Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

Oh man you guys I am so excited May 8, 2009

Filed under: Calvin,Movies + Life — Meredith @ 11:57 am

I’ve been a geek all my life – it’s just well-hidden because I’m bad at video games and have highly developed social skills. I have a box of DC comics from the 60s in my room (Batman and Superman); I know Tolkien’s Elvish alphabet; I adore the original Star Wars trilogy and think it’s a shame that they allowed Lucas to ruin the new trilogy; I love reading, and am, in fact, a grammar nerd; I’m halfway through watching Firefly, need to finish watching through the first season of Battlestar, and will be deeply upset if Dollhouse gets cancelled.

All this geekiness I claim on my own terms, but since Calvin and I started going out almost three years ago, he’s introduced me to even more geekiness. He’s a Marvel man, so I can add Spiderman and the X-Men to my repertoire. He’s a serious gamer (and when I say gamer, I mean FF10 gamer, not MaddenWhaterver gamer), so even though I have the dexterity only for Lego Indiana Jones, I’m aware of that universe. Calvin also plays Magic and Warhammer (he paints all his own models exquisitely.)  He and I also read Watchmen together, way before the movie came out, and then we went to see the movie together, and when the four-hour extended cut DVD comes out, we will watch it again.

But the biggest and most important thing Calvin has introduced me to is Star Trek. All of it. I have seen at least ten episodes of every series, more of most, and movies 2-4 and 6-10.

And I am so excited about the new movie. Calvin and I are going to see it tomorrow, and I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Poll time!


Your Emo Neighborhood Spiderman May 5, 2007

Filed under: Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies,Movies + Life — Meredith @ 1:08 pm

Who feels like a movie review written ignoring conventional film-viewing techniques and concentrating on whatever I decide to nitpick at? Okay, let’s go! But be warned: There are probably some spoilers. Not plot spoilers so much as now you won’t be able to see it without snickering.

I went to see a movie, something I wish I could do more often. It was especially nice because I was treated to the company of my Dad, my younger brother, and my Calvin; who are fun to take to movies because they’re hypercritical about everything in them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting enjoying Hollywood’s latest offering, only to feel Calvin’s breath hot on my ear, whispering “Yeah, sure. Apparently there are no laws of physics here.”

The movie we just saw was the new one about my friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

Oh, did I say ‘friendly’? I’m sorry, I meant ’emo and whiny.’

I think we’ve all seen the trailers – Spidey becomes evil when some black goo falls from space and attaches itself to him. But both Calvin and I had to admit, while Spiderman certainly becomes more aggressive and nasty, Peter Parker responds by becoming less evil than…….emo. (more…)


As the Philosopher Said: Great Metaphorical Presents April 12, 2007

Children love symmetry, adore things in pairs. Anything good can automatically be made (in a mathematical anomaly) ten to fifteen times better by adding a second. You can’t eat one M&M. One potato chip. Oreos are not eaten as a unit, but tops are separated from bottoms, savored, and eaten individually. You can’t be expected to listen to only one bedtime story any more than you can be expected to walk with one foot, or breathe with one lung. Two is where it’s at.

Children love symmetry, and this child was no exception.

In my (long past) youth, I adored the Olsen Twins with the idol worship that little girls normally reserve for Disney Princesses. Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Detective Agency. You’re Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Ballet Party. It Takes Two. How The West Was Fun. Billboard Dad. Passport to Paris. Whatever that movie was when they went to Australia. I could go on for days. If Mary-Kate and Ashley starred in it, I probably owned the VHS tape. Actually, I probably still own all of them at present, since I never throw anything away.

By the time I was about 12 or 13, it began to dawn on me that Mary-Kate and Ashley didn’t write their own movies. Hell, even the guys who wrote the movies didn’t write the movies, I think the plots were determined by a committee made up of the guys who ran the studio.

It even occurred to me to wonder who actually designed all those clothes with the Olsen brand across them. And, for that matter, why they even had a clothing line. I grew to the rather uncomfortable realization that they aren’t 11-year-old girls making fun movies for other kids their age, anymore: they are money-making machines who, in the long run, don’t stand for anything. Except, you know, money.

Around that same time, I became more and more certain that there was no God. Mary-Kate and Ashley had nothing to do with that, in case you were wondering, the two great awakenings just occurred along parallel timelines. I looked all around me and recognized religious hypocrisy, coupled with some biblical fairy tale that shared a surprising connection with the Olsen twin stories I’d bought into for so many years – just a little too convenient and implausible to be true.

I rebelled against my peers, society, anyone willing to listen to me disassociate myself from any -ism I could lay my hands on (Baptism, Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Communism, etc). To this day I think of it as a rebellion, against society, although not my equally jaded parents. So my dander gets up a little when it suddenly becomes “cool” or “rebellious” to dedicate your life to your imaginary friend. That’s less of a “rebellion” and more what I like to call “caving to pressure”.

The religious fascinated me for awhile after that, as schoolkids are fascinated by exotic beasts prowling behind the safe bars of zoos. “Mom, do they really eat zebras?” “Mom, do they really believe all that stuff?”

After awhile, I grew out of my childish fascination with both the religious and with those alluring twins, although I still watch their doings with bemusement.

When Mary-Kate was diagnosed anorexic, I was not surprised.

Nor was I surprised to hear the religious attempting to strip this woman of her dignity under my very nose in my own home state.

When one or the other of the twins moved out of their mutual apartment, I was the least shocked of my peers. Like socks in the dryer, pairs you think will always remain – if only based on mutual color and style – inevitably separate.

So, now, when my friends and family grow irate on my behalf, ranting about Big Religion and Unfairness and Vote Tampering and Contest Rigging, I just smile beatifically.

And I explain that I stopped caring about twins, religion, and even religious twins quite some time ago.


Obama, Superman, the F-Words, and Bigotry March 9, 2007

Filed under: Connections,Criticism of the Stupid,Movies + Life,Politics — Meredith @ 10:46 pm

It was like a movie, really. Four people seated around a dinner table, discussing politics. One of them is me.

One of them, Jules, is a self-proclaimed liberal who enjoys championing the causes of the impoverished third world peoples, but who favors swift and certain retribution for the stupid, of whom apparently our entire country is made.

One of them, Kikki, is a liberal with European sensibilities, as a first or second-generation American (her family is Belgian and French Canadian) probably she is one of the American-hating Frenchie liberals (frog eating surrender monkeys) we seemed so concerned about a few years ago.

About herself, she likes to quote David Sedaris: “You have to be a patriot to be an ex-patriot.” Except, as near as I can tell, she seems to love America as much as anybody, and is more verbose and thoughtful about where she thinks we are headed than most.

Funny story about Kikki: we were in a hotel, and she said to me, “Hey, check out those hot football players.” I, ever the American, looked immediately at the TV in the bar, which was playing a football game; before I realized that she was discussing the hot soccer players in the flesh in front of us.

The final piece of the puzzle is a blind-faith conservative christian, presently attending a private high school with textbooks written from “a christian perspective”. The high school also has a large drug problem, but I suspect the brains of the person in question have been addled by natural means, so it really isn’t relevant.

The conversation turned, as these conversations always seem to these days, to the preposterously far-off presidential race, and, almost inevitably, to the honorable Mr. Obama.

“Both he and Hillary have peaked too early, ” Jules proclaims, and, although she neither smokes nor drinks, in my imagination this statement was punctuated by a long drag of a cigarette or a dainty sip of a margarita. “Thing will come out about him, God knows……” “He wasn’t really vetted in the past,” I agree, “And you can’t be a politician from Chicago without getting your hands dirty somehow. Oh, they’ll rip him to pieces later.”

“I’m looking for someone who isn’t on the radar yet.” Jules went on. “Like Patrick Kennedy. I’m interested to see what he’ll do. He’s got potential.” “God, it’s 2007,” I pointed out, “I’m the only one here who’ll be able to vote, and I haven’t picked a pony yet. Too early.” “Oh, I know,” Kikki says. And then someone mentioned it. I don’t know who, but somebody said it.

Somebody said that Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Thing is, Barak Obama isn’t a Muslim. And I said as much. (more…)


How Robert Mitchum Paid For School – Not By Working, That’s For Sure! March 6, 2007

Filed under: College Stuff,Connections,Movies + Life — Meredith @ 6:22 am

It has been said, and eloquently, (by Nick Naylor) that almost everything done in the world – good or bad – was done to pay a mortgage. (also known, in the novel Nick lives in, as “The Yuppie Nuremberg Defense” – “I vas only paying ze mortgage!”)

But I think the real question is: how many of the world’s actions originate trying just to pay for school?

As I sat here this afternoon, beginning what promises to be an exciting college spring break of vegging out and reading teenage chick-lit which happens to be beneath me, I stumbled across an often overlooked all-star cast movie entitled “Not as a Stranger”.

I was initially excited – My God, I thought, this movie stars Robert Mitchum, Olivia de Havilland, and Frank Sinatra, not to mention the random walk-ons given to Lee Marvin, Harry Morgan, and Lon Chaney, Jr. Why on earth have I not SEEN this before? I wondered. I was soon to find out.

Olivia de Havilland, one of the most beautiful women of all time – who wouldn’t I kill to have skin like that – hair dyed to an almost noxious peroxide blond, starkly contrasting her big brown eyes. And it gets worse: she appallingly butchers a Swedish accent, she seems to be trying her best to pull off an Ingrid Bergman impression, but just winds up sounding like this guy. The first time she speaks in the movie, I thought the accent was some sort of plot device, that maybe she was faking it to get Robert Mitchum to leave her alone, or something. But no.

Anyway, the basic plot of the movie is Robert Mitchum becoming a doctor, developing a God complex, debating about having scruples, etc. He marries Olivia in all her Swedish-ness, much to my surprise, but here comes the interesting part:

He’s about to get kicked out of med school because he can’t pay for classes. He is quite destitute. I worried about him, how was he going to manage? Wait tables? Become a grease monkey? Sell his body? (I mean, of course, his organs. ) (more…)