Sunday, May 27, 2012

Question of the Day

Why do I have a bladder infection again?


This has been the question of the day.




Seriously, I'm sick of getting UTIs.  I guess I really will have to go to the urologist.  The doctor today pointed out that just because bloodwork makes cancer seem unlikely, there's lots of other stuff that could be wrong.  She suggested a structural issue since after my pregnancy.  But that seems weird to me because Penelope is three, and before this March, I did not have a UTI problem.


Here is my UTI history.  I had one in grad school one time, and I had my first three years before that in college that resolved on its own after I chugged 2 bottles of cranberry juice in the space of like three hours.  (In fact, the Nurse Practitioner did not seem to think I'd even had a UTI, and insisted the blood must have come from a different opening, and I was just confused.)  (They didn't think I actually had one the second time either, but then bacteria eventually grew in the culture.)  So basically, I have a history that includes two really lame UTIs in the distant past.


So what is going on?


Oh well.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have had three glasses of Mountain Dew with dinner last night.  I did it so I would be in a good mood and not stress out worrying about whether I had a bladder infection.  Mom and Derrick had pretty much convinced me that I'd actually pulled a groin muscle.  The weird thing is, every time I have a UTI (since March), I get a crampy pain on the left side of my pelvis in the same place.  That pain let me know I had a UTI.  To calm me down, they (Mom and Derrick) always tell me that I have a pulled muscle, and then it always turns out to be a UTI when that pain comes, so I'm three for three now.


Ordinarily, I don't drink three glasses of Mountain Dew.  In fact, I never drink Mountain Dew because although it's my favorite thing in the world, its power terrifies me.  I know for sure I haven't had any this year.  I don't think I've had any since early in 2011.  


But I had gotten into the habit of drinking one Coke a day (mainly this was defiance in the face of fear of UTIs).  Still, one Coke a day doesn't seem like that much to me, especially because most days, I drink easily six or seven twelve ounce glasses of water, possibly more.  And I always shower after I walk, and I change my underwear excessively.  I am extremely exasperated.  And I don't have any weird STI/STD (as my enemy the internet keeps suggesting) because I just had my annual exam and pap and everything was normal.


What compels me to post so much personal information on a public blog?  Hmmm.  Sometimes I get so reluctant to share personal things, but then if I'm having some crisis, it's suddenly blog city.  I guess it's a way to vent.


Everyone is being very nice to me.  Grayson and Derrick and I have been playing Mario Kart for so long that I actually stopped placing twelfth.  


Currently, we're watching Yo Gabba Gabba largely by accident.  I meant to turn on a show for Penelope, but she disappeared for a while, and I got sidetracked. Yo Gabba Gabba just suddenly came on. Grayson, Penelope, and I are transfixed by it.  We all think it's weird, but somehow I can't seem to turn it off.  (Of course, they're probably still watching it because I have the remote.)


I just asked, "What should we watch?"


Grayson's like, "Something else besides this.  Anything but Tootie the Cat."

Summer Movie Diary: Men in Black III

Date: May 26, 2012
Time: 2:00 pm
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hollow Town Center
Company: Derrick, Grayson, Penelope, Grandma, Grandpa
Food:  large mixed red and blue Icee, $3 popcorn, Whoppers
Running Time:  1 hour, 44 minutes
Rating:  PG-13
Director:  Barry Sonnenfeld

Quick Impressions:
Back in high school (or actually, the summer just after it), I loved Men in Black because it was the kind of thing my parents liked to see, and I loved anything that got me into a movie theater.  I remember hearing after the fact that Will Smith’s role had originally been intended for Chris O’Donnell and thinking, Wow!  Crisis averted!  That would have been so…bland.  No offense meant to O’Donnell, but I think what makes the original Men in Black work is the chemistry between Smith and Jones, who have incredibly distinctive (and entirely different) screen personas.  (Perhaps I should say personae, but that just doesn’t look right in a Men in Black review.)  (Full disclosure, though—my very favorite thing about the original Men in Black is the way Siobhan Fallon Hogan pronounces the name Edgar.)

To be honest, I didn’t go into Men in Black III with high expectations.  I went because it’s still the kind of movie my family likes, and I like to review as many movies as possible (and eat popcorn in the dark).  Experience has taught me to be wary of additions to a franchise that come along a decade or more after the previous installment.  Such long delayed sequels tend to feature phoned in lead performances, ridiculous plots, and Shia LaBeouf.  (Again, no offense meant.  LaBeouf is easily my third favorite part of the Transformers series.)

Sure enough, at the beginning of Men in Black III, I was less than impressed.  I kept thinking, You know, Will Smith’s character doesn’t feel as authentic as it once did.  He seems too old now.  I’m not sure this is working.  The humor feels forced.  But then, Agent J time-jumped back to 1969.  Suddenly, the movie got good—in fact, it got better than I expected.  I genuinely laughed at several scenes, found myself intrigued at moments, and definitely felt more satisfied by the time the credits rolled than I’d ever imagined that I would.

The Good:
While I’m not sure the story would hold up under extreme scrutiny (as is often the case with plots involving time travel), it had a number of captivating elements.  Two things in particular wowed me:  Josh Brolin’s performance as the young Agent K, and the character of Griffin, the last of his race.

When we saw the earliest teasers for Men in Black III, both my husband and I assumed Brolin was merely lip-synching to Tommy Lee Jones’s voice.  Not so.  Since then, I’ve read multiple articles about how difficult getting Jones’s peculiar cadence down proved for Brolin.

Josh Brolin is a very good actor.  Surely he’ll win an Oscar one day.  He was fantastic in the rather strange movie W.  and also quite brilliant in Milk.  (And, of course, he was adorable trying to catch up with his brother on that tiny bike in The Goonies.)  He was good in Planet Terror, too, and American Gangster.  The longer I think about him, the more excellent performances I suddenly remember.  And how did I forget about No Country for Old Men until just now?  The casting of Brolin as a younger version of his No Country for Old Men co-star is inspired, and he really nails it.  In fact, my enthusiasm for his performance is almost embarrassing in retrospect.  I spent most of the 1969 parts on the edge of my seat, watching Brolin’s face, thinking, I hope he talks again soon.  (It’s like finding out a friend does a brilliant impression of someone famous and begging to hear it again and again.)

Another awesome character showed up in 1969, Griffin the Arcanian.  (I think that’s right.  I keep wanting to call him the Arcadian, but I just remembered that’s the name of that old hotel in How I Met Your Mother.)  I loved that character and didn’t expect him.  Now, I’m not sure that the script really utilizes him in the best way that it could given his compelling and pretty awesome nature.  But he was just cool and really made me think.  Also Michael Stuhlbarg plays him in such a sweet, funny, likable way.  The Arcanian has intriguing abilities, and he’s also a big sweetie pie who sets up lots of jokes.  What’s not to love?  I liked him a lot.  In many ways, he made the movie for me.

Will Smith is also better in the 1969 sequences.  While his humor early in the movie felt forced to me, what he said and did in 1969 consistently cracked me up.  I think that’s because Agent J’s character works better when he’s slightly off balance and out of his element. 

Best Scene:
The scene at The Factory was probably my favorite overall, mainly because of the introduction of Griffin, the Arcanian. 

Best Scene Visually:
The Time-Jump definitely had its cool aspects and probably looked killer in 3D (but my daughter won’t wear the glasses).  I also liked the look of the evil alien villain, Boris the Animal, played with snarling malice by Jermaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.

Best Action Sequence:
Now that I think about it, this movie didn’t really have that much action, probably why I enjoyed watching it.  My daughter loved the early action scene involving the hungry alien fish creature.  That was probably the only part of the whole movie that she actually enjoyed because she thought it was so funny.  My stepson now tells me that he also enjoyed that scene, particularly Agent J’s “explanation” of what happened to the crowd that had gathered on the street.  Since I thought the bikes were a little over-the-top, I suppose that I liked the stuff that happened at the launch the best.

Funniest Scene:
It’s hard not to laugh at J’s bizarre lies as he tries to explain himself so Young K.  At first they seem so off-the-wall that they’re not even funny, but eventually, the movie wins you over by bombarding you with silly humor so relentlessly that you can’t help laughing.  (At least, that’s what happened to me.)  Will Smith’s charisma makes the goofy humor work, and it doesn’t hurt that Brolin makes a great straight man.  Some of his reactions are priceless.

The Other Performances:
All kinds of talented actors have small roles (or long cameos) in this movie.  In 1969, Will Arnett and Bill Hader briefly brighten the story with their presence, and Mike Colter makes a little seen but rather important character both strong and memorable.  Supposedly, Lady Gaga is in this movie, but I never saw her.  (Of course, having a restless three-year-old travelling from lap to lap tends to pull focus from time to time.)

The Negatives:
So what happened (or didn’t happen) with Agent O?  I feel like there should have been more of a story there.  Actually, what I’m really wondering is what happened to Rip Torn?  I swear in an early scene, I remember thinking, Oh that’s right, Rip Torn died, so he couldn’t be in this movie.  However, checking imdb a few minutes ago, I discovered that he is, in fact, very much alive.  So who died?  I asked myself.  I know it was someone.  At that point, I realized that I’m an idiot and gave up. 

Honestly, though, why make a point of having Emma Thompson in the movie and then not give her character a bigger part in what happened in the past?   Making the big “love story” of the film the bond between J and K worked pretty well.  (I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember if anything in the original film set us up for the ending of this sequel.  I’ll need to watch Men in Black again before I can answer that with any surety.)  Any romantic subplots would have cluttered the story which was remarkably neat and efficient for a delayed third installment.

But the O thing bugs me.  Is Rip Torn difficult to work with?  Was he busy?  Did they just want to get rid of him?  Is Emma Thompson actually an alien trying to show her allegiance to her home planet by appearing in this film?  I guess O is there as someone who knows K’s secrets, but Z could have served that purpose.  You expect the time travel to reveal more about the relationship than it does.   All I can say is, there had better be a Men in Black IV to clear up the mystery of K and O.

Overall:
Men in Black III starts off feeling a little stale, but there’s plenty of hijinks to keep kids engaged, and by the time the movie hits its stride in 1969, it actually becomes pretty engrossing and fun.  Definitely this movie is far better than Men in Black II (which I’m positive I’ve seen but must have successfully tried to repress).  It exceeded my expectations and entertained almost all of us.  (Except for the fish scene, my three-year-old daughter was not impressed, but I’d hardly call that a failure of the movie).  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Movie Diary: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Date: May 22, 2012
Time: 7:20 pm
Place: Regal Arbor 8 at Great Hills Trail
Company: Derrick
Food:  small Cherry Coke, $2 popcorn
Running Time:  2 hours, 4 minutes
Rating:  PG-13
Director:  John Madden

Quick Impressions:
As we left the theater, my husband (who told me that I had over-estimated his enjoyment of Battleship) remarked, “This is the best movie I’ve seen so far this year.”  Though I agreed, I added, “The Avengers was also very good.”  My husband said, “Yes, but if I were in the mood to watch one, then I probably wouldn’t want to watch the other.”  But almost immediately he took it back saying, “You know, I’d probably never not be in the mood to watch either one.”

If that sentence seems a bit complicated, I’ll make it plainer for you. 

We loved this movie.  We both want to own it and can imagine re-watching it millions of times.  We thought it was awesome.

Of course, we’d gone in expecting good things.  We’ve been excited to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel right from the first preview.  I mean—Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy—a heavy hitting ensemble like that gets your attention.  And the preview makes the movie look funny, which it most definitely is.  Along with the rest of the audience, we laughed out loud a number of times, robust, mirthful laughter, the kind that makes you feel good as it pours out of your throat and fills your ears.

What a wonderful movie!  We thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.  It’s a joyful, moving, and thoroughly pleasant experience featuring fantastic performances from a strong cast, all playing interesting, dynamic characters.

Now don’t get the wrong idea.  This movie wasn’t earth shaking, innovative, daring, risky…nothing like that.  Basically, it’s a feel good, romantic comedy that sets itself apart from other romantic comedies by focusing on older (than usual in a Hollywood feature) characters in an “exotic” location. 

But it works.  It really works.

The Good:
This movie seemed much less contrived and annoying than most romantic comedy adaptations of popular feel good novels.  (Maybe I’m creating my own weird little straw man here, but most “feel good” movies that come from popular fiction seem to center on the message that if you’re a woman, you deserve happiness, and you find it through self-indulgence, conspicuous consumption, and the attention of at least two strapping hunks who spend the movie conspicuously vying for your affections.  Now that I get to the end of the description, I’m pretty sure that I am kind of making that up and not really being fair to an entire subgenre of films.)   The point is, though, this movie is not like that.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel really has heart, and it’s got something else, too.  Maturity.

That may sound like a joke because the movie focuses on the post-retirement lives of elderly Britons in India.  But I’m serious.  To me, part of the movie’s appeal is that we, the audience—like the characters themselves—don’t know what to expect from their new lives in India.  Life after sixty-five isn’t as strictly scripted as what has come before.  A bunch of high school seniors spending a summer in India—you’d know what to expect from a group like that.  Just like you’d have an idea what twenty-to-thirty-something singles would be after while living abroad (especially in a movie).

But people in their twilight years have already lived their lives.  And yet, they’re not dead.  So what are they supposed to do now?  They all come from different places, all have different (and complex) backstories.  All of them are also weighed down by their personal failings and private griefs.  They’ve all reached different points of enlightenment, maturity, growth.  They seem to have come to India yearning for something more without really having a clear idea of what that something is.  They’ve come needing catharsis and seeking hope.  It’s a delightfully mysterious set up that could lead anywhere.

The movie begins by introducing these vibrant characters, one by one.  But what will their story be?  Early on, it becomes clear that their relationships with one another will be an essential element of the movie.  But will these people become friends, enemies, lovers, examples or foils for one another? 

I’ve known my share of eighteen-year-old philosophers, new freshmen on campus who want to debate the meaning of life without yet having lived.  But what happens when you have lived—lived and lived and lived—and now you’re staring death in the face, and you still don’t have your answer?  Finding the meaning of life is a different kind of endeavor when your next clear milestone is death.

The guests at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel aren’t looking for pseudo-intellectual b.s. or pithy platitudes.  They need real, meaningful, personalized answers, and as they find them, the movie lets us share in their insights, epiphanies, and frustrations.  At moments, the film can actually be quite profound.  But it’s never pretentious or obnoxious.  It doesn’t try to be more than it is.

Really the best part about the movie is that the story is so character driven.  It’s got a great script that allows the exceptional cast to shine.  To me, it seems amazing that within the same movie, you would find complex characters with full arcs for Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy (for a start).  Any one of these fine actors is powerhouse enough to carry a movie, but that one film can allow all four to shine seems quite remarkable.

Another plus is the rich, colorful, vibrant setting.  I left the movie wanting to go to India, which comes to life in the eye-catching visuals and catchy soundtrack playing in the background.

Best Scene:
I think my favorite part was one of the first scenes in the hotel dining room, when Norman Cousins ends up on the floor with a cloth over his face.  This scene drew so much continuous audience reaction, lots and lots of laughter.  Everybody in the theater was into it.  Not only do Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel make this a screamingly funny scene, but we also get to see the reactions and interactions of all the characters who are only just beginning to gel as a group.  Maggie Smith’s reaction to what’s going on is to die for!  How on earth she makes such an odious racist so sympathetic and then manages to be so funny and so moving at the same time, I will never know.  She’s a wonderful actress, and it’s so nice when you see talented performers given the kinds of parts they deserve.

The Performances/The Characters:
What really makes the movie work is that almost every character experiences such growth.  As we gradually learn each person’s mysterious backstory, we come to understand them all better.  And as they continue to grow in the present story, they come to understand themselves better, too.

Perhaps the most important character in the entire movie is Jean Ainslie, perfectly played by Penelope Wilton.  Without the inclusion of this character, the movie would veer into annoyingly sappy territory, seeming to suggest that India is a paradise, and that moving there would make anyone blissfully happy and solve all of life’s troubles.  Jean is just a wonderful character.  She has a brilliant moment in the beginning when she refuses to accept (with a smile) the marginalized stereotype society insists on forcing her into.  What an unhappy woman!  The people she wants to impress refuse to see her, and she refuses to see that a life based on anything other than social status could be satisfying.  Her obsession with Tom Wilkinson’s character clearly shows her deluded fixation on appearances and lack of ability to imagine what lies beneath.  Obviously she has no idea what she wants.  But she does know one thing for sure—she doesn’t want to live in India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  And she shouldn’t have to. 

I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Wilkinson since Michael Clayton.  His brilliant performance as bipolar lawyer Arthur Edens is one of my favorites of all time, so Wilkinson has already won me over.  He’s wonderful here as Graham Dashwood, the charismatic retired barrister motivated by secret-upon-secret.  The thrust of his storyline was a delightful surprise, and I really liked the way that the outcome of his story affected, moved, and motivated the other characters.

Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade is more the protagonist than any other character, particularly because she sometimes narrates in the form of blog entries.  Evelyn is a protagonist that it’s easy to root for.  Not only is Dench talented and charming, but Evelyn’s character approaches her life with such raw and honest searching.  Her husband has died.  Her money is gone.  But she isn’t looking for easy answers or immediate gratification.  She’s not hunting for a new husband or an easy fortune.  She’s looking for something far more profound—and possibly less exciting—than any of that.  Even though she has grown old, Evelyn is still growing.  She doesn’t know what life is all about, but she doesn’t let that stop her from living.  She really wants to live, and she sets the tone for the movie.

Bill Nighy is so charming as Douglas Ainslie, a character with seemingly effortless humor and endless grace who sees the world so differently from his miserable wife.  It’s quite obvious that he deserves some appreciation.

Now Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly is the biggest revelation of the movie, simply because she was perfectly winning as a venomous yet vulnerable racist.  I would have been content with a static character because Smith’s performance was so good, and the character felt so real.  But there’s a lot more to Muriel.  She just keeps getting better and better and better and better.  As always Smith gives a fantastic performance, and Muriel becomes absolutely indispensable to the resolution of the story.

Ronald Pickup as Norman Cousins and Celia Imrie as Madge Hardcastle have a bit less to do than the others, but they’re still perfectly charming (and not devoid of realizations and development) though their roles obviously cannot be as extensive as some of the others in a two-hour movie.

Dev Patel is wonderful as the scatter-brained optimist Sonny Kapoor.  He’s the sort of larger-than-life character you’d find jumping off a page by Charles Dickens.  I thoroughly fell in love with the character and preferred Patel’s performance here to his more celebrated turn in Slumdog Millionaire.  He often makes us laugh by saying outrageous things which (on closer inspection) turn out to be perfectly true (his thoughts on how other countries treat the elderly, for example).  Sonny’s zany enthusiasm is infectious, although his slowness to declare his feelings to his girlfriend sometimes gets to be a bit much. 

Playing his girlfriend Sunaina, Tena Desae is phenomenally gorgeous.  This particular subplot (the romance between Sunaina and Sonny) feels like the least necessary part of the story and could easily be cut.  But Desae’s beauty and vivacious performance makes us not mind its inclusion.   (Thankfully Sunaina’s brother also shows up in the movie as an example of a young Indian man who is the antithesis of Sonny in behavior, comportment, and world view.)

The Negatives:
Like I just said, the romance between Sunaina and Sonny is definitely the weakest part of the story, and the way in which the tension between Sonny and his overbearing mother is resolved feels incredibly contrived, insanely rushed, and, well, flat-out fake. 

Also, because the movie focuses on the points of view of the British guests, it does not really provide an objective portrait of India. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I left the theater wanting to go to India.  (Maybe I’ll accompany my husband on a business trip to Bangalore some day!)  But this movie isn’t really about India.  It’s about a bunch of British people dealing with retirement.  So it’s probably not doing justice to the complex reality of India today.  It brings up issues like the existence of the caste system, and the falling away of old values in the face of Western influence.  But it doesn’t really do justice to these topics.  Sonny sees life through the lens of a Romantic, and he portrays the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that way to possible customers.  But even though the movie shows you what the crumbling building actually looks like, and occasionally mentions smelly streets and harsh customs, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ultimately romanticizes and mystifies India about as much as, say, a travel narrative by Marco Polo.

Overall:
I loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  If you hated Battleship, you might want to give this a try.  The performances are uniformly excellent, the characters are rich and dynamic, and the setting is vibrant and exciting.  It may not change your life (though don’t be surprised if you find a kernel of wisdom or two to latch onto), but it’s definitely a pleasant way to spend two hours.  I can’t wait to own it on Blu-ray.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer Movie Diary: Battleship


Battleship
Date: May 19, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Cinemark NextGen Stone Hollow Town Center
Company: Derrick, Grayson, Penelope, Grandma, Grandpa
Food:  large mixed red and blue Icee, $3 popcorn, Whoppers
Running Time:  2 hours, 11 minutes
Rating:  PG-13
Director:  Peter Berg

Quick Impressions:
My nine-year-old stepson dreams of future military glory and has been dying to see Battleship since the very first preview.  Earlier this week, I explained all this to my mother and said with a sigh of acceptance, “So it looks like we’re going to have to go see Battleship.”  To my surprise, Mom’s eyes lit up as she cried in delight, “Battleship! That looks like a good one!  Can we come, too?”  So for the third week in a row, the entire family has spent Saturday at the movies.

This week my sister was in town.  Her feelings about Battleship were more in line with my own (particularly after we started watching it), so it was fun to sit next to her during the movie.  Some of the best jokes were the ones we delivered to each other.

I will say this much.  Battleship was exactly what I expected.  Exactly.  My parents really enjoyed it.  My stepson loved it.  Loved it.  My three-year-old daughter pointedly slept through it.  (I say pointedly because without ear plugs, sleeping through this movie really takes dedication.)

The Good:
Battleship is a good title.  I mean, about half-way through, you see that the filmmakers are definitely committed to paying homage to the project’s board game origins.  Plus, for at least 85 percent of the total runtime, the key action takes place aboard a—you guessed it!—battleship.  So, yeah, Battleship is a good name for this movie.   

But you know what would have been a great name? 

Explosions!

If you like explosions, then this is your must see movie of the summer!  More cerebral, character driven films (like the Transformers series) hold most of the biggest explosions until the end.  Previously, I naively imagined that such movies deferred the really big explosions because once they get all that annoying plot-type stuff out of the way, they can then devote a full hour to non-stop explosions.

But I was wrong.  Oh, was I wrong.

Battleship gives us a few minutes of set-up, and then dives right into the explosions.  And guess when they stop?  They don’t!

That’s right.  For those filmgoers who love nothing better than sitting in a darkened movie theater watching stuff blow up in digital surround sound, Battleship delivers what must be close to a whopping two hours of non-stop explosions, double the continuous explosion time of the by-comparison tame, uneventful Transformers movies.

On a serious note, action fans should make a point to see this movie in a theater with excellent sound because watching this movie surrounded by old, worn out, or improperly balanced speakers could probably render you permanently deaf.  At the very least, you’ll spend most of the movie going, “What did she say?  What did he say?” because you won’t be able to hear the dialogue well.

On second thought, that last thing might be a blessing in disguise.  I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I’m definitely not a snob about cinema.  I do love Oscar season, foreign films, and art house fare, but my tastes are expansive, and I also truly love zany summer blockbusters.  So I’m not being pretentious or impossibly picky when I say that this movie has some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard in a major theatrical release.  I think last year’s Conan remake actually had better dialogue and a smarter script.  (In fact, we watched something on Netflix with my stepson about a giant shark and an octopus beast.  That was also better.)  In Battleship, nobody says anything that isn’t a tired cliché.  You can finish the lines for yourself.  And this isn’t done in a tongue-in-cheek way.  It’s more of a we’re-too-lazy-to-bother-to-think-of-anything-better vibe that comes across.

Basically, this movie was just dumb.  Was it entertaining?  Yes.  Most people in the theater seemed to have a positive reaction.  Did I find it entertaining?  No, not really.  I would never watch it again in the theater unless somebody bribed me with a very nice gift—like a house.  On the French Riviera.

To be fair, however, I have to admit that explosions overwhelm my brain and put me into a trance.  (I told my husband, “It was like nothing happened for over an hour,” and he said, “It’s so funny that you think that because stuff was happening constantly.”)  Another problem is that it’s hard to get attached to the characters because they’re all so dumb.  I’m including this information under “The Good” because at least the stupidity of the movie enables you to provide your own comic relief.

The one good thing about Battleship—the only thing that I actually thought was well done—was the way that they honored the veterans.  That was a nice gesture and a good idea.  I think more capable hands could have developed that idea and incorporated it into a better movie, but I respect the good intentions behind the gesture.

Also, I learned something very important from watching Battleship.  If you’re ever put in command of a battleship and sent out on a dangerous mission, always take Rihanna.  Don’t ask why.  Just trust me.  You won’t be sorry.

Best Scene:
The scene that comes after the credits.  I’m not being sarcastic.  That’s not a joke.  I honestly think this is the strongest scene in the film, the only one that remotely entertained me or held my interest.  In fact, my three-year-old woke up during the end credits, happened to catch that final scene, and watched it intently, riveted to the screen.  Of course, at the end, she declared decisively, “I didn’t like that,” but it did hold her interest.  Why wasn’t the rest of the movie that interesting?

Best Scene Visually:
I went into a trance during all the action.  During that trance, I thought, It’s such a shame.  This movie is set in Hawaii, a gorgeous location.  But you can’t see anything but constant explosions.  And I’m sure this movie has a score.  But it’s completely overwhelmed by the constant explosions.

At one point during my trance, however, something on the screen reached me, spoke to me.  There’s this one scene where the spinning electronic alien destructo things sliced through a bunch of helicopters.  That looked really cool.  For some reason, I found it pleasant to watch.

My husband found Brooklyn Decker pleasant to watch.  I have to admit she held my attention, too, mostly because I’d been spellbound through the early scenes of the movie, wondering, Why on earth does she want to marry this guy?  But after getting a long look at her in action, I finally realized, Well, actually, they’re perfect for each other.

There’s this one moment when she’s staring off into the distance, and you’d expect her to look scared, but instead, her expression is somewhere in that delicate middle ground between vacant and angry.  She looks like she went to get her hair or nails done, and the person helping her was inattentive, and she’s about to sigh shortly and then say, “Oh my God, you will never believe what happened to me today.”  My husband tells me that Brooklyn Decker is a model.  I think she should stick with that.

Best Action Sequence:
I love the part when the alien is loose below decks and first the enormous chief petty officer fights him.  (On a side note, I liked John Tui’s character and thought he would have been much more capable of running the ship.) Every time the alien whacks him, this stocky, muscular man falls down on the ground and moans, “Ohhhh,” as he grabs at his sides.  We hear prolonged groaning, and see weird alien scans of internal organs flash across the screen.  Moments later Alex Hopper steps up and gets knocked down with similar groaning and anatomy scans. 

Then along comes Rihanna.  She takes a direct hit to the face and is down for precisely two seconds before jumping up with a mouthful of blood completely ready for action.  She is, by far, the most capable and resilient member of the entire crew and one of a handful of characters in the film who is neither incompetent nor crazy.

Funniest Scene:
Probably the only part of the movie that I actually enjoyed was the exchange between disgraced sailor Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) and Liam Neeson’s Admiral Shane, who is baffled by his daughter’s choice of love interest.  (And I’m right there with you, Admiral Shane.)  I just love it when Alex completes an obscure quotation and attributes it to Homer, and the admiral snarls, “It makes me so angry that you know that.”  How can I explain why that amused me so much?  It’s not just funny.  It’s basically the only instant of the movie that I genuinely liked and wasn’t simply trying to appreciate.  It was a great moment in a terrible movie.  I swear, Liam Neeson’s reaction in that instant is the only logical, relatable, and properly conveyed sentiment in the entire film.

The Negatives:
Hmm.  I’m only just now getting to “The Negatives”?  I feel like I’ve been bashing the film pretty steadily up to this point.

Maybe this seems weird, but first I’m going to talk about the part of the movie that I liked the best.  (I promise, I’m doing this to illustrate how and why the film didn’t work for me.) 

Though I swear that I tried, I was unable to connect with or root for the character of Alex Hopper, and I can never follow explosions, so my favorite storyline involved the antics of the people climbing the mountain.  I wanted to like those scenes because they were the only ones that contained more dialogue than explosions.  But what a disappointment those scenes turned out to be!  Only the character of the injured soldier was likable, and none of the people involved could act (at least not with the direction they were getting).

I have seen Lifetime Original Movies with better acting!  (That might be a lie.  I can’t name one Lifetime movie that I’ve actually watched off the top of my head.  But it feels very true.)

I’m not sure that the actors are to blame, though, because most of the characters seem shallow and flat, and I’m not confident that they’re getting good direction.  On the mountain alone, Brooklyn Decker is acting like she’s bored after finishing up early at the tanning salon, and Hamish Linklater is acting like a cross between Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future and a series regular on a live action kids’ show on The Disney Channel.  Meanwhile, playing wounded soldier Mick Canales, Gregory D. Gadson might not even be acting at all.  My sister whispered to me, “Is he a real soldier?  I hope so because he can’t act.”  (And after Googling around—yes, he is an active duty soldier and bilateral amputee.)

Actually, I had no complaints Gadson and found him easily the most sympathetic character in the entire movie.  I was with him right away.  I mean, imagine if you’d lost your legs in combat and then Brooklyn Decker’s character shows up to be your physical therapist and give you a condescending pep talk. 

It seems criminal that previews and ads for this movie make it look like Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard are the stars.  Both Neeson and Skarsgard do give solid performances, but neither of them is in the movie for more than fifteen minutes.  (And I think I’m being generous with that estimate.)

A far bigger problem than the collective bad acting of the cast is the stupidity of the script and the general idiocy of the central characters. 

At times, Battleship reminded me of the most recent Star Trek movie, the one by J.J. Abrams.  In that story, Jim Kirk is a loner rebel with a troubled past.  He has potential, but he makes bad decisions and acts on impulse.  Battleship seems to want us to believe that Alex Hopper is cut from the same cloth.

Here’s the problem with that.  Alex Hopper is a total idiot.  He has an I Love Lucy approach to problem solving.  If you need anything done, even the tiniest thing, take the most dangerous, risky, unhinged approach possible.  Who cares if you’ve killed millions of people and damaged property in the process!  At least you’ve accomplished what you set out to—wait!  What were you trying to do again?

Alex Hopper is no Jim Kirk.  Yes, Kirk acts on impulse, but he has good instincts and many qualities that make him (while too often an insubordinate follower) a natural leader.  Hopper does not know what he is doing.  What he does best is finally figure out that he needs to step aside and let more capable people be in charge.  Then he gets a medal for some reason.  (I guess because he brought the capable people together and didn’t stand in their way or try to beat them up for petty personal reasons.) 

The movie tries hard to convince you that Hopper has all this potential by having characters lecture him about his wasted potential over and over again.  But we never get the slightest hint of this vast potential in his behavior.  Even when he’s finally forced to be in charge and gets a chance to prove himself, he still seems to have no particular skills or abilities.  Rebels are likable, and poor impulse control can be charming in an eccentric genius or troubled warrior.  But Hopper is impulsive and dumb.  A rebel from humble beginnings can easily win over an audience.  But Hopper seems to come from a good family, and he certainly doesn’t seem ignorant.  On the contrary, he appears to be decently educated and well read.  He’s just too stupid to understand or appreciate what he has “learned,” the opposite of a diamond in the rough.  He’s not a humble janitor who happens to be a math genius.  He’s a moron who can quote Homer.

Maybe his girlfriend wants to marry him because she senses that he’s very lucky (a trait she seems to share).  I can imagine people outside the barrier realizing that Hopper’s there and saying to themselves, “That’s just who we need to take the helm in a situation like this—a lucky idiot.”  The movie could be so much better if Alex Hopper were more a man and less a boy.

Early on the movie establishes the dynamic between the Hopper brothers.  Stone is responsible.  Alex is not ready to grow up.  He’s an overgrown child who relies on his big brother to clean up his messes.  What happens when big brother is not there?  Does Alex become a man and fight his own battles?  Pay attention to how the ending plays out.  I think Alex has some Daddy issues and will forever be a man child.

Another weird thing about Hopper.  He’s not supposed to have any self-discipline, impulse control, or motivation.  So where did he get those defined muscles of his? 

Hopper aside, the ending of the movie is far too abrupt to the point of not even making sense.  (A part of me is pretty convinced that Hopper died after head trauma following his scuffle with Captain Ngata, and the movie from that point on is a fantasy sequence going on inside his dying mind.  Why else would the story end without a bit of resolution about the aliens and a medal of honor for Hopper?  This is obviously the fantasy of someone who thought highly of the end of Star Wars as a child.)  (I mean A New Hope.)

Overall:
I did not like Battleship, but that was no surprise.  It did come as a bit of a surprise to me that the explosions were so extensive, to the point that I found little about the movie even palatable.  I did like Gregory D. Ganson, Rihanna, the spirited crew of veterans, and (to a lesser degree) Jesse Plemons, John Tui, and Tadanobu Asano. 

However, despite my negative reaction to the film, I will say that my parents and my husband genuinely enjoyed the movie, and my nine-year-old stepson thought it was mind-blowingly awesome.  As we left the theater, my sister muttered, “That was like a giant recruiting video for the Navy.”  Not hearing her, my stepson declared at exactly that moment, “I’m gonna join the Navy!”

Will you react like my sister or my stepson?  After reading this review, you probably know which reaction you’re more likely to have to Battleship.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Penelope Says on facebook

April 30
Wow! I have lost eight pounds since yesterday morning!
7:42 pm


May 1

Penelope: I had a terrible bad dream last night that the devil came and snatched off my window and snatched me out.
Me: Then what happened?
Penelope: He took me?
Me: Where did he take you?
Penelope: He put me in his oven, and then he cooked me.
Me: How did you get away?
Penelope: I never got away. He always said, "No!"
1:48 pm

Penelope: Lady Gaga's voice turned into Orangey Snake's voice. It's magic!
1:09 pm

May 2

My mom drove me to the doctor's office today. On the way home in the parking lot, I saw two squirrels on a tree limb, bodies interlocked in a heart shape. Then in the car, I realized (after a really long time) that there was a ladybug crawling up my leg! Of course, this would be like the one time ever I left the house without my camera. Since the ladybug crawled on my for about forty minutes, I did at least get some pictures with my phone.
12:14 am

Penelope (protesting in confusion): But I thought Mrs. McGinty was bad!
Grandma: No, she's not bad. She just got killed.
Penelope (exasperated): Well, then, who is the murderer?
12:23 pm

May 3

Mom: What happened to my pen?
Penelope: Maybe my ghost friend took it, to write down his letters.
2:53 pm

May 4

Penelope (snuggly up to me): I just love you today.
Me: I just love you every day.
Penelope (suspiciously): Why are you so happy today?
5:04 pm

May 5

Penelope: Daddy, I think I'm growing up! This voice sounds like my grown up voice!
3:42 pm

Possibly the best moment in The Avengers: The moment that we realized my dad wasn't kidding, when he pointed to Cobie Smulders and asked, "Is that Mrs. Peel?"
7:40 pm

Penelope (taking my hand, so I can walk her across the parking lot to use the bathroom): If I got hit by a car, everyone would be so sad.
8:41 pm

Penelope (as we eat on the restaurant patio): Wow, it's very shady right now.
Grayson: It's not shady. It's night time.
Penelope: I very like the night time. It's exciting!
8:46 pm

Penelope (in the movie theater): Somebody put an idea in my brain, and I don't how to get it out. I can't see it. I can't hear it.
Me: How do you know it's in there?
P: (suspiciously) I think magic had something to do with this.
8:51 pm

My Dad (from the very back): Is this song by Russell Crowe, too? It sounds like an Australian beat.
Me: That song wasn't by Russell Crowe. It was a song about punching him in the head. This is Michael Jackson.
Grayson: What? 
Me: Grayson, we've listened to this song a million times!
Gray: This doesn't sound like Michael Jackson!
Derrick (to me): Apparently there's another Michael Jackson out there. This sounds exactly like Michael Jackson. 
Grayson: This must be from when he's younger.
Derrick: Maybe he's thinking of Morgan Freeman.
9:00 pm

Penelope (as Derrick carried her out of the movie theater while she was waking up): Oh nooo! No!! I didn't get to see the rest of the end! I wanted to see more about the green goblin!!!
9:04 pm

Watching The Avengers with Penelope was pretty fun. After the sinister opening narration, she declared, "Well, that wasn't very nice!" Then at the end of the hammer/shield scene, she yelped, "WOW!!! What happened?" and cracked up several people in the theater. Her reaction to Thor stressing out and blaming himself? "This is so sad." Too bad she fell asleep. She really wanted to see more of "the green goblin" as she calls the Hulk.
9:08 pm

Penelope (explaining to Grayson): One day I'm going to be the mommy.
Grayson: And then I'm going to be the uncle.
Penelope: I'm going to get a baby in my tummy. (Importantly) But I'm not going to eat the baby. We should not eat the baby, Bubby.
Grayson: Maybe I'll name my baby Alexander Battle Rayburn.
Penelope: Yeah, Alexander. That's what I was thinking, too. Alexander and Baby Della. I'm going to have three babies. Alexander, and Baby Della...I love my Baby Della so much! She's my favorite.
Grayson: But what about Baby Bella?
Penelope: Yeah, I like that, too!
9:13 pm

Another thing she said during The Avengers: "There are a lot of men in this movie."
9:17 pm

Now we're watching "The Green Goblin" (aka The Incredible Hulk). Penelope: Is that the guy who's going to turn into the Green Goblin. I love the Green Goblin!

He's my favorite, too. I still remember being four and having a gaping hole in my head, and explaining to the ER doc, "I was walking towards the fire place, and then suddenly I was running. It was like an Incredible Hulk force was taking over my body." I couldn't see why they all thought that was so funny. I thought it was quite apt.
9:27 pm

May 6

Penelope can't seem to understand why her announcement to Grayson is not sending him into fits of horror. How can he continue to sit there calmly and play video games in the face of this news?

Penelope: Bubby, I know Kodak is closing. It's not going anywhere. It's just going away. It won't be there anymore. It's closing, and it's not coming back.
12:00 pm

Penelope: (looking at pictures) Grandma's hair looks very different.
Me: That's not Grandma. That's Grandma's sister.
Penelope: Then Grandma's sister's hair looks very different!
2:02 pm


May 7

Penelope: (to Derrick) I want to grow up to be a mommy. And then Mommy's going to be the grandma.
Derrick: Then what will Grandma be?
Penelope: The great-grandma.
Derrick: (Surprised) That's right. (Pauses) But what will that make Nanny?
Penelope (after thinking): I don't know.
Derrick: Nanny is going to be great grandma, too. Or we could call her the great Nanny.
Penelope: I think we should call her Nanny the Great. And what's Bubby going to be? The Great Bubby or something?
Derrick: No, if you have kids, Bubby will be Uncle Bubby.
Me: Uncle Bubby, huh?
6:49 pm

Penelope (out of nowhere): Ready to play croquet?
7:32 pm

May 8

Penelope: Where is Old Bony Legs? You remember, she had that house on chicken feet?
Me: Oh yes, we need to find that book, don't we? (She's been wanting to read it.)
Penelope: Where can we look. (I think she says) It might be on the floor.
Me: Oh yes, it could be on the floor.
Penelope: (emphatically) No! I said it's not on the floor! I already looked on the floor. I swept the floor with my flashlight, and all I found was a pile of bones.
Me: Bones?
Penelope: They were dead people bones, and they didn't have a body anymore. All that was left were the old, dead bones.

I guess I need to vacuum.
1:22 pm

Takinng a walk when it was sprinkling and cool seemed like such a good idea. "It will stop sprinkling when we get to the playground," Nellie assured me. It did. Now it's pouring!
4:15 pm

May 9

Me: Who is your favorite super hero?
Penelope: Doc Martin!

Grandma will be pleased.
5:08 pm

Penelope: I wonder when I will be a mommy.
Me: Well, first you will have to get bigger.
Penelope: I know. First my boobs have to grow. And then, do you know what Grandpa says? He says I have to get married! (Groans) Where am I going to find a husband? Maybe I could make a husband. Then I would be the mommy, and I would have the baby then. And I bet I would be so big I could swing on the monkey bars by myself. You could live in my clubhouse and be the grandma.
6:37 pm

Penelope seems to have invented her own language that drifts between Spanish and French, and she periodically tries to impress me by spontaneously counting in it.
9:49 pm

So every night, Carbonite backs up my hard drive, and every night I e-mail myself what I've written and print it on the desk top. But tonight, since Word was being a little slow (out of nowhere), I restarted the computer to see if it would go faster. I had no idea it would never start up again. Carbonite makes this less painful, but if I had just taken ten seconds to email the file to myself, I wouldn't have lost those ten pages I wrote this afternoon!
11:20 pm

Penelope (with a paper plate full of chunks of squished blue Play-do): I'm pretending this is dog poop, so my doggies can eat their own poop again.
Me: That's gross.
P: Well, they are just stuffed dogs, so don't worry.
11:42 pm

May 10

Lately all Penelope wants to read at bedtime are stories from In a Dark, Dark Room and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
12:48 am

Penelope (with her sticky ball Stitch the alien toy): Grandma, I have something sad to tell you. Stitch doesn't have an instrument. When he went to get a snack and a glass of milk, he stepped on it, and he broke his instrument.
Grandma: What did he play? The piano? The bongos?
Me: The cello?
Penelope: Um. The recorder. He was getting a snack, and then I heard him crying, and I said, “What is wrong?“ He was so sad he stepped on his instrument!
12:50 pm

Penelope: Uncle Scar, I think there's a fish on the playground.
Me: (preparing to humor her): There is? There is!
4:48 pm


May 11

Penelope: In my dream, bad things happened in the night. All my animals turned into werewolves! And you and Daddy were missing. And Bubby was crying. And my Baby Della was born. And Jack and Baby Addie were there because a monster ate their whole family, even their little chihuahua. And in the night when everything is quiet, (creepy whisper) that's when the shadow comes upon us.
2:50 pm

Penelope: I had a dream there were stairs in my bedroom and they ripped all my toys apart and my book shelf apart.
Me: Did you climb the stairs?
Penelope: I did. I climbed and I climbed and then I fell.
Me: Did you ever get to the top.
P: Uh huh.
Me: What was at the top?
P: Nothing! There were lots of stairs and they creeped out in the night, and they stared at me with creepy eyes and vampire teeth.
Me: The stairs stared at you?
P: And Bubby and Jack tried to push me out of the way of those bad stairs!
2:57 pm

Grayson: Jack is getting so strong that he punched me, and I started bleeding.
Derrick: Where did he punch you?
Gray: In the lip.
Me: Ohhh.
Derrick: Why did he punch you?
Gray: I dunno. He was mad, I guess.
Derrick: What did you do?
Gray: I just asked (very polite, sweet voice) Jackson, may I please sit there?
Derrick: And then he punched you in the face?
Gray: Yees.

Mmhmm. Sounds like the whole story, all right. ;)
6:47 pm

May 12

Penelope: I am my own little queen. I get to sleep in my own little queen bed at Disneyland.
1:11 am

Penelope (theatrically choking at the restaurant table): Which hole did it go down?
Grayson: (touching his throat) You actually have three holes.
Penelope: (at the top of her lungs) I DO NOT HAVE THREE HOLES! I HAVE TWO HOLES!!!
Gray: Okay (giggling) so let's just pretend you have one hole!
Derrick: I'm going to put a hole in someone's head!
Me: Why are you blowing on my face?
Penelope: (naughtily) That must have been the wind blowing in the restaurant, blowing your hair.
Me: There's a lot of spit in the wind today!
5:46 pm

Penelope (in horror as we turn and pass Hutto High): Oh noooo! We're almost home!!!!
6:01 pm

May 13

Me: Sometimes I think it might be nice to live further into Austin.
Penelope: Noo! I don't want to live in Austin!
Me: Where do you want to live? 
Penelope: I want to live in Africa! It's so nice and cool there.
Derrick: I think you're thinking of a different Africa.
7:50 pm

May 14

Penelope is so weird. Recently she's gotten obsessed with talking in bizarre accents or crazy voices at random times. Also, she just tried to trick me by swirling her fingers over the top of my head and gasping, "There's a spider laying eggs in your hair." Her zany trickster smile was priceless!
1:23 am

Penelope (running into Derrick's office): Daddy, we heard a cow mooing on the playground, and I'm pretty sure it was a werecow!
6:11 pm

May 15

Penelope: Daddy, we're going to fly to Harry Potter World. Once I went to Fruit Snack World, and all the fruit snacks could talk to me. (To me) Let's go write my story now. Let's think of a good name for you. You have a lot of names for me. All right, Doggy Dog!
Me: Doggy Dog?! That's not a good name!
Penelope: Hmm...All right, Cowy Cow! Oh, how about--all right, Bluebonnet! All right, Dingbat!
Me: Hmm. I don't like any of these names.
9:31 pm

Penelope: That white guy looks creepy.
Me: What white guy?
Penelope: The white guy with the green hair. You can see the one. He looks so creepy. (Points to a facebook ad) Is that the Joker?
Me: Yes it is. How did you recognize him?
Penelope: I didn't recognize him before when you were looking at the computer. But now I see what you were talking about. The Joker!
Me: It's what you were talking about!
Penelope: No, it's what you were talking about! The Joker. I didn't even know. Hey! (pointing to another ad) That says Old Navy!

(That's what she does now. Once you've figured out what she's talking about, she denies reality and gives you vexing, crazy answers.)
9:53 pm

Penelope: (for no reason) YOU'RE STUPID!
Me: You're RUDE!
Penelope: It hurts my feelings when you call me names. Please don't do that. Those names are so ugly I want to cry.
Five seconds later...
Penelope: You're STUPID! You're driving me crazy! Let go of my arms, so I can type! You're killing me, crazy pants! Got that kiddo? You're driving me crazy, kiddio!
11:01 pm

Penelope (typing infinite ms): I think you start with a lot of ms, and so does Aunt Merry and so does me. Hey! Don't erase my ms! YOU DELETED THEM! You are driving me crazy, Kitty Cat!
Me: Why are you calling me Kitty Cat?
Penelope: Because you look like a kitty cat, and because you're a dingbat. I want to type the dingbat way. I think I know how to type the dingbat way.bvcxznmm
jnn
11:07 pm

Penelope: YOU'VE BEEN DRIVING ME CRAZY, DINGBAT KITTY!!! 

This sounds like the name of a song they'd play at a high school prom in a black and white Disney movie.
11:08 pm

To be fair, I do call Penelope lots of crazy little nicknames, so I can see why she'd want one for me, but I'm not sure I'm crazy about Dingbat Kitty, the one she seems to have settled on.
11:11 pm

May 16

Penelope: Your new name is (screechily): Oooooo ooooo ooooo oooo oooo oooo!
Me: (to Derrick) I think our daughter is getting weird.
P (in a ear-splitting screech): I'm not your daughter. I'm a baby owl.
12:19 am

Hooray! Derrick installed my new hard drive and my computer is almost ready! I hate being without a computer!
5:17 pm

Penelope: I think that bird is telling us to go on top of the trees. But how will we get up there.
Me: We could fly.
Penelope: But we don't have any wax wings. And even if we did, it's so sunny today.
5:49 pm

Me (with the counting cards): Can you put these in order for me?
Penelope (throws them up into the hair): No! I want them to be chaos! Chaos!
5:51 pm

Me (with the counting cards): Can you put these in order for me?
Penelope (throws them up into the hair): No! I want them to be chaos! Chaos!
7:49 pm

Me (to Penelope who is trying on her new bathing suits): Now put on your rash guard.
Penelope: My ASS guard??!!
I'm hoping she thinks I'm talking about Thor and doesn't know the word “ass." I've taught her enough salty language already.
9:57 pm

May 17

Penelope (to a seven-year-old on the playground): I'm three. That means little.
6:16 pm

The little girl on the playground is now playing hide and seek with Penelope. Penelope is basically covering her eyes and saying random numbers softly.
6:28 pm

Penelope (brightly to me, and very loudly): She has black skin, and I have white skin.
Me: That's true. You look a little different, but you're still friends.
Penelope: But I would still like to have her for my sister.
Me: I'm pretty sure she already has a family.
Penelope: Well maybe my baby will be like her. I will play with her and be so nice to her--except when she cries!

No idea where that came from!
6:36 pm

Merry: (as Nellie growls) I have to go to bed, Beast Monster.
Penelope: I'm not a Beast Monster. I'm going to grow up and be a mommy.
Merry: A Beast Mommy! You will forever be Blonde Beastmommy with claws of steel!
10:57 pm

Nellie: Is Aunt Merry a mammal, Mommy?
Me: Yes, she is. We're all mammals.
Nellie: But why are animals animals?
11:07 pm

Nellie (grabbing onto Derrick's foot): You stupid foot! I have never liked this foot. It is evil and tries to kill me. (Now she's grabbing at it from below, meowing) I'm Fluffy Kitty!
11:34 pm

Me: Nellie, which super hero is your favorite?
Penelope: I like the Green Goblin.
Me: (to Merry as Nellie climbs all over her) She means the Incredible Hulk.
Merry: The Incredible Hulk is Matt's favorite, too.
Penelope (immediately to Merry): Why don't you like him?
11:42 pm

May 18

Penelope (pointing to the back wall of Torchy's): Look, Daddy! D-A-M-N!! Why are they all red?
8:27 pm

Penelope (walking around with her little red hand mirror): Grandma, my reflection talks to me. It talks back to me, Grandma. (Walking over to Merry) My reflection says she wants to go to the park tomorrow.
9:54 pm

Guy #1 on TV: Drink some beer. Talk to people.
Guy #2: I don't drink beer.
Grayson (morosely): And I don't talk to people.
9:56 pm

Penelope: (a good two minutes after getting hit in the face with the red ball as Derrick and Gray play bounce catch) Owie! Owie! Owie! Daddy, you are drunk! You beated me in the face! (to Grayson) You are drunk! Everybody's drunk in this house!

Any time she's staggering around or falls down in a crazy way, I ask her, "Are you drunk?" I'm beginning to see that maybe that's not the best phrase to use. I can hear the conversation with her kindergarten teacher now...
11:28 pm

May 19

On the way home from Battleship...
Merry (complaining): That was like a giant recruiting video for the Navy.
Grayson: (At that exact instant but not having heard her) I'm gonna join the Navy!
Penelope: Noooo, Gray! I will miss you!
9:47 pm

Derrick (on the way home, to me): It's a little late to be eating dinner.
Me: But everyone's so hungry. Pretend we're going out to a trendy twenty-four-hour Austin eatery after a show like we used to do back when we were cool for one month.
Derrick: I'm not saying we shouldn't eat. I was just pointing out that it's late. I wasn't debating.
Grayson: Whaat??? You were DEBATING??!
Derrick: No, I wasn't debating.
Grayson (to Derrick's horror): OH! I thought you said you were masturbating!
(Okay, I knew that's what he was going for with "debating," and that wasn't funny, but when he actually explicitly said it, for some reason, it cracked me up, and I started laughing so hard that I couldn't breathe.)
Merry: I think you killed your stepmother!
Derrick (noticing me reaching for my phone): That is not going on facebook!
Me: But it has to! I'm laughing so hard I'm going to die!
Derrick: I think Grayson's about to die!
Grayson: I'm going to die!!!
Penelope: (loudly) No! Grayson! Don't die! I will miss you! (then very quietly, soberly) Well, I think we are all going to die when we get old.
Merry: (mishearing in the back) No! We're not going to die!
Grandma: We're not going to die!
Penelope: Yes we ARE going to DIE when we get OLD!
Merry: OHHH! I thought you said we were going to die when we get out!
Grayson: Because those alien attack things are waiting at our house!
10:08 pm

The highlight of Battleship (BY FAR) came when about ten minutes into the movie, Penelope spontaneously fell asleep. She had just lifted a fruit snack half way to her lips, and then suddenly, her jaw dropped and went slack, and she just started breathing heavily through her mouth. It was so funny. She slept through the ENTIRE movie (which is AMAZING as anyone who's seen it will realize. The movie should be called Explosions!). At the very end, she woke up. Watching the credits, she asked groggily, "Is this Battleship?" Then the scene after the credits came on. She watched attentively, and then at the end, she declared matter-of-factly, "I didn't like that."
10:21 pm