Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Raving Rabbids Try WiiFit.

Of course, if they're anything like me (and they're are), they'd rather find an appropriate snack than try some exercising...

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

So a couple years ago, my mother decided on a whim that she wanted to 'see the poppies'. I am a bad Californian, because I had no idea that every year an entire valley blooms with little gold flowers, blanketing it with a 'field of gold'. I am, however, used to my mother's whims, and so we all dutifully got in the car, and drove two hours to Lancaster to 'see the poppies'. During the ride, I got really really bored, and started skimming through my sidekick to see what I could find out about this flower that my mother apparently had to see.

I discovered a lot of information about the poppy, the most important being? It was out of season. I told my mother, who did not believe me, and an hour later we were standing on a desolate piece of desert with nary a poppy in sight. We did see one, fragile little thing valiently standing up against the dirty and the weeds, but other than that? It was quite a pathetic sight.

Thanks to that little adventure, and because we couldn't resist a chance to tease, every once in a while we joke to my mother about going to 'see the poppies'. She tells us in a nice way to fuck off.

This year, however, I got wind that not only were the poppies in season, but there were a lot of them. I decided, since my sisters were out of town and my dad was working, that I should take her to 'see the poppies'.

So, Mom loaded up 'Tom-tom', her new GPS toy, and punched in the Antelope Valley Reserve coordinates, and off we went. Tom-Tom, apparently, has a thing for scenery, because he took us through Valencia and them some kind of weird horsetown, and then by a lake, and then, I kid you not, off-roading. This dirt covered road that Tom-Tom told us to take. We were confused, but we got there pretty early. The view was gorgeous, the fields were littered with poppies and everywhere we looked there were little crickets bouncing around, and butterflies perched on all the pretty flowers. There were a TON of caterpillars on the trail, inching their way to the other side in this really dangerous high traffic area. After seeing so many smooshed, I started leaning down and plucking each and every one I could, placing them safely out of harm's way. At first people would look at me strangely, until they saw what I was doing, and I heard an excited, "We're not the only ones doing it!" Yes, apparently saving the caterpillars from a smooshed fate was a join effort. Good for us.

The Anetelope Valley Poppy Reserve

On the way home, however, Mom decided to be contrary and not follow Tom-Tom's lead. It was surprisingly tough for her to do. She pointed out that if we go the other way (i.e. NOT off-roading) we could take the freeway. But she kept going 'But Tom-Tom says... But Tom-Tom says..."

I finally erupted, "Mom, TOM-TOM is a gadget! You do not have to do every damned thing Tom-Tom says!"

Thank God. We ended our trip at Marie Callendars and took home a pie.

Take that, Tom-Tom.

More pictures here, if you're interested.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Being Mexican Means Getting Locked Out of Your House

The weekend passed by with a varying state of affairs. It was my Mom and my god-daughter's birthday, concurrently, so that pretty much filled up my dance card. Particularly when the greedy god-daughter in question showed up on Saturday for her present and stayed the whole weekend.

Saturday was nice though, because I got to see My Fair Lady at the Ahmanson, and it was AWESOME. Totally made up for Sweeney Todd. Startlingly, it was so amazingly like the film that it was almost distracting, but there were a few things that were done with the musical that made it even more awesome. For one, there was a fierce implication in this version that Colonel Pickering was gay. None of the dialogue was different, but certain throwaway lines, and looks were now laden with meaning, and it caused for absolute riotous spurts of laughter from the audience. The actress who played Eliza Doolittle was the alternate, but she had an absolutely lovely voice, and looked absolutely stunning in the over-the-top gowns that were prepared for her. And the song numbers featuring Eliza's Dad, usually my least favorite in the film, were absolutely show-stopping. They completely took over the show, and the theatre, and by the time 'With a Little Bit O' Luck' finished, the entire audience was on their feet, clapping. It was a really great time.

Also? Upcoming season for the Pantages is gonna be fantastic. Legally Blonde! I don't care if it's cheesy. It's awesome.

Sunday was not too great. I was on my way to PETCO with my god-daughter and the pups, my mom and sister were on their way to Old Navy, when we were invaded by Larios. Larios are my dearly beloved first cousins, of which there are nine. Five girls. Very young. Adorable. Result in a lot of energy. They own the house next door (I know. That's so Mexican) and it's currently vacant, so they're doing repairs to it. They came without calling first, and met us on the porch as we were leaving. In a fit of stupidit- er... generosity, I offered my Tia my key so they could let themselves in while I went to Petco, since mine was a relatively simple errand and I would be back shortly.

It was a simple errand. I got baby fish food and little shoes made out of rawhide that the pups like to chew on, and came home to an empty and locked house. I discovered then that my aunt had decided on a whim to accompany my mother to Old Navy, and take with her, my key.

The result? I was locked out of my house for two hours, stranded with kids and pups. Annoyed. And cold. With an IPOD, but, in a picture of irony, no headphones to hear it with.

Two hours later, my mom finally gets home, and relays to me some story about being harrased by cops for double parking and somehow forcing a female officer to give her an apology at the precinct. After she was done shopping.

Which I would have been fine with if she wasn't demanding an apology from the copy while I WAS WAITING OUTSIDE OF MY HOUSE.

But whatever. I'm over it. I am.

Next week? Poppies. No, not in Oz. In Antelope Valley. There's a story to go with that, but that's for another post.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time

Nerve.com just posted their 50 greatest comedy sketches of all time, and thanks to the wonders of youtube and other media sharing organizations, there's actual youtube clips of each and every one.

Over all, I agree with the list, but I did find it rather astonishing that Mad TV and In Living Color were totally excluded. While not often put in the same field as SNL and the Carol Channing show, there are some really great actors and sketches to come out of both.

Nicole Sullivan and Nicole Parker are particular gems from Mad TV. Nicole Sullivan had an amazing set of characters, including the classic Vancome Lady - a offensively racist woman with big hair and too much make up who preemptively judges everyone she sees.

Nicole Parker lent a different voice to MAD TV, but held the same chameleon like qualities, taking her ability to inhabit the character to freakishly scary proportions. My favorite sketch? Her impression of Rachael Ray's '40 Dollars a Day'

Not to take away from the classics, but sometimes the lesser known comics need some love too.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Biggest Loser: WOOHOO!

I got pulled into the Biggest Loser by accident. I have friends who watch it, and if we were hanging out, and it was on, that was what we'd watch.

I kept watching, because I need to shed some extra poundage and watching this and the awesomness that is Ninja Warrior kept me relatively inspired, though i did have my problems with the obvious show manipulation that put the females and distinct disadvantages. Particularly when Trainer Bob stacked his team with big, lots of fat to loose boy, apparently desperate to stack up a win against Trainer Jillian, who has had a part in every winning Biggest Loser guy thus far.

I didn't expect to get SO invested that I would actually squeal out loud when, down to the final four, the two remaining women pulled out massive weight loss numbers to beat out the two remaining men. I actually squealed. Out loud. And felt like a dork doing it.

Watching Kelly and Ali come from behind and secure a place in the finals was a sweet, sweet pay off to a frustrating season where the boysclub has continually dominated the game, and made absolutely sure that the women knew it.

Roger, Mr. Biggest Loser-Shoo-In, was mostly to blame for the over competitive frat prank of it all, and while I'm not a fan of 'AMERICA VOTES' angle that was thrust about the group at the last minute, I'm going to pitch in my vote for Mark, who at least seems to have learned that acting like a jackass on TV does not a fan make.

Vote Mark!

The Lesser of Two Evils - MSN shows you how

MSN is running an interesting article on actual calorie and fat content of various fast food fallacies. Personally, I'm of the opinion that if you want to lose weight, you should avoid fast food altogether (Unless you want to buy one crummy sandwhich with a flavorless 'grilled' chicken breast), but I definately understand the craving. Particularly at 2AM on a Friday night after a long night in a bar. And you're feeling twitchy.

Fascinating stuff. Did you know you a Big Mac is actually better for you than a Whopper?

I know. Now you have an excuse.

Check it out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

GRINDHOUSE: Legs Are Flyin' Left and Right

Finally got a chance to watch 'Grindhouse'; the teaming up for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino that was a throw back to those early eighties gore and slash exploitation films. I had always wanted to watch it, and was disapointed when the doubleset of films was split up after a poor box office performance. One thing you should never do is mess with a director's vision.

Okay, most of the time. Unless it's BloodRayne, and in that case, you shouldn't let that guy direct it in the first place. Because... wow - that's twenty minutes of my life I'll never get back.

Thankfully, STARZ is running the Grindhouse movies intact, complete with scratchy film, fake trailers, and missing reels, so I got to get the experience the double feature the way the director's intended.

Sorta. It was very late at night when I started and I kinda fell asleep during the first fifteen minutes of DeathProof.

I watch movies very late.

Still, I really enjoyed the flicks. Probably more than I expected to. I've never actually watched any of the early 80's drive in gore films. They were before my time. I started came into the movie watching, movie lovin' haze around the time of 'Goonies', 'Girl's Just Want To Have Fun', 'Hiding Out' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. It was all about bad hair and big dreams, and was still too young to really explore the lost mine of gore and boobs.

Of the two, Planet Terror was the most enjoyable. I'm a big fan of cheese, and gore, when it's done well and with imagination, such as the romantic blood-splattered Shaun of the Dead. Combine hot one legged girls with guns in the place of legs with a lot of guns and a lot of fighting? I'm so there. Add in an obscure reference to Ava Gardner? You've got me for life.

Also, the fake trailer for Machete, featuring 'that guy' character actor, he of all the knives in Desperado, was my favorite of the bunch.

Deathproof, from the always sometimes too talky Quention Tarantino, also featured strong lead characters and an unconventional leg amputation. Still, it took forever to get going, especially after the 'punch-you-in-the-gut' immediate action that Planet Terror gave you. The crescendo itself was worth the wait, however, for the punched up, octane-filled thirty minute finale featuring action stunt woman Zoe Bell perched up on the hood of a car, going 80 miles an hour. And a lot of cussing. And the chance for Kurt Russell, who will always be the bad ass mouthy truck driver from 'Big Trouble In Little China', to be crazy again. Lately he's just been a little too serene, what with his hockey miracles and all.

Starz seems to be the only place you can actually watch the doublefeature the way it was originally released. Planet Terror and Deathproof are now sold as their own discs, which is a shame. Lose the scratchy footage and the 'missing reels' and I think you take some of the character out of it too. Hopefully the distributers will realize there's a market for collectors, and at least try to join the two halves in the future.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Fight To Save the Fish

The freshwater aquarium

I'm completely attached to my fishtank. There. I said it. I hold no shame. I spend a lot of time on my tanks, and have gotten to know each and every one of its inhabitants. There's the reclusive catfish, who spend all day hidden away in a sunken ship, getting larger and larger. There's titan, the two inch long king of the ghost shrimp, who lords over the bottom of the tank with his claws, greedily steeling all the best bits of food for himself.

Titan the king of the aquarium

There's Max and Mona, the cowardly but sweetly dependant african drawf frogs, who dig into the gravel when they're scared and venture out to scavenge what they can.

Mona the african dwarf frog.

Among the fishies, there's also Tubby, the beer-bellied brown molly who flutters around up top and is the first to greet me when I show up with the food. He is the house favorite, and the 'pet' of the aquarium.

Tubby, recently has been terrorized by Cartman, the newest white molly who has decided that for some reason, Tubby will not do. Somehow or other, it is strongly suspected that Cartman ripped off half of Tubby's right fin. It completely destroyed Tubby's equilibrium, and having been Nemo'd, he can no longer swim upright, or even straight. He swims in circles, and it's painful to watch.

I decided to do everything I could to save the little guy, and so I bought him a breeder tank, isolating him from Cartman's cruel attentions.

Tubby the mollie

So far, the plan seems to be working. Cartman can't get to Tubby (though god knows he tries), and Tubby seems to find the lack of current a good thing. He's actually getting used to being Nemo-d and uses the little flipper in a way that, when he's not panicking, gets him up right and able to float a bit. I figure a few days in the holding cell and he might get strong enough to make it in the larger tank.

That still leaves the issue of Cartman, the bully, however. Who I strongly suspect is the one who chewed off Tubby's fin to begin with (My mother discovered him chasing Tubby, and was so annoyed found my net and grabbed Cartman and stuck him in a plastic bag in the water until I got home with the breeder tank). If Tubby does make it, I think Cartman might be going to The Aquarium, my local fish monger. They took my algae eater a while back when he just got two big for the aquarium (a good seven inches long).

The one downside of Operation Save Tubby is that I appear to have confused Max, the larger of the African Dwarf Frogs. He has inherited an acute case of cage envy and keeps trying to figure out how to get into Tubby's breeder tank. I installed a reef to help him get up to the surface faster, hopefully that'll keep him from tripping into the breeder tank. There's not much oxygen in there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Faerie Tale Theatre - Nostalgia Makes a Comeback

Am I the only one who remembers Faerie Tale Theatre? It ran in the eighties, was produced by Shelley Duvall and featured some of the best character actors in the day working to recreate live action versions of classic fairy tales. This meant you got to see Robin Williams and Eric Idle put on their take of 'The Frog Prince' and Jennifer Beals glam it up with a stuttering Mathew Broderick in 'Cinderella'.

I remember loving these episodes as a child, and when I saw the set on sale at costco, I grabbed it. I'm also apparently the only person on the planet who remembers it.

Doesn't matter. It's gold.

To take a gander, check out their version of 'Snow White' on google video. Also found The Pied Piper of Halmin, Jack & the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty & the Beast.