Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Keeping Her Distance - A Summer Rerun

Apologies for the rerun, but I'm sick and can't muster up a new post! Enjoy.


I don't know anyone who is as removed from her emotions as my mother is. (New readers can find other posts about her here and here. )

She never really understood sentimental attachments...to things (which is why she thought nothing of giving away our toys and games to cousins as we stood there, heartbroken), stuffed animals (hence the previously mentioned incident where she threw my treasured stuffed poodle into the churning garbage truck as I sat in stunned silence), or even to people.

The first inkling I had, about the people-part, was when a young couple in our neighborhood had a baby which tragically died a few days after birth. My older sister was devestated by this news, but when my mother saw her crying she said "Oh don't worry...they didn't even have a chance to love it yet." While she considers herself 'close' to her sisters, she's always kept non-relatives at arm's length, and often referred to our friends as "strangers".

As with most of the stories about my mother, the tragedy is usually accompanied by a heavy dose of hilarity. That same sister was married for 29 years to a man that my parents welcomed into the family as a beloved son-in-law. However when they got divorced and my mother saw him for the last time, she waved and said, "Nice knowin' ya!"

She has talked about donating her body to science when she dies, and frankly I'd love to know what they'll find between her ears!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Panthergirl's DVD Pick of the Week

This film is the riveting, real-life account of a gravelly-voiced, helmet-haired trailer park dumpster diver who buys a painting for $5 at a thrift shop which may very likely be a Jackson Pollock -- worth over $50MM. She is an amazing character... the filmmakers struck gold with this one. A person who can play herself better than any actress ever could. And the story is fascinating, suspenseful and educational. There are heros and villains (could Thomas Hoving BE any more obnoxious??) in this truly incredible journey.

Rent it. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brain Dump!

File under "Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time". Before I went on vacation, I dropped into a Toys R Us to buy a few good ol' fashioned board games. Imagine my surprise when I found the "Trivial Pursuit: Book Lovers Edition". What?? How perfect! I wonder why it's only $4.98??

The first time I played, with my "special friend", we gave up without anyone claiming victory. The second time, I played with my book-loving and former bookseller daughter. Three and a half hours later, she reigned victorious over me. But believe me...it was not easy. Apparently I'm not the only one who had this experience. I found this on Bookslut.

It's back to the Genus edition for me, or my all time favorite: The Baby Boomers Edition. Yeah, baby.


Lucas is home after 4 weeks away at camp. It was a great experience for him, and although he had trepidations initially about being away from home, he wound up wanting to stay the whole summer. However, I've already got two mortgages on this place so that was definitely NOT an option. Here he is with his trophy for "Best Laugh". So appropriate, since if you really strike his funny bone he's got one of those infectious, tear-producing laughs that he's had since babyhood.

At 12, I was wondering what if any bad habits he might pick up during his four weeks of male bonding in the Catskills. Initially it seemed like he was the same innocent kid I sent packing in early July. Then, last night when he got back from walking the dog, I asked "So, did he do everything?" He replied, "Oh yeah. He laid down a big douche." It took me a second, but I soon told him that the rude expression he was looking for was actually a "big deuce", as in "number two". The Brooklyn roots really pay off sometimes.


I still have not gotten my insurance claimed resolved by Veterinary Pet Insurance. Hopefully they will find this post when they do their daily search for terms like "VPI sucks".


Transformers. Really great toys. Really, REALLY stupid movie.


I cannot WAIT for The Simpsons Movie.


What the hell has happened to All My Children? As you know, I'm a long-time fan of this and only this soap, because it's always been so hilarious and self-mocking. Right now, the storylines are comatose, the writing is horrible, and the actress who plays Greenlee couldn't act scared on the A train at 4 in the morning (props to the recently-deceased critic Joel Siegel, who used that line to describe Pia Zadora in the 70s).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Empty Bladder Before Watching

HBO's Flight of the Conchords is my new favorite show. Almost indescribable, it's about a "band": two down-and-out New Zealanders living in NYC. The show is peppered with 80s music video spoofs, complete with zany animation and positively side-splitting lyrics.

When one of the boys takes a fancy to a girl across the room at a party, he breaks into an angst-filled ditty with this refrain:

"You’re so beautiful
You could be a waitress
You’re so beautiful
You could be an air hostess in the ‘60’s
You’re so beautiful
You could be a part-time model"

Take that, James Blunt.

Here's the clip:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Photo Friday: Vacation

My father, preparing for our six-week cross country trek in 1961. Here's the full story (forgive me if you've read it before. It's one of my favorite posts):

Originally titled "Our Trip to Wallyworld"


In 1961, my parents decided that they wanted to drive from New York to California and back. My father saved up his vacation and sick days, we packed up the '57 Dodge Coronet, our AAA books and Triptiks and took off for a six-week adventure. (That vehicle had a grapfruit-sized hole in the floor, so we fondly remember it as "The Flintstone Car"). Marge and Sal in the front, three girls in the back. In case you've wondered where the cliché comes from, we were no more than 5 blocks from home when I asked, "Are we there yet?"

I have enjoyed taking my own kids on vacations, wanting to make great memories for them. But sometimes, when I think of the things that made the BIGGEST impression on me from this trip, I wonder what they'll really remember in the long run.

Here were some of the high-points for me:

~ I was 5 and my sisters were 9 and 14. To pass the time, they would administer "lie detector tests" to me by asking "What did you learn in kindergarten?" When I'd answer, "I learned to drive a car", they'd draw a big spike on their graph and make a whooop! whooop! sound.

~ We'd have to duck down in fear every time my dad would flick a cigarette out the window, or worse...spit.

~ When it was my mother's turn to drive, Sal would go to sleep but not before telling us, "YOU watch the signs, YOU watch the road and YOU watch the speedometer." I guess he thought it took 4 women to drive a car.

~ The most important factor in picking a motel was whether or not the pool had a slide.

~ My mother had to scrape turtle crap off the bottom of my shoe at Knott's Berry Farm. My father must have thought that was memory-worthy as well, because he kept the movie camera rolling.

~ I thought we drove through "See the Rabbits", Iowa, and also couldn't figure out what was so damned funny every time I said it. (I also thought the Toronto hockey team was called "The Make-Believes".)

~ Because of the previously mentioned hole in the floor of the car, we spent much of the trip terrified that my dad would drive over roadkill.

~ My middle sister was a thief. She took "souvenirs" from the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert and picked flowers from the Los Angeles Arboretum. She made it to adulthood without going to prison, but she IS married to the biggest asshole on the planet. Justice prevails!

~ That same sister had several episodes of car sickness, and spent much of the trip wearing a "Got Puke?" moustache.

_ We were gone for six weeks. My mother never called home to check with her parents or sisters and see if everyone was ok, or to let them know that we were.

~ My parents were much nicer when we traveled. I hated coming back home.

~ Five years later, when we sold the car complete with the travel decals and bumper-stickers from this and several other trips, I cried bitterly as the new owner drove away. The imposter! Now everyone was going to think that HE went to "South of the Border"and the Merrimac Caverns!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Help Me, Please

I desperately need to understand why I should be even minutely interested in the celebrated arrival of the Beckhams to the US. Honestly, she's impossible to look at (not to mention the fact that she bears an eerie resemblance to the sister I don't talk to, particularly when she stands next to Karl Lagerfeld), and he's only interesting when he's naked.

But seriously... we don't give a crap about soccer in this country unless you're a third grader.

It may be time to give Posh and Becks their well-deserved place in Cyberia.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I went to the Catskills.

...and stayed in a lovely B&B...

...and played a lot of golf...

...and visited Lucas, aka Dr. Doolittle, at camp...(here with chicken)

...and here with emu...

...and here with his sister.

I still have a few days off, so I hope to catch up with all my blogging buddies!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Goin' Up the Country

I'll be away this week, with nothing but dial-up access (now THAT'S my idea of "roughing it"). Please to enjoy my archives in the meantime.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Camping it Up

I think the world is divided into campers and non-campers. I am not a camper. I am barely a picnicker. I don't like bugs, wiping my ass with leaves holds no appeal for me, and call me crazy...but being eaten by bears is not the way I want to go. Words like "rustic", "sleeping bag" and "DEET" strike fear into my heart. I watch "Survivor" knowing that a million dollars wouldn't be nearly enough to make me do that.

Still, I do love the outdoors. One of the things I love about playing golf is being in a beautiful, grassy area on a gorgeous day. Someday I will also love making par on a hole or two.

I even like doing things like this:

and this:

What I really don't get, though, is "glamping". No, it's not the latest Shane Sparks dance craze. It means "glamour camping", and it's what the non-campers do when they want to pretend to be campers and they are willing to pay thousands of dollars a night to do so. We're not talking about nice tents and a clean port-a-potty. We're talking about this:

Are you kidding me? I wonder if they supply the "Spoiled Brat" t-shirts, and sherpas to carry their flip-flops to the lake.

As you can see in this photo posted on the website of the summer camp where Lucas is spending 4 weeks, my aversion to roughing it has not been passed down to him.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Panthergirl's Entertainment Report - ADD Version

DVD Review: Little Children, starring Kate Winslet and Patrick "OMG" Wilson. Interesting film about suburban couples who manage to avoid confronting their own demons by focusing on the town demon (Jackie Earl Haley is amazing in the role of the troubled mama's boy turned exhibitionist. Remember him in "Breaking Away"?). Lots of riveting moments, beautiful people and imagery, and outstanding performances by everyone from Kate Winslet to that adorable kid in the jester hat. And did I mention Patrick "OMG" Wilson? Did I mention he's naked a lot? But I digress. There was something too neatly buttoned up about the ending, and that almost ruined the film for me. Worth seeing, but not for everyone. If you're offended by things like simulated masturbation, men with panties on their heads, or naked Patrick Wilsons, don't rent this one.

Book Review (midway through): A: The funniest book I've read in a long, long time. Q: What is Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! by Bob Harris. I discovered Bob when Bev directed me to his in-depth analysis of the final Sopranos episode. The guy is truly brilliant, which explains his 13-time-appearance on Jeopardy!, but also one of those writers who inspires a grumbling "why didn't I write that??" mantra in the heads of those who read him. Well, in me anyway. What makes the book so much fun, aside from the insider's look at the underbelly of the game show world, is Bob's fascinating study of how we learn and remember things. A fun summer read. (and it drove me to apply for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"!!)

TV Show of the Summer: On the Lot. Aspiring filmmakers compete for a job at Dreamworks, where they'll never be able to do anything purely creative again. There is some remarkable talent here, but Zach Lipovsky is my early pick. With any luck, he'll come in second and have a successful career as an indy director. His one minute, one-take comedy short was my favorite film so far.

In Theaters: Live Free or Die Hard. John McClane, aka the Human Swiss Army Knife, is back and better than ever. There is nothing this character can't do, and no situation he can't walk away from ... regardless of the number of bullets or bombs involved. What a fun, crazy, implausible escapist cartoon of a film. Bruce Willis is still pretty awesome (for a Republican) and Justin Long, my favorite Mac geek, is purely adorable. Unfortunately, the basic premise (the entire country brought to its knees by hackers) isn't so implausible. Kind of scary, actually.