Monday, May 31, 2010

Free the Lady Bugs!

We get a ton of coupons in the mail, and I go through them and cut the ones out that I want to use. (I've become a coupon lady...shoot me.) But the other day, we got a coupon booklet for a Home & Garden Showplace, where there were coupons for flowers and plants and gardening tools. If we had a nice yard or a garden, I would totally be interested, but we don't. Just as I was about to toss it, I noticed a coupon for lady bugs. I took a closer look. There was a coupon for $7.95 in which you would get a bagful of 2,000 lady bugs, and there was even a picture of the bag with all the poor little lady bugs inside it. It made me incredibly sad. What do they do if no one buys them? Do they all just die, or do they end up releasing them without any profit? I mean, how sad is 2,000 lady bugs crammed into a teeny tiny bag? Pretty sad, me thinks. I'm giving some serious consideration to going and buying a couple bags so I could release them. Unfortunately, at $8.00 a bag, I think I'm going to have to wait until I get some more moolah before I can embark on my Free the Lady Bugs campaign.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Weak Week

I had a job interview, in which I didn't get the job. (Bummer.)

I read a book that I had been optimistic about, entitled Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky. I just finished it this morning and I was pretty disappointed with it. It is a fictional story that revolves around four teenage girls who make a pregnancy pact (remember that story in the news a couple years ago?) and how their mothers deal with it. I thought it sounded interesting...it wasn't. The four girls are basically the same exact character, and the dialogue is so unbelievable I found myself rolling my eyes more than once. The main character, Susan, who is not only the mother of one of the girls but the principal of the high school, takes a lot of heat for her daughter's pregnancy and has to deal with the possibility that she may lose her job. The story gets repetitive (the mothers are angry with their daughters, but wonder if the pregnancies are their fault because they're bad mothers...over and over and over) and the author tries to throw a curve ball by having one of the babies diagnosed with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) in which plenty of drama and personal angst ensues. And somehow, the book ends on a happy note, with three of the four girls taking care of their babies while not furthering their education, the mothers adore their grand babies, and Susan ends up happily ever after with her keeping her job, buying a new house, and marrying her daughter's father after 18 years apart. Blech. On to the next book on my bookshelf.

I did go watch Sex and the City 2 this week. I was stoked on it. There were a few parts that were over-the-top cheesy and I think the whole thing with Aidan was just fluff and unnecessary, but overall it was a lot of fun. I know it has gotten bad reviews, but I liked it. I enjoyed the TV show, though, so the movie would have to be pretty bad for me not to like it. I went by myself on Thursday afternoon, and I almost had the theater all to myself. There were only three other women, who also showed up by themselves, and I almost felt like asking them if we could all sit together and act like we were our own little group of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha for the duration of the movie. But, I didn't. (I would have totally been Carrie, by the way.)

Also, my apostrophe key on my keyboard has decided it doesn't like me this week, and I literally have to bang on it for it to show up. I hate that - it totally disrupts the flow of my typing.

Here's hoping to a better week this week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Learnin' 'bout Mormons

I made a personal goal for myself that I would try to read two books a month. So far, I've read nine books this year, so I'm a little behind. I just finished my ninth book last night, and it was so interesting, I felt the need to write a (lengthy) blog about it.

I don't usually read non-fiction (with the exception of true-crime novels, because I have a morbid fascination with serial killers) because I find them kind of, well, boring. The subject matter has to really interest me for me to get involved in a non-fiction novel. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer is an unraveling of the history of Mormonism. Krakauer has the case of Ron and Dan Lafferty at the core of his novel. In 1984, these two brothers killed their innocent sister-in-law, Brenda Lafferty, and her 15 month old baby, Erica Lafferty, because Ron had received a revelation from God telling him it was God's will that he murder them. Under the Banner of Heaven studies how the Mormon religion came into being, the initial teachings of Mormonism, and the history of this recently formed religion to help understand the Lafferty case. The book takes a particularly intense look at Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (extreme sects of the Mormon religion) in both present and past, as the Lafferty brothers were ex-communicated LDS who turned to the Fundamentalist LDS teachings.

I found the novel very interesting, since I've always had a certain adverse fascination with the Mormon religion. I knew that Joseph Smith founded the religion, but I didn't know much about him as an individual or the history surrounding the initial church. I learned that he started out as, basically, a phony. At an early age, he had "special" stones that he called "peep" or "seer" stones that he believed could tell him where buried treasure was. He was hired to find buried treasure for property owners and one prospector hired him to locate a rumored hidden lode of silver that had been mined by the Spaniards centuries earlier. Of course, he didn't find any of the silver, and he was later charged in court as being an impostor.

Want to know how the Book of Mormon was written? I swear, it is the most retarded thing I've ever heard in my life. Here's a short version: One night when Joseph Smith was 17, he saw an angel, Moroni, who told him that there was a sacred text with gold plates buried under a rock. Joseph supposedly dug them up, only to have the angel take them away because it wasn't the proper time. Moroni told Joseph that he would get another chance to receive the text when the time was right. Four years later, Moroni told him to get the text and Joseph did. Apparently, the text was written in an ancient language that Joseph couldn't understand. Moroni gave him special glasses that would translate the text for him. Joseph transcribed the text into English using these glasses. Joseph gave the papers he had transcribed to his friend, but his friend "lost" the papers. The angel was angry at Joseph for letting this happen, and he took the special glasses away so Joseph couldn't translate the text. That was when Joseph Smith used the previously mentioned "peep stones" to relate what is now The Book of Mormon. The entirety of The Book of Mormon was written by this process: Joseph Smith put the peep stones in a hat, then put his face in the hat, and he would then "see" what the words were and he would tell them to his transcriber. When the time came to publish his work, Joseph Smith didn't have enough money to do so, and asked his neighbor, Martin Harris, if he would pay for it. Martin Harris expressed hesitation in putting forth the money, and Joseph Smith told him that he had a revelation from God demanding that Martin Harris pay the printer, and if he didn't, he would die. So, Martin Harris paid the $3,000 advance required for the print. And that's how The Book of Mormon became printed. Retarded, right?

There were other things I found interesting. Joseph Smith told of a group that left Jerusalem 600 years before the birth of Christ that came here, to the U.S. This group ended up splitting into two separate, warring groups. One was the Nephites who were righteous and fair-skinned, and the other was the Lamanites, who were idle and full of mischief and the Lord was so annoyed by their behavior that he cursed them with dark skin. Native Americans, according to Joseph Smith, are descendants of the Lamanites. (Even though DNA evidence proves that Native Americans are not descendants of any Hebraic race, this is what Mormons believe.) The Lamanites ended up killing all of the Nephites, so that "explains" why there weren't any fair-skinned people in the U.S. when it was first discovered. Also, Jesus supposedly visited these people in America.

Then there's The Doctrine and Covenants, which is a LDS text that records the revelations that the Prophets receive from God. This includes the revelation known as Section 132, which is Joseph Smith's revelation that polygamy is God's will. While modern-day LDS followers have renounced polygamy (due to the fact that it was the only way the federal government would leave them alone) Many Fundamentalist Mormons practice polygamy. There are polygamous sects in Utah, Northern Arizona, Eastern Nevada, and other areas. There are men in these sects that have 20-50 wives and over a hundred children. Because polygamy is not legal, the men legally marry their first wife, and then take multiple "spiritual wives." According to the research done by Krakauer, the state, technically speaking, sees these spiritual wives as single mothers, and they are therefore allowed to qualify for welfare and other forms of public assistance. The polygamous community known as UEP that is in Arizona and Utah receives more than 6 million dollars a year in public funds. I don't know about you guys, but that makes me extremely angry.

For many years, until 1978, anyone other than white males was banned from priesthood within the Mormon church. After 1978, males of all races were allowed to enter the priesthood. (Women are still not allowed to enter the priesthood. The Mormon religion is very heavy in patriarchal beliefs. It was originally taught that a woman should serve the man. Most modern-day Mormons say they do not feel this way, but the Fundamentalists certainly still preach this.) So, the modern Mormon church allows African-American priests, but the official LDS policy has continued to strongly admonish white Saints not to marry blacks. Brigham Young wrote that anyone who committed such horrible sins as homosexuality, or having sex with a member of the African race would be punished, and "the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." Wow. Racist, homophobic, and sexist. Where do I sign up?

There is so much more I could write about this book and what I learned from it, but I will save that for you, the reader, to learn if you're interested. Seriously, you should read it. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. It's eye-opening.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

two bites at the cherry

Yesterday, I worked up the nerve to get a pair of scissors and walk down the street to cut some lilac off my neighbor's bush to bring back to my house. As I was trying to find the best blossoms to cut without taking too much time, I had a flashback of a summer my aunt came to visit my family in California.

My family loves cherries. We had planted our own cherry trees, but it takes forever for those things to produce fruit. One summer my aunt came to visit and there was a woman who lived around the corner from us who had a beautiful cherry tree, but she didn't pick any of them. As a result, they would rot.

We'd gone by this tree several times, when we decided, what the heck? If they weren't being used to their full edible potential, who would object to us eating them? We were driving by the tree when we decided to stop the car on the side of the road. We all got out and started picking, and then immediately consuming, the cherries. It was literally a drive-by cherry massacre.

After standing there for a couple of minutes, thoroughly chowing down on those cherries, my aunt said, "Oh my gosh! She's watching us through the window!" And we all looked up to see the owner of the cherry tree giving us the stink eye through her kitchen window, which just happened to be right next to her cherry tree. We all hurried back into the car and sped away as fast as we could.

This memory popped into my head as I was hurriedly trying to hack off some lilac branches to take back home. I had a feeling, based on the large "No Trespassing" sign they had posted on their door, that they wouldn't be too keen on someone "borrowing" their lilac. But, I didn't notice anyone watching through the window, and I was saved from any shame inducing stink eyes.

The worry was totally worth it, though. Now my living room smells of lilac.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Neighbor-Dogs

I try to take my dogs on walks as often as I can. I walk them to a near-by park and let them run around off their leashes as I sit down and read a book. During our walks, we come across other neighborhood dogs that I have made nic-names for. Want to meet them?

First, there is our neighbor's dog who I call the Evil Dog (I'll blog about it some other time) who ferociously barks and batters against his side of the fence as we go by. Then, on the corner of our street, there are the two dogs that I have dubbed Bizarro Ellie and Bizarro Sophie. (You know, like Seinfeld? Where there are characters who physically look like George, Jerry, and Kramer, but there personalities are complete opposites?) Anyway, these two dogs look similar to my dogs, with one being a medium-sized, blond Golden Retriever (Sophie) and the other a small, white, hairy counterpart (Ellie). Everytime we go by, they bark at us incessantly as my dogs have learned to politely ignore them.

There's also a dog right near the Bizarros I refer to as The Spazz because he spastically throws himself against his living room window in an attempt to reach us. Then, there's a dog that I like to call Sophie's Boyfriend. He is only out in his yard every once in a while, so we don't get to see him that much, but when we do, oh my goodness. Sophie is beside herself when she sees this dog. She tries to cross the street to get to him, and she cries and whimpers because she wants to go see him so badly. She won't stop craning her neck to look at him until we have rounded the corner and he's out of sight. Oh, puppy love.

When we get back from our walk, our other neighbor's dog is usually waiting on his side of the chain-link fence, watching for our return. This dog is one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen. He's a little skittish around people, but he's warmed up to me and I was able to read his name tag. His name is Koko. What kind of name is that for a boy dog? So instead, I affectionately call him Bruiser. He's full of character. He is able to jump over to our side of the fence by using a stump, and he performs very interesting tricks with his rope-loop toy. He flings it into the air with his mouth, and then catches it around his neck. I was impressed the first time I saw him do it. He sometimes sits atop his stump and watches me if I'm doing something outside. I don't like his owners very much, though, because I never see them play with him and he's always alone. They leave their gate open all the time, and as a result, I've caught him in the middle of the street more than once. I've had to herd him back to safety into his own yard. He's pretty cute, though, that Bruiser. Here's a picture of him supervising my outdoor work:
And those are our neighbor-dogs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Flower Thoughts

Recently, my street has exploded with lilac blossoms. I always see lilacs as the sign that spring is here. There are at least four huge lilac bushes on our street, and they are overflowing with lilac. I love walking by them, it smells so wonderful. Lilac is one of my very favorite scents because it's so soft and delicate-smelling. It has a sweet fragrance, but it is not too sweet.
It makes me miss our old house back in California, where we had a lilac bush in our backyard. I used to cut some lilac to bring into the house and our rooms would smell so good. We also had a lavendar border planted in our front yard, and I would cut that and bring it into the house, as well. The lavendar smelled good, but I always liked the lilac better.
We had three rose bushes in the front; I don't know the names of the specific types of roses they were, but there was one that had tiny, pink roses. Another had really large, yellow blossoms, and the third had medium sized roses that were yellow and red. My favorite rose bush was in the back, though, right next to the lilac bush. That rose bush produced the most beautiful, perfect, dark-red roses. I used to set up vases of roses around the house. I love the way roses look, but I don't like the way they smell due to an early childhood memory that I'll share some other time.
As much as I liked the other flowers I would put around the house, the lilacs were always my favorite. So, I've been thinking about whether or not anyone would care if I went and cut some lilacs off of one of my neighbor's bushes. I mean, they are sooo big and there's sooo many blossoms, would anyone really miss them? But, I feel like it would be weird to just walk up and start cutting flowers off my neighbor's plants. I think I'm going to have to be really stealthy about it. The thought of a lilac-scented house is just too tempting for me to pass up.
(All these pictures of lilacs are pictures I took of the ones on my street. Isn't the first picture crazy? That is the biggest lilac bush I've ever seen!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Undercover Ellie

Where, oh where, is Ellie at today?



Wait a second...









There she is!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kiddie Confusion Part Trois

I remember asking my dad when I was little about the concept of blood brothers. I'd probably seen it in some movie where the characters prick their fingers or hands and then mesh their little drops of blood together and proudly declare, "We are now blood brothers!" (Or blood sisters, whichever.) I was confused about the ramifications of this.

So, I decided I'd question my dad about it. I asked, "If a white guy and a black guy became blood brothers, does that mean that when they have kids, the black guy's kids will be part white and the white guy's kids will be part black?" I remember him laughing, and saying that he could understand why I'd think that, but no, they wouldn't. He then tried to explain genetics and DNA to me, my very first scientific explanation. I totally didn't understand it.

I've never had a very scientific mind.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sophie Vocabulary

As I was reviewing my blog, I felt like Sophie wasn't getting enough representation on here. So, here is a clip displaying Sophie's knowledge of "people vocabulary." (I particularly like how she starts wagging her tail when I call her a good girl. She definitely knows what being called a good girl means.)

video
Obviously, she gets pretty pumped about the idea of visiting Grandma.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Jack Attack Review: The Runaways

Sometimes, I learn about a movie that is in production or I see a preview for a certain film, and I get super stoked on it. When I read months ago that Kirsten Stewart was going to play Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning was going to portray Cherie Currie in a movie about the all girl rock band The Runaways, I was pumped. Most of what I read lead me to believe it was a Joan Jett bio-pic, which I was excited about because I really admire and like Joan Jett. Three or four months ago was the first time I saw a trailer for the film, and that pumped me up even more. I've been building up the excitement on this one, and my expectations became high.


Last week, I saw The Runaways and I left the theater feeling utterly disappointed. I still haven't figured out if it just didn't live up to my expectations, or if it was just a disappointing movie in general. A couple things right off the bat: the film is not a Joan Jett bio-pic, but a Cherie Currie bio-pic. The script is based on Cherie's memoir, so the film focuses on her almost the entire time. I was wanting more of Joan Jett, or even more about the relationship between the girls in the band. The film basically left out the other band members, the other girls (with the exclusion of Joan Jett) had only a handful of lines, and most of them were related to how unfair it was that Cherie was always the center of attention. I'm sure this movie didn't rehash old wounds.
Anyway, when the film first started, I had high hopes. One of the first scenes is Cherie Currie lip-synching a David Bowie song at her high school. She's dressed in full glam gear and even has the David Bowie lightning bolt painted on her face. The kids boo her and throw stuff at her while she's up on stage, and she stops what she's doing, and proceeds to flip them off. This was probably my favorite scene in the entire film...it cracked me up.

Another early scene shows Joan Jett going to a guitar lesson. When she tells the teacher (who is male) that she wants to play electric guitar, not acoustic, he tells her that girls don't play electric guitar. She plugs her guitar into the amp anyway, jams in his face, and then leaves. This was the kind of stuff I had been hoping for with this movie. A statement about women in the rock and roll industry - how they were tough-as-nails chicks that weren't going to take shit from anybody. That's why Joan Jett is so freakin' awesome! She didn't listen to society, she changed the
norms. She was one badass bitch. Unfortunately, this is the only scene in the movie that really touches on that kind of progression.

The scenes with their manager are probably the most interesting ones. Michael Shannon plays their manager, Kim Fowley, and he steals every scene he is in. He is so ridiculous, over-the-top, and outrageous, that I couldn't take my eyes off him. Kim Fowley convinces the girls that they need to be tough to survive in the world of rock and roll, but he does this by abusing them - mostly verbally but sometimes physically, as well.


The film was just far too generic, it even included a montage of newspaper clippings that stated how big The Runaways were becoming. Really? A montage of headliners? The narrative fell flat, as well. It vaguely touches on the fact that Cherie Currie had a less than ideal home life with a drunk dad and a mom who moves to India. (I think it was India, now I'm having trouble remembering. It was a country far away, though.) She gets seen by Kim Fowley at a night club, and is recruited into The Runaways. She's only 15 at the time, so I can see how the rock and roll lifestyle is a jarring experience, but I've already seen the story of the rock star spiralling into drug addiction. I get it. Fame leads to drugs, which leads to downfall. Show me something new, why don't ya?

Here's another thing that bothered me: I felt like the lesbian scenes in the film were unnecessary. Let me make this clear, I have nothing against lesbians, and I have no problem watching films that are focused around homosexual characters. I also know that Joan Jett is rumored to be bi-sexual, so it's not a huge surprise that they would incorporate this into the film. But, it just didn't work for me because I felt like the scenes that did involve homosexuality were exploitive. The sex scene between Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, I felt, was more of the production company saying, "Hey, I know what would be great! If we had two attractive, young, female actresses kissing! People will like that!" The relationship between the two was never really analyzed. Instead, there was their sex scene that came out of nowhere, and the film never delved any deeper than that.

Anyway, I thought the acting by Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning was good. I know a lot of people may discredit Kirsten Stewart because she is in the Twilight movies, but I think she was good in other stuff like Into the Wild and Speak. Dakota Fanning is always amazing, and I think she's becoming a really diverse actress. This film just didn't allow them the ability to expand on their roles.

So, overall, big disappointment. I did like the cinematography, though, and the costumes were pretty awesome, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spooning Pups

Look at those two cuddle bugs. Aren't they cute?

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm a little behind.

I'm behind in everything. I'm behind in studying for my finals. I'm behind in completing an essay that is one of my finals. I'm behind in my housework. I'm behind on this blog. I'm behind on a Mother's Day post. So here we go...

I don't have any children except the furry variety. Want to hear how my Mother's Day went? I'm pretty sure my two little furry girlies knew it was a special day, because they let me sleep in yesterday, which they usually don't do. When I got out of bed and started getting ready, they greeted me with plenty of licks and wagging tails. I'm pretty sure it was their way of saying happy Mother's Day. When I sat down later, they proceeded to pile all of their toys around me, which I like to presume were their Mother's Day gifts to me. (Really, they were just trying to get me to play tug-of-war or fetch, but I like my version better.) What sweet little chil'en I have.

But, in all seriousness, I like celebrating Mother's Day with my mom. This was the first Mother's Day that I didn't actually spend it with her. It was kind of sad. But I called her and wished her a happy Mother's Day and all that. She was actually spending Mother's Day with her mom in New Mexico. So, at least I know she had fun.

Do you spend an insane amount of time picking a card out for someone? I do. I always have. I look at almost every single card that's there. It can't be too mushy, but it can't be unfeeling, either. Most of the time, I try to go for something funny, but it's hard to find the right humor that I may share with that particular person. Sometimes I pick a card that's a little more sentimental, but I consider what kind of card I gave the person last year in order to decide whether or not I should be sentimental or funny this year. See how complicated it gets?

So a few weeks ago, I was looking for the perfect Mother's Day card. Most of them were so mushy I could only take one look at it and then put it immediately back. After looking for a good thirty minutes, I found one that wasn't too embarrassingly sentimental, but it was a little plain. I started to head to the check-out counter, when I noticed a card with a picture of Sarah Palin on it. I immediately picked it up, hoping it was anti-Palin. It said on the front: "Sarah Palin could be our next President of the United States." and on the inside it said: "Guess there are scarier things than raising kids." Bingo.

I hope all you mothers out there had an awesome Mother's Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kiddie Confusion Part II

I remember the first time I went on a ferry. I was about eight, and my family was on a road trip to Lake Powell. I kept hearing my parents talking about how we needed to take the ferry and I was really excited.

I kept thinking to myself, "We're going on a fairy?! What is this thing? What is it going to look like?" While I knew that fairies did not really exist in true life, I had imagined that we were going to travel on a man-made fairy...an imitation fairy, if you will. I kept imagining what it was going to look like. In my mind, I pictured a beautiful, sparkly contraption with wings. I was bubbling with excitement, thinking we were about to embark on something very magical.

Imagine my bitter disappointment when we boarded an ordinary, flat boat. The ferry was definitely not as pretty as the fairy I had pictured.