played out these roles. Drae has an incredible imagination and can visualize almost anything creatively. I love everything she comes up with and think, "Why not?!?!?" and pull the trigger.

Drae is the most real, unpretentious, caring and alive person I know. Her spirit is infectious, and though I lost her to a job transfer almost three years ago now, there is never a question that we are in touch and just as looney as we always were -- albeit probably a lot less dangerous given that we live a couple of hours away from each other now. Lack of proximity hasn't dampened my affection for her.

Oh, and the picture you see on my profile is from a rather infamous boat ride Drae was behind. I was still nursing at that time but had set aside the evening for a "Similac only" outing. Drae promptly presented me with a plastic resin bracelet reserved, until that day, for embarassed bovines. The personalization? "DRY COW."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Princess

We just spent nearly a week at Walt DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida. Where, I have now learned, all girls, including my nearly 2-year-old, are referred to as "Princess." Which shouldn't surprise me, I guess, except that I didn't hear anyone call my sons "Prince."

My favorite use of "Princess" occurred when she was having an "I'm almost 2-years-old" meltdown at the Magic Kingdom, where Rafiki {proud to say I pulled his name out of my a-- even though I've never seen the movie "The Lion King," we must have him in a storybook somewhere!} just totally freaked her out. As she's screaming "Me! You! Me! You!" -- which is her codephrase for "I hate this! Get me out of here!" or, at home "I hate this! I totally disagree with your authority!" -- the photographers and helpers are saying, "Here, Princess! Would you like a sticker or some pixie dust?"

To which she gave them a serious hairy eyeball, very un-Princess-like, and we stuck her in the stroller for the ride to the hotel. Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, she is not.

That said, after I gave myself a manicure (this is out of character) before we left, she was caught trying to color her nails with a Sharpie...