I was perusing a JCPenney catalog recently when I stumbled on this:
A cute work-appropriate outfit I would actually wear!
Well, except for the bowtie. I’d skip that part. But that’s just a lame catalog styling thing.
I started writing this humor blog way back in 2011 as a way to amuse myself and a handful of friends. Since it’s public, I’ve typically kept my posts to the impersonal topic(s) at hand: bad television, crappy marketing, and pizza box design analysis.
It’s odd to share something private in a place strangers visit after searching for “Nightmare Nanny synopsis” or “Nancy Travis feet,” but I feel like I have to break with tradition just this once. Anything else feels dishonest.
The long story short is that we recently lost our very beloved cat, Daphne. She got ill suddenly and, despite our best efforts, finally passed away a few weeks ago.
I keep trying to come up with some anecdote to explain how much this gorgeous little being meant to us, but everything seems to fall short. Instead, I will say that no matter how many years pass, I know I will always miss her. And that hurts pretty bad.
I am aware that there’s a certain percentage of people out there – whether they say it or not — who scoff at the idea that someone can develop a deep, emotional relationship with an animal. They are wrong, but there’s no point in trying to argue the point. If you get it, you get it. If not, perhaps one day you will.
I’ve had some time to make peace with what’s happened, to know that we loved her and she loved us, and that we did everything we could. We have our good moments and bad moments.
I have a bad moment about once a day.
I’m prone to emotional online shopping, so the bulk of my grief haul is just now arriving in the mail. It’s odd to be able to measure the depth of your own sadness in cardboard shipping boxes.
Not really much of an exaggeration.
Anyway, that’s where we’re at these days. I’ll be back to hate-reviewing Lifetime movies eventually. For now, give your beloved cats an extra pet from me.
I was at my local YMCA using the treadmill and staring at the muted television which was set on one of those local news channel with the headline scrolling along the bottom. It’s not Fox News, but it might as well be. I’m outnumbered by cranky old veterans and don’t care about what’s on the TV anyway, so I only glance at it every so often. Lucky me– I caught an infomercial in progress and couldn’t tear my eyes away.
I was hoping to see that beautiful struggle depicted in most infomercials: Man vs. tiny inconveniences. The flailing, the frustration WHY WON’T MY SUNGLASSES STAY STILL ON THE DASHBOARD? WHERE AM I GOING TO PUT ALL THESE SPICES? WHY DO I DESTROY EVERYTHING I TOUCH? No need for volume during an informercial; the contorted faces and flapping limbs say it all. This particular infomercial had a relatively benign problem and solution:
Problem: it can be dark sometimes, both inside and outside.
Solution: InstaBrites <— click the name to see a video and find out more! (warning: the video starts without prompting so be prepared if you hate that sort of thing like I do)
These clever little lights stay off when they’re close to a magnet, but when pulled away they turn on to illuminate drawers, cabinets, closets– you name it! So, basically refrigerator light technology but wherever you please. Sounds neat, but let’s be real:
Find a goddamned light switch. If your partner gets mad at you for turning the light on while you’re desperately trying to find your insulin in the en suite bathroom it’s time for a divorce, not InstaBrites.
Why the hell do you need to see your sewing kit in the goddamned dark? This question goes for cleaning supplies and storage containers full of clothes as well. If the entire room is dark, InstaBrites can’t help with whatever you need to do now that you have located that spool of thread. How do you even know there’s a mess to clean if the room is dark? And didn’t you put that sweater in the storage bin because you weren’t planning on wearing it anytime soon? Why do you need it now, in the dark?
Fine, putting the lights in a cooler is kind of rad. It’s definitely way better than using your phone as a flashlight and dropping it in the slushy cooler because it’s dark and you’re probably drunk.
I’m going to lay it down and say that any infomercial product can and should be used in a way not suggested by the information in the commercial. If those freaks are telling you to put the lights in your car’s glove compartment, they are scraping the bottom of the idea barrel. Show them what you’ve got with some:
Outside-the-Box thinking. I don’t know how much those kids’ shoes that light up cost, but I bet InstaBrites are cheaper. Put the magnet on one shoe and the light on the other. Ungainly, but as your kid walks the light should go off when its feet are close together, creating a very slow flicker. Maybe if you find yourself fencing in the dark, you can see where your sword has made contact by putting a magnet on the sword and coating your opponent in InstaBrites. Look, I don’t get paid and I don’t know anything about fencing. Or kids.
Attempted Blogger’s Recap: Incest Ain’t No Thang
Imagine my glee when I learned that Lifetime had decided to do a remake/reboot of the tawdry classic Flowers in the Attic. The original 1987 film — which tells the story of children imprisoned in an attic by their messed-up mother — is something of a classic in the movies-whispered-about-by-pre-teens genre.
As if that weren’t enough, Lifetime somehow got Kiernan Shipka — the wunderkind actress from Mad Men — to slum it in the starring role. I didn’t believe Mr. Max for a full 10 minutes when he told me he saw Sally Draper in the preview. I just kept laughing and saying “Nooo,” the same way he did that time I told him about the Green Day musical.
For the premier, Lifetime expert Lena Webb once again traveled across the State to watch a TV movie, this time with her husband Matthew in tow. To kick off the weekend, we spent Friday night with a Netflix rental of the 1980s classic.
Despite high hopes, 40 pounds of chinese food, and excellent company, I have to ultimately give the new Flowers in the Attic a lukewarm review. Why?
Mainly because of the wussification of the source material. While the original was chock full of all kinds of icky weirdness, the remake relies on the shock value of incest alone. Incest Shmincest – you can find plenty of that on those “biggest secret” threads on Reddit. Where’s the evil grandmother picking up a kid by his head? The intentional smashing of the cherished music box? The symbolism-heavy whipping of the mom in front of the senile grandfather? I mean, they didn’t even do the scene where the kids feed the starving twins with their own blood.
IS NOTHING SACRED?
The other major disappointment was Ellen Burstyn’s performance as the grandmother. She’s a little too vaudeville to pull off the whole “fist in your face” thing.
On the plus side, Lena learned something about her husband that she never knew…
My secret skill turns out to be figuring out the plot of Lifetime movies in 15 minutes—
Matthew Garrett (@mjg59) January 18, 2014
(It’s true. He got the endings of the other 3 movies we watched, too.)
Lena’s Recap: Twice in a Lifetime
Attempted Blogger does a perfect job of detailing our shared main beef about the remake in respect to the original: Lifetime squandered too many Lifetime-able moments already found in the original. We looked at each other and said “WTF?” much more during the original than the remake and, to me, that indicates a failing on Lifetime’s part– and this one was a freebie because the original is basically already a Lifetime movie in a lot of ways. For example,
Some Lifetime movie titles smack you right in the face with a huge spoiler alert, an almost stand-alone sentence screaming the (no longer) most surprising aspect of the plot. She’s too young! Stalked at 17! Too young to be a Dad! Baby for sale! Why I wore lipstick to my mastectomy! These are the ones you watch when you need instant laughs. “Flowers in the Attic” fits nicely into the vague-but-you-can-probably-guess-with-astonishing-accuracy-some-of-the-main-plot-points genre of Lifetime movie titles, which is the most beguiling and delicious of all genres. These titles really make you think.
We know something goes down in the attic, and our brain’s Lifetime Lobe is churning out all kinds of possibilities. Complete this sentence: “In the Attic, Flowers are a metaphor for ________________.”
In this case, both 2 and 4 are correct, because the captive children molest each other on purpose. Incestuously.
So much WTF
As with every good Lifetime movie, the original is dense with WTF moments. The author of Flowers in the Attic, Cleo Virginia Ethel Andrews, must have been preternaturally attuned to the Mystical Lifetime Spiritforce (especially with a name like that) and knew that one day there would be an entire TV channel devoted to evil parents, screwy genetics, and problematically sexual youths. As Attempted Blogger mentions above, Lifetime succeeds in the boringification of an existing movie overflowing with moments like these:
Why, Lifetime? Why would you turn your back on such opportunity?
Hilarious Time Gaff
One of my favorite things to hatelove about Lifetime movies is their inclusion of horribly confusing flashbacks, flash-forwards, and abrupt scene cuts. My husband indeed turns out to be very good at navigating these little obstacles and has the ability to bring other, less adroit viewers up to speed, even if he’s been staring at his laptop the whole time and not obviously watching the movie.
The original Flowers in the Attic contains a particular Time Doozy at the very beginning, and it was one that even sufferers of Lifetime Attention Deficit Disorder would have caught. When the bus to Grandma’s drops them off at the desolate stop with all their luggage, there is no car to pick them up and so they trudge off into the darkness. The next scene has them walking up to Granny’s Mansion of Doom in broad daylight. Are we really to believe that a family with a couple of four-year-olds and big suitcases walked all night long? Did they have a map? A flashlight? “Meh!” says Lifetime. “It doesn’t matter!”
Overall I stand with my Lifetime Movie Mentor in her assessment of the remake, preferring the original in all its blood-lapping, baby-slapping insanity. When I drive across the state of Massachusetts for a Lifetime movie, I expect more than cookie-cutter incest.
What The Hell Am I Eating: Part 1 of 2
I spied (and purchased) this choice example of Marketing Mayhem during an evening Stop and Shop run. It’s a “rockin’ bag of [coffee] beans from Joey Kramer of Aerosmith.” Where do I begin? The whole concept is utterly ludicrous. I get using a leathery rock dude to brand certain things (music equipment, cheap bourbon, “chew”) — but organic coffee? Does Joey Kramer even drink coffee? Apparently so, at least according to the website, which describes him as “a coffee-lovin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer [who] has pounded the skins since his early teens fueled by love for music and spirited beans.” Maybe this isn’t a weird celebrity endorsement…maybe Joey’s just a dude who really loves his coffee?
Despite the presence of a flaming dragon, the coffee was actually pretty good.
It WAS artisan micro brewed.
Design Assessment: Weird and a little “Planet Hollywood.” I think they should go all the way with the tackiness and include a temporary tattoo right in the bag.
What The Hell Am I [not] Eating: Part 2 of 2
I bought two bags of these tortillas at a health food store because they were out of the kind I usually buy. The graphic design style is what I refer to as “1970s-era health food.” Note the smiley sun graphic, the use of psychedelic primary colors, and the groovy religious imagery. Nowadays organic stuff tends to be all slick and hip, but back in the day everything looked like it was designed by a team of Unitarian Universalist volunteers armed with crayola markers and free love.
Mr. Max is an expert on pre-yuppified health food. As a tyke, he ate a lot of the kinds of things you needed to buy at weird-smelling bulk food stores, like Frookies (well-acknowledged to be disgusting) and Panda licorice chews.
He warned me that these would be bad. I didn’t listen.
For dinner, I made a delicious burrito filling with black beans, chipotle peppers, and roasted vegetables. Then I ruined it by putting it inside one of these completely inedible tortillas. We each choked one down and immediately chucked the rest. I still don’t understand how these could be so awful. Mr. Max thinks it’s because they’re “sprouted.” I think it’s because of the addition of millet AND spelt. Maybe. But whatever the reason, there’s no way they’re “New Mexico style.” Unless they love things that taste like fermented wheat grass and butt in the land of enchantment.
Design Assessment: Accurate. Beware anything that looks like it’s been designed by someone on a commune.
Disclaimer: I know, I know. Cormac McCarthy has achieved sainthood in certain literary circles (i.e., Brooklyn whiskey bars). My only brush with the author occurred in 9th grade, when an English teacher had us read All The Pretty Horses. I remember hating it and also hating that she said it was assigned because it was a good way “to get boys interested in reading” (because boys HAVE TO like cowboy stories (?) and also OMG what about the mens?!?). Anyway, this review is limited to the film. I’m sure the books are great or whatever and I’ll get around to reading them eventually. So don’t email me all like, “OMG CORMAAC MCCARTHYYY PULITZER PRIZE SDFKJHSDFKJ”
Last week we watched The Road on Netflix. You might think a movie about environmental and societal collapse would be a little bit of a downer — but you’re wrong! Here’s five reasons we couldn’t take this “serious” movie seriously.
#1: Starvation Mostly Makes You Bitchy
The lead characters in The Road – a man and his son – are struggling to survive after an unnamed apocalyptic event wipes out society and, along with it, most of the food. They head south on foot, searching abandoned houses for canned goods along the way. You would think starvation would bring out some deep character development, but most of the time our lead characters just bitch at each other like a couple trying to make dinner plans after 8 o’clock. It reminded me of that series of snickers ads:
I think someone should turn The Road into a campy midnight movie phenomenon where the audience shows up dressed in dirty post-apocalyptic rags and throws Snickers bars at the screen.
#2: Charlize Theron: She’s Pretty and That’s It
I feel bad for Charlize Theron. She’s in like 3 scenes in the whole movie and she barely talks. And then she dies. Oh, and she’s in #3…
#3: Awkward Sex Scene Flashback
Throughout the movie, Viggo Mortensen experiences helpful-to-the-audience flashbacks of his cushy life before the collapse. One is a series of memories of his wife (mostly looking pretty and not talking), including this TOTALLY GROSS scene of him giving said wife a lady handjob during a classical music concert.
Gross. At least it’s dark and they’re in the back, though. People wouldn’t see them, right?
OH NO WAIT IT’S WELL LIT AND THERE’S A BUNCH OF PEOPLE SITTING RIGHT THERE.
#4: The Dad’s a Jerk
Near the end of the movie, Viggo Mortensen starts cracking under the pressure of protecting his son from roving bands of cannibals and thieves. This culminates in him completely overreacting when a fellow starving wanderer steals their food (you know, the food they rightfully stole from that person’s underground bunker). Dad steals back their food and makes the thief hand over everything — including the clothes on his back. Even the kid is all, WTH is up with you dad?
You’re not you when you’re hungry.
#5: The Happy Ending
Given that this is a movie about the end of the world as we know it, I was expecting a relatively grim ending. It’s not like you can just “resolve” societal collapse. Well, color me impressed because they totally went for a corny happy ending. After (spoiler alert!) Viggo Mortensen dies, the kid is approached by a group of scary, but apparently benevolent, fellow travelers. They offer to “adopt” him and tell him there are other children in their group (insta-siblings!). Just when the kid’s grin couldn’t get any wider, the scary/benevolent travelers reveal that they also have a dog. That they’re feeding with magical food they somehow have or something!
That’s right. They ended a movie about a cannibalistic dystopia with… “You get a puppy!”