28 July 2009

Something To Consider, Mr. President

Dear President Obama,

First of all, congratulations on your official birth certificate record. Now that it’s been proven you were born in Hawaii, all those dumbasses who claimed you were illegal can shut the hell up.

Second, your plan for Universal Health Care? Let me say that I fully support it. I mean, after all, I already pay high premiums for who-knows-what, so I’d rather not be deceived about who exactly I’m paying for.

However, I do feel you’re trying to change too much at one time. I know, I know, Mr. President, that’s what we elected you for, but you know how the good ol’ boys in Washington are – change comes slowly, if even at all. Please allow me to propose baby steps, and one that would certainly be worthy of Congress’s attention.

Universal Facial Care

You see, I just visited my local salon today to get a facial. Mr. President, this is only the second time in my thirty-some years that I’ve had this done. And I have no idea why this is. Most people associate facials with that guy from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, freaks, and women – that last one definitely being the case for the small Iowa town I live in. There is such a thing as a “man facial”, something most guys around here would never, ever consider doing. After all, they might like it. This is truly too bad.

I would only like a moment further of your attention while I describe to you the “facial buffet”. These steps below make up the “European” facial, and let me say, those Europeans sure got it right.

1. Make up removal cream
2. Hot towel
3. Round one moisturizer
4. Hot towel
5. Exfoliating scrub
6. Scalp massage – seriously, Mr. President, I went comatose for several blissful minutes during this one
7. Hot towel
8. Round two moisturizer – a nice little hairline massage during this one
9. Hot towel
10. Mask and cucumber slices (at least, I think they were)
11. Upper arm, shoulder, and neck massage – I may have flatlined here
12. Hot towel
13. Final moisturizer

This whole appointment took an hour, and I emerged like the proverbial butterfly. I greeted the world with a relaxed, genuine smile. Nothing or no one could faze me. I felt empowered! Imagine, Mr. President, doing a round of facials before a UN Council meeting or peace negotiations in the Middle East – I don’t think I need to explicit; I'm sure you probably understand my point here. Facials would be a ginormous step towards world peace. Not to mention United States peace. Who knows? Crime rate may go down!

If it’s hard for you to accept the idea of Free Facial Care for All, then consider, at the very least, your legacy. I mean, yeah, you’re the first Black president, but beyond that? Sure, there’s a White House press secretary, fitness trainer, chef, etc., but a White House Esthetician? That would definitely be a first. Michelle, Sasha, and Malia would thank you for it.

27 July 2009

Saturday's Alright For Fighting...

a raccoon.

This last weekend was a great one to pack up and get out of town for some sun, swimming, and sleeping in campers.

Captain and Mrs. Tiki, Kimba, and the Nelson clan trekked south to the lake Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Highlights include:

1.Good wood.
2.A very nice site, where an expanse of green opened up to a beautiful view of the south end of the lake.
3.Warm lake water, a sufficient beach, and three weird slimy, jellish egg sac/frog spawn bags.
4.An emergency scrub down after a potential roll in poison ivy by Elliot.
5.A much-needed nap by all members of the Nelson family.
6.Mrs. Tiki’s mom brought all kinds of veg and meat, which we made up into our own foil packets – YUM!
7.Birthday cake, as the Captain turns 31 this week.
8.A near-sunset boat ride, during which Spencer chanted/sang to himself the whole way.
9.Excellent campfire conversation – one topic being this question: What literary character would you like to be?

Answers included: Brent – the dad from Swiss Family Robinson; Kimba – Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, so she could brood. It is possible she was kidding, but it stuck.; Captain – Gandalf from Lord of the Rings; Me – Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice; and Mrs. Tiki - Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter books.

Note: Not that this is terribly important or fascinating to you readers, but it comes into play later.

10.A Sunday morning consisting of hot dogs and cheddar wursts after the two men (one of them being the cook) showed up from fishing way later than they meant.

But perhaps the most exciting incident to occur was the raccoon episode alluded to at the beginning of this entry.

It was past nine o’ clock, and the sliver of crescent moon was hanging in the sky. The campfire was bright, and the conversation flowing. Raccoons had frequented the campsite last night, and the first sign they’d be back was the skittering sound of paws on wood sometime close to the eleven o’clock hour. Training all our flashlights on the sound, we spun to see a large coon nearly atop our picnic table, attempting to feast on the s’mores remnants there. After a few seconds, it ran off. However, this was a bold, brazen breed of coon…he was back within minutes. It was roughly at this time that Brent had the idea to go coon hunting. He picked up the fire stick, and held it javelin-like as he advanced on the animal. If you’re having trouble picturing this, think of cavemen who seek out food…bent arm raised in front of them, other arm lifted high with a menacing spear in their hands…all this while they grunt meaningful messages to each other.

Anyway, I am not in a position to see much of Brent’s advancement, but both Brent and the Captain are getting close, and the raccoon isn’t moving. Pretty soon these four words rent the quiet night air.

“Are you shitting me?”

These words are uttered by my husband – not at how huge the coon is, but at how the raccoon is NOT fleeing. Brent understands RIGHT NOW that he very well might have to take this thing down – something he had not really intended on doing. Kimba, Mrs. Tiki, and myself begin laughing hysterically, because as if the words were not funny enough, now we see the image of long-legged Brent, javelin raised, sprinting towards the now-retreating coon, bent on destruction. A little too late, as the coon got away.

The whole incident then morphed into a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, as Brent now begins collecting rocks. His plan now consists of a rock “ranged” attack, and Captain will take over the melee combat. I jokingly ask Brent if he wants me to cast a fireball, and Mrs. Tiki says she’ll heal the party. Of course, it is mentioned at one point that if the Captain were indeed Gandalf like he’d mentioned earlier, this whole raccoon-killing thing would be totally pointless.

Lots of laughing and reenactments ensued until bedtime.

Number of food traditions: Three (walking tacos, hot dogs/chips, grilled packets)
Number of really sunburnt people: Two
Number of raccoons who survived the weekend: One
Number of times “Are you shitting me?” was said: Dozens!
Number of apple pie casualties: Almost one
Number of birthdays celebrated: One

16 July 2009

A Totally Impartial Review of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

And you know I’m not a professional, so you can count on completely unbiased reporting.

First off, the more time you’ve put between reading the sixth book and watching the sixth movie, the better. Then, when you watch the movie, you won’t remember if there was a scene in the book in which the Weasleys’ home is burned to the ground by a group of Death Eaters or not. Hopefully you won’t recall the gaggety gag way Harry and Ginny get together in the movie, as opposed to the carefully crafted, subtle way Rowling does it in the book.

But, anyway. On with the impartial portion of this review.

As you watch the movie, remember: the book and movie are separate. In fact, repeat this to yourself several times. Convincing oneself of this fact is about the only way bibliophiles like myself keep from ripping the armrests out in sheer disgust.

The movie does not start with the scene at Spinner’s End, with the Unbreakable Oath between Narcissa Malfoy and Snape, as it does in the book. Instead, after some cool footage of Death Eaters wreaking mayhem on the Muggle world, it cuts to Harry reading the Daily Prophet in a Muggle diner.


Doesn’t this violate one of the main precepts of the whole Potter series? That Muggles have no clue what’s happening in the Wizard world, and in fact, a Ministry of Magic is in place to prevent stupidly innocuous things like a wizard reading a moving-photograph paper in a Muggle restaurant? In plain view of several Muggles?

To continue in this vein, there is then an inane conversation between Harry and a young Muggle waitress, who obviously likes him. It appears they will hook up later (she gets off at eleven), when Harry spots Dumbledore. Rather quickly and cruelly, the poor Muggle waitress is abandoned...and now the book and movie can finally dovetail at this point with the visit to Horace Slughorn. But, I ask you, what was the point of the abandoned Muggle would-be girlfriend? To be honest, it cheapens Harry and Ginny’s relationship later on…to know that Harry was almost mackin’ on some inconsequential Muggle waitress who had no clue who that “tosser Harry Potter” was. I felt dirty.

Anyway, Jim Broadbent plays Slughorn, and rather well, I must say. Jim’s been a favorite of mine since “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, and while he doesn’t have the poundage I imagined Slughorn to have, he certainly fits the goofy, semi out-of-touch bill.

Frankly, the movie does a great job of dicing and splicing the sort-of-important scenes, while keeping the relative integrity of the important ones, the key one being Harry and Dumbledore’s adventure in the cave/potion/Inferi. However, as with nearly every book-to-film project, the director felt the need to insert several stupid items that had no purpose. He butchered one of my favorite parts of the sixth book and turned it into a Nicholas Sparks novel!

Let’s just make a list here of things everyone knows:

1. Fruits and vegetables are good for you.
2. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
3. Ginny Weasley has been in love with Harry Potter forever, but she does not do ridiculous things like tie Harry’s shoelaces, offer him a plate of some dumb English finger food, attempt to get intimate with him while wearing a bathrobe, or chase him into a wheat field, or many of the other cheesy things she said or did throughout the movie. HE came to HER, OK? SHE did not chase HIM like an idiot.


Speaking of love relationships, the Ron Weasley-Lavender Brown portrayal was spot on. Both actors did an adequate job of being sickeningly sweet and disgusting when appropriate. The young lady that played Lavender had superb facial expressions, and I honestly looked forward to her entrances. How many other minor characters can you say that about? Another excellent piece of work was the downward spiral of Draco Malfoy. Blissfully, the director did not spend too much time on the development of Draco’s dilemma with superfluous dialogue or action, but his journey into "The Dark Lord's Servant Hell" was well-documented by subtle makeup, short pensive shots, even shorter conversations with Potter and Snape, and dead brilliant twitching by Tom Felton.

So, yeah, go see it. Or don’t. It’s got everything you’d expect: love, special effects, blood, Dumbledore’s beard, a freaky-looking young Tom Riddle, and a cool room-rearranging sequence courtesy of Slughorn and Dumbledore. Just be ready for some of the other crap too.

12 July 2009

Age Really Is More Than a Number

So. One of the most comforting things, to me, about being Pagan is our view of life and death. Death is a part of the cycle, and helps to sustain life. When I became accepting of that basic tenet, I became less scared of dying.

But...I admit, as much as I don't fear death, I am scared to death (pun intended) of getting old. I'm scared of losing my body functions, I'm scared of not being able to do things I've done for all my life, and I'm scared of sitting around, waiting for others to help me.

For example, I took my mom to the eye doctor today so she could have her eyes dilated. Turns out she's got cataracts (she's 55), and believe me when I say she was the youngest person in that waiting room. This particular doc only visits this neck of the woods once a month, so naturally you can imagine the place was packed with patients who were there to have the exact same thing done as my mom.

Again, my mom was the youngster of the group. So, there were a lot of walking canes, wheelchairs, and breathing equipment. Now you all know that my natural tendency here would be to tell this story light-heartedly, but I'm finding that I cannot treat this subject humorously at all. I'll ask that you humor me and my dark rambling a bit.

I spent nearly four hours today surrounded by frail, dependent elderly people and I am just depressed as hell. It is not distate for old people that I am expressing...and I certainly don't mean to sound disrespectful towards my elders. But, I got a long, hard look at my mother's future...and mine as well. That's going to be me someday, sitting in a disinfected, quiet-as-death waiting room, depending on some young scamp of a doctor to call my name and tell me how he's going to help me. I'm sure he'll be kind and Hippocrates-esque, but deep down I'll know that this is just the beginning. I'll be sitting in another waiting room soon, waiting for another doctor to give me another prognosis to something else that's wrong with my body. And then, sure enough, as I walk out of that doctor's office, I'll be depending on somebody, husband or child, to drive me home or get my medication or set up my next doctor's visit.

And then, see, my quality of life depends on doctors. They name my maladies, give me medicines, perform my surgeries...so that I can live longer and experience more of the aches and pains of growing old. It's quite ironic, actually.

And it's all a part of the cycle. It happens to everyone. I'm fine with the end result...I've reconciled myself to dying. I haven't quite come to terms with the way that I'll get there. I may never.

01 July 2009

Culture Club!

Newly Discovered Gem #33: Small town live music concerts, usually located at the town square/bandstand/city park.

Tonight was truly a scene reminiscent of old Americana. Young and old, rich and poor...dozens of people gathered tonight at our town's square. Every Thursday, the community band provides a free concert for all.

Tonight was the first time in my life that I attended. To make this more sadly poignant, let me remind you that this is my hometown. Out of 35 years, I have lived here for 23. And yet, here I was, a Thursday-night-concert virgin.

But, oh, make no mistake. I will be back. In addition to a nice night out, live music, blankets on the grass, the content sound of children scampering on the lawn, three local businesses provided refreshment. Popcorn from the bank, shaved, flavored ice from the drugstore, lemonade in bottles from the real estate place - ALL FREE!

Just another reason why I love summer.