Rediscovering Disney: The Little Mermaid

We’ve started trying to add to Baguette’s movie preferences. We had no luck with Cinderella (she only likes “The Work Song”) or Sleeping Beauty, and Lilo & Stitch got no reaction at all.

We tried non-Disney (or at least previously-not-from Disney) with Star Wars,* which was of momentary interest–right up until the cantina scene, at which point she started shrieking.

What is entering the rotation is The Little Mermaid. Baguette only watches about half of it, but that’s how she started watching Frozen, too. She asks for it by name (although the first time she did, when I asked her if she wanted to see Frozen, she said, “I want to see fish, please”). It’s a problematic movie, what with the stereotyped musical fish and the love-at-first-sight/hearing-without-any-real-knowledge-of-the-person.

BUT.

I’m actually less bothered by the movie than I expected to be. Because Ariel doesn’t know Eric, but he actually does have a lot of good qualities. True, he’s easily distracted and enchanted. He’s also brave, and a quick thinker. Ariel saves him, and he saves her as well. They’re mutually supportive.

What I’m saying is, they could do a lot worse.

That said?

Photo from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Littlemermaid-disneyscreencaps.com-2976.jpg
Photo from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Littlemermaid-disneyscreencaps.com-2976.jpg

That is a lot of Merpeople who sold their souls to Ursula. Now that he’s married off that headstrong youngest daughter, I think King Triton needs to take a hard look at reform.

*There was a brief window in which the original trilogy was available on DVD as it aired in the theaters. These are the copies we own, because I want to make sure that Baguette knows not just that Han shot first, but that Han was the only one who fired a shot.

Our New Normal (For Now)

“Normal” is open to interpretation. That’s true for every family, but I’ve really come to understand the concept better since Baguette’s autism diagnosis. Actually, I knew it before her diagnosis–but that’s what made it okay for me to say openly that my normal is different from the normal you experience. Or you. Or that person over there.

I came across a post about what “normal” means for one family dealing with ADHD, and it got me to thinking about what is normal for us.

1) The house is always messy. Between work, commute, and ABA, we do not have time to clean. Mr. Sandwich does the laundry and I do the dishes, but the rest of the place is profoundly cluttered.

2) No “me” time. This isn’t exactly true. I get my hair colored and cut every six weeks, and about as often I get a massage. Mr. Sandwich has a (sometimes) regular Sunday morning bike ride. But with Baguette’s long-standing distaste for sleep, I can’t even read a magazine in one sitting. Recently, it took me three weeks to finish streaming a movie. We have literally years of “Castle” in our DVR–or at least we did until we gave up and deleted them, with plans to buy the DVDs at some point in the future.

3) There’s an awful lot of screaming. Baguette is frustrated by her inability to communicate. She’s also frustrated by the incessant demands of her ABA schedule. And sometimes the only way she can express that is to rage and rage and rage. As far as I’ve been able to figure it out, the only thing I can do is be there with her, as calmly as possible, and let the rage burn itself out. Friday was one of those days. After at least an hour of crying and screaming, she wore herself out until she was able to say, “I want carry me,” and I stood there with my arms around her, rocking her back and forth for at least 15 minutes. Then we sat down on the couch, and I held her on my lap until she slid down on the floor, still with her shoulder against my leg. I didn’t move until she did, because when she moved away, that meant she was feeling better. (Sorry, neighbors. This is just how it is.)

4) There’s probably a #4, but I’m too tired to come up with it.

5) The surprises never end. Baguette loves the water. She’s been teaching herself ASL–and now she’s teaching me, too. Lately she tells me she wants to play with her by saying, “Come along, Mommy,” and I have no idea where that phrase came from.

All of this will change with time. And that’s normal, too.

There Is No Serial Killer in the Back Yard

When I was in college, I injured my knee and spent six months in a knee immobilizer. This meant that when I was flying, I met every person in the airport. And also on the plane. I was constantly telling the story of How I Injured My Knee.

The result was that once I was off crutches, the last thing I wanted was to talk to people on planes. So I thought about how to avoid that.

I have always read a lot, so that’s my usual method of passing the time while in flight. I decided that what I needed was to select my books very carefully. If I read a bestseller, someone would want to know if I liked it, and whether I was going to see the movie, and what did I think of the casting. If I read one of the books for my classes, I’d probably have the great good luck of finding out I was sitting next to the author right after I said I thought it was boring.

It became clear that there was only one genre that would keep people from striking up conversations: true crime. Over the next couple of years, I read a lot of true crime. (By the way, that last one? Total BS, as is From Hell–both the graphic novel and the movie.)

My plan worked. No one wanted to talk to the girl reading about Jack the Ripper. And it wasn’t just coincidence–on one flight, a mildly creepy older guy sat down next to me, started to speak, looked at the title of the book on my lap, and stopped mid-sentence. He then talked to the man across the aisle for the rest of the flight. I call that a win.

Time passed. I stopped reading true crime because I got bored with it. But I did periodically watch movies about fictional killers. And Dennis Lehane’s Darkness, Take My Hand is a novel so scary and so well-written that I had to keep reminding myself that I didn’t actually believe in what he was describing.

Then a few things happened: I had two miscarriages, and Mr. Sandwich and I read Zodiac and watched the movie based on it. Both the book and the movie are very good. The Zodiac Killer was a really scary guy.

These things seem unrelated, but they weren’t. I developed mild depression after my second miscarriage, and suffered from insomnia. And since I was already distressed and exhausted, it didn’t take much for me to become unnerved by the Zodiac Killer.

“But,” you say, “That was decades ago.”

Of course, and that’s what the logical part of my mind told me (it also told me about how long the odds were). The other part, whatever you might call it, was scared. Not so scared that I wouldn’t go outside at night to hang up laundry–but scared enough to wonder, “What if?”

My brother, who knows that I enjoy thrillers and history, gave me a copy of The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields. It involves a number of my interests, including detectives, mystery, and the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

But I’m choosing not to finish it. Because while I could get through the gruesome murder that takes place at the beginning of the book, later discoveries by the main characters made it clear that the killer was taking actions–and likely had a motivation–that I just couldn’t keep reading about.

Don’t get me wrong. I was enjoying the book. But I know what gets in my head, and what I don’t need to add. I didn’t need to see the posters for “The Strangers.” Or for any of the “Saw” movies.

There’s enough ugliness in the world. We can see that today in Boston. I don’t need to go looking for it.

How Was Your Weekend?

Ours started a day early, kind of. On Friday, Baguette’s cast came off (huzzah!). What was her response to this development?

Sock all gone. I got a foot!

At the moment she walks with that foot turned out, and she still has a bit of a peg-leg pirate walk, but she’s rapidly getting back to her normal gait–and activity.

Since she’s Baguette, that activity includes not sleeping. We were up at midnight, driving around Los Angeles and environs at midnight. (You think I’m kidding? I’m not. We’re talking at least 20 miles of driving, and not all of it in town.)

Since we’re the Sandwiches, Saturday did not mean sleeping in early. Quite the opposite: we got up at 3:30, because Mr. Sandwich was entered in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. He did quite well, finishing in the top 1/3 of his age division, and Baguette got to spend the morning on the beach. Let me tell you, this is one fearless toddler. And that means that when you’re her parent, and she won’t stop rushing toward the waves, you are definitely not fearless.

An early morning and extensive beach time did not mean that she had a good nap. No, she slept for about 30 minutes and then was awake for the entire afternoon.

Awake and tantrum-y.

But eventually even her strength of will could not overcome her exhaustion, and at 6:30 p.m. (6:30!)she passed out on my lap. We carefully moved her into the bed and settled in for a night of streaming video. That’s right, it was Date Night, Sandwich Edition. What did we watch? Captain America, of course (Avengers not being available yet, and both of us feeling that Thor would be ruined–ruined, I tell you!–by the presence of Natalie Portman). Now, Cap has never been my favorite superhero, and I had some issues with the movie–but it was fun, and we really enjoyed the chance to curl up on the couch and watch something of our own choosing while endlessly petting the dog’s stomach (Wicket is indifferent to TV as long as she is getting petted).

We made it to bed at about 11, which meant that when Baguette woke up at 3:30, I really, really hoped we’d be able to get her back to sleep. We couldn’t. But that’s okay, because we would have been getting up too soon anyhow: shortly after 5, I left for the ER, where it was determined that yes, I had another kidney stone.

Some Dilaudid and several hours of fitful sleep later, Mr. Sandwich and Baguette arrived to pick me up. We went out for breakfast and picked up some groceries, and then went home so that Baguette and I could nap. Which we both did, successfully. Our evening was low-key, and we made it to bed at about 9. Everyone slept through the night, and Baguette woke up on her own at 6, which (combined with the night before) tells me that, barring teething or broken legs, her tendency is to sleep for 9 hours at night.

Meanwhile, I’m still tired. You?

Captain America Shield

Photo by abuckingham, via Flickr.

Date Night?

Do you go on regular Date Nights? We don’t.

The last movie Mr. Sandwich and I saw in the theater was True Grit.

Hey, it could be worse. It could have been the John Wayne version. Now that would have been a long time since Date Night.

And that was our last movie, not our last evening out. We did go out to dinner for our anniversary in March, and had a wonderful time. That dinner, by the way, was something we’d been talking about doing since Mr. Sandwich’s birthday. In 2010.

Do I think that parents need to connect with each other in ways that aren’t focused on their children? Yes, absolutely. Do I think that we need to have Date Night to do that? No, not in the slightest.

When Mr. Sandwich and I started dating, he traveled to meet my parents. (This was our third date. It didn’t indicate anything about our relationship, it’s just how things went.) They showed him around town, and at one point, he said, “I feel bad leaving your parents in the car.” I said, “Oh, don’t worry about them. For them, retirement is one big date.”

Mr. Sandwich took that to heart. We have what we call “Home Depot dates.” What do we do? We go to Home Depot. To us, spending time together is a date, no matter who else is there, or where we are.

Our entire relationship was long-distance. What that meant was that when we actually managed to be together, what we wanted to do was be together. One of us would fly across the country. We’d spend the day meeting friends and touring the local area. In the evening, we’d go back to the apartment and eat pizza or Chinese food while watching TV shows we both liked, and talking about them.

Exciting? Maybe not to some, but it suited us, and it still does.

We like to go to the movies. We don’t get there as often as we’d like–we missed Bridesmaids and Captain America and The Hunger Games, and it’s looking like we’re going to miss The Avengers, which is really disappointing.

But at some point, no doubt, Amazon Prime streaming will come to our rescue, and we’ll catch up on what we’ve missed. It won’t be the same as the big screen, but we’ll see them together and talk about them.

Sounds like the perfect Date Night to me.

I’m Glad I Don’t Live in Gotham City

This morning I went to Target and Whole Foods (what demographic does that represent, I have to wonder?). At the latter, I found the gourmet chocolate display, which included several Vosges Haute Chocolat bars. Which did I pick? Why, Mo’s Bacon Bar, of course, described as “applewood smoked bacon, Alder wood smoked salt, deep milk chocolate.” I decided that it had to be either delectable or disgusting. It wound up being just okay–not gross (well, maybe a little gross) and kind of weird tasting, but definitely chocolate-y. However, that was not the defining activity of the day: next, we went to the movies.

The Dark Knight lives up to the hype. It’s dark and tense, and Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker is simply amazing. What a loss that was.

At least this Gotham looked like a place that would actually have residents; in Batman Begins, I couldn’t understand why anyone at all would live in that ruined city. Even Katie Holmes’s wretched Rachel Dawes couldn’t plausibly have been that much of an idealist. Speaking of Rachel Dawes, neither J nor I cared at all about the character, even after Maggie Gyllenhaal took over the role. Rachel just isn’t a compelling character. Although as I said to J, “Are any of Batman’s girlfriends all that compelling? Did you care about Vicky Vale?” And it turns out the answer is no–Batman movies lack compelling female characters.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to see this movie for Rachel Dawes. I went to see it for Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and a slew of Batgadgets. And they did not disappoint.

This movie was really nerve-wracking. Based on how they develop Harvey Dent’s storyline, I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch a third movie in this series.

So I guess that you could sum up my review thusly. The Dark Knight: Better than chocolate with bacon.

Netflix

When a DVD arrives from Netflix, J and I put it on top of the television. And there it sits, until we watch it. The problem is that while our queue is full of movies that we want to see, very few of them are, shall we say, lighter fare. As I mentioned in a previous post, There Will Be Blood sat on top of the TV for two months before we saw it. The Conversation also lasted about that long as well.

This week, however, we’ve made some progress. Last night we watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent, and it didn’t live up to a review that I read somewhere I can’t quite remember. Frankly, I can’t remember much about the movie, and it hasn’t even been 24 hours. George Sanders was, as usual, the standout. Whatever it was he did.

Tonight we watched The Illusionist. It’s not as complex a story as The Prestige, which we saw several months ago. However, it’s well-constructed and shot beautifully, and the performances are excellent. Of course, what else would you expect from Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti? J felt that Rufus Sewell’s Prince Leopold was too plainly a villain, but based on what little I know about the waning Hapsburgs, he would have fit right in.

So now I’m wondering what movie I should move to the top of the Netflix queue. Currently Pollock heads the list, and I have the feeling that it will hold a place of honor on top of the TV for longer than makes sense.

Enchanted

There Will Be Blood has been sitting on top of the TV for–I kid you not–two months. Clearly we are not maximizing our Netflix subscription.

Or maybe we’re just not in the mood for drama. Enchanted has been here for less than 10 days, and this afternoon I watched it. Twice.

It’s an adorable movie, and I’m really impressed with how well Disney made fun of itself. They did a great presentation of how insane the animated hair and costumes would look in the real world, and if New Yorkers ran into Giselle’s fairy-tale sensibilities, they’d be convinced she was crazy. The performances were spot on; Amy Adams is endearing as Giselle, and James Marsden makes the clueless, self-involved blowhard Prince Edward a surprisingly sympathetic character. Patrick Dempsey plays Robert as McExasperated, which works–I’m not a huge Patrick Dempsey fan, but I liked him here. And once again I’m sorry that I didn’t see Idina Menzel in Wicked when I lived back east. She doesn’t sing here, but she’s definitely got presence.

By the way, if you get the chance, see Wicked. J got me tickets for Christmas, and we both loved it. But do not read the book, which is muddled and kind of gross.

I’m not sure what we’ll wind up doing with the rest of the evening. But I’ll bet it won’t involve watching There Will Be Blood.

I Should Be Working Out

But I’m not. However, that still is one of my goals for this afternoon, while J is off on a road bike ride in Malibu.

It’s been a busy weekend, and it’s barely Sunday afternoon. Yesterday we decided to see Iron Man, so we headed over to the theater to buy tickets. However, we soon found that between us and the theater was a huge traffic jam, due to a nearby car show. We decided to continue with our errands and go to a different theater once we were done. The next stop was at the Goodwill donation point, where I gave away the first item for the 29-Day Giving Challenge–a lawn bag full of clothes. Now, there were probably more than 29 items in the bag, so I suppose I could have doled them out over the course of the Challenge. But that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of much of anything, so I’m counting the bag as one item.

Next, we went to the pool, where I swam 900 meters and J swam 1100. I’m hoping to be swimming twice a week, and doing 1000 on one of those swims for at least a few weeks before the triathlon. We also need to do some ocean swimming, and I still need to get on the bike. Well, not this weekend.

After the pool, we ate at The Stand. This is probably the fanciest hot dog stand you’ll ever eat at. J had the Chili Dog and I had the Kraut Dog. The sauerkraut didn’t have the tang I was hoping for, but the hot dog and bun were quite good. This is a little splurgy for hot dogs, but I’d come back. Oh, and they have Thomas Kemper cream soda on tap, which is very nice.

We made a brief stop at home, where we learned that the car show was over, and headed out for Iron Man. The movie was a lot of fun, and Robert Downey, Jr., did a great job as Tony Stark. I’m still not all that taken with Gwyneth Paltrow, but I think the problems I had with Pepper Potts had more to do with the writing than with Paltrow’s performance.

Back home again, I said, “How do we not own Raiders of the Lost Ark on DVD? Check TiVo and see if it’s showing tonight.” J did and said, “Believe it or not, it’s starting in 10 minutes.” So we watched Raiders (as edited for television) for the umpteen-millionth time. It’s always good.

Today has been a little slower, although of course there was plenty of laundry to do. When J left on the bike, I headed out with a grocery bag full of movies on VHS. We’ve been replacing our VHS tapes with DVDs wherever possible, and the stack of outbound tapes was getting pretty high. This seemed like a worthy second day of giving for the Challenge, so I dropped them off at one of the local libraries.

I’m not sure how I’m going to fulfill the Challenge during the work week, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. I do know that I need to get up off the couch and work out!