26 April 2010

Combining Art and Literature: Lit Kids!

My wonderfully talented artist spouse, Matt, has opened up an Etsy shop to sell original, silk-screened images of famous characters from children's literature. First up: Jo from "Little Women" and Anne from "Anne of Green Gables."

Take a look!

25 April 2010

'80's Dance Clubs

In case this comes up in a game of trivia, the three best dance clubs in the 1980s were "Studio West" in San Francisco, "Circus Disco" in Los Angeles, and "Hot Bods" in Phoenix.

What's a great dance club today?

23 April 2010

And Now, Immigration

Why is it that the only time Arizona is in the news is for something either stupid or embarrassing -- like a stupid governor (take your pick), sweat lodge deaths, or the ridiculous speed cameras that dot our streets?

Well, we're in the news again -- this time, over a very strict immigration bill passed by both houses of the legislature and sitting (as I write this) on the desk of our governor who is mulling over whether to sign it.

I don't have anything against people of hispanic origin -- seeing how I am part hispanic, and all. I also have nothing against any other person of any other origin. I love all people. They are great. (Except people who hurt animals. They're shits.)

That said, I do have a problem with criminals. People who break a law -- even a law that some people think is unjust or unfair or just plain wrong -- are still criminals. If you don't like a law, change it or elect people into office who will, don't just go out and break it for the sake of breaking it.

People who are in the country illegally are criminals. Really, it's that simple. There are rules and procedures for entering America, and people follow those rules every day. Many people do not follow those rules and they are criminals.

But, here is where I have a problem: I understand we need workers to do jobs that Americans cannot or will not do. I totally get that we need seasonal laborers to work the farms (what few farms we have left in Arizona) and that we could also use workers for other jobs. So what we need is a compromise: We need to find a way to allow people to come to Arizona (and America) to work legally so that they do not have to become criminals to do it. But we also need to enforce our current laws.

Right now I am conflicted about this potential new law.

The Associated Press has a good overview here.

Addendum: Governor Brewer signed this legislation into law this afternoon at 1330.

15 April 2010

No Kidding

I wonder why it is that, in virtually every commercial Hollywood movie made today, the cast includes the witty, cleverer-by-half, dare I say "precocious" child who, somehow, manages to solve the mystery, says just the right thing to unite separated parents, or provides that otherwise intangible bit of something that somehow makes everything okeh by the end of the film -- displaying his/her supposed innocence like a billboard saying "if you were childlike, like me, you wouldn't be having these problems."

It used to be that a substantial role for a child would only exist in a movie when his/her character was actually central to the plot -- like Tommy in "The Window" (1949) or Rhoda in "The Bad Seed" (1956). I don't know when it started, this catering -- to whom, fertile adult women movie goers? -- and pandering for audience dollars by shoehorning a child into the script for no reason other than to be there.

Today, such pointless child characters are absolutely everywhere, whether it is the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2008) -- where annoying Jacob replaced the intelligent Bobby from the 1951 original version; or Henry in "Michael Clayton" (2008) who seems to do little more than talk endlessly about a video game and book on which it is based. They're cute, they're worldly beyond their years and, let's face it, they're pointless. In most cases, they are completely irrelevant to the plots at hand -- easily proven by the fact that (really) you could remove the character from the script and not affect the story.

What really annoys me are films like "Aliens" where the character of Newt only exists to allow the plot to exhibit a child constantly in danger. Such characters are distracting as hell, annoying beyond words and serve only to diminish the quality of film writing. ("I can't think of anything original or clever, so let's just throw in a six year old.")

It would be nice to start seeing films where, if there is a child character, that child acts his/her age, contributes something that would be reasonably expected of a child of that age, and contributes something believable to the story -- rather than bolstering the unrealistic expectations of movie makers that all children are geniuses or "little adults." They are neither, no matter how many times they may appear so in films.

10 April 2010

Is "Wizard of Oz" Cast Cursed?

Just this morning came word of the death of Meinhardt Raabe, one of the original cast members of the movie "The Wizard of Oz" -- just the latest in a long string of deaths among cast members of this film.

Is "The Wizard of Oz" cursed? Just look at the facts:

Judy Garland, the film's Dorothy: dead
Frank Morgan, the Wizard himself: dead
Ray Bolger, the Scarecrow: dead
Bart Lahr, the Cowardly Lion: dead
Jack Haley, the Tin Man: dead
(In a weird twist, Buddy Ebsen, the man originally cast to play the Tin Man, also died.)
Billie Burke, Glinda the Good Witch: dead
Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West: dead
Clara Blandick, Aunt Em: dead

It seems this movie's evil tentacles have even reached out to claim innocent Terry the dog, who played Toto, who is also dead.

And now, Raabe, the town coroner, is dead.

Who will be next?

Is "The Wizard of Oz" cursed?

You decide.

05 April 2010


Take a look at this pic (click to enlarge). Know what this is? It's the larva of the Hippodamia convergens, also known as a common ladybug. We have ladybugs all over our back yard -- and even spotted a couple doing the deed on one of our African daisies. Today, after taking out our trash, I found a hitchhiker on my ankle -- the little guy in the pic. Isn't s/he cute? It's the larval stage of the ladybug. So, if you ever see one of these guys in your yard, don't hurt him because ladybugs play an important part in nature (namely, eating aphids, which are really bad for plants).