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Author: toni

~ 11/19/09


Welcome to MOVIE MATH where we review a movie and see if it adds up to family fun.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Okay. I gotta admit, I was not looking forward to Bob Zemeckis’ animated retelling of Charles’ Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”. Not after the creepshow that was “The Polar Express”. That weird animation freaked me out. I didn’t know if I was supposed to root for that kid or drive a stake through his heart before sundown. So I feared the same from this movie. But we went anyway because, well, I really wanted Julia to see a version of the classic tale that didn’t feature Barbie. I mean, really. If I could apologize to Dickens, I would. Last year, we tried watching the George C. Scott version but had to stop when the Ghost of Christmas Present revealed “ignorance” and “want” under his robes in the form of emaciated children. The bad under-eye makeup didn’t stop Julia from getting really scared.  

So, with the additional lure of Digital 3-D and despite the ridiculous ticket prices, off to the multiplex we went. And guess what? I LIKED IT! Randy the perfekt husband liked it too! Know who DIDN’T like it? Julia the kid. And why was that? Well, and I quote “it was too creepy”. Which, while it didn’t work for The Polar Express, actually worked for this story because let’s face it, it’s a creepy tale. I mean Marley’s Ghost all bound up in chains? A little boy on crutches destined to die if the future isn’t changed? And again with the figures of “ignorance” and “want”… lemme tell you, the George C. Scott version had nothing on the gollum-like, feral children that Zemeckis served up. FREAKY!

But hey, to us adults, we liked that it was pretty true to the Dickens’ tale and that it all looked really cool. For little kids, not so much. Julia spent a lot of the movie with her 3-D glasses buried in my sweater and her hands over her ears.  Even the fact that the guy who plays Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies (Gary Oldman) is prominently featured, didn’t make the movie any more palatable to her. In the end she gave it a resounding thumbs down. Which probably explains why it’s not taking the box office by storm. Despite the effects, it’s just not kid-friendly fare. But then Dickens, if he was alive, would probably tell you that.


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Author: toni

~ 11/18/09


From the time our kids are babies, we moms are very careful to teach them lessons about good sportsmanship. We drill into them the importance of playing fair and being gracious, win or lose.

Well, someone’s mamma didn’t get that memo.  And she’s got a daughter who’s a college soccer player for New Mexico.

Here’s an ESPN  video clip of soccer player ELIZABETH LAMBERT from New Mexico who acted atrociously during a recent conference tournament game against BYU.


Unbelievable, right? What does she have to say for herself? Following is her statement. The strikeouts are the subtext courtesy of moi:

“I look at it and I’m like, “I wish I could lie and say That is not me’. I have so much regret at being so stupid. I can’t believe I did that in front of the camerasI think the way the video came out, it did make me look like a monster because, well,  I am. That’s not the type of player I am and if you believe that I have some swamp land I’d like to sell you. I’m not just out there trying to hurt players I’m also trying to kill them. That’s taking away from the beauty of the game. And I would never want to do that not so that I’d get caught or in trouble anyway.”

Then she goes on to complain that it all got so much attention because she’s a female. And that guys aren’t criticized when they get rough.

Waaaaah! Boo hoo! I’m being vilified because I’m a girl!

You’re being vilified, you idiot, because you’re a foul-tempered, cheating, little bully.

What a role model for young girls everywhere. Her parents must be so proud.  And who knows? Maybe they are. She learned this behavior from somewhere.



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Author: toni


I’m always on the prowl for movies that I can watch with my kid. More specifically, movies we can BOTH enjoy.

And lemme tell you, for several years now – since I had my kid – that has been a challenge. My movie-going pleasure has been stifled by motherhood. And that’s sad given that I once could safely say that I had seen every movie nominated for the Oscars.

Instead, now I can safely say that I have seen every animated film that has been released since 2003, the year after Julia was born. And dozens of others made before then.

For example, we own all the classic Disney animated films and every Barbie movie. I have been subjected to them at least a hundred times. That’s about 99 more times than I would have liked.

In the name of mommyhood, I have had to sit through such abominations as “Shark Tales” and “Unhappily Ever After”, oh, and that last “Ice Age” movie. And the only good thing that has come out of it is the time spent with my daughter. And, yes, I consider it quality time even if I’m snoozing through some of it. Especially since she doesn’t know that I’m snoozing.

But now Julia, who is pushing 8, is getting to the age where we can actually watch some more sophisticated fare together. Stuff I actually enjoy myself. Case in point: The Harry Potter films. I love those films. But a grown woman can only watch Hermione turn back time so many times before she starts wondering how to turn back time herself and regain all the hours lost watching, well, Hermione turn back time.

So recently, when the Ang Lee version of “Sense and Sensibility” (one of my all-time favorite movies) came on cable, I got a magnificant idea. I would watch it with Julia!  

You see, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. Yes, I know it’s cliche. But tough cookies. I enjoyed the books. In fact I went on a classics binge early last year and re-read her books back to back (along with some Melville and Hemingway for the proper testosterone balance).

Anyway, “Sense and Sensibility” seemed a perfect mommy-daughter movie night choice since there’s nothing really objectionable in it. Unless you count Willoughby’s cadish behavior when he abandons a young woman with child (his child). But Julia knows enough about real life divorces and single parenthood that this wouldn’t come as a shock to her…sadly.  

And as I said, I adore Lee’s version of Austen’s novel.  I remember seeing it when it came out and I cried my eyes out when I saw Willoughby on horseback watching the nuptials of Marianne and Colonel Brandon from afar. And knowing he would, indeed, as Elinor had said earlier, always regret her. TAKE THAT Willoughby, you cad who married for money instead of love!

Of course in real life the actor who played Willoughby went on to marry Emma Thompson after her marriage to Kenneth Branagh crumbled due to his affair with Helena Bonham Carter who eventually dumped him for Tim Burton who simultaneously dumped his longtime girlfriend Lisa Marie for Helena Bonhma Carter. But, ahem, that’s another scintillating romantic drama entirely.

The bottom line is… Julia agreed to watch “Sense and Sensibility” with me. I admit, part of what sold her on the idea was the fact that Snape, Trelawney, Umbridge and Minister Fudge from the Harry Potter movies were all in it.  Also the long dresses. She’s a big fan of the long, flowing dresses and would wear them daily if and I quote “it wasn’t too hot.” Julia does not like to sweat.

So we sat down Sunday night and snuggled in front of the movie. And guess what?! She never got bored! She never wanted me to turn it off. She DID have to ask me to clarify things periodically. It wasn’t the British accents so much as the flowery language that threw her from time to time. But she was with it! My kid really got into that Jane Austen!

And as the movie came to its close, and Willoughby rode away up the hill, a lonely figure on horseback. And as Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant held hands, and Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet got into their wedding carriage and the gold coins tumbled through the air in super slo-mo, I turned to Julia and asked:

ME: Did you like it?

JULIA: Yeah. Can we rent the sequel?  

Yep. That’s what she asked. Well, it was a logical question given her movie watching history. There isn’t a Shrek or Little Mermaid or Halloweentown that doesn’t have some kind of sequel or two or three.

ME: Honey, there’s no sequel to Sense and Sensibility.

JULIA: What do you mean there’s no sequel to Sense and Sensibility? WHY NOT?!

And as she looked at me with inquiring eyes I grappled with how best to answer. Would I explain that Austen, who died at the age of 41 of Addison’s disease, never wrote one? No. That wouldn’t explain why the studios never made one.  So should I tell her that even money-grubbing Hollywood movie studios wouldn’t dare mess with a classic for fear of backlash from all the Austen-ites out there?  Nah. Too much information. In the end I simply said:

ME:  There’s no sequel because we’ve already gotten to happily ever after.

She nodded and smiled. That, again because of her movie watching history, was something she understood perfectly.

Next. The Keira Knightley version of “Pride and Prejudice”, methinks.

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Author: toni

~ 11/17/09


In the course of my lifetime, I’ve read and heard about a lot of horrible things that have happened to children. And I don’t exaggerate when I say I feel pain when I hear about them.  Especially since having a child of my own. It’s a phenomenon that happens to us women when we become mothers. As if every child is in some way ours.

When a child is hurt on account of the unavoidable – disease, accidents – it pains me. But I also know it is life. And what can you do about it? So I deal with it.

You know what I CAN’T deal with? What isn’t in the “it’s life” category?

When a child suffers at the hands of his/her mother.  This I cannot handle. This is when I am most horrified. Because this is so fundamentally wrong. It is, in fact, a crime against nature. Because if nowhere else, a child should be safe with his/her mother. It is within us mothers on a cellular level to protect our children.

So yesterday, when I heard about the fate of little 5 year-old SHANIYA DAVIS, I literally had trouble breathing.  Seriously, I had to pull over and sit in my car for a few minutes, so overcome by the horror of it all. Because it should never have happened.

This is a little girl whose mother ANTOINETTE sold her into prostitution then told police that she had vanished from their mobile home.

Hotel survellience video shows Shaniya being taken into a hotel by a man, MARIO ANDRETTE MCNEILL.

After an extensive search guided by a tip, Shaniya’s body was found yesterday in a shallow grave.

And when I heard all that, I couldn’t breathe. And then I thought, at least she is not suffering anymore. I know it sounds like a terrible way to think. I felt horribly guilty for thinking it.

But I think this because it’s the only way I can cope with the horror of what happened to that little girl.  I imagine the betrayal she felt when her own mother gave her away to a stranger. I imagine her fear. I imagine that she cried for her mamma to come save her from whatever horrors befell her before she was finally killed.  Horrors I cannot let myself imagine or I really would stop breathing.

And then my paralyzing horror turns to anger. An anger so fierce that I want revenge for that poor little innocent child who was 2 years younger than my own daughter. A child whose only crime was being born to a monster who, for some reason, was a defective mother. Who did not have that protective instinct.

And I don’t care what made her that way. Poverty, abuse, her own horrible childhood. There is no excuse for doing that to your own child.

And all I can say is that Shaniya’s mother and that man are lucky that their fates are not in my hands. 

I know that sounds merciless. And it is. It’s positively feral the way I am feeling. I’m not sure where that comes from. Me, who normally can’t imagine hurting anyone. Who is overwhelmed with such tenderness when I think of my own child. Who does everything to make sure that Julia’s childhood is as good and idyllic as is humanly possible.

Maybe such ferocity of anger comes from that feeling I mentioned earlier that once we become moms, we feel that all children are in some way our own. Maybe it comes from the dark side of my brain that imagines what I would do if someone ever hurt my child. Truthfully, I suspect it is linked to the very same gene that makes mothers instinctively want to protect their child. Two sides of the same coin I think.

And I have no trouble imagining what I would do to the animals who would perpetrate such atrocities against an innocent child. I would….

Okay. I need to take a breath. And give my kid an extra hug tonight. Be sure to give your kids one too.


Consider giving to a children’s charity this holiday season . Children deserve our protection. Following are some suggestions:

Child Advocates

Child Welfare League of America

Children’s Defense Fund

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Author: toni

~ 11/16/09


I can’t believe it! Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Okay. It’s a week and a half away. But for a MAMMAKAZE who’s expecting out of town guests and is COMPLETELY unprepared — that’s just around the corner.

Anyway, to kick off the upcoming holiday, I introduce a little ditty by my bro John about the TRUTH behind that first Thanksgiving.

What does this have to do with being a mom? Or with guilt? Well, the guilt part is pretty obvious, considering what we ultimately did to the Native Americans after landing here. The mom part… well, you can use it as a learning tool for the kiddies. Or just enjoy the chuckle. Moms can ALWAYS use a good chuckle. It’s a excellent decent Xanax substitute.

Anyhow, my brother John boils it all down in a lovely little song he wrote to the tune of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket”.

Enjoy. It’s very funny. And I don’t know about you, but I’m always thankful for that.

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Author: toni

~ 11/11/09

After my post/rant last week about how Terror Suspects at Gitmo were getting the swine flu vaccine BEFORE high priority groups like children and pregnant women, my friend Babette (who is a nurse) sent me the following email:


“In addition to the prisoners, don’t forget that CitiCorps and Goldman Sachs got 1500-2000 doses. I have to assume that there is extensive research indicating that the virus is carried on cash, in which case they are at much higher risk than pregnant women, children or healthcare workers”.


Yeah, Babette. That must be it. How else can you explain that these Wall Street guys got the swine flu vaccine and my pediatrician still hasn’t gotten it? I mean, my friend Jennie’s kids (4 & 7) got turned away from the local urgent care because they had such a limited supply of the vaccine they were saving it for established patients who were in the priority groups. But meanwhile, wealthy financial execs can get it AND big bonuses too. Or maybe the flu shot is part of their bonus package. Why not? 24 hour access to a town car, 3 weeks in St. Bart’s and the H1N1 vaccine. Non-negotiable.

Are you freaking kidding me?! What is wrong with the CDC? With our government? Is this still part of the bailout? Is the health of these fat cats more important than the health of children?

Okay. Deep breath. I’ve got to remember that even when things seem bad and unfair, it’s best to maintain a sense of humor. To that end, I am concluding this rant with SNL’s recent diatribe about this injustice. Enjoy… if you can get over the rage.

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