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Archive for January, 2011

Warning: this post contains mature words (as in “adult” or “dirty”) and falsehoods. If you have trouble determining which these are, please leave me a comment and I will do my best to help.

“Behind every misuse is an erroneous belief.” Frederick Matthias Alexander

I am something of an etymology geek. I used to be really good at remembering the roots of words, but now I just make things up. One thing we all know is that the horo in horoscope comes from the Latin word for prostitute. In other words, any and all women who believe in the power and prophesy of the zodiac are whores.

Imagine my surprise when I read that the horoscope as we know it is false, that all of the dates and astrological signs are misplaced due to the fact of the movement of the earth over the last several millennia.

I’ve been thinking about editing some of the information in “About” here on my blog because I state that “I am a Cancer,” but I found out this month that I may actually be a Gemini.

Not only that, but throughout my life, most of my friends have been Scorpios, (Scorpii?), Leos, and Geminis (Geminii?). All of my crushing infatuations (2 high school, 2 college) were with Aries men, but my “polar opposite” in the zodiac is Capricorn. Hubby is (or perhaps was?) an Aquarius. What does all of this mean about my love life? I am sure I don’t know, but if I don’t start behaving like a whore in the bedroom soon, I don’t know who to consult any more. I don’t think the syndicated “Daily Horoscope” that I follow has updated its charts.

One thing I know, because I really believe it, is that I AM NOT A GEMINI! I am a Cancer, through and through. I am a water sign, just like my pals, Scorpio and Pisces. I am domestic. I like to stay in my shell. I am moody and crabby because I am ruled by the changeable Moon. I form strong bonds with my female friends. I rule the breasts and this is obviously in keeping with the whole family-whore theme; plus, I used to have a really nice rack before I nursed my crablets. I taste really good with drawn butter and my tender meat is the best part of me, though sometimes my carapace will get stuck in your teeth if you aren’t very good at using that little metal pick.

I know that I am not a Gemini because everyone knows that Geminii are duplicitous, like the twins who they emulate. I would never lie because Cancerians are loyal and this includes being completely honest.

So you can see that I am very confused, even angry. I am sure you have all been struggling with this as well. You’ll find no answers here. However, I am interested in knowing if your life has been governed by the feeling that no one understands you and that anyone’s attempt to pigeonhole or classify you has always fallen short. If this fits, I’ll just bet you are a Ophiuchus.

That’s it for today’s Horoscope. Stayed tuned over the next several millennia to see whether your sign has changed or not.

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This January marks the one-year anniversary of adopting our 2 cats, Willow and Miss Lilly. I read somewhere on the internet that I’m not supposed to say adopted, but I don’t really remember why, having never finished reading the blog that told me this, but I think it had to do with me being human and cats being not-human. I think I am not supposed to use adopted because it identifies me as an imperialist or an over-anthropomorphizer, but I’m willing to live with it for now.

I have had cats most of my life. I found a cat when I was a very young girl and that cat became my mother’s after I went to college. Once, upon seeing a “Free Kittens” sign, live-in-boyfriend-at-the-time (who actually became Hubby) and I came home with a kitten to join my cat-at-the-time, Scamper. That free kitten became Jack, had her own litter (yes, before I was a responsible pet owner who got her cats “fixed” immediately) and we kept 2 of those, a black male who we named Spike and a gray female who we named Ray.  I have adopted kittens from animal shelters, twice, I think, but until January, 2010, I had never walked into a shelter and come home with an adult cat.

I am writing this to say how happy the cats have made me and how much they have added to our lives and household. In spite of Willow’s expensive and weird dental problems, Miss Lilly’s bad habits and not particularly imaginative name (we renamed Willow, who was given the uninspired moniker “TJ” at the shelter), the most revolting cat poop ever created (currently courtesy of Miss Lilly, though it had been pretty bad with Willow before the new food), pee in various boxes and on top of various cloths (you guessed it, Miss Lilly again), giving these 2 cats a home has been a very satisfying experience.

I came up with this little rhyme one morning while lazing in bed with one of my kids and Willow, and it pretty much sums up my feelings about my cats. It makes me laugh, but I wish I could remember to sing it when I am cleaning up nasty litter poo, or poo that someone simply chose against putting in the litter box and decided to put onto a clean sweatshirt instead.

(sung to the opening bars of  Benjamin Britten’s “This Little Babe”)

A kitty’s tongue is oh, so rough

it keeps her clean, it makes her tough

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Lezbigamy

Yo, readers, it’s twinkly. Here’s a clip from the Blue State Special comedy show, filmed live at Amherst Cinema, November 2010.  Lots of fun!

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All right, ladies.  I loved “The Black Swan” enough to risk making it into our first Girls’ Night Out destination.  This post is dedicated to the 5 of you who accompanied me last Saturday night.

I first saw “The Black Swan” by myself at the Mega-Death-Plex-16 down in Ft. Myers, Florida in December. You’re never really alone at the Mega Plex, but let’s just say I was unaccompanied.

I had only seen 2 of Aronofsky’s films before “Swan.” I liked “The Wrestler,” though I thought it had a lot of faults, especially the Hollywood-style treatment of the relationship between the father and daughter.  I liked Mickey Rourke and I liked Marisa Tomei, but to be honest, I don’t remember too much about the movie.

The rest of this post is filled with reveals about each of the following movies, so you are now on a continuous SPOILER ALERT.

What about “The Fountain?” I hated it. I can’t think of an elegant way to say that the acting was really, really bad.  Maybe if Aronofsky hadn’t cast his wife and Wolverine in the main roles, I wouldn’t have been laughing at what was supposed to be the grave story of centuries-old soul mates, the story of a love so strong it could overcome Time (well, it almost overcame time).  The theme started out promisingly and I loved the visuals of the domed, golden sky, and Queen Isabel’s chamber and the tree, oh, I mean The Tree. But, alas, I found myself laughing at the mushy, misguided plot.  The movie dragged to the point that I kept putting it on pause and going to the kitchen to grab snacks and water and then pausing it again to get more snacks and more water. I didn’t care beans about the characters. I even wanted her to die, you know, just to get it over with. Even the sumptuous costumes of Queen Isabel couldn’t redeem the silly New Age and Pro-Enviro leanings of the story.

Based on the trailer for “Swan,” I feared I would hate it, too. It looked so cheesy and predictable and once again, at risk of being completely overblown.

Well, “Black Swan” is cheesy, predictable, and overblown, but it all worked for me.

First, we have seen each of these characters before and we have seen the underlying themes done to death. What makes “The Black Swan” different?  The film tells its version of the fairy tale that is the center of  the ballet “Swan Lake,” and proceeds to twist it around and show us what would happen if such a fairy tale came true in the human realm. The film takes the cliché of artistic drive by the throat and gives us something violently, and even humorously, new. It is at times, or maybe entirely, over-the-top.

For example, when Nina, the protagonist, walks into the bathroom in the ballet studio and sees the word “WHORE” written in red lipstick, I laughed. This could have been a scene from an after-school special on the detrimental effects of bullying (she does kill herself in the end after all). But Nina is not in high school and these are not teenagers. This is a professional ballet company and should give us some indication that the filmmaker is going rogue and rogue-r with all of the arch, overused motifs.

The cake that Mommy brings home to share with Nina: OH MY GOD! Was that the most amazingly beautiful pink and green with silver nonpareils only-in-New-York cake you have ever seen? But when Mommy threatens to throw it out, I laughed.

Before we exited to the lobby after the movie, I knew my gal pals didn’t really take to the film, especially due to the fact that some of them were audibly gasping and visibly cringing at each new manifestation of gratuitous horror that Aronofsky provided. Some of the statements I heard afterward, in regards to our heroine, Nina, were “she was mentally ill” and “she was a cutter.” I understand these sentiments, but I think that, ultimately, they miss the point.  If we take the movie as true and see Nina as a real woman living in New York and struggling to become the lead ballerina in “Swan Lake,” the movie doesn’t really work because Nina is both cliché and archetype.

If Nina were simply to realize that her hallucinations and scratching could be remedied by seeing a therapist; if she and her mother were to attend a mother-daughter therapy group and begin to talk about their problems; if Thomas examined his motives and checked his chauvinism at the door to attain a less dysfunctional and more affirming method of teaching ballet to young women, this would be a different movie.  It wouldn’t be offensive and it could star Julia Roberts. In that version, Nina would be satisfied to dance the Black Swan once, call it quits and join a bulimia/anorexia recovery group. Now that would be a triumph!

One question that came up after the movie was whether or not a ballerina would be able to dance the 3rd and 4th acts of “Swan Lake” with a piece of shattered mirror wedged into her gut. Well, Nina did exactly that and it killed her (thus fulfilling the fairy-tale narrative). So the answer is both yes and no.

Color and lighting are strong elements in “Swan:” clichéd, kitschy, and done to the hilt. From the white pillowcase and its black Florentine scroll that cradles Nina’s waking head in the opening sequence to the first scene between Nina and Mommy, when Nina stares down at her pink grapefruit for breakfast and says “so pretty,” color is used to identify each of the main characters (Nina is pink and white, Mommy green and black, Thomas gray, black, and white, and Lily, black) and to underscore archetype. Nina’s counter colors to her pink and white, as she completes the transformation from Child/Virgin/White Swan into Bitch/Whore/Black Swan are red (as in blood and lipstick) and black.

Mirrors are another repeated motif. They are used sometimes for their horror effect and sometimes to the point of silliness, but in Aronofsky’s hands, they work, screams, laughs, and all. I particularly liked the giant, multi-faceted  mirror in Nina and Mommy’s apartment.

The more realistic pieces of the movie worked for me, too. The dancing and music, the knowledge that in order to dance ballet professionally, one must put one’s body through pains and tortures, even beyond what most athletes subject themselves to, the subjugation of womanhood in ballet for emaciated, pre-pubescent body lines, the sexism and misogyny, and the beauty of all of the principle characters. I haven’t mentioned that the acting was brilliant, with perhaps Barbara Hershey and Vincent Cassel outshining even Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, no small feat, that. I used to strongly dislike Natalie Portman (“Closer” and “Cold Mountain” are two glaring examples of her lack of skill), but she has won me over.

So that’s why I loved “The Black Swan.” I loved the horror elements. I loved all that it stole from so many movies that went before. I loved the use of color, mirrors, and lighting, the darkly lit interiors and crammed spaces. I loved the realism. I loved the acting. I loved the pop-psychology, sexually-repressed girl- run-amok business of it. I loved that it was over-the-top and made me laugh at things that are supposed to be sacred.

So who’s free this coming Saturday night? We could see a double feature: First, we’ll rewatch “Black Swan” and then we’ll move on to “Eat, Pray, Love.” Are you in or out?

With love, Twinkly

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Twinkly’s Glorious Granola

6 C rolled oats (I get them in bulk, filling up my huge, glass pickle-jar with the tare weight deducted)
1/2 C chopped, toasted almonds (I use the sliced-variety from Trader Joe’s, though I hate the wasteful packaging)
1/2 C flaked coconut (not shredded, but use what is most texturally pleasant to you)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 C canola oil
1/2 C honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients, taking special care to get the very dry cinnamon all over everything else. I also like to crunch up the almonds into smaller bits (it’s a very satisfying sensory experience to do this with bare hands). In a small saucepan, add canola oil and honey and heat on medium- low until well-blended. Add canola oil, honey, and vanilla to dry ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are coated. Grease a 13″x9″ pan with canola oil. Spread granola evenly in pan. Bake the whole schmear for appx 30 minutes. Midway through baking, stir granola and turn pan for even cooking. Check frequently in the last 15 minutes so granola doesn’t burn.

Remove from oven, cool, and ENJOY! I eat mine with vanilla yogurt every morning for health and happiness.

NOTES:

Granola burns easily. Either check frequently or lower baking temp to 300 or 325 and increase cooking time.

This is a basic and versatile recipe and you can add almost any yummy addition your heart desires, such as 1/2 C sesame seeds, 1/2 C roasted sunflower seeds, 1/2 C dried fruit. The original recipe called for 1/2 C of toasted wheat germ and 1/2 C of wheat bran, but when I experimented with giving up wheat a few years back, I dropped these ingredients and grew to love it even more without them.
This recipe came to me by way of George Hart (I believe it was his mother’s), with a few tweakings by me. I’ve been making this for over 25 years and have never strayed from its path of righteousness. So much better than that over-priced, store-bought crap. Except for a few kinds of locally-made granola I’ve found–Anatola Granola from Hawaii, something from the little grocery in Germany, and a recent discovery down in Southwest F-L-A.

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Pumpkin

Yes, I know it’s not Halloween. This photo was taken this week and it is one of our pumpkins from October. Looks like somebody was hungry. My purpose in putting these pumpkins out was to see if I might have a little squash patch in the corner of my front garden bed by summer, a corner which was cleared of a terribly scrawny and unhappy lilac “tree” last summer. Should I throw some dirt on those seeds?

I usually put the old pumpkins in the compost, but I didn’t really want squashes growing out of there this year.

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Considering that I have just become the Production Manager for a 7th Grade production of “Mary Poppins,” I fear I will not be writing as much as I had hoped on my fabulous new blog. At least for the next month.

I have thought of a quickie post, though, and it could be a bit fun.

Can you spot the lyrics I have lifted from 3 different songs in my New Year’s poem? If you don’t want to know yet, look away because here come the answers.

We are all forgiven: “A Quick One While He’s Away” by The Who. This notion, however, that we are all forgiven, comes straight down from the New Testament.

I got the blues:  “I Got the Blues” by the Rolling Stones.

I struggle and pant to be free:  “Panting for Heaven,” #384, The Sacred Harp.

Ciao! twinkly

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