Saturday, April 28, 2012


Thursday, April 26, 2012

tribute to the tribute

It took me a little bit longer to get through Season 2 of Glee, as I slowed down to a saner 1.5 episode per day average pace instead of the life-reordering 3 episode per day pace I sustained through Season 1. And Season 2 was, as Santana would say, a whole truckload of awesome -- might have been an eeeeeeever so slightly smaller truck than in Season 1 -- but still the best thing to grace network television since NBC's Thursday night lineup of the mid-80s. Exhibit A, Mr. Figgins:

Can't. Breathe.

But then I found myself in quite the predicament, because by the time I finished Season 2, Season 3 was already well under way. The Season 3 episodes that had already aired were available on Amazon, but not for free (not that I wouldn't pay cash money to watch Glee, don't misunderstand me, but I knew they'd be free eventually if I could just hold out for a bit longer) and I didn't really want to jump in and start watching the new episodes midseason when I'd already missed some key plot points. I know, it's a first world problem, but it's my first world problem, dammit. Plus, I still had that "not sure what day/what time/what channel/oh God it's all just too overwhelming!!" issue about live television shows that kept me and Glee apart in the first place.

But once I knew that the Whitney Houston tribute episode was coming up, I had to find a way to join the legions of television watchers who HAVE figured out how to watch network television shows as they air (or shortly thereafter). Armed with just two clues: (1) it's on Tuesday; and (2) it's on Fox -- I went to work. I pulled out the handy channel guide that AT&T left when they installed our U-verse and learned that Fox is channel 6.

I turned on channel 6 and then tried several buttons on the remote that seemed likely to lead to some kind of programming guide. "OK" - nope. "INFO" - nope. "GUIDE" -- bingo! From there I was able to use the arrows to scroll to the right until I finally landed on Glee (FYI -- 7 p.m. CST).

Then I examined the remote a little bit more to find the "record" button (which is in an easy-to-spot red color -- thanks, AT&T!) pressed it, and got a friendly note on the TV screen advising me that Glee was scheduled to record at 7 p.m. Success! I'm not going to tell you it was easy. You've got to want it badly enough. It took the marriage between Glee and Whitney to finally light that fire in me, and let me tell you, the episode did not disappoint.

It opens with Mercedes and the diva troupe, still in mourning over Whitney's demise, performing a fabulous, but almost somber, a capella version of "How Will I Know:"

Mr. Schue sees them and tells Emma that he doesn't understand why the kids are still struggling so hard with Whitney's death two months after the fact. Emma reaches into her stash of guidance counselor pamphlets and pulls out one called "Princess Diana: Why Am I Still Crying?" She explains that Whitney is their Princess Diana, and her death has caused the seniors to reflect on their lost childhoods and upcoming graduation. This is a bit of a stretch, as these kids were infants at the peak of Whitney's career, and by the time they were old enough to even be aware of popular music, Whitney was telling Diane Sawyer that crack is wack and sounding raspier than Tina Turner in venues thoughout Western Europe {may she rest in peace}. But I was hardly going to kick this gift horse in the mouth and was happy to just sit back, suspend my disbelief, and enjoy.

The episode is about separation anxiety, as several characters grapple with the fact that everyone will be going in different directions after graduation. The separation anxiety manifests itself in understandable ways (Blaine, Kurt's dad) and borderline-creepy ways (Mr. Schue's panic over the possibility that the Glee kids might miss his wedding). But ultimately (as per usual with Glee) it's really all just a fun romp!

I thought the gang did a fine job with the music. In a post-mortem with Callie the next day, I said that I really wished they'd covered You Give Good Love and All the Man That I Need, and she said that she had been hoping to hear The Greatest Love of All {heck yes!} -- but let's face it, to cover all of Whit's hits you'd need a whole Glee/Whitney mini-series {hmmmm . . . actually . . .}. BTW, I have to give a big shout out to Callie for alerting me early in the day on Tuesday that Glee/Whitney Day had finally arrived. I admit that I was already on it because of info I'd gathered in the {ahem} Glee blogosphere, but it is so nice to know that you've got friends who have your back when it comes to life's most important pop culture events.

But I'll tell you, there is nothing like a Whitney tribute episode to remind you how ah-maz-ing Whitney's voice really was in its prime. Sometimes on Glee you'll think "wow, that was better than the original!" but not with Whitney songs. They did a great job, but at the end of the day nobody can match the power, range and depth of Whitney's voice {in contrast, they nailed Gotye with ease}. I still think the best Whitney performance ever on Glee was Mercedes' cover of I Will Always Love You (in an earlier episode), so I'll end my little tribute with that:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dorothy v. Snow White throw down

Yesterday was the most exciting day of the pre-school school year -- yes, you know it, Character Day.

When I asked Caroline what character she wanted to be she originally (perhaps out of habit) said "a princess" and then, in true princess form, asked me to fetch her a few "comfortable" costumes for her consideration. I came downstairs with a non-itchy Snow White costume and a Dorothy costume. Now, I'm a firm believer in letting kids choose (within reason) what to be for costume occasions like Halloween, Character Day, etc. -- but Caroline has spent a not-insignificant portion of her 4.5 years dressed up like a princess even on normal days, so I admit that I tried to sweeten the Dorothy pot a bit when I showed her the costumes: "If you want to be Dorothy I will braid your hair and you can wear your red sparkly shoes and carry a puppy in a basket . . ."

I'm not sure if I had her at "braid" or "sparkly" or "puppy," but the three together were enough to dethrone the princess.

dinky is in the eye of the beholder

Oh Gotye. The day after I declare my love for you on the interwebs you go and catch a bad case of Jonathan Franzenitis. The only thing worse than an artist who takes himself too seriously is an artist who in the course of taking himself too seriously disses Glee. Unfortunately, your song is my cryptonite and I am completely powerless to stop listening to it, so I will accept your weak apology.

Monday, April 23, 2012

healthy lawn analysis failure

I was home eating lunch on Monday when the doorbell rang. A good rule of thumb is that if the doorbell rings in the middle of the day and you are not expecting anyone, you probably don't want whatever the doorbell ringer is selling. But I answered the door, and there stood Evan from TruGreen (I guess they dropped the "ChemLawn" in some recent rebranding effort since "Chem" doesn't sell things the way it used to).

Evan: Good afternoon. I was just in your neighborhood treating the two houses across the street from you. I went ahead and performed a complimentary Healthy Lawn Analysis on your yard while I was here and noticed that you have widespread weed growth. I was wondering what you plan to do about that this spring?

{I look at Evan to determine whether he is joking and/or posing a rhetorical question and conclude that (1) he is dead serious and (2) he expects me to answer.}

Cathy: Honestly? I plan to complain to my husband about our widespread weed growth and tell him that we really ought to do something about that.
Evan: Well, we can customize a plan to meet your lawn's needs and eliminate much of that weed growth while helping the turf thicken up nicely, and also protecting it against lawn-feeding insects. . .
Cathy: Wow, that sounds incredible! If you leave me your flyer I will talk it over with my husband and get back with you as soon as we are ready to attack that weed growth.

Thankfully, Evan was not nearly as tenacious as those AT&T guys and was happy to leave his sales pitch at that. I expect he'll be back ringing our doorbell sometime in April 2013, when we will almost certainly still have widespread weed growth.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Somebody that i used to know

I wasn't so sure as recently as last week, but it turns out that there is hope for me in the 21st century yet. Because I find myself obsessed -- obsessed I tell you! -- with the current number one song on the Billboard top 100 chart:

The kids decided that they don't like the song, and they turned me in at dinner:

E: Dad, Mom keeps listening to this song OVER and OVER and OVER again. She played it the whole way to Publix and back yesterday.
J: And when she listens to it with headphones on, she sings it out loud, which is even worse.

I plead guilty to the charges. My defense was that this is only the best darn song that I have heard so far this century. I told them that I was so confident in the awesomeness of this song that I had a little proposition: we would play the song for Dad, and he would vote yay or nay and break the tie.

J: But it's already 3 against 1! There is no tie!

I said that I was viewing the kids collectively as one unit because they have not lived long enough to know a good song when they hear it. The kids then got all flustered about the mechanics of the competition and started talking about how the teams (Caroline by now had wisely defected to Team Gotye) needed to get on the opposite sides of the room to organize and strategize and possibly develop competing interpretive dances, with theirs nonverbally communicating their hatred of the song while it played -- so we had to settle them down before we could start.

D: Okay look. I can already tell you how this is going to go. The song will not be as good as Mom thinks it is, and it will not be as bad as you think it is. There is really no need to get all riled up about it. This is kind of like voting for Jerry Brown, it just doesn't . . .
C: Hahahahaha!!
J: Dad, please don't tell jokes like that. Elizabeth, Caroline and I do not understand them.

I tried to convince everyone that we really needed to play each song (both the original version and the dance mix) at least two or three times so that David could honestly evaluate them, but I was denied. So we played the each version once, and then held our breaths while waiting for David's decision.

D: Okay, this is easy. The dance version gives me a headache. But the original? That's a catchy little song with a lot of 80s retro elements. I like it.

{J & E groan}.

And the {amazing} Glee cover:

And another cool cover:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

i know that my heart will go on

I just {sniff} got back from Titanic. I saw the movie when it first came out, like everybody else in the world, and I knew I wanted to see it on the big screen again. Some of my impressions of the movie were the same as they were the first time around:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet circa 1997 -- youth and beauty. Ain't nothing like 'em.

2. "Jack!" "Rose!" "Jack!" "Rose!" "Jack!" "Rose!" comprises much of the dialogue.

3. There is a whole lot of cheese in this movie, but I am able to forgive much of it because of #1.

Honestly, the whole thing was way more wrenching 15 years later. And there was one huge, giant issue that I missed the first time around that's now completely haunting me. My friend Andrea actually tipped me off to this when I was asking around to see if anyone wanted to go see it, and she said thanks but no thanks because she was so traumatized after the first time she saw it that she vowed never to see it again, and why oh WHY did they not both fit on that plank? And while I understood her general sense of being traumatized by the film, I didn't specifically remember the plank. And I don't know HOW I didn't remember the plank, because it wasn't a plank, it was more like a freaking garage door! Why didn't Leo just hop on it with Kate (and pull like ten other people out of the North Atlantic while he was at it)? It is inexplicable. In fact, I was so troubled by this that I turned to Professor Google for some answers, and began typing in my query: "why didn't jack get on th-" and lo and behold! This is apparently so common of an inquiry that google actually finished my search for me: "Why didn't Jack get on the door?" {so see, it's at least a door} and there are just pages devoted to this question, including one article called "15 Easily Avoidable Movie Deaths." Exactly. You didn't need to die Jack!

Since I love my husband I decided that I would not drag him to see Titanic with me twice during the course of our lifetime together, and I went with my SIL, my 14 year old niece and her friend (who sat far away from us, in true 14 year old fashion). You know how usually when you are saying your goodbyes with someone after a social outing it's kind of normal to say something like "well, bye! That was fun!" But you can't say that after seeing Titanic. So I settled on: "well, good night. That was emotionally draining in the best possible way."

Edited on 4/23 to add:

My friend Betsey emailed me to explain that Leo DID try to get on the door, but it started to sink down into the freezing water so he stops, knowing that he will die but that she will be saved. {SOBS} I hear that, but I still think that he should have tried harder. {SOBS}

And David asked me the next morning if the 3D fixed the dialogue. Bahahaha. And the answer to that question is no, not really.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Musical musings

David and I were driving home from dinner on Saturday night and I started telling him that I was really making an effort to listen to more Top 40 radio in an attempt to stay young and current, but that most of it is just so bad that it's painful to stay the course, and it's really much easier to just continue living in the 80s and 90s, music-wise. We had at least three seconds of complete agreement about the state of today's music, until I told him that one notable exception is Justin Bieber's Boyfriend, which is actually kind of awesome, at which point I lost all credibility in his mind. I told him that I just couldn't say it any better than they did on Glee -- he underestimates the power of the Biebs.

And then we had this exchange:

C: Speaking of GOOD music, I bought a new song on iTunes today.
D: What?
C: I'll give you a clue: Is this love, that I'm feeling? Is this the lo-ove, that I've been searching fo-orrrr?
D: Oh God. No.
C: Yes. Yes I did.
D: If you are going to buy Whitesnake, at least buy the song with the video where Tawny what's-her-name slithers on the hood of the car.
C: I think Tawny slithers in all of their videos.

What can I say? You can take the girl out of the era of the Tender Heavy Metal Power Ballad, but you can't take the Tender Heavy Metal Power Ballad out of the girl.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

For years my workout wardrobe has consisted of old t-shirts and (usually mismatched) running shorts, but when I started taking hot yoga I actually went out and bought a couple of honest-to-goodness coordinated yoga outfits. One day I walked into the kitchen in one of these yoga tanks/pants ensembles and Caroline FREAKED OUT, as if she had just seen a multi-tiered sequined tulle pettiskirt or something, and started begging me to buy her her own "exercise clothes." So one day at Target I picked up a workout tank and matching shorts for her, and she loves to wear them around the house "like mom" (or maybe I should say, "like the version of mom that she would really rather see more of," because she has never shown any interest in imitating the paint-splattered-sweatpants-and-2010-Zoo-Run-shirt look that I most frequently sport).

While she was imitating me anyway, she went ahead and washed some dishes (it's a glamorous life).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Caine's arcade

I love this kid (his security system to make sure it's an authentic Fun Pass is brilliant). I love his dad. I love the filmmaker ("I was blown away, Caine's only sold one Fun Pass? Like, the Fun Pass is an awesome deal.") This video just captures everything that's right in the world.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hey, that's not my sandwich!

When I picked up Elizabeth after school today, we had this conversation:

E: Mom, do you know what was the worst part of my day was?
C: No, what?
E: You sent me with your lunch by mistake.
C: Really? What was in your lunchbox?
E: A cream cheese and jelly sandwich, goldfish and strawberries.
C: Do you know what my lunch was? Broccoli slaw with garbanzo beans, gorgonzola, and grape tomatoes with balsamic and olive oil. The cream cheese and grape jelly sandwich was definitely meant for you.
E: Oh. But I don't really like cream cheese sandwiches.
C: Well, I was trying to mix things up so you don't get into a lunch rut. You eat cream cheese waffles. I didn't think that cream cheese and jelly on a roll was too far of a leap.

I used to make Elizabeth turkey and cheese sandwiches until I ate lunch with her a few times and realized she took off the turkey (which deeply offended my "don't waste food" sensibilities) so then I started just sending her with plain cheese sandwiches. I don't know WHAT prompted that wild and crazy cream cheese sandwich idea. Maybe I need more sleep. Maybe I've been inhaling too much blooming honeysuckle. Maybe our trip to New Orleans last weekend had me all inspired to think outside the culinary box. Whatever it was, my kids clearly want it to go away. So tomorrow, it's back to The Jacob (peanut butter sandwich) and The Elizabeth (cheese sandwich).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scolded by the lunch lady

I did "teacher time out" at Jacob's school today. That is, I took Jacob's class to the cafeteria for lunch so his teacher could get a break. It started out well enough. I talked with one of Jacob's friends about The Hunger Games. Another kid and I chatted about how much we like cheese. Jacob told me to stop eating his goldfish. Just a regular fun lunch with the class. I noticed that the noise level seemed to be rising, but I figured that was just normal for three classes of 9 and 10 year olds - but then Jacob said: "Mom. It's getting too loud. She's looking at us. Do something or she will make it a quiet lunch!!!" So I tried: "Hey guys. Let's just lower our voices a bit. Okay? You can talk. Just keep it down. Okay? Great!" But they pretty much kept right on talking at the same volume, and then it happened:

"Boys and girls!! It is VERY loud in here! It sounds like there are TWICE as many children in the room as there actually are. This is your warning. If I have to talk to you again . . . we will have a quiet lunch." {collective gasp} Then this lady looked directly at our table and pointed, and I SWEAR she made eye contact with me, and said: "THAT table! Boys, I KNOW you are being loud because I can HEAR your loud voices."

Doh! I have one job to do - get these kids to the cafeteria and back without losing any of them and without getting hit with a quiet lunch (well I guess that's technically three jobs) and I'm failing spectacularly!! And then the flashbacks began, and I was magically transported back 30 years, where the Community School lunch lady was back in my face saying "I think I may need to call you Chatty Cathy." Then I heard Jacob rattling in my ear: "See mom? I told you! I told you!"

After the warning, everyone was quiet for like a minute and then started to get loud again. I asked Jacob: "how often do you have a quiet lunch?" and he said "oh, AT LEAST once a week." And suddenly I was filled with a steely determination. I looked him in the eye and said "Not on my watch."

I knew I had to take control of the situation or forever live with the shame of getting hit with a quiet lunch on my shift. I decided to first try the "take pity on the poor mom" approach: "Guys? Guys! Dude. What's your name? Aiden? Okay look, Aiden. It's really embarrassing if the class gets a quiet lunch when you're the teacher time out. Help a mom out here, okay? You can talk, just don't yell. Please? Thank you."

I asked Jacob how much time was left. Fifteen minutes!! Thankfully, at that point a bunch of them had to go to the bathroom, which presented its own set of complications (school-wide buddy system for boys after the rogue "pee on the floor" incident; not exactly sure how many of them I was allowed release at once, etc.) but the upshot of that was that there were less of them there to make noise, and we were able to run out the clock.

When we got back to the classroom, Jacob's teacher asked how it went. I said "it went great! We got a warning, but we avoided the quiet lunch." She said "awesome job!" I think I could have said "we burned down the kitchen" and she would have told me I did an awesome job, given that she just got to have lunch in peace.

Once again, I am in complete awe of good teachers.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gwyneth to the rescue!

Gwyneth Paltrow's Quick Recipe for Busy Moms - Quail Egg Pasta with Black Truffles:

Read it here.

I'm pretty sure that this is Gwyneth's April Fool's joke, even though she posted this late on March 31, but it really doesn't sound all that different from anything that Gwyneth says. Which just makes it all the more awesome.