DC Calling

Generally, I’m a Marvel girl. It’s nothing personal, really, I just find the cast of characters more interesting. The lynchpin has always been the DC cornerstones of Superman and Batman–Superman with his super irritating clean-cut incessant goody-two shoes bumbling and butt chin (I HATE a ridiculous cartoon cleft chin cliche throwback to 1950’s Cary Grantism) and Batman’s Mary Poppins belt of bottomless implausible one-trick devices coupled with the world’s least sensical costuming choice. BUT. . . I’ve been turning over a new leaf.

My kid got me watching The Arrow on Netflix about a month ago and I like it. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t changed my life or my comic realm religion or anything, but it rolled in like a wave and filled a lull that had developed in my entertainment life. It helped me make it through the grey of January when I was forced to run on the dreadmill and was a delightful weekend binge when I was snowed in. It turns out that The Arrow was a gateway series and I am about to ride out the rest of the winter stealing away quiet moments to sit alone in a corner with my iPad sneaking in The Flash (Oh, Barry, you hot derpy thing!!!) then again, Marvel DID just pipe in with badass Jessica Jones. . . . decisions, decisions.

image

The universe doesn’t want to stop pushing, it seems, and when I was at Costco last, the new 1000 piece jigsaws were all DC cover art so I bought a pack with one vintage Superman and one Batman. As far as I’m concerned, in the dead of winter, when you don’t want to put on lipstick and brave the frigid and when your couch beckons, a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is pretty much the most fun to be had with your clothes on.  A vintage comic book one? Heavenly.

image

Aaaaaaaah, Thursday night. Cocoa and almost infinite butt chins.

To top off the ceaseless morningwood back poking of the DC Universe, last evening, while waiting for Deadpool to start in the theater, I was blasted with the trailer for the new Suicide Squad movie coming out in August. Suicide. Squad. Movie. With Will Smith as Deadshot, people. I was planning to toodle around Europe somewhere with my kids for the month of August, but now I have some serious decisions to make.

To conclude–fine, DC, FINE. I’ll like you, too.

Posted in confessions of the Weird and Unashamed, Just Being Me, Popcorn and Junior Mints | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Affair Continues

For anyone who is following the progress of my affair with Shuffle, I wanted to let you know that he is in full Valentine week woo. Saturday, when faced with the grueling task of completing my long run on the dreadmill, he showed up with the musical equivalent of my favorite flowers. This is beyond a feat–my favorite flowers are Peonies and orange blossoms–rare and American exotic, extremely hard to buy.

 

image

One by one, he flung musical gems at my feet–Scott H Biram, Spoon, The Thompson Twins. . . he reved me up with some White Stripes and flipped the switch right to a little Ray Charles then twisted it in a little with a Roger Miller to Social Distortion to Yellow Card mix up. Seven miles flew by. Really, they didn’t, but they were at least bearable. There were even a couple of times when his surprising song gifts made me bark out a loud laugh or shout out a chorus–my son came to check that I hadn’t fallen off the treadmill, no, I was singing along, not crying out in agony.

image

I swear, he way laying it on so well Saturday, I was more than a little worried about today. I needed to squish six miles into a crowded schedule and, on top of having caught a serious case of the ennui, there was another inch of snow on the ground this morning so I had to run inside AGAIN.

image

Mortified, I grudgingly put my shoes on and pushed “start.” I was SO sure that he would be yet another disappointment in this day that I queued up season three of Arrow on Netflix as back up. I would rather run to music, but when bad music happens, it ruins my workout mojo faster than a shin splint so I have to plan for all eventualities. . . and. . . it was a pound of Neuhaus Chocolate truffles wrapped in vintage paper and topped with a stack of bars from Rogue Chocolatiers in Three Rivers. Warming me up with Drew Holcom’s American Beauty, he made me smile. Then, the second I upped the ante on speed, he matched me beat for beat with Cowboy Mouth, Eminem and Ryan Bingham. When I started to wane and glance at the clock (The trouble with treadmill running is that, you really can quit at any time. If you are on the road, you still have to get home so you might as well finish up.) he sprinkled me with Aretha, The Waitresses and Phoenix. Just when I thought I would pretend to pee then hang it up, he kept me to my goal with Muse covering Nina Simone, Incubus and the Hives. . . . and it was all sooooooo smoooooooth.

image

While I desperately love my husband, I must say, I AM enjoying this little flirtation with an electronic device.

Posted in confessions of the Weird and Unashamed, Run Pam Run | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Run Playlist and My New Affair (Bad Words)

Alright. I’m saying it out loud. In writing. I. Was. Wrong.

I have MF’d the iTunes Genius (or lack thereof) and the “random” shuffle feature on my Big Brother Apple devices for years. I mean, NOBODY can design a playlist like me. Especially a running playlist (look at the modesty on Pam, people). I organize all music libraries by beats per minute, then by general mood, then genre, and then alphabetically. I can tell you, when a song comes on the radio, whether it is a seven minute mile or a ten minute mile tempo and practically anything in between (not any faster, because if you run faster than a 7 minute mile, I think you should die a painful Two the Hard Way/Playing with Fire death of a million terrible songs). I can write a playlist so that you grin hilariously through 26.2 miles of shit eating hell in the cold rain and make all other runners think you have eaten Gu laced with Ex. And someone else picking my music is my own private hell.

image

Today, I ventured outside. I’ve been limp d*cking my way through a half marathon training program on the treadmill I keep in a cupboard across from the guest room and, while I’ve been technically clocking the miles while I binge watch Arrow on Netflix (don’t start, you know that derpy is my kryptonite), I’ve been just that–technically clocking miles.

image

I’m hooking up with some of my favorite people on the planet in May to run together and I know that they’ve been actually mindfully training. And I’ve been a lurp, so I needed to get out and see what the old legs could do when faced with mud and, gulp, fresh air. I procrastinated for so long this morning–actually drove to the airport to get fingerprinted by TSA which was some award winning Heisman arming–that I finally had to grab my Shuffle, slip on some shoes and run out the door before I lost my nerve.

When I got to the Reservoir, I hit ‘play’ only to discover that I was not carrying my running Shuffle but a ‘travel’ Shuffle that I use to transport music and drown out people who have the nerve to sit next to me on airplanes. It’s fair to say that there were a few random curse-style flare ups as I skipped the first few songs trying to get into a groove and then, something happened, I pushed the tiny lever (c’mon Apple, that lever is as hard to operate as a frigid girl’s clit) to ‘shuffle’ and the most amazing thing happened–shuffle rocked my world.

I was hesitant to get excited at first, you know, like when your sibling is being TOO nice to you, you sort of just know something is up? During the first three songs I just tilted my head like the RCA Nipper–I was intrigued, amused, but reticent. But by the time I hit mile two, I knew that the son of a bitch was really working it for me. Years of silent treatment had made him WANT to impress me. Shuffle–that old so and so–was COURTING ME!!! I would have skipped and done a little Phoebe run (my typical celebration of an awesome run song), but I spied a hill on the horizon and I knew that our burgeoning relationship was about to be tested. It’s about here, on a typical playlist, where I would have put a giggle song–a tune that is just so randomly happy that you forget about the whiny bitch inside of you telling you to walk for a while, no one will notice. Truly, a ditty. I braced myself for the eventual disappointment–and the hill–and waved the fingers of my shootin’ hand over the device at my hip, prepared to pull the trigger in a high noon shootout of music veto, and then I heard it. John Lee Freaking Hooker. Three minutes of blues guitar and alto heaven. . . Boom Boom Boom Boom. . . My new boyfriend, Shuff, John Lee and I kicked that hills buttocks!

image

My run progressed with amazing and thoughtful surprises–jumping from the Dead Milkmen to The Pistol Annies, answering my laugh with some Kidney Thieves from the Queen of the Dead soundtrack and then soothing me into Spiderbait with a touch of AWOLNATION. Shuff threw me a little Hugo and a random Trey Songz then punctuated it with a smidge of Local H. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more delightful, he threw OK Go covering the Muppet Show theme song at me and then pushed through a little Cake (because who doesn’t love Cake, right?) before Audioslaving me to the finish line. I gotta tell you, I was seriously considering giving Shuff a serious go at a relationship with me then I stepped off the trail, stopped my Garmin and started walking back to the car. . . and he played me a little Otis. Now, I know that if he asks me to leave my husband and join a cult, I’ll probably say, “yes.” I can NEVER resist a little Otis. And a giant bottle of ice water.

image

Posted in confessions of the Weird and Unashamed, Just Being Me, Run Pam Run, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cereal Killer

When I was a child, cereal was an integral part of my life. Assured by advertisers that it was “part of a balanced breakfast,” (I guess I assumed that the remaining parts were hidden in the milk and under the snooze button) cereal was always a very respectable start to my day. I’m pretty sure that my desire to read the backs of cereal boxes drove my early reading (do you think that I could sue General Mills for causing my book addiction?).

In the years between adolescence and adulthood, cereal turned into an embarrassing awkward holdover–like the Raggedy Ann doll I refuse to throw away. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line, it became inappropriate for me, as an adult, to sit down at the kitchen table and eat a bowl of cereal with milk. Sometimes, I find myself hunched over the sink scarfing it down without breath like a lactose tolerant asthmatic in a morning rush, loitering in the pantry stealing it dry from the box deluding myself into skipping the tracking of clandestine calories, under a blanket on the couch when nobody else is home like a bing-y couch eater, or late at night standing in the middle of the kitchen like a criminal trying to pour, soak and crunch as quietly as possible with eyes darting frequently to the doorway to make sure that I’m not found out.

Why has cereal become my secret shame? Are Honey Nut Cheerios really worth giving myself a panic attack? I’m hoping that admitting the problem here in public is the first step to my cereal and milk recovery. I hope that someday, I will feel comfortable enough to sit down with Frosted Mini Wheats and make peace. Until then, if you are a guest at my house, please announce your presence near the kitchen by loudly stomping in the hall. I might be, um, working on a project in there.

Posted in confessions of the Weird and Unashamed, Just Being Me | Leave a comment

Nostalgia

Today, I’m packing away the holidays. Yes, I’m a lazy ghit, I should have done it a week ago, but my family was off school and work and I just couldn’t bear to add finality to our tryst by tidying up the evidence.

We don’t do a lot, in terms of decorating the house, and since it’s just me and a bunch of practical to the point of curmudgeoney men, over the years the traditions have been slowly boiled down but, instead of being sad, I am increasingly impressed by my little family’s ability to separate the wheat from the chaff holiday style and concentrate on what is really important to us in a personal way.

We have a tree. When we lived in what I have come to know as the Wild West, we used to slay a tree together as a family. We would bundle up and hike miles through the snow until one of us was hungry, settle on a reasonably shaped evergreen, take turns stabbing at its trunk with a rusty little saw we used once a year for this purpose, bicker about who was going to drag it back to the car through the snow, argue about where we parked the car, then proudly strap it to the roof like a prize elk.  You know, a heartfelt and loving family holiday tradition!  Grandma and Grandpa lived LITERALLY over the river and through the woods so we would stop off for cocoa and then head home. In the civilized world where we now reside, trees can only be executed in the safety of tree farms where they grow in orderly rows and are trimmed into the romanticized triangular shape that we have been trained to associate with appropriate holiday spirit (personally, I feel that the rhombus shaped trees in the wild are more spirit filled). Faced with this lackluster slaughter fest, we opted to just purchase one this year. It’s fair to say that, given the emotional wet blanket that purchasing a tree at a Home Depot provides, I can understand why people buy a fake tree.

In our home, the children decorate the tree. Yes, all of it. Truth be told, it’s never well lit and there are only ornaments on the sides that show in the living room, but I really don’t care how my tree looks through the front window. In our hearts, every year, it is the most beautiful tree in the neighborhood.

After the lights have been strung, I sit on the floor near the tree and hand my sons the ornaments from a box and, one by one, we tell each other the stories behind the baubles as they hang them on the tree. When they were young, I told almost all of the stories–most of the ornaments were from before they were born, “Daddy and I bought this on our honeymoon. . . when we moved into our first house, I bought these with Grandma Pat. . . this is the year that you loved Elmo so much we knew that we would need to remember with an Elmo on the tree. . . ” and I loved it. I loved that my children would bustle around a tree listing to our family history dragging step stools around to make sure that the precious memories were hung high enough to be safe from dog’s tails. But now, I sit and listen while my children tell me the stories of our life, “Remember when we bought this in Venice, Mom and it was soooo hot and all of the signs that pointed to the bathroom went in a circle?. . .Oooh, these are from Amsterdam, remember when they talked about all the bicycles in the canals? . . . Ha! Look at me. What was I, 5? We handed this sweater down to Matt and Evan, didn’t we Mom?. . . MMM. Hershey Penn-do you think we should go back there this summer? The coasters were pretty good.” I am struck every year with the realization that, while they act like tough teenagers most of the time, they GET it, what their father and I are trying to do in raising them, and they LIKE it. They celebrate our family traditions in their own quiet, angsty way.

This year, something strange happened. Every year until now, we have hung our family keepsakes and a handful of traditional glass orbs, nutcrackers, and stars, but this year, every time I handed one of my sons a generic ornament, one that didn’t have a story, they handed it back and said, “Let’s do these last” but when the time came, they declared, instead, that the tree was “Perfect!” And they were right. Our tree tells the story of our lives together–of our travels and foibles, our obsessions and hobbies, having raised camera shy kids before there was a camera in every cell phone, I don’t have a lot of photos. But I do have our tree. And it is the most beautiful photo album I’ve ever seen. So you understand why I might not want to take it down, even though the needles are mixing with the dog hair on my living room floors in a constant reminder that I might be harboring a terrible fire hazard? My children are on the brink of adulthood and someday soon, I’ll lose them to their own trees and families so I wish that I could hold onto the magic of our memories together for just one more day.

Posted in Just Being Me, Mawaige is what bwings us togefah, Teenagers - one eye roll from certain death | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watched TV Today

Women in perfume ads look at perfume bottles the same way that I look at great food. Until they come up with a perfume that smells like steak, warm brownies and ice cold beer, you wont see me getting PG-13 with a cut glass bottle on national TV. Or rushing to Macy’s in this religio-economic catastrophe to purchase one to make out with in the privacy of my own bedroom. As you were.

Posted in confessions of the Weird and Unashamed, Just Being Me, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Playdate at Ralphie’s House

It’s easy to love A Christmas Story. Even if you don’t love Christmas, the movie speaks to either a childhood that you had or one that you longed for. An amazing blend of a uniquely American holiday experience, a coming of age tale, and a glimpse behind the curtain into a family dynamic that, once purposely bygone, is in an almost chronic state resurgence, the film has provided a laugh, a sigh and a nostalgic sympathetic moan for three decades of audiences. Is it odd, then, to hear that this film was almost never made? And that when it was released, it was not a box office success? Well, both of these stories are true. And maybe I’ll get to them in a minute, but first, let’s talk about why I’m really putting finger to keyboard to write to you today. . . THE HOUSE!!!!

image

Though the story takes place sometime between 1939 and 1943, A Christmas Story was filmed in 1982 so it is NOT, in fact, an OLD MOVIE (I tell my children this about so many movies made in the 80’s and 90’s that they have a practiced shared smirk dedicated solely to my idiocy on this subject–what is old). And the story and human characters are lovely, but the vintage setting of the movie is such an important diorama that I feel it’s fair to consider the town itself a “character” since it goes so much further than “setting” in this particular case. Filmed on location in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Canada, the steel yards, working class housing, school house, and department store are so much more than window dressing that they have procured a cult following among movie fans including Brian Jones, an entrepreneur producing leg lamps for sale on the internet to help ends meet when he discovered in 2005 that THE Christmas Story house was being auctioned on EBay. He bought the house sight unseen for $150,000.

image

When the new owner arrived, he found that the house (an actual family home, not a movie set) had been used as first a family home then converted to apartments at some point so the conversion back to “Ralphie’s House” took years and a whole lot of dinero (not to mention a fair bit of imagination since this house was used on a limited basis and for the exterior shots, but the interior scenes were actually filmed on a sound stage in Toronto). But now, not only has the house been restored to it’s appropriate midcentury glory, but also a museum dedicated to memorabilia from the original motion picture and a garage containing the Old Man’s car have been built across the street.

image

Here’s where I come in. . . YOU CAN VISIT THE HOUSE! It is now a museum and a hands on one at that. You can touch everything, lay down on the beds, dress up in bunny suits, caress the leg lamp, eat at the kitchen table, use the decoder pin, heck there are even bars of Lifebuoy soap and Red Rider BB Guns! This was one of my favorite roadside stops of all time. It costs $10 for the tour of the house and nearby museum, but it was money well spent. They are generous with time and folklore about the movie and characters. I learned a bunch of great stuff and I had an amazing time.

The movie is based on a series of short stories by Jean Shepherd originally published in Playboy and later as a book titled In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. Director Bob Clark heard Shepherd reading the stories on the car radio one evening and fell in love. Throughout his career, he tried to talk studios into letting him make the film, but he had been pigeonholed into the corny horror genre and couldn’t get execs to see him as an endearing holiday story teller. It was only because of the success of his film Porky’s that he gained the leverage he needed–the studio wanted Porky’s Revenge and he parlayed their interest in a second Porky’s into a small budget for A Christmas Story.

image

When released on Thanksgiving weekend in 1983, the original reception was lukewarm and the film had been pulled from theaters before the Christmas rush (Scarface and Carrie came out–nothing says Christmas like lots of blood, people). It wasn’t until the rights to the film were purchased by Warner Bros as part of a 50 film deal (it was pretty much thrown in for free so that they could make the 50 film number) and started being played on cable television that it became a beloved holiday tradition. And I couldn’t be happier.

Posted in confessions of the Weird and Unashamed, Just Being Me, Popcorn and Junior Mints, Travel, Weird America | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment