Sunday, April 19, 2009

Monsters & Vigilance

Last night I took my son and his friend to see Monsters & Aliens. On the way, I dropped off my teenaged daughter to 'hang' out with some friends. Since I did not know the friends, I asked to speak with the parents of the house where the 'hanging' was going to occur. Lots of texting was required to make this happen. Finally I am connected. Is this the Kennedy residence? Deep voice responds in the affirmative and tells me that his son Alex just called to tell a.k.a. 'warn' them of my impending call. He promptly passes the phone to his wife.  Hi Carol, my daughter Camille and her friends Caleb and Nancy are coming to see your son Alex at your house this evening. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of the plans and that you or your husband will be home. She replies in a stern tone (or maybe it was just a deep voice for a female)--I appreciate your vigilance, it's most refreshing. me--Would you like my cell, in case you need to reach me? her--I suppose that isn't a bad idea. 

I couldn't tell if she was indeed SURPRISED at my call or just being FACETIOUS. This bugged me. Now if I was really vigilant, I would have gone to her house, scoped out the adjoining woods for potential ax murderers as well as checked the inside of the house for booze, guns, drugs, porn and condoms hiding in their son's bedside table. However I did NONE of these things--much to the relief of my daughter. Instead I made a simple phone call. When I picked her up later that evening, the twin Volvos were in the driveway, but no physical sign of the parents. Probably holed-up avoiding the teenagers and hoarding the booze, drugs, guns, porn and condoms. 

Monsters vs. Aliens (sequel to Monsters Inc)--starring Reese Witherspoon, who on the day of her wedding to a weather newscaster, is exposed to radiation and becomes a gargantuan female 'monster'. Actually she looked much hotter as a monster than as Susan in 'real life' animation land. Dickhead weatherman dumps the heartbroken Reese, instead of supporting her during her difficult time. Reese gets to save the world from EVIL aliens, but is an outcast from her family. Here's how I read the moral of the story--Girls can either marry the jerk who only cares about himself and his job OR can be an outcast from society, a.k.a. MONSTER. This movie is not promoting any HEALTHY relationship. Forget about egalitarianism or partnership. What's wrong with this picture? Of course the two 10 year-old boys thought it was hilarious.  (Their favorite line--You two-timing jerk!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My embarrassing moment with Jack Nicholson

I saw the new Candice Breitz video installation at Yvon Lambert Gallery in Chelsea a few weeks ago. Her most ambitious project to date--"Him & Her" explores gender roles and stereotypes through re-editing and recontextualizing popular Hollywood Films. Who better to play "Him" than Jack Nicholson? 23 Jack Nicholsons extracted from 40 years of his films converse with each other. Jack predictably talks about his problem with relationships, intimacy and commitment. Breitz' brilliant editing results in a maniacal dialogue between his younger & older selves. Humor laced with irony--the work is both insightful and entertaining. "Her" featured 28 Meryl Streeps who basically whined about men. Needing men, wanting men or complaining about men. Meryl Streep is a terrific actress, but the clips Breitz chose focused on didactic gender roles.

I could have watched the Nicholson 14 minute video all day (or at least 4 or 5 times). This reminded me of one of my more embarrassing life moments, which happened to involve Jack Nicholson. One of my favorite jobs was ushering at the New York State Theater, which hosts the NYC Ballet and NYC Opera. Living in New York, I saw 'stars' on daily basis--on the street, in restaurants, some of whom even attended the ballet or Opera. Kurt Vonnegaut was a ballet season tix holder. So was Jack Nicholson. One night I had the pleasure and ultimate embarrassment of seating him. He did not sit in the orchestra, but on the first ring, so he could CHECK out everyone else on the orchestra level. His film, "Witches of Eastwick" with Michelle Pfeiffer & Angelica Huston had just come out in theaters. He arrives in dark sunglasses (which stayed glued to his face the entire evening). I decide to make inane small talk and gush over how much I liked the witches movie. He just smiles his smirky Jack smile. Then for some reason, which is unfathomable to me now-- I tell him "I love you and would like to have your children."

At this point in my life (early 20's), I was convinced that I was never getting married OR having children, EVEN if Jack Nicholson proposed on the spot. Clearly this was moment of temporary insanity. Mortified I slunk away. My face was red for a week. When I peeked in on him later, he still had the maniacal smirky Jack smile.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Joyous Car Rides

Just when I was lamenting the lack of interesting 'blog' material, I had the pleasure of a joyous (translation--ARDUOUS), car ride with my family over the Easter holiday. Some people ENJOY road trips. They relish eating crappy food while sitting in cramped positions for hours at a time, listening to bad country music. In theory, I like road trips. I like the thought of my final destination--it's the process that I have a problem with. Growing up, I suffered through many road trips with various relatives. These were usually called VACATIONS. These were the days when car seats and seat belts didn't exist and smoking with the windows closed was not considered child abuse. I remember one particular summer my mother drove my sister and I from Pittsburgh to Dallas. Whenever she was stopped by a police officer for speeding, (which happened at least three times during the trip), she told us to cry LOUDLY. She cried too and always got out of the speeding ticket. I tried that once, but apparently after 1975, that excuse no longer worked. My sister is 4 years younger and according to her, I was terribly mean, which resulted in PERMANENT PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE. I'm the reason she had to get therapy. I believe the psychoanalytic term for this is 'projecting or tranferring blame.' During the Pittsburgh/Dallas road trip, I decided that we would play a very fun game. It was called, "Down in the Pit". (a.k.a. backseat floor of car) I invented a story about how the pit was the most desirous place on earth, which of course made my sister want to be there. This was how I ended up with the entire backseat for the duration of the car trip. Now you may call this mean, but I call it creative. (My sister brought this story up AGAIN during Easter brunch, as she does EVERYTIME we are together) Fast foward 30+ years to last weekend. Prior to departure, complaints already started. MOM--there's not enough room in the backseat. Why can't we take two cars? Well for starters, it would cost $150 more in gas, not to mention the irrepairable damage/carbon footprint we would leave. Then there's the fight over who gets to sit next to the dog's BUTT. I'm thinking the head might be preferable, but those crazy kids want the butt, so they aren't drooled on. I don't mention the pitfalls in their logic. Then I have to hear--MOM, he touched me. Make him quit touching me. So far, just the normal stuff. We make it there ok. 36 hours later, we begin our homeward bound trip. Only 1/2 hour into the 5.5 hour trip, I hear a scream from the backseat. The dog blew chunks EVERYWHERE. He puked on my son's pants and shoes. He puked on the Harry Potter book. He puked all over the car floor. Swerving to the side of the road, everyone gets out. We do not have appropriate cleaning supplies for PUKE. I tell my son to take off his pants and shoes and begin to scrape the puke out of the backseat. The dog looks properly contrite. My husband keeps yelling at me to hurry up. I tell him that he can clean up the puke, but he says it's my dog and I have to do it. The remainder of the car ride was uneventful as we wallowed in our puke-smell misery all the way home.