Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scattered Childhood Memories #5: Pennies From... Well, Somewhere....

When I was a bonnie wee lass, sometimes I'd be given a coin for the grocery store gumball machines. I loved gum, oh how I loved gum. Actually, I loved pretty much anything that came out of those machines. It could be a slimy orange replica of He-Man's second cousin for all I cared... as long as I got to put money in the slot, turn the crank, and receive something out of the little metal door, I was happy.
In the early 80s you could still get a tiny gumball for a penny at some places. My mom was not the type to indulge me constantly, and so I was left to fend for myself. If I had my own penny, I could get gum. Otherwise, nada. Only thing was, I didn't have any income, not even an allowance (until I was about seven.) This left one option: finding pennies on the ground.

And so there I'd be, walking alongside my mother through the aisles, my head tilted downward, my eyes focused on the ground. Scanning. Looking in crevices. Doing a hopeful double-take at any semi-shiny object, be it a gum wrapper, a piece of foil, or a syringe (okay, kidding.) But despite my best efforts, rarely did I ever find any money at all.

Yet, as an adult, I've found many, many pennies on the ground. Why? Who knows. It could be because they're worth less nowadays -- people don't care as much if they lose them, and maybe it's too much of an effort to pick up a stray. All I know is I keep finding them.

And yes, I pick them up.

And someday, I might even have a DOLLAR! :D

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There's A Trope For That - Week of February 26

This week's trope: Writers Cannot Do Math

"You're watching a show or movie, or reading a book, when suddenly something numerical throws you for a slight curve — like a date, or a character's age. Your brow furrows. You start ticking things off on your fingers. What the hell? That wasn't right!"


Most of us have a certain "thing" that yanks us right out of a movie, book or show. It can be anything -- an anachronism, a visible boom mic, 26-year-olds playing teenagers, or even just a general "THAT. WOULD NEVER. HAPPEN." If you don't have one of these hangups, consider yourself fortunate.

For me, it's the age/years thing. Screw-ups involving numbers or days make me CRAZY. I have no idea why. Math was never my forte growing up, nor am I obsessed with years or numbers in my everyday life. But for some reason, my brain -- when watching or reading anything -- is constantly making sure everything is accurate, number-wise. Did Bobbie Sue turn 12 years old in 1972? Well, then she better well be 22 (or about to turn so) in 1982. OR ELSE I WILL TURN THIS MOVIE RIGHT AROUND.

For some idea of how obsessive (read: strange) I am about this, take a look at the link above, open the Literature tab, and look at the entries for Harry Potter. (Warning: this might make your next read-through of the HP books a little less enjoyable.) There are about a dozen number-related "whoopses" listed there, and every time I read the books, I think about those. Yes. I have already obsessed over every one of them. Repeatedly.

Yet somehow the number errors don't really ruin the books for me. They'll just cause me to pause. Usually I will put the book(s) down, think about how it (the mistake) could make sense logically, realize it can not, shrug and give it the old "a wizard did it" write-off, and continue reading. 

It's the only way.


Oscars tonight!

I hope that nice Colin Firth wins!

But he's not nominated...

Even so.

* * *
(Know what movie that quote is adapted from? Cookies for you!)


I changed the blog's background! Do you like it? 
 Here's a picture of the old one for comparison:

Yay newness!

Stay tuned for Oscar Thoughts (if the show doesn't leave me too bitter) and a brand new edition of There's A Trope For That...



1. Kind of boring this year.

2. Billy Crystal is actually becoming Miracle Max. Yes, I know people get old. It's natural. But um,

3. Speaking of which, I love Princess Bride, but three references during the broadcast? And not a one about ROUSes or Inigo Montoya? Tsk.

4. I guess it was worth the 3+ hour wait to see Colin Firth.

5. James Earl Jones, yayyy!

6. Even though I wanted Glenn Close to win, when it came right down to it, I was happy Meryl Streep won, and her speech was fantastic. Both of those ladies rock socks, so really, everyone's a winner. Even me.

7. I loved Natalie Portman's dress and I don't care about anyone else's.

8. Brad Pitt's hair looks terrible.

9. Did they duct tape everyone's hands to their seats during the Dead People Montage? Why was there no clapping? Sure, I hate the clapping. It makes some of the departed seem less worthy or important than others. But without the clapping... it was kind of creepy, don't you think?

10. Colin Firth, come baaaackkk!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And for once it might be grand...

Okay, I'm all into Beauty and the Beast again. I say "again" because this comes in regular cycles. 2012 has been a good year for BATB. The Broadway show, the 3D theatrical release... I reckon it won't be long before I'm lovingly stroking the DVD and dancing around the house to Be Our Guest. But until then, here's a little snippet from my dad's journals regarding me, my cousin Emily, my brother Stan, and my mom Carol.

"January 1, 1992:

Emily stayed overnight with Molly and this afternoon we all went to see 'Beauty and the Beast,' a really fun movie, as it turned out. Molly & Emily bought a huge tub of popcorn & drinks for themselves & Stan. When Carol asked Stan why they did that for him, he replied, "Because they're loving cousins and sisters!""

It's funny how my New Year's resolutions back then were along the lines of "be nice," and they lasted roughly 24 hours.

Monday, February 20, 2012

There's A Trope For That - Week of February 19

Each week I would like to highlight a different trope from tvtropes.org, the place where I can spend many, many hours clicking through the pages.... obsessing over plot points, themes, and the absurdities of modern storytelling... 

in lieu of, you know, actually writing.

This week's Trope: Put On A Bus

"A character is written out of a series in such a way that they can easily be returned later, if the producers so choose. They are Put On A Bus."

Gotta love it, but Downton Abbey apparently has its very own bus terminal.

Every time somebody on that show leaves Downton, whether it's to go off to war, to find someone who will appreciate them, or to return to their scheming wife, they return 1-2 episodes later to pick up where they left off. Even when you hoped they were gone for good (*ahem*Thomas*ahem*), they can't seem to stay away from Downton, almost as if the house has some kind of supernatural draw. Oh sure, they might come back slightly injured or worse for the wear, but the only way you can ever get rid of anybody on there, it seems, is to kill them off completely. Merely sending them away just doesn't seem to cut it. 

Not that I'm complaining.

(Except in Thomas's case. Then I am.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

The last time Broadway's Beauty and the Beast came to Portland, I was 21 years old, we had the cheapest seats we could find, and somehow it did not occur to me to wear my glasses to the performance. As a result, the stage was a big blur, and while I enjoyed the music, I told myself that the next time BATB was in town, I would have a better seat, darnit!

I was certain the show would be back in four years. It had been there in 1997, and there we were in 2001, and so, I assumed it would return in 2005. But alas, it was not to be.

In the meantime, I wore out the soundtrack. I loved it for its "new" songs, including the poignant, angsty If I Can't Love Her, sung by the Beast. I didn't really mind the differences between the musical's soundtrack and the film's (which I also loved to listen to). Aside from the new songs added to the musical, there were some lyric changes and some dialogue changes (like, in the 2002 DVD release that includes Human Again, Belle and the Beast read Romeo and Juliet; in the stage version they read King Arthur) but nothing story-changing or upsetting.

But there was one weird thing about that particular cast recording: the guy who played the Beast sounded just fine and beastly until... he would suddenly lapse into moments of pure, over-the-top enthusiasm, where he sounded like a raving lunatic.

Belle: Would you like to have dinner with me?

(That would be enough to make me flee the castle and run into a forest full of wolves, thank you very much.)

Despite those occasional moments, I still enjoyed the Broadway soundtrack. Home, sung by Belle, is another excellent song that shows us not only what Belle was feeling when she was first imprisoned, but her resilience and determination to not let it get the best of her. Me, a song sung by Gaston, is as absurd and hilarious as his proclamation in a later song that he eats five dozen eggs a day and is roughly the size of a barge. And End Duet/Transformation has some powerful lyrics as well. The new songs were a great supplement to the movie's story, and the truth is, sometimes when I watch the Disney film now, I find it a bit too short and condensed... as if something important is missing.

When I heard Beauty and the Beast was, at long last, returning to the stage in Portland this year, I knew I had to go. (Ten years is a long time to wait, as the Enchanted Objects will no doubt tell you.) On the night of the 16th, I had my ticket in hand as I excitedly approached the theater. Inside, there were two kiosks devoted to BATB merchandise. I did glance at the wares, but didn't bother with the exorbitant prices. Being a huge fan of the movie for twenty years, I already have plenty of that stuff. Besides, their plush Beasts looked like lionesque mops. I'm sorry, but there you are.

Granted, that is kind of what he looks like on stage.

Anyway, I had a great seat in the third row, not quite center. Sure, there was a lady's head in front of me (just a head. No body. I know, people nowadays!) but the good part was, I could see most everything and hear everything, too! (This is never a given at Portland's Keller Auditorium. When I went to see Cats I think "meow" was about the only sound that ever made it to the first-row balcony. Then again, what do I know, maybe that's all the Cats ever say?)

The show got off to a loud start, making a few people jump. It soon chilled, and I was delighted with all the singing, dancing, and special effects. A few of the songs I'd listened to many a time on the soundtrack had been axed from the production (No Matter What, a father-daughter song and Maison Des Lunes, in which Gaston and LeFou get their evil groove on, but these were never my favorite tunes anyway.) But a surprise came towards the end, when Belle belts out the moving A Change In Me (a song, I have since discovered, was added in the late 90s and I certainly must've heard it when I went in 2001, but as it was not on the CD, I'd forgotten about it.)

The actor who plays Gaston (Logan Denninghoff) was a big hit. He had some very fun and goofy facial expressions, but the best thing about him was his voice. He sounded very much like Richard White, who played Gaston in the film. At the climax of the show I went to, his microphone went out, and the actor must've noticed because he was projecting with all his might, but I doubt anyone past row ten could hear him. Somehow, though, that handicap made the scene (the battle on the castle tower) even more compelling (although perhaps if the Beast's mic had gone out instead, it would have been even moreso. Can you picture it? Poor, helpless, now-mute Beast vs. loud, raging Gaston?)

Emily Behny, as Belle, had a sweet, engaging smile and personality. Her voice is beautiful. The only problem was she looked so young, about 17, while the Beast/Prince looked much older. Kind of a Phantom of the Opera dynamic, I guess, but still a little bizarre. After he morphed into a human, I was left going: "Belle? You sure about this?"

The standout, for me, was Michael Haller as Lumiere. He was so engaging, he made me want to run up on stage and embrace him. Indeed, Lumiere is well-known as one of the biggest comics in the story (if you prefer wit over, say, conceit-filled buffoonery (Gaston, though I do love him), idiotic bumbling (LeFou), aw-shucks cuteness (Chip), or general wackiness (Maurice.)) Lumiere's accent and charisma are brought to life by Haller, and he got some of the biggest cheers during the curtain call.

Overall, I give the production a 9.5/10, and it is certainly the best I have ever seen (though I may be a little biased, loving the story so darn much.)

What a great night and a fabulous experience.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Random Things From My Childhood Part 3

1. Squeezits

The beverage of choice for field trips, picnics, and any other time you needed some reassurance that your mother loved you. Lunchables were a bit too extravagant, but Squeezits... well... I'm sure she used a double coupon.

2. Heads Up 7 Up

This really is the most ridiculous game. Seven children are selected to stand at the front of the classroom. Everyone else puts their heads down and their thumbs up. If one of the Seven Chosen comes by and touches your thumb, you get to make a fist. Then, when all seven have returned to the front of the room, "Heads up seven up" is called and the seven kids who've had their thumbs tapped get to stand (usually eight or nine stand, since one of the original choosers can't seem to keep it to just one pick.) In turn, each kid guesses who touched them (helped significantly if they got a peek at the passerby's sneakers). If they get it right, they take that kid's place. If you are a rather unpopular child, you will either never get your thumb tapped or, if you do, your tapper will vehemently deny ever touching you, smile smugly, and continue being one of the Chosen while you look on forlornly. Not that I personally know anything about this.

3. Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater

So. I didn't go here until I was six, and I'd seen commercials for the place and in one of them, a kid shoots down a slide and lands in Chuck E.'s arms, and I was convinced that this was how you entered the restaurant. Everyone gets out of their cars, climbs a ladder along a stone wall, and sliiiides into the building. Yeah. So it wasn't like that, but it was still awesome. The rides, oh the rides! Little space ships that you could maneuver high into the air. Skeeball. Claw games. And who can forget the almighty ball pit?

The place is so different now. There's a tubey thing to climb in and a lot of dinky little rides that don't go up in the air. And where it used to be kind of dark and divided into rooms, it's now bright and open. Really, it kinda stinks.

4. Sweet Secrets

For every "boy" toy, there must be an equal or opposite "girl" toy. My Buddy? Meet Kid Sister. Mr. Potato Head, may I introduce you to your bride? Transformers, meet... uh, these, I guess?  Sweet Secrets were little plastic jewel things that could change into animals.  Some could be worn as jewelery, some had makeup inside, and others were things like notepads or tiny pianos. Unfortunately(?) they were not popular enough to either be A) long-lasting or B) made into a Michael Bay movie starring Shia LeBeouf, but I loved them and still have them to this day.

5. Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown

Originally I was going to write about FlashBeagle, but then I remembered this! Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown was a feature film from the 70s that I watched in the 80s and thought was amazing. Charlie Brown and his friends race a group of bullies down a treacherous river one summer because, apparently, that's what you do at summer camp. At one point, Snoopy becomes separated from Woodstock, and their resulting woe is almost unbearable to watch.

6. Easter

As a kid, Easter was my favorite holiday next to Christmas. First, we decorated the house. My mom had an egg made out of sugar where you could peek inside and see a springtime scene. Then there was the dyeing of the eggs, a chance to be creative with your food. Next there was Easter morning, with a basket full of goodies waiting for you in the living room. And then the glorious Easter Egg Hunt, where it didn't matter if they were real eggs or plastic ones filled with jelly beans, searching for them was a blast.

7. Eloise Wilkin

Eloise Wilkin was a children's book illustrator whose beautiful illustrations made the books come alive for me. This was one of my favorite books as a wee lass. I made the realization later in life that most of the picture books I loved as a kid had something in common: food. If there was somebody cooking, somebody eating, or even someone passing a candy store, I liked that book. But with Eloise Wilkin, it was different. Instead of food, there were nightscapes and snowscapes and little cherubic children in frilly dresses holding hands and running around a meadow. They were like Normal Rockwell paintings for tots.

8. Pogo Ball
Otherwise known as the toy in the garage that my mom has been unsuccessfully trying to get me to throw out since approximately 1991.

9. Teddy Ruxpin
Just as I thought you used a slide to enter Chuck E. Cheese's, I was certain, from viewing the commercials, that Teddy Ruxpin was the most magical bear in the universe and could, indeed, talk. Circa 1987 our neighbor, who'd bought the bear to have when his grandchildren came over, brought Teddy to our house for a visit. Though I was very excited to see Mr. Ruxpin, and had a merry old time listening to his story, I was a bit dismayed to discover that he was more or less a very furry, very adorable, somewhat spendy audiocassette player. Away went the magic.

10. Final Fantasy I Music

I'll end this blog entry on a musical note. When we finally obtained a Nintendo in the early 90's, one of the games my brother bought was Final Fantasy. Sometimes he would even let me play it with him. Maybe it's the memories of the time we spent together in those days, or the fact that the game was really fun, but whenever I hear these pieces I get enormously happy.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Things From My Childhood Part 2

1. Winter Games

2:44 onward = fond memories of falling down to Tchaikovsky... constantly.

2. Where's Waldo?

Where indeed? I'm sure there's a metaphor in here somewhere about relentlessly, obsessively searching for something miniscule, trying to find meaning amongst disorder and chaos, but... well, who cares.

3. Tubtown

Or, one of the only things that could get me to take baths as a kid.

4. Nosy Bears

Another item Santa forgot to bring me in the 80s. Curse you, Claus!

5.LEGO Forestmen's Hideout

For a change, something I actually had!

6. The Baby-Sitters Club

Kristy - Loud tomboy
Mary Anne - Shy romantic
Claudia - Junk food-loving artist
Stacey - Sophisticated Diabetic
Dawn - Californian vs. Red Meat
Jessi - Talented ballerina
Mallory - Just plain awkward

7. Heidi's Song

One of the only movies from my childhood I can't stand to rewatch. It's just plain creepy!

8. Jelly Shoes
During the Jelly craze, I used my pennies to buy a pair of pink ones at a garage sale. They were 4 sizes too big. I put them away. The next thing I knew, they were too small and I'd never even gotten to wear them. That is one of my life's biggest regrets.

9. Doublemint Twins

Back in the day, twins used to get hired to dress up like giant sticks of gum in order to get chewed on by hunky locals. Or... wait.

10. Bubble Tape

Annnnd more gum...

Old people just don't understand.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


LEGOy goodness awaits... I made this film using LEGO bricks, Pinnacle Studio 12, and the voices of my sweet cousins Rachael, Matt, Grant, and Miriam. It was a month-long project and very fun! I'd like to do another one -- I love so many Newbery books, which shall I do next?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Random Things From My Childhood Part 1

1. Robert The Rose Horse
His eyes began to itch. His nose began to itch. AND THEN...

2. Clowns 

The digital crack of its day.

3. Snoopy Brusha Brusha Toothbrush

They say you shouldn't buy your kids everything they want or ask for. Maybe so. But if I'd gotten the Snoopy Brusha Brusha Toothbrush for Christmas, 1983, like I wanted, well...I would probably be blogging with slightly less resentment, now.

4. Dream Glow Barbie

"We girls can do anything... right, Barbie?" 

Right. Even glow.

5. My Buddy

A friend for those without.

6. Skip It

Looks like exercise. I think I will skip it. Hardyharhar.

7. Lite-Brite

Or, what we did before computers.

8. Fisher-Price Movie Viewer

...and before we had VCRS...

9. Fisher Price Music Box TV

Oh, and when Mom and Dad were hogging the big TV, we had our secret weapon, oh yes...

10. The Little Red Caboose

The little red caboose always came last.

Even now.

Good night.