Archive for the 'TV and Pop Culture' Category

Taking Tots to the Theater

My husband and I took our three-year-old, three-feet-of-fun to the movies to see Kung Fu Panda on Friday. He loved it and sat enthralled the entire time from the previews to the end credits. After the movie he talked animatedly about his favorite parts, reenacted some awesome Kung Fu, and played in the arcade for about half an hour and then we went home.

We had a perfect movie going experience. It wasn’t always that way.

Three-feet was two and a half years old when the third Shrek hit the theaters. He loved Shrek 2 (but really who didn’t? Especially Puss ‘N Boots) and could even sit and watch the entire movie. We thought it’d be a fun to take him to Shrek the Third. So we did.

What a nightmare. We took him at the worst possible time, way to early, and tried to make him stay for the show — basically we did everything wrong. He’d missed his nap (oh how I miss naptime) so he was tired and cranky, we went fifteen minutes early, before the previews even started, as we’d done before we had Three-feet, and shockingly, when he got bored, wanted to leave, and started fussing, we tried to make him sit, be quiet, and stay still. We finally gave up and left with a screaming child twenty minutes into the actual movie.

We thought well maybe he just didn’t like the movie which was why he wouldn’t sit and watch it. Nope, we rented it when it came to DVD and he sat through the entire movie spellbound and it quickly replaced Shrek 2 as his favorite.

When Horton Hears a Who came to the movie theaters we endeavored to try again. This time Three-feet was older, now three, and we had a new plan of attack. We would take him to the earliest showing and avoid the crankiness. We would still go early (old habits die hard), but I would hold our seats, and my husband would take Three-feet to the arcade until the movie started. We were also prepared to up and leave at any moment’s notice.

Our plan worked like a dream. We talked up the movie before we went, showing Three-feet posters and pictures — getting him excited. He’d given up his naps by then, but we still went to the earliest showing because we still had surly afternoons sometimes. We got a big tub of popcorn (Three-feet’s favorite food) and then I went and held our seats and the boys found me when the movie started.

At first I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I think Three-feet might’ve remembered the horribleness of our last theater trip as he wanted to leave when the lights went down. But I’d thought of that, thus the big tub of popcorn. So I sat him on my lap and bribed him into trying out the theater experience with yummy buttery goodness — “You catch more flies with honey…” had echoed in my mind in my mother’s voice. By the time the popcorn was gone, Three-feet had succumbed to the allure of Dr. Seuss’ animated world and sat on my lap the whole movie.

We’d inadvertently created a monster that day — now the kid asks me every day if we can go to the movies. He was beyond delighted when we told him we were taking him to Kung Fu Panda. We still went to the earliest showing, we still hit up the arcade prior to the start of the movie (I’m neurotic about getting to the theater early), but now the glory that is movie popcorn is a treat not a bribe. Although I don’t know if he’d still want to go as bad without it.

Tips for a successful trip to the theater:

Attention span. Before you even think of taking your little one to the movies make sure they have the attention span to enjoy it. If your little one can’t sit through a feature length animation DVD at home then there is no way he’s going to sit through a theater experience. Why waste the money.

Build up. Talk the theater and the movie up with your child. Get them excited about the whole experience. That was something we’d neglected to do the first time around so Three-feet didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. I think it makes a difference. If your child is jazzed by the idea of going you’re more likely to get better results.

Early shows. Go to the early shows, the earlier the better. Kids are always at their best when they’re well rested. They listen better, have better attention spans, and are capable of sitting somewhat still in a theater seat.

Arrival time. I hate navigating a dark theater and being forced to sit in the only seats not taken. So, if you’re like me then you like to go early. There is nothing wrong with going early as long as you don’t expect your little one to sit in his chair from the time you get there until the movie starts as well as the entire movie. So have someone hold your seats for you and go play until the movie starts. It’s one thing to find your way through a dark theater when you don’t know where you’re going for crap seats, it’s another when you know where you’re going and have the pick of seats you want.

Snacks. Concession stands are a nightmare. They’re expensive and lets face it all the food is junk — well everything except movie popcorn. That stuff is gold. So make sure you enjoy a healthy snack or a light meal before you go. Hungry children are cranky children and popcorn just isn’t that healthy or filling to substitute a meal.

Bathroom breaks. Kids hate missing things to go to the bathroom. Three-feet-of-fun makes me pause his movies so he won’t miss a thing when he runs to the bathroom for movies he’s seen a hundred times but in a theater you can’t do that. Take the pressure off of pee time. Make a special trip to the bathroom before the movie starts and then only have a small beverage so that their little bladders can make it until the end of the movie.

I hope these tips help for you first-time-movie-goers with munchkins. I wish I had someone fill me in on the secret before I had tried to take Three-feet to his first movie. May your first times be more pleasant and fruitful than mine was.

Posted in Uncategorized, Parenting, Child Development, TV and Pop Culture | 2 Comments »

Tuesday’s Tunes: Kid’s Songs

The Laurie Berkner Band
My children love Laurie Berkner. I love Laurie Berkner!

The Laurie Berkner band has tunes kids will love. Crazy little songs that are perfectly aimed towards small children, many parents may be familiar with the band if their kids watch the Noggin TV network. The band members dress in colorful clothing that isn’t too bizarre and really show a great understanding of children and their thoughts.

Even a baby can enjoy this music. I know this for a fact because my 11 month old does his silly baby dance when we pop the DVD in. The simple songs have a beat that even makes this mom want to dance! They capture the imagination of children with lyrics like…?Laurie has a pig on her head, Laurie has a pig on her head, Laurie has a pig on her head and she keeps it there all day!?

What kid doesn’t want a pig on their head? For some reason, all of mine do. It must be a fashion trend in the pre-school circles.

There are some very sweet songs, too. My 5 year old loves it when I sing the Band’s ‘Moon, Moon, Moon’ song at bedtime. Just don’t plan on the kids getting right to sleep if you pop the DVD or CD in at bedtime!

If you want some great tunes for your kids, check out their site, Laurie Berkner Dot Com. Safe for all families, no hidden messages, and just music to make your child feel good.

Posted in Parenting, TV and Pop Culture, Music | No Comments »

Hey Hey Mama, Said the Way You Move, Gonna Make You Sweat, Gonna Make You Groove

Robert Plant Robert Plant Robert Plant Robert Plant!!!!!!!

Forget Nicole Kidman.. Donna Summer?? Yeah.  Whateve. 

Last night a legend walked into the door of my cafe.. He was stunning.  Even at, what is he?, 65 he had a magnetism about him that reminded me of feelings I haven’t felt since I was a sixteen years old, all alone in my room listening to Cashmere and fantasizing about.. what? wait.. nevermind.. There’s a fair chance my husband will read this.  Let’s just say he was heartstopping (but, honey, he still has nothing on you).  I have been reeling from it all day..

Once I settled down and got “Stairway to Heaven” out of my head, though, I started to think about his disasterous solo career in the 80’s.  Yikes, I thought.  It was enough to mellow my starstruck mood, but not for long.  I am impressed with us, as a culture.  We forgive people their “experimental” phase and see them through, allowing them to reclaim and relive, even, their rock and roll legend status.  We don’t, as a culture, hand it out that easily.  It takes us a lot to push someone up to that standard.  Sure, we play a lot of crap on the radio but, all in all, we are pretty determined and expectant about what we deem “legendary” and worthy of more than two to three minutes of our time.  I am glad we saw Robert Plant through his “Sea of Love” phase and let him reclaim a place in our hearts for all the good that he did before he wore Hawaiian shirts and civil war hats.  That part of our history with him is very minute.  He is much bigger than all that. 

And, if you’re wondering how much interaction I had with him - let me just say there was a point in the evening where he and I were carrying out a birthday cake (together!) to his friend and he looked at me and said “you ready to sing with me?”.  I ain’t lyin.  My heart stopped and before I knew it freakin’ Led Zepplin himself was singing “Happy Birthday” two inches away from my face.  I thought I had died and gone to rock&roll heaven.  In fact, I am pretty sure I haven’t yet come back to earth.

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“I never forget a face. But, in your case, I’ll make an exception.”

Today is Groucho Marx’s birthday.  Take a minute and reminisce. 

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Here We Go Again…

So, those of you on the edge of your seat wondering when and if we are going to finally get a TV - your time has come!  But we are entirely hiding it from the kids.  Does this make me a bad person?  Really, it is all Lost’s fault.  I’m grotesquely obssessed unlike any other series since The Monkees.  It’s no joke.

This weeked I will venture out to Circuit City and other places of fine technological gadgetry and purchase a TV.  Then I will venture out to various furniture shops and antique shops to purchase a peice of furniture that will cleverly disguise my initial purchase from earlier that day.  The cable man should be here sometime around noonish on Tuesday so that I can be set to go Wednesday night, 8pm.  I don’t know that I have looked forward to anything so much in quite sometime. 

Thus ends the life long debate - To TV or not to TV.  I guess I’m a sellout but, it’s for a good cause - which would be my sanity.  Having that one night a week where I allow myself to get sucked into another world might just be the tonic I need to let go of some stress, lighten up and remember how to chill out. 

Posted in TV and Pop Culture, Daily Living, Mental Environment, Technology | 1 Comment »

Bogusly Baffling Beyond Their Years…

I am so confused.  Wasn’t Lionel Ritchie middle aged when I was a young girl?  If the answer to this is yes, which it is, then why oh why does he look like THIS still:

As a solo artist, Lionel Richie penned and performed some of the biggest hit tunes of the 1980s.

I don’t think his eyes were that high when he was “dancing on the ceiling” in the eighties.. Maybe my memory deceives me….

And the last time I saw a picture of Kenny Rogers I was just down right scared.. Here’s a before and after shot for you….



I am used to, living in the Little Hollywood that is Nashville, seeing my fair share of plastic surgery… But why can’t our icons leave themselves alone.. Posterity for god’s sake!  Come ON!

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She Works Hard For Her Money…

What a treat!  Donna Summer came into the restaurant the other night and, you know what?  She has remarkable bangs!  Truly.  And, not only are her bangs remarkable, but she looks better than ever.  It brought several rushes of childhood memories back (standing in front of my mirror, hair brush/microphone in hand, listening to the Bad Girls album, wishing to god I was a beautiful black woman instead of a skinny, nerdy white one) and I felt an intense urge to break into “Love to Love You Baby” the entire time she was there. 

With all the famous Nashville folks that we have rolling in and out of the place, I must say, this was the first time I felt star struck.  Sure, Nicole Kidman and keith Urban were pretty - but that’s about it - they had no influence on the person I am today. And even though Scott Hamilton is a great figure skater and quite a nice guy - I just can’t say that he pulls any weight in the sexy, strong, teaching the young girls how to shake it department.  But Donna Summer - I salute you. 

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Speaking of the Past…..

My husband and I are having fun introducing our six year old son to our favorite childhood movies. We have both been anxiously awaiting him being old enough and mature enough to understand the content of some of our favorites from the 70’s and 80’s - but, hoorah, the time has come!

Since we don’t have a television, movies are a huge treat and a nice time for us to all sit around and just chill out for an hour or two. For awhile he was watching movies that we didn’t mind but certainly weren’t excited about. Finding Nemo can only be charming once and, like any child who find a movie that they like, he picked it for a frightening four weeks in a row.. Thank god, we are now on to movies that my husband and I get embarrassingly excited about. It all started with Labyrinth. David Bowie in a unitard singing with puppets - what’s not to love! My son ate it up. We then moved on to The Dark Crystal. I thought that it might be too scary - it was for me when I was his age. Then, on his own accord, he picked it out at the video store and we took a chance. Not only was it not scary, but he has developed an even deeper passion for puppetry from it. Frank Oz and Jim Henson revolutionized the art with this movie - it is so visually remarkable and a great story to boot. The Secret of Nimh was next - this was my all time favorite as a little girl. I can remember sitting in front of HBO every time it came on and getting sucked in. I still think that this movie has everything to do with my deeply rooted animal rights crazies - in fact, I hold it completely responsible. Two Days ago we checked out Flight of the Navigator from our library - again, another big hit. This was another one of my favorites - my brother used to watch it religiously and I got hooked with him.

Not to sound like a cynical old person but they just don’t make kid/family movies like they used to. I can remember when our entire family would sit down and watch these without anyone getting bored. I can hardly stand most of the new movies that my son wants to bring home for our weekly movie date. Of course there are the exceptions (The Incredibles, March of the Penguins) but for the most part the new movies have little to nothing to do with real fantasy and a child’s inherent need for high imagination. We were lucky as kids to have people like Jim Henson around and for Space travel to still be a thing full of wonder rather than the backpage news it has become. So much has changed in the world - how lucky we are to still have these lovely little gifts from a time when it was important to dream big and push the boundaries rather than to just be “marketable”.

Our next rehashing will be The Never Ending Story - I can’t wait to see the look on his face.

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2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The inductees to this years Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are impressive and, personally, quite exciting. The listing ranges from Miles Davis (about time, no?) to the Sex Pistols to Blondie - all worthy nominations in my opinion.

I am most happy about the seemingly overdue nod to Mr. Miles Davis. His ability to spread jazz to a rock and roll audience, and combine the the genres, has changed the face of music forever more.

“Miles Davis is one of the key figures in the history of jazz, and his place in vanguard of that pantheon is secure. His induction as a performer into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a subtler and less obvious matter. Davis never played rock or rhythm & blues, though he experimented with funk grooves on 1972’s On the Corner and in some of his later bands. However, his work intrigued a sizable segment of rock’s more ambitious fans in a way that no other serious jazz figure had ever done - and not retroactively but while he was alive and making some of his most challenging music. In particular, the boldly experimental soundscapes of Bitches Brew spoke to the sensibilities of rock fans who’d been digesting the Grateful Dead’s expansive improvisations. Davis’ was acutely attuned to his environment and he once remarked, ‘We play what the day recommends.’ ……….

“In Davis’ own words, ‘The way you change and help music is by tryin’ to invent new ways to play.’ For nearly fifty years, Miles Davis did just that. “

And then there’s the wonderfully revolutionary sounds of the late seventies/early eighties that are ingrained in my entire being - the Sex Pistols and Blondie. One of my earliest memories is hearing Debbie Harry on my parents tape deck in our silver 1980 Honda Accord. It was a moment as important as reading my first Vonnugut novel or hearing my first Velvet Underground album. These things become have become part of my generation’s personal history - they have accentuated and defined our experiences and it is always nice to know that, on a very human level, it is something most can feel utterly connected to one another in regard to. 


Posted in Lifestyles, TV and Pop Culture | No Comments »

How iTunes and the iPod with Video Convinced Me To Get Cable and TiVo

Although many of my friends and colleagues consider me to be an über geek — I like to have the latest gadgets and software — I’ve never really had cable or TiVo. Instead, I was content with whatever was on networks, or not watching any television at all. But that all changed when iTunes Music Store (iTMS) started selling television shows and introduced the iPod with video support.

iTMS made it possible for me to pay and download many of the shows I could never watch. The two main reasons I couldn’t watch them were children and low-budget cable. First, we don’t watch television when our two-year-old daughter is around. Second, we only have a super-basic-mega-limited cable package, which means we only get local networks, home shopping channels, and Univision. So thanks to iTMS, I’m now able to download shows like Battlestar Galactica, Lost, and ESPN X-Games highlights, and then play them on my TV using my iPod and an A/V cable.

This has been great, but not perfect. There are several downsides to videos purchased from iTMS, which include:

I was able to get by fine with the DRM and poor video quality, but the cost of the episodes and limited content made me start to look elsewhere. I now had a taste for recorded on-demand entertainment, but was wanting more. Combined with a cost that quickly adds up, and the fact that the content was so limited, standard cable and TiVo were starting to look more and more affordable and robust in their offerings.

Tired of missing out on shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and 24, I decided to take the plunge and get standard cable and TiVo. Now I can record as much as I want effortlessly, and I don’t have to worry about paying for each and every show I’m interested in watching. I just pay my monthly cable and TiVo fee, and I’m done.

So, for me, iTMS and the iPod ended up turning me on to entertainment that I can watch on my own time, while also weaning me off of their own services. Through their deficits, I stumbled upon a solution that had been there all along. Fortunately, I can still use my iPod for playing music, and taking picture albums and home videos with me wherever I go.

Posted in Lifestyles, Computers and Technology, TV and Pop Culture | No Comments »

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