August 10

A Trip to the Movie Theater

A lot of people have been complaining about movie theaters these past few years. Movie makers are upset that fewer people are going to the theater; customers are complaining that it’s too expensive and inconvenient. Critics whine that the public has no taste; the public replies that Hollywood has forgotten how to entertain us. Good points all.

Here’s an idea. Instead of talking about why we don’t go to the theater, let’s talk a little about why we do.

I’ve been to the cinema four times in 2006. That’s four times as many as in 2005 when the only film I saw was “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” This summer I’ve seen “The Da Vinci Code,” “Cars,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean II” twice. Okay, so what about these movies compelled me to spend the $10 a pop, find child care, burn my gas money, endure the lines, the crowds, and the interminable commercials and previews?

Both “Harry Potter” and “The Da Vinci Code” were film versions of good books that I had read. Plus, they were, for me, opportunities to go out and bond with my girl friends. My sister and I have a tradition of going to the midnight showings of all the HP movies. And another friend and I had both really enjoyed “Da Vinci” and wanted to see how the film compared.

“Cars” had the benefit of being from Disney/Pixar. My family has loved all of the Pixar movies. The marketing was cute and effective, and the reviews were good. Bottom line, though, my son wanted to see it and didn’t want to wait for it to come out on DVD.

Then there’s “Pirates.” I plunked down a total of $30 on this picture, so I think this one’s worth looking into. I saw the midnight showing with my sister the night it came out. I’ve been a longtime fan of Johnny Depp; my sister and I both used to work for Disney, and we love the ride which inspired the films. We were big fans of the first movie and were eagerly awaiting the sequel. It’s kinda goofy, but it’s sexy and funny and truly entertaining. I took my husband the very next day. We’ve been talking about going again with another couple we pal around with.

In the end, then, it’s more about the moviegoer than the movies. I attended these films more to be with the people I love than to see the movies themselves. The movies I chose had a personal connection to me and the people I went with: we’d read the book or ridden the ride that inspired them, enjoyed previous films from the series or the studio or the actor, worked for the company that produced them. We could have waited for the DVD as I did with “Wedding Crashers” or “40-Year-Old Virgin.” For certain movies, though, going to the theater is an event. I go to share a special experience with special people.

A few of my friends and I may go see Will Ferrell in “Talladega Nights.” The previews are really funny, and we could all use a laugh. And we do live in Indy – if we don’t go see a movie about racing, who will?

August 10

Do as We Say Not as We Do

Okay, I’m a liberal in a red state. I admit it freely. If you’re already offended, don’t bother reading on because I’m not in the mood to try to change anyone’s mind. I just want to bitch about George W. Bush and his administration.

On NPR the other day, I heard the most amazing statistic. From George Washington to Bill Clinton, the U.S. presidents had signed a total of about 600 signing statements, which are basically the equivalent of “Get Out of Jail Free” cards in Monopoly. They’re little notes that a president can attach to a law when he signs it that explains how they expect the executive branch to interpret and enforce the new law. Quite convenient, really, especially if the president intends to not enforce the law, or better yet, break it.

Which brings us to George W. Bush, who, all by himself, has signed more than 800 signing statements. In other words, this president has signed new laws which the rest of the government and the citizens of this country must abide by, but he’s exempted himself from following them. It’s good to be the king.

As a mom, this tactic really bugs me even more than it bothers me as a Democrat. Throughout this entire administration, I’ve felt that George is a lousy president in the same way that many people are lousy parents – they set horrible examples. As a mother, I try to live the way I want my kids to live. I set down rules for them, and then I make sure that I abide by those rules too. If I break them, how can I expect my kids not to do the same?

Aside from the signing statements, Bush has set a poor example in the international community as well. He was determined to go to war with Iraq even without the assistance or input of any of our allies, and he trampled all over the United Nations to do it. Then he turns around and expects Iran and North Korea and all these other countries to adhere to United Nations resolutions. Who can blame them for telling the U.S. to kiss off? Especially when we’re preaching to them about human rights all the time and using holier-than-thou rhetoric to condemn the way they treat their citizens while our president is spying on his own people and refuses to adhere to a law he signed making it illegal to torture prisoners of war.

Last but certainly not least is a bewildering new “behavior” for the Republican party. When I was growing up, the Republicans were the ones who were always screaming about “deficit spending,” and rightly so. I mean, if I write checks without money in the bank, I go to jail. The government should have to operate in the black too, right? Obviously not. This particular issue really goes beyond party lines and into the realms of common sense: you simply cannot spend money you don’t have. And yet, Bush’s administration is cheering a $296 billion deficit because it’s lower than $423 billion they were expecting. $296 billion?!? If I were $296 overdrawn in my checking account, I would be freaking out. Multiply that by a billion, and the president calls it “good news?” Have I fallen down a rabbit hole and landed in a world where nonsense rules?

Somebody needs to be accountable. Somebody needs to set the example, be the leader, say and really mean: “THE BUCK STOPS HERE.” Where’s Harry S. Truman when you need him?

August 10

Hoosiers – Think Before You Write!

You know those people you see on the news after some kind of disaster? Somehow, those reporters always manage to find the dumbest people to interview – people with only six teeth and fewer IQ points. Well, I’m starting to think that those idiots are multiplying exponentially, and they’re beginning to speak out more and more! What’s particularly mortifying to me is that many of these outspoken morons are from my home state.

Today, for instance, I was reading an article on Yahoo! and was disappointed to see an editorial comment about stem cell research from some guy in Indianapolis. Here is the exact quote: “If stem cells were proved to prolong life, rather than just imagined to do so, we would need no research.” Brilliant, huh? Obviously, the guy’s a little confused about the scientific process. I mean, how are you going to prove something without doing research?

I ran across another doozy in the Indianapolis Star last week. A woman was outraged at an article that dared to mention a new mother was breastfeeding her child. The editorial writer insisted that this detail was offensive and unnecessary since breastfeeding has nothing to do with giving birth. Hmm… has she tried to breastfeed a child without giving birth first?

Most of these morons seem to be very conservative. I don’t know if that’s a cause or an effect: are they morons because they’re conservative or are they conservative because they’re morons? Not sure which is the case, but there certainly appears to be some kind of connection. Maybe they’re just really poor writers, and they need help expressing their ideas more clearly.

Whatever the reason, they’re only adding to the state’s reputation for being backward. Indiana has more fat people and more smokers than the rest of the country. We also lose more of our college graduates than most other states. So I guess we’re left with all the uneducated people who eat and smoke all they want, ignoring the wisdom of medical science. Hey, now, that explains the two idiots above pretty well, huh?

August 10

Naked

It’s 91 degrees Fahrenheit in Indianapolis today. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be around 93. I read in The Washington Post that over 130 people have died in California from the over 100-degree heat. Global warming’s gettin’ pretty ugly.

Now, my husband and I have a running “discussion” about the fact that I hate summer. My reasoning is always the same: winter may make the landscape ugly, but summer heat makes people ugly. Too many people with no business showing off their bodies wear bikinis, Speedos, shorts, tank tops, halter tops, or no tops. Guys with more hair and their backs than on their heads cut the grass in nothing but cut-off jeans, and we have to look at their large sweaty beer guts jiggling with the vibration of the lawnmower. Yuck. Toss in the fact that the U.S. is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and we’ve got the makings of an aesthetic disaster.

So here comes this killer heat. And the summers are just going to get hotter as the greenhouse gases insulate the planet. Accordingly, people are wearing skimpier and skimpier clothing. Thong bikins, low-rise Daisy Dukes, halter tops that aren’t much more than handkerchiefs. The problem is that you can take off only so many clothes before you end up naked. I figure that’s next, and nudism is on the rise.

Personally, I will miss clothes. They are fascinating; they serve so many purposes. Not only do they cover up our private parts to preserve our modesty and keep us out of jail, but they also cover up other parts we’d rather not expose for various reasons – scars, deformities, unattractive bits. Some clothes, like uniforms, can identify us as members of a group; others, like costumes, can keep us from being identified at all. Some people use their clothes to tell people about themselves. Sometimes we use clothes to pretend to be something we’re not. They can make us feel more confident, more beautiful, more relaxed. They can attract attention or divert it. We can dress up or dress down. Clothes have spawned entire industries: fashion designers, fashion magazines, textile plants, clothing retail. People spend hundreds of dollars on all those skimpy outfits. A lot of money will be lost when we lose our clothes. Not to mention the loss of our dignity.

Now the one thing that may save us from all this ugliness is that clothes keep us protected from the sun. So we come back to the whole global warming thing. No ozone layer means a lot of sunburned butts if we all go naked to beat the heat. I’m counting on the threat of skin cancer to keep people dressed. I can handle only so much ugly.

August 10

The Best Husband in the World

I’m so sick of nagging my husband. I have been after him for months. I really don’t know how many times I have to beg and plead and wheedle and cajole before he will finally do what I’ve been asking him to do – take a break from the family and go biking with his best friend.

It is amazing when I think about it. When I met my husband, I was a jaded 24-year-old looking for a good time. He was a heavy metal fan, guitar player, chain-smoking truck driver. I had no idea that we’d fall in love, get married and have kids. I didn’t ask him to explain his philosophies on marriage and parenthood when we started dating. I had no clue what I would want or need from the father of my children, so there was no way for me to find out if he would be the right guy for me and our future offspring. It was pure luck.

And what luck it was. Now don’t get me wrong; we’ve had our rough patches. Like any couple, we have periods when we’re “out of sync.” But all I have to do is read the paper, watch the news, or spend time with other couples to realize what a prize I lucked into.

Last night, for example, we were at a party. Around 9:00, they started a card tournament. Because our two kids were present, my husband declined to play but insisted on my playing. He chased our rambunctious 5-year-old and held our sleepy 1-year-old FOR 3 HOURS while I played cards. I watched the other fathers of little children saunter around, kid-free, drinking beer, talking about their guys’ nights (or weekends) out, showing off their latest toys. I felt so sorry for my husband, walking our 20-pound baby to sleep while his wife enjoyed herself; I kept trying to trade places with him, but he wouldn’t do it. He was ridiculously proud of what he was doing, determined to be different. Somehow, while the rest of the men his age are desperately trying to maintain the freedom and selfishness of their bachelorhood, my man discovered that basking in the responsibility and sacrifice of father/husbandhood has its own rewards.

So he doesn’t spend money on “big boy toys,” and he doesn’t ditch his family every other weekend to go out with his buddies. But he does have two children who are quite sure he hung the moon and would do absolutely anything for him. And he has a mother-in-law who constantly sings his praises to anyone who’ll listen. And his wife’s girlfriends all think he’s some kind of saint. And I’d be willing to bet that he was the only dad at that party who got lucky last night. (Can you blame me? I mean, what could be sexier than a guy who would do anything for his wife and kids?!)

Right now he’s downstairs doing the dishes. I didn’t ask him to. But I am going to ask him again about that biking trip. Nag, nag, nag.