Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall Movie Diary: Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots
Date: Friday, October 28, 2011
Time: 8:50 pm
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hill Town Center
Company: Derrick, Grayson, Penelope
Trivia: Before the movie, we went to dinner at Pasados, and Penelope tried to fingerpaint on the wall with ketchup. When we didn’t let her, she got so upset, that a waiter rushed over and yelled frantically, “What was that on the wall?” When we answered “ketchup,” he left abruptly. Moments later he returned and explained, “When I saw her crying, I thought it was a spider.” We meant to go to the 8:00 at Tinsel Town, but dinner took too long. Because we ate right before, we weren’t going to get any food at the theater, but Penelope begged for popcorn. “Please, Daddy, please!” But she says it like, “pease.”
Food: small popcorn (shared with Penelope), Large red and blue Icee
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Chris Miller

Quick Impressions:
We’ve been excited to see Puss in Boots for a long time, particularly my two-year-old who has been pretending to be Puss off-and-on for almost a month. After a couple of weeks of nothing particularly outstanding in theaters, we were longing for a movie with a little magic, and Puss in Boots fortunately delivered, providing genuine entertainment for the whole family.

The Good:
Antonio Banderas makes Puss himself so captivating that the story surrounding him hardly seems to matter. Even a largely incoherent mess probably would have won over the audience because Puss has such winning charisma. Fortunately, though, the story is fairly well thought out and engaging in its own right. Granted, nothing about Puss’s tale is exactly original, but it all feels about right.

Both Banderas and Selma Hayek have such sonorous, compelling voices. Even with bad lines, they would have been an engaging screen couple, but the script is well paced and reasonably witty, a bonus in a movie that could easily fall back on Puss’s adorably big kitty eyes to win the audience over.

Another strength of Puss in Boots is the economy of characters. The Shrek series sometimes goes overboard, forcing the audience to endure not-always-clever cameos from a seemingly endless parade of minor fairy tale folk, but this spin-off wisely refrains from jam-packing the movie with colorful but unimportant characters. Almost the entire story focuses on the core group: Puss, Kitty Softpaws, Humpty Alexander Dumpty, and Jack and Jill. This tight focus enables the plot to advance quickly, preventing younger members of the audience from getting bored or distracted.

Though Puss in Boots has plenty of humor, it wisely values story over jokes, a choice that ultimately pays off in gold. Part of the appeal of the Shrek series is its irreverent attitude toward fairy tales, but Puss embraces the magic that Shrek mocks. The magic beans work. (And they’re so glowy!) The beanstalk leads to a realm of enchantment and wonder where the protagonists encounter genuine marvels even before discovering the golden goose. Shrek is an unlikely hero, Puss a far more traditional one. Even cynical Humpty Alexander Dumpty turns out to be a good egg in the end.

Funniest Scene:
The movie starts to build momentum in the marvelous scene in The Glitterbox when Puss battles a masked opponent by an unexpected method. The fight is definitely a joy to watch, and the reactions of the other cats provoke lots of laughs.

Best Scene Visually:
Dreamworks consistently offers beautiful animation with a particular knack for captivating scenes in the rain. Every scene in Puss in Boots is lovely to look at, but the beanstalk scenes (both going up and coming down) stand out as especially aesthetically exciting. The stalk itself has such visible depth and detail, and the motion it brings with it makes the scene so intense that it's impossible to look away. Even coming down, the beanstalk brings visual sizzle.

Best Joke:
The scenes inside The Glitterbox got the most laughter from the audience, particularly one little cat who kept reacting to awkward moments. I personally found Jack and Jill’s ongoing banter about having a baby awfully amusing, though. Jack's longing for a child definitely speaks more to the adults in the audience, but it's funny without being crude or cheap. I also laughed out loud at Puss’s reaction to receiving his boots for the first time.

Best Action Sequence:
The fight scene in the stagecoach—when Puss and Kitty Softpaws must get past some pigs to swipe the magic beans but unfortunately incur the wrath of Jack and Jill—involves lots of speed and sword play. What makes the scene work particularly well, I think, is Puss’s scramble to keep track of the three magic beans, which, conveniently, glow.

Best Surprise:
One of the movie’s nicest moves is the ultimate destiny of Humpty Dumpty. A late revelation about the true nature of his character infuses the entire story with a moving meaning and provides a highly satisfying motive for all his frantic scheming.

The Performances:
Antonio Banderas is perfect as Puss. I’d gladly watch hundreds of sequels, and knowing Dreamworks, I’m sure I’ll get my chance. And Selma Hayek provides a perfect complement as the wily and beguiling Kitty Softpaws.

I spent the entire movie trying to place the voice of Zach Galifianakis and was still shocked to see his name in the credits. He shows some nice range here, making a thoroughly convincing (and clean-shaven) Humpty Dumpty.

Ordinarily, I am not a fan of Billy Bob Thornton (though I’ll acknowledge he’s a talented actor), but I loved him as the would-be family man, Jack. Amy Sedaris was also good as Jill.

The Negatives:
I am slightly confused about why the plot against Puss worked, even for a little while. I understand why the townspeople were angry at Puss, but why were they so willing to accept and trust everyone else? The complicated history shared by Puss and Humpty felt awfully familiar, but I'm not sure that's really a bad thing in a movie like this.

Also, this may not be a fair criticism, but I wish the movie had spent more time in the sky.

Overall:
Puss in Boots managed to entertain my eight-year-old stepson, my two-year-old daughter, my husband, and me the entire time it was on the screen, a rare feat indeed. I’d recommend it to anyone, but especially to families with young children. Like Shrek, it offers a lot of humor, but Puss also has a kind of earnest innocence that makes fairy tales seem magical again. The plot isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but the movie looks beautiful, feels magical, and kept my two-year-old on the edge of her seat. Like Humpty Dumpty, Puss is more solid than you might expect and has surprising heart.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Angel

Artist






I loved Penelope's self-portrait last Sunday, mainly because while painting herself (applying finger paint the same color as her dress to her paper) she was painting herself (hands, arms, nose). Yesterday she got a big kick out of painting her nose red and her torso gold! Those finger paints have been a very happy mistake!

Poseidon


Penelope doesn't have a name for this masterpiece, but that's what it looks like to me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Me (or the Sad Unicorn)


Penelope finger-painted for the better part of the afternoon today while I scrupulously proofread my most recent manuscript before submitting it to an agent. Derrick bought the finger paints on Sunday afternoon, mistakenly assuming we could use them to paint the pumpkins. They're washable and kid safe, and they're hard to paint much of anything with, but clearly Penelope has managed it.

I can't count how many times I walked her to the bathroom to wash her hands. (She likes to clean her brush (i.e. her fingers) when switching to a new color. At one point, she cried out from the bathroom. "OH NO! Mommy, come see what I've done!" She'd accidentally gotten the paint all over the soap. It's weird. These paints don't stain. They wash out easily, but it takes a minute. As you rub your hands together under the tap, the color washes away immediately, but a weird, colorless, slimy goup clings to your hands very persistently.

Anyway, I actually discovered one of her many paintings on the floor just a few minutes ago, fully dried. I loved it instantly. To me, it looks like a dying unicorn (or maybe a sad and wounded unicorn). I thought it was just marvelous.

When I told her, "I love your painting! What is it a picture of," Penelope answered enthusiastically, "You, Mom! I knew you would like it, so I painted you so cute with my finger paints!"

I'm flattered, but I still see a sad unicorn every time I look at the picture.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"FAAAAAAAST!!!!!"

We just got back from a scary walk. On the way home from the playground, Penelope and I were playing the, "FAAAAST!" game when suddenly she fell forward out of the stroller. She was buckled in, but it didn't matter, she just took the stroller with her.

Facts: She thrust out her hands to catch herself. I tried to stop running. The stroller hit me in the back. We both yelled, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!"

Impressions: I know this can't be what actually happened, but in my mind, I did a somersault through the air, and then the stroller arms whacked me in the back as I grabbed Penelope's head in my hands.

Anyway, we were both shaken up, but almost unscathed. Penelope's hands are lightly scraped, but fortunately not bleeding. "We'll have to go slow until we get home," I told her, adding, "Maybe Daddy can get your other stroller out of the garage. It's a little sturdier." Or maybe she's just getting too big to go fast.

It was horrifying as it was happening. Her face is finally almost healed (still with faint pink marks) from when her face went skidding across the cobblestone sidewalk at Grayson's swim lesson. We had another minor scare at the playground, too. Well, I did. She wasn't scared.

Since the weather mercifully dipped below 100, we've been walking to the playground almost every day, and Penelope has been practicing her climbing. I taught her to get down from platforms by grabbing the bars to either side and lowering herself to the ground. But those platforms aren't that high off the ground.

Today, she led me to a bench, said, "You sit here, Pascal," and then started running away laughing. I followed her, but then I lost her for a second. Then I heard her say under her breath, "Now how can I do this?"

I found her hanging by her arms from the highest platform there, much too high for her to jump down from.

"Oh Penelope," I said, trying not to freak out and alarm her as I helped her get down--not so great for my back.

I was in horrible pain all night last night, and I finally figured out that it's a muscle. That didn't occur to me at first because although I played football for a long time Saturday with Derrick and Grayson, I throw with my right hand, and this is a muscle across my left side. Mimicking the motion of throwing the ball made the side hurt a lot this morning, though, so that's how I figured it out.

I'll have to write about playing football in the park more later. I was so proud of myself. We were really playing three way catch with the football. Derrick threw to Grayson, Gray to me, and me to Derrick. But Derrick was standing about thirty feet from me, so I thought I was doing a pretty good job. We had few interruptions in our game. At first I didn't understand how to throw the ball that far, but then Derrick told me to make an arc. A few months ago, he taught me to catch by explaining that it's a reflex, so you shouldn't try. As long as you don't try to do anything, your body catches the ball naturally. It works!

I really wanted my parents to see me--like a little kid! But as a kid, I could never throw or catch a ball decently, or do anything that involved coordination. Grayson, I must say, has a great throw. He almost always put the ball right between my hands. But on the few occasions when it went to one side or high, I was able to make adjustments and catch it.

Grayson is very encouraging. He's always like, "Great throw! Good catch! You tipped it; that counts!" But I really was proud of myself, and it was also fun. I've decided that I take too many pictures and need to participate more in what's going on instead of always standing back taking pictures of it. Of course, I deeply regret that we have no pictures of the three of us playing catch!

Now I have to go up and take Penelope a bath because my mother is badgering me about it incessantly. I will blog more. I just haven't been blogging because I've been working on writing and trying to find an agent. Also, about every other time I tried to upload photos to this blog, Blogger responded with some kind of weird error which just made me irritated so I didn't feel like blogging. I'll be better. A lot has actually been happening.


Penelope Says on Facebook

There are an awful lot of stampedes at our house. Or at least, there are an awful lot of exclamations of, "A STAMPEDE, MUFASA! A STAMPEDE!!!!!!"
October 16 at 9:44 pm

Me: Who made all this wind?
Penelope: A witch did!
Me: A witch did!??
Penelope: A baby witch named Rapunzel! I remember last Monday seeing two baby witches in my bed, and they were both named Rapunzel, and I was one of them!
Me: You're Rapunzel, the baby witch?
P: Yes, and I made all this wind for some reason!
October 17 at 6:05 pm

Penelope (waking up this morning): Is it Christmas???
Me: No.
(Penelope bursts into hysterical tears. Then, when I happen to sniffle, she suddenly stops crying and looks delighted.)
Penelope (quite pleased): My nose is stuffy, too!
October 18 at 12:57 pm

Five-year-old boy at the playground: I have a play kitchen at home with toy food.
Me: Penelope has a play kitchen, too.
Boy (wisely): But mine is a little different.
October 18 at 12:18 pm

Penelope: (interrupting my conversation with Derrick) Come see my movie pile. It will really excite you.
Me: Where is your movie pile?
Penelope: You'll see it when you follow me.
(She leads me into the living room where she has pulled down three shelves of DVDs and thrown them all over the floor)
Me: (slightly irritated) Why did you do that?
Penelope: (delighted) It doesn't matter! It's in the past!

Thanks a lot, Lion King!

Me: Now we have to pick up all those movies!
P: No! You do it! I'm Simba! I can't go back! Hakuna Matata!
October 18 at 3:55 pm

Penelope (waking up): Did the Easter Bunny come?
Me: No, not today.
Penelope (groans and throws an arm over her eyes): I want a cookie!

Yesterday Christmas, today Easter! Is she going to ask if it's a different holiday every morning from now until Halloween?
October 19 at 1:37 pm

Penelope (at sunset): The sky is on fire!
October 19 at 9:13 pm

Penelope (gasping in shock at the end of an episode of Ringer): Siobhan is alive!
Me: (surprised that she was paying attention) Yes, Bridget thinks that Siobhan is dead, but she's really alive.
Penelope: What's a Bridget?
October 19 at 10:42 pm

Me: It's time to go up and take a bath.
Penelope: No! I don't want to take a bath. I'm too scared.
Me: Why are you scared? There's nothing scary in the bath tub.
Penelope: But I'm stupid.
Me: You're not stupid!
(Penelope pointedly ignores me.)
October 20 at 12:25 am

Penelope (in the bath tub): I can only find the kitty fish. Where is my bluebird? Maybe Bubby took him!
Me: No, I don't think Bubby would take him.
P: Maybe he wanted to show his mommy because I showed the bluebird to Aimee and Memaw.
Me: When did you do that?
P: Well, I put a picture online.
October 20 at 1:07 am

I got out of the shower to see Penelope rubbing a bar of soap on her hair in the tub while saying, "I'm going to be so clean!"
October 20 at 1:08 am

Penelope (last night just before falling asleep): My broom is just pretend. It doesn't fly. I've never seen a real witch. I wish that I could meet one some day. Maybe she would talk to me.
Me: What do you think she would say?
P: Probably, "Hi, Penelope."
Me: What would you say? Maybe "Hi, Witch."
P: No, I don't think that's the best thing.
October 20 at 1:20 pm

A neighbor passing us on a walk: Hi. (to Nellie) Hello, sweetheart.
Penelope: (Waving) Hi!
Neighbor: How are you?
Penelope: Good. (smiling up at me with a scrunched nose) He was nice!
October 20 at 3:58 pm

Penelope (in accusatory horror as I get out of the shower): Kate! Why did you put me in the bath tub???
Me (taking a minute to process): Oh! I am so sorry, Gizmo! I didn't realize it was you!
October 21at 1:17

Me: (last night going to bed) And God bless Daddy.
Penelope: (in the same rhythm) And Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
Derrick: What's this about Hungry, Hungry Hippos?
Penelope: It's a game. You take it out of the box, and boys and girls can play!

Tonight's prayer brought to you by Hasbro.
Saturday at 4:21 pm

Penelope's idea of getting a touch down is touching the football to the ground. She just did it about a hundred times in a row, then told Derrick, "I just got all the touchdowns. Hold me!"
Saturday at 4:31 pm

Penelope: (singing softly) Go away! Go away to Egypt!
Saturday at 5:21 pm

My dad (finally joining us): Is this the latest pirate movie.
Everyone: Yes.
Penelope: That's Black Beard. That's Black Beard. (Seven or eight more times) That's not her father. That's Black Beard.
Me: Yes, it is Blackbeard.
Penelope (running over to Dad): Do you understand? That's Blackbeard!
Saturday at 9:41 pm

Penelope (shaking her head knowingly as she watches Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides): That's a bad mermaid.
Saturday at 9:58 pm

Penelope (as we were carving): I'm going to go get the paint now, guys.
Us (humoring her): Okay.
Penelope: You never know what I may bring, Mom. Pink or blue.
Me: You're mysterious.
(We thought she was just pretending. We're out of pumpkin paint, and Derrick's going to buy some after we carve.)
My dad (upstairs): No, that's house paint. You need to put that down. (Comes down and tells us): She found a bucket of house paint I never knew was there!
Sunday at 2:35 pm

Penelope: (watching football with me) Now who are those white guys?
Me: That's Chicago, and the ones in red are Tampa Bay.
Penelope: (confused, stares at the screen for a moment, then asks) Then who are the Steelers?
Sunday at 2:26 pm

Me: Have you been taking silly pills?
Penelope: (giggling wildly) Noooo...Crazy pills!!!!!
Sunday at 7:54 pm

Penelope: Are you sad because nobody will publish your book? (suspiciously pointing at a picture of some random guy on the internet) He won't publish your book?
Me: (with a theatrical sigh) Who will publish my book, Nellie?
Penelope: Me! (Hugging me) When I get big, I will publish it!

She's so supportive. And so mad at that poor man she's singled out at random.
19 hours ago

Penelope (putting a Raggedy Ann wig on top of one of the pumpkins): He's a girl pumpkin now, now that he's dressed up in his costume. I put on his wig.
19 hours ago





Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Movie Diary: Real Steel

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Time: 6:50 pm
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hill Town Center
Company: Derrick
Food: Large cherry Icee
Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Shawn Levy

Quick Impressions:
In the future, everything will change—except the design of Dr. Pepper cans. Robots will take over boxing. HP will be king of cell phones and tablet computers. Wind farming will increase slightly. And…that’s really it. Everything else will stay exactly the same—especially those Dr. Pepper cans.

The premise of Real Steel is totally ridiculous. I never believed the vision of the future the movie created. It seemed beyond contrived. I realize the story takes place in the near future, but they treat a robot who won a title in 2016 like an antique has-been, so you’d imagine that they’re ten years in the future at the very least. Considering how much technology and culture have changed since 2001, you’d expect to see some more substantial differences in 2021 and beyond.

Despite this silly premise, Real Steel is lots of fun to watch and packs a bigger emotional punch than it probably should.

The Good:
Visually, the movie is almost perfect. Real Steel does a better job of advancing the plot visually than any other movie I’ve seen in 2011. The movie could be silent, and the audience could still easily follow the story by relying on the visuals alone. Since the story focuses on the successes of a sparring bot who has a shadow mode and mimics movements it sees, this method of showing the story progress (without particularly needing to tell) is impressive on many levels. The movie doesn’t need sound to communicate what is happening onscreen to the audience.

That said, the sound in the movie is fantastic and tremendously enhances the theatrical experience. Danny Elfman’s score fits what is happening onscreen perfectly, and whoever chose the songs to accompany the action scenes is a genius. The picture tells you what is happening. The sound makes you care.

Hugh Jackman is thoroughly engaging as Charlie Kenton, a down-and-out boxer turned down-and-out robot fight promoter. One of the less tired elements of the plot is that as the story opens, Kenton couldn’t care less about salvaging his relationship with his son. He simply views Max as another piece of collateral.

Young actor Dakota Goyo makes a captivating Max, easily the strongest and most likeable character in the movie. You can see why Max so easily riles up the crowd in the fighting arena. He has the same effect on the audience in the movie theater.

The Bad:
The story itself feels a little…lacking. I kept thinking of the Samuel Johnson quote, “the part is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” In this case, that assessment is a little harsh, but the plot is the weakest part of this film, and the character development is the second weakest. The strongest and most powerful character, Charlie Kenton’s irrepressibly optimistic son Max, does make watching the movie more emotionally rewarding. He’s just not a particularly original character, despite being a particularly likeable one.

Besides feeling a bit stale in general, the story’s biggest problem is that it runs out of steam before the (thoroughly predictable) ending. Despite Charlie’s speech about robots replacing humans in the ring because people wanted higher stakes and more destruction, when you’re watching two robots fight, the stakes simply aren’t as high as when you’re watching a human being getting pummeled. Charlie gets a needed wake-up call and a new appreciation for life and his place in the world, but after the father/son story is resolved, what happens in the ring doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s easy to stay on your feet, keep punching, and remember your technique when a sparring bot is the one taking all the hits.

Also, the characters opposing Charlie and Max are like ridiculous, over-the-top cartoon characters. Every single antagonist seems to have come from a different sub-genre of animation. Given the kid-friendly nature of the story, I’m not sure that this is entirely a bad thing, but it’s certainly distracting.

Best Scene:
Like a fighting bot assembled from junkyard scrap, Real Steel is a movie that manages to be much better than the sum of its parts. The whole movie is good and makes a positive impression, but it’s hard to point to one scene that’s really any stronger than the others. Instead of having a truly strong scene, I'd say the movie had a number of outstanding moments within mediocre scenes, and most of these moments were outstanding because of the impression they made visually.

Best Action Sequence:
Definitely, the last action sequence is the best one. During every robot fighting sequence, the accompanying music (often mainly a song with a driving beat) easily engages the audience. The robotic smashing is entertaining, but the power of the last scene comes from the performances of Jackman and Goyo as a man remembering who he is, and a boy delighted to watch the transformation.

The Performances:
I loved Dakota Goyo as Max so much that I began to imagine having a son who looked like Goyo and naming him Max. Hugh Jackman was also great as Charlie, particularly because the script didn’t help him much. Somehow, Jackman managed to create a semi-realistic character. Evangeline Lilly was good as Charlie’s oldest and most frustrated fan Bailey Tallet. Lilly and Hope Davis as Max’s aunt were the two characters in the entire movie who didn’t feel like they’d been lifted from a cartoon. Anthony Mackie made Finn sympathetic and fun, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a villain easier to boo and hiss at than Kevin Durand’s Ricky.

Overall:
Real Steel is fun to watch. The images tell the story. The sound engages the audience. The characters seem vaguely familiar, like we’ve met them somewhere before. Fortunately, though, they’re so charming that we probably liked them then, too. The movie has flaws, but it’s hard to notice them as you’re drawn in by the action, the color, the spectacle, the sound, and the heart of Real Steel.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Appreciating Football Players

I left the playground feeling wounded because I tried to show Penelope how to step across the black lilypad type things. At the end, I jumped up and yelled, "Tada!" The problem? There's a metal arch above the platform clearly designed for someone more in the fourth grade height range than I tend to be these days. This is the second time this week that I've whacked the top of my head at that playground! It's definitely sore, but it's not like I'm concussed or anything.

Still, when I arrived home totally out of breath (because Penelope's back in a stroller on walks and her new game is, "FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAST!" and then I run for as long as she can yell it), the door was locked. We rang the bell a million times and knocked until Derrick finally said in a voice so annoyed that he actually sounded more like someone from The Addams Family than himself, "Coming."

Then we came in to discover that he'd pulled a groin muscle running down the stairs to get the door for Fed Ex, clearly the more painful injury incurred this afternoon.

But on the bright side, my Spencer Tracy biography is here.

Kids in Trees

Okay, Blogger still won't let me upload pictures. At this point, I'm getting furious. I've been trying every other day for over a week!

Olive Garden

I haven't been blogging much because 1) I've been busy trying to get my most recent book published, and 2) Every other time I try to upload pictures on Blogger, I get a weird error. That's just annoying and makes me irritated.

Anyway, last night we went to Olive Garden to celebrate Mom and Dad's house selling. (They closed on Friday the fourteenth, but Mom works till 8:00 Friday and Monday nights and till 6:30 Saturday and Sunday nights, and she had to make pork chops on Tuesday, so we went out Wednesday.)

Penelope did not seem quite as excited as the rest of us--until we got to the parking lot, and she saw the restaurant. "This is where I get macaroni!" she cried in excitement.

She looked adorable yesterday. She was wearing an old glow-in-the-dark Halloween shirt that Nanny and Papaw Harley actually bought for Grayson many moons ago. It's big on her but looks adorable, and to my surprise, her orange polka dotted pants from last year still fit, I guess because they're a 4T and used to be on the huge side.

Derrick carried her to the restaurant, and she looked up at the sunset and exclaimed, "The sky is on fire!"

Once we got inside and ordered, the waiter asked Penelope, "Do you want some macaroni and cheese?" and she replied emphatically, "And some cherries." He brought her a coffee cup full of maraschino cherries--there must have been ten in there. She polished off every last one in under five minutes. When we noticed how quickly she was eating them, Derrick said, "You might want to take it easy on the cherries and slow down a little." This provoked a suspicious glare, and she began picking up another cherry while still chewing. Mom teased, "I think I'll eat one of those cherries," prompting Penelope to cry, "NO!" and pop another cherry into her mouth even though still chewing while simultaneously picking up yet another cherry.

So she liked the cherries. She also enjoyed about five black olives from the salad, a tomato slice, several breadsticks (at least three), all of her grapes, a bit of her macaroni, and half of the spaghetti that came with my egg plant.

After all of this gorging, she lay down on her back in the booth and groaned, "Ohhhh! I am so full!"

Then the waiter asked, "Who wants dessert?" and Penelope shot up immediately and exclaimed, "I do!"

After we all split a triple chocolate cake/mousse thing, Dad left to go to the bathroom, and the waiter left the bill on the table for him in one of those thick, folder-like envelopes. Penelope was interested. She also wanted to go home.

Mom told her, "This is for Grandpa, and when he gets back and pays the bill, then we can go."

Dad returned and stuck his credit card in the envelope. Then the waiter came and took it, and Penelope was outraged. "Hey!" she called after him, "That's for Grandpa!" only she says Beeyampaw. It was pretty funny.

Because we had a bottle of wine with dinner, everyone was tired when we got home, except Penelope (who hadn't had wine), and me (who should have been drowsiest of all because I took all my medication when I got home.

It's so nice that it's finally getting cooler!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Penelope Says on Facebook

Penelope: Go get my stool, Mommy. It's in the bathroom.
Me: Why don't you get it?
Penelope: I'm scared of spiders.
Grandma: You're scared of spiders? You do know she's kidding us.
Penelope: NO! I'm not kidding! Get my stool, please! I want to make pumpkin pie!
October 5 at 1:37 pm

Penelope: This is a cool apron you bought, Gram.
Grandma: Thanks. I buy all the cool stuff.
Penelope: I think I have my own rolling pin somewhere.
Grandma: Well, that's good for your little stove, but I think while we make the pie, you can share mine.
Penelope: Oh, thank you!
Grandma: You're welcome.
October 5 at 1:48 pm

Penelope: The dots! The dots! Evil's coming to scare you!
Me: Evil's coming to scare you? Did you hear her?
Derrick: I hate it when evil's coming. It always scares me.
Penelope: Beware!
October 5 at 2:03 pm

Overheard in the kitchen...
"Oh, that was very good cracking, but next time, please wait for Grandma to crack the eggs."
October 5 at 2:58 pm

Penelope: I'm Yoda. Daddy's Mace Window. Mommy, you can be Darth Vader.
October 5 at 11:01 pm

Penelope: (gently touching her father's face) Open your teeth...and be a bear.
Derrick: Be a bear?
Penelope: And I'll be a baby bear. Now let me see your bear teeth.
Derrick: Why do you want to see my bear teeth?
Penelope: Because you're a bear...and I'm poopy.
Derrick: Maybe one day, you'll learn to poop in the potty.
Penelope: Maybe Saturday. (sings a very garbled days of the week song that ends loudly with Saturday) I love you. You mad at me?
Derrick: No, I'm not mad at you. (Blows a raspberry at her)
Penelope: Oh! You scared me! You scared me half the way to China! Now, open your teeth and say grr.
October 5 at 11:38 pm

Penelope: I'm going to make you into things.
Derrick: You are?
Penelope: Uh huh. And I'm going to take out your gizzard.
Derrick: What?!
October 5 at 11:38 pm

Penelope (running up to me, barking): I'm Baby Pupcake.
Me: Oh, hello, Baby Pupcake! Am I Mommy Pupcake.
Penelope (barks some more): Yeah, and I've got a surprise for you!
Me: What is it?
Penelope: It's...(Breaks character suddenly to tell me seriously) It's Christmas time right now.
Me: Okay.
Penelope: (Parks again) Another Pupcake is coming for Christmas!
October 6 at 12:01 pm

Penelope: This isn't the real one!
Me: What are you talking about? Of course it's the real one!
Penelope: NO! It isn't! It's just going to be the song, and all the animals will come, and it's going to close.
Me: No, it really is the movie. It just starts the same as the preview.
Penelope: NO! It's going to say, "The Lion King," and it's going to close.
Me: And then it's going to be the rest of the movie--see?
P: Oh yes! There's Scar. He's a bad kitty. He's my daddy's brother. He's a very bad kitty. Oh no! (giggling) Scar's going to eat Zazu at this point!
Me: At this point, huh?
P: Yeah, but not forever because then my daddy Mufasa comes along.
October 6 at 2:29 pm

Penelope: Aww, Daddy fell asleep! He's adorable! Look at him sleeping in his chair so cute!
October 6 at 11:49 pm

During our bedtime prayer...
Penelope: And God bless Uncle Scar...
October 7 at 12:08pm

Penelope: I'm Penny Puppy. I want something to eat!
Me: What would you like, Penny?
Penelope (reproachfully): You should know, Perdita. You're my mother. What do I always eat?
October 7 at 12:20 pm

Penelope (handed me a huge container of Tums): You want these, Mom, or no?
Me: Why don't you put them back where they were?
Penelope: Well, I'm trying to move them.
Me: Why are you trying to move them?
Penelope (ignoring the question): Here are your vitamins. And what about The Hungry Game?
October 7 at 2:03 pm

So, I lost my wedding ring. While I was looking, Penelope became absolutely hysterical and couldn't stop crying. Finally, after a long conversation, I learned that she thought I had lost the candy corn earrings Derrick bought me at the pumpkin patch last weekend. Naturally, she was devastated. When she reached up from my lap and confirmed that I was wearing them, she said, "Oh thank goodness. They're so beautiful!"
October 7 at 3:51 pm

Penelope (frowning at the TV): I'm so worried!
Me: Why are you worried, Penelope?
Penelope: I don't want this to get cancelled!
Me: Don't worry. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse isn't getting cancelled.
Penelope: Good. Now what happened to Goofy? And where's Pluto?
October 7 at 6:27 pm

Penelope: Is that Baby Addie?
Me: Yes, that's her. What if we have a baby, what should we call her?
Penelope: Rapunzel.
Me: But what if it's a boy?
Penelope: Rapunzel's not a boy!
Me: No, but what if the baby's a boy?
Penelope: No, it's a girl!
Me: But it might be a boy.
Penelope: Then call him Yoda.
October 7 at 6:42 pm

Me (picking up The Hunger Games)
Penelope: Hey! That's my book!
Me: It's not your book.
Penelope: Well, I was reading it.
Me: No, you weren't.
Penelope: Yes, I was! I was just reading The Hungry Game! You have to let me have it.
(Ten minutes later, when I got up to get her more milk, I found that she'd stolen my chair and the book, which she was "reading" upside down.)
Penelope (noticing me, clutches the book to her chest and says with the most sincere desperation) Please, this means so much to me!
October 7 6:44 pm

Penelope: Scar was in line, and then I got in line ahead of him, and he couldn't buy his groceries.
October 8 at 1:20 pm

Derrick: (half talking to me, half to the TV, kind of riled up) If it's fourth down, you might as well throw the ball into the end zone and give your guy a chance to make a play!
Penelope (yelling passionately at him): NO! MY MOMMY WON'T DO THAT!
Me: No, Daddy's not yelling at me. He's yelling at the TV.
October 8 at 2:44 pm

Penelope (in the back seat on the way home, after an enormous yawn): Oh! I roared so loud that now I'm sleepy. (Falls asleep one minute later.)
October 8 at 10:13 pm

At the park this evening...
Penelope: I smell dragons. Once a dragon flew down and he breathed fire on me, and he cut my tummy. And then he brought me a band-aid. He was a very friendly dragon. He was very nice to me. We're still friends.

While we were at the park, she also spotted trolls and ghosts, turned into a billy goat, and then as we got into the car...
Penelope: Be very careful! There may be vampires around. (Suddenly talking in a raspy whisper, very, very quickly) Be careful, because they're very sneaky! They talk like this! (Makes a hissing, raspy noise)
October 8 at 10:19 pm

Penelope: Scar is Mufasa's brother, so Mufasa is his sister.
Me: No, Mufasa is his brother because he's a boy. You're Bubby's sister, and Jack's his brother, but Baby Addie is his sister, too, because she's a girl, too.
P: Then why does Baby Addie have no teeth?
Me: You didn't used to have teeth, either.
P: And now I have a mane! But why did I eat Zazu? I pounced on him and cooked him with bacon in my pit and ate him. What was I thinking?
October 11 at 12:57 am

Penelope (singing): Turn not away! Turn not away! But please don't turn away from me. (I turn around while brushing my teeth, and she yells from the bath tub) Hey! You did my song!
October 11 at 1:00 am

Penelope (as Derrick accidentally touches the blinds with his hands while moving something): You're not supposed to do that. It hurts the blinds!
D: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to touch the blinds.
P: And never do it again!
October 11 at 12:53 pm

Penelope (immediately after waking up): I don't want it to be Halloween. I want it to be Christmas.
Me: Well, it will be Christmas after Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Penelope: What happens after Christmas?
Me: Well, then, it's New Year's and then it's your birthday.
Penelope: (excited) I'm gonna be two!
Me: No, you are two. You're going to be three.
Penelope: (suddenly really upset) NO! I'm going to be two! Grandma's three!
Wednesday at 1:26 pm

Penelope: (stepping on my toes suddenly) Help.
Me: What's wrong?
Penelope: I saw a guy behind the couch.
Me: You saw a guy behind the couch?
Penelope: I don't know who he was, but he was very green. And I'm worried he might bite me.
Me (looking): Oh, that's just a little caterpillar.
Penelope: (immediately softening) Awww! He's lost from his mommy! Don't be sad, little caterpillar! Don't you know you're going to be a butterfly?
Wednesday at 1:28 pm

Penelope: I want to eat a ghost!
Me: You want to eat a ghost??
Penelope: Yeah! I already did! When I was a boy, I made a ghost for lunch, and I ate him because I was so hungry!
Me: When you were a boy! When were you a boy?
Penelope: For three hours.
Me: I'm confused. How were you a boy?
Penelope: I was a boy when I ate that ghost. I made him into cheese, and I put him on my plate, and I swallowed him right down my mouth!
Wednesday at 11:11 pm

Penelope: Scar was on a train.
Me: Where was the train going?
Penelope: It was going chugga chugga choo choo on the tracks!
Thursday at 12:10 am

Me (arranging the letters S-I-M-B-A and S-C-A-R on a slate): Can you tell me what these letters say?
Penelope: (knocking all the letters off the slate and saying passionately) You will never be king, Scar!

Somehow, I've changed from Nala to Scar. I knew this was bound to happen eventually. She's obsessed with Scar.
Yesterday at 2:09 pm

It's easy to play Scar with the appropriate sardonic edge when Penelope tells me things like, "You killed my father, Scar. Don't ever do that again!"
Yesterday at 3:35 pm

While we were waiting at a light, a pedestrian crossed between the cars in line. Penelope yelled at him, "Idiot! Don't start walking!"
Yesterday at 4:54 pm

Derrick is about to place the most complicated special order ever at Taco Bell. Every time he goes over the order and describes Grayson's taco, Penelope goes, "Ohhhhh," in devastated disappointment. He's like, "Bubby wants meat and no cheese! YOU'RE getting beans and cheese and lettuce," and she added, "And tomatoes!"
Yesterday at 6:48 pm

Penelope: I'm gonna take of my shoes!
Grayson: Okay.
Me: But Nellie if you take off your shoes, you'll have to put them on again when we get out!
Grayson: Too late!
Penelope: (gleefully) Too late!!! SMELL MY FEET!!!!!
Yesterday at 6:55 pm

Grayson: I've got really skinny arms.
Penelope: Well my skin has bones inside it!
Yesterday 7:05 pm

Penelope: Bubby let me play Halloween birds on his puter. I need a puter. Even Memaw has a puter! I liked seeing Baby Addie. I wish Baby Addie would come to my house. I'd sing her a song about her!
22 hours ago

Grayson (putting Mr. Potato Head features through his fingers, and moving his hand to talk to Nellie): Hello! My name is Mr. Potato Hand!
10 hours ago

Penelope: I want to teach school.
Me: You do?
Penelope: I want to teach at my own school.
Me: Who will go there?
P: Me.
7 hours ago

Grayson: Please let me take a turn in the tree, Nellie.
Penelope: No! You won't fit!
(Grayson goes off and pretends to cry behind a tree, but his fake crying is less than convincing.)
Grayson: Well, good bye, Nellie. You wouldn't share, so I'm leaving.
P (amused and wicked): Ohhh. He's going home to his mommy's house. He'll miss me!
10 hours ago


Penelope has been running around all afternoon saying things like, "I've been frisky all day" and calling Derrick "tumba bumba." As it turns out, she's the Poky Little Puppy (because his brothers went "tumble bumble down the hill"). She's now renamed Grayson Pickles.
55 minutes ago