Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fortune Cookie Say: Life Spent Watching Netflix Potentially Wasted, Unless…

In honor of my summer writing apathy, instead of a brilliantly insightful post, I will give you insight into how I waste spend my off hours. Go ahead, make some popcorn. I can wait…

It Is Totally Worth Going Blind Reading Subtitles
It Is Totally Worth Going Blind Reading Subtitles

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I finished an amazing series on Netflix the other day, and now, I am drained. I’ll reference it just so you can decide for yourself whether you’d dedicate twenty plus hours of your life to watching a Korean soap opera based on a novel. The series is called The Moon Embracing the Sun. It is a love lost/love re-captured story set in a mythical court during the Joeson (pronounced Chosun) Dynasty. And it’s entirely in Korean. You have to watch subtitles to understand it. Yeah. That’s how I spent a week of my life. I have no regrets, except that it ended and now I am bereft.

What is it about a gripping story and fantastic cast that weaves a magic spell around the viewer? I can’t say for sure, but I think in this saga it has something to do with life being lived to its fullest and yet always teetering on the brink of extinction.  There is love, passion, intrigue, betrayal, death, re-birth and ghosts. Basically it’s the Pu Pu Platter of entertainment with a little bit of everything to please all palates. You like romance? There’s a new one popping up between forbidden lovers every turn—almost all of it is star crossed or fatally doomed—but it never fails to twang the heart strings big time. Do you want action? Sword wielding maniacs will attack to move the nefarious plot along when it gets a little too saccharine. Hate someone in the story? Just wait. Eventually everybody gets what’s coming to them. It is absolutely delightful and yet still dramatically compelling when it does. And I have given nothing away by tell you this.

So, if you too are dragging this summer and don’t know what you want to do of an evening, might I suggest you find out where to activate your English subtitles and prepare to be mesmerized. And then, alas, desolated when the series ends. And then you’ll be on the hunt for a new epic drama to catch your eye. Beware, not all foreign films rise to this caliber. I made the mistake of watching “White Haired Witch” thinking it would compare. It didn’t.* Unless by compare you mean contrast so much as to make you wonder if good film making is possible. If you are a fan of seriously bad movies, watch it, the war porn is well done. Otherwise, skip the confusing mess. There are much better options out there.

Here’s a list of a few of my favorite foreign films:

Eat Drink Man Woman (Vietnamese)– A small family saga about a father and the three daughters who challenge his world view. Lots of beautiful meal preparation because father is a master chef who is now losing his sense of taste. You will leave the movie hungry for more.

Monsoon Wedding (Hindi) Think Father of the Bride set in India. Let hijinks with arranged marriages ensue. Or catch an even sillier take: Bollywood Bride and Prejudice. If you like lots of Bollywood dancing, this one’s for you. Bonus, both of these have spoken English in them.

Kung Fu Hustle (Chinese) Over-the-top fighting action sequences, totally ridiculous plot—on purpose. It is really a parody of Kung Fu movies. Absolute fun. Nice Matrix tie-in moment.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Mandarin) Truly kick-ass fight sequences, compelling battle of good versus evil all filmed on the backdrop of a mystical, magical China. (The Chinese perfected fighting in tree tops long before the Twilight vampires ever set foot in Washington State.)

Like Water for Chocolate (Spanish) – A woman puts her emotions into her cooking. Suppressed desire sends a naked woman running through the desert after her lover. Need I say more?

Atame (Tie Me Up/Tie Me Down) (Spanish) Bondage and Stockholm Syndrome. Warning, explicitly sexual. Make sure the shades are pulled and the kids are in bed…with ear plugs.

There you have it. I highly recommend the occasional foreign film so that you can feel mildly superior to other people about what kind of brain candy you are consuming.** Please make some recommendations of your own. I really could use another fix like Moon Embracing the Sun. This is how I can afford to travel the world–one delightful movie at a time.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Don’t let the trailer fool you. It seems much more coherent when you aren’t trying to piece together which army is which and figuring out who the rebel infiltrators are actually fighting. Critically stupid ending as well.

**It’s gotta be better than watching reality television anyway.

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Celebrating the Red, White…and Black and Blue

iPhone--so you can capture all of those precious, heart-stopping memories.
iPhone–so you can capture all of those precious, heart-stopping memories.

For those of you who enjoyed the past holiday weekend…bite me. For anyone else who spent the day at an emergency med center making sure your child hadn’t broken or permanently damaged any part of his body, join me in a moment of reflection.

Can you remember before you had the awesome responsibility of parenting? Can you think back that far? (You could be a parent for all of thirty seconds, and still the crushing realization that you are now responsible for a life beyond your own will be smacking you in the face…hard…like Mike Tyson in the final round, testosterone-flared-nostrils-in-your-face hard.) Do you remember what that life before was like? Seriously, what was it like? Oh, wait, now I remember. It was freedom. That’s what it was. Glorious freedom. Those days are gone.

I don’t mean to sound bitter, but I can tell you, after this past Fourth of July, I’d really like to go back and celebrate what freedom used to mean. B.C.—Before Children—life was a dream. I didn’t know it, of course; I thought I was living a life of drudgery and low-paying jobs. I had no idea I was reveling in the greatest wealth the world can offer: freedom. I was reminded of that this weekend when I decided to take my son to a local parade in our new home town. And what better way to get there than riding our bikes?!

I had purchased a bike this past winter and stared at the blizzards fantasizing about biking around in the summer with my son. It was going to be a glorious, technicolor dream. There would be butterflies and rainbows. Even with my bionic enhancements, my physical limitations make it hard to keep up with him on foot, so I thought, “Hey, if we are both on bikes, then I can enjoy the experience and not worry about him getting away. After all, he’s strapped into it and it weighs about ninety pounds. What could happen?” Saturday, we get on our bikes and head toward the city park where we can watch the parade. Cautiously, we cross the scary, busy road near our house to cut cross the cemetery to hit the bike trail along the river.* It all sounds bucolic and delightful doesn’t it? Wait for it…

We’re tooling along, practicing passing people on the left and not mowing down little kids or elderly people who think I’m kidding when I yell: “Watch out. He can’t brake yet.”** Then we get to the section of the path that is becoming our bone of contention—the fork in the road that is the pain in my… ANYWAY, the kid is behind me and has stopped at the fork. A woman with a stroller is passing him and I call back, “No, Booger…we aren’t taking that route today. We can take it on the way ba…” I can’t even get to the end of the sentence before the berserker rage strikes. My son is peddling for all he’s worth–near missing the baby in the stroller–zipping in a mad dash past me and heading towards trouble. All I can do is watch; it isn’t pretty.

My son rides a very sturdy Ambucs Trike.*** This was a wonderful gift from an organization that helps families to buy special trikes for special tikes. (Sounds sickeningly cute, doesn’t it?) What’s more sickening is the experience of watching your agitated child pell-mell his way into an emergency med center visit. As expected, the “Hulk Smash” rage ended in disaster. Helpless, I watched as my son exceeded safety limits, causing the trike to wobble, and then come crashing down on top of him—face first into the asphalt. The good news is, road rash on all bendy parts, a smashed nose and lacerated lip (inside and out—made me want to puke when I saw it) aside, he is going to be fine. The not-so-good news is we spent the entire holiday sitting in waiting rooms just to determine that he hadn’t broken anything. By the end, all we wanted to do was crawl home and collapse. We didn’t bother with going to any Fourth of July celebrations that evening. As my mother-in-law said after we survived the harrowing experience, “We’ve had enough fireworks for one day.” It was unanimous; we spent the holiday huddling in our house avoiding any further excitement.

So, how do I celebrate freedom now? I cherish the moments that work and recover as quickly as possible from the ones that don’t. I will count surviving the day as a win. I will try very hard not to mourn a time when freedom was as easy as leaving my house and getting to my destination unscathed. And I will be buying knee and elbow pads for any future ventures that might lead us astray along our rocky path to freedom.

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[Of note, the Bandaids should be coming off just in time for our camping trip to the U.P. later this week. I’m not worried,  inclement weather notwithstanding, what could possibly go wrong?]

He's smarter than your average human.  Courtesy of www.pacsafe.com
He’s smarter than your average human.( And yes, I realize this is a brown bear and that Michigan has black bears–deal with it.)
Courtesy of http://www.pacsafe.com

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*No, this is not foreshadowing. Foreshadowing would have involved an anger management seminar.

**Subtext: you are worth 50 points you old codger, so you’d better get out of the way.

***Sturdy and a bit clunky, these are the Cadillac of kids’ bikes. Solid steel construction—built to inflict the most damage in whatever they hit.

 

P.S. It wasn’t until after I  wrote this that I learned of the terrible bike accident at the Tour de France. I have the sincerest sympathies for the mothers of each and every one of those riders. I am very happy everyone walked away from that one.