Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Repave Paradise, Put up a Starbucks

Thanks to my sister, I ended the evening on a sour note:

Joni Mitchell signs with Starbucks.

How can the woman who sang about the proliferation of asphalt condone the company that opens Starbucks inside of every strip mall, kiosk, and bathroom stall (okay, that's an exaggeration) across America? Egad. If we are stardust and golden, then I guess we're also caffeine and sleep deprived.

Of course, I nearly choked on my home brewed coffee (thank you very much) when I read about SONIC YOUTH...frickin' SONIC YOUTH releasing a compilation album on the Starbucks label.
Still, at least Sonic Youth's is just a compilation... not a full fledged record. There's something just infinitely odd to me about the death of independent record stores and the apparent fortune to be made in the mass market appeal of coffee beans, decorative mugs, and oh, yeah... music cds. Maybe I'm being a stick in the mud (quite likely), but it seems so incredibly wrong for Joni Mitchell, folk singer extrordinaire, to be peddling her album at what is essentially the McDonald's of coffee shops. Shouldn't she be writing a song lambasting Paul McCartney for doing such a thing? Granted, her albums haven't been edgy since...oh, the seventies? But Turbulent Indigo was pretty good stuff (especially viewed alongside the horror of her eighties albums... the misery!).
It comes out in September. Guess I'll buy it alongside a cafe mocha and a big ass brownie. I'll need something to drown my disbelief.

The Darjeeling Limited

After Ken made me wax nostalgic over my Jason Schwartzman obsession, I had to pop on over to to see what might be in store for he of the mostly-bad-film-choices-and-yet-god-love-him actor.

Turns out Wes Anderson's latest film opens September 29th. Sigh. It's like a double dose of happiness... or make that quadruple dose, with Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson thrown in as well.

You can see the trailer here: The Darjeeling Limited.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Silly Rabbit, Trix aren't for kids?

"Trying to persuade critics the industry does not need government regulation, 11 big food companies, including McDonald’s, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo, have agreed to stop advertising to children under 12 products that do not meet certain nutritional standards. Some of the companies, like Coca-Cola, have already withdrawn all such commercials or are in the process of doing so. Others, like General Mills, said they would withdraw them over the next year or so, while a handful agreed to expand their self-imposed bans to radio, print and Internet advertising."
--Brooks Barnes, The New York Times: "Limiting Ads of Junk Food to Children" July 18, 2007

Gee, if it weren't for the friendly people down at Kellogg and General Mills, I would never have guessed that Pop Tarts, Trix, and Froot Loops weren't good for kids. I mean, if something comes in a color wheel unknown to natural food and tastes like pure sugar, it can't possibly be bad for you, right? Why bother looking at those annoying little boxes filled with nutritional information...the kiddies like it, so it must be wholesome!

Are people losing their minds? Do we really think that junk cereal is the key to childhood obesity?

Child Advocacy groups apparently think so. The folks over at Commercial Free Childhood feel that there is a link between what children see on tv and what they put in their mouths. In a study of 152 kids between the age of 5 and 11, the participants were involved in two different experiments. In the first study, they watched ten toy ads followed by a cartoon. Afterward, they were allowed to graze from a table of snacks. Two weeks later, they watched ten food ads followed by a cartoon and allowed to snack.

"Notably, in the study of older children, kids who were overweight or obese not only ate more after viewing food ads, but they were more likely to eat sugary and high-fat foods. “This suggests that overweight and obese children are more susceptible to the messages they are exposed to through food advertising on television,” says Emma J. Boyland, an author on both studies and researcher at the University of Liverpool’s Human Ingestive Behaviour Laboratory."

Hmmm. I'm no ingestive behaviour researcher, but I am not certain that obesity is that clear cut. The children they are referring to are at the upper end of the ages they studied--9 to 11 year olds. By that age, habits are deeply ingrained. I would find the study more provocative if they showed a comparison between how much the children consumed after simply watching tv with no ads. I am a woman who will work out for 45 minutes and then go eat 2 decadent chocolate brownies. It doesn't matter that I've been watching fit tv where all the ads are for forlorn diet foods and weight loss pills. Given an array of foods on a table, I go for the chocolate. Might these children simply be exercising their right to choose what they like and are used to?

Growing up, I ate junky cereals...about once a year. Every summer, one of the highlights of visiting my aunt in Ohio was the stash of Coco Puffs and Flav-o Ice, two items that my mother banned from our own home. I would eat two or three bowls of chocolately goodness at a time, reveling in the fact that my morning breakfast cereal produced a bowl of chocolate milk. YUM.

Even in the ancient days of the 1980's, morning cartoons were filled with commercials for crappy food items. I longed to eat Cookie Crisp, but my mom merely scoffed at the idea of cookies for breakfast. The thought--! Instead, I ate boring, slightly more nutritious cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios or Frosted Mini Wheats. Yes, the commercials were seductive. The key opponent to this aggressive advertising was my mom. She didn't hold any stock in serving sweets for breakfast, so she exercised a simple right: she didn't buy it. Consequently, I didn't eat it.

Eliminating junk cereal commercials from children's programming does not eliminate the more pressing fact that SOMEONE IS BUYING THIS STUFF FOR THEIR KIDS AND LETTING THEM EAT IT. We don't need to legislate or push for social action on the part of companies; we need to push for parents to do their job and keep an eye on what and how much their kids are eating. No one can pretend they thought Trix was healthy; come on! Wringing our hands as if television has more impact on our kids than we do is relinquishing the power we have as consumers and parents to make choices for our families. Perhaps it is because confronting our own, darker issues with food consumption, nostalgia, and the inability to stick to our guns in the face of a whining child is a lot harder than pointing the finger at Big Bad Cap'n Crunch.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moon Child or something like that.

Last night we introduced I. and the cousins to the magic of The Neverending Story. Sitting on the couch, cuddled up with the kids, I realized just how long it's been since I saw the film, and what an impact it had on me way back when I first saw it in... 1984?

While watching, I kept thinking of how the film had imbued itself in my brain, and I was also surprised at its similarities to other films/books in the genre. For instance, when Atreyu ends up falling off the luck dragon and landing in a crumbling castle on the outskirts of The Nothing, he discovers murals depicting his recent past and, most importantly, what is about to happen. Amid the rock walls and the trailing ivy, the setting was remarkably reminiscent of the scene in The Dark Crystal where Jen and Kira read the stone walls and learn the role of the gelflings in the crystal's prophecy. Additionally, when Atreyu then stabs the the wolf G'mork, I thought of the scene in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Peter must kill the wolf and take his place as a warrior and man. Something about the Empress's scenes, filmed so dreamily and with the light emanating from her, were reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy she's always had the power to return home. Here, the Empress calls out to Bastian that he, in fact, has had the power to save Fantasia all along.

The first fantasy film that I can remember seeing is The Wizard of Oz, with The Dark Crystal being a close second. Chalk that up as my first non-human crush, because I was smitten with Jen. (Even at the tender age of 7 I was a little embarrassed to be hung up on a puppet, but there you explains a lot about my future with men hung up on comics, Babylon 5, and the like.) Gelflings became a favorite game between me and my best friend, and we spent many a summer afternoon re-enacting scenes and creating our own. (Note: this was not a form of fan fiction, I swear. I was a kid, for goodness sake!) Coupled with Star Wars philosophy, I ended up with a very eighties insight into the grey areas of good and evil, the interwoven nature of our best and worst instincts. No wonder I became a frickin' English major...but I digress.

So now we're on an eighties fantasy kick, at least within the realm of what an almost 7 year old should see. Next on the list is Labyrinth, with the stellar casting of David Bowie and a jail bait Jennifer Connelly.

As for the these millennium kids and their opinion on The Neverending Story? They loved Falkor and the Rock Biter and, as my eight year old nephew put it, "I wish The Neverending Story really was never ending... because then it wouldn't be over!"

(picture from

Monday, July 02, 2007

and the pee goes on...

Just in case you ever wondered about the glamorous side of staying home with your kids, let me give you a little inside peek at the marvelous fun of 24 hour days with your darlings:

Potty training a 2 1/2 year old, in a few easy steps!

Step one: Buy potty at age 18 months and allow child to play with it, hoping it will spark interest. Ditto with the potty training books, pants, and dolls. Watch child lose interest in about 4.5 minutes. Exhale and regroup.

Step two: After weeks of appearing nonchalant while secretly biting fingernails in hopes of actual success, watch child successfully use potty for both pee and poo and then promptly lose interest for the next 6 months! This part is loads of fun, I promise!

Step three: Wait for summer to arrive. Invest in good beer and a chocolate stash. Wax nostalgic about Sisyphean tasks.

Step four: Roll up rugs, cover bed in waterproof pads, and break out the super cute butterfly panties specially chosen by said 2 1/2 year old... and STAY HOME. Indefinitely.

Step four: Amidst the cabin fever, develop incredible biceps from wiping up pee accidents all over the house. Wash clothes umpteen times. Clean bathroom religiously. Pray.

Wait, there's supposed to be an end to this training? Yeah, well... I'll get back to you on that one.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The run down...


Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest: Nah. It's been so interminably long since I watched the first film that this one was hard to follow. It was full of things rolling around, which may have looked okay on the big screen but looked super-fake on the small one... and our netflix copy kept skipping full minutes, which, though normally problematic, was no big loss in this case. The only reason to see the film? Johnny Depp, of course. He doesn't even have to act--I could just look at him in eyeliner and rings and be happy.

Listened to:

The White Stripes newest, Icky Thump--try as I might, I can't get into this album. Three or four songs are memorable, with the rest seeming so on the fly as to be indulgent. The hooks are lean, the lyrics are lugubrious, and after The Raconteurs debut, how can this shite pass? It begs the description: Icky Thump is just plain icky. Oh well oh well oh well!


The Memory Keeper's Daughter: Save me from another trite emotional girl book filled with alcohol, depression, and broken families full of secrets. This one has the added bonus of random third person omniscient statements about time period, lest one forget that "It was 1964. Women didn't question their husbands" or some heavy handed editorializing statement about lactation or Down's syndrome. And yet, I can't put it down... the conflict! I am one of those people who has to read from start to finish, no matter the muck I may encounter in the middle. This one's pretty mucky, but I'm drawn in all the same... must be my trite emotional girl hormones kicking in, eh?