Sunday, September 2, 2012


My attempt at a movie review will look nothing like the reviews from the Roger Eberts of the world. But I’m doing it anyway because I love movies and I got shit to say about them (operative word = shit).

So I went to see “Lawless” this morning with my niece (who is a 27 year old adult) after much pleading with my children to let me out of the house. Little Normy Bates doesn’t always like his mother to see movies without him. But since I need to keep any kid with the nickname Normy Bates as far away from violence as possible, he was forced to stay home.

Lots of fun previews including one for a movie called “Looper” where Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears colored contacts to make him look like a young Bruce Willis and nothing like a Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Looks interesting and fun. That Joseph sure is hot and a hot commodity these days.

I did not get to see a preview for my most anticipated movie of this year, “Argo”. Ben Affleck’s next film. Thought I was going to get lucky when the last preview opened in a middle eastern city. Nope – turned out to be Liam Neeson playing John McClain or Jason Bourne or someone who kicks a lot of bad guy ass.

Back to “Lawless” - the great thing about seeing this movie was I had no idea what to expect. I saw a trailer for it a long time ago but didn’t remember it at all by the time the movie opened this weekend. The most I knew was it was about moonshiners and starred greats like Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy as well as the very much under-appreciated Guy Pearce.

The movie opens with a little boy freezing up when it’s time to shoot a pig. His older tougher brother takes the gun and does the shooting for him. This scene sets up the brotherly dynamic that will be displayed throughout the rest of the film. The older brothers are no nonsense badasses while little Sam Witwicky can’t do shit with a gun when Optimus Prime isn’t around to babysit him. Turns out these band of brothers are the Bondurant boys who have a reputation for being invincible and making the best moonshine in Franklin, Virginia circa 1931.

If you haven’t guessed, the youngest Bondurant brother (Jack) is played by Shia Labeouf whose character is a little too cocky for his level of hardness. But he is a good actor and you do root for him to get mad and beat the shit out of someone. That someone preferably to be Guy Pearce in a smarmy role of a sadist named Charlie Rakes who has the law behind him, and who is hell bent on getting a piece of the Bondurant pie. His appearance in this film can best be described as The Little Rascal’s Alfalfa mixed with the demented charm of Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s rotten left pinky toe. He’s gross and terrifying, plain and simple. And let’s face it; it looks as if that middle part in his hair was made by Tom Thumb’s tiny little lawn mower. Dude needed a shovel to the face and it took way too long for him to receive it. 

I will probably have to watch Pricilla Queen of the Desert to like Guy Pearce again. (Well, and to see those ping pong balls popping out of that woman’s cooch again. That’s always fun.)

Moving on. The oldest and the leader of the Bondurant brothers is played by Tom Hardy who is a bit of a chameleon as an actor, and whose resume has grown quite a bit over the last few years. He plays Forrest, respected and feared in Franklin. His legend calls him immortal. Apparently he cannot be killed but it’s not for lack of trying. Tom Hardy who is English, was praised and criticized for his voice work in The Dark Knight Rises. In this film, he also has strange sounds coming from his vocal chords. I’m not saying they don’t work. I am saying they make him sound as though he is the offspring of a Foghorn Leghorn/Sgt. Barnes from Platoon sexual union.

But those lips, oh those sweet sugary balloon animal lips make me forgive any and all of the grunts and mumbles. Although Tom Hardy is a chameleon, it’s those beautiful lips that give him away.

The middle brother, Howard, is a played by an Aussie actor named Jason Clarke. He is the most untamed of the Bondurant brothers. But a good man to have on your side of the fight.

One of the subplots involves Gary Oldman as gangster Floyd Banner who makes the boys major bucks by being a good customer. Here Gary really doesn’t have much to do. However, he does get to have a least one psycho Gary Oldman moment. And that’s all we ever really ask of him, right? Worth the cost of my gourmet pretzel for sure.

The other subplots involve love for two of the Bondurant brothers. Jessica Chastain, looking as radiant and damaged as ever, plays Maggie Beauford, an ex-dancer from Chicago looking for a quieter life in the boonies. She starts working at the Bondurant’s bar and falls for Forrest in the process. The woman has the most angelic face, and I just can’t get enough of looking at it. I honestly think the world would be a better place if we could all cuddle a blanket of her hair nightly.

The other love story revolves around young Jack and the very religious yet rebellious Bertha Minnix, played by Mia Wasikowska. Go on and pronounce that one. It was hard enough to spell it. No one knows how to say her name, which will unfairly hurt her future Oscar chances. She is sweet, and her face is so innocent in this film she is like a Precious Moments doll come to life. Bertha’s dad despises the lawless Bondurants, so it’s not an easy road to her heart for Jack.

The movie is very violent. Look away kind of violence actually. Especially a hotel room scene with a pretty package sent to Charlie Rakes. Oh lawd. I wish I could Eternal Sunshine the Spotless Mind that one from my memory banks.

In the end I’m glad I saw Lawless because it was entertaining, well acted and beautifully filmed. Sure there are flaws but I don’t expect all of my dollars to go to flawless entertainment. I am happy I gave two hours of my life to this film. Oh and if I can mention those Tom Hardy lips one last time. It was easy to pay to look at those. Easy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

There's a Weirdo Raising My Children

My family has told me from the day I was born that I was a little strange. Possibly not even from the planet Earth. I never really understood why they thought that. I just did what I did, liked what I liked and said what I said.

I did come out of the womb rocking my head back and forth and never stopped. I’m sure that looked a bit strange to grown ups. Head back and forth…that is how I put myself to sleep until my self conscious pre-teen years when I feared rocking my head back and forth on a pillow would give me a bald spot. These days if you rock your head back and forth someone somewhere thinks you need medication. No medication for me and no bald spot thankfully, but still considered a little weird by polite and normal society’s standards. However, I have always been pretty good at hiding my brand of odd. (Until Facebook that is. The cat is out of the bag but only just a little). I mean, I can interview for a job, I can put someone at ease, I don’t mouth breathe unless I have a cold and I can hold a conversation with a doctor, a lawyer, a butcher, a baker and/or a candlestick maker. So I may be a Martian, but I damn well have taught myself how to fit into Earthling society.

What makes me a weirdo? Hell I don’t know. It’s just a stupid label I’ve been given because I occasionally voice an odd thought that entered my brain. My brain either is missing a chip or has an extra one embedded in it from my birth planet. What’s the big deal that I have a mental ritual I have to perform in order to keep people who’ve left my house from getting into a car accident? It only takes 30 seconds out of my day. Not such a big deal to me. So what that I wish there was a computer that could calculate how many times I’ve said the word, “the” in my lifetime. You have to admit that would be pretty cool. And I don’t think it’s so odd that I’ve spent time wondering what it’s like to a be an ant on a tortilla chip trying to figure out how exactly to start chomping into that sucker.

Some weirdos prefer to be called “eccentric”. As if that is the high class superior version of weird. Not me. Apparently I’m just a good old fashioned weirdo. And that’s cool with me. Besides, you have to be British to be eccentric. And you usually have to have a hairdo out of the Helena Bonham Carter catalogue of hairstyles as well as a set of teeth out of a rusty old tool shed. And you must own a lot of purple-ish fringy scarves. Not to mention you typically emanate an odor that can only be described as ‘lavender fields of chocolate curry covered patchouli mothballs’. It’s an odd smell and fitting for the best of the eccentrics out there. Oh, and let’s not forget the disproportionate amount of cat hair covered clothing whether there’s a cat (or 15) in the picture or not.

So, eccentric in my book is too specific. That label won’t work for me. Not a big fan of strange either because I think of the word stranger, and I don’t know a movie with the word stranger in it that turned out well. Strangers on a Train. Not a happy ending for Farley Granger but he did ask for that so my sympathy is limited. When a Stranger Calls. Yeah. Ruined the lives of every babysitter that watched it in the late 70’s. Not a scarier opening to a movie is in existence. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.  More recently, The Strangers. Don’t have to see that one to know the outcome is not good. The movie poster art tells me all I need to know.

Freak. I can take or leave freak. I tend to think of Circus oddballs with unusual body shapes and circumstances when I think of freaks, but I can sometimes find it endearing.

Bizarre. Bizarre goes a little beyond eccentric, strange, freakish, odd and weird to me. If you’re bizarre, you’re usually doing things that even aliens would find bizarre. Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman a few years back. Bizarre. I don’t care how he explains it now, he made Andy Kaufman antics seem like a chat with Morley Safer. Fellini’s Satyricon. Classic foreign film and bizarre as hell. Even after taking a film theory class where we discussed it, I still don’t get it. So if I’m being called bizarre, I fear I’m beyond making sense anymore.  

People can call me names, but I personally don’t think I’m all that odd. My head just drifts into the clouds quite a bit. But I come back to Earth just as often as I leave it. So I think what my family should really be labeling me as is “balanced.” That’s’ a nice and appropriate term. And my balanced ass likes to march to my own tune. It may be a tune with the word “poop balls” in it. But it’s mine and I’ll take it over marching to no tune at all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Knockers! My History of Breastfeeding

So I’ve just hit a huge, MAJOR milestone in my life as a mother, and my life period. I’ve put the boobies away for good and weaned my last child. Oh it was not easy. Not easy at all. My 3 year old daughter was not giving up the mommy milk (mimmies in her words) without a vicious fight. A scratching clawing fight. More on that later.

This end to an era is bittersweet no doubt. On the one hand, I have longed for my freedom at home. It’s been years since I’ve been able to sit on the couch without a babe climbing into my lap to catch a comforting sip. On the other hand, I will never do this again. I feel I am letting go of my baby and pushing her to grow up. I mean she really is just a baby. 3 year olds have the maturity level of 3 year olds. Which is still quite baby-ish.

During my early twenties, when my breasts were far more popular than I was, I only saw them as a source of attention from men and a source of income from men who liked to tip bartenders with comely young bouncy flesh orbs.  I never met a tight fitting low cut t-shirt I didn’t like. Well wait. I take that back. Yes I have. It was white and inside a dark bar with bar lighting, and my white bra glowed in the dark. Talk about getting the hell out of Dodge fast! But for the most part, if it was cotton, tight and wide open at the neck, I was a fan.Which is one of the reasons I threw a colossal fit when one of the bars where I worked changed the dress code so that all employees had to wear ugly, unflattering, beige and green baggy ass, man cut t-shirts with crew neck collars. I put in my two weeks notice in record time.

My next move was to a bar where the dress code was “no jeans”. Well hell I could deal with that. A year and a half into that gig, I mistook a Kiwi for an Aussie and ended up married 9 months later. You have to fast forward 3 years to get to the breastfeeding. So 3 years later, I was 40 weeks pregnant, larger than Kevin Federline post Britney and thinking, “When this baby comes out, I’m actually going to give breastfeeding a shot. Why not?” You could not have told me that pre-pregnancy. I mean breastfeeding was for groovy hippies without a care or worry in the world…right? I didn’t mind bouncing the boobs in a form fitting top, but unleashing them on the world to feed a baby? Just couldn’t see that for myself.

But some little mommy voice kept knocking on my conscience’s door saying, “How can it hurt to try? If it doesn’t work, you have back up. If it does work, then presto! Cheap food.” So I got over my inhibitions and fears about it and gave it a try.

My firstborn latched on like one of those creepy leach-lipped fish you see suctioned on the side of a fish tank. Once he got a hold of it he wasn’t letting go. What the hell? It took me awhile to figure out how to unlatch the baby jaws of death. Just poke a little finger in their mouth and wiggle it around until they let go. I guess at least he liked it but damn little man. I’m not going to lie, it was ridiculously uncomfortable at first and I was not convinced anything was coming out.

By day 3 I was sore, had a cracked nipple and wanted to drop kick, bitch slap, and karate chop every member of La Leche League who ever said, “If it hurts, you’re not doing it right.” Bullshit. My tender nipples that have rarely seen the light of day are now the sole life source for a hungry infant with twice the suction of a fucking Dyson. That’s why it hurts! Here’s a sentence you can add to your Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, “Kiss my ass!”

Now before my crunchy friends disown me, please know those thoughts came from me when I was sleep deprived and pissed off at nature for making the natural seem impossible. But I kept giving it a good fight because Boss Hog took a shine to it.

Through all of this I was getting antsy to see some real milk because all I had produced at that point was colostrum and I kept thinking my son was not really getting enough to eat. I wanted to see some real evidence dammit! This is the part where my conscience spoke up again, but this time she said, “Be careful what you wish for because girlfriend, you’ve got no idea what’s about to happen here.”

Man was my conscience ever correct. The books sure don’t prepare you for the milk invasion. It’s like nothing I ever imagined. Men, I’d like you just to envision how your testicles feel on an average day. Now, pretend some nature fairy replaced the testicles you have come to know and love with a couple of medicine balls filled with liquid. After you stop crying, you eventually have to get up and walk. You would need a special apparatus to hold those monsters in place so that you could resume what’s left of your life. Enter exhibit A – The Nursing Bra!

Gotta have a nursing bra when your milk arrives. And it’s absolutely pointless to buy one during your pregnancy. Your boobs double and triple in size…so wait til the babe comes out and the milk comes in! My fitting was a real trip. Oh they had some cute bras with leopard prints but they were in size G…too small for me. Yeah that’s right. I skipped right over G and went straight to J. 36 J. I was like, “Come again?” What the hell does J stand for Jupiter? Jugs? Jeez O’ Pete?

This was the ugliest piece of undergarment clothing I had ever laid my eyes on and I was about to pay fifty bucks for it. Ugh! But I did because I had no choice. Looking at my post partum body with that thing on was depressing. I looked like all the before photos from weight loss supplement ads. And I felt like I belonged on the Benny Hill show as one of the body doubles for the melons! All for the good of the babe…right?

2 weeks into my new role as provider of everything to my baby, I was starting to get the hang of it.  A little shocked the first time my baby quickly unlatched and I realized my breasts were actually garden hoses with 3 sprinkler settings to them. The quick unlatch brought out the jet stream for sure. A nodding off baby, more of a light spray. All of the things I didn’t know about breastfeeding but had to learn on the fly was mesmerizing to me. The whole process was pretty awesome, but the most amazing thing was watching my baby grow strictly from food produced from my body. I was beginning to like Mother Nature again.   

One of the down sides to all of this breastfeeding was a lack of alone time and sleep. Who better to get up in the middle of the night to feed fussy hungry baby than the parent with the food? Oh sure I could pump and let daddy feed, (and I did) but who wants to pump when they don’t have to? Pumping is the biggest, most boring, time consuming pain in the ass. And my breast pump (lovely enduring thing that it was) always spoke to me during pumping sessions. Sometimes it would say, “Aflac! Aflac!” Other times it would say, “RedRum” “RedRum”. As annoying as it is to hear your breast pump do its best Insurance Goose (or is it a duck?) impression, it was much preferable to its creepy kid from The Shining impression.

Sleep deprivation, obnoxious breast pump and ugly bra aside, the breastfeeding children thing became something I was really good at. So I kept doing it. I made a goal of 1 year with my firstborn and exceeded it by 2 months. When my second son was born, breastfeeding was a piece of cake. No cracked nipples thank goodness, but I was still sleep deprived and being stalked by the little boy in the Shining kid’s mouth thanks to my Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump.

Boy number 2 got the same 14 months of momma’s milk as Boy number 1. Then I took a 4 year break while we decided if we’d have any more children, and while I lent my jabber jaws of a breast pump to my sister-in-law.

When baby number 3 came along, I was practically schooling the lactation consultant the hospital sent to my room. The one who came the second day of my stay took one look at me and said, “Yeah, you’re good. Do you need anything?” Yes, a spare set of nipples would be nice. (I mean, I was experienced but the nipples still get sore when attacked by ravenous newborns.)

This time around I thought I’d let my baby nurse a little longer. I’d just play it by ear but definitely be done by age 2. Over the age of 2 would be beyond my comfort level. At her 18 month check up, I still fed the little thing on demand and asked her pediatrician if she’d ever let up. The doctor explained to me that breastfeeding to her was her lovey. Some babies and toddlers had blankets or Teddy Bears or pacifiers. My daughter’s lovey just happened to be attached to my body. And she told me not to be surprised if she wanted to nurse until she was 2 ½ to 3. Oh Hell no. I was missing my autonomy desperately; there was no way I was getting near the 2 ½ mark let alone 3. That’s just crazy talk!

But 2 came around and sweet baby had zero interest in letting up.  Occasionally I’d say no, and it would turn into a fight to the death. (The death of my freedom.) I just couldn’t say no to her. She’d bawl and cry and I felt horrible. I’d say to my husband, “Okay…she’s clearly not ready, we can continue for a bit longer and I’ll wean her by the time she is 2 ½.” Yeah, dream on sucker. This one ain’t weaning until she is good and ready, and I had the claw marks on my upper chest to prove it.

I always had an excuse why I couldn’t wean. Work stress, baby not feeling well, too tired, etc. But the main reason was it felt cruel to me to wean her when she was still not ready. I personally was ready but stuck it out a bit longer for her. When she turned 3 last month and I still couldn’t see an end in sight, I knew I’d need to make that end come. (I am having a surgical procedure next month and cannot have a big ass 3 year old all over the mimmies!)

So I prepped her verbally one day. Just talked about it all day long. When night came, she didn’t even ask for them. Just went straight to sleep. She has fussed a few times since then and is still asking on occasion, but I’m not going back now.

In the words of all those useless Bachelors and Bachlorettes, “It’s been a long journey but very rewarding.” Only I really mean it. Much easier for me to say that now that I’m done. A few weeks ago you would have gotten the stink eye from me if you made even one innocent little remark about my breastfeeding…I was so over it. I spent 5 ½ years of the last 10 breastfeeding. That’s a lot of work for a 40 year old set of cans. But I gotta say, I’m impressed with their durability. They are not too shabby for all they’ve been through. What knockers indeed!