Archive | February, 2011

Shark Apocalypse

28 Feb

A few months ago my family and I caught the 2009 apolcaypse film, 2012. YouTube – 2012 – Official Trailer 3.

It was pretty good. As disaster films go, this one was right up there. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s got the whole ancient Mayan thing portending doom, innumerable narrow escapes (including my favorite: a small 4-seater plane taking off as an entire city below is swallowed by the sea), cold-hearted government operatives, giant waves rolling jumbo jets and aircraft carriers onto destroyed oceanside cities, and even an appearance of an updated, sci-fi version of Noah’s Arc.

Good stuff.

So good we were inspired to make a disaster movie of our own.

What follows is the result of a Sunday afternoon, a box of old Barbies dressed in original duct tape fashions (circa 2007), a 14-year-old director, and an iPhone.

I’ll warn you, you may find yourself somewhat overcome after watching it, your eyes squeezed behind your clenched fist wondering, “Why? Oh why?”

That’s to be expected.

And please, don’t be jealous. Not everyone can have this kind of talent. We can’t all be like Spielberg or have the blood of Scorsese coursing through our veins in quite this way.

And so, without further ado, I give you:

2012: When the Mayans Got it Wrong


Steel Wool and The Phil Sheppard Show

19 Feb

Last week the premier episode of Survivor: Redemption Island aired, and boy was it good.

Within the first fifteen minutes I knew it was going to be a great season. And not because Boston Rob and Russell Hantz (that sneaky little troll) were back, or because of this season’s Redemption Island twist: if you’re voted off you live alone on an isolated island until the next person is voted off, then you battle for a spot back in the game. I’m hoping for something reminiscent of Captain Kirk and the Gorn. YouTube – Kirk vs Gorn.

No, this season is a guaranteed winner because of the contestants.

For example, after splitting into tribes, Mike (the cute marine: YouTube – Survivor S22 – Meet Mike Chiesl) was helping Ralph (the huge farmer and token southern oaf: YouTube – Survivor S22 – Meet Ralph Kiser) build a shelter. It was hot and Ralph had taken his shirt off, leaving him bare-chested in his overalls. But “bare-chested” isn’t exactly right, because under that serviceable denim shirt was another shirt, made completely of hair.

“Your superhero name is Steel Wool,” Mike said, nodding with the special admiration that only another guy could have for such a robust display of man-fur. “You have the most impressive man-sweater I’ve ever seen.”

And Mike was right. Best one ever. Plus, you could just see this Iraq war veteran spending time in the dusty barracks, handing out the perfect nick name. I want one.

But that was just the beginning. From there Survivor morphed into what I like to think of as “The Phil Sheppard Show.” There’s always the moron who meets his tribe members and decides to be assertive; to impress them with his leadership skills and to take charge. He bosses people around, corrects people he just met and generally assumes control. Or so he thinks. This season it was Phil Sheppard, the self-proclaimed “former federal agent.” YouTube – Survivor S22 – Meet Phillip Sheppard.

After dropping the privileged information of his former special agent status on his tribe (for a grand total of four times during the first show), he also let them know that he was an expert in analyzing people’s behavior. Hmmm…

And that would’ve been plenty. Really. I would’ve been very satisfied with just that.  But “Phil Sheppard and Company,” as he began to refer to himself in the third person plural, was just getting started.

Sheppard spent the whole show wandering around the camp, shouting at fellow tribe members like he was a grouchy old school mistress. “Excuse me! Excuse me!” he said, over and over. “Answer my question! Answer me! I don’t need two people talking at once.” Then, when they didn’t obey, “We’re done with this conversation for now.”

And just for extra sprinkles, he did it all in the worst pair of faded fuschia underwear I’ve ever seen. I mean these things were priceless; sagging and out of shape (like him), and gapping in all the wrong places. Dangerous places. I know everyone on Survivor runs around in their underwear, and not everyone is in great shape. I get it. But why not boxers? Why faded, gaping fuschia briefs? I want to believe it’s some kind of awesome calculated irony, that his whole character has been written and not found among the masses. But I just don’t.

The premier episode ended, as always, with Tribal Council. And Phil Sheppard and Company didn’t disappoint. He interrupted Francesca to run his mouth about secret plans, called out the girl who’d been stupid enough to show him the secret immunity idol she’d found (Kristina), all while managing to mispronounce Francesca’s name three different ways. My favorite was Fransquesqua, like she was some kind of Indian princess. But no worries, he’s being treated for dry mouth. That’s why he was having trouble with her name. Just ask him, he’ll tell you.

It was a great hour of entertainment, with the best quote of the night going to Ralph, aka Steel Wool. “We ain’t never had a dumb ass win the million. Maybe it’s my turn.” Maybe so, Mr. Wool, maybe so.

Seriously, this is reality tv at it’s best. The producers of Survivor may have thought the two veterans and Redemption Island would shake things up enough to keep viewers coming back, but I’ll be tuning in for Phil Sheppard and Company. No doubt about it.

Karate Kid

13 Feb

My daughter started taking karate about 4 or 5 months ago. The class meets once a week at the local community center and, as karate instruction goes, it’s kind of low key. It’s nothing like I remember. When I took karate as a kid it was terrifying; the instructors were strict and the practice was extremely regimented. Everything was very serious. There were tons of rules to remember, which to my kid brain translated into a gazillion different ways to screw things up. I swear I felt like I was going to throw up every time I went.

For better or worse, this place isn’t like that. My daughter’s sensei is a second grade teacher who offers the class in the evenings and I think that comes through in his style.

The students, mostly 9-12 year olds and a few teenagers, do have to bow in and out of the dojo, they do use some Japanese in the class, and they do have actual belt rankings, but otherwise, they fly pretty fast and loose. The sensei keeps it casual.

Except when he doesn’t.

Like a few weeks ago when a guest sensei was visiting from a nearby Jujitsu dojo. Halfway through he announced that after the bathroom break (I don’t remember ever getting bathroom breaks either) they would be working on defense against  a knife attack.

Hmm, I thought. Now I’m interested.

When the kids came back the Jujitsu guy began explaining the basics of knife fighting. But the younger ones were tired and fidgety and weren’t paying as much attention as they should’ve. So he raised his voice and told them that this is real; that he’s been shot, he’s been stabbed, he’s been attacked by three guys at once, and these are the kinds of skills that saved him. (And I couldn’t help thinking how chicks love guys with sweet nunchuk skills).

But this guy was for real, and you’d know it if you saw him. I’m just not sure he had the right audience.

So he passed out the rubber knives and finally he had their attention. Duh. His first lesson was “to try and get away from the knife. Absolutely. But if you can’t, go ahead and grab the blade.”

I’m sorry, what?

Every mother in the room raised her eyebrows at the same time, like we were doing some kind of choreographed number.

And then he demonstrated with a partner. “If you’re fighting for your life you grab the blade,” he said, grabbing the rubber knife, “then you slit the throat.” And he flipped the fake knife around and ran the blade edge against his partner’s throat. “You grab the blade. And slit the throat.”

Wow. Really? That’s maybe a little much for nine year olds. But he had their undivided attention. The whole room was silent, staring wide-eyed at his demo.

Me? I was living the Rex Kwon Do dream: Take a look at what I’m wearing, people. You think anybody wants a roundhouse kick to the face while I’m wearing these bad boys? Do you?

Then last week the regular sensei was impressing upon the kids the importance of practice. How repetition will not only help them learn the moves in their mind, but also in their body. So that when it really counts it will be automatic and they can rely on muscle memory.

But most of these kids don’t care, they’re not training for when it really counts, they just want to spar and fool around.

His voice deepened and he said, “What are you going to do in the ring? What are you going to do in the STREET?”

I looked up and found the little boy in front of me standing on his toes so he could get a better angle at the wedgie he was vigorously digging out of his rear. And then he shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno.”

Yeah, me either. Our crane kick may not be ready for Johnny and the guys from Cobra Kai. Just a hunch.

People of Vacation

7 Feb

You see some pretty fun stuff when you travel, especially at the airport. It’s a great place for my favorite game: People Watching.

There are the schlep rocks who can’t be bothered to get out of their pajama pants and slippers, as if the airport is just one more stop on their international sleepover. Thanks for making the effort, guys.

And once in awhile you get the glamour girls, who somehow manage to look perfect, sitting on that uncomfortable black plastic chair like they’re headed to a last minute shoot in Milan. You have to admire the commitment it takes to decide on the 5-inch stripper heels when  you’re going to be spending the day walking through an airport. Mad props.

And of course there are the rest of us, trudging from security to gate (still wrestling with our belts and shoes) to baggage claim in jeans, sweatshirts, sneakers and flats.

But aside from the regular stuff, I noticed a few things in the last two weeks that made me sit up and notice; things that really made me stop what I was doing and scratch my head.

Kind of like People of Walmart for vacation.

I know this one may be controversial, but here goes. Ladies, if you’re planning on having your boyfriend or husband carry your bag, do everyone a favor (especially him) and take one that’s plain, or at least simply decorated. For God’s sake, please leave the man some dignity and do not expect him to carry a fluffy duffel covered in cute little chickens and roosters. I wish I had a picture of this one, because I saw it happen. That poor man, rushing through the airport with his wife, his slumped shoulders loaded down with three quilted, hand-made rooster bags. It was not cute.

And I’m sorry to say, but Vera Bradley bags are out too. Nope. I can hear you groaning from here but I’m with the men on this one. If you’re going to make him carry it like a shackled beast of burden (which is perfectly acceptable) then it should at least be gender neutral. Ask him. Look him in the face and say, “Hunny, do you mind carrying my pink paisley bag?”

Of course he said no, you’re married. That question is second cousins to: “Hunny, do these jeans make me look fat?”

Come on, people! Really? I know I don’t want to see grown ass men strolling through the airport with bags covered in cute puppy dog applique. It’s a little pathetic and smacks of desperation. I don’t want my husband looking like that, no matter how much I like my bag.

Exception: If you are a grown ass man carrying your own frilly bag with cute little appliques, go on with your bad self. Like Emily Litella said, “That’s different. Nevermind.”

This one is pretty simple, and also something I discovered at the airport. We were probably more disposed to it in Hawaii, flying between islands where the Freebird, Dirtbag Surfer lifestyle is more prevalent, but still. When I can smell you and your family, as in your reeking BO is crawling around the plane on legs of its own, growling at everyone, then your organic, whole wheat, alternative lifestyle has crossed into my world. Now your perfectly acceptable choice has become an intrusion; call it an invasion of my sinuses if you want. Take a shower or stay on the compound.


This one I caught out of the corner of my eye as we were heading to dinner one night. Yep. That’s matching hawaiian print. I get it. You’re all worked up about being in Hawaii. Maybe it’s even your honeymoon. Good for you. But take a deep breath; your souls have been joined for eternity, not your closets. Here’s the thing. Matching outfits don’t work for a family headed to the amusement park, they don’t work when it’s day-glo safety orange golf shirts on the 4th of July (you know who you are) and it still doesn’t work on your honeymoon in Hawaii. Sorry.

Exceptions: If you are in 2nd grade and planning a matching outfit with your best friend. Maybe.


Different island, different resort. Same bad choice. Actually, in this case, the old man pulls it off. But I’m presenting it as an example of what not to do. Wearing pastel pink slacks with socks to match (obviously purchased together) is not a wardrobe decision to be taken lightly. Most men will never make it work.





Exceptions: If you are the original Brooks Brothers Playboy, Thurston Howell III or Evan R. Lawson (CFO of HankMed) from USA’s show, Royal Pains.

Come on, you know this is what iPhones are for.