Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Smash your head on the punk rock

Now that we're driving the old Toyota Camry that lacks a CD player, we've dragged out our ancient box of cassette tapes. We almost threw them out a few months ago. We're glad we have the tapes because our family tends to get cranky and whiny sans a soundtrack. Asher is a complete dictator when it comes to choosing music, "change the song", "again, play it again" or "I don't like it" (I want to encourage his personal taste so I indulge him for the most part). The tape technology sucks of course, I'm always rewinding the wrong way or something.

Olden days, my sentimental musical review
I played the boys a tribe called quest (some racey lyrics not sure how often we'll listen to it, but got a good reception from the guys), jon spencer blues explosion (asher liked it. elliot said, "I like fake punk rock better" what does that mean?), black flag (no fans. "turn it off" said asher), bob dylan (no fans), my bloody valentine (boring. I could barely listen. why did I like them?), minutemen (a winner. elliot liked the sound effects and variety), sebadoh (elliot said "this music is sad").

Creature from the black lagoon
A few weeks ago while searching for old monster movies on youtube for elliot we found this cheap skater punk creature from the black lagoon video. It is now Elliot's favorite song ever and he sings it into his hairbrush every morning.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teen Angst: Brick, Blue Car, Somersault, Fat Girl


While reviewing my current netflix queue (61 movies) and rental history (250 movies in 2 years including a 3 month hiatus) I noticed that nearly all of my recent netflix rentals have been portraits of troubled teenagers, mostly girls. I must be missing Veronica Mars. I can't wait for the V Mars season premiere on Tuesday. Here are some mini reviews of a few lost girl coming of age films.

Brick
High school film noir (based on the Maltesse Falcon) with great snappy dialogue. The two female leads are broken and manipulative; both girls hide their power. The lost girl's ex-boyfriend tries to save her but she doesn't want to be saved. The femme fatale just wants to be loved, but ends up causing a blood bath. The angst and awkwardness of teenagedom is polished and stylized but it somehow manages to freshly communicate raw longing and loss.

Blue Car
It's hard to compare the sophisticated artifice of Brick to Blue Car which is incredibly earnest and ham fisted. As a child of divorce, I thought I might relate to the lost girl who is bitter about the break up of her family, but the adults in the film are too cartoonish to make the film believable. The girl in this film has daddy and mommy issues. When she latches on to her lecherous English teacher after some over the top plot developments, I wasn't surprised. We're meant to think the main character is a good girl (she doesn't use sexuality to get what she wants) but lacking inner resources for success. Blue Car champions standing up for yourself and individuation, but is consumed with an after school special, see-this-is-what-happens-to-latch-key-kids-from-broken-homes moralism.

Somersault
An arty Australian film featuring a 16 year old lost girl who runs away from home after she kisses her mother's boyfriend. She's resilient, but relies on her sexuality to get what she wants which of course means trouble. Trolling for guys or anyone who might feed her. Reminded me a little of Agnes Varda's Vagabond. The message is clear that a girl alone in the world automatically means that she's slutty trash. The focus on sex is more prominent in this film than the others, but it also moves in unexpected directions. She has a great emotional vocabulary and clearly explains how she feels. Coming of age in Somersault means understanding why people do the things they do, forgiveness.

Fat Girl
Fat Girl is the most sensationalistic of this genre. French movie about a chubby 12 or 13 year old and her older beautiful teenage sister. The "fat girl" sees clearly how shallow her family is and how corrupt their values are. The older sister subjects the fat girl to witnessing her nightly trysts with her older scummy boyfriend. Similar in tone to Larry Clark's Kids; a cold clinical look at a train wreck. Ignorant parents, mean selfish people all around. Punishing sexuality in the way that Friday the 13th does with an abrupt murder in the final scene of the movie. I felt really bad for the young actresses who are put through some horrible situations. In the director's commentary, she proudly explains that it was hard for the girls, but it's good for them, they'll become better actors because of it. Fat Girl is cynical, none of the characters grow, there is no coming of age, only death.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cousin Ila

We had a nice visit with cousin Ila, uncle joel and aunt bessie this past weekend. The boys were very excited about meeting Ila. Elliot loves family. He was just beside himself with glee. He revealed how embarrased he was that he didn't hold their wedding rings the right way when he was the ring bearer in their wedding ceremony.

Asher was surprisingly gentle with Ila, patting her head (typical 2 year old expression of love - everyone loves a pat on the head right?) and giving her a peck on the cheek. One highlight: Elliot warmly told Bessie how much Ila looked like her and then noted how Ila had "tarantula hair."

Elliot's message to Ila: "I love you. You're one of my favorite cousins ever. Maybe someday she can stay with us in our house without uncle joel and aunt bessie and we can have fun all day long. Maybe she can go to the super bowl with us."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Silver Jews Peace


Danny and I went to see the silver jews last week, our first show in 3 years. The first ever silver jews tour. I've listened to american water for 5 or 6 years now and I'm still not tired of it. I love the humor, the loose, unexpected juxtapositions in the lyrics. I was almost afraid of ruining my pathetic infatuation with mr berman; live shows are often disappointing anyway. But DB didn't appear to be a junkie, or out of control. There was no spectacle, the band wasn't sloppy. I wonder how his wife stayed with him during his addict years. Anyway, it was good to see him together and solid.

DB was funny, likeable, and the music was good. I wasn't disappointed. I wanted him to play like like the the the death, but he didn't. Of course I can't handle staying up past 12, so we left right before the show ended.

I wore my magenta silver jews peace shirt the next day. A salesman in mattress store asked me, what does that mean? silver jews peace? does he think it means elderly jews for peace? I said it's just a band. David Berman said he always regretted naming the band silver jews, it was so awkward and serious, but in the last two years he grew into the name, becoming sober and embracing judaism, he began to see the name as a blessing (peace): http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=16451

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Choosing a Pet - Squirrel Boy


Elliot has been begging us to buy him a pet for years now. Most of the time, I tell him when you're 7 or 8. Danny really wants a dog or a cat. I can't think of anything worse than caring for an animal. I would be the one to walk, clean and feed it. I am completely certain of that. I loved my cat Laika, but it was a big relief after she died. I am so not a dog person. I've considered getting a snake or a frog - reptiles seem ok. Definitely not a hamster or a gerbil, no rodents. I am just not up for some horrible death, disease, grotesque scents, cannibalism and whatever else happens with caged pets. We tried fish, but we killed it after a week. I can barely feed myself, why would I want to feed one more mouth? I told elliot I would research reptiles and other pets. Maybe a skink? We're weighing the pros and cons of pet types.

My Little Squirrel
Elliot is the VIP in his class in a few weeks, so I was quizzing him on his favorite things. Favorite song - creature from the black lagoon. Favorite food - sushi but no wasabi. Favorite animal - racoon, because I like things that climb. Elliot if you could be any animal, what would you be? I would be a big handsome squirrel with a fantastic hairdo. He is a weird kid.

I've ruled out birds, rodents and snakes. Reading about large populations of abandoned pets such as the red eared slider turtle makes me terribly sad. Caring for another life is serious, I obviously don't want the the responsibility right now. Cheap reptiles that parents abandon when the kids outgrow them are threatening local wetlands populations.

skink

Bird
Psittacosis. Bite. Must clean cage daily.

Gerbil / Hamster
Easy to house and feed. Require little attention. Tend to bite. Tend to escape. Short lifespan.

Snake
Eat live food...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Style: Back to School Clothes

I've been telling Elliot everything I remember about my first day of kindergarten lately. He's a little nervous (I suppose I am too). I told him about how I went shopping for clothes and I picked out a brown plaid dress (always in style) with a pair of brown mary janes for my first day. I took Elliot shopping the other day at the Gap. He has his own sense of style - the monochromatic look is a favorite, especially all red (I guess I was into monchromatic as well). I tried to steer him to jeans, a button up oxford shirts or the polo shirts, or the striped t-shirts. No, he wanted a football shirt that said, "Falcons Varsity" and a shirt that said, "Punk Band Dummer" or something like that. He also wanted long basketball shorts of course. Shiny red satin. Sigh. Who is this kid? I bought him the varsity shirt and convinced him to buy a pair of brown cargo shorts instead. We bought two pairs of shoes. Brown slip on vans style and super athletic shoes. After he wore the vans outside, he said they're too big. He won't wear them. Argh!

We hung out with a 4 year old boy on saturday who loves to wear striped, long sleeved turtleneck hannah anderson dresses. He owns several dresses like this. Apparently his style is driven by comfort and softness of fabric. He loves tights as well. He wears the dresses to school with pants, intesting that he was initially afraid of wearing dresses, he thought kids would laugh at him. But he's staying true to himself. He's ok with being different, he can be a boy and wear dresses. He'll grow up with courage in his convictions.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

The Alien Secret


Yesterday, Victor informed me that Elliot shared with him the "alien secret." What is this secret? Why didn't he tell me? Did he hear me talking about how I must be an alien because I can't seem to communicate well with anyone lately? Apparently, it is Elliot's theory that we all have an alien inside us. Danny said he's been talking about this a lot lately. We are all part alien. Hmm. Makes sense.

Maybe I've been reading him too many fairy tales. Last week Elliot said to me, "I hope you become poor and sick" after I threatened to throw away his toys if he didn't clean them up. I said you don't want that, you'll have no toys and you'll have to eat food off the sidewalk if that happens. No wonder he's so anxious, bad mommy.