Another Remake?

So, with everyone throwing around words like remake, reboot, prequel, and sequel, my head is spinning.  I’m so confused by it all and it makes me wonder if the creativity well in Hollywood has finally run dry?  Do the powers that be think the viewing public so incapable of espousing something new and fresh that they must look to the past for the next great flick?  Or maybe it’s not them.  Maybe it’s us.  Are our imaginations so stunted that we are truly inept at embracing anything other than storylines and characters we already find intimately familiar? Frankly, I find it all exhausting and a bit of a blow to my intelligence.   That’s not to say I’m immune to it all.  I loved the Star Trek reboot.  What self-respecting, closet geek didn’t?  Tron Legacy, anyone? Bond? Well, it did take me a while to get on board that reboot.  Though, my issue was more in the casting than the direction of the franchise. I eventually did come around to the idea of Daniel Craig filling the Bond shoes – even if Quantum of Solace did suck ever so slightly.  Okay.  A lot.

Then there’s the Footloose remake.  It’s a remake and not a reboot, right? Again, I have no idea but I do know that there can be absolutely no logical reason to futz around with that flick.  Kevin Bacon = Ren McCormack.  Period.  End of story.  Any remake, reboot, sequel, prequel – whatever – is doomed to failure and will likely tarnish the good name of a perfectly wonderful 80’s classic –  again.  Do Hollywood executives not remember the debacle that was Fame circa 2009?  Or that monstrosity that was 2004’s Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights?  The next thing you know, they’ll be remaking Flashdance and Top Gun.  Oops…too late.  Top Gun is slated for 2013.  Excuse me while I beat my head against my desk.  Pure blasphemy. But wait – there’s more.  At a theater near you this summer, you will have your choice of remakes and reboots (define them how you will – I’m tired of trying).  You will be treated to fresh offerings of Fright Night, Conan the Barbarian 3D (because 3D makes everything better – not), Spy Kids 4 in 4D (oh goody – the added bonus of seeing a sucky movie AND getting wet), Final Destination 5 (they haven’t gotten there yet?), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and The Smurfs (also in 3D – *sigh*).  Next year you can expect to be dazzled with remakes/reboots of Spiderman, Superman (entitled Man of Steel), the next Dark Knight film (Batman) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (because as Americans, we have to do things our way).    And of course, for all you stoners out there – Bill & Ted 3 appears to be a go. Again, I ask:  Has Hollywood run out of ideas?  Or have we lost our willingness to embrace new ideas; thereby, giving writers no choice but to give us what we already know?

My love affair with the stationary bike.

Several people have suggested that I sit down and write an entry about my weight loss experience.  I’ve resisted doing so because I can’t believe anyone would really want to hear about my self-image epiphany or the subsequent shedding of the excess pounds.  It wasn’t profound and it certainly wasn’t exciting.  Anyone can do what I did.  You just have to want it.  Instead, I think I will tell you about my love affair with the stationary bike.

In the first few months after the dreadful Christmas photo tragedy, I was in denial.  Not denial about having to do something about my weight, but in how I was to accomplish it.  I dabbled in diets.  Atkins, South Beach, SlimFast, Weight Watchers.  You name it, I tried it.  I even tried supplements.  It soon became clear to me that I was going to have to do this getting skinny thing the old-fashioned way.  I was going to have to sweat it off.  The realization of this sent a shudder of despair through my body.  I sucked up, though.  It had to be done.

The first step was to figure out how I was going to go about it and that posed a bit of a challenge for me.   I am not a joiner.  At least, I wasn’t then.  The thought of stepping foot in a public gym where I might have to actually interact with someone I didn’t know made me itch all over.  I did have a treadmill at home.  Though, it was really more of a dusty clothes hanger that took up the entire corner of my bedroom.  I hated it.  Let’s face it, there is nothing exciting about walking on a treadmill.  Even with a TV to watch or a book to read, it is “kill me now” boring.  It also hurt my foot.  Several years ago, I had corrective surgery on my right big toe.  It involved straightening of the toe, a pin and a bone graft.  It didn’t end well.  Needless to say, I don’t run, I can’t wear heels and continuous use of a treadmill is quite painful.  I also didn’t like that the calorie burning potential of a treadmill is relatively low compared to other forms of cardio exercise.  I considered an elliptical – for about 30 seconds.  It is certainly foot friendly and I could burn a ton of calories on it.   There was just one small hiccup.  Coordination.  I have none. 

Not the actual bike but pretty close

Next on my list was a stationary bike.  I ventured over to my local Academy Sports and Outdoor store and tried a couple out.  There were so many to choose from.  Basic ones, ones with lots of buttons and programs and plugs, scary spinners.  I picked one that was relatively comfortable, user-friendly without a lot of stuff, and had a place for my water bottle.  That was a must have feature.  It also happened to be the cheapest.  $88 before tax.  I loaded it up, brought it home and, after some assembly, plopped it down in front of the tv and proceeded to ride.  A lot.

It wasn’t love at first sight.  Oh no.  I hated that thing when I first brought it home.  It made my butt hurt in places it shouldn’t, my knees ached, my hips ached.  Sometimes I was so sore I could barely walk.  But I stuck with it, determined to meet each and every goal I set for myself.  At first it was 20 minutes, then 25, 30, 35.  Before I knew it, I was trucking right along at 60 minutes and my waistline was noticeably smaller.  This is about the time it dawned on me that I no longer hated this silly little bike.  In fact, I looked forward to the hour I devoted to biking a night – my “me” time.  I had fallen head over heels, utterly and completely, in love with my stationary bike. 

It was by far the best $88 I have ever spent.  Sadly, my faithful bike was a victim of the house fire.  In a previous blog, I said that there is no one material object that I couldn’t live without.  That was perhaps a bit of an overstatement.  I couldn’t (and can’t even now) live without my stationary bike.  I was almost like an alcoholic craving a swig of booze.  I needed to get back on a bike.  Within a week of the fire, I had Nolan down at the Academy picking up another bike.  That time around, though, I decided to get a more expensive one with a few more whistles and bells.  Big mistake.  I hated that bike.   I suffered with it for a few months, hoping that I would get used to it, but it just wasn’t the same.  I missed my old bike.  Finally, in an effort to shut me up, Nolan went back and bought me another $88 bike.  I love that man.

Since then, I have had to say a painful good-bye to that one, too.   It was a trooper but it just couldn’t hold up to my obsessive pedaling.  I’ve tried in vain to replace it but they do not make that specific model any longer.  Currently, I have two stationary bikes in the house – a recumbent and an upright.  I ride neither.  They just don’t hold the same allure for me.   The loss of that bike left me feeling lost and struggling to find something to fill void left in my heart.  Then, in November I discovered the spinning bikes at the 24 Hour Fitness.  

Spinner

Love at first sight. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday: Lucky or not?

Calvin & Hobbes

So, I really wanted to write about narcissism today.  I’ve encountered more than my fair share of people who believe the world revolves around them over the last six month and I feel like I have a lot to say on the subject. Probably too much for my own good.  But, then I thought: geez, won’t that make me sound like a holier-than-thou, self-centered twit?  Probably, considering I write a blog all about me that I put out there for all the world to read.  Although, to be honest, aren’t all writers narcissistic?  Isn’t it what gives us the confidence to put pen to paper?  Sylvia Plath thought so and I tend to agree to some extent; but, on the other hand, I am amazed that anyone would be interested in the shit that goes up on this blog.  In my defense, I really do this blogging thing to exercise my writing muscles.  Keeps the creativity good and lubed up.  (oh my, what a mental picture).  Okay, so instead of getting on a soap box and venting about the self-centered nitwits that have pissed in my Wheaties lately, I’m going to delve into the mysterious world of Tuesday.

Yep, Tuesday.  You know that day after Monday and before Wednesday.  This brilliant definition of Tuesday is courtesy of those genius contributors of Wikipedia.  Who writes that crap?  Oh dear.  I just used that crap as source material.  What does that say about me?  Lazy writer.  Anyway, Tuesday seems to be a somewhat uninteresting day, though a bit controversial.  In some cultures, it is considered an unlucky day.  Lord help you if the thirteenth of the month falls on a Tuesday.  You’re totally screwed.  However, in Judaism, it is considered very lucky because the Bible tells us so in Genesis – twice.  This, again, is according to Wikipedia and not via any personal knowledge on my part.  Of all the books in the Bible, Genesis is the most mind-boggling to me and thus, I’ve never read it completely.

Well which is it?  Lucky or not?  I guess it just depends on where you’re standing on the globe.  Personally, I feel I’m largely indifferent to Tuesday, as I suspect most people are.  But now that I think about it, I imagine Tuesday at the school dance dressed in pink (Tuesday is associated with the color pink on the Thai calendar – Wikipedia again) standing against the wall.  She really wants drunk Friday to ask her to dance but instead straight-laced nerdy Monday will do the honors.  Do you think she feels lucky?  Probably not, although she is.  Friday has no substantial earning potential.  Monday is worth the investment but she doesn’t see it.  She is blinded by Friday’s rugged good looks and shallow charisma.  Monday will eventually move on with hot Saturday and the opportunity for Tuesday to live happily ever after will have slipped through her greedy little fingers.  Tuesday will have to settle on Thursday who has remained mostly obscured in Friday’s shadow for years and thus will end up bitter and disillusioned.  They will likely divorce.

Tuesday doesn’t seem to be particularly lucky to me.  Seems to me that she makes bad choices because she is superficial and petty, even narcissistic.  I guess Tuesday deserves her place in the week, largely ignored between dreaded (but fabulous) Monday and Hump Day Wednesday (he’s like that self-help guru who pumps you up and gets you through to Friday).  I think Tuesday might be my least favorite day of the week.  She has become to me what Monday is to you.

*On a more interesting note:  Today – a Tuesday – will be the longest day of the year as it is the summer solstice and marks the first day of summer.  If you live where I live though, it’s been unofficially summer for a way too long already.  At this point, I’d be more impressed with the winter solstice.

Stonehenge

No ordinary day.

Just an ordinary day.  A lazy Sunday – Father’s Day, in fact.  It began like any other Father’s Day, with a breakfast of foods we shouldn’t eat and showering Nolan with silly cards and even sillier gifts.  It was a good day.  Hot, though.  Too hot to do anything other than hit the local water park for a little fun in the sun.  Swimsuits were donned, beach bag was packed and off we went.  Without a care in the world.  Just an ordinary day.

But it was no ordinary day.  It was a day that would change us forever.  From that day forward, our lives would be split into two distinct halves.  Before and after.  It all started with a phone call.

Isn’t that the way with bad news?  A simple ringing of the phone, an unsuspecting hand reaches out to answer.  The voice on the other end delivering a blow to the gut.

Your house is on fire.

Indeed it was.  Though I have to admit I never really thought it was going to end up being any big deal.  Perhaps a little damage, easily fixed.  But as we headed north the short distance from the park to our neighborhood, we realized that this was bad.  Very bad.  Thick, black smoke billowed up over the trees, filling the sky.  Panic set in then.  Smoke like that meant only one thing  – this was going to be a big deal.

As we turned onto our street, we were met with a sight I will not soon forget.  Four engine trucks, one with its ladder extended, an ambulance and several police cars blocked the street. A sea of neighbors stood in their yards braving the 100 degree temperatures to bear witness to the destruction.  All we could do was stand there with them and watch as our house burned.

In the end, there was nothing anyone could do.  The firemen did their best but the house was a total loss.  Everything we owned and collected over the last twelve years was either ash or buried beneath feet of charred and sodden debris.  

It is an eerie thing, to walk through your still smoldering home.  A home where just a couple of hours before you were laughing and giggling in your pjs debating what to do with the rest of the day.  Still in shock, I picked my way through what had been the foyer.  Now it was filled with the remains of wet ceiling, roofing and insulation – the tiled floor beneath invisible.  My feet sucked down into the muck, the acrid scent of smoke and charred material filled my nose and stung my eyes.  I couldn’t believe the utter and complete destruction.  It was overwhelming.  What were we going to do?

We would move forward, of course Later that night – after a visit from the American Red Cross (give and give often – they do good work) and the dearest, most unselfish friends anyone has the right to have; after calls to the insurance company were made and all of those gawkers who sat in lawn chairs to watch the excitement had gone home – I stood in line at Wal-Mart in donated pants two sizes too big, panty-less and laughed.  I laughed because I couldn’t cry anymore but also at the absurdity of my standing here buying underwear at midnight, and thinking how ironic it was that we just had the foundation fixed.

In the days and weeks that followed, I would come to accept that stuff is just stuff – a house is just a house.  It is all replaceable.  Homeowners insurance saw to that.  Sure it was a frustrating and even traumatizing ordeal, one I don’t wish to ever repeat but it made me appreciate the tangible things in my life – there is no one material object that I can’t live without (although underwear is nice to have).  Stuff doesn’t make you who you are, it doesn’t make your house your home – the people inside do (and cats).

Today marks the fifth anniversary of that ordinary day when our lives changed.  We will be celebrating with a bbq and a trip back to the water park that started it all. 

Are we tempting fate?  Maybe.

So, the world didn’t come to an end…

…there was no earth shattering kaboom.  I didn’t end up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor mumbling nonsense.  

Quite the contrary, actually.  I’m pleased to report that my 39th birthday came and went with barely a ripple.  I would even hazard to say it was a pretty darn good day.  A happy birthday serenade from the best nephews an aunt could ask for brought tears of joy to my eyes and began my day off on the right foot.  It was made even better by the girl taking the photo for my updated student ID who made me look like me instead of a wrinkled old hag like last time.  Top this off with a visit from above-mentioned greatest nephews, a side of bling and two – yes two – birthday cakes.  What else could a girl ask for?  Not much.     

Cody, Megan & Cory (Ages 4 and 5)

Except maybe this conversation:

Cody:  How old are you Aunt Peggy?

Me:  39

Cody makes a face – the one where he looks a lot like a very surprised horse.

Cody:  No way!  You don’t look a day over 29.

I love you, Cody Tyler. 

*Excluded from the embarrassing childhood photo is my oldest nephew.  He’s got a rep to protect.   

A cure for jerks?

“In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” – Calvin and Hobbes

I am a rule follower – always have been, always will be.  With the exception of a few wrong turns, I like to think that I’ve lived my life on the straight and narrow.  I never try to get something for free that I haven’t earned or don’t deserve.  I can’t bring myself to cheat on a test. I honor deadlines and commitments, and try my best to be kind and courteous to others. I’m a firm believer in Karma.  I’ve experienced the outcome of spitting into the wind.  It’s not something I care to repeat.

This is not to say that I am perfect.  I’m not – far from it.  I can be grumpy, foul-mouthed and even spiteful when provoked. On my best of days, I still get a chuckle out of slowing down to irritate the jack-hole tailgating me down the tollway – while the two lanes next to me are free and clear.  My heart will sing as he finally whips around me and gives me the finger – mission accomplished.  Will I go to hell for this?  Maybe, if I believed in hell.  Besides, I was raised Catholic.  We have purgatory just for these occasion, right?

Road rage notwithstanding, I really do try to be the better person.  I’ll give a rude store clerk a smile and a cheerful “Have a nice day”, tip the Sonic car hop a buck even though my drink only cost $1.27, let the guy on the freeway merge into my lane so he can exit even though he planned poorly and I now find myself inconvenienced.  I try to be mindful that my wants and needs are no more important than the next person.  So when I have one of those days, like today, when I am surrounded by people who are drowning in an over-abundance of self-importance, I get a little frustrated.  Perhaps, even lose my faith in humanity.  Like when the girl from gymnastics calls and gives me an hour’s notice of the summer schedule change, or the coach that tells me that I should have been told three o’clock instead of two o’clock – can you come back?  Or BMW 6 series dude at the gym who must back his car into a spot, holding up a good half-dozen cars while he gets it perfectly centered between the yellow lines.  Or the old hag in the gold Buick who nearly t-bones me because she decides she is too good to use the designated driving lanes in the Target parking lot.  This, of course, is in addition to her going 30 mph across the parking spaces designated for parked cars.  Can you say douchebaggery? 

People are jerks.

But they’re not.  Not everyone, at least.  Those rare, un-jerkifed people appear out of the blue, quite unexpectedly and perform deeds of unparalleled kindness – just when you think all is lost.  Today’s good Samaritan – a sharply dressed woman with perfectly coiffed hair.  She heroically ran across the Target parking lot to save my poor, abused bumper from the sting of yet another runaway shopping cart (that some ass hat was too lazy to put into the cart return).  Impact averted – just in the nick of time. 

While wearing four-inch heels. 

Faith in humanity restored.

Today in My History – Happy Birthday Grandma; RIP John Wayne

Grandma

June 11th marks a day in my history that I will never forget.  It is my little Italian grandmother’s birthday. If she’d lived, she would be 82 today.  Unfortunately, we lost her at the young age of 56 – way too soon.  So, today I will remember that sweet woman who let me help cook in her kitchen, and watched the Sound of Music, the Wizard of Oz, Princess Diana’s wedding, and news stories about bears eating campers with me.  A saintly soul, who once told me that although the little girl who lived around the corner was indeed an evil bitch, it was not in my best interest to beat the crap out of her for breaking the personalized license plate that my dad had given to me for my bike.  She taught me to be the better person – at least on paper.  There are other ways of getting back at people, she told me that hot summer day when I was ten.  Indeed there are.  I miss my grandma.

In addition to being my grandmother’s birthday, it is also the day the world lost a great entertainer.   On June 11, 1979, John Wayne succumbed to terminal stomach cancer years after having successfully battled lung cancer.  Now you may be thinking to yourself that this is an odd thing for me to be writing about, after all, I was only a few days shy of turning seven when John Wayne passed away.  I shouldn’t remember it, but I do.  I

John Wayne

remember it because it was the first time in my young life that I could recall seeing my father speechless.  He sat at my  grandmother’s cracked formica table, the newspaper spread out before him, in total and complete, jaw dropping shock.  His idol since childhood was dead.  I, of course, had no idea who this man was pictured in full color across an entire section of the newspaper.  I didn’t recognize him, never heard his name before that day.  But my father was visibly upset by this man’s passing.  That small moment from my childhood would leave a deep imprint on my impressionable mind.

For years to come, I would be reminded of his reaction on many a Saturday afternoon when I sat and watched a John Wayne movie with my dad.  There was Fort Apache, The Fighting Kentuckians, Sands of Iwo Jima, Rio Grande, Hondo, The Searchers, Rio Bravo, The Horse Soldiers (one of my favorites), The Alamo (which I always had a hard time watching but was one of my dad’s favorites), The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (this one introduced me to the music of Gene Pitney, although the song is not used in the film), North to Alaska (I can hear Johnny Horton signing in my head now), Hatari! (my all-time favorite), Donovan’s Reef, McLintock!, Circus World (never liked this one), The Sons of Katie Elder, El Dorado, True Grit, The Undefeated, Rio Lobo, Big Jake, The Cowboys, The Train Robbers, Rooster Cogburn and the Shootist.  Of course, this is a mere drop in the bucket of John Wayne’s entire body of work, but these are the ones that were my dad’s favorite and therefore, they are what we watched most often.  I miss my dad.

So today, June 11, 2011, I raise a glass and toast my grandmother on her would-be 82nd birthday and pay tribute to the man, the Duke, who was my father’s hero on the 32nd anniversary of his passing.  Salute.