Saturday, April 21, 2012

Penn State Blue White Weekend 2012

Friday night: Blue White carnival and fireworks

Saturday afternoon: Joe Paterno statue and inside Beaver Stadium

(this guy looked just like a young Joe Paterno, even without the outfit)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is Cabin in the Woods Over-hyped?

I do not typically like scary movies. I'm still haunted by Friday the 13th, which I saw on tape when I was about ten and VCRs were the new way to scare yourself senseless in the comfort of your own home. To this day, I can't look out a first floor window at night for fear that a crazed killer will jump up to scare me or, worse still, that he'll just be walking slowly through the yard, carrying an ax or some other instrument of death. This could be because I live in an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that would be a perfect setting for a horror movie. But we won't dwell on that right now or I will be up all night.

But the hype surrounding the Cabin in the Woods had me hooked. Typically, commercials for horror movies cause me to cover both my and my eight-year-old's eyes to make sure that none of the evil on the screen seeps in to our minds. But as I peeked out between my fingers at the preview for Cabin in the Woods, I caught a glimpse of Bradley Whitford. Smart, funny, former star of West Wing, Bradley Whitford. This must be a different type of horror movie, I thought. Bradley Whitford wouldn't just show up in some slasher film.

And then I kept hearing about the rave reviews--93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, three stars from Ebert. Twitter was buzzing with the "unbelievable plot twists" and "so complex, much more than a horror flick." And, finally, "You think you know what's going on, but you're totally wrong." I am a sucker for twist endings. I am still hoping to one day watch the Empire Strikes Back with someone who doesn't know the truth about Luke Skywalker's lineage. This person will be difficult to find unless he drops down out of his own space ship or he is only two years old. I am currently grooming my 8-month-old for the position.

So my husband and I went on Saturday night. I was ready to be scared senseless. I wore an oversized hoodie so I could achieve my movie-going defensive position: hood up and forward, hands tucked into the sleeves, arms folded.

The theater was packed, mostly with college students and one random guy in front of us spoking a cigarette. Clearly, he thought he was cool. Who am I to disagree?

(No spoilers follow, but if you've seen the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about.)

So the was scary, but not that scary.

Since we were in on a plot twist from the beginning, the killing seemed somewhat remote compared to other horror movies. It was certainly smarter and funnier than any other slasher films, laugh out loud funny even. But seeing some of the action unfold on a screen that Bradley Whitford was watching made it seem more like a secret military operation than a bunch of crazed lunatics.

Because of the hype surrounding the plot twists and turns, I tried to stay one-step ahead. In the beginning of the movie, I made some assumptions about what was really going on. But believing these to be too obvious, I went one, sometimes, two steps farther trying to figure out what was going on. Then it ended where I thought it would, but I had some great ideas of where they could have taken it. Contact me for Cabin in the Woods 2, okay Joss and Drew? (I know what you might be thinking if you've seen the movie, but there is always a plan for a sequel.)

Another kill-joy moment came due to my husband. This guy can pick out any celebrity voice in about five words. When the voice of the director is first heard, he leaned over and said "That's yadda yadda." He, of course, told me the real name. And it was a great name. Although it didn't provide too much of a plot twist, it was like a nice little gift to movie goers.

Several minutes later, the person behind the voice was revealed in person. Half of the audience was
audibly shocked. The other half, those under 30, had no idea who she was. I'm sure they all googled her once they left the theater.

So it was good, but I still think it was overhyped.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kids in the car

I was prompted to write this post after reading on Lenore Skenazy's FreeRange Kids site.
Skenazy details a recent story of a mom who left her children alone in a her car for five minutes while she ran into a store. When she came out, there were policeman at her car and she is now being charged with child endangerment. There is, of course, a lot more to the story, but you can read about it over there.

The truth is, sometimes, I do it too. Only in extreme circumstances or in very safe environments. When I pick up my son from school, my 8 month old is usually asleep. She has a horribly running nose that is aggravated by cold, windy air, of which we have a lot.

Since I can pull right up to the school, I look the doors and leave her in it for the five minutes it takes me to claim my boy. The car is in my sight the whole time.

I know she’s safe, but I worry more that a nosy mom will see my baby and complain about it, to me or other moms. I don't want to be labelled as a bad mom, but sometimes it just makes more sense to do it this way.

I would never, however, leave them in front of, say, Target, while I do some shopping. That would be too risky, not so much of a bad person getting them but of the police showing up and charging me with neglect.

The very first time I left my kids in the car was an all-around disaster. As I was picking my son up from school, I got a call saying that my husband had been rushed to the hospital with a potential heart attack. My son hadn't eaten much lunch that day and was begging me to take him to Burger King, which was on the way. Since we didn't know how long we would be at the hospital, I obliged.

This antique Burger King in State College doesn't have a drive-through, believe it or not. And I was in too much of a hurry to drag in two kids, one sleeping in a carseat. So I parked in the space directly in front of the doors, locked the car from the outside, got the food, and was back out in about four minutes.

My son, who usually has to be prompted to pitch in and lend a hand, decided to unlock and open the door for me. From the inside. Which set off the car alarm. My minivan believed it was being stolen.

I thought the car probably wouldn’t start, but it fired right up when I put in the key. But the alarm still continued. We drove about a mile with the alarm blaring before it finally shut off. My son was upset and thought the police would come after us thinking we had stolen it--although really, when was the last time you saw a frazzled mom and two kids jack a Honda Odyssey while eating Burger King.

In any case, the police didn't come after us. In fact, no one really paid any attention to the crazies driving the screaming minivan. Which makes me wonder, why do we even have car alarms? They go off at inappropriate times and nobody checks on them anyway. They certainly won’t do any good even if there were kids inside who needed help, because those kids would likely hit the floor and cry from the loud noises.