Tag Archives: movies

What I’m Into July/August 2013

Back-to-school outfits have been donned. Backpacks have been filled. First day butterflies have been calmed.

Summer is officially over.

Here’s a look back at a few of the things I was into this summer:

Activities

  • swimming with ALL the cousins
  • pretending I’m flying on the AtmosFear ride at Playland
  • playing Science World games with my big kids (especially Glen)
  • dandelion bouquets
  • flying kites and dancing with ribbons on the beach
  • rainbow sorbet
  • homemade burgers straight off the BBQ
  • being woken up on rare sleep-in days with enthusiastic hugs and screams of “Look! It’s Mama! Look! Mama’s here!”

Music

I kept Gang of Rhythm by Walk Off The Earth on repeat all summer. It’s catchy and whimsical and makes us all dance. Except for Glen.

Books

51kgV8bTDiL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is the first time I have strongly recommended a book I haven’t read all the way through. Not because I didn’t have time or didn’t want to, but because my heart just couldn’t take it. The main character Aminata feels so real and her story so sad and, worst of all, so true, that it wrecks me. This particular story of abduction and slavery is set many years ago, but is still happening all over the world. This book is beautifully written and a compelling read, if you can stand it.

My favourite light reading for summer was romance novels by Debbie Macomber. They are predictable, sappy and extraordinarily prolific, which doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but when it comes to mindless indulgence, it really is. I always know what I’m getting with one of these novels and I can finish it in a couple of hours. If you’re looking for something smut-free and easy to read, as opposed to great literature and deep thoughts, she’s your gal.

51KfyeRqnyL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_Hold Onto Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate has been on my shelf for a while. The title of this book is so alarmist. I wondered if it would be a whole lot of hand wringing and reactionary fear mongering. It is. But it’s also full of good advice and psychologically sound insights. Every time and culture has its weaknesses – this book deals with one of ours: peer orientation and parental alienation. Ultimately, I’m totally on board with the style of parenting they promote, if not in agreement with every single point. As they say, “the secret of parenting is not in what a parent does but rather who the parent is to a child.” If we establish strong relationship, we can parent intuitively and instinctively, and much more effectively. Not an easy read, but worth slogging through.

Blogs

Simple Mom is exactly what it sounds like: a blog for Moms about keeping life simple. I’m always looking for ways to declutter my life and soul, so I appreciate the practical and helpful posts.

I found a new hobby: reading the winning entries from writing contests. Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry are my favourite. I like CBC Writes and Literal Latte when I’m looking to feel more “intellectual and literary” (see above re: fluffy romance novels).

Movie

We went to see it because there was nothing else that would work with babysitting. I was skeptical, but The Heat totally won me over. The language is SO bad. The plot is thin. But somehow it was just what I needed. Melissa McCarthy is comedic gold!

TV

After watching Done the Impossible, a documentary about the rabid fandom of Joss Whedon’s show Firefly, I felt compelled to re-watch the one brilliant season and force my husband to sit through the movie Serenity. This is MY show. I LOVE it. All caps – LOVE. I’m not sure I can even put into words why. The intriguing premise, the witty dialogue, the complex characters, the strange and beautiful world they inhabit, the acting, the underdogs triumph against all odds trope… It’s the best that science fiction has to offer! In fact, if you’re wondering where the title of my blog comes from… well, watch the movie to find out.

Sadly, my husband doesn’t “get it.” What is wrong with him? Fortunately, he has many other fine qualities.

I also started rewatched Sherlock (BBC) in eager anticipation of the third season. The acting. The tension. The British accents. What’s not to love?

Space channel started reruns of Castle, a cop show starring Nathan Fillion (of Firefly fame) and some other people who I barely notice. He’s a crime novelist shadowing a beautiful NYPD detective whom he is not-so-secretly in love with. Nothing profound, but it’s funny and entertaining. Also, I love having a whole season on PVR to watch at my leisure.

So here’s me, thrilled to be back to our normal routine, but sure I’ll miss the “free time” I had this summer, now that my school starts as well. This fall I’ll be taking “Literary Journalism” – not quite sure what it is exactly, but the syllabus looks fascinating. And intimidating. I’m going to get SO far behind on my Castle episodes.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for

what I'm into


What I’m Into (April 2013)

Ever wanted to be a fly on my wall?

Of course you have.

Unfortunately I don’t have any openings in that department, so here’s a list of “What I’m Into” as of last month – part of Hopeful Leigh‘s monthly link up. It should give you a feel for life at our house. Just add copious amounts of Wonder Pets, dirty diapers and shrieks of happiness/rage/frustration/surprise/just-trying-out-my-lungs-to-make-sure-they-still-work… the kids are pretty noisy too.

what I'm into

Books:

  • divergentDivergent by Veronica Roth – I’m a sucker for dystopian fiction. This book has all my favourite things: a tough but relatable leading lady, a strange and horrifying new world, with just enough romance to keep things moving. In this new world all people are sorted at age 16 into 5 factions, which were created to counter what they percieve is the most dangerous human failing. These subcultures are called Candor (people are deceptive), Amity (people are too aggressive), Erudite (people are ignorant), Dauntless (people are cowardly) and Abnegation (people are selfish). Beatrice just turned 16…
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – I’m crazy about Brene’s TED talk on the importance of vulnerability. She is brilliant! Her book is more of the same, not quite as compelling, but still plenty to chew on. Self-help isn’t my favourite genre, but I still found this a good mix of entertaining and challenging.
  • coloursThe Colours of God: toward an emerging theology by Dave Phillips, Quentin Steen and Randall “Peg” Peters – So much of Christianity, and the emerging movement within it, seems to focus on what we oppose; this book is about what (and who – hint, it starts with an ‘e’ and rhymes with shmeveryone) we are to embrace. Although the discussion format takes some getting used to, this unique vision of how to BE church is intriguing.
  • Wrestling with Angels: Adventures in Faith and Doubt by Carolyn Arends – I’m reading it again. I’m loving it as much as ever. Enough story to make it feel like light reading, but enough profound to reach deep into my heart and soul. Just what a busy mom like me needs.

TV Shows:

  • It’s more than a show at our house. Chopped has become a favourite game for the big girls. Just like on the show, each participant is given a basket of 4 mystery ingredients. They are given 20-30 minutes (depending on the round – appetizer, entree or dessert) to prepare something delicious, creative and beautiful. They must use all 4 ingredients in their dish. Their Mom (I mean Judge) must eat it and declare a winner. Sometimes the results are surprisingly tasty. And other times… that’s what mouthwash is for.
  • Although I continue to dislike cooking, for some bizarre reason I enjoy watching almost anything on the Food Network – Top Chef Canada, Restaurant Impossible and Pitchin’ In are my favourites. None of them are “must see” but if we have some down time I’ll look for them.
  • Fringe – still working my way through the first season on Netflix. It is creepily fascinating. I can finally see Joshua Jackson as someone other than Pacey. Though I’m still rooting for him to get the girl.

Movies:

  • The Host. I’m always nervous when they make a movie based on a book I love. But, they did an okay job. It’s tricky transfering complexity of plot and depth of character development from page onto screen, so at times they choose simply to focus on kissing instead. I wonder if the editor was a teenage girl? More likely they were hoping to entice this audience. I’d still recommend it – just read the book first, okay?

  • After a week on my own with the kids I missed my husband so much that a few minutes after he got home I ran out to see a movie. Oblivion was pretty good. The entire movie is spent trying to figure out what happened and what is happening, but not so confusing that my brain hurt.

Music:

  • Phillip Phillips, despite his ridiculous name, is the flavour of the month. Most of the time I don’t bother with a playlist – just put his album on shuffle. So good.
  • I downloaded The Parson RedHeads’ latest album and it’s pretty good. They were amazing live, which is saying something, because I don’t even like that sort of thing.
  • It goes without saying that The Airborne Toxic Event is usually heard somewhere in our house throughout the day. After my groupie experience at the beginning of the month, I appreciate them more than ever. Their song Timeless is on repeat in the car. The girls and I had a great discussion about the phrase “Oh my God” as we listened and concluded that in this song it is a good thing, because those who grieve aren’t being flippant.

Blogs:

  • The tagline alone is worth the read: Living my life as is, instead of as if. The Actual Pastor has been my go-to destination this past week. It’s awesome. Go read it.
  • I love getting to know a brand new blog. Not just the writing, but the writers themselves. Mewhoami is a kindred spirit. I especially enjoyed Trapped Within – a slice of life, from her son’s perspective. For many parents, autism is something bad to be stomped out at all costs, but to others it is a unique perspective and a mystery to be unravelled. Love.
  • Have you ever found a poem, just a little piece of prose in an unexpected place? It might be the work of Poem Elf. She sets poems free from books, leaving them in public places for everyone to enjoy (then tells the tale on her blog). I’m so glad I stumbled on this site. Poetry isn’t my first love, but it is something I really enjoy in small bites. I’m enjoying this gentle education.

App:

good readsGood Reads is the newest reason I love my smart phone. When I’m at the bookstore, or library, or snooping on someone else’s shelves… and I see a book that looks interesting, I just scan the barcode with my camera and up pops a listing for it. After seeing the rating and reading a few reviews I can decide if I want to add it to my “To Read” list. I can also type in an author or title if that’s easier. The best part is the running list of books I want to read, books I am reading now and being able to rate/review books I’ve just read. Every bookworm needs this app.

Other things I’ve loved this month:

  • At the beginning of the month we spent one day in the hipster mecca, Portland. I would love more time to explore someday, especially Powells Book Store (taking up 4 stories and a full city block of books, books, books… including enough used books to win over my frugal little heart). Such a cool city!
  • Which brings me to the absurd show Portlandia. It’s Red Green for hipsters. It’s the only reason I have the YouTube app on my phone.
  • With more and more sunny days, it’s time to turn my attention to that important spring activity: avoiding yard work. I’ve heard friends complaining about putting it off until the last minute, then doing a haphazard job of it. Amateurs. The best way to avoid it is to run away from home; bring some food and enjoy the sunshine where someone else has done the yard work. Around here we call that a picnic and it’s my favourite thing to do with the kids this month.

On this blog:

little mirror, little me – was written in the car on the way home from Portland. I was thinking about my girls, especially C. I constantly see myself in them, in their strengths and their weaknesses. It is both gratifying and terrifying.

So here’s me, and the stuff I’m into.


Friday Favourites: Twenty-something

Tomorrow is a BIG day in our ongoing adoption saga. It is the first visit with foster family after bringing our boy home. We’re having an early birthday party for our soon-to-be 2-year-old with ALL the people who love him best.

We love them too, so it’s no hardship to have them here. But, it’s a big deal too.

I’m not going to lie. It’s awkward. And unnatural. And weird.

I’m not sure what the happy ending is for an event like this. I want him to run into their arms and hug away all the sadness they’ve been feeling. I want him to cling to us and refuse to let go. I want him to be completely unaffected by the whole affair. I want him to express all the angst and emotion that this confusing change must create. I want to interrogate them about every detail of his life and learn all his stories. I want to live only in the here and now, where WE are a part of his story.

So, I’m pretty much a mess about the whole thing. But at least there will be cake. Everything is better with cake.

Quote

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

~Augusten Burroughs

And now, further proof that he’s a brilliant guy:

“Red hair is great. It’s rare, and therefore superior.”

Blog/Twitter Feed

In honour of my son (who pulled out the racks and climbed INTO the oven this morning) I am going to promote a hilarious blog “written by” the Honest Toddler. You don’t need to have a toddler to appreciate this humor, but it helps. The Seven Stages of Night Grief really resonated with me this week.

These days, I pretty much scroll blindly through a twitter feed full of theology, politics and life-affirming, sappy quotes to read the tweets from @HonestToddler. For instance:

  • Stranger in my house.
  • He has a toolbox that should be mine and is looking at the toilet. Watching from behind the door (with my SWORD).
  • HE SPOKE TO ME!! And laughed. Uh…you are not my daddy and we are not friends. We will never be friends.
  • Took refuge in my cardboard box. I’m invisible.
  • What kind of a grown man comes into someone’s house to play in their potty? Supervising him closely again.
  • I farted. He noticed.
  • Farted again. He looks uncomfortable.
  • He asked me if I’d like to go play with my toys. NO I’M FINE HERE THANKS. Farted again.
  • Told mommy I need to use the potty. She’s excited. Asked the hostile to take five.
  • Have fun working where I just pooed, stranger. Three M&Ms!!
  • He just pulled a couple washcloths out of the toilet. Getting out of here before people start pointing fingers.

And on and on and on.

Movie

In the middle of all this toddler-mania we TRY to spend some one-on-one time with each of our big kids during the week. Last week I took the 9-year-old to see Brave.

Girl power. A beautiful Scottish princess with bushy red hair. What’s not to like?

The moral of the story: “Listen to your Mom.” and “Mom is always right.” At least, that’s what I heard. My obedient, submissive daughter tells me I am wrong, wrong, wrong about the point, but it was a decent show with a few good laughs.

App

Speaking of movies, there is no reason, NONE, to waste your time waiting in endless lines at the movie theater, especially on cheap Tuesday when things are crazier than ever. Use Cineplex Mobile to buy your tickets (with an additional scene card discount) from home (or the car, or the parking lot or anywhere your little heart desires), then scan the bar code at the “Mobile Ticketing Booth” on the way into your movie. It prints your tickets instantly; there is no line up, no wait, and no need to bother printing your own ticket. I almost felt sorry for all the poor schmucks lined up out the door last week. But it was kind of fun to zip right past them with a confident swagger.

We also use this app to find theaters, movie times, trailers and ratings.

Splurge

Obviously we are big movie buffs. For our last “date” before we entered the Toddler Zone, Glen and I decided to splurge on a VIP theater. The price tag is enough to choke all but the most decadent at $22.00 per person, BUT if you use your Scene points (which you can collect each time you go to a movie or buy a snack), it is exactly the same as any other movie. We’ve been collecting for a while, so our big VIP splurge cost us $0. And it was well worth it. Don’t waste your free movies on anything but the VIP theater!

These theaters have a restaurant and bar in the waiting area. The seating has tables, foot rests and if you sit in the very front row, full on leather recliners. No waiting in line for snacks like regular folks; the wait staff will seat you, take your order and bring you your meal (that’s right, appetizers, entrees, desserts… this is restaurant food). Even the bathrooms are fancy-schmancy, so be sure to stop by.

So here’s me, did I mention that I’m a red head? Which is rare and therefore superior. Spread the word.


Smurfette the Superhero

First of all, I loved the movie! The Avengers is delicious sci-fi candy for a dork like me. As always, Joss Whedon delivers.

I especially liked Scarlett Johansen’s character “Black Widow”. She is tough and smart and she saves the day just as often as her male counterparts. I walked out of the movie excited that they had included a female superhero in the line up – a very rare thing.

By the time I reached my car, I was annoyed at myself, for being so pathetically grateful to be represented at all. The sixth movie in this series and the first one with a female hero, well, one of six heroes anyway.

I had been explaining the “Smurfette Principle” to my daughters just last week. Essentially, it describes the tendency in media to assemble a cast of male characters with one token female, usually the love interest or sexy sidekick.

If outsiders were to look to Hollywood to understand our society, they would be unlikely to believe that women make up MORE than 50% of the population. That’s right men, we outnumber you. But a trip to the theatre does not reflect that.

I recently heard about something called the Bechdel test. In order to pass, a movie must have:

  • 2 female characters
  • with names
  • who speak to each other for at least 30 seconds
  • about something other than a man

Honestly, this is not asking much; half a minute of dialogue in an entire movie. Hardly the framework for a raging feminist flick. But the puny number of movies which actually pass this will BLOW YOUR MIND!

It doesn’t mean much in and of itself; it doesn’t measure whether it is a good movie, or even respectful of women. But it does make you think about the representation of women in media.

In movie world, it seems that women’s lives often revolve entirely around men. We exist only as the prize; the prop for smarter, more interesting and more important characters. You know, the men.

They say media reflects real life, but it also influences it. I fear that all of us, men and women, may come to believe that it is true.

That women play the bit parts in life. That we aren’t crucial to the plot. That we are merely decorative. That the size of our boobs (or our size, period) and not the strength of our intellect is what matters most. That how we look is more important than what we have to say.

I don’t think women need to butch it up and take over the “world of men”. More women playing soldiers and assassins and action heroes is missing the point. We shouldn’t need to act macho to be the protagonists for a change.

We are daughters, and sisters, and wives, and mothers. We are friends, and co-workers, and artists, and thinkers. We are interesting. We are smart. We are funny. We are not scenery. And our stories matter too.

So here’s me, and this is my feminist rant for the day. In case you were wondering, more than 50% of movies fail the Bechdel test.

What is the last movie you saw? Does it pass the test? The answer may surprise you.


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