Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting to the belly button of the issue

Okay, have you seen the thing about the scientific study that says that black people have high belly buttons and that’s what makes them good runners, and white people have low belly buttons and that’s why they swim well, but we’re not racist even though we said black people and white people, and it’s heredity and that’s scientific, so quit looking at us like we’re Jimmy the Greek? It’s one of those things that people wonder about, and can mention in a stand up routine, but people get edgy about it if a scientist tries to explain it. With good reason. Science is second only to religion in being misappropriated to excuse people’s prejudices.

Though the low belly button and swimming thing does kind of make sense. Look at Michael Phelps. That boy’s basically built like a dolphin. All torso, with little flipper legs down there at the bottom. But then again, I’m a white girl with a really high belly button, and I can’t run for shit.

Anyway. Did they have to go there with the color thing in their study? Probably not. Did it add much to our understanding of biomechanics or are they going to come up with backroom belly button doping procedures? They could have done their study and said, “Everybody who’s a good swimmer to the right. Everybody who’s a good runner to the left.” Then did a quick belly button check, and that would have been plenty. And perhaps, one might have made note, in passing that there was a certain color gradation in the two groups. In an “Oh, ha ha, isn’t that interesting yet completely insignificant and not worth mentioning in a board published scientific journal” kind of way. And then JUST DROP IT.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Once again, I worry about Guy Pearce

Okay, there’s a new movie coming out called Animal Kingdom. It sounds really good. Australian. Love Australian movies. The plot sounds interesting. It stars Guy Pearce. What could be better? Well, here’s the shallowest reason for possibly not seeing a movie you’ll hear all year – My first thought was: how much does Guy Pearce weigh?

I love him. Have ever since I saw Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. LA Confidential is the movie that got me through some very bad times. He can be the good guy. He can be the bad guy. He can even be in a movie with the pure awful James Caviezel. I care not. I find him riveting as an actor. But the truth is that he may be a little manorexic. He looked almost mummified in that movie with Helena Bonham Carter. There have been times that I have worried about him as a human being. I can’t concentrate on the movie, or the character he’s playing, because I’m wondering if he’s going to be okay. He seems to be a skinny boy, anyway. But there have been times when he has been downright scary skeletal. Beyond vegan skinny. Like, he should be in a program, skinny. I assume that he has people who love him, who would intervene if things are as bad as they seem. I assume. But if the camera adds ten pounds . . . sheesh.

And this is just one of those weird areas where – I don’t know this person. Yet I have these sort of vague friendly feelings because he’s been in so many movies I’ve enjoyed, and is usually the reason why. I know he kind of specializes in playing the soul ravaged (and you know I loves me them heartbroken boys; give me one haunted look and I’m putty), and this may be a creative choice, but there’s gotta be some kind of limit on what one will do even for art. I mean, isn’t an actor’s body supposed to be their instrument? I just worry he’s going to have a heart attack or do some kind of permanent damage. I want him to be in more movies. Okay. That was a little selfish. I’d also like to think that he’s having a happy and healthy life. When he’s not making those tragic, haunted eyes for the camera.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

La Belle Theatre

Okay, so last night was ushering for Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. It really is a lovely little show. Good-to-great songs, a couple of first class dance numbers, some moments of real stage magic (the Beast to Prince transformation loses absolutely nothing in the translation from the movie) and some truly funny business. And, as expected, there were tons of kiddies. And it really highlights the joys and the pains of having kids at the big people theater.

First, B&tB is a fantastic show for a first real stage experience. Kids are primed (and I do mean primed) by the movie, and they’ll want to be on their best behavior. The songs are very accessible for little people’s vocabulary. And there’s this moment when Belle comes out in the dress – the yellow, poofy gown, with her hair down for the first time, with ribbons and roses and lace. And it’s just like – gasp. There she is. And boy, does that actress know this is the money shot. She sweeps out onto the stage and pauses – and you can practically hear the hearts stop. The excitement is beyond anything you’ll probably ever see in any adult show. It is a true “this is IT” moment. And you get to share it, whether you’re 8 or 80.

The other side of the coin is that, while kids want to be on their best behavior, there’s only so much behavior you can expect. From the kids, or their parents. If you bring a 4-year old to a theater, it’s unreasonable to expect them to be quiet for the entire show. Some parents seem to not be able to keep their little chatterboxes from keeping up a running commentary through the entire show. Normally, I’d want to see if I couldn’t hush things up a bit for the other patrons, but with kids you just kinda gotta roll with the punches. And for any adult who just wants to enjoy a show, at B&tB, you pays your money and you takes your chances. Though, as far as age tolerances go, my personal preference would be, if your kid can’t make it to intermission without eating, they are too young to be at the theater. Squashed Lucky Charms in the aisle is just kinda gross. (And really, sugar cereal? Did that seem like a good idea?)

Still and all, if one of the missions of live theater is to provide thrilling experiences for the young that create theater-goers for life, Disney is living the dream.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Say "maybe"

I really, really hope that this turns out to be the giant scam that it looks like it is. Not because I'm all that fond of Stamos. Just because if he uses cocaine and looks like this, basically half the arguments against coke just go flying out the window. He's not really my thing, but c'mon. Look at him. I thought blow made you look all, old and dried out and raggedy. This is no raggedy man. Maybe I should be taking a toot while I have my fish oil and CoQ10 supplement.

He's what we in Texas would call a "knot head"

I know a little girl whose parents once read a parenting book. Potentially dangerous things, those books. In this book, parents were advised to never tell a child “no”, and to redirect a child when they were doing something they weren’t supposed to. Like, you don’t say, “No, don’t run into the street!” You say, “Oh, look at the bunny, that happens to be in the opposite direction of the street.” Okay, breathe. I know. I had the same first reaction. But let me assure you, that whatever you think this might lead to in behavior is, really, quite true. I would say that the term “demon seed” would be complete hyperbole. Yet, still quite evocative.

And somehow, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that this is exactly how the Barefoot Bandit was raised. If you haven’t been following the story, he’s the kid who escaped from juvenile detention (for a possession of stolen property bust), and proceeded to make his way across the country, stealing cars, boats and airplanes (yes, he apparently taught himself to fly), until he made it to the Caymans. His mother, on finding out he was being hunted in the Caymans, said it was lovely that he was getting to have an island vacation, and could someone please tell him to call home to mama.

Pretty much everything the kid stole was later recovered, except for some snack packs of chips and Gatorade, and he never really seemed to mean anyone any harm – to quote the Clash, he “Was a bankrobber / But he never hurt nobody / He just loved to live that way.” And since nobody was there to “redirect” him, “Hey, a plane! I bet the Caymans are lovely this time of year . . .” It seems to me that a parent’s primary job is to install the “no” in a kid’s head. Not a mean “no”. Not a soul squashing “no”. But definitely a “no” that would head off an interstate, international manhunt. That kind of “no”.

Monday, July 12, 2010

CenComm's tactical plan for deli counter invasion

We were talking this weekend about a local store chain called Central Market. It’s kind of like Whole Foods on steroids. If there’s something culty, foody, hard to find, organic, vegan, trendy, eco-conscious, cruelty-free, free-trade or just plain expensive, Central Market will have it. From fresh figs to fresh tamales, they got it all. With separate meat, fish and sausage counters, bread and pastry bakery and tortilleria, a solid olive and deli bar, a giant whole bean coffee selection, and more wines than some actual beer and wine stores (beer selection is only adequate). And cheeses. Don’t get me started on the cheeses. It’s the kind of place where when you need something specific, you make a surgically precise tactical strike, and you take a small amount of cash and leave your credit cards at home, or you will get in trouble. Where the Whole Paycheck store tends to attract more of your rich hippie clientele, Central Market is more of the straight up yuppie douchebag crowd. And that’s its downfall for me.

Not that I have anything personal against yuppie douchebags. I think it’s a right protected in the Constitution. Not the Bill of Rights, or anything, but back there past the top ten. I just use my right to free association not to have to be around them. Just plain exhausting. First, they flock places. That makes the parking lot hard to negotiate, and good Lord help you if you need a basket in the aisles. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some hockey mom talking on the phone while she monopolizes the olive oil selection, and her 2.293 kids mill aimlessly around her. Plus, for some reason, yuppie douchebags are just so loud. Any place they congregate is likely to be deafening, what with the cell phone conversations, discussions on whether Moldova is the new Chile, and the soundtrack of Guatemalan whistle bands covering John Mayer songs. And they just stop, open-mouthed and goggle-eyed in high traffic areas for no apparent reason. Or sometimes for apparent reasons, like the fact that the elementary school appears to have PTA meetings in the frozen food aisle.

Thus a second need for those guerilla missions. Say I need prosciutto and fresh purple hull peas. I take exactly one $20 bill in my hand, park as near the check out door as the Mini-Cooper, Prius and Escalade congestion will allow. Then I pass up the shopping carts and even the hand baskets, because it’s just going to way me down. Now comes the possible need for full-contact play. There’s no easy way to negotiate the produce section. It’s kill or be killed. I reach over the pair of Shining twins that are parked in front of the purple hulls (why, I don’t know – kids don’t like beans, shouldn’t they be over in front of the Haribo gummy bears?), and grab the first bag I can get my hands on. Then I backtrack through produce (getting caught in the meat section is a huge tactical error), and go through the little secret passage that dumps you into canned vegetables (yes, they’re snooty, but even snooty people eat canned food sometimes) and then cut past the frozen food (bypassing the PTA meeting, bakery and the dairy section in one swoop), fly through the flowers and emerge at the back of the deli. Then I hold my hands over my eyes as I pass the olive bar (danger! danger! danger! you only have $20), grab my prosciutto, and zip back to the front and get in the express checkout. Never, never, never buy more than 15 items. You’ll have to take granola bars and a canteen to make it through that checkout line. And of course, a pair of elbow pads and some noise cancelling headphones are good tack to take along. Unless you like bruised elbows and listening to Your Body is a Wonderland played on the pan flute.

TIME: Quotes of the Day