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Author: toni

~ 07/27/10


Ever heard the saying “looking at life through rose-colored glasses”? Then you know it refers to someone who looks at life with a rosy optimism. I wish I was guilty of that. I’ve always envied people who manage to be endlessly upbeat and full of optimism and hope. You know them, they’re the ones who make lemonade when handed lemons. When I get handed lemons I suck on them and make a sour face.  Anyway, Melanie in “Gone With The Wind” was one of those lemonade-making characters. No matter that the Civil War stripped her of everything, no matter that she was starving, no matter that Scarlet was so mean to her and secretly on the prowl to steal her husband Ashley – although heaven knows why she wanted that man pansy when she had Clark Gable  – that Melanie, she could find the good in everything and everyone. I hated envied her.

But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that I’m guilty at looking at life THRU something all right.  But it isn’t rose-colored glasses.

I’m guilty of looking at life through a Canon digital camera viewfinder. And as I only recently came to realize, there’s nothing rosy about it.

I was at the Hollywood Bowl a couple of weekends back. It was the first trip for my daughter Julia (who is eight) and we took her to the Bugs Bunny show where the L.A. Philharmonic plays along to the cartoons projected on big screens. And as I was videotaping the fireworks finale at one point I turned the camera toward my daughter, you know, to capture her expression. I could see her there, in profile, her wide eyes lit by the flashing fireworks in the sky, her face filled with awe and the joy of the moment. I paused for a moment, sort of taken aback by the utter rapture  she seemed to be experiencing. I mean, what we were doing was cool, but was it truly that amazing? 

At first I attributed it to the fact that she was only 8 and at 8 one is experiencing so many things for the first time. And as we all know, the first time is the most exciting. After all, it had been that way when we took her to Disneyland for the first time. So thrilled was she by the sights, the sounds, the magic of it all that it even rubbed off on jaded old me who had been to Disneyland too many times to count – for whom the magic had completely worn off.

But when I put down the camera that night at the Bowl and I looked at what she was looking at, I mean REALLY looked at it, through my very own eyes, not the viewfinder of my camera – I realized, her feeling of awe had nothing to do with being 8. I looked up at the fireworks in the sky, big and beautiful and sparkly, shattering light over the dome of the Bowl. At the crescent moon that hung in the distance on that crystal clear summer night. At the 18,000 upturned faces all experiencing this moment together. And you know what? To my amazement, it truly WAS amazing!

And I realized, I hadn’t been seeing it. I mean, I was  seeing it on the tiny video display but I wasn’t seeing  it seeing it.

And in that instant, it also occured to me that this has been the case for the last 8 1/2 years of my life! Why 8 1/2 years exactly? Because that’s how long my daughter’s been in the picture – figuratively and literally.

Since she was born and I got my first high quality digital camera, I have chronicled every move, burp, smile, gurgle, and later dance recital, talent show, piano recital, etc.  It’s the reason  Randy the perfekt husband gave me the nickname MAMMARAZI. And while I have recorded all these moments in her life for posterity, I never really experienced them first hand because I was separated from these events  as they were happening – by the camera!  So busy was I  making sure the images were centered, that no one was walking across the frame, that the focus was right, that there was enough head room – that I never truly got to enjoy them. Because I was never, not once,  in the actual moment – watching my little girl sing joyfully at the top of her lungs, tap dance to the perfect rhythm of a song, or even smile shyly as she was handed an award for being an exceptional student.

And suddenly I was very sad. Suddenly, the loss of the last 8 1/2 years hit me like a ton of bricks.

And I realized we have become photo obsessed, we parents these days.  That’s right. It’s not just me. There isn’t a single birthday party or school event I go to that doesn’t feature dozens of parents jockeying for position to get the perfect picture or video of their kid.  It’s such chaos and madness you’d think Brangelina was on the red carpet announcing another adoption! One MAMMAKAZE joked about the fact that whenever her one year old heard the word SMILE, he immediately struck a pose, even if there wasn’t a camera around! This is how conditioned our kids have become to having a camera in their faces.

I mean, my stepdad was a professional photographer and he never took as many pictures of the four of us kids the whole time we were growing up as I have taken of my one, single, only child in the past 8 years!  

I don’t know if it’s the ease and cheapness of taking pictures now – the fact that we can immediately see what we’ve taken and delete what’s bad without having to wait a week and pay a fortune for images that feature closed eyes, a partial thumb over the lens or some wise-acre sticking two fingers up behind someone’s head.

Whatever it is, we’ve created a whole generation of parents that will have a lifetime of memories of taking pictures of their kids , but not of the moments themselves. Very sad.

So I have VOWED that next time Julia gets an award or does a performance or blows out a birthday candle I will sit back, relax and take it in, burning it forever on that brilliant little hard drive known as the cerebral cortex.  Well, I mean, as long as Randy is taking the pictures with the Canon. Oh. And my brother John is doing video on that amazing Nikon he has with the super long lens. That thing captures images like nobody’s business!

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Author: toni

~ 07/21/10


Hey all you Los Angeles  area MAMMAKAZES out there!  Want to take some time off from all the mommy madness, hobnob with celebrities AND be a shining example to your kids? Well, here’s your chance.

Fellow MAMMAKAZE  Zadrina, whose good friend ANDY SWAN is battling Stage IV lung cancer, has produced a film about Andy’s career and is having a screening of that film to benefit THE LUNG CANCER FOUNDATION OF AMERICA.


  • WHEN:  This Saturday July 24, 2010   6pm
  • WHERE: The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
  • TICKETS: $20.00 in advance. $25.00 at the door if available.  CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE



  • Part One: A special Screening of SWAN, a biographical documentary focusing on the development of award-winning filmmaker Andy Swan’s career. The film highlights the many layers of the creative process through visualization.
  • Part Two: A Tribute After Party at El Portal Restaurant featuring Live Music, displays of props from various films and special displays of Creature Effects.


Attending guests will have a chance to win prizes including Video Symphony Scholarships, a day on the set of CRIMINAL MINDS and other prizes.

The Event (produced by Area 9 Productions)  will be hosted by Exec. Producer, Ed Bernero and members of the Cast of CRIMINAL MINDS.



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Author: toni

~ 07/15/10


In the continuing horror show of bad parenting that is the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras, here is a video clip featuring a 10 Year-Old Girl who is being forced by her mom to get her eyebrows waxed so that she can be “beautiful” for her pageants.

First of all, the girl is blonde (albeit probably not naturally as the guy who is doing her eyebrows confesses to “doing” her hair for 7 years) . My point is, who is going to see a stray eyebrow hair all the way up on stage? Are the judges examining these girls under a magnified mirror?

Second of all, she’s a kid! A little kid.  I didn’t even start plucking my eyebrows until I was in high school and I’m half Italian and had a unibrow! I still don’t wax them.  Although I should – but I’m such a wimp when it comes to owies.

I mean, I know we females pick and pluck and shave all in the name of some idealized version of beauty, but it shouldn’t start while there are still American Girl dolls carefully arranged on the Laura Ashley bedding draped across a twin-sized  canopy bed in a Limoge pink bedroom. And, yes, I know there are some grown women who actually have bedrooms like this, but they’re a whole other subset of psychological issues best saved for a different post.

As you can see, the girl is  going along, but it’s obvious she doesn’t want to do this.  I really feel for her. But mostly I feel like I would love to wax the hair off her mother’s head and see how she likes it.



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Author: toni


Welcome to movie math where we take a look at a movie and see if it adds up to family fun.  

Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Live Action)

If the goal when you’re forking over the big bucks it costs these days to go to a movie ($40 bucks for 3 people?! What the what the?!) is that your kid comes away happy – then this film fits the bill.

Clearly  hoping to tap into the wizarding frenzy created by the Harry Potter movies as well as to strike the same box office gold they struck by turning their  Pirates of The Caribbean ride into a movie – Disney has based this live-action tale on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of their classic antimated film Fantasia. Don’t know if that’ll help though, since most people don’t even remember it.  Anyway, aside from a little dancing mop sequence that’s out of the original film, this film’s pretty much its own entity.

It’s a story about NYU physics major DAVE (Jay Baruchel) who has no idea that he is a blood descendant of the wizard Merlin until the day his wizard mentor BALTHAZAR (Nicholas Cage) shows up to give him some lessons. Of course it’s not that straightforward because well, then there wouldn’t be drama and that’s booooring. So enter HORVATH (Alfred Molina) who wants to destroy the human world and in order to do that must release the evil MORGANA from a set of nesting dolls in which she has been trapped since around, oh,  760 AD. Did I mention that the love of Balthazar’s life is also trapped in there? Did I also mention that Horvath thinks Dave knows where the nesting dolls are or that he has a wizard sidekick who uses his magical gifts to sell himself as a CRISS ANGEL type magician? No? Well, none of it really matters anyway. Cuz in the end it’s just an excuse for a lot of wild chases, exploding electricity balls, fiery dragons and action that’s more CGI than mystical or magical. Which is where I should mention that this is a Jerry Bruckheimer film.  Yep. ‘Splains a lot, Lucy.

There’s the requisite  romance subplot which, while not very well developed, does serve to  prove to geeky boys that they can still get the pretty girl if they’re super smart and can force Tesla Rays to make music. So if you’re the mom of a boy who can’t catch a baseball to save his life but can  recreate the Parthenon with Legos, this is a good movie for you…and him.  Obviously for girls too because my 8 year-old daughter not only laughed a lot during the film,  she also pronounced as the credits rolled “I’m going to tell all my friends to see this!”  Click to Buy Tickets Now at Fandango.


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Author: toni

~ 07/06/10


You know, it’s not enough that plenty of perfectly good marriages are being ruined by lack of sleep, the demands of parenthood and juggling jobs and family life – but now vampires , emo chicks and werewolves are at it too?!

Yeah, it’s true. Know how I know? I read it in an article online and that makes it true, right? The article  said that there are thousands of women who were so obsessed with the TWILIGHT movies that they were neglecting their marriages and even their kids! They spend hours online obsessing about the characters, the production of the movies, even the actors and what they’re doing every minute of their lives.

And you thought Twilight was a story aimed at 14 year-old girls who recently acquired their breasts. I thought so too when I read the first book and saw the first movie, which I’ll admit, is as far as I got.  I mean, wow.  Having read the poetry that is Interview With The Vampire this was NOT my cup of blood.  

But I got it. It wasn’t meant to be great literature. It was clear to me that the appeal of these stories was the whole “forbidden sex” thing. The “danger of sex” thing. The first book was a long – and I mean very long – series of, well,  longing scenes, one after another after another. In fact, I kept wondering, “When is something going to happen?!” And then I realized, when you’re a teenage girl on the verge of her sexual awakening, nothing’s SUPPOSED to happen. Not if your parents and school counselors can help it. Sex is a scary thing, a dangerous thing. Especially in this day and age when it can actually kill you. Also, according to your friends, it hurts really, really badly the first time.

And while Stephenie Meyer may not know story structure if it impaled her through the heart, she knows that young girls have eternally been attracted to the bad boy and forbidden love.

Apparently, however, they aren’t the only ones. Because then I heard some of my mommy friends going on about these books. We’re talking women in their 30s and 40s. Women with husbands who, as evidenced by the existence of children, had already lost their virginity.  And lo and behold, they too had gotten wrapped up in the phenom that is Twilight. They talked about Team Edward vs.  Team Jacob. They giggled about Robert Pattinson’s brooding hotness. They marveled at the pecs of an underage Taylor Lautner. And somehow, I think they identified with the disaffected Bella who, if you ask me, seems like a closet cutter.

But at least none of my mommy friends have reached the frenzied point of the TwiHards who are neglecting their marriages and their children. But here’s what one such woman had to say in an L.A. Times article on the subject:

“My husband finally came to me and said, ‘I think you love Twilight more than you love me,'” says Johnson, who had become especially attached to the community she’d found online. “I ended up moving out of the house and fought for my marriage for six weeks. I had to take a step back and detox myself from Twilight. I was really angry that I had allowed it to suck me in.”


That’s what vampires do, right? Suck. Especially the ones in these books. But then, that’s my opinion. And clearly I am in the minority here.

Still, I’ve got to wonder if these women weren’t already having problems in their marriage. Maybe they are just  finding something in these stories that is fulfilling some need that isn’t getting met at home. And really, is this obsession any different than, say, the one that sucks in so many men during fantasy football season?

The bottom line is, all our marriages would be better served if we spent more time tending them instead of sitting in front of a computer screen obsessing about the lives of other people.

Uh, on that note…. Signing off to call Randy the perfekt husband who is on his daily long commute to his job so that Julia can grow up in a nice house on a clean street filled with loads of kids in the suburbs. I love you, honey. Yes, more than my computer.

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