Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fall Movie Diary: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Time: 2:30 pm
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hill Town Center
Company: Derrick
Food: large mixed red and blue Icee, large popcorn (shared with Derrick), pretzel M&Ms Running Time: 2 hours, 38 minutes
Rating: R
Director: David Fincher

Quick Impressions:
I haven’t read the books (yet) or seen the Swedish movie trilogy (yet), so I’m not very well qualified to review The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (But I have seen The Social Network, which somehow feels relevant because David Fincher is directing, Rooney Mara is starring, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are doing the score.) Given my novice background, I can’t comment on how this film compares with previous incarnations of the story or characters.

That said, I loved the movie. Both my husband and I (who sometimes have radically different taste) found the movie thoroughly engaging, exciting, and ultimately satisfying. We were shocked to leave the theater and realize three hours had passed. The movie never dragged. I’m really dying to read the books now.

The Good:
Christopher Plummer is awesome in this movie. I just watched Beginners online the other night, so I was already feeling rather favorable toward him, but I love the character he plays in this film. He brings such panache to the role of a well-meaning but understandably jaded patriarch of a family of Nazis, lunatics, drunkards, and capitalists. And when you listen to him talking about a young man losing his way and joining the Nazi party, it’s rather hard to forget he was also the patriarch in The Sound of Music and very nearly had a similar character for a son-in-law.

Rooney Mara is also really fantastic as Lisbeth Salander, though it’s hard for me to separate the actress from the character. Of course, I saw Rooney Mara in The Social Network but remember her mainly from the credits, where her name was Rooney Mara (hard to forget). I never saw Noomi Rapace in the role of Lisbeth, though I believe everybody that she was magnificent. I hate judging one actor by another’s performance in the same role, anyway, so it’s probably good that I have no basis for comparison.

Mara is excellent. She completely loses herself in the role. (In my book, she deserves an Oscar nomination for piercing her nipple alone. Personally, I would only get painful piercings if someone offered me the Nobel Prize for Literature, which seems an unlikely scenario.) Lisbeth is a really fascinating character, easy to root for but hard to figure out. She seems equal parts sociopath, autistic savant, and lovable waif. Basically, she’s someone cooler than you will ever be who would be such an awesome friend to have unless she killed you.

So the movie is worth seeing for Plummer and Mara alone.

But there’s more. So much more.

The story is so intriguing. One possible flaw (that I discuss at length later) is that the solution to the mystery is incredibly predictable to the movie audience (or at least to this member of it). However, that doesn’t stop the movie from being exciting. Besides that, the movie is wonderfully, horribly, painfully suspenseful. As my husband and I left the theater, we discussed one long scene that cuts back and forth between Mara’s Lisbeth and Craig’s Blomkvist. Basically, nothing happens for ten minutes. Maybe longer. Yet we were both on the edge of our seats the entire time. And as I hinted earlier, I figured out both pieces of the solution to the mystery almost right away. Knowing that didn’t lessen the suspense one bit.

Suddenly, I remembered the free-floating terror I had experienced as a result of watching one of Fincher’s earlier films, Zodiac. (Serial killers can strike without apparent reason at any time. The Zodiac killer was never caught.) This film reminded me more of Zodiac than any of Fincher’s other films, but the plot structure and pacing were much more conventional and enjoyable in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The score was pretty cool, too. And I loved seeing all the snow. I’d love to spend Christmas in Sweden (but not with Henrick’s family).

Best Scene:
I’ll tell you what is not the best scene—the rape scene (I suppose I should say the more violent of the rape scenes). It’s not that it’s badly done. It’s just so disturbing. (It’s meant to be, of course.) What’s far more disturbing is that the scene’s later complement is much, much less disturbing than it ought to be.

I should add, though, that I really, really love the way this movie presents rape. Very simply, rape is something horrible and odious that can happen to anyone. It really has nothing to do with the victim and everything to do with the perpetrator. If you're raped, you shouldn't be ashamed or sorry. You should be angry. You have a right to be angry.

Best Surprise:
I think the most intellectually exciting point in the movie comes when Blomkvist’s teenaged daughter visits and accidentally reveals a dimension to the case that he’d never previously considered. This is also the moment in the film when we realize that Harriet and Lisbeth have quite a bit in common.

Another exciting moment comes when Blomkvist reluctantly visits a very unpopular member of the family, who turns out to be shockingly different than expected and delivers one of the best lines of the film.

Most Oscar Worthy Moment (Rooney Mara):
Lisbeth is a fascinating character, and what makes Mara’s performance great is not any one scene but how Lisbeth’s character is revealed through a number of very different scenes. There are moments when she is so eerily calculating, cunning and inhuman even in her mannerisms that she seems more like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park or a cyborg from The Terminatorthan a human woman. But then sometimes, she’s relaxed, fluidly confident and extremely sensuous. And then at other moments, she’s like a child. I, personally, really liked the way she recovered her bag in the subway station and then went on about her business.


The Other Performances:
I’m gradually warming up to Daniel Craig. I still don’t find him exactly appealing, but he is a good actor. And he’s great as Mikael Blomkvist because he manages to seem so nondescript and normal, quite important for a character who spends the film surrounded by people who are deranged, demented, or in one way or another radically exceptional. I love Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd. He’s a great actor, and in this film he has a meaty role and an interesting character. Joely Richardson and Geraldine James are also very good. After just watching Beginners, I’m quite impressed with Goran Visnjic’s versatility. Robin Wright was kind of forgettable as Erika Berger, not bad, just not very interesting. Maybe that's not her fault.

The Negatives:
I’m guessing that the book is not as predictable as the movie. Almost right away, I came up with two solutions to the mystery. Having seen a lot of movies in my time, I was pretty sure one idea or the other would be correct. In fact, both were correct.

Movie adaptations have certain limitations. When Blomkvist first arrives on the island and begins talking with Henrik about the family, the conversation immediately gets complicated and muddled. Early on in the investigation, even Blomkvist himself remarks on quickly losing track of who’s who. There are a lot of characters involved. Even apart from the mystery of Harriet’s murder, the family structure itself is insanely complicated. I’m pretty sure there are more people living on that island than there are on my facebook friends list. (And I’m positive there are more Nazis.) (At least, more admitted Nazis.) (Now I’m starting to scare myself.) Plus, this whole thing happened decades ago! On top of that, we soon learn there’s actually more than one mystery. Plus, everyone has a Swedish name that sounds unfamiliar to ears used to English. Plus, the clues to solving the mystery within the mystery come in the form of arcane coded notations.

I’m sure the book is hard to figure out. I’m sure if I were reading the extremely complicated book, I’d never be able to guess the ending. The book probably takes the time to introduce us to all the bizarre, eccentric characters who may be viable and intriguing suspects.

But the movie only has two hours and thirty-eight minutes, and part of that time has to show the development of Lisbeth’s character. So the movie uses typical cinematic short cuts and gives away the ending to anyone who has ever seen a movie.

After making us dizzy with a barrage of strange names that we can't possibly keep straight, the film turns to us and says, “So now that you know that this whole thing is impossibly complicated, allow us to introduce you to the murderer. Remember, audience, the situation is confusing, but since you’re our friend, here’s a big hint. There’s only one family member you can definitely remember and keep track of right? Hint! Hint! Hint!”

The movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire does something very similar, and I’m not sure there’s a way around it. I mean, the movie is already almost three hours long. (Exactly three hours for us thanks to what felt like years of previews.) The mystery itself is complicated. The way the movie presents it is not. I’m reminded of how a friend described our Basic Ideas of Astronomy course in college. “In real astronomy, you have to solve a lot of equations. We just want you to be aware that there are equations.”

Overall:
I loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It had a compelling plot, fascinating characters, a good story, fitting music, captivating scenes, and intense suspense. It’s definitely much more exciting than most movies out this year. I can’t wait to read the book.

Fall Movie Diary: Shame

Date: Tuesday, December 19, 2011
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Regal Arbor
Company: Derrick
Food: small red Icee, bar of milk chocolate with hazelnut
Trivia: We had dinner before the movie at our favorite restaurant, Chola. For Christmas, Derrick got me an Indian Cook Book, so for New Year’s, we’re going to try to make samosas and possibly saag paneer.
More Trivia: As far as I can recall, this was actually the first NC-17 rated movie I’ve seen in the theater. That’s not deliberate. There have been several NC-17 films I’ve meant to see in the theater, but something always comes up at the last minute.
Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Rating: NC-17
Director: Steve McQueen

Quick Impressions:
What a sad movie! The first scene is sad, and it keeps getting sadder and sadder and sadder till at the end, the audience drowns in a puddle of sadness. Shame is the perfect title, and the film is very good. I’ve heard lots of buzz about Fassbender’s Golden Globe nominated performance, but I’m surprised nobody’s talking much about Carey Mulligan, who was also amazing.

Surely if a few scenes were slightly trimmed, this movie could have gotten an R-rating, and I’m awfully glad the director didn’t do that because I think the NC-17 rating is appropriate for this film since children won’t understand it. I do wish, though, that there was not such a stigma attached to the NC-17 rating. I’m sure if we’d seen less of Michael Fassbender’s penis, the film could have squeaked by with a hard R, but this movie is for adults only. Why isn’t there a way to convey that without giving it a rating that makes people nervous when they walk into the theater? (It’s really funny watching people enter the auditorium of an NC-17 movie. Every single one of them looks around and then sits far away from other people, usually behind them if possible.)

The Good:
I love Michael Fassbender. He has such charisma, such an energy that brings his face to life. I don’t know quite how to explain it. Not only does he house tremendous energy, he expresses it so effortlessly. It all looks natural. I’ve often thought that a close-up of his face, thinking, reacting, interacting would be enough to entertain me for two hours. (Lots of high-powered actors have a similar quality. Meryl Streep springs to mind. Ryan Gosling has a related but opposite power. He seems to suck all the energy in the room into his eyes and down to a black hole somewhere inside himself. Only recently have I come to appreciate Gosling’s antithetical vibe, but I’m a huge sucker for people with energy-releasing faces.)

Critics always seem to call performances with lots of full frontal nudity brave, but I tend to doubt being nude on screen takes much courage when you’re Michael Fassbender. In order for the story to work, someone like Fassbender must be cast in the role of Brandon. Besides being intelligent, efficient, diligent, practical, and reasonably witty, Brandon is also tall, handsome, and so well-endowed that he can probably impregnate women with a well-timed glance. And in spite of all this, he is alone and desperately unhappy, terrified of the emotional intimacy he craves, unable to sustain human relationships, and losing the ability to hide that painful reality from himself and others. Also, he loves his sister, and he hates her because he loves her. He doesn’t want to admit that he has feelings because his feelings have caused him nothing but pain, anguish, shame.

Sissy comes from the same place, but she has different coping skills than Brandon and is more obviously dysfunctional because she can’t hide in the same way that he can. By wearing her vulnerability on the surface, Sissy is in some ways stronger than her brother. She doesn’t know how to thrive, but neither does he. His method of survival is just as dysfunctional and damaging as hers. She needs to love him. And her need for him to admit that he needs her is the catalyst driving most of the movie. They need each other. She’s glad about that; he isn’t.

Best Scene:
“New York, New York” is not a sad song. At least, I’d never thought so until Shame. (Also, researching its origins just now, I’m shocked to learn that it wasn’t written until 1977. It feels like it belongs to a much earlier era. It’s such an iconic part of pop culture that I naively assumed it had been around forever.)

When Carey Mulligan’s Sissy performs the song as her brother listens and weeps, the movie really clicks. That moment reveals so much about these characters, their origins, their troubles, their relationship, their dreams, their fears.

I’ve never heard such a heart-breaking rendition. Mulligan has a lovely singing voice, but her performance of "New York, New York" is increasingly painful to endure. And she sings the entire song. We watch, we listen. Her brother breaks down. She sings the whole thing.

Listening to Mulligan, it’s hard not to hear an implication to the lyrics that I’d never considered before. “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” But what if you can’t make it there? As Sissy sings it, the song is about desperation, hope, despair, and longing.

And Brandon’s boss is such an annoying sleaze ball. He takes in her performance and all that registers is, “Hmm…maybe I’ve finally found someone unstable enough to be taken in by one of my incredibly pathetic, bungled attempts at seduction.”

Most Oscar Worthy Moment (Michael Fassbender):
The presence of Sissy is absolutely key to understanding the character of Brandon. At first, we know only that he’s a tormented sex addict who doesn’t like to get attached. We don’t know why, and we also don’t know the depth of his torment.

The way Brandon reacts when his boss seduces his sister reveals so much. We finally start to understand his emotional make-up. His behavior during the seduction scene itself is marvelous, and then the way he acts during the aftermath completes the story and answers the question, “Why on earth does he associate with such a creepy jerk?” He doesn’t get mad at his boss for taking advantage of his sister. He gets angry at his sister for revealing how dirty they are to his boss. Suddenly, his background comes into incredibly clear focus.

Most Oscar Worthy Moment (Carey Mulligan):
That song is really good. And Mulligan has a wonderful moment near the very end of the movie that I don’t want to spoil. The fantastic thing about her character is that even though she’s weaker than Brandon in incredibly obvious ways, there are some aspects in which she is stronger and more together.

Best Surprise:
There’s a moment near the end that suggests things could go one way; they go another. Instead of revealing tragedy, that critical moment serves as foreshadowing, not only looking forward to what might happen but revealing to Brandon how such a thing would affect him.

The Negatives:
I thought the film worked really well. It’s one of the best Oscar-seeking movies I’ve seen this year. But I did really wonder about the colleague from work who begins dating Brandon. Maybe I just dislike this because she reminds me of my own foolish self, but seriously, she seems like such a balanced, normal woman. Why in the world does she seem so delighted and eager to take things further with Brandon after the way he behaves on their first date? Seriously? (Run, woman! Run! Run!! Run!!!!!!!)

Overall:
Shame was great but terribly sad. Both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give strong, Oscar-caliber performances as Brandon and Sissy, and their story, revealed in such an interesting way, is quite compelling. And the movie does end on a note—however tenuous—of hope.

Santa Came!





Christmas Eve Dough Cakes





Penelope Says on Facebook

Me: Dammit! Oh sorry! I shouldn't say that, Nellie. I need to be a better example to you.
Penelope: Mommy, you can just say, 'Oh darn!'
Me: Oh darn!
Penelope (with the wickedest smile you have ever seen): And I can say dammit. (Grins up at me, waiting for my reaction.)
December 14 at 9:50 pm

None of these Republican candidates has answered Penelope's very apt question, "Why aren't we watching Curious George?"
December 15 at 10:41 pm

Penelope (shoving my old straw sun hat with a huge sunflower onto Derrick's head): I ordered you a new hat to make you look like a pimp, Daddy.
December 19 at 12:01 am

Penelope and I watched all the rain clouds blow away to blue sky and happily got ready for our walk. Five minutes later, as we prepared to walk out the door, an apparent monsoon started. While I was talking to Derrick, I heard Penelope in the background yelling, "Zap! Zap! Zap!" She just informed me, "Mommy, it's okay now! I destroyed the rain!"
December 19 at 2:52 pm

While I was wrapping, Penelope picked up an empty cardboard tube and began making noises into it. I gasped and tossed the present I was wrapping into the air, assuming there was a coyote in the house. Thanks again, brain, for jumping to the strangest conclusion possible, and assuring me it was the only possibility!
December 19 at 4:26 pm

Penelope (handing me one of the sugar cookies Mom baked this morning): Here you go. Here's a cookie for you.
Me: Oh, thank you, but I don't want a cookie right now.
Penelope: Okay. Then I will have the rest.
(I look in the kitchen and see the Tupperware container of cookies sitting open in the middle of the floor. I put it away.)
Me: You can't eat all the cookies right now!
Penelope (hysterical): How could you do this to me??? I even shared with you!
December 19 at 4:27 pm

Penelope (on our walk): Oh no! One of those candy canes fell down in the grass. How predicament!
Me: You mean what a predicament?
Penelope: No! How predicament! I think I know what I mean!
December 20 at 4:54 pm

Penelope (setting down a half eaten apple): This is too heavy! (Moments later, handing me her drinkable yogurt): This is too cold! (Later, staring down at her spilled pretzels in distress): These are getting salt all over my fingers!
December 21 at 2:12 pm

Me: Where does Santa Claus live?
Penelope: At that hotel.
Me: What hotel?
Penelope: At that hotel where there was no room for Jesus!
December 21 at 3:25 pm

Watching Tom and Jerry with Penelope reminds me of how I'd always tell waiters, "I'd like mine medium rare," when ordering any kind of meat in a restaurant. Then my mother would always say, "She wants it well done."
December 21 at 4:24 pm

Penelope: I don't like anything.
Me: What do you mean?
Penelope: Can you get me some cereal, Mom?
Me: Yes. Would you like some cereal?
Penelope: Yes.
Me: I thought you didn't like anything.
Penelope: I don't. But I like cereal!
December 21 at 4:26 pm

Me: Nellie, I think we need to go to sleep.
Penelope: Well, I'm not very good at sleeping.
Me: You're not very good at sleeping?
Penelope: I know! Tell me about it!
December 21 at 11:58 pm

Grandma and Nellie are making "gingerbread boys." Right now, they're getting the dough ready.
Grandma: Now it's time to put in the salt!
Penelope: I don't like salt!
Grandma: But it will help our cookies to bake. It's better to put it in.
Penelope: Well, I don't know about that.
Grandma: Oh, but I have an ingredient you will want to taste--the sugar.
Penelope: Oh! I love sugar!
December 22 at 2:46 pm

Penelope: I used to be little. And I didn't have any teeth. And I couldn't talk any more. Now I'm big! (whacking the door with a hanger) I'm protecting my house, Grandma, making sure no flies come in and get the Christmas tree! There! I got that old fly! I rammed him. Now that old fly won't come in. He's sick because I rammed him. I wish there wasn't flies. I wish somebody would get all the flies away from my house. I ram and ram the door, but the flies always come, so I go on ramming and ramming and ramming! Oh! Can I put in the egg? (racing over) Do I like brown sugar? Oooh! I smell the brown sugar!
December 22 at 2:54 pm

Penelope: Can I put in the molasses if I don't do it real hard?
Grandma: Molasses are slow. That's where we get the expression, slow as molasses in January.
Penelope: What?! My birthday is in January! And I'm going to get presents!
December 22 at 2:58 pm

Penelope: (staring at the tree in frustration) Stop commuting it!
Me: Nellie, you commute a sentence. You don't commute the TV.
December 22 at 3:20 pm

Penelope (holding up my hair on either side of my face as I try to put her socks on): There! Now you look like a crazy lady!
December 22 at 3:43 pm

Grandma: Aunt Merry, what is Santa Claus going to bring you?
Merry: A pony.
Grandma: But where will the pony sleep?
Merry: In Nellie's bed.
Penelope: No!! Where will I sleep?
Merry: You can sleep with the pony.
Penelope: (suddenly sobbing hysterically) Noooooo! I don't want to sleep with the pony!
December 22 at 10:48 pm

Penelope (opening a deck of my go fish for art cards and finding a pamphlet): Ooh! A small book! I've wanted a small book like this for years!
December23 at 1:47 am

Penelope ("reading"): How to play go fish. First you eat the fish. Then it glows in your your tummy. Then you find it. Then you give it to this fancy lady. Hey! There's two fancy ladies. Do we have a match?
December 23 at 1:50 am

Penelope: Look at all these foot prints. Who made them?
Me: I did, see?
P: Not these. They're different. Somebody must have killed someone!
December 23 at 3:51 pm

Me (laying out cards): Which one is different? Soup, salad, sandwich, pinata?
Penelope: No do mine! (Has like twenty cards) These two are different.
Me: Why?
P: Because Orangey Snake licked them!
December 24 at 1:51 am

Yesterday morning...
Me: Merry Christmas, Penelope! Santa Claus came!
Penelope: Did it snow?
Me: No, not today.
Penelope: But it's Christmas!
Me: Let's go down and see what Santa brought!
Penelope (heading down the stairs and seeing the dishes of M&Ms my mom set out for everyone): Santa Claus brought M&Ms!!!

This morning...
Me: Merry day after Christmas, Penelope!
Penelope: Did it snow?
Me: No, not today.
Penelope: Ohhhhhhh.
Monday at 12:43 pm



Playing with Penelope's Cookie Monster Letter Lunch...
Penelope: I think there's something wrong with this Cookie Monster because as soon as he eats the Play-Doh, it falls right out his toodlebutt. Now that can't be good for him. We need the real Cookie Monster.
Me: But he lives on Sesame Street.
Penelope: Maybe we could find another Cookie Monster.
Me: You could be Cookie Monster. Can you say, Om-nom-nom?
Penelope: Ommmmommmmmoommm...I don't think I can do it right. I can do it until the real one gets here, but my voice isn't very monstery. Listen! You know how monsters sound, right? My throat doesn't make that kind of noises. What's this?
Me: An onion!
Penelope: Are onions blue?
Me: Well, everything is blue now because you mixed all the Play-Doh together. Eat your onion, Cookie Monster.
Penelope: It's going to fall right out his butt. But people don't eat onions, right?
Me: Grandma and Grandpa do.
Penelope: Oh, maybe they can cook me some, and I'll see if I like them. And maybe we need more colors.
Me: Maybe we should get some more Play-Doh.
Penelope: Oh, that's a great idea. Let's tell Santa. I'm pretty sure he's going to come back.
Me: Not till next year.
Penelope: Ohhhhh.
Monday at 3:00 pm

Me: Where's my bra?
Penelope (makes a naughty face)
Me: Do you know where my bra is, Penelope?
Penelope: (with a naughty smile, whispers) I hided it in the washing machine! (prances around full of naughty giggles)

The naughtiest part of all? She never hided it in the washing machine at all! This was another one of her "tricks." Since Merry has been here, Penelope has been playing "night tricks."
Monday at 4:35 pm

Penelope: Can I take my candy on the walk?
Me: Let's take your grapes instead. I think you've had enough candy for today. I know you like candy, but it's not good for you like grapes. Candy won't make you grow up being and strong. It isn't nutritious. It isn't good for you. It can hurt your teeth. It can make you feel sick. It can make you fat. (Worrying I shouldn't have said that) It can make your tummy hurt if you eat too much...
Penelope: (nodding) Okay, Mom. (Bopping me on the nose as she whispers with a beguiling little smile) Now I can just have one more piece of candy?
Monday at 4:49 pm

Penelope (coming up to Merry with a shiny red face and pink hands): Look!
Merry: Did you put that candy lipstick all over your face?
Penelope: Yes.
Merry: I knew it. I could smell that lipstick on you, candy face.
Penelope: Oh, but Aunt Merry, I just wanted to be beautiful!
Monday at 8:54 pm

We just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (not Penelope, obviously). I'm so behind on writing movie reviews!
20 hours ago

Penelope was napping on the couch while Grandma cleaned the living room.
Penelope (waking up, turns to Grandma in distress): What's happened to my playthings?
Grandma: Hmm. There's nothing on the floor, is there?
Penelope: (in mild alarm) My toys!
19 hours ago

Penelope (who went to McDonalds with Grandma and Grandpa while we were at the movies, crawling into my lap, whispering): I got a cherry pie.
Me: You did!
Penelope: Yes, and next time, when you come to McDonalds with me, YOU can get me a cherry pie!
18 hours ago

Penelope (holding out her fingers): Look! (gasps)
Me: What are you covered in?
Penelope: Lipstick!
(I investigate and discover she's stuck her fingers in one of the flavored lip balms she got for Christmas.)
Me: Why did you do that?
Penelope: (delighted) I knew you would be mad!!!
15 hours ago

Penelope (peering at my computer screen): What's wrong? Did your computer broke?
Me: Oh, no, it's fine, lovee. It just fell earlier. I caught it.
Penelope: But what happened to the people? Why is there all that fire and strange light? I think it did broke. Should I get Daddy?

Add Penelope to the list of people who don't really get The Tree of Life.
15 hours ago

Me: (reading the directions) The first player to fill his or her basket with ten fruits is the winner.
Penelope: I'll be the winner, Mom.
Me: Oh, no, but we have to play the game first to see who's the winner.
Penelope: But I have blonde hair!
15 hours ago

Penelope: You're not very good at this, Mom. Look, you're getting blueberries everywhere.
Me: I know it. Shall we put the stems up or down?
Penelope: I think down. That looks much better.
Me: I like it that way, too. Okay, now you spin.
Penelope: Well...
Me: Come on, practice spinning.
Penelope: Well, I'm not very good at practicing.
Me: I'll spin for you this time. Three! Take three cherries off your tree. (Noticing) This spinner is so weird. You can't spin a one on here. (Suddenly I notice) You took off all the cherries!
Penelope: I know! I accidentally took two threes off! Ohhh. Now I have no cherries. Can I share your blueberries, Mom? I can take them off the tree, and you can practice spinning.
Me: I'll spin this time, and then you can spin next time.
Penelope: Well okay. What's this under here?
Me: Is that a pill? Oh, it's a hole!
Penelope: (alarmed) How did there get a hole in my leg!
Me: No, it's one of the holes we punched out to make room on the tree for the cherries.
Penelope: Awww! (punches it through an empty hole) Now the little hole can go back and live under the tree, and the Mommy hole is so happy she has all her babies for Christmas!
14 hours ago

Oh yeah, I forgot this part...
Penelope: You can still play, Mom. Brown hair is very good for playing, too.
14 hours ago

Penelope: After my bath, I'm going to play Hi-Ho the Cherry-o with Daddy.
Me: Well, I think Daddy is pretty sleepy.
P: We'll see about that!
Later
P: Mom will you play with me because Daddy is very sleepy. You were right. I think you were right there, Mom.
13 hours ago

Penelope (climbing up onto the couch beside me): Hello, Mom!
Me: Hello, Penelope!
Penelope: It's such a beautiful day outside, isn't it?
Me: Yes, it is beautiful day.
Penelope: Can we go for a walk?
21 hours ago