BLUE FRIDAY

January 31, 2014 in Reflections on Pop Culture

Not long ago, I watched the movie Friday Night Lights. It was ok, but as a longtime fan of the TV show, the movie didn’t come close to capturing the heart of the Dillon Panthers or their coach (hello, Kyle Chandler!) like the TV show did. Connie Britton’s Tami was a throwaway part in the movie, but a force to be reckoned with on the TV show as the coach’s wife: a complicated blend of Southern charm and inner strength that earned her two Emmy nominations. Then there was the TV football team itself, filled with players like Smash, cocky, talented, and desperate to use football as his way into a life, and Matt Saracin, the kind, tentative quarterback singlehandedly balancing school, football, and his ailing grandmother, and Tim Riggins, the hot, sexy bad boy with a vulnerable heart.

Through all the personal challenges the characters faced, high school football ruled the small Texas town in both the movie and the TV show. The camera panned along empty storefronts on game day with “Closed for the game” signs posted in the windows. Not an empty bleacher seat could be found in the stands as the town gathered behind their team to cheer them on.

And this was high school football. Can you imagine what would happen to a city if their hometown team, an underdog in many ways, made it to the granddaddy of all sporting events, the Super Bowl?

I don’t have to imagine it; I am witnessing it in my own hometown and it is a thrill to watch.

The Emerald city of Seattle has turned blue and green with Seahawks fever.

Photograph from Seahawks.com

You can’t buy Skittles anywhere: Marshawn Lynch’s favorite candy is sold out. You can’t get Seahawks jerseys either, but you can get Seahawks T-shirts at Safeway and Bartells. Everywhere I look, I see 12th Man flags on cars flapping in the wind as they drive by, 12th Man signs on buildings and windows, and Seahawks jerseys, hats, and other apparel on fans flushed with anticipation of the big game on Sunday. Boeing even painted a 747 with the Seahawks logo and flew it from Seattle to Spokane in a 12 pattern.

Photograph from Komo News

It is safe to say that the 12th Man is strong and proud here in Seattle while our team gets ready to battle the cold and the Broncos in New York.

The Broncos are good. Peyton Manning is a precision throwing machine with Super Bowl experience. The Seahawks have 0 players with Super Bowl experience and Russell Wilson is new in his career. On paper, the deck is stacked in Denver’s favor.

But the Seahawks have heart. They have passion and desire and a fire in their bellies, and the 12th Man is 100% behind them. The fans have flocked to New York, hoping to turn the Giants stadium into a Seahawks home field advantage, and I have started to see these signs crop up in the storefront windows:

In the battle of heart vs. machine, who will win? It will be close, but I’ve got to give it to the team with heart.

Go Seahawks! You have earned this.

GREATEST PERFORMANCES FROM THE GRAMMY AWARDS 2014

January 27, 2014 in Reflections on Pop Culture

 

I’m not a huge awards show viewer. I watch every second of the Oscars and most of the Golden Globes, and that’s about it. I’m not sure what possessed me to watch the Grammys last night, but I was tired, two of my kids are fighting colds, and my oldest is into the music scene, so lying on the couch for hours on end seemed like a great idea.

It wasn’t long into the show that we realized the Grammys are unlike any other awards show out there because they rarely gave out awards. What they do give are musical performances, and lots of them. But here’s the beauty of the Grammys, and the reason I will be watching them for years to come: musicians love to collaborate, and out of these collaborations, musical genius is born.

Here are what I thought were the greatest performances from this year’s Grammy Awards (but keep in my mind my recording shut off at 11:00pm so who knows what I missed after that):

1)    Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr.: Country meets Rock (Watch it here.)

Country singer Keith Urban teamed up with rocker Gary Clark Jr. for a rendition of Urban’s song Cop Car. It started off slow and country with Keith Urban in a tight dark gray T-shirt that exposed his biceps and his tattoos (both hot). The song began to build and soon there was Gary Clark Jr. wailing on his guitar, ringed fingers flying, with Urban matching him strum for strum. Biceps bulged, bodies moved in a primal rhythm, faces contorted in the throes of musical passion… Who knew country + rock could equal such a hot performance?

2)    Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar: Rock meets Rap (Watch it here.)

I love Imagine Dragons, and why wouldn’t I? They’re rock, and I’m a rock girl at heart. They even won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance for Radioactive, although it was given out earlier in the day. (When did the “Rock” categories get relegated to non-telecast status? It’s rock, for heaven’s sake!) They teamed up with Kendrick Lamar, a rapper I’ve never heard of—but boy, do I know who he is now. Their performance was a mash-up of Radioactive with Lamar’s m.A.A.d City and it had a pulsing drumbeat, smoke, lights, and electric vocal performances by both Lamar and Imagine Dragon’s frontman Dan Reynolds. They were both terrific and their performance was big and loud and stunning.

I did feel sorry for Kacey Musgraves, the country singer  had to perform directly after them. Her performance was simple and quiet, just a girl and her guitar with some lighted cacti and Christmas lights on her boots. It did not work at all to have such a quiet performance follow something so big and electrifying. If they had flipped those two performances, it would have been so much better for her. But she won a Grammy, so I think she’ll be ok.

3)    Metallica and Lang Lang: Heavy Metal meets Classical Piano (Watch it here.)

What on earth? Heavy metal + classical? Where else could something like that happen but on the Grammys?  I know Metallica (thank you cousin Andrew!), but I wasn’t quite sure how a classical pianist would fit in. As it turns out, he fit in just fine. In fact, Lang Lang was loving it. He turned from a prim and proper classical pianist into a veritable rocker in front of our eyes. He could not contain the smile that took over his face through his entire performance. No one on the Grammy stage had more fun than Lang Lang last night, and at the end of their song, the fist bumps between Lang Lang and the members of Metallica made my own heart sing with joy.

4)    Ryan Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna, Queen Latifah, and a Gospel Choir: Music meets Social Change (Watch it here.)

This was easily the most emotional performance of the evening. Not only was it a beautiful rendition of Macklemore and Lewis’s Same Love with a horn section, a gospel choir, and Madonna, but 33 couples got married during the song. Lined up along the aisle in wedding dresses and suits, men stood across from men, women across from men, women across from men, black across from white, Asian across from Caucasian… It was a beautiful visual of how love is the only thing that matters. It brought tears to my eyes, and to a lot of the audience members too…even Keith Urban!

So go watch these performances on YouTube, and may music always be in your heart!

 

FINALLY: A DIET PROTOCOL GUARANTEED TO WORK!

January 14, 2014 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself

Have I got a diet for you! If you’re struggling with Weight Watchers points, counting calories, and erasing carbs and dairy from your daily meals, this is the answer you’ve been looking for.

I must warn you: this diet is not for everyone. Here are the qualifications you will need to participate in this revolutionary diet plan:

1)    You need to be strong—almost to the point of stupidity.

2)    You have to be willing to suffer—which frankly is a requirement for any dieting plan.

3)    You have to have help.

4)    Finally—and this may be the one that precludes you from participating—you have to suffer from gingival recession necessitating gum surgery in all four quadrants of your mouth.

If by chance you meet all four of the above qualifications, you’re in luck! Here’s how this diet works:

1)    When your kind periodontist recommends splitting the procedure into two separate surgeries so that you can at least eat on one side of your mouth while the other side heals, just say no! Beg him to do it all at once, even if it takes him most of the day. Even if you won’t be able to eat solid foods for some time. Impress him with your ability to handle pain and suffering! And never let him know that you have to do it all at once because you know deep down inside that if you only have half of the work done, you will never go back for the rest.

2)    Take your blissfully floaty pain meds as directed. You will experience a certain amount of discomfort (pain) and swelling, so it is better to crawl into your bed, pull the covers over your head, and hide from society for as long as possible. You will need help to carry this out, though, so plan childcare coverage accordingly.

3)    Cry—a lot—because the stitches will need to stay in for six weeks. (Six weeks? WTF?)

4)    Cry—a lot—because you won’t be able to eat bread for at least a week. (No bread for at least a week? B-b-but I can’t live without bread!)

5)    Live entirely on food items that can be consumed through a straw or slurped…but no milkshakes. You’re on a diet, remember?

6)    After six measly weeks of extreme hell, you will emerge svelte and trim with a beautiful smile as a bonus!

I am embarking on this diet plan today, and I think it will be almost as transformative as the journey the squishy-around-the-middle caterpillar goes through on its way to becoming a beautiful, fit-comfortably-in-your-favorite-jeans-again butterfly after a brief six-week stint in a cocoon.

I would say wish me luck, but I don’t need it, for I have realized that my Fireball Whisky can be consumed quite easily through a straw.

 

 

GREAT THINGS TO DISTRACT YOU FROM THE TORTURE OF YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

January 9, 2014 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself, Book Reviews, Reflections on Pop Culture

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions is hard. It can also be tortuous, like when I sit down every morning and plan out my Weight Watchers points for the day knowing that I’m going to be miserable and hungry until my body finally realizes that it can live quite successfully without eating a Christmas cookie every hour and a half.

For me, distraction is the key. If I can forget for a moment that I’m hungry/exercising/folding laundry/working, then I’m fine. But what do I distract myself with now that I can’t eat cookies?

Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful things! Here are just a few suggestions:

1)    Focus on your great qualities: How Smart Are You? Test Your IQ and Who Are You? Test Your Personality books from Marbles: The Brain Store.

 

Both of these were Christmas gifts and they are so much fun! The IQ quiz book is broken down into sections such as patterns, math, vocabulary, etc, and each quiz is only 10 questions, so they don’t take too much time (unless you’re like me, in which case a math quiz might take you two days and a calculator). I guarantee that you will forget all about how hungry you are when you are home by yourself arguing with the IQ quiz gods about how they messed up the question:

Which does not belong?

a)     Heron

b)    Swan

c)     Penguin

d)    Goose

e)     Duck

The Personality Quizzes are also broken down into sections with quizzes that have only 10 questions each, and they cover exciting topics like your career, your love life, and what your dreams are trying to tell you.  Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself that will help you tackle your resolutions better!

2)    Hyberbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh is an award-winning blogger whose essays about her life have been compiled in a charmingly illustrated novel. And when I say “charmingly illustrated” I mean “Oh my God! The facial expressions that she can capture in drawings that look like a young child drew them are nothing short of amazing!” Seriously, her illustrations are worth the price of the book alone.

She writes about her childhood (Lost in the Woods and The Parrot were hilarious.), her two dogs (The Helper Dog is an Asshole: how can you go wrong with a title like that?) and her own struggles with life, including being an adult and suffering from depression. Like the quiz books above, this is broken down into a series of short essays, easy to read when you’re on the stair climber at the gym or when you’re waiting in the car for a child to be done with their soccer/basketball/wrestling/lacrosse practice.

3)    Winter TV!

a)    Downton Abbey is back! Sundays at 9:00pm on PBS.

b)    True Detective is premiering January 12 on HBO and starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (together for the first time on TV!). They are on the hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana, but have dark secrets of their own. The season will run for eight episodes before returning with a new mystery and a new cast in season 2, so the time to catch these two powerhouse actors on television is now.

c)     Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost!) is back with a new drama called Intelligence beginning Tuesday, January 7 on CBS. Holloway stars as Gabriel, an intelligence operative with a computer chip in his brain who—well, who cares? It’s Sawyer from Lost! That’s all I need to know.

d)    The Winter Olympics are coming! Beginning February 7, I’m looking forward to watching two weeks of 24/7 coverage of the most fit and conditioned athletes in the world. Hopefully by the time February rolls around, I’ll be in such great cookie-free shape that I’ll be ready to join them on the slopes…or at the very least, at a curling arena.

Hopefully these will help you stay on track with your New Year’s Resolutions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LESSON IN GIVING

January 6, 2014 in Adventures in Parenting

We have a Christmas tradition in our home: if you are with us on Christmas Day, you have to bring a little something to fill everyone’s stocking. It doesn’t have to be big: a pack of gum or a box of Tic Tacs will do (although I will be the first to admit that sometimes our stocking gifts can get delightfully out of hand).

This year, my boys wanted to participate and I was happy to let them. I liked the fact that they were interested in giving gifts to others instead of just adding gift suggestions to their own Christmas lists. I loved how they gave careful thought to what their brothers and family members might want before we even hit the mall, and I was thrilled by how excited they were to do their shopping.

There was just one tiny obstacle: their budget. Because the three of them had to buy for seven stockings each, I knew I couldn’t let them run wild through the mall with no budget or else I’d be spending a fortune. After serious consideration, we settled on a budget that would allow them to spend roughly $7.00 per person. This is a generous sum if you consider that a pack of gum costs about $1.00, but my kids had their sights on bigger fare, like Nintendo DS games and baseball caps that cost much more than $7.00. And so an interesting experiment in budgeting and giving began.

It started with tears. My youngest son fell apart after a couple of his great ideas didn’t pan out because he simply couldn’t afford them. Frustration and indecision followed suit, as gift idea after gift idea dissipated upon reading the price tag. After wandering around the mall in an unsuccessful daze for awhile, something amazing happened: my boys got creative. They accepted the limitations of their budget and stretched their minds to accommodate it. They scoured the sales and clearance racks. (My youngest son and I worked a $16.00 pair of earrings into a $7.00 final price due to a combo sale/coupon I loaned him.) They hunted for gift items off the beaten path but still within the field of interest of the person they were buying for, and they did it all without once asking for more money.

They did have an angel or two looking out for them in their quest. My mom was helping my youngest son find a gift for me at the Lucy store (my favorite!). He wanted to get me a gift card, but the minimum amount was $25.00. My youngest son looked up at the saleswomen with his big, brown eyes and said in a small voice, “But I only have $13.00 left.” According to my mom, the saleswomen melted and then rallied around the cash register, trying to figure out a way to give my son a gift card for only $13.00. They did it and gave a seven-year-old boy a little Christmas miracle in the process.

Somewhere along the way, my boys realized that giving is not about how much you spend; it’s about how much thought you put into the gift. There was nothing quite like seeing the smiles on their faces when we opened their gifts to us. They were filled with pride and the joy of giving something to the ones they love.

That was my favorite Christmas gift this year.

 

 

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS I’M ADOPTING FROM THE MOVIES

January 2, 2014 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself, Reflections on Pop Culture

Clip Art from  Pam’s Clip Art.

I love making New Year’s Resolutions! January 1 is tailor made for trying to gain control of your life, especially after the chaos of the holiday season. I typically make long, wonderful lists of resolutions that I have no chance of keeping. (No more cookies! I’ll make a healthy dinner from scratch every night! I’ll greet the kids with home baked muffins after school every day! I’ll never get behind on my laundry again!)

This year, though, I’m trying something new. I have been fortunate to watch a lot of great movies over the holiday break, and they all seemed to impart a specific, life-changing message that I would like to adopt for myself in the form of a New Year’s Resolution.

 

From This is 40 (comedy starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann): Swear more.

This may seem odd coming from a mother of three young boys, and perhaps it is. But Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann swore their asses off during this entire movie and I have to say, they seemed happier for it. They strung together swear words in interesting and unusual combinations, bringing a level of creativity to their day. When minor inconveniences arose, they let off steam with the utterance of each curse word, and when really bad things happened, they communicated, albeit profanely. I liked the honesty. There was no hiding behind politeness or pretending to be happy when they weren’t. They laid it all out on the table and I’m going to the same this year…although not in front of my kids, obviously.

From The Heat (buddy cop movie starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy): Cherish your girlfriends.

If you missed my post on why, click here.

From American Hustle (drama starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence): Feel sexy.

Now, don’t be scared. I’m not about to start carrying double-sided tape in my purse so I can wear blouses like these at my sons’ elementary school:

But I do think there’s something to be said for feeling like a woman occasionally instead of wearing workout clothes and baseball caps all the time. The way I’m going to approach this in a practical manner will be a) wear my nice clothes sometimes; b) keep my toenails nicely painted (because that makes me happy); c) wear pretty jewelry; d) stop eating cookies; and e) wear shoes with heels when I can.

From The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (dramedy starring Ben Stiller): Live life.

This movie was an absolute delight from beginning to end. If you haven’t seen it yet, then please do. It’s a wonderfully uplifting, visually stunning love letter to life and Ben Stiller was amazing in it. The life lesson was right up my alley: stop being afraid, stop waiting for something to happen, and go out and live life! I may not be able to hop on a plane at a moment’s notice and travel to Greenland, but there’s no reason why I can’t plan a lovely trip abroad for myself this year. Life is short, and the time for living is now. My first step for keeping this Resolution will be to get a passport, and then let the planning begin!

From Frozen (Disney’s animated movie): Stay Young at Heart

Yes, I am the mean mom who dragged my three sons, one of whom is a teenager, to see Frozen because I wanted to and was too embarrassed to go by myself. This was a charming movie that had such a surprising twist on the old adage “only true love can save the princess now” that I did shed a tear or two…or many. But here’s the thing: you’re never too old to see well-done animated movies. And as I proved yesterday, you’re never too old to chase your kids down the football field and try to tackle them. I will continue to read YA novels, watch Disney and Pixar movies, roll around on the floor with my kids, and do whatever else I feel like because despite my age, I feel like I just got out of college. (Except I need a reasonable bedtime.)

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy and Wonderful 2014!