Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Lady In the Water

We saw this movie last night so there are spoilers here! In case you have not seen it yet, just bookmark me and visit when you have.

I like Shyamalan's movies and have always found the stories creative, consistent and tight. Every scene, dialogue, shot has a purpose to help build the story.

He's dubbed this a "bedtime story," but I think of it as a fantasy story or a message in a bottle. The movie opens with an animated story of the history of Man and Narfs. This reminds me of something I've seen on Sesame Street, which is good. Its purpose is to lure the audience to a state of innocence and childlike belief before the movie starts.

Telling the secrets
The Chinese mother was a perplexing to me. He used her to spread the story, let it unfold. "Oh yeah, there's another thing." "Oh wait, there's this thing." Why didn't Shyamalan just let someone hold it another way - i.e., an ancient book or series of painting. Maybe the answers could have been in the trees or grass,. Maybe we're used to the "The Da Vinci Code" where we need to decipher clues, but it's based on something. Listening to the Chinese mother retell her grandmother's version is hard to digest. The only deciphering was done through the daughter.

Going through the mother seemed haphazard and unreliable. And, it would have been more beautiful to let her be part of the real events - as she already believed in Narfs.

Kill the Critic
I thought the critic was hilarious! Seems like Shyamalan put all his feelings toward professional film critics into this character. It was funny that the predictable suggestions the critic had made were all wrong (i.e., who's the symbolist, guild). Those are the predictions we in the audience would make and they went with it. The last scene with the critic said it all.

Story Time
My first question to Shyamalan is why did the folks not give real clothes to Story? Why did she have to walk around in a big shirt all the time? Bryce Dallas Howard has such expressive eyes, you've seen them in her father Ron before. I always thought nonverbal acting was more impressive than actual delivery of dialogue. I loved this shot of her - kudos to Mr. Shyamalan for using multiple mirrors to do a reflective shot. This is a fabulous shot because you don't know how to view her.
She could be anything. In the movie, her face is in one mirror, her shoulder in the other.

Paul Giammati. He's awesome. He captured the character, his insecurities, his feelings and everything.

I didn't realize the sister was played by Sarita Chaudhry (Mississippi Masala). Both she and Shyamalan did a great job as well. If there's one thing that stands out about Shyamalan movies, you have a rainbow of people on the screen - real people, fat, brown, skinny, old. People you would know. (Ok, except for "Signs" when you had those aliens!)

Oh yeah, the scary part
It is important to remember Shyamalan likes "suspense," not "horror." This movie is PG-13, so it's mild. There are the other creatures who live among us, in the shadows. Scrunts are just big scary wolf like creatures who hid among us. So maybe he is dipping into the European folk tales about the wolves as evil creatures. The tree monkeys looked like they fell out of Wicked Witch of the West's posse. I think he could've done better. Perhaps a more mystical apparition that appears and disappears would've been better. This was like a wild animal loose. (Come here, Cujo).

In the End
This movie is about hope for humanity. It has a warm, fuzzy feel to it - we are not alone, someone cares for us.

I felt like there was some gaps though. Getting the story piecemeal was hard. By the way, as a Disney Princess Mom, I had Ariel and the Little Mermaid deeply embedded in me. I see Story, I see Ariel's red hair. I see the grotto under the pool, I see the grotto where Ariel hid her treasures. And, Story stole human treasures too.

Also, I was surprised how readily all the tenants believed Cleveland when he told them. I think there should've been more "Are you for real?" However, letting everyone easily believe the story, made it feel more of a fantasy.

Anyway, do enjoy this movie for the fantasy, the hope, great acting and everything else.

On the Job Training Motherhood - Part 15b Addendum to Chuck E

Just to let you know that the party on Wednesday was postponed to Thursday - thus extending my anxiety. So, on Thursday, we went and it wasn't so bad. They renovated the place and it looked more open. Maybe that was it - bad Feng Shui. Kids had a blast - 14 5-year-old girls screaming, screaming, screaming. It's a "lovely" high-pitch noise that exceeds any sound meter readings.

My girl had a bit of anxiety attack when she knew ChuckE was coming out. She kept whispering to me and holding on to me. I told her not to worry and that there was a person inside the costume.

So, she said, "OK, let me tell everyone!"

I told her it was a secret. Geesh, I didn't want to be responsible for breaking ChuckE's spell to all the little girls and ruining the birthday party! So, Annika was calmer, but a bit excited. She mimicked her friends in the chanting of "We Want Chuck E!" Then ChuckE came out and greeted the kids. They all ran over, including Annika. And, she hugged him. I think she hugged him extra just to prove it to herself.

I had a decent time chatting with some of the mothers. Girls will be going to KG next September so we're all a bit nervous about the change in routines.

By the way, one of the fathers there had suggested there should be a parents lounge where they can relax. I'll take that suggestion one step further and say it should be a clear room, lots of windows so you can see what's happening. Yet it should be sound-proof so you don't hear all that ruckus!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On the Job Training: Motherhood - Part 15: No More Chuck E Cheese!!

Sorry to be a wee bit harsh. I have a Chuck E Cheese party in 2 hours. I seriously hate these parties and wish parents would do something else. This is her best friend from school's birthday, so we have to go. Her mom told me this a few months ago that her daughter wanted her birthday here. "Great!" I said with a frozen smile.

In case you live in a Chuck-E free world, this is a pizza party place for kids. They have arcade games, tunnels to climb through, entertainment by a 6" gray mouse & robotic characters. Parties are 90 minutes long and there can be 5 (?) parties simultaneously. They provide pizza, cake, prizes and a party coordinator. Sounds great, doesn't it?

It's total chaos. Birthday child is in the tunnel, one friend is playing a game, someone else is running over there. Parents are either escorting their child through or maybe if they're lucky they can gab with other parents. I always felt the birthday child is lost because they're competing with the games and activities. Not only do you have the other birthday parties going on, there are regular customers who come in. It's too crazy.

When Annika was younger, I had to stay alert the whole time. First of all, there were 7-9 year old kids running around. She was a toddler who wanted to do whatever others were doing, so I had to keep her in close check.

The craziest party was Austin's 3rd birthday. Austin freaked out when Chucke came. He started screaming. Then various kids on the table started crying too! It was a group-fear phenomena. Moms are consoling their kids, taking them out.

We went to one more party a little after that and it was better. Yet, Austin & Annika were still frightened of Chucke and refused to go to the table.

Pizza is average. Cake is pathetic.

They need a bar. Margaritas for moms and dads.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Neruda, Love & Us..

XVII (I do not love you...)

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Translated by Stephen Tapscott


I've always loved this poem in the context of my daughter - even before she was born. The last two lines came to mind the other day when I was reading a bedtime story. We're sitting on her bed, she's in my lap and we both have pj shorts. Her bare knees, my bare knees were touching. I wove my arms through hers and let my elbows angle into hers. I just felt my body and her body were so entwined. Ever since she was born, I had this weird sensation. If I'm holding her and I pat her on the back, I'm always surprised that I don't feel my hand through her body. I feel we're still part of each other.

Women Writers

I had this list saved, and wanted to share it. I got it from Chicago Public Library and I've starred my favorites. A bit tricky since I may have read the author's other works and not this particular one (e.g., Isabel Allende)

Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women *
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings *
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice *
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex
Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture
Boston Women's Health Book Collective Staff, Our Bodies, Ourselves
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre *
Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights *
Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape *
Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth *
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring *
Willa Cather, My Antonia *
Mary Boykin Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie *
Kate Chopin, The Awakening *
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson *
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health
George Eliot (Mary Ann or Marian Evans), Middlemarch *
Fannie Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
Francis Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake
Dian Fossey, Gorillas in the Mist
Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl *
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
Emma Goldman, Living My Life
Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch
Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness
Edith Hamilton, Mythology
Betty Lehan Harragan, Games Mother Never Taught You
Karen Horney, Our Inner Conflicts
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God *
Helen Keller, The Story of My Life *
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior *
Elisabeth Kr-Ross, On Death and Dying
Frances Moore Lapp, Diet for a Small Planet
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird *
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals
Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party *
Beryl Markham, West with the Night
Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa
Golda Meir, My Life
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Collected Poems
Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind *
Marianne Moore, Complete Poems of Marianne Moore
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon *
Lady Shikibu Murasaki, The Tale Genji
Anais Nin, The Early Diary of Anais Nin
Flannery O'Connor, The Complete Stories
Zoe Oldenbourg, The World Is Not Enough
Tillie Olsen, Silences
Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels
Emmeline Pankhurst, My Own Story
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar *
Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born
Margaret Sanger, Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography
Sappho, Sappho: A New Translation *
May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein *
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor
Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin *
Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror
Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter
Alice Walker, The Color Purple *
Eudora Welty, Delta Wedding
Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome *
Phyllis Wheatley, The Collected Works of Phyllis Wheatley
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women*
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own *

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

I saw this movie last night with my girlfriend and it was so much fun. We kept whispering and pointing out the shoes, outfits and jewelry we liked.

Side note: Does anyone know how we can get knock offs of these clothes?? We want them! My friend and I loved, loved, loved her white shirt with black off-the-shoulder sweater and the Chanel necklaces. This is something we could wear to work so we want that black sweater. Is there some site or something that will tell plebians how to achieve high-fashion for merely hundreds of dollars instead of thousands? Where do we get a hat like that?

Anyway, I had read the book last year or so and enjoyed it. Definitely a fun book and the movie followed it well. They changed a few things, but that was more to streamline the film.

I related to Andrea's character on so many levels and watching this movie, memories came rushing. When I graduated college, I wanted to be in advertising. So, when I was 21 I had an internship with a small advertising shop in NYC. Most of my time was spent on the NY Times Crossword puzzle because they didn't have work for me. The artists and business managers would tease me about not having any work. They paid me $60 a week to cover my transportation, that was it.

Other days were exciting. They were doing an ad campaign for Riveria sunglasses so they needed models with versatile looks to handle all the glasses. So, we went to a few 'go-see' (model auditions) with the art director and photographer. The task for each male and female candidate was to try on variety of sunglasses and see if they had a versatile face.

They're rather ordinary, decent looking people that you see all over NYC. However, the director would say "Her nose didn't align properly." or "Her butt is too wide for a swimsuit." So, if you were a model, what do you do? Change your nose? It's a business where they want you or don't. Not much you can do about it, but keep trying.

By the way, I dressed like a total dork on those days, much like Andrea in the movie. Really, I was part of the creative side, not fashion. However, I'm quite fashion-challenged anyway, so I don't know what I would've done. I remember one nice model who chatted with me and was fascinated with my life as a college student and intern. I'm thinking, "You were on the cover of an Italian fashion magazine when you were 17! What the hell!"

Anyway, we also had to do a spread for children's clothing. All these little kids and mothers came for the photo shoot at this studio. As the intern, I got to tote around some toddlers (who knew my summer as a camp counselor would come in handy?) They had one shot with the girls in "country" outfits and they thought it'd be cute if one had a straw hat, carried a fishing pole and toy fish showing what she caught. Oh, we should send the intern on a search in a random part of NYC to go find a straw hat and a plastic fish.

So, I wandered and found a toy store specializing in aquatics (only in NYC!). The straw hat was $50 (only in NYC!). They didn't like the hat because it was too fancy and we'd be over budget for a $50 prop. So I had to return it.

One more resemblance to Andrea was the name. In the story, her boss calls her by other names, not her own. The art director called me "Sweetie" "Honey" and all sorts of words like that. I cringed a bit, but didn't say anything. I noticed that when he introduced me, he never said my name. So, the more I repeated my name, he *got* the pronounciation down. Once he got my name, he totally stopped using those substitutions.

Anyway, instead of advertising, I fell into nonprofit and eventually software. It's ironic that my client now is a large ad agency in NYC. I went there for a meeting recently and was blown away by their sleek office and the coffee bar in the reception area. I felt like a country bumpkin walking in (all we have is a water cooler to offer our visitors). Anyway, I don't think I could work there any more - at least at this stage in my life. All we do now at work is complain about "marketing people."

So, "The Devil Wears Prada" is definitely a fun movie and if I had a clue about fashion world, I'd probably recognize more people in it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

ABCDLady Articles

Just wanted to share some news that I'll be contributing to the Parenting section of ABCD Lady. Here's my first article, "Making the Most of Summer with Your Kids."

If you have suggestions for future topics, please let me know. I'd like to continue this tone of being informative without being preachy and realistic without whining.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Alice Walker Poem

you rubbed
my shoulder
last night
a poem
traveled down
my arm.


this year
it different?

No one
a blessing.


Every time
you live


You cannot
if you could
it would




us up
I love Alice Walker's poetry for her simplicity and the beauty of her words and ideas. I have a few of her poetry books and they're like little treasures. The poem above is printed on multiple pages in her book "A Poem Traveled Down My Arm." So, it's as if there's a nugget of gold on each page - letting you marvel and relish the words and feelings.