Plans are in place. Only one more day before I am free.*
I’ve tried to hide my growing excitement. I still swear like a drunken sailor whenever I step on crayons in the yard.
I only hope I didn’t give it away earlier. Boss Baby was playing in the rec room. There’s this scene where the kid is grounded—his bedroom is his prison. When the kid’s talking, wizard alarm clock tries to grab a shank to make a break for it, I about died laughing!**
Man, if that isn’t a sign I need to get out of here, I don’t know what is.
It wasn’t always this way; I used to have a life.***
Okay, so maybe casing the Gem and Mineral show isn’t the act of a repentant criminal, but can you blame a gal for seeking any kind of distraction when serving a life sentence?
All I want is a little clarity…cut, color, and carats! And what do they give me? False hope diamonds!
Breaking rocks in the hot sun would be so much more pleasant if we were hunting out sparkly specimens that look like dragon droppings!
When I get out…I might even try my hand at a little fancy re-marketing. No longer will I be the chauffeur who slavishly drives the ‘Boss Baby’ wherever his heart desires. No! I will be the wild, carefree road warrior women envy and men want. (Hey, if we’re going to fantasize…)
I will hit the interstate for places unknown. I will decide my fate. Or, at least, I won’t default to Highway 196 and exit 41 as the corrections officer insists we take every time we do roadside clean up.
My parole hearing is coming up, so I baked the warden a mini devil’s food cake. I know…shameless pandering.
I even invited the corrections officer to supervise so he wouldn’t suspect anything.
I have to say, they didn’t turn out so bad–for prison food.
After slaving away for, like, forty minutes, we have a decent product, if I do say so myself.
The warden scarfs the thing down and I ask him, “So, wasn’t that fun?”
You wanna know what he said?
There’s no respect in this joint. No loyalty. None.
That’s why I’m oughtta here tomorrow. I’m gonna Easy-Bake my way into my own ‘early release.’
This time, I won’t forget to put the file into the cake.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*…to have a nervous breakdown.
**True. This happens. In a movie about a baby there is a reference to a shank. And I did laugh loud enough to be rolling on a floor except movie theater floors prohibit that kind of enthusiasm.
***Okay, that’s a stretch. Only Webster’s would call what I do on a daily basis, ‘having a life.’
__________You’ve read this far bonus:_____________
In case you wondered how it is I–an adult with a boy-child–have an Easy Bake Oven, here’s the story behind the best Christmas present I ever got.
This is a blog post I wrote before I ever became a blogger. Posted on The Green Study–who is to blame for giving me my first taste of fame and is responsible for my continued life of blogging crime:
For Christmas, I asked Santa to give me a break. A break from the relentless needs of Autism parenting and the excuse to overindulge in selfish pursuits. Santa came through big time in the form of a weekend getaway!* I randomly pick January 20th as the date for an overnight camp where people more responsible than me will keep my genetic contribution to the world safe for forty-eight hours. I had not realized it would coincide with inauguration day.
It’s the long-awaited Friday—finally!—I drop my beloved child at camp and escape like they might try to hand him back. Like a Baskerville hound baying for blood, I’m off! I have no obligations to anyone except myself and the goal of being blissfully distracted for two whole days. The difficulty is picking just one activity—so I don’t. First there will be a little buff and polishing and then dinner and a movie with friends. Absolutely nothing is wrong in my perfect little world. Life is bliss!
This works really well…until I sit in the massage chair at the nail salon. I’m punching the lower-back Shiatsu settings trying to relax while someone else deals with my winter-callused feet, when, blaring overhead, comes the familiar notes of a military band frothing with patriotic fervor. Aghast, I realize they have tuned the tv to the pomp and circumstance of President (*urp*) Donald Trump’s inauguration.**
I try to hint to my manicurist that anything else—The Shopping Channel, Urkel reruns, anything—would be preferable. She just smiles in that way the technicians do when they either can’t understand a word you are saying and/or are trying to suppress a gag reflex at the amount of skin sloughing off your mangy feet. I’m stuck, forced to listen to the horror unfolding with the insistence of all nightmares you just can’t wake up from no matter how hard you pinch yourself. Before long, my psyche is bruised.
The incessant and inane commentaries about the Big D’s faux humility of acceptance of office scrape against reactivated nerve endings—it’s like a scab being ripped from a raw wound. All the seething loathing and despair come oozing to the surface.
Since the election, I have erected an information force field—a giant bubble of reality denial. I try very hard not to read, see, or listen to any of the goings-on related to the transition of power. I avoid the bile of exchanges on Facebook because there is no Epipen big enough for certain toxic allergens. I am a political ostrich and have my head firmly wedged…somewhere…in an attempt to huddle beneath an illusion of safety.
But the seal on the bubble isn’t inviolate. Facts seep through. Reporters are positively gleeful about delivering devastating blows:
“This disastrous news, just in…
“The Big D wants a climate change denier as the head of the EPA.”
“The Big D offers Secretary of State position to oil magnate, Comrade-in-Chief Tillerson in bed with Moscow.”
“Dolores Umbridge to head Department of Education…”
It’s like being trapped in a car heading for a huge crap pile and there’s nothing you can do but brace yourself for the stinky impact. Try as I might, I can’t hide from the impending wreckage.
I escape the salon with beautiful toes and abused ear-holes. I scarper next door to join friends for a Chinese feast. There is little in the world that cannot be improved with a really good duck sauce. In fact, I think 2017 will be the Year of the Rangoon, for me.
It is awesome to get out with girlfriends and yack-yack face, while divvying up entrees. This all-estrogen experience is enhanced by its rarity. The food is great, the friends are delightful. Conversation flows. Three admit they can’t make the movie afterward because they are attending The Women’s March the next day in Lansing. They are bubbling with enthusiasm over the prospect—eager to represent their concerns about our political direction. Opinions are voiced. The choice to carry signs or not is discussed. Some express regrets that they have other commitments. I, however, am silent.
There it is, that subtle recognition that I lack something when it comes to addressing the concerns in the world around me. Among a group of intelligent, well-educated, driven females, I am the odd woman out. I feel no urge to march. No enthusiasm for protesting. No drive to join arms with other nasty women to demand equality or any other rights. It has been an indelible character fault—my honest recognition that I do not possess great ambitions to enact change other than to wish, weakly, that things were different. It is the note of discord that harps at me even as I enjoy my night out:
“Is it me? Am I part of the problem?”
I want to have fun. I want to be wild and carefree. Right now, the world needs movers, can-doers, outspoken activists to address the growing problems with our divisiveness and crumbling American ideals. Other women want to go be the change that rearranges the world. Me? I want to go see Hidden Figures and be entertained.
Dinner breaks up, and four of us split off to hit the nearby theater. We underestimate the popularity of the film. Perhaps there are more people moved by threat of civil rights abuses inspiring people to go see a film about African American women making sine waves during the 1960’s space race than we realized? Whatever the reason, just as I step up to purchase tickets, the movie sells out.
We resolve to find it showing elsewhere. Cell phones to the rescue, in seconds we locate the nearest next showing. We make it with time to spare for bathroom breaks and a close encounter with overpriced snacks.
The film is a poignant reminder of how much things seem to have changed in fifty plus years. As the characters of Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn parade the injustices rampant in Virginia during an era of supposed desegregation, this viewer can’t help but compare these struggles to ongoing racist discontent in the current tide of anti-everything-I-stand-for sentiment.
In Hidden Figures, the camera marks the continued segregation of a south in the American sixties. Signs on buildings are marked with “Colored” versus “White” entrances while restrictions on employment, library access, and toilets underscore the indignities for persons of color in an uber-white world. The movie is an ugly reminder of a future I’m coming to dread.
Today, hateful murmurs on Twitter and Facebook rants reveal, even revel in, blatant homophobia, anti-feminist bile, and a self-satisfied, Christian-Right America centrism which cheers for the deportation of people of Muslim faith and encourages wholesale murder akin to shades of 1940’s Holocaust. Watching Hidden Figures, I am encouraged and inspired. It shows the victory of those who challenge and beat a system stacked unfairly and overwhelmingly against them. However, when I leave the theater, I am reminded of the forces daily rewinding what progress has been made.
While we sleep, the government moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In one swift, hostile, late-night legislative assault, health care is in danger of being erased for 20 million people. Steps are taken to undermine the FHA regulations that protect mortgage insurance rates that help low-income people afford homes. The Big D threatens to repeal all of the grounds gained in an eight-year Obama presidency. If we pretend that he’ll stop there, that is level of delusion we can’t afford. I should be galvanized by the imminent destruction of the values I hold dear. And yet…
Last Friday wasn’t about inducting a virulent corruption into our government—it was all about me. And ME wanted dessert.
Staggering out of the theater at 10:30, we wander to the nearby MildThings restaurant for ice cream with deep fried, cinnamon-sugar tortilla strips. We’re overfed, highly-sugared, middle-aged women on the loose. Here us roar!***
The PYT (Pretty Young Thang) waitress endures our revelries not even encouraging us to leave when we ask “When’s closing time?”
“Oh, you’re fine.” PYT waves a perfectly manicured hand at us, pooh poohing our concerns. “We don’t close until 2:00 a.m.”
But for us, the coach has turned back into a pumpkin and our glass slippers are killing us. We wrap up our giddy exchanges, hug madly in the cool air outside the restaurant, and make our escape.
I snuggle into my bed as the clock turns 12:30 a.m. It is a new day. A darker day, perhaps, but it is a day I am free to make the choices I can live with.
I am not a rebellious soul. I prefer a quiet life, out of the confluence of bad history come to repeat itself all over my constitution. But now is not the time to stick one’s head in a bucket of denial—no matter how comforting that existence might be in the short run. We will have to keep our eye on the Hidden Costsof a Big D administration; otherwise, the next coming detraction might just strip our civil liberties entirely. And that preview is a pretty grim prospect to behold.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*The role of Santa was played by family and friends who have looked on in horror at admired my parenting on the edge-of-catastrophe. Thank you to all who sponsored this get-away weekend.
**I have to suppress my gag reflex whenever I put those words together. At least in one respect, this dick is just too much to swallow.
Leonard Nimoy dies and the world is not the same. To honor the great man who played an even greater character, Spock, what could be more fitting than to go watch a space opera? As it turns out, just about anything else.
I sat in the theater Friday night thinking, “This can’t possibly be happening.” I almost asked the stranger next to me his opinion to confirm my sinking suspicions; Jupiter Ascending has to be one of the dumbest movies ever made. Might be the dumbest I have ever seen, and I saw Lucy last year, so that is saying something.
I have tried to explain to anyone who had the misfortune to ask, what exactly was wrong with the film, then a sentence like this comes out of my mouth:
“…it is when the half-lycan runt of the litter, who lost his genetically enhanced wings due to biting out the throat of one of the ‘privileged’ swoops in to rescue the girl, Jupiter, from the little grey aliens disguised as doctors who are trying to kill the reincarnated genetic duplicate of a dead Queen, whisked through the room on flying combat boots that it occurs to me, ‘I think this movie might suck.’”
When the movie started, Mila Kunis says, “I am an alien.” Excellent, good to have that straight right off the bat. But then she clarifies that she is an illegal alien because her father is not a citizen of her mother’s country. Okayyy. Got it, clever play on being an alien from outer space, not really, just kidding. Hah Hah. It is the only attempt at humor in the entire movie—even the writers knew this one couldn’t be saved by clever one liners. After her father is brutally murdered, her mother leaves Russia to sail on a cargo ship bound for who-knows-where and gives birth to a daughter mid-voyage—who she names Jupiter because it had been her husband’s final words to her before he dies.** And this is the last time anything in the movie makes anything approaching sense. Yeah, I know.
What follows is a quick flash of Mila Kunis’s life in Chicago as a household drudge—Jupiter Jones waking up six or seven times at Oh-God thirty in the morning, schlepping to various houses to clean and covet rich people’s stuff…and hating her life. Then, after a few paltry lines of creepy dialogue from the cousin from ‘seedy central casting’ about making some money selling her eggs, Jupiter goes to a fertility clinic where she faces every woman’s nightmare—wearing the paper gown that never actually covers any pertinent body part. But due to the magic of Hollywood, this one manages to not only stay on, but also not move when she is hoisted by alien technology, rolled over in the air—for no reason I can think of—and then the aliens, I mean doctors, determine she is the genetic match they were hired to kill. And so they proceed to kill her…slowly…by pushing a button that apparently is going to administer some kind of agent through an oxygen mask, thus giving the hero time to locate the girl, shoot up the room of little grey men who have dropped their concerned medical practitioner façade to reveal the truly gruesome reality beneath.*** This must have been a signal of some sort because, after this, the movie really goes off the deep end.
The rest of the story is a blur of the half-lycan, half-whatever, wingless soldier on air-hockey skates, played rather heroically by Channing Tatum—heroic due to the fact he never once lets on how exactly terrible he thinks this movie really is—constantly bailing Jupiter Jones out of every stupid decision she makes. After the dashing rescue from the murder clinic, Tatum’s character, Caine Wise (who makes up a name like that?), skates away from three or four bounty hunters, holding onto Jupiter still wearing her magic paper robe. (Maybe they glued it onto her?) Using his flying skates and a small shield, Caine somehow prevents any laser weapons from hitting him or his shrieking companion. Caine also managed to hang on to Jupiter despite some truly unbelievable stunts that had CGI teams up to all hours trying to make them look even remotely believable. (Warning: they failed.)
Jupiter and Caine escape to meet up with a former comrade of Caine’s, played by Sean Bean. Sean immediately tries to kill Caine but then bees descend and buzz around Jupiter’s head, signaling that she is reborn royalty. The rest of the movie devolves into a series of over-the-top battles wherein Jupiter is dragged before genetic kin on three different planets. The first time, a daughter of Jupiter’s former self warns her that she is about to enter a new world (duh) and hopes that ‘this time’ they can be friends. Then she bathes in a mysterious liquid and strips off all of the excruciatingly applied aging make-up the cosmetics team spent hours applying. Caine fights his way to Jupiter and takes her off to claim her inheritance. Next comes the most exhausting battle yet—navigating the red tape of the galactic central offices.
Claiming Jupiter’s rebirth-right involves the bane of all universes—standing in line at various different governmental departments and finally bribing their way to the office where Jupiter is tattooed with her royal seal. The clerk who tags her offers Jupiter congratulations and then condolences…but does Jupiter take a hint? No. When someone offers to make her a queen of the universe, she goes along with it. Relative number two hijacks her and spills the secret about the source of their eternal youth. (Spoiler: think Soylent Green in a blender.) Battle, battle, fight scene and Sean Bean betrays his old friend and delivers Jupiter up to relative number three—Balem—the son of the former queen. Balem is a less fun, more psychotic version of Loki from the Avengers, but with a sore throat because he has a hoarse whisper the entire movie. The Loki-Wanna-Be shoves Caine out an airlock and then casually proposes a marriage of convenience to his mother/Jupiter so he can ensure her inheritance is properly managed. Right. Jupiter, learning she has lost her lycan love connection, says yes. Meanwhile Caine survives the vacuum of space long enough to slip on an emergency air bubble suit. (I can’t explain it any more than that.) Help arrives and, between Caine and the reconciled, contrite Sean Bean, the two men face a gauntlet of laser-guided war hammers to rescue Jupiter, yet again. Somehow, Caine manages to make it through, and nearly rescues his almost-girlfriend when she slips through his fingers because he is too busy fighting off the flying lizards. Oh, did I forget to mention the toothy Sleestaks with wings? How silly of me.
I think you can image how the rest of this disaster of plot contrivances ends. Laser tag, explosions and a minor impalement pretty much wrap up the bad guys. Jupiter finally finds a backbone, informs Balem, “I am not your mother” and then bashes him on the head. The lycan and the faux queen find each other and escape in the nick of time, swept along in the jet stream of the departing ship’s escape velocity. The next thing we know, Jupiter is back to being a charwoman but this time she is grateful and happy to clean toilets for a living. Oh, and she flies off into broad daylight with her one true, half-lycan love, only this time she’s wearing the gravity defying combat boots. Her lover has finally earned back his wings.
I have been a long-time fan of science fiction, but Jupiter Ascending may have ruined that for me. Somewhere along the line, my brain lost the ability to suspend disbelief beyond the breaking point. Whoever thought taking Twilight, removing the vampire, adding in leather-winged lizards from space and assorted bad guys with increasingly psychotic motives and blending it with the plot of Maid in Manhattan was a good idea, really stepped over a line…a few galaxies back. (The film badly went where no one had gone before—for good reason.) It almost seems appropriate that the same day Leonard Nimoy died is the same day my love of science fiction was irreparably damaged. But I will recover from this devastation. I will not allow one truly awful film to ruin me forever. As Spock might have said: “It would be illogical.”
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*I’d give you a Spoiler Alert warning, but honestly, I think I’m doing you a favor if you go in knowing what’s about to happen to you.
**Fifty shades of Finding Nemo.
***I will not be able to face my next gynecological exam without remembering this scene. Damn their souls.