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Tangled up in “ew.”

One entire week I’ve spent tweaking a long, detailed entry about how I really hated “Julie & Julia.” A WEEK. I finally realized that I wasn’t having trouble editing it because it was a terrible piece of writing; rather, it was because I just revived this puppy and do I really want to kick things off brutalizing something I disliked that most people seem to love? I do not. We’re not about the hate here, people.

(I will say THIS about THAT: Had I read the first two lines of Roger Ebert’s review before going out that day, I would have known immediately to spend my movie money elsewhere. Those lines were, more or less, “Have you ever wanted to spend a 3-day bus ride sitting next to Julia Child? Just asking.”)

So I’m going to talk about things I love. I love Project Runway! And it’s back, in a new expanded format. Last week’s All-Stars competition was fun to watch up until the judging, which was insane and wrong, but I’m over it now. Then there’s the series proper, which I’m optimistic about this season – so far I’m rooting for Louise Black, because she made this:

…and, well, I’m considering a Lotto habit that would, if successful, allow me to hire her as my personal stylist. I do recognize that the creation of clothes that I want to wear is not always a path to the top on PR (I still have flashbacks of the judges quizzing Chris March on who exactly would want to wear human hair as I tried to figure out what I had to do to get my hands on that dress [it was strips of hair extensions, it wasn't even gross, but I felt a little Cruella about it]). So I’m trying not to get too attached. But whatever happens, we’ll still have Tim Gunn to root for all season long.

If you also are seriously into PR but you haven’t visited Lifetime’s site for the show, you must go there – unlike its sad old broken Bravo counterpart, it has tons of extra content that’s really worth watching.

What else do I love? I love the new album by The Duckworth Lewis Method, a collaboration between The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh that is all about – well – cricket. I was frightened by that initially; my favorite sport is, after all, avoiding anything to do with sports. But then I heard the first single and was utterly powerless under its spell.

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If you can’t watch right now, I’ll say if you like early Kinks, the Zombies, XTC or cricket, this is the CD for you.

In local news, I am still obsessed with the lunch I had today at Mani’s Bakery. I got a sandwich called “The Regular” on rosemary bread and it might have been the pinnacle of the sandwich-based narrative of my life. And then there was the caramelized apple cake! We were alarmed by the $9/slice price, but then we saw a slab go past and realized it practically demanded to be shared; huge and overwhelming, yes, but quite delicate in flavor. Mani’s is a health-conscious bakery and cafe that tends toward the whole-grain and fruit-sweetened, so if you’re not that kind of eater it may not be up your alley. If you’re on the fence, this tip may help: When deciding between fruit-sweetened desserts, you’ll rarely go wrong picking one that’s supposed to taste like apples anyway.

I’m going to count this as a clearing-out-bad-karma entry. Back soon!

Guess where I’m calling from! C’mon, guess. From a PLANE.

(That was a metaphor. I am not really on a plane, and is that even impressive anymore?)

Often, when blogs go suddenly quiet, it indicates a crisis – illness, a death in the family, some sort of massive stress. That’s certainly been the case here in the past.

Which is why I’m doubly happy to reveal that since my last post, I have made massive progress on both the health and career fronts. And as of last night, for the first time in nine goddamn years, we live in Los Angeles proper again (the only place I’ve ever been interested in living).

“Proper,” in this case, means near our friends, near the restaurants we like, near the good shopping, near a whole lot of movie theaters, near the music venues we like – near enough to everything that we can make evening plans and actually be able to go home after work to change and get fed. Proper means that we can walk to almost everything we need or want; there are a dozen restaurants within a mile that this vegan-with-food-allergies can get a really good meal, that I know of.

Now that I’ll have a whole life to talk about again, I plan to post a lot more regularly. Oh, don’t worry – I’ll still provide notes from watching TV with my kid. I know that’s why you’re really here.

OK, one quick Wes story: This morning was unnecessarily confrontational. Finally, I convinced him to take a nap by lying down with him on my bed. He was still pretty rageful, but he finally settled.

“Mommy?” he said, turning to me. “I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetie.”

“And you’re not my enemy.”

“No, I’m not. You’re not my enemy either.”

“Yes I am!” [and... out like a light.]

More soon, promise!

Why Danny Gokey is not the American Idol, by Wesley, age 4.

Wes doesn’t usually watch prime time TV because it’s right at his bedtime. The past few weeks, though, I’ve let him watch American Idol. Regulars will not be surprised to hear that he instantly had an understanding of the goings-on that, I believe, would qualify him to replace almost any of the judges. To “pitchy,” “artistry,” “magical,” and “indulgent,” add Wesley’s judging criterion: Rock Star.

We started out with the fabulous Adam Lambert’s Whole Lotta Love. Wes refused to give an assessment of Adam’s standing in the competition, as he was positive Adam was not a contestant but had just come in with his bandmate Slash [that night's mentor]. Rock star +++.

Next was whiskey-voiced teen Allison Iraheta wailing on some Janis Joplin. “Mommy, she’s a rock star too!”

Third, we have mellow laid-back cute boy Kris Allen singing Revolution. Wes watched this one much longer before opining. “I think he’s just pretending to be a rock star.”

This is when I began to suspect he was a genius.

(We missed the smarmy and unmusical Danny Gokey’s evisceration of Aerosmith somehow, but did see Adam & Allison duet on “Slow Ride,” an event that has caused Wes to take up writing preschool fan fiction. He calls them Adison. Just like crazy internet people with the smushing together of names. Don’t go feeling all justified, crazy internet people, he’s FOUR.)

This week, he finally got the Gokey experience. During “You Are So Beautiful,” he turned to me and said, “I think he could be a rock star.”

What? Could my kid not be a genius after all? Doesn’t he have any comprehension of pitch or phrasing or breath control? (By “he” I meant Wes, but one might ask the same about Gokey.) How can he like this? You’re almost in kindergarten, dude, step it up!

But out loud I said:

“He could?”

Wes nodded sagely. Did that eye-roll/head-loll he does when about to state the obvious.

“Yes. He just has to learn to sing like a rock star.”

Oh, is that it? Just the singing that’s the problem? Genius status regranted.

Also, I’m totally letting him watch all my shows with me from now on.

The best thing that ever happened to me while I was at work with a migraine.

I used to work at Hear Music in Santa Monica, before it was a record label or owned by Starbucks or any of that. I loved that job, as I always love every job I have that’s just above minimum wage. Why can’t there be a record store that pays employees $60k a year? But I digress.

This was also in the era in which I used to get debilitating visual migraines (turned out it was an allergy to – wait for it – my allergy shots), and one day I got one that was so severe I had to call R. to come pick me up and curl into a ball behind the desk to wait for him. After a few minutes, one of my coworkers stopped in front of me, looked at me for a second, and said in a determined fashion, “I’m gonna cheer you up.”

She went to the back of the store and returned with a CD, which she shielded from my view as she put it on.

Surely the opening strains of Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual” would have perked me up all by themselves. That’s what they’re there for.

But here’s the amazing bonus thing: Throughout the store, everyone – a few coworkers, customers shopping solo and completely immersed in the CD bins – burst into this little hip-out-to-the-side groovy mini-dance at the same time. Nobody but us ever knew it, because they weren’t looking at each other.

It was the closest I’ve ever been to living in a music video.

If you ever have the chance to attempt to recreate this societal phenomenon, I surely recommend it.

Tackling the big issues.

This weekend was one for (theoretically) tough questions from the small child. My Facebook peeps may have read one of these already, but not the second one.

“Mommy, marriage is one girl & one guy, right?”

(Why does my 4-year-old know Republican talking points?) “Well… most of the time.”

“Right, or it can be two guys.”

“Or two girls, right. You marry the person you love the most and want as your partner for life.”

“Oh! OK!” (Leaves room to blow bubbles.)

Memo to Prop 8 people: It’s really not that freaking complicated.

The other conversation that began yesterday started out being pretty predictable.

“Mommy, what does ‘black person’ mean?”

“You know [list some people he knows]? They’re black people.”

“What? They’re brown!”

“I know, that’s just a word people use for some reason. Like, they call people who look like us white, and we’re not actually the color white, are we?”

“No, we’re kind of pink.”

Today, we were watching Wow Wow Wubbzy and the Wubb Girls made an appearance.

“Mommy, what kind of people are they?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they’re blue. So they’re blue… no wait. I can’t think of the word, but it’s a color that’s close to blue.”

“Green? Turquoise? Aqua?”

“Yes! You got it, Mommy – aquamarine. They’re aquamarine folks. Because they’re blue.”

My first thought: “‘Aquamarine folks’? That rules!”

Second thought: Can’t wait to hear about how he’s assigning slightly inaccurate skin colors to all his friends at school.

Sometimes you think a conversation’s about to get seriously weird…

This evening, Wes and I were talking about one of his school friends, who had told Wes he couldn’t have a certain TV character as a favorite because she was a girl. Wes was pretty clear without my having to offer counsel that that was dumb and you could like anyone you want, but wanted an explanation as to why someone would say that. “He’s a 4-year-old misogynist” seemed harsh, so I stalled for time.

“Isn’t he friends with girls at your school?”

“Yeah! We play with girls every day! We pretend we’re monsters and chase the girls around. Then when we catch them we say [regretful voice] ‘Oh, I put your sister in the lover.’”

“You say WHAT?”

“I put your sister in the lover.”

“In the…”




[World's longest "uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..."]

“Mommy! The stuff that comes out of volcanoes!”

“OH! That… actually makes sense.”

We never got back to the original question, but I think it’s best that I don’t attempt to speak with authority on any subject for at least 48 hours.

Goblin King, cont’d

Scott tried to link to this in the comments on the last section, but apparently you can’t put links in my comments, probably because of something I did wrong in a past life. But it’s really funny, so I’m linking it here instead.

I’ve seen this movie a couple times, but was so distracted by David Bowie, and also by all the David Bowie, that I never really noticed parts of it are not very good. And the last time I saw it was like a month ago. So kudos to you, David Bowie, for giving new meaning to carrying a movie.

In which it’s more fun to assume a child is responding to your whole sentence rather than just one part.

david-bowie-138“Who’s this singing?”

“This is David Bowie. You know David Bowie, right? Oh – maybe you only know him as the Goblin King.”

“Is his goblin castle underneath us right now?”

“Well, he doesn’t really – uh – David Bowie is an actor, so sometimes he makes his hair all big and goes underground to live with goblins, and other times he’s a musician who makes his own records in a studio.”

“Like Uncle Jon?”

“EXACTLY like Uncle Jon.”

Did I promise you Wesley stories?

Oh, I did. Let’s just cram a few in one post, shall we?



A few weeks ago, I got the sad news that one of my sister’s dogs, a Doberman named Pepsi, had died suddenly after developing a fast-growing tumor (4 pounds overnight). Since we were going to her house for Easter, I knew I had to break it to Wes. I will admit that the thought crossed my mind that a relative’s pet might be a nice gradual way to introduce death to a preschooler – and I was punished for the selfishness of that thought a few days later.

Had I spoken to my sister about this, you see, I might have known that she had somebody else’s Doberman staying in her dog run. The conversations between Wes and various relatives and party guests that began, “My mommy thought Pepsi died, but look, there she is!” were legion. The relatives and guests explained the truth, but it was not sticking in the face of concrete evidence.

Finally, most of us sitting at the dinner table watching him explain Pepsi’s resurrection to someone else, there was a collective giving up. So I’ll need a redo on this one the next time we visit, I guess.

“Well, it IS Easter.”

“Yeah… wait, did she die three days ago?”

Close enough. I like a little Jesus/Doberman humor at the holidays, don’t you?

As those of you with little kids doubtless know, Jack Black recently made an appearance on Noggin series Yo Gabba Gabba. The day it first aired, I picked Wes up at school and told him about this new episode with this really funny guy on it and how much he was going to love it – except I didn’t check that the DVR had picked it up. Which it hadn’t. Are you detecting a theme regarding me being a dumbass?

So naturally, my child was reduced to heaving sobs over not getting to see this awesome person he had not known existed 15 minutes earlier. It was then I remembered someone had sent me – for Wes – a DVD of School of Rock. I remembered, fuzzily, people having mentioned showing this to 4- and 5-year-old kids. Were these smart people? I do not recall.

What I should have realized, though, was that my kid, with his explosive energy, hilarious delivery and intense musicality, was primed to find Mr. Black an excellent role model. And then maybe I should have thought about whether I was ready for him to blossom in quite that way just yet.

First, it was the stage diving. My lord, the stage diving. He engaged me in an intense 20-minute discussion regarding the circumstances under which one would stage dive wearing a shirt, or shirtless (I did not actually know, so I said that maybe you kept your shirt on when wearing a jacket and tie – any stage-divers who can clear this up?). Weeks later, his tiny shirtless form is still propelling itself floorward from various items of furniture.

Then he asked to watch it again, and the quotes started, in flawless Jack-Black delivery. He’ll change them up to fit his circumstances, though. I don’t always recognize them as quotes right away, so you can imagine my WTF expressions when my kid says stuff to me like:

“So, uh, Mommy, you think I could cut out of nap a little EAR-LY?”

Or, after handing me a friend’s Guitar Hero guitar: “OK, Mommy, the blue one right there? That’s G. OK, you’ve got it! Now just keep that G coming all day long.”

I suspect his recent habit of referring to “um [eyes rolled to the side, tongue click], my GIRLFRIEND” (apologies to Zoe’s parents) is related to Mike White’s character in the movie, but will have to watch again to be sure.

Finally a few days later he realized his dream: To see Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba. While watching, he said this, which I believe I will leave you with:

“Mommy, he’s going crazy! He’s one of the leaders of going crazy!”

Technical note

Hey kids – I got buried in spam on that last post, so I’ve installed a plugin that, the theory is, will zap it without making you guys do math or figure out convoluted letters or anything. It claims to do this with no false positives, but I’m not all that trusting – so if you attempt to comment here and it doesn’t work, shoot me a note at elizabeth at this domain name and let me know? Thanks!

I’ve got some stories to tell, such as how W. has discovered a new role model in Jack Black, and how my first parental Conversation About Death backfired, but I’ve also got some editing to do today. So I’m going with responsibility over frivolity. Just this once, though!