Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for November, 2010

Stop saying that!

This is a Geeky Confession post- there is something that most geeks do that drives me up the wall. Not just drives me up the wall, but makes me want to start punching people.

These days, you can’t mention liking Star Wars in a group, without at least one person using the phrase “George Lucas ruined Star Wars” or the more vulgar/offensive “George Lucas raped my childhood.” While I completely understand people not liking the prequels or not liking decisions that Lucas has made, I’m going to make this point- he didn’t ruin Star Wars.

One’s enjoyment of the Star Wars Trilogy is based on the sum of their experiences. No matter how many times he releases Star Wars for home viewing or in theaters- with a bit of tweaking each time… how does that change what you felt the first time you saw Star Wars? Does it negate the memories of every subsequent time you saw it and it made you happy? No. It’s one thing to say you didn’t like the prequels, or that you don’t like the special editions. But Lucas hasn’t ruined Star Wars.

And to those who liken it to rape? Find a new phrase. Rape is a despicable act that utterly violates the victim to the core. George Lucas could not possibly ruin your childhood to that degree. If somehow these changes have… maybe you need to see a shrink. (If you think I’m being overly sensitive, I admit, I might. But really- the weight of the phrase doesn’t fit what you’re describing)

Honestly, I get it! Not everyone liked the prequels. But they don’t negate the movies that came before it, or everything that happened before. I don’t mind talking about people’s problems with the stories or what they didn’t like. Usually you can start some great conversations about where people would have taken the prequels, or what they don’t like about George Lucas’ style as a director. But the response has become so typical that it’s more like a form of geek hipsterism, where it’s trendy to put it down.

I loved the Original Trilogy, and didn’t mind the changes to the Special Edition (except for making Greedo shoot first. That was stupid). I liked the prequels, and while there were obvious problems with the execution, I can admit that there were some problems with the original prequel too. Re-releasing them in 3D? I’m not going to complain- I enjoy the opportunity to see the movies on the big screen. If you don’t like it- don’t go.

Hey, it could be worse. He could have followed James Cameron’s path with Avatar, in which case we’d be on the 50th edition of the original trilogy with all of them available on DVD- and in just about every newspaper and magazine talking about how brilliant he is, and informing you that you can only enjoy the movie in 3D. And whining that because of the popularity of 3D movies, his movie didn’t have a chance to make even more money. For Lucas’ inability to stop tinkering with his movies, he seems like a pretty great guy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day, I’d like to take a moment to mention what I’m thankful for.

I am thankful for my family and close friends, who keep me sane. My mom is wonderful, and while we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, she’s almost always just a phone call away- whether it’s to help me get through a meltdown, or to gush over a TV show we both watch. My in-laws are just as important, as they’re the ones who put up with my madness (as well as the kidlets) on a daily basis and I love them all dearly. And Jerad! I’m thankful for him- everyone should have as great a best friend.

I’m thankful for my boys-though they keep my on my toes and have probably caused my premature graying, they truly are sweet kids. Full of love, full of joy, and full of a desire to discover new things. I’m thankful for TheBoy, whom I love thoroughly and who supports me in everything I do. And who works at a job that sometimes seems thankless because he wants to give us everything.

I’m hurriedly typing this while I do my current duty- keeping the living room clean. Later I’ll start mashed potatoes. And that’s all I’m doing today, other than eat. Mwahaha.

Happy Thanksgiving! May it be filled with warmth, love and some good food.

Update: I am also thankful for my dad, who used to give me lifesavers when I was having a rough time, and totally needs to start that up again. (That’s what you get for saying I didn’t mention you, Dad)

Monday Madness!

I’m still battling my cold, but getting better! I went out to take the Oldest Kidlet* to school (driven by TheBoy) and stopped at the grocery store to get ingredients for our Thanksgiving cheesecake. I managed to forget heavy cream, so I’ll just have the in-laws pick that up for me. The highlight of my day, though, was seeing a classmate of my son and saying hi. She pointed me out to her mom and said that she knows I’m a pirate (it’s the boots)- this would be the sixth kid other than my own who believes that I’m a pirate.

I really should make a pseudonyms for the boys other than Oldest and Littlest. What would happen if I had a third kid? And no, there is no third in the works right now. Purely theoretical, I can assure you.

I was not one of the people camped out on the ‘net waiting to get tickets for San Diego Comic-Con, only to have their registration site crash again. That might shock many of you, since I try to get people to go each year. But SDCC tends to fall on the weekend of my wedding anniversary, and while it does give TheBoy and I an excuse to get out of town- we’ve fallen in love with our trips to Vegas. We had a couple of rough years on the Con floor when I was pregnant (with each of the boys), and a great trip overall where I wasn’t- but we were stuck on the floor for a good 20 minutes because of a ‘Chuck’ signing. Which might not sound like that big of a deal, but I’m pretty tiny, and when packed into a small area with a lot of people… I went into panic attack territory.

While I love the panels, and dressing in costume… I really love lazy days in Vegas with fine dining, massages and dips in the pool. Also, I admit that the two failed days for SDCC registration makes me a little wary. Not because it means there’ll be a lot of people there (that’s a given), but because those behind SDCC knows what sort of demand they get and even with weeks after the first failure weren’t able to plan accordingly. It does not bode well for the convention itself, in my opinion.

So we’ll be skipping this year as well and heading off to Vegas. There’s usually a food event at the Venetian/Palazzo when we go, and this year I’m dying to actually attend instead of looking on from the other side of the ropes.

For those who are sad that I didn’t come up with a costume… I’ll find another reason to whip one up, I’m sure.

I’m dying, I’m dead…

…okay, I’m exaggerating. But those who know me know that I’m fairly healthy. But when I do get sick? I get unbelievably sick. I’m sure that it’s because I push my body fairly hard with my daily life, so when I get sick, my body just puts up the white flag right away.

This would be why I blogged a lot earlier this week, but nothing in the second half. I’m not sure what it is that I have (Web MD seems to think I have a common cold, but man, this doesn’t feel common at all), but the kids are fine right now. So lets hope that we dodge this spreading through the house.

Thankfully, I am getting some time away from the kids so that I can lie down and rest. Soon I’ll be back to telling you about how the little kid’s 3 year check up went, and why I want to punch some Star Wars fans (down geeks, I am a Star Wars geek myself- it’s the fair weather fans I want to smack).

How search engines actually work.

This post is prompted by an “editorial” piece from PopEater, where the author was shocked that when he searched for Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman that it took ages to get past links that weren’t about their love scene in Black Swan.

Whining about how difficult it was to find anything that wasn’t about the scene, he essentially blamed Google for foisting smut upon us all.

Sorry Matthew Shepatin, but it’s not Google’s fault. First, any search engine’s results (not just Google) are based on ranking links by what other people click on when they use that same search term. So when you type anything into any search engine you’re up against people whatever anyone else was looking for. You’re also up against people who’ve paid to promote their site’s ranking- but in this case, I doubt that was a factor.

His second issue was his search term. Searching for Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, it’s going to look for the most popular results with the two names. Which odds are will be about Black Swan (and given the media, focus on the love scene), not their upcoming projects.

Third, he never mentions attempting to change his search terms when he saw that he was just getting pictures of the sex scene. Which realistically is the best thing to do. All he had to do was start using -term (inserting whatever word he wanted excluded from the search) to help narrow it down. But really, since he said he was going to write about their next films and their similar plots… he probably should have searched each actress coupled with the title of their next film.

Of course, he rather cleverly made sure that his post is now one of the top results for “Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman.” Which more likely than not, was more of his goal than trying to convince you all that Google is interested in peddling smut to you.

Children shouldn’t live in a bubble.

Every day I look at the BlogHer ad bar in the sidebar of my site to see if any of my blog posts are linked. And then I click on the post titles I find interesting. So when I saw “Why do we freak out about Bratz, but not violent video games?” I was intrigued. Because this is a topic I have discussed as a gamer, feminist and a mother.

The actual post is titled “Blood, Guts and Rock & Roll: We’re Up in Arms About Bratz, But We Ignore Killstreaks in Black Ops.” It’s about how the California Supreme Court is hearing arguments about a law seeking to ban the sale of violent video games to children.

I’m against the law. When you start trying to legislate what people can and can’t buy, it becomes a slippery slope. We aren’t talking about alcohol or cigarettes, which can physically harm a body- we’re talking about bits and bytes. The answer isn’t to ban anything, it’s for parents to actively become involved in what their children and teenagers are doing. Odds are that you shouldn’t be buying your wee one a game that’s rated M and simply let them play it.

My parents let me see every Disney movie there was. Bambi and Fox & the Hound included. Both movies led us to conversations about hunting and death. And I’m glad that my parents simply didn’t keep me from them, but were prepared to talk about them. With my two boys, I let them watch Finding Nemo- which has a similarly traumatizing moment, right up at the beginning of the movie. When they weren’t quite old enough to have the conversation, I started the movie at the title screen. But when I thought that the Oldest Kidlet was ready to talk, we started to watch it from the beginning.

We talked about animals, and the fact that some animals eat other animals to survive. We talked about how fish don’t really talk in real life (at least not in ways that we can hear) and that for the most part, they don’t live in families the way that people do. We talked about death. Not in a very deep manner, but we touched on the fact that people are born, and at some point in time they die. And I thought it was important- because I want my children to understand that not all kids have two parents, and that they should be respectful if they find out that one of their friends lost their parent or sibling.

I think it’s important for kids to experience things, but only when you’re ready to talk about them. My parents decreed that we weren’t allowed to watch movies that were rated PG-13. I went to a sleepover at age 10 and watched Steel Magnolias, and when my parents found out? I was grounded, especially when they found out there was a girl who’d gone to another room because she said her parents wouldn’t let her watch, so it wouldn’t have been just me.

But I don’t want you to think that my parents shielded me. They were always ready to talk about things. I watched reruns of “Head of the Class” and “M*A*S*H” and my mom was always there to explain things to me- about someone being blind, about why doing a performance of Hair on Head of the Class was a big deal. I saw West Side Story (both on screen and later on stage), and while I hadn’t realized that there was rape in the movie… we had a long talk about it on the way home from the theater.

My parents used to let my sister and I watch snippets of Animal House because they knew we thought it was funny. We got to watch them dancing to Shout (mostly to explain why people danced to Shout at weddings, I think) and at the end, watch the marching band march into the wall. Then we were told that the rest of the movie was funny, but that there was a lot of stuff in it that just wasn’t appropriate for someone our age- but that they’d let us watch it when they thought we were ready. And you know what? They did.

My kids are 5 and 3. Right now, our entertainment is mostly provided by Disney, Pixar and Nickelodeon- but they do occasionally watch movies that aren’t rated for their age. Both have seen The Mummy several times. We haven’t really started playing video games, but we’re only going to let them play games that TheBoy and I have already played. Not just to screen for content but for playability. And as they get older, trust me, I’ll still be keeping up on what games are out so that I know what games I’d prefer them play.

So what is my point? The answer isn’t banning sales or keeping your child in a bubble away from anything that might lead to a difficult discussion. The answer is opening discussions so that your kids understand why you don’t think something is appropriate, or tackling those difficult subjects so that they know they can talk to you about things that bothered them.

(On a side note that’s somewhat related, we were watching a show this weekend that had a museum where there was a nude statue in the background. My oldest walked in and said “that statue is naked!” So we discussed art and that there’s a lot of artwork of people without their clothes on because the human body is beautiful. Turns out he didn’t think it was weird, he was worried that the statue was cold.)

Inevitability…

I remember flipping through my mom’s high school yearbook when I was a kid and saw all the inscriptions from friends that said that they’d keep in touch, and friends forever. These were people that I’d never heard of, so I knew that high school friendships didn’t always survive graduation.

I had a best friend in middle school, and she and I wound up going to different high schools. We kept in touch that first year, but with different schools and different interests… it didn’t matter that we had been best friends. Things just fell apart.

After high school, I tried to keep in touch with my friends. But after making some new friends, getting a new job, and having a major falling out with some of my high school friends… I just let go.

I had the realization tonight that another friend that I’d considered a close friend has drifted away from me. Partially because of distance, and mostly because of circumstances (they have a busy life, and the kids take up 99% of my time). I do regret not keeping better touch- but it’s so easy to fall into that routine of your life, isn’t it? To get so wrapped up in what you do day to day that things fall to the wayside. Then, by the time you realize that you haven’t talked or emailed… you realize that you and the person you spent so much time with are just running in two entirely different circles. There’s so little overlap that it might not even matter anymore.

I think it of it as one of those movies where one person dangles over the cliff and the other is trying to hold onto them. Once they start slipping, the character rationalizes that they still have a grip on their hand. That they can reclaim it and pull them up. But little by little, the hand keeps slipping until there’s not enough contact for it to be possible at all. Growing apart is sort of like that. Only sometimes when you look back, you wonder if they slipped- or if you accidentally let go.

Sorry for the downer of a post. After the stress of last week, I’d wanted to keep it light. But I had to share this, because I think it’s something we all can understand. And it’s something I’m going to work on- keeping a better grip.

The Power of Social Networking

'You underestimate the Power of Social Networking.'

Wow, last week was a slow blogging week. Not intentional, I assure you. As I blogged, the little guy had a rough week, which meant that I had less computer time and mostly wanted to go straight to bed as soon as they were in bed.

He seems to be doing better- either that or I finally figured out how to help expedite the end of his tantrums. I’m not sure. But somehow we’ve settled into a groove.

But that has nothing to do with social networking. This does. Yesterday morning, a food stylist was on a flight and was pulled from it for questioning before take off. Why? A passenger had noted his “Atom Bomb” tattoo across his fingers and felt he was a flight risk. He explained that Atom Bomb was a nickname, and was allowed back on the flight. But he tweeted about it. His followers shared it, and it spread like wildfire. I’ve yet to see any sort of statement from Delta.

When I shared this link, a family friend shared that she sat next to someone who had recently been reading a book on Islam, but left it at home because he knew someone who’d been pulled off a flight for doing so. I understand that people are still afraid of terrorism, but we’ve become so terrified of something that isn’t so much a risk anymore that now we’re profiling individuals based on their appearance.

Honestly, I probably would have let this slide if it had been the flight crew who were concerned. Or if there had been some sort of comment that was paired with his tattoo that made the passenger think he might be a risk. But it wasn’t. It was one person who looked at him with his tattoos and judged him based on it.

Another friend of mine brought up that like Kevin Smith and SouthWest Airlines, that this was aided by his status as a well known food stylist who was followed on Twitter by celebrity chefs. I’m sure it caused it to spread more quickly, but it’s not like individuals haven’t had their stories heard because they weren’t celebrities. All it took was a catchy video, and the musician whose guitar was destroyed by United Airlines was making the morning news circuit. And Monica Gaudio wasn’t anyone- but it only took a few days for her story about Cooks Source stealing her material to spread across the internet and ruin the magazine.

I’m sure that being a celebrity helps- but honestly, so long as your story is relatable it doesn’t take much for it to go viral. After all, you just have to click Retweet or Share and suddenly, you’re sharing it with all of your friends/followers who can pass it on just as easily. See? That’s the power of social networking. (Admittedly, not all of us regularly crash websites like Neil Gaiman, but you know- we all have reach)

How rude!

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m going through a bit of a trying time with the Little Kidlet. It’s a little like Jekyll and Hyde- he’s mild mannered Mister Mister or the screaming, limp bodied Mister Monster (nickname courtesy of TheBoy).

My back, which was injured during my tenure at Disneyland and has never quite gotten back to 100%, is already sore from his new trick of going limp when he doesn’t want to go somewhere. So today, we started to walk through the parking lot at school and when I asked him to give me my hand… he started crawling. I scooped him up and carried him kicking and screaming across the lot and set him down when we were at the sidewalk, and he resumed crawling. Of course, as the preschool starts a half hour after the rest of the school, there were plenty of parents around to watch me try to deal with the crawling child.

The Oldest Kidlet, meanwhile, just wanted to get to class and was pleading with his brother to walk.

The usually short walk to preschool took about 6 times longer than it should. I’d pick him up and carry him as far as he could, set him down to have him start crawling again.

Most of the moms understood, and at least showed pity. A few told me that his age is tough, a few touched my shoulder sympathetically. And others might not have said anything, but they opened the gates for me and doors while I carried the kidlet.

It’s not uncommon for some kids to be dropped off by their grandparents, and there was a little boy about LK’s age who was being taken by his grandmother. Who for some reason, decided it was appropriate to point and laugh. Not just once or twice… but each of the four times we saw her.

I’m used to quiet judging. There are the moms who look at our Saturn and sneer as they get into their luxury SUVs. There are the moms in their nice workout clothes who look down their noses at me in my boots and skinny jeans. But I can take that. Pointing and laughing? I’m not sure there’s a culture where that’s socially acceptable at all.

For what it’s worth, I outsmarted him on the way back. I realized that he would run (which we could easily do since most everyone was leaving the school, not walking in), and so I had him run to each gate we have to pass to leave the preschool. We got in the car, though, and I melted down. I cried, utterly humiliated by this ridiculously rude woman.

I thought about not sharing this, but it seemed wrong not to. No matter what our ethnic background, we should be a little understanding about other caregivers. Raising kids is hard, and sometimes we all just need a little support- whether it’s a door opened for a mom with full arms or just a little reassuring that it’s just a phase. But I can assure you that the last thing that anyone needs is to be laughed at.

Want to tell me to grow up? Have a story to share to make me feel better? Comments always welcome!

The Terrible Threes

I remember when the oldest kidlet was just hitting 2. I expressed concern about his tantrums to my mom. Okay, I was whining about how tantrums and worried that the temper he’d inherited from both TheBoy and myself was now coming back to bite me in the ass.

My mom told me this- “No matter how bad you think two is, three will be worse.”

She was right. The Oldest Kidlet hit his tantrum stride when he was three, and when he turned four, he started to mellow out. I should state for all posterity that the Oldest Kidlet’s meltdowns were seldom in public, and mostly just at home. Nobody ever believed me when I said he could be horrible.

Fast forward to the Little Guy, who turned 3 last month. He has always been the most easy going, mellow and sweet little boy. Always there to cuddle and hug… and now he melts down. If you’re walking and he’s displeased, he goes limp. And he yells! My sweet little guy now looks at me and talks back.

So whoever decided to call the twos “Terrible”… I wish I had a time machine to convince you that it’s three, that’s worse. Also, maybe I’d make you pay for my massage bills, because the LK going limp is killing my back! But Mom, thanks for the heads-up.

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