Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... Fun with Leprechauns

Some of my favorite horror movies are the inadvertently funny ones. Leprechaun, a 1993 release, certainly isn't presented as a comedy, but the first time I saw it I laughed so hard I had to check my pants.

It stars a very young Jennifer Aniston, whose character and her dad move into an old home. Unbeknown to them (because in the movies no one ever does a home inspection), the basement contains a VERY angry 600-year-old leprechaun. Said leprechaun, whom I shall call "Lep" for convenience, had his gold stolen back in Ireland. He followed the thief to America to retrieve his stash but the thief managed to lock him into a crate. The only thing that keeps him in this crate is a wee lil' four-leaf clover that repels him.

You still following me? Good. Then young Jennifer meets a local hunk/love interest. Also, there is a cute little brother and another young boy who happens to be kind of slow. The slow kid accidentally releases old Lep and all hell breaks loose!

A whole bunch of stuff happens that I won't detail. Let's just say that Lep goes on a killing and maiming spree to retrieve his gold, whacking people in the knees (because he's short, right?) or worse and crying, "Give me my gold!" My favorite scene is when Jennifer and the hunk, in a pickup truck going top speed, are desperately trying to escape from Lep, who is hotly pursuing them ... on a tricycle.

(Excuse me for a moment while I wipe my tears. Okay, better now.)

I highly recommend that you view Leprechaun, especially to celebrate Halloween or St. Patrick's Day. Sadly I cannot recommend its four sequels, especially the last one, Leprechaun in the Hood. Maybe I'm being nit-picky, but magical mythical creatures and gangstahs are not a palatable combo. Even if the cast includes Ice-T and Coolio.

Give me my gold! I'm going to say that all day today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Whassup? 8 Years Later

In the 2000, the Budweiser "Whassup?" guys made their commercial debut. The ad spot (in which a bunch of guys kept yelling "Whassup?" into their phones) was widely parodied in songs, comedy skits and other ads. Everyone and his grandmother began using that phrase.

Personally, I found the "Whassup?" craze annoying and stupid, so when this new version (above) showed up, my initial reaction was to skip it altogether. But I force myself to watch train wrecks on TV, so I forced myself to watch the video. And I'm so glad I did.

Finally, something I really can say "Whassup?" to, and really mean it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... Math Mysteries

In school they put me in a lot of advanced math classes. Don't hate me for that, because I detested math. It was like reaching Dante's Ninth Circle of Hell and finding it filled with numbers, graphs and polygons.

For some mysterious reason, I always scored well on math aptitude tests. Then I would find myself sitting in an advanced class, spending many enjoyable hours reading Judy Blume paperbacks tucked inside my textbook. Whenever the teacher called on me for an answer, my reply was something usually something like, "Um ... What page is that on?"

In one of life's ironic twists, I have a child who is not only good at math but actually likes it. A sixth-grader who is getting A's in an eight-grade math class. I'm proud but not a little befuddled. It's like a Republican giving birth to a social worker.

On the rare occasion my son asks me for math help, it becomes quite an amusing and pathetic adventure. I can remember past teen idols' siblings' names (Kristy and Jimmy McNichol! Leif and Dawn Garrett!) but for the life of me, I can't recall how to find the area of a triangle. I did okay when he was younger, but now that the math has gotten more sophisticated, I've decided to take the psychologist-couch approach to helping him:

"Hmmm," I mutter in a non-judgemental tone, "this is interesting. How do YOU think you should figure this out?"

"What have you been doing to solve this and why has or hasn't it worked?"

"Do you think you should call Brandon (fellow math genius buddy)?"

And damn if that kid doesn't end up figuring it out on his own! Maybe I really iz a genius....

Chart from

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today's Ha-Ha

Since it's Tuesday and I wish it were Friday, I have to share this short but funny video with you. I know that it doesn't meet up with my usual sophisticated standards of humor (yes, I'm joking) but sometimes it doesn't take much to make my day.

Also, as you can see, I'm easily amused.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday: Comic Covers Rule!

I can't be bothered giving out free straitjackets today because robots are ruling the Earth and going after our women! And they're, um, kind of hot, too, if you just focus on their torsos.

I LOVE comic book and especially their covers. Sometimes I'll head over to the comics rack at bookstores with my kids. While they peruse the inside contents, I'll check out every little detail on the covers, especially if they feature Captain America's pecs. Just for accuracy, of course.

If you visit the Institute of Official Cheer, you'll find a lot of bad comic book covers, funny old ads and old Sears catalog pages featuring the ugly fashions we used to covet. They're a fascinating snapshot of what Americans were thinking of back in the day. Worried about the A-bomb? Put it in a comic book. Excited about new fabric technology? It's available in a polyester double-knit dress, with your choice of busy patterns.

Visiting the Institute of Official Cheer is always a hoot and the comics pages are my favorite. Here are some that I especially enjoy. Hope you'll like them, too!

But just crouch under your school desk and all will be fine. Really.

Because every nurse, when she's not working a double shift and dealing with the bloody aftermath of gang shootings, should take the time to fluff up her hair and put on a little lipstick. Just in case that handsome, straight doctor comes calling.

This totally explains one or two boyfriends I've had.

Um ... speechless.

Between this, the Beverly Hillbillies and the civil-rights movement, it was probably not a good time to be eating at the Waffle House.

All images from

The Nutcracker and Wieners

As far as I'm concerned, the holidays are here, because I've just ordered our family tickets to this year's production of The Nutcracker, performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet in McCaw Hall in Seattle.

I first saw this production when my husband and I were dating. We sat in the nosebleed seats (the only seats we could afford then) but still got an amazing view. Halfway through the production, he turned to me and asked, "When do they start talking?" It was then that I realized the poor guy had never attended a ballet before. I married him anyway.

There are many version of The Nutcracker performed in the Puget Sound area, but the PNB version is considered the gold standard. Set in a beautiful venue that also houses the Seattle Opera, this is a lavish production that began in 1983 with a set designed by Maurice Sendak, best known for his children's books such as Where the Wild Things Are. Attending this production has become an annual tradition for many families.

This will be my kids' first time at the PNB version. Two years ago I took them to another version performed by a smaller ballet company at a old local high school auditorium. The music was canned and the venue left a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, it was a beautifully done version and my daughter, who was five then, sat mesmerized the entire time. My son, who was nine, said it was "good" but wished for more sword-fighting action between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I think he'll enjoy the PNB's more theatrical version. My husband enjoyed it and knew not to expect any dialogue.

(On a crude and comic note, we sat in the front row and got a VERY close-up look at the dancers, including a view of the Nutcracker's groin area, which was apparent even under his tights. For days after that, my daughter, goaded on by her brother, would announce, "My favorite part was the wiener!" Ah, the memories she'll be able to share with her own kids.)

Anyway, I have made the mistake of telling my daughter that I ordered tickets to The Nutcracker, because she has now begun the "How many more days until...?" game. She's very excited and so am I.

But it's not all good news. I don't have the heart to tell her that our seats are farther from the stage this time so there will be no looking at anyone's "wieners." Oh, well, time to make some new memories.
Photo from

Friday, October 10, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... Fun With Pumpkins

When I see a pumpkin I either want to cook it or carve a smiley face into it. Or a sad face. That's the extent of my pumpkin creativity.

Fortunately, other people look at a pumpkin and imagine a puking person or their neighbor mooning them. That, my friends, is a real talent.

Here are some of my favorite examples culled from the Internet.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?

If you're not a Project Runway fan (and why the heck not?) you may not be familiar with Laura Bennett, season three finalist, mother of six and style/parenting icon. When I grow up I want to be just like her.

I try to keep in mind that I shouldn't idolize her because the woman has money, nannies, a fabulous New York city apartment and at least one Martha-worthy country home. Still, she does have six kids, which I think balances everything out.

Today she has a hilarious article on The Daily Beast ( titled, "Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?" She describes her hands-off parenting style (lets her kids eat chemical junk, buys them go-carts and doesn't know where their classrooms are) and even attributes it to a genetic disposition to laissez-faire parenting.

I love it because I am descended from an overprotective mom. She never allowed me out to play with neighbor kids (they were too rough) or join a sport (in case I got injured and possibly paralyzed for life) or go to friends' homes (should any family members living there possess hidden criminal records). I think I was finally allowed to cross the street by myself during seventh grade.

That's the family legacy I've been handed and it's one I'm trying to break. I think I'm making an admirable effort and it helps that my husband grew up in one of those homes where kids were allowed to roam outdoors all day and just return for meals.

I'm also trying hard not to be a helicopter parent at school. While I do volunteer with my kids' classrooms and know their teachers, I try not to hover around the schoolyard or obsess over their homework and friends. Our schools have enough neurotic parents; they don't need me to join their ranks.

Several years ago, on the first day of school, my friend Adrienne and I kissed our kindergartners, watched them march into class, left the weeping moms and went shopping. We might have left tire tracks in the school parking lot in our haste to get out of there.

There was another time a group of us moms decide to celebrate the kids' return to school by canoeing out to a small island with contraband margarita-fixings and snacks, only to find a work-party of prison inmates already there. We still had a splendid time.

So there is hope for me!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Berry Good Monday

It's Monday morning and all is well. The kids got off to school without any drama; I got in a workout and am feeling good; the leaves are turning into beautiful golds and reds; and my dog appears to be done shedding all over the house.

Most importantly, I have a blueberry crisp waiting in my kitchen.

This summer we went to a nearby U-Pick blueberry farm and managed to come away with nearly 14 pounds of the good stuff. Some of it we ate while the others got bagged and frozen, just waiting to make their appearances throughout the rest of the year in pancakes, muffins, crisps and pies.

Yesterday when I reached into my freezer for a bag of blueberries to make a crisp, I was shocked to learn that it was THE LAST BAG. Damn, we should have gone to the blueberry farm again before it closed for the season. Now we'll have to buy it frozen until next summer.

Regardless, my blueberry crisp turned out very well and it's now calling my name, along with its partner, vanilla ice cream. So I leave you, but not before posting a photo of a blueberry pie I made this summer using the same batch of berries we had picked. My desserts may not look pretty, but believe me, they are scrumptious!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... What We Hear ...

... is not always what we comprehend. And a free straitjacket doesn't always help to clarify things (but go ahead and take one if you wish).

Case in point: My friend Peggy tells of Son #1 being allowed to go to the driving range with cousin Kelly while the Son #2 didn't get to go and threw a fit. The next day, Son #1 tells his brother that he had gotten to hit golf balls at the driving range.

Says Son #2, "Oh, I thought it was somewhere you got to drive go-carts."

Responds Son #1, "Yeah, I thought we were going to watch Kelly practice driving."

I love stories like this. So far, my favorite one involves one of my younger sisters whom we refer to as the Natural Blond, even though she's a brunette. She lived with us during part of her high school years and provided many moments of unintentional mirth.

My favorite was when I went to a plant nursery and then came home.

Natural Blond: "Where'd you go?"

Moi: "I went to a nursery."

Natural Blond (screwing up face in distaste): "Why would you want to visit old people?"

And that, my friend, is Free Straitjacket Friday. Have some coffee and donuts from the refreshment table and have a great day!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dazed and Confused

It's October already? Really? Where have I been?

Does time pass quicker the older you get or does it just seem that way? When I was a kid, it seemed as if Halloween and Christmas would never come, but now I find myself looking at the calendar and realizing that Halloween is in a few weeks and we better get on the ball with costumes.

Both my kids were pumpkins their first Halloween, which was perfect because, as most pumpkins go, they just sat there and looked confused. Now Miss Thang (age 7) wants to be a hula girl, which is simple enough, since we can just get the "grass" skirt and coconut bra from a costume shop. Pubescent Rocker (age 11) is trying to decide between Al Gore or Stephen Colbert. Last year he was Dick Cheney and carried a pitchfork.

I admire his political-statement aspirations, but getting a costume together sure was easier when he wanted to be a skeleton or clown.

Image: Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Oxford University Press, U.K.