Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Dinah Got Sick" by Penelope

One day Dinah got sick. We had to take her to the doctor in a purple basket. Then we had to take her in something else, a giant Pumpkin.

"Dinah," I said. "You don't fit in there. Dinah, you're too fat to go in there."

Dinah said, "Meow! Meow!"

She was so loud!

"Hmm," said Dinah. "What's going on up there?" Dinah jumped and marched and marched.

"Good job! Dinah! Good job!"

Then Pupcake jumped up there. He loved Dinah, too. Pupcake was sick, too. He threw up. He had to go to the doctor. So he got in the purple basket, too.

"Here you go," I said. I gave the basket to the doctor. Then I asked, "Where's Brownie?" He was missing.

"What's wrong with Dinah?" asked the doctor.

I said, "She hurt her foot. She cut it on glass. It turned red. Put on a band-aid on it. Wash it. Put creamy on it. Put anything on else? No?"

Then I asked, "What's wrong Pupcake?" I decided, "He hurt his back. He needs water." I brought him a big, rubber ball. "Pupcake loves this ball!" I said.

He got well. I said, "Let's play with this bouncey ball instead, Pupcake."

"Okay," said Pupcake.

The End


Dreams

My mom's discussion of her dream on Facebook made me think about my own dream last night (so eerie!), so I'm replicating the conversation here:

Mom Said:

Dream Advice? My dad swam the ocean and climbed the craggy cliff to come and sit w/ me on a bench overlooking the ocean in my dream. But why was he wearing red mittens?
2 hours ago

I Replied:

I think the obvious thing to do here is ask Steven Spielberg. Clearly, he directed your dream because there's a similarly baffling visual device in Schindler's List.
13 minutes ago

Important question: Did the mittens say "Canada 2010" by chance?
8 minutes ago

Other thoughts: Maybe he didn't want the craggy cliff to cut his hands. Perhaps the ocean was really cold. A serious suggestion--maybe the mittens are a dream symbol for whatever conveyance let him cross over from death to reach you.
5 minutes ago

Side note:
Last night I dreamed that somebody died. ( Won't say who because that's too creepy.) It was very vivid and people's reactions were authentic. Then I woke up (in the dream) and realized it had all been a dream, but there were three things that happened in the dream prior to the announcement of the death, and as they happened one by one in waking life (actually still the dream), I began to realize with horror that my dream was prophetic and about to come true. I kept thinking, "Should I warn people?"
2 minutes ago






Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 11 First Trip to Dentist

The Air Conditioner Scares Nellie.3gp

Penelope Now Says This Turtle We Saw on May 3 is Named Ice Cream

Penelope Sneezes

GoldenEye

I'm considering writing reviews of every movie we watch, even on DVD (for practice), but keeping that level of concentration while watching at home seems difficult (especially when the palms of my hands are so itchy. The latex in that Fuji camera seems to have awakened a sleeping giant of allergic skin reactions).

We're over at Mom and Dad's for burgers on the grill, and we decided to watch GoldenEye. I'm very weird. I'm not a fan of James Bond in general, but here are my five favorite James Bond movies: 1) Goldfinger 2) GoldenEye 3) Live and Let Die 4) License to Kill 5) Quantum of Solace. I just realized how very weird it is that I have one favorite featuring every James Bond (except George Lazenby--but I do love the Louis Armstrong song from that movie and Diana Rigg in general). As a child, I always used to groan when my family decided to watch a James Bond movie on TV. "You don't even have to look at the screen," I would complain. "He's always either chasing someone, fighting someone, or kissing someone, and you can tell which from the background music." But I do like some of them.

I'm suddenly inspired to write a post about why I like each of the five movies I listed. (I'm well-aware that no one cares, but I'm going to do it, anyway.) We're watching GoldenEye now, so I'll begin with that one, the second on my list.

2. GoldenEye:
For one thing, I cannot watch this movie without reliving the glorious and wonderful Nintendo64 game that I played for hours on end while recovering from wisdom teeth surgery on my parents' old new couch (which for a while graced Derrick's apartment in Jefferson Center, and I believe is now rotting somewhere in an obscure corner of Madison, Wisconsin). That was an amazingly fun game; no subsequent James Bond even approaches its excellence. The game follows the storyline of the movie--I could never seem to get past the graveyard!--so it's nearly impossible not to remember it fondly as the movie plays. Ah that military facility inside the dam! I've shot so many people there over and over and over again. (My aim might not have been the best. I was on a lot of vicodin for pain.)

(Side note: The player vs. player sniper mode was also delightful. How vividly I remember leaving to take a bathroom break and making my sister swear not to shoot me while I was gone! I returned a moment later to find her character pointing a gun right at my character's head while standing about once inch away. The comic effect was only heightened by the split screen perspective.)

To say more about why I love GoldenEye, I'll have to divulge a secret unfortunate given my aspirations to be a movie reviewer. I'm not a fan of action scenes. They bore me. I get lost in them. I rarely follow them. I tend to zone out and think about something else. The entire movie XXX barely exists for me. Ask me about it, and I'll tell you, "Well, there was a girl with really dark eyeliner. Things blew up. I think Vin Diesel was there." (Anything involving sword play, pirates, or amusing-but-improbable car chases is another matter entirely.)

My ideal movie involves lots and lots of talking by lots and lots of different characters, showcased in small groups (like Murder on the Orient Express). Preferably the characters have voices so distinctive that I can look away and still recognize them (think Star Trek or anything with Katharine Hepburn). A wacky car chase is always welcome, too. (I'm one of those rare people who really liked Death Proof.) If the action becomes truly boring, I can zone out and meditate on other, more character driven movies in which members of the cast have also appeared.

Here GoldenEye proves itself a most unusually accommodating action movie. The cast is so superb, the characters so arresting--Sean Bean as 006, Famke Jansen as Xenia Onatopp, Robbie Coltraine as what's-his-face (we haven't gotten to that part yet, and it's been a while), Judi Dench as M. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm pretty sure Minnie Driver even shows up to sing in Russian in a sparkly cowgirl costume. Oh, and Alan Cumming's in it! Oh, and Joe Don Baker! (Normally I'm not actually a fan of his--in fact, he nearly ruined The Living Daylights--but he's wonderful in this particular role.) If the action ever gets too boring (though it doesn't often in this film since I played it as a video game) I can always zone out and daydream about the other work of any number of people in this unusually seasoned cast. Thank you for your lifetime of fine work, Judi Dench!

The third reason I love GoldenEye is that I never see Xenia Onatopp without thinking fondly of my friend (and sometime college roommate Christina). Not because she crushed men to death with her thighs (although she did) (just kidding) but because when GoldenEye came up in conversation, she was horrified to learn that I didn't know anything about Famke Janssen or much about that always delightful mutant Jean Grey. An expert herself, she gave me a long and informative lecture on the subject, peppered with her own recollections of watching this innuendo-laden Bond movie with her cousin Dustin.

***

By this time, we've paused the movie, eaten a dinner of grilled burgers and hot dogs, and returned to the movie again (some of us stickier than others). Now that they're on that train, I suddenly recall that in the N64 game, I did finally make it out of the graveyard, but I don't think I was ever able to get past that horrible train. Well, maybe once. I think I've piqued Grayson's interest with talk of this magnificent Bond game. My mom is also intrigued by the subject, and now we're all trying to puzzle out what's happened to our old Nintendo 64.

Really, at this point in the movie, I can say with confidence that what makes GoldenEye so deliciously watchable is its well structured story, a series of well-crafted scenes (most of them character driven with a few zany car chases) that progress in a way that actually makes sense (probably why it lent itself so readily to a video game adaptation). It also features deliciously silly (and extremely memorable) innuendo, some stunts involving planes and helicopters ridiculous enough to make Roger Moore blush, and a secret lair to end all secret lairs that is somehow right where everyone in the audience (perhaps even in the world) is expecting it to be.

In my opinion, action movies would be better if they were all made by people conscious of the possibility of creating a series of drinking glasses as a merchandising tie-in available from a participating fast food restaurant. As a child, I was delighted to collect the characters from Return of the Jedi. GoldenEye glasses seem equally feasible because you spend long enough with each distinctive character to have a feel for who they are and why they matter to the movie.


Summer Movie Diary: Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2
Date: May 28, 2011
Time: 1:15 PM
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hill Town Center
Company: Derrick, Grayson, Penelope, Grandma, Grandpa
Food: Medium Coke, Nachos (bad idea), contraband Whoppers, and Gummi Savers (aka “nother one…nother one…nother one” one at a time until the box was empty) smuggled in by Grandma
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Jennifer Yuh

Quick Impressions:
What a beautiful movie! The colors were so vibrant, and the opening sequence so stylistically done that I wished I were seeing it in 3D. (We would have, except that we didn’t think Nellie would wear the glasses.) Not only was the film gorgeous, pleasurable just to behold—the colors were so vibrant that the sight of them made me happy—but the story was truly gripping, equal parts heart-warming and pulse-pounding.

The plot involves a scheme by the villainous albino peacock, Lord Shen, to end Kung Fu, and that allows for lots of action, almost right from the get-go. Gary Oldman and the animators seem to be having a contest. Will Lord Shen’s looks make him more awesome and fear-inspiring, or will his wonderful, musical voice carry the day? Oldman voices him with spectacular skill, delivering each line with such nuance and menace that I would have gotten my money’s worth even with my eyes closed. But visually, Shen is also a marvel—absolutely spectacular, done in eye-popping red, white, and black (that vaguely made me want to shop at Target). The crisp, clean sound as Shen pulls out his deadly feather-blades is magnificent also. As good as Ian McShane was as Tai Lung in the first film, Kung Fu Panda 2 delivers a villain a million times more intense and more memorable. (Really, making the film’s main villain an albino peacock was a bold move, sure to end in either spectacular success or cringe-inducing failure. Happily, Lord Shen delivers thrills in every second he’s on screen.)

As amazing as Oldman’s Shen is, however, the villain does not own the movie because Po’s noodle-making goose father, voiced by James Hong, truly steals the show. Twice—not once but twice—Mr. Ping made me cry. Practically every time he appeared, I started to tear up. He was so adorably sweet, such a humble and loving parent, so concerned with his son’s happiness and well-being. I liked the movie because of Lord Shen’s delicious menace. I loved it because of Mr. Ping’s palpable sweetness. I could watch his scenes with Po a thousand times and never tire of that noodle-happy goose’s charming vulnerability.

The Negatives:
I’ll admit to being nitpicky about this, but why doesn’t Jackie Chan ever get any lines? In The Karate Kid he gave an amazing, soulful performance. His acting was almost on par with his martial arts skills, and that’s saying something. So why does Monkey only make random squeaks and clipped observations? As the only one of the Furious Five who is an actual master of Kung Fu, Chan should get to talk more. The man is a huge star.

Another thing that bothered me—some of the action scenes seemed a bit hard to follow. I mean that they looked a bit choppy, jumping quickly from one character to another, probably because the movie is best viewed in 3D.

Also, as much as I loved the evil Lord Shen—a superlative villain in every way—I found the actual thrust of his evil plot to eradicate Kung Fu more than a little disappointing. He’s an evil albino peacock who has found a way to make fireworks into horrific weapons of mass destruction. Fireworks are cool when used for good. Their perversion into tools of evil ought to be really something, truly dazzling to behold if nothing else. But I was not particularly impressed with the display.

I also thought the entire gimmick of “inner peace” felt like a contrivance to connect the two major components of the story, which were incredibly different in tone. The quest for “inner peace” seemed too hastily introduced in the beginning of the film, like a way to cram Dustin Hoffman’s character into an already overcrowded story. Don’t get me wrong, I love the message that “scars fade” and that kindnesses from others and good personal choices can lead a person to peace no matter what trauma he’s suffered. But why does inner peace give someone the power to manipulate fireworks with his paws? Of course, I suppose it is hard to find a meaningful way to show the power of inner peace on screen.

Best Action Sequence:
The movie was action packed with very little exposition. It went straight for the conflict. As strange as this will sound, I would have preferred a bit more setting up of the story. Then again, I saw this movie with a two-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy. Fast start, exploding with action, and over in ninety minutes were very, very good things as far as they were concerned. As action goes, I personally enjoyed the market scene with the Chinese dragon and the break-neck chase on rickshaw carts.

The Good and the Very Good:
As I’ve said before, the movie was beautiful, such a delight visually. When Po fell into the water, and bobbed around for a few minutes with wet fur, I thought, Wow! Such amazing attention to detail!

Also, the movie had so much heart, portraying both good (Mr. Ping) and evil (Lord Shen) so powerfully that I did not care for a minute that the connection between the two emotional poles seemed so contrived, even flimsy. Any parents who have adopted should be delighted by this movie. What a wonderful, entertaining, satisfying vehicle for introducing the topic of adoption into a family conversation! In a story set in China, Ping and Shen seem satisfyingly antithetical, like yin and yang. Ping does good because he is good. Shen does evil because he is evil. Ping’s way is much better and as one would expect produces better results. But Shen is so wonderfully, unrepentantly evil. Good seems like a lot of nonsense to him, just as not feeding an infant would never occur to the kind-hearted Ping. Po triumphs in the end by discovering that embracing good makes evil irrelevant.

Best Scene:
The final scene of the film (not counting the surprise at the very end) won my heart. I love the way that Po returns kindness to his true father, the goose who raised him so lovingly. And the discussion about which of them will cook, punctuated by Ping’s final abrupt decision is so warm and real and genuinely touching. I loved it. I laughed, even while my eyes were still wet with tears.

Best Scene, Visually:
Singling out one scene is too hard. The entire movie popped and sparkled. My eyes felt happier from the moment it lit up the screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if my vision improved from watching it.

Best Joke:
I laughed the hardest at two moments with Po. When he was seeking inner peace on the boat, I saw so much of myself in his technique and results. His confusion on meeting Michelle Yeoh’s prophetic ewe ram amused me possibly more than anything else in the movie.

The Performances:
This film was packed with voice-talented, overloaded really, so that some of the finest actors out there barely got to say two words.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, both James Hong and Gary Oldman gave commanding performances. Every second that each was on screen was sheer bliss. I will go so far as to say that as I watched the movie, I thought I was seeing the best performance of Gary Oldman’s career (which is doubtless untrue, a delusion brought about by all the beautiful, bright colors on the screen).

Jack Black brought the same humor and warmth to Po that he captured so well in the first film. For a moment, I considered writing that Black is essentially playing himself—but is he really a giant Panda who grew up making noodles for his goose father and is now a Kung Fu master? What I mean is, Black has a kind of innocence that Po shares. He wants us to like him because he’s cool, but we like him more because he wishes he were cool.

Tigress seemed to be such a pivotal character with so many meaningful lines this time around that I thought, “If Angelina Jolie’s name doesn’t come second in the credits, I will die of shock.” Clearly Tigress has warmed to Po, and Jolie delivers her lines well, infusing them with warmth without losing her strength or deliberately aloof persona.

As Shifu, a character so dominant in the first film, Dustin Hoffman barely had anything to do this time around. He still managed to deliver his lines impeccably, even getting a laugh in his final appearance.

Michelle Yeoh voiced the Soothsayer well (though I couldn’t help giggling to myself that Yeoh was playing a Ewe—probably not intentional and funny to no one but me).

Aside from Tigress, the Furious Five (while often on screen) had markedly fewer lines this time than last, with the exception of Lucy Liu’s Viper. Seth Rogen’s infectious laugh is always a welcome sound, however.

Overall:
Kung Fu Panda 2 was not as good as the original. As a whole, it was too busy, frantic, and jam-packed with action. But I liked it better than the original and would recommend it to anyone. Why? Lord Shen is one of the most outstanding cartoon villains I’ve ever seen, ranking right up there with some of Disney’s best and most sinister classic baddies. And the scenes between Po and his father the goose are so heart-warmingly wonderful that your life will be more rich for having seen them. Go! Take your kids, and go!

Movie Diary: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 3D

Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011 (the day the world didn’t end; day after Addie was born)
Time: 4:20 PM
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hill Town Center
Company: Derrick, Grayson
Food: Medium popcorn (no butter, lots of salt), Small Cherry Icee, followed by Medium Cherry Icee (I put so much salt on the popcorn that I ran out of Icee and my lips started to prune. Derrick had tried to order me a medium Icee, but I’d said it was too big. At 4:17, I left “to go to the bathroom” and hurriedly bought the Medium Cherry Icee)
Running Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes (at the end of which time my lips were still puckered from popcorn salt)
Rating: PG-13
Director: Rob Marshall

Quick Impressions:
When Jack Sparrow was introduced, I inwardly groaned, thinking that the franchise had lost its sparkle. The first twenty to forty minutes of the movie felt incredibly forced, as if it were trying too hard to have the eye-catching zest of the first installment, a film whose charm felt effortless. For me, the highlight of this dull opening was an unexpected—but unfortunately all-too-brief—surprise cameo by Judy Dench. Oh that’s right, I recalled suddenly. She was in Nine, and Rob Marshall is sitting in the director’s chair this time around. Please don’t let this movie be as bad as Nine.

Just when I had made up my mind to settle for enjoying Johnny Depp’s personal charisma as a winning character in a mediocre movie, the pace suddenly picked up dramatically. When not trying for forced chuckles, the movie found its sea legs as a gripping adventure with a palpable sense of menace and danger, much darker than the first three films, both in tone and—well, literally darker. The majority of the action occurred at night, which rather fittingly evoked the lighting scheme of the amusement park attraction and also matched the newer more menacing tone.

The introduction of Penelope Cruz’s Angelica marked the turning point when On Stranger Tides began to improve—gradually. The movie didn’t redeem itself right away but instead became promising and eventually did fulfill that promise. By the time the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge went fishing for mermaids, I was hooked. The scenes on the island were gripping and full of life and color. Nothing seemed stale or rehashed or forced. The story stood on its own merits, by far a better, more engaging, and more coherent movie than either Dead Man’s Chest or At World’s End.

Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane shone in their roles, and I considered them an upgrade from Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. While I did miss the comic relief provided in earlier installments by the two bumbling pirates and the two befuddled English sailors, I found the unexpected love story between Syrena and the missionary strangely satisfying and ultimately intriguing. And the leader of the Spanish expedition uttered my favorite line in the entire movie, creating one of two moments in which I actually laughed out loud.

The Negatives:
After the eye-catching, somewhat shocking opening scene (that made my stepson jump), the first thirty minutes or so of the movie felt tired, vaguely contrived, and not as funny as they wanted to be. In particular, the scene with the king seemed like a convenience to show off the use of 3D in a surprisingly ineffective way. (I understand why Jack wanted to eat a cream puff, and how it could have gotten stuck on the chandelier, but what did Jack really think he would accomplish by walking across the table? The movie was a bit long, and this part could have been shortened considerably. Why not begin with Jack waking up on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, unable to remember how he got on the ship?)

Fans of the franchise might also be disappointed by the darker tone and relative lack of humor in this installment. Several moments caused me to smile, but I only laughed out loud three times, and one of those times was a reaction to my stepson’s mirth at hearing Jack call King George “your hiney.” For me, the movie picked up once Jack met Angelica and found its legs during the mutiny. The lack of laugh-out-loud moments is not exactly a fault because the movie is clearly going for a darker tone of adventure and genuine danger; however, many of Jack’s funniest moments get glossed over, downplayed by the director’s choice not to showcase them. The choice works, but I do wonder if a different choice might not have worked even better. Previous Pirates movies included a number of rollicking scenes and a playful mood to match Jack’s comedic antics. In this film, Jack seems like a clown who has mistakenly wondered into the lion tamer’s ring of the circus.

The film’s only real flaw is that the first forty minutes or so feel slow, predictable, hollow, and forced, but that is a major flaw. Forty minutes is a long, long time.

Best Action Sequence:
Personally, I thought the movie really hit its stride during the mermaid capture. I lost myself in the movie at this point. Jack and Barbossa’s incredibly short duel in Ponce de Leon’s ship was also fantastic, more for the verbal repartee than the physical blows exchanged.

Best Scene Visually:
I wanted to see the movie in 3D after reading that they had actually taken 3D cameras on location in the jungle. The scenes filmed on the island are all spectacular, particularly the scenes where they wade through the waters, overgrown with vines. Another nice moment visually occurs when Jack gets a clue from nature about the whereabouts of the fountain. His method of entering the fountain area was also eye-catching. Aesthetically, the scenes with the mermaids were also very pleasing both in terms of look and sound. (Additionally, a couple of cute scenes deliberately evoke moments in the theme park ride.)

The Good and the Could Have Been Better:
Blackbeard’s ability to control his ship came as a pleasant surprise and provided the first supernatural element in the story. The way the Revenge obeyed him was cool and ultimately gave Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa character a magnificent and memorable exit. In the context of a series that has hinged on ghostly pirates, cursed gold, Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchmen, Calypso, the Kracken, and the resurrection of the dead, however, Blackbeard’s responsive ship seemed like a token gesture at the supernatural which arrived too late in the film and was extremely underutilized.

Similarly, the mermaids added an element of magic and of beauty to the film, and the Syrena character and her response to the good-hearted missionary created a side plot I had not anticipated yet genuinely enjoyed. But Serena’s deus-ex-machina move near the end of the movie really did not make much sense, and that bothered me. What on earth were her motivations? Why would she go out of her way to help people who had abused her? I do hope we see more of her and the underdeveloped but likeable missionary in the next installment.

Finally, Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp have fantastic, electric chemistry. Why does it take so long to introduce Angelica? More to the point—Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush have even better chemistry as the perpetually bickering captains Jack and Barbossa. When they are together, the audience enjoys watching them so much that the characters out of sight quickly become out of mind as well. Barbossa and Jack seem to belong together, and Jack somehow seems more relevant and less out of place when paired with Barbossa. So why does it take so long to get the two together? Why? I mean, we had to watch ten minutes of Jack walking across a buffet table. Surely things could have been retooled just a bit.

Best Surprise:
While I knew Keith Richards would be making another cameo, his scene was particularly delightful, especially his exit.

Best Scene:
Jack’s escape from the Spaniards delighted me beyond words. His method genuinely surprised me—and made me laugh out loud in shock—and his chemistry with Barbossa was entertaining enough to make me wish they’d spent more time in each other’s company earlier in the movie.

The Performances:
Johnny Depp still sparkles as Captain Jack Sparrow, although many of his best lines are lost because the film does not showcase them. The beginning of the movie was flat out bad, but even if the rest of it had been that bad, I would have continued watching it, anyway, and also gone to any future sequels simply because Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow is reason enough to buy a ticket. The film finally does what the franchise should have long ago by making Jack the male lead with the attractive love interest. Because he is truly the lead in this movie, we also see more of Jack, and in some ways, see him in a different light. Johnny Depp is a fantastic actor. No matter what we learn about Jack, never for a moment do we doubt him. He’s Captain Jack Sparrow through and through.

Ian McShane is also outstanding as Blackbeard, perhaps the strongest and most-captivating character in the movie, something clear from the moment he appears on screen. McShane’s Blackbeard is a commanding presence—smart, ruthless, relentless, and almost inexplicably black-hearted without ever seeming cartoonish or silly. He really is scary. He really is evil. Why is he so evil? For no good reason—the evilest explanation of them all! Why when he acknowledges that his daughter is his best creation does he sabotage her efforts to redeem him right until the bitter end? He’s enigmatic, possibly even underdeveloped, but he’s genuinely evil and incredibly awesome.

Penelope Cruz as Angelica lights up the screen from the moment of her entrance, too, which is saying a lot in her case because she first appears when the movie is still quite bad. She brings surprising depth to the character of Angelica. We see the confliction, pain, and frustration that an inferior actress could not possibly have conveyed given the same lines. When she screams at Jack, “You bastard!” the audience believes that she means it. She may be a character in a pirate movie, but there’s nothing light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek about her attitude. Angelica behaves exactly as if she is living in a realistic drama. She is a real person and, as it happens, a really sexy person who fortunately has fantastic chemistry with her co-star.

Reprising the role of Barbossa, Geoffrey Rush is given rather strange material to work with in the first part of the film. He plays the character to a T, however, and by the end of the movie, I was cheering harder for him than for anyone else. Unlike Blackbeard, he’s a likeable rogue—a villain through and through, but a villain you can cheer for. Sure he’s a blackguard, but he’s not a monster. He lives by the pirate code, after all. To show Barbossa deliberately playing the fool without playing Barbossa as a fool is a difficult task, but of course, a gifted actor like Rush can pull it off with enough panache to make the audience relieved when the old sea dog’s true colors begin to shine through toward the end of the movie.

Ordinarily I like Richard Griffiths, but I thought his portrayal of King George was lackluster and almost offensive. I don’t blame the actor. Clearly, he was playing the part as it was written, and the whole scene was a train wreck, needlessly juvenile and quite boring, going for cheap laughs because it did not know how to recapture the humor of the first film. I’m sure Griffiths was doing what the director wanted. Nevertheless, it was not his best work (even if my stepson did laugh when Jack called him “your hiney”).

I was glad to see the winning Kevin McNally reprising the role of Gibbs once again, and lesser known actors Sam Clafin and Astrid Berges-Frisbey were a welcome addition as the age-old odd couple, the missionary and the mermaid. The reason for the missionary’s inclusion in the movie was rather mysterious until Berges-Frisbey showed up as the beautiful and bewitching Syrena. If a moon-eyed young man and a beautiful ingĂ©nue have to be in every Pirates film (and, apparently, based on the inclusion of these two, they do) then I’d much rather have Clafin and Berges-Frisbey as a side-story than Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley cluttering up the main plot. In terms of acting, their performances were not particularly remarkable, but both of them are very pretty and hopefully the writers have something fascinating in mind for their characters in future Pirates installments.

Overall, On Stranger Tides has serious flaws (every minute that transpires until Jack wakes up on the Queen Anne’s revenge is one of them), but it is still a highly enjoyable film and probably the best in the series after the original. Anyone who’s a fan of Captain Jack Sparrow should happily fork over enough gold to see it in the theater—in 3D if possible.


Summer Movie Diary: Thor

Thor

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2011
Time: 12:50 pm
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hill Town Center
Company: Derrick, Grayson
Food: Small popcorn (no butter, lots of salt), Cherry Icee, Whoppers
Running Time: 1 hr 54 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Kenneth Branagh

Quick Impressions:
Very enjoyable movie experience overall. We opted out of 3D at the last minute after hearing it was a post-conversion. Some of the portal sequences might have been better in 3D. I thought Kenneth Branagh handed the pageantry well, and the framing of the throne room scenes in Asgard reminded me a bit of the way he did Hamlet. I loved the comedy. The scenes on earth, set in a tiny desert hamlet in New Mexico were by far my favorite.

The Negatives:
The sequences in Asgard seemed a little claustrophobic to me, always up in everyone’s face. Asgard was certainly beautiful, especially the Bifrost, but as soon as anyone was talking, the camera was immediately up in their face. In the action sequences, it would jump from the widest angle possible to an extreme close-up. Some of the grandiose scope of the scene would get lost because of these extreme close-ups. I’ve seen large scale action staged better. In the Spiderman movies, for example, Peter swings through the city and even in a wide shot, you see lots of events occurring. In the fantasy-realm fight portions of the film, Thor jumped from extreme wide shot to extreme close-up. (The portion of the fight involving the monster and Thor’s first use of the hammer is an exception. Any time Thor wields the hammer, the results are appropriately awesome.) These abrupt cuts to close-ups may result from a desire to save money and, admittedly, this is better solution than a wide angle view of inferior CGI.

Best Action Sequence:
In contrast to the fight scenes in Jotunheim, the land of the frost giants, the scene in which Thor breaches the SHIELD defenses actually shows the action occurring from a normal distance. Most of the other people Thor fights are neither giants nor of particular importance, so there’s no need for constant close-ups. In my opinion, this was the most exciting action sequence of the movie. For one thing, it involved genuine suspense. We anticipate that Thor will get the chance to lift his hammer and realize that he can’t. But we don’t know exactly what will happen after that. How will SHIELD respond? In the beginning of the movie, we know that his aggressive actions against the frost giants will lead to his banishment. (Even those of us unfamiliar with the comics have already seen him fall to earth in the opening scene.) In the end, we know that he’s going to stop Loki somehow because the movie is already essentially over. The scene in which he fights the giant robot monster provides lots of stimulating explosions but no real suspense and little actual fighting. We know that somehow, he’s going to get the hammer back here before all is lost. I will say that the actual use of the hammer looks spectacularly cool, so this is definitely the runner-up action sequence.

The Good and the Very Good:
Thor succeeds primarily because of its character and dialogue driven scenes, many of them highly comedic. I personally would have enjoyed the movie just as much even if it took place entirely in New Mexico. I thought the look of the town was perfect, just as artistically rendered and pleasing to the eye as the larger-than-life realm of Asgard. I also enjoyed seeing more of SHIELD, including more screen time than usual for the oddly engaging Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson and the surprise appearance by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye who delivered one of the more memorable lines in the movie.

Best Surprise (possible spoilers):
The movie started slow, and since Loki’s treachery was apparent immediately, I was genuinely surprised by the true intent of his plan. The movie clearly intended you to expect Thor to burst into his father’s bed chamber. When Loki charged in instead, I felt I should have expected it, but I did not and was quite pleased to see a more emotionally complex villain than the film’s clunky, heavy-handed beginning had led me to expect.

Best Scene:
Overall, I most enjoyed the scene in which Thor bolted down his breakfast in the diner. More than any other, this scene showed the vast cultural gap separating Thor from the earthlings. Neither excessive violence nor needless explicative dialogue was needed. Simply by the way he ate breakfast, Thor clearly demonstrated his super-human qualities and unfamiliarity with human customs, and to great comic effect.

The Performances:
In general, I thought the characters on earth were more well-developed and more interesting than the characters in Asgard (with the exception of Loki). Of the Asgardians outside the royal family, the most interesting by far was Idris Elba as Heimdall. It is not necessarily easy to be enormous, powerful, semi-stoic and still get a laugh or a cheer.

The other memorable Asgardian—Sif, the female warrior played capably enough by Jaimie Alexander, though the character was interesting more because of who she was than anything she said or did.

Sir Anthony Hopkins, excellent in any role, delivers the expected caliber of performance as Odin, though he has comparatively little to do.

Rene Russo is underutilized as Frigga (a character who has almost no lines and one shining moment that lasts approximately ten seconds).

Colm Feore, voices of King Laufey well enough, though the character is scary primarily because of the powerful resonance of his deep bass.

Chris Hemsworth made a fantastic Thor, a character believable because of his lack of complexity. Thor has always relied on his strength and his name. He takes his god-like good looks and abilities for granted. He’s not vain; he simply knows what he’s capable of and proceeds accordingly. Hemsworth looks like he’s not trying too hard, which is exactly the way the character should appear. The actor does a good job of being larger than life without noticing.

Natalie Portman was equally believable as Jane Foster, particularly because when she delivered lines about scientific phenomenon, you could actually see the wheels turning in her head. Too often in summer blockbusters, a vacuous blond pretends to be an expert on some highly academic subject, but you can tell she is just mouthing words with no clue what her dialogue means. Portman delivers an understated, natural performance that makes her character real and likeable. You believe that she is a research scientist, crushed and angered by the loss of her research. Her romance with Thor happens awfully quickly and for no particular reason other than his superhuman strength, good looks, and abs. That doesn’t make it particularly implausible, however. After spending years doing atmospheric research in a trailer in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico accompanied chiefly by an old man and an apathetic intern, what vital young woman would not fall madly in love with the god-like hero whose appearance validates her research and whose persistence results in the return of her stolen notes and equipment?

Kat Dennings delivered her numerous one-liners with commendable dead-pan timing and provided further incentive for Jane to fall in love with Thor by lending outside confirmation of his attractiveness and desirability.

Stellan Skarsgard as Foster’s fatherly colleague Eric Selvig turned in the most engaging performance in the film, transitioning effortlessly from comedy to drama, thoroughly convincing in his concern for Foster’s well-being and in his conflicted desire to believe in Thor’s amazing origins though his scientific background compels him to debunk them as myth. In his eyes, you can see his sense of childhood wonder at war with his determination to prove Thor’s version of the truth ridiculous, his desire to protect Foster at odds with his relief at being able to provide her both another protector and the validation of her work she so urgently seeks.

Another standout among the cast was Tom Hiddleston as Loki. That both Hiddleston and Skarsgard will appear in The Avengers is indeed good news since both actors brought so much to their roles. In early scenes, Hiddleston delivered more intensity with his silences than his lines. As events revealed more and more of his character’s true nature, the actor began letting increasing amounts of emotion and instability creep into his lines until he finally had a huge, dramatic—and thoroughly believable—meltdown at the end of the film. Hiddleston makes Loki a rather sympathetic villain. One almost hopes that in the future he will have the same type of epiphany Thor had after his time on earth. Perhaps one day, Loki will return to Asgard older, wiser, and penitent. In the meantime, he provides genuine menace, a sinister evil no less frightening because it comes from a pitiable psychic wound.

Thor will frighten the youngest children because of the volume of the explosions and booming voices of the frost giants, but should provide anyone over the age of five sufficient delight to justify the price of a ticket.

Movie Reviews

So I'm keeping a summer movie diary of everything we see this summer. Derrick and my parents keep telling me to become a movie reviewer. These aren't exactly reviews. They're more like notes for reviews. (They ramble a bit.) But I thought I'd go ahead and post them here because they're also a record of some of the things we're doing as a family, and I feel like I haven't been blogging enough because I've been paying so much attention to home improvements and creative writing.

In other news, Grayson and Penelope had a blast playing last night (far too late), running from room to room upstairs, shrieking and laughing. At one point, Penelope yelled at random, "Throw Bubby in the oven! Make pie!"

Grayson said something back about making eleven pies, and she upped it to twelve, and they kept going back and forth about whom they were going to throw in the oven and how many pies they'd make.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Talking a Lot

At dinner...
Me: I loved third grade.
Grayson: That was the year Memaw got her mouth taped shut!
Me: Really?!
Grayson: Yes, for talking.
Me: I guess I can see that. Your Memaw's very friendly.
Grayson: Yes, Memaw and I have a lot in common. We both talk a lot.
Derrick: I think talking a lot is something a lot of people in your family have in common.
Grayson: Yeah, especially my daddy!

He delivered that so well, I literally started laughing out loud and almost choked on my spaghetti. Then for the rest of dinner, anything that Derrick said prompted a, "See, you're talking again!" from Grayson.

Facebook Statuses

Derrick stubbed his toe and Penelope yelled, "Oh cyap!"
D: That's for Daddy to say.
P: Daddy says, 'Oh cyap!'
(Later Derrick stubbed his toe and yelled, "Ouch!")
P (shaking head): Every time, ouch!
May 22 at 12:03pm via Android


Penelope (getting out of the shower with me): Mommy, there's an ant down there on the floor.
Me: That's okay.
(I walk to the door, and she follows haltingly, always stopping and looking over her shoulder)
Penelope (at last, as if fed up): Stop following me, ant!!
May 22 at 3:44pm

Penelope: My toodlebutt hurts.
Derrick: Why does your toodlebutt hurt?
Penelope: Bit. By an alligator.
(Later)
Penelope: Daddy, an alligator bit my toodlebutt again!
May 22 at 4:31pm


Penelope (showing Derrick a Zooble): This is my bunny.
D: What's your bunny's name?
P: Blue Bunny.
D: Is Blue Bunny a boy or a girl?
P: Boy.
Me: Are you boy or a girl?
P: Boy.
D: No, Bubby is a boy. You're a girl. Is the bunny a boy like Bubby or a girl like you?
P: Girl like you.
May 22 at 4:37 pm

Penelope (the minute we walk in the door): I want to watch Spiderman!
Me: How about an episode of Mickey Mouse?
Penelope: No, I want to watch Spiderman! (Brings me the Spiderman 2 box) Here's Spiderman. Let's watch it. (Running up to Derrick, trying to sell it) Daddy, you might like Spiderman.
Tuesday at 10:55pm


I think all the painting we've been doing lately has finally started to bore Penelope. Today, watching me paint the mirror, she said, "Wow, Mommy, that looks awesome," but I cannot do justice in print to her extreme lack of enthusiasm. She sounded like she was reading it at gunpoint off a cue card!
Tuesday at 11:45 pm

Penelope's new game...
Penelope (squishing Derrick's face): Who's that Daddy woman?
Derrick: When did this become the height of hilarity? Do you just like to see Daddy smile?
Penelope: I like to see that woman.

She is crazy.
Wednesday at 12:11 am

Derrick: Don't pull my hair, Nellie!
Nellie: I like mad Daddy!
Wednesday at 12:13 am

Penelope: (trying to squirm away after her bath) No! I want to be naked!
Me: (sternly) Penelope, if you don't let me put your clothes on, I'll have to get your daddy, and he will be mad.
Penelope: (seriously, critiquing my scolding) Mommy, that is not your best happy.
Wednesday at 12:16am

After the bath...
Penelope (sitting on the tile and swishing back and forth): The floor is so wet!
Me: Get up off the dirty floor!
Nellie: The floor is clean. I washed it with my toodlebutt.
Wednesday at 4:36pm

Penelope managed to wear big girl panties for several hours today. Three times, she successfully made it to the potty (but not the fourth). Every time she ran over to the windows and yelled, "Hey birdies! I went body!"
Wednesday at 4:43pm


Butterscotch seems to be the hottest trend in toy pet naming. Penelope recently informed us that her kitten is named Butterscotch. Now she tells me that her tiny toy dog is also Butterscotch. "I have a kitty Butterscotch and a puppy Butterscotch." (As I started typing this, she brought me a plastic horse. "What's his name?" I asked, expecting "Butterscotch." She surprised me by answering, "Ice Cream!")
Wednesday at 11:31 pm

Penelope found a bag full of containers of the jewelry I wore as a teenager. Mom must have brought it over this morning. "I'll share that with you when you're big," I said, not wanting her to scatter my trinkets. Importantly, she told me, "I'm big now."
Wednesday at 11:36 pm

I just discovered this treasure trove contains two non-matching eyeball earrings, a tiny owl charm I bought in Athens, pastel jingle bell earrings I wore with my pastel flower print jean shorts in seventh grade, a little carton of my broken baby teeth, and four tickets stubs from the Master's of the Universe Power Tour (which I'm pretty sure I attended in third grade).
Wednesday at 11:39pm

Penelope: Let me see your Mickey ring.
Me: I don't have a Mickey ring.
Penelope: You do. You have these ones.
Me: Those are earrings. You can't wear them because you don't have holes in your ears.
Penelope: I do!
Me: But you need little holes in your ear lobes. You don't have pierced ears.
Penelope: I have... (fumbling, trying to put the earring in a suitable hole) I have...(yelping in outrage) I'm big!
Yesterday at 12:14 am

Penelope: I want to go see Grandpa.
Me: Let me put your diaper on first. We don't want Grandpa to see your naked toodlebutt. He'll be scandalized!
Penelope: Is "scandalized" mean "too funny"?
7 hours ago

Penelope just picked up my old jewelry case and started shaking it even though the lid was open. I tried to put everything back.
Me: Where is the other froggie earring? You lost him.
Penelope: I didn't lost him.
Me: He's gone!
Penelope: He hopped away. He went hop, hop, hop, ribbit, off to his lily pad. Not my fault.
7 hours ago

Penelope: Mommy, I'm round.
Me: You're round?
Penelope: Yes, I'm round like a circle, and I'm made out of pie!
5 hours ago

Penelope (slapping her cheeks in alarm the second she walks through the door) Oh no!! MY PIE!!! (Runs frantically to her toy oven, sighs in relief) It's ready! (Throws open door to reveal one plastic apple slice) Taste a bite!
about an hour ago

Penelope (rolling sideways off her potty onto the floor) How sad! My potty crashed. I fell off my potty and broke my elbow.




Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crash

Last night during dinner, I dropped my glass, and it broke everywhere. Well after Mom and Dad had cleaned it up, Penelope suddenly started crying in the kitchen. She'd taken some pieces of glass out of the trash, and her finger was cut and bleeding.

Derrick held her while Mom put on a bandaid. It was quite the event (although fortunately, the cut is very small).

Just now, in their new room in our house, Mom said to me, "I was telling Daddy, Sarah probably dropped that glass last night because she's on muscle relaxants." She punctuated it by pulling the string and causing the entire mini-blind to come crashing to the carpet.

Dad said, "I hadn't screwed that in yet."

I asked, "What are you on, Mom?"


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Penelope Practices for a Future Career on The Price is Right


Peeing and Painting

I am so excited! We just went back to Michaels, and not only DID they have a frame to fit the 12X18 poster, but they also had these ovular canvases. The other day, Mom and I saw such a cute painting of an owl at Target, but it was $30, and we've been buying so much, I didn't want to get it without talking to Derrick, and then I realized--I could paint her something myself. I've been having a lot of fun redoing the Donald Duck mirror. I'm almost done with that finally. I had to go back to Michaels today to buy black and white paint to touch up Donald's hat and body and stuff. I also bought a wooden, heart-shaped picture frame for $.99 and some little pots of children's washable paint because Penelope really wanted to help today. The fine detail work on the mirror is just too difficult for a two-year-old, but I promised I'd get her something she could paint. So tomorrow when I finish the mirror, she can paint, too.

But after I bought the canvases, I suddenly got the best idea for a painting in the car. I was going to do a peacock but in pastel colors that would match Nellie's room, and Mom suggested doing a portrait of Rapunzel with Pascal on her shoulder, but I got the coolest idea in the car, and I'm totally excited to sketch it out tonight.

In other news, after Penelope peed in her froggie potty this morning, I went ahead and changed her into her Daisy Duck panties. That made her much more conscientious about telling us when she had to pee, and she actually went potty three times successfully. After every time I took her, she'd run to the windows and yell enthusiastically, "Hey birdies! I peed in my potty!" But then the fourth time, she accidentally peed her pants in Mom's room. She loves the new paint in there. First thing this morning, she wanted to take Butterscotch (the little laughing kitten she got for Christmas, newly rediscovered and named) in there to "see what Grandpa did."

Meanwhile, I've been taking muscle relaxants to see if that helps my neck stop being weird. So far, my neck is still kind of messed up, but I did notice that I don't remember any of my dreams until I briefly woke up this morning and then fell back asleep for an hour, so they probably helped me to grind less...maybe...All the scans show that there's nothing wrong with me, so hopefully the pain will go away some day.

My new contacts, fortunately, have been working out fabulously well. The past two nights I did not dream about being back in school, which is big news because I have dreamed about being back in school (either grad school, college, high school, grade school--but my age and not working toward a degree, and with people from all different times of my life) literally every night since at least Christmas. Early this morning, I dreamed that Mom and Dad's house had been robbed, but the robber had taken only one thing--a white storage container from upstairs. Mom couldn't remember for sure what had been in there, but told me, "It was probably your stuff. I hope it was nothing too important."

Oh, that reminds me--a few nights ago, while I did dream about being back in school, I also dreamed that Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart were having a secret affair, and I thought (during the dream), "Oh no! Lauren Bacall will be devastated." It was very random and amused me quite a bit the next day.

Yesterday, I sent a follow-up e-mail to an agent that's had one of my books for over two months. They asked to read it exclusively, so I need to know if they've passed, but they still haven't said anything. In the meantime, I've almost finished the mystery I started in April. I'm just redoing the last chapter. Writing it was so much fun that I'm considering doing another one. I wrote it just the way I wrote all my murder mystery dinners, starting with all the characters and their back stories first. Interestingly, it also had the same flaw--not an easy enough way to unmask the murderer. I think I've figured out a fix, though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baby

For the past few days, every time I get sad or upset, Penelope pats me and coos, "Baby? All right, baby?" One night last week, I got overtired (when she was under-tired) and went into a semi-coma on the couch and got really depressed and almost incoherent with exhaustion. Derrick asked, "Are you all right, baby?" Penelope follows his lead. It's so funny because he and I have always called each other "baby" but it's strange to hear from your two-year-old. She's so sweet, though.

She's brave, too. Merry was here this weekend for her friend Ali's wedding, and Sunday night, Nellie brought Grumpy Kitty (as she calls him) a dish of food. She put it up on the chair for him. He rewarded this kindness by snapping at her and getting in a pretty good bite on her arm. She still likes him, however, and was sad when he and "lion kitty" had to go home Monday night.

Aunt Merry is also very popular with Nelope currently, possibly in part because she brought her an awesome Rapunzel doll (kind of Barbie style). She loves it more than words can express.

Chores

I bought Grayson three 22X34 Star Wars posters online, little knowing that finding frames that size would be completely impossible, but I finally found some yesterday that I think will work. I have to say, I'm much more impressed with Target than Michaels. Getting some craft paint for the Donald Duck mirror proved incredibly difficult, but hopefully what I got will work. All my stuff is currently in the back of Mom's car. She's coming over later, and then I can see if the posters look okay in the frames or if I need some kind of matting. I'm really not sure if the paint will work, but I guess I'll find out. Dad is currently studying up on money laundering (against), but they should be over here after that.

Meanwhile, Nellie is watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She seems kind of grumpy. I'm not sure why. We just finished reading The Large and Growly Bear and Where Does the Butterfly Go When it Rains. We were going to read The Shy Little Kitten, but her "buh-yankies" (as she calls them) were done in the dryer, so we got distracted. Earlier, when I was taking clothes out of the dryer in order to dry her blankets, the dowel Derrick hung in the laundry room came crashing down as I was hanging up the clothes. Everything sort of fell all over Penelope, to her great surprise. She looked up at me, wide-eyed, like It's not my fault!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Facebook Statuses

Penelope: Sit on your toodlebutt, kitty! (standing up in the chair, then sitting)
Me: Are you a kitty? Can you say meow?
Penelope: Meowwww! M...ooooo! Moo!!
Me: Moo??? Kitties don't say moo!
P: Moo puppies!
Me: No!!!
P: Moo birdies!
Me: No!!!
P: Moo lion! Moo lion! I saw him in the zoo, and I saw a little baby snake.
May 13 at 10:04 pm

Penelope (spitting in her hair)
Me: What are you doing?
Penelope: (matter-of-factly) I'm spitting in my hair.

Ask a silly question!
May 13 at 10:08pm

Penelope (attacking Grayson on the couch): Fight, fight, fight! (She slaps at him, as he touches her hands) Fight, fight, fight!
(Suddenly, she steps away)
G: Nellie?
P: I'm thinking! (touches her fist to her head) Think, think, think! (returns) FIGHT! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Grandma: No more chocolate for you.
P (suddenly freezes and makes a sad face): Ohh! (tells Grayson sorrowfully) No more candy!
May 13 at 10:24pm


Penelope suddenly charged into the room wielding the pinata stick. Grandpa quickly took it away from her. Suddenly, I remembered when I was four and cut open my head on the fireplace. While feeling my arms for bruises, the doctor asked me, "Sarah, do you have a baseball bat at home?" "No," I replied immediately, then after a moment of thought added brightly, "We have a pinata stick."

And, of course, I also remember how Merry at three used to chase me around the house while raising a hollow plastic baseball bat above her head and yelling at the top of her lungs, "Here comes the maniac!!!!!!"
May 13 at 10:37pm ·

Today's adventure, Derrick paints Grayson's room with help from the Three Stooges. Penelope's painting efforts were...um...exciting...but she made a very encouraging foreman. "Good job, Daddy! Looks wonderful! Great work, everybody!"
May 14 at 2:15pm

Penelope: (looking out the window) There's a birdie. See him. Coming closer. Going to play with me. Oh! Oh darn...my socks!
May 14 at 2:19pm

Penelope (as I dry her off after her bath): I have four legs.
Me: Really?
Penelope: Yes.
Me: Really? Because I only see two legs. Where are the other two legs?
Penelope: (conceding) Little bit hard to see.
May 14 at 5:50 pm

Derrick (to Grayson): Later, you should take a bath in our tub.
Penelope: THAT'S MY BATH TUB!!!!
May 14 at 6:21 pm

Nellie asked for more milk. I got up to get her some. When I returned (about thirty seconds later), she was lying on my former spot on the couch, fast asleep.
May 14 at 7:43 pm

One child has vomited twice since 4:00, and the other just took an unplanned three hour nap from 7-10pm. This promises to be an interesting night.
May 14 at 10:06 pm

Penelope seems to think the last few minutes of Transformers 2 is the best movie ever. "Oh! Wow! Fast! Oooh! Robots are coming! Pretty colors!"
May 14 at 10:09pm

I kind of think she's been remarking on how "cool" it is and showing interest so much because Grayson was talking about seeing the third one in the theater just now, and she wants to go, too. So she's trying to sell us on the idea that she'll watch it.
May 14 at 10:10pm

Nellie: Come sit up here by me, Bubby!
Grayson: I don’t want to sit up there, Nellie.

Nellie: Of course you do, Bubby!
May 15 5:50 pm

Nellie (grabbing Derrick's face and touching the corners of his mouth): Remember Daddy, sing!
May 15 at 5:25 pm

Penelope (singing): To market! To market to buy a fat Dad! Home again naked naked Dad! (Noticing Gray's Bubbletape) Ooh! That looks cool, Bubby!
D: (to another car) I'm turning!
Nellie: I'm turning, too.
May 15 at 5:56pm

Me: Where's the last place you saw your cup?
P: Way up in the sky.
Me: No.
P: (looking at the ceiling) There it is! See my cup? Way up, up in the sky! (Giggles naughtily)

Nellie: I need more milkie!
Me: Well, where is your milkie?
Nellie: In the sky!
Me: In the sky!!!!????
Nellie: The moon is in the sky. Let's go see the moon.
Me: What about your milk?
Nellie: I want to see the moon!
Me: You're fickle!
Nellie (outraged): I'm NOT A PICKLE!!!!!! (Pulls her dress over her face)
May 15 at 10:15 pm

Grayson and Penelope are watching Veggie Tales, Heroes of the Bible while they sit in the cuddle chair together. One of the little kids before the Daniel segment just said that lions can crush your bones with their teeth. Penelope turned to me and asked, "Hear that? Crush bones! Oh my!"
May 16 at 11:30 am

Penelope: I have a favor.
Me: You have a favor?
Penelope: Yes a favor on my head. Check it, Mommy.
Me: Oh, you have a fever?
P: Yes, my head hurts.
(I get the thermometer)
Me: Well, 99.4. You're a little warm, but that's not really a fever.
P: But check my arm. Hurts so bad. Bad favor!
May 16 at 11:56 am

Penelope (dramatically): I threw up, too!
Me: You threw up? Where?
Penelope: In the car. I threw up, and Mommy cleaned it up. I sucked up my sucker and then I throwed up. Was stinky. Daddy stopped. Mommy got a bug.
Me: But that was a long time ago. You're okay now.
May 16 at 11:57 pm

Penelope (showing me a basket): See, Mommy! Look in the basket.
Grandma: It looks empty, but it's not.
Me: What's in there?
Penelope: My chin and my nose.
Me: Your chin and your nose!!!!
Penelope: And my elbow!

What strange game is this?
May 16 at 9:13 pm

Penelope (coming up to me with a red headband): Look Mommy! I'm the lost princess. See? Heading band!
May 16 at 9:20pm

At first I let Nellie help paint her bookcase "up and down, up and down." But when she kept making giant bird footprints with the brush, I had to tell her, "You're messing up what I'm painting, love." Throwing down her brush, she sobbed, "I'm done," and stormed off, so I guess she won't be napping this evening. I was just saying to Mom, "Why is it that our two-year-old won't nap unless we make her paint the house?"
May 17 at 8:22pm

Penelope (staring intently at the Direct TV remote and pushing random buttons): Get another Mickey Mouse out for me! How does it do?
Wednesday at 12:34pm

Penelope (watching me take the Star Wars nutcrackers for Gray's room out of the boxes): Oooh! Look him! He's pretty.
Me: His name is Yoda.
Penelope: That's a cute name. (Suddenly noticing Darth Vader) I don't like him.
Me: That's Darth Vader.
Penelope: (patting Yoda on the head) Like him best. Such beautiful green ears!
Wednesday at 1:13 pm

Penelope (in the shower with me): I need some shaving cream.
Me: No you don't!
Penelope: Well, I have to wash my boobs! Oh, your toe is so purple.
Me: I know. I dropped that icepack on it and said, 'Ouch!'
Penelope: Well, don't yell at me. Stop freaking out!
Me: (suddenly noticing) Why is there blood in your mouth?
P: My mouth is bleeding!
Wednesday at 7:44pm

Penelope (on our walk, with increasing volume): I love birdies. I love all the birdies. I love bluebirds. I love robins. I love blackbirds. I love ducks. I love swans. I love that little birdie. I love ALL BIRDIES!!!! I LOVE BIRDIES! BIRDIES, I LOVE YOU ALL! LOVE YOU SO MUCH! I LOVE YOU ALL, BIRDIES!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday at 1:59 pm

Me: It's starting to rain. Let's walk a little faster.
P: It's starting to rain, birdies!
Me: The birdies know. Let's get home!
P: (stopping each time she sees a bird) Go home, birdie! It's raining. (Realizing) It's raining on my blond hair!!!!
Me: Well, let's hurry and take your blond hair home!
P: Have to tell the birdies! Go home, birdies! It's raining on my blond hair! Will rain on your feathers!
Thursday at 2:02 pm

Me (as Penelope climbs all over me): What are you doing?
P: Let's play Don't Hurt Me.
Me: Nellie, when Mommy says, 'Don't hurt me,' that's not a game!
Thursday at 11:13 pm

Penelope (importantly to my dad): Yoda went to heaven.
Thursday at 11:15 pm

Nellie: Daddy, Yoda died!
Derrick: And where did he go?
Nellie: Shiny. At the end of the movie.