29 May 2007

Shrek the Third & Pirates (in which the women abdicate their thrones)

Disclaimer: I am not a film critic. You want a full review, talk to Ebert & Roeper. 

I love the Shrek movies. Pirates, well, two words: Johnny. Depp. Self-explanatory, folks. So, the offspring and I were all about some big spending at our local discount theater matinee.

I love me some Shrek, but the whole plot basis rankled a bit.

Here's the thing. The plot line was about Shrek inheriting the throne when Fiona's amphibious dad, the king, croaks, and the antics that follow. Yes, I said Shrek inherits the throne.


I'm sorry, but isn't Fiona the heiress heir to the throne? Yeah. So why isn't Shrek the new queen's husband, with an honorary "prince" title thrown in to keep him happy?

Hey, Prince Rainier handles it. It's not "King Rainier" and "Princess Elizabeth", is it?  Um, no. The prince knows who holds the royal papers, and presumably, his balls are still intact. He's fine.

So why not Queen Fiona?

Why? I'll tell you why. Fiona can not possibly inherit the throne, because Fiona, being now barefoot and pregnant, will not have time to reign. She has been relegated to royal breeder. Fiona, heir to the throne herself, must now concentrate on producing a real (read: male) heir while her husband takes the reins. So, Fiona waved from the dock, incubating her brood, while the men sailed off for adventure.

Welcome to Happily Ever After, honey.

Yes, the movie is called Shrek, not Fiona. Like I don't know that. So what. The queen did not give birth to Shrek; any stretchmarks marring that royal belly bear Fiona's name. Who the hell is Shrek? He's just a guy who came along decades later and jumped on the royal bandwagon.

Those are some fucked up laws of royal succession, right there.

All the work I've put into raising my daughters, I'll be goddamned if some guy is going to come along after the terrible twos, the terrible twelves, the teenage years, all that, and say, "Hey, thanks Mom -- can I call you Mom? I'll take that crown from here." Fuck that. You're the sidekick here, mister.

What if he starts bringing in concubines? What if he spends the gold on NASCAR and beer? What if he lets them eat cake? What happens to her family's legacy then? Sorry. You handed over the keys to the kingdom. He's king now, honey.  Ain't nothing you can do.

Enough. Fiona was no simpering girlie-girl princess. Fiona showed little girls that they don't have to settle for fawning over some prince and building up his ego. What disappoints me about Shrek 3 is that it reinforces the idea that once you're a wife, step aside, sweetheart, your main duties are to breed and stand by your man. I liked the kickass princess a hell of a lot better.

The filmmakers did redeem themselves somewhat with a side-story, in which Fiona turns her helpless band of captive girlie-girl princesses into a badass troupe of animated whoopass to keep the napoleonesque Prince Charming from stealing the throne. (Again though, keeping it safe for the menfolk's return)

Other than that, it was fun. I'd have liked to see Puss in Boots play a bigger role, but hey, that's just me.


Pirates, basically same deal.  Pirates = Johnny, and therefore, good. Again, not outstanding. Third in a series. Yada-yada, same stuff, different locations.

However: Elizabeth, through many plot twists and turns, becomes King of Pirate Lords.

Yes, honey, I said KING.

Fuck that girled-up queen shit, I said Elizabeth became King of the Friggin' Pirates. Hell, yeah. Okay, so she had some stilted and predictable dialogue going on there. Who cares? King. Badass.

So, short and sweet: what is it with the barefoot and pregnant thing? Can't the woman just be King and leave it at that? No. She cannot. She must return to land and bear a child. She must also bear the responsibility for raising that child while the menfolk sail the high seas. Whatever. Bastards.

Anyway. Other than that, it was fun. It's Pirates, of course it was fun.

I will say that Orlando was looking damn fine in this one. Most times, I'm just like, yeah, sure, he's hot. And that's that. (Now Johnny, I'm all about some Johnny. Goodgawd but that man does sexy down to the bone.) Anyway, the one exception for me was when Orlando was Legolas. Which is weird, because I am not, as a general rule, attracted to quiet, pale blonds with pointy ears.  Legolas though -- so damn appealing.

It's a mystery. Far be it from me to question the yearnings of my loins. Anyway, Will Turner is hotter than a little bit in Pirates 3. Not Johnny, but very appealing all the same.

So, that's my nonreview. Kings and queens are evidently not for girls, but hey, it's the movies, right? Still fun.

22 May 2007

I Like It Spicy, Baby. Now, Anyway.

Holy smokes. My mouth is on fire.

I brought Indian food for lunch today. Okay, it was in a package from Trader Joe's, but still. To be fair, it did boast a spicy aromatic sauce. But come on -- grocery store spicy is usually along the lines of mild taco sauce.  Grocery store packaged delights don't pack much heat, regardless of that thermometer graphic on the box. Unless you're in the ethnic section*. Then you might find something spicy.

Trader Joe's does not have an ethnic section. TJ's mixes it up all over the damn place and surprises your ass. Or your tongue. Well, actually, who knows if my ass will be surprised later. 

It sure as hell was aromatic. The break room at work smelled gooood. That probably pissed some people off, but I live in the Pacific Northwest, so no one actually says anything if your lunch singes their nose hairs.

Anyway, lunch was tasty, but brutal.

My spice tolerance has actually come a long way. I can now go up to Level 3 (of six) at our favorite Indian restaurant. I can go to Level 4 when Normal Chef is on duty, but it's a crap shoot since you never know whether it's Normal Chef or Fire Chef back in the kitchen.  Fire Chef doesn't play. 

I used to be a complete spice wimp. We just did not eat spicy food in my family. I think it gave my dad gas. Then again, pancakes gave my dad gas. Anyway, when my ex and I were young newlyweds, he caught me scraping pepper off of an omelet. Regular, dinner-table black pepper was too spicy for me. (Trust that my ex got a lot of mileage out of that.) Tabasco? Cajun? Are you kidding?

Mild taco sauce was my tongue living on the edge, in those days.

My sister was even more of a spice wimp than I was. Until she moved to North Carolina in her late 20s. The kids and I visited from overseas. We stopped at Taco Hell for lunch one day. It was either that or Big Bubba's Beef Barn. Her youngest was probably two at the time. Sis grabbed huge handfuls of the "Fire Sauce". As opposed to mild, medium, or hot.

Me: What are you doing?

Sis: This is the best part. You can't eat this stuff without the sauce.

Me: Yeah, but that's fire sauce. The mild is over there.

Sis: You're in the South now, honey. Better buck up. Here you go, kids!

(My kids shake their heads, her kids grab for the sauce packets.)

Sis: Here, baby -- good stuff! (squirting hot sauce on her toddler's taco)

Me: What are you doing? He's practically still a baby! He's going to think food HURTS! That's so not funny!

Sis: (still squirting away) Boy's gotta learn sometime. Eat up, little man!

He loved it. My sister had overcome our childhood spice limitations.

I was passing our wimpiness on to my offspring. My kids watched their cousins with no small amount of awe. I realized my kids were destined to scrape pepper off their eggs if I didn't buck up. I did not buck up at that particular time, but my son did. He ate the sauce. He loved it. Or at least he made his cousins believe he did.

Anyway, I've since bucked up. My sister would be proud. Two of my kids have surpassed me, and can hang with Fire Chef at Level 4. My middle daughter carries on the spice wimp gene proudly. Her reaction to any hint of spice -- My mouth is on fire! -- has become a standing joke around the house. (Thus my opening sentence. Just a little tribute to her.)

Of course, this could have something to do with losing a bet to her uncle during the aforementioned visit, in which the loser had to eat a whole habanero chile pepper. Apparently, watching a 12-year-old child's throat lock up is all in good fun in North Carolina. I'm pretty sure that could actually damage a person's esophagus.

Bro-in-law is lucky I didn't find out about this until later. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have liked my version of Fun With Habaneros.

*Ethnic Section: The half-aisle in a grocery store reserved for foods which are not seen as 'Murkan foods, particularly foods with roots in Mexico or China. Foods in the ethnic section are usually expensive and may sport flags, chopsticks, or sombreros on the packaging. Our local Albertson's actually has a sign that says "Oriental" instead of "Asian" food. 

13 May 2007

Just Mail the Damn Card.

By now, hordes of my readers have probably been wondering, "What the fuck is up with Cowbell? Hasn't she worked out that clone business yet, so she'll have time to entertain me with her witty and interesting blog entries?"  Hey, my blog, my fantasy. In reality, probably neither of my readers has noticed, having lives and all.

The eldest of the offspring came home from college last night. Mothers' Day. Perfect timing. Nobody ever said the girl can't suck up with the best of them. High School Daughter made me pancakes and strawberries before she had to go sling fish at her place of employment. Male Offspring cleaned up for me.

The dogs didn't do anything of note.

I spent some time on Amazon.com, buying a gift certificate for my mom, because I can never, ever, get the card out on time. I love and appreciate the hell out of my mom, but I just can never get that goddamn card in the mail. Shit. Maybe not a big deal for some of you, but my mom is the queen of cards, all kinds of cards. My mom sends cards for Easter and Thanksgiving. Valentine's Day, too. I have even received a St. Patrick's Day card from my mom. We are not Irish. I'm surprised I haven't received a card for Hanukkah. Or Boxing Day.

My mom sees The Card as a way to express your innermost appreciative and loving thoughts. She does not "understand" when the card doesn't arrive on time. Of course, she does not actually show her disappointment, as she is highly skilled in Playing the Martyr. Actually, in her defense, I think she tries not to care about The Card; she knows how busy things get for us, and tries to tell herself it's just a piece of paper with a stamp and a sappy saying. But, she does care, and why the hell can't I just get the goddamn thing into the mailbox on time? It's such a little thing. Such a big deal.

Mom sent me a beautiful card. She made it with this fancy software program she has. Card software. Yeah. I'm pretty sure she thought of the words herself, or at least put some thought into editing a sappy thought into a really nice personal thought. She used nice paper and these cool scissors that crafters use. She even used a purple ribbon to connect the different papers. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It also made me feel guilty as hell. She's good.

Well played, Mom.

Probably I'll never get a card from my kids once they leave home. Probably they'll live in other states or countries too, and I'll never see them or any progeny that may issue from their loins. Karma will probably take a royal chunk out of my ass on this one.

Last night I hit the airport and then IKEA. We picked up a snazzy chair/bed deal for the eldest daughter. This thing rocks -- has a decent mattress, European-style bed slats for good support, and folds in and out with one hand. We do not have room for an actual sleeper sofa in our house. The girl doesn't even have a bedroom in this house. We moved about the time she left for college. (Yes, we did give her the new address.)

My old landlord had wanted to bend me over like a porn star with a hefty rent increase. I plunged into the world of home ownership. The Seattle market was booming, y'all, I'm talking double-digit appreciation. Every damn year. Everyone told me I was a fool for renting in this market. This was our ticket to Profit Town. Buy it, stretch to make those payments until Male Offspring graduates, pocket a shitload of cash. Move to Arizona. Breathe easier about college costs. The seller didn't even own the house two full years, and he made over $100K. Hell, yeah! So I signed my life away. Borrowed from the folks for a down payment. (Those who know me know that was a very, very big deal. I do not ask the folks for money. Ever.)

Market crashed the very next month. Well, okay, Seattle didn't exactly crash. More like went stagnant. I should've let the landlord have her way with me.

So, here we are in our oh-so-tiny house. Eldest Daughter's new chair/bed thingy will go in the corner of the dining area, which is open to the kitchen. All the better to reach the fridge faster, my dear. During her other breaks this year, she slept with me. Nothing like sleeping with Mom to keep a college gal happy. She never complained, but still.

Anyway, happy Mothers' Day to all you moms out there. And that includes dog and cat moms. Lizard moms, parrot moms, whatever. If you've ever cleaned up shit behind someone smaller than yourself, you're probably a mom. Happy Mother's Day.