Snarky Saturday: Cinema de Torture

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My friend Jen, who I seem to mention in about every post, went to a blogger’s conference not too long ago, where one topic of discussion was, “Why do you blog?” There are many reasons why I blog. I’m bad at keeping a diary because I get hand cramp; I desperately want people to care what I think; I enjoy practicing writing because I dream of being published; and I live for people who laugh at my jokes.  Today one obvious benefit I had not yet considered came barrelling at me. In 3D, no less (more on that later).

Blogging gives me a safe outlet for rage.

I am one of those people who doesn’t grasp the concept of releasing anger positively (or at all). I know it’s important for your anger to be positively released, and not negatively. But I really have no idea what that means. I mean, I do, sort of. Violence is negative. But what exactly is positive anger? Isn’t anger negative (and/or) violent by definition?

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As a child, I didn’t learn how to incorporate anger into my repertoire of emotions in any way. Mine was a staggeringly passive-aggressive family, whose worst offenses included slamming doors and possibly giving someone the silent treatment for a couple of days while struggling to maintain a furrowed brow. We avoided, and then we ignored.

If I ever expressed any anger as a child (which is to say, behaved in any way similar to the ways they expressed anger towards each other and other people), my parents would say, “Why are you acting?” As if to say, this is not a valid emotion. Sane, normal people don’t get angry. Why are you putting on a show?

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Another adolescent rite of passage I feel I may have missed out on: I have never been in a fist-fight. I mean, even some of my sweetest girlfriends have at least cut someone’s eyebrow with their pink ice ring in the seventh grade, in order to claim some peach-fuzzed boy as their exclusive property. And rightly so, as their pecking order in the food chain depended on it. Power and greed; greed and power. The lead characters in girl-empowerment tween movies these days…they’re not afraid to kick a little ass. But when I was at that age, I had not yet felt the rage — the one that makes you do stupid shit. I was a late-to-bloom superbitch. I was too pampered to be angsty. I love that word. And I can honestly say that I’ve never had the desire to physically hurt another person. Ever.

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This is why I find it so interesting that when I am exceedingly, most enraged mad, the only thing I can think of to make myself feel better is…to throw things. This occurs when I have reached that level of anger that supercedes being hurt. Hurt = tears. And those hurting tears feel good. They make the hurt more intense momentarily, so you can wallow in it and feel worse before you feel better.  Worse makes better better. But no tears could soothe the type of angry emotional explosion that makes me do stupid shit.

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I tend to throw benign objects, like pillows or writing utensils, but I have also been known to shatter the glass of picture frames by violently ripping them off the wall and hurling them to the floor. While screaming. It feels so good, so right, so just in that moment, and I am intensely satisfied by the sight of the glass shards in the carpet. For about 20 seconds. Until I realize my dog is about to walk across the living room, and I have got to get that cleaned up before she cuts a paw. Even the choice of picture frames is somewhat calculated — they are easy to replace. They usually don’t hold any sentimental value.  And usually the person in the picture (or the person who took that photo) is the subject of my rage.

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But I always feel really bad the next day. Now I have to go buy new picture frames. Birdy could have seriously injured herself, either by walking over or licking up pieces of glass. Why did I think that was a good idea?  Why did it make me feel better? Why did I become a thrower? What do you do when your anger is directed at someone you aren’t close to, and you have no pictures of them in your house? Isn’t the topic of “anger” just so fascinating? Even on an evolutionary level. I love psychology. I’m getting off topic.

Wow, if you’re still reading at this point, I’m seriously impressed, and you really need to leave a comment just to commemorate the fact that you made it halfway through this diatribe. Oh, yes…there’s much more. Muahahaha. If you’re still reading, you must really think I’m funny. You must really like me. Ha! I mean, I am just now getting to the original point of my post in the first place. Jeez.

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All right, I’m going to tell you the story of my rage for the day. I will freely admit that a lot of this rage is probably related to PMS. It’s not an excuse; it’s an explanation. I am generally the type of person who does not get enraged unless there is some big, serious, dramatic issue at hand that I cannot stand for morally/or and philosophically. (“This aggression will not stand, man!” Love you forever if you can identify the movie.)  If said issue doesn’t fit that description, chances are good that I just don’t give a shit. Does your opinion have the potential to upset the balance of things? Usually not. Thus, usually not worth getting upset over. This is my philosophy. Sometimes, though…there is justification in raising my voice, or acting out of character, or revealing a side of myself that few people have seen. Sometimes I release onto people, and I always feel stupid afterwards. Whether it was in person or by phone or by email, I always feel stupid and guilty and ridiculous afterwards.

Okay. The thing that happened several hours ago seems ridiculous to me now that I have philosophized on the topic of anger and the human response for so long.

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Jen and I went to see Coraline at the movie theater this afternoon. Neither of us ever sees movies in the theater anymore. Too expensive, too inconvenient, too loud (yes, we’re old), can’t agree with your SO on what to see, can’t agree on what row is optimal. We were swayed by the promise of 3D glasses. It does not take much to please us. Especially since, as we discovered while waiting in line for concessions, the only 3D movie either of us had ever seen in the theater was something Muppets-related at Disney World. That was back in the olden days, when 3D glasses were flimsy paper frames with colored lenses, and they didn’t stay on properly because they seemed to be designed for adult-sized craniums, and you worried whether you were seeing the right thing or if your glasses were about to fall off, and if it was really supposed to look that way, and wasn’t 3D technology supposed to be cooler than this?

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The film itself was amazing. It’s based on a book by Neil Gaiman, who is sort of a horror-fantasy writer that I think is way more creative than Stephen King. Not that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I have taken too many creative writing classes to be willing to admit he’s a relatively talented writer (albeit perhaps for the wrong reasons — money before Pulitzer). Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Haha. I liked The Shining, but that is all.

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The last movie that was made from a Gaiman novel was Stardust, starring Claire Danes. It wasn’t great, but it was sort of novel, because the only thing I could think to compare it to was The Princess Bride. That film has become such a cult classic for my generation that I’m somewhat suprised Stardust was not more of a hit. Maybe it will turn into The Princess Bride for the next generation. Most people I’ve mentioned it to have never even heard of it. Which is a shame. Their marketing people must have been too old to know that my generation has lifted The Princess Bride to cult status. They could have really used that to their advantage. Anyway, I didn’t even know it was written by Neil Gaiman until the end credits. Having liked two films based on his novels makes me want to read his stuff.

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All right, so I loved the movie. I loved the fact that it stimulated interesting conversation on the way home about age and parenting styles . I loved how the morals of the story were things like, “It could serve you well to be an individual,” and “Sometimes you do nice things for people you don’t particularly care for, because it’s the right thing to do,” and “Even though your parents seem like big meanies right now doesn’t mean they are big meany people in the grand scheme of things.” I realize that’s not true for all children. Some kids actually do have terrible, mean, insensitive, cruel, abusive parents. This is probably not a movie you should take those kids to.

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The thing that angered me throughout the entire movie was this kid sitting a few seats away from us on the same row, who did not understand movie theater etiquette, which applies to people of all ages. And his parents, who apparently refuse to teach it to him.

1. If you don’t understand what’s happening in the movie, and you feel that compelled to ask someone else, please whisper. If you are incapable of whispering under any circumstances, you need to have your hearing checked. And rent DVDs until that shit is cleared up.

2. If you’re going to a potentially scary movie, and you’re worried you (or someone you love) might not make it to the end without soiling their seat or making at least one person question their sanity, please devise a plan for early exit with your companions so that nearby movie-watchers do not have to endure you talking yourself through the humiliation.

3. If you are a parent…please be conscious of the level of horrendous images (severed limbs, eyes sewn shut) that your child can tolerate before combusting (figuratively or literally). Act accordingly before deciding your trip to the cinema is necessary. It is entirely possible that someone else’s 6-year-old can successfully process the idea of discovering an alternate reality in which their parents are evil beings, and conversely your child will be frightened by such an improbability, considering the fact that you give them whatever they want, and they have no reason to be frightened of you or anything else for that matter, ever. It is also possible that they will be confounded beyond belief and will question you for two-plus hours on your psychic abilities to predict what will happen next in movie-land and the laws of physics which they understand to prevent much of what they have seen occur within the last several hours.

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Had I not been sitting in the middle of a room full of children, I would have made my profane protestations to this inept parenting more audible. I couldn’t even muster so much as a “Shh!” when he spoke up (in his outside voice) for the 23rd time. All I could picture was irate, crazed Caucasian parents sitting in court, suing me for damages after their completely normal and well-adjusted child suddenly began throwing framed photographs around the house and questioning the physics behind life and death.

Seriously…when I was five, I knew that you were supposed to whisper at the movies. Didn’t you? This kid was way older than five. And it’s not as if he was outright defying his parents’ instructions. They just weren’t giving him any. Silence is acquiescence to a kid. Or a pet. I’m not a parent, and I don’t plan to ever become one, but I don’t think you have to have children of your own to understand that sometimes you have to draw the line and say no.

I mean it. Don’t make me turn this car around.

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Cultural Literacy Friday: Sunday in the Park with George

Last night I went to a play with my friend, Jen, who is a lover of musical theater. I am not quite as big a fan of it myself, but I do love to support local performing arts in whatever capacity that might be. We’re fortunate enough to live in a city that houses the most prestigious performing arts school in the state — University of North Carolina School of the Arts. It was my first time seeing a theatrical performance there, and as Jen assured me, it was a “professional-level production.” On our way home, she pointed out that the school already admits only the best of the best, and those kids are auditioning for parts, so what we end up seeing in the play is the best of the best of the best. We were so impressed by the performances of every actor on that stage. They stayed in character even when they were not in the spotlight. Each of them had their own unique look about them, making one think, “I bet their headshots are amazing.” And while I thought the musical compositions were so-so, these kids could SING! Their talent rather stole the show, which is perhaps as it should be. And wow — what great costumes!!!

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We had second-row seats for “Sunday in the Park with George,” a Sondheim musical inspired by George Seurat, founder of Pointillism. Everyone would recognize his most famous painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” I am lucky enough to have seen it in person at the Art Institute in Chicago (my favorite art museum). I had no idea it was so large until I stood in front of it. The size alone is incredible. My best friend from childhood had a print of this painting in her house when we were growing up. I’ve always liked it.

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Crafty Update: Win Free Stuff!

Hop on over to my friend Jen’s blog, Great Little Stories, where she is hosting a giveaway featuring some products from my Etsy shop. You could be the winner of a photo print and a set of recycled map stationery.

Travel Wednesday: Sesqui Park

The trip to Isle of Palms last weekend was a great success. I love the beach, and I could write about it all day every day on my blog. And I will probably have many more opportunities to do so, because it’s the one place I visit most often on vacation. We had a wonderful time seeing the Acoustic Syndicate show, hanging out on the beach, playing music, and having board game tourneys. In an effort to make our trip last as long as possible, I decided to get up at dawn and watch the sunrise on the beach. We started the five-hour drive immediately afterwards, so we could stop at Sesqui Park in Columbia to hike for a couple hours.

The official name is Sesquicentennial State Park. Like most of the terrain in South Carolina, it is pretty flat, and there are a ton of pine trees. But there’s a really nice 2 mile loop that circles through the woods and marsh around a 3o-acre manmade lake. A very relaxing way to break up a five-hour drive, stretch your legs, and work up an appetite. There are a few other trails too, including a mountain bike trail. There is a camping area, a 2-acre fenced dog park, picnic shelters, paddle boats, canoes…this would be a nice place to spend a weekend.

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Crafty Update: Shojo Beat

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My Yokohama map stationery is featured on the Hot List in Shojo Beat magazine’s March 2009 issue! Pick up a copy at your local Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Tasty Tuesday: Oysters

I’ve discussed here previously how I’m on a quest to find the world’s best French Onion Soup. I should probably mention this week that this neverending pursuit also applies to another one of my favorite foods: fried oysters. I know fried foods are bad for you. But I am from the South, and I can’t eat oysters any other way. I’ve tried. As with the perfect French Onion Soup, I will not conclusively choose an absolute best place for fried oysters. But I can tell you the best I’ve had thus far. At Seel’s Fish Camp on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.

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I forgot to take my camera on vacation with me, so I don’t have a picture of these particular oysters to share with you. But they were huge, juicy, very lightly breaded (almost like tempura), and cooked to perfection. This is a really cool restaurant, too. The day we were there, they were having a pre-Mardi Gras celebration with a crawfish boil and a live dixieland jazz band. A little kid was break-dancing in front of them, and it was adorable.

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*My friend Jen took this picture.

Emeril’s Tempura Fried Oysters

1 egg, beaten  
2/3 cup flour  
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup cold soda water
1 tsp salt
2 dozen shucked large oystersPreheat the fryer. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg, flour, cornstarch, soda water and salt. Blend until smooth. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes, to rest. Season the oysters with salt and pepper. Dredge the oysters in the flour, tapping off any excess flour. Dip the oysters in the tempura batter, letting the excess drip off. Then place the dipped oysters in the hot oil, fry until slightly golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the oysters from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate.
 

Musical Monday: Acoustic Syndicate

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Went to Charleston, SC this weekend to see Acoustic Syndicate at the Pour House. Awesome show, awesome venue. Since Ziggy’s is no longer in existence (sadly), this has to be my new favorite place to see live music. Just the right size, good acoustics, good beer, places to sit, comfortable outdoor area. Two stages, two bars. My only complaint is that it is relatively hard to maneuver yourself from the bar to the floor to the restroom and so forth if it’s very crowded. I think every hippie in South Carolina (and a few from North Carolina, like us) turned out for this show — it was their first since returning from playing in Jamaica, and we were all suffering from withdrawal!

If you want a copy of the recording, leave a comment! Taper Nerd recorded sound, and Jen videotaped!

Stay tuned for more details on the rest of the trip on Travel Wednesday!

Thoughtful Thursday: Fingers

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This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I still own a copy, and I read it again every few years.

Randomly Poignant

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Tasty Tuesday: Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

I am not typically a big Valentine’s Day person. I tend to fall into the camp that’s always saying, “Oh, it’s just a Hallmark holiday for the purpose of selling crap. You should treat people lovingly every day, not just once a year!” That’s all true. But this year, I decided that instead of being bitter about not having a real valentine (I do have a complicated one), I would take the high road to positivity and just make sweets for all the friends in my life that I love and appreciate. I mean, why not use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to tell your friends how much you love them? Friends need love too, not just lovers.

I found this recipe on Bakerella. Her pictures are always lovely, but I’m using some poor ones I took in my kitchen. This is why you should always take TWO photos. The first one is always crap.

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Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

1 Box red velvet cake mix*
1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature (mine was pretty much melted)
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients until combined. Drop spoonfuls of cookie batter onto baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature (again, mine was pretty much melted — my microwave is superior alien technology that I cannot control)
1 8 oz. Package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1lb. Box of confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth. Makes about 24 cookies or 12 cookie sandwiches

* Any cake mix should work.

I also made some using a lemon cake mix, and these came out much with a much softer consistency, for some reason. I do not pretend to understand the chemical processes that make cooking happen. I wrote a paper about a science-related movie for my AP Biology final exam. Yes, I am an english nerd. I don’t do science. Anyway, the lemon ones were almost too sweet. I much preferred the red velvet.

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