Monday, October 31, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The next little member of our family will be born with a penis. Which means I will be the mother of two boys. 

(Liberal disclaimer: should either or both of my children-born-with-penises feel more comfortable as girls, I will fully support them, and depending on how our financial investments go, we might even help pay for any operations they wish to have.)

While we did sort of want a daughter - and the ladies in my husband's family are practically donning widow's weeds for lack of a princess to dote upon - I have to admit to a few reasons why I'm happy we get to have two boys: 

(Liberal disclaimer: a lot of these are non-politically correct on purpose for the sake of humor.)
  • I will never have to defend letting her play with Disney Princesses
  • No crying tantrums when she wakes up with her hair in a knotted, tangled mess
  • My husband doesn't have to reverse his stance on gun ownership for her dating years
  • I get to retain my title as Queen of the Household
  • No one in this house will ever steal my tampons
  • Three words we can all happily live without: Teenage Girl PMS
  • The uppance for my 14-year old obsession with New Kids on the Block will now never come
  • I never have to take anyone shopping for a training bra
  • I've just DOUBLED my chances of having a child of mine play for the Yankees
  • My husband now has TWO strapping young men to pass on the near-extinct family name Lopez
  • Boys love their mommies

The biggest downside right now? My husband and I can only agree on one boy's name, and we already used it for our first son. 

The second biggest downside? Now I won't get the Skywalker Family costume I've always wanted to do. Maybe that's the biggest downside, actually. 

"Oh, woe is me!"

During my last pregnancy, when people asked if I was having a boy or a girl and I'd tell them, I got the dumbest reactions. 

Pregnancy is generally a time when everyone but the pregnant woman says asinine things. I think that preggos should be allowed to punch people. Or taser them. Whether strangers in elevators told me I looked like I was "about to give birth" (at 7 months along) or co-workers shouted, "Waddle waddle waddle!" as I waddled by, what on earth makes people think it's OK to say these things to a pregnant lady? 

But the worst reactions of all came in response to my declaration that we were having a boy. OTHER MOTHERS would tell me, "Oh, good. I mean, I love my daughters, but boys are better."

Yes, someone actually said that to me.

Possibly my own mother may have confirmed this statement, though I was high on post-natal hormones, sleep deprivation, and Percocet, and she now denies it.

Forget for a second that I am someone's daughter, and let's talk about how insensitive that remark is. What if we were having a girl? Would these women then gasp, clutch their pearls, and scream, "Oh dear god in heaven, someone help me get this poor girl-bearing woman to the nearest back alley abortionist!" I get that they were trying to be nice, but a simple, "Oh, how wonderful, boys are such a joy!" would have been fine. Really.

Do we really still live in a time when people prefer boys to girls? What is this, China? Do people really still believe that all girls all the time are always manipulative, evil, back-stabbing, overly dramatic creatures? Just because I was that way? 

As a feminist I did look forward to raising a strong-willed, outspoken, kick-ass young womym who would some day grow up to be the first Jewish-Cuban female President of the United States. 

Instead, I get to raise two strong-willed, outspoken, kick-ass young men who will become part of the solution and not part of the problem, will respect women as human beings, will follow their father's example and self-identify as feminist and LGBTQ allies, and will never ever ever leave me.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dancing With the Stars Post-Mortem: Week 6

Listen, World, I have to ask you something, and please be honest with me: For those of you who live in Not New York, were you to come here on a vacation, would you seriously go see "Sister Act" on Broadway? 

And if your answer is (correctly), "No," then how about this. What if all the other (real) Broadway shows were sold out? Then would you go see it, or would you find something else to do, like, say, ANYTHING else?

I don't get why people keep putting movies on Broadway. Is the Great White Way really so vacant of talented young writers penning new, original material?

Then again, I'm not the best judge of what other, more normal people, like and don't like. The husband and I recently watched "The Social Network," and I seriously did not get why a)this was made into a movie, b)everyone freaking loves it, c)it was nominated for Oscars.

But I do like DWTS, and that's why we're here.

This week's Train Wreck was, for once, NOT the work of the couple sent home. We'll get to that...

Do you think that when Kristen Chenowith gushed about how much she enjoyed Broadway Week, she was really seething on the inside that no one did a number from "Wicked?" I did. I seethed. I love Wicked. (I also think that KC should have been cast as Effie Trinket in the "Hunger Games" movie, but I digress.)

I don't understand how "Walk Like a Man" from Jersey Boys is a Broadway song. It's a regular song, that is part of a jukebox musical. It's the kind of Broadway show my father likes because he already knows all the songs because he is a million years old and remembers when they all hit big the first time around back in 10 Gadjillion B.C. or whatever. I could think of a MILLION original Broadway songs that could have been featured in this show that were not once regular songs. "Shall We Dance?" from The King & I. "The Lusty Month of May" from Camelot. "Wonder of Wonders" from Fiddler On the Roof. Anything from A Chorus Line. And so on and so forth. My point is that I do not get how "Walk Like a Man" somehow made it into Broadway Week. But, whatever. Rob Kardashian's Cha-Cha was good when he shook his booty, Ok when he and Cheryl were in hold, and bad when he was by himself. We've seen him dance better, so he'd better get his act together next week.

OK, OK, I know I just complained about movies being put on Broadway, but I do kind of like Spamalot. What can I say, I'm a sucker for Python. Know what else I'm a sucker for? Dudes dressed as knights. So there was no way I wasn't going to like Nancy Grace's Foxtrot to "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" with Tristan being so damn cute in his little costume that I could just eat him up. This was my favorite dance of the night. Also, Nancy? You can rock the long hair. Just saying.

Pay attention now, because I am about to blow your mind. David Arquette did a Quickstep to "We Go Together" from Grease, right? Which stars John Travolta, right? Who also starred in the movie based on the Broadway show based on the movie of "Hairspray," right? WHICH ORIGINALLY STARRED RICKI LAKE WHO IS ALSO ON THIS SEASON'S DWTS. I'll give you a moment to put your brains back together. David did well, and he and Kym were super cute, and I like when he does his celebrity impressions, but I still give him another two weeks at most before he hits the road.

More confessions: Guys and Dolls is my favorite Broadway show ever. I love Camelot because my mother and I are heavy into Arthuriana, but Guys and Dolls is my all-time fave. I can't think of a single song from that show I don't like. (Unlike with Camelot, where I puke every time I have to hear "I Loved You Once in Silence.") So when Ricki Lake (see above) got out there to do a Quickstep to "Luck Be a Lady," I just about swooned with joy. FINALLY someone on the show was doing a REAL Broadway showtune, knowwhatimean? Also, here's a little bit of triva: my great-uncle Frank Richards was an extra in the 1955 movie version of "Guys and Dolls." Scroll down to his name - if you watch the movie (which you should) he's the guy carrying all those packages in the title number. Uncle Frank also had a bit part in an episode of "Different Strokes," where he played a security guard on the set of "Knight Rider" who chased off Arnold and Dudley when they tried to hassle the Hoff. I AM TWO DEGREES OF SEPARATION FROM DAVID HASSELHOFF AND MARLON BRANDO AND FRANK SINATRA, is what I'm saying. Yes, you can have my autograph.

I'm not going to pretend like I am too good to enjoy Phantom of the Opera. I do, I love it. I thought that the song was a good match for Chaz's Tango, despite Bruno's poo-pooing of it. But I'm not surprised that Chaz got sent home for it. I've said in my last two DWTS posts that he didn't have much longer to go this season. But Chaz was not the Train Wreck of the week...

P.S. Is it just me, or did Lacey look totally like Gwen Stefani with her hair and makeup like that?

When Karina told J.R. Martinez that she was giving him her most complicated choreography she's ever done on the show, do you think somewhere out there Mario Lopez threw something at the TV? They did a totally fine Quickstep to "Hot Honey Rag" from Chicago, and of course it was flawless, and I still think that J.R. will win. At this point it's pretty much a fact, unless something deeply tragic happens to him before then.

Before I launch into this week's Train Wreck that was - not Hope Solo's Rhumba to "Seasons of Love" from Rent itself - but Maks's diatribe, I have to go off on another rant. About Rent. And how much I detest that show. A rant within a rant. A meta-rant, if you will.

I was dragged to see Rent when it first came out on Broadway, and I did not understand it when I was a fresh-faced 20-year old recently moved to NYC, and I especially don't get it now that I am a 35-year old veteran of the Big Apple. In a nutshell, it's about a bunch of dumbass kids squatting in Alphabet City who would rather strip and do drugs and use candles at night rather than selling out and earning a little bit of money which is clearly the worst thing ever ever ever. Oh, no, I'd rather keep filming my stupid friends being stupid rather than "sell out" and have a meal. And I realize this rant makes me sound like a Republican, but listen. I'm a Liberal, not a hippie. I enjoy my showers and food and insulated indoors, thank you.

But I swallowed my revulsion to the song "Seasons of Love," which might be one of the dumbest Broadway songs ever, and kind of liked Hope's dance. 

However, as an athlete, I'd think that Hope had thicker skin than she does. How did she make it to the Olympics if she's so sensitive? I'm sensitive, but I'm not a world-class athlete, so no one cares if I cry because someone calls me not sexy. 

That said, Maks was not wrong in his ranty rant. I mean, yeah, he was totally out of line in telling Len that maybe it's time for him to retire. Like, totally out of line. And he was just plain stupid when he called the judges "judgmental." Um, DUR. 

But he's right about the inconsistency in the judging - something Derek pointed out in a similar rant several seasons ago. Some stars get judged harsher than others. No one has ever pretended like this show is about actual dancing: it's about charisma and playing to the audience and being entertaining and likable. It's why mediocre dancers like Emmett Smith and Donny Osmond win the trophy. So Macks isn't wrong. And honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't lost his shit sooner: he's one of the few really talented professionals who has been on pretty much every season and has yet to win his partner the mirror ball trophy (Laila Ali or Mel B., anyone?) He just was kind of douchey about it, but I always kind of figured that about him.

Anyway, his apology seemed half-assed, but I don't really blame him. You can't fault a douche for being douchey. And, I am willing to bet money that he and Hope only ended up in the bottom two because of his douchey rant that totally bit the hand that feeds him.

Finally, there was the group dance, which is usually my favorite part of the season. But this season's was a flop, and I didn't blame the judges when they broke from tradition and did not request it as the encore dance. 

First of all, I detest the song "Hey Big Spender" from Sweet Charity because back in high school some theatre girls used to perform it at the yearly talent show, and seriously? Sixteen year olds doing a stripper song? At a high school talent show? Every so often the news gets all outraged about the overt sexuality of young kids, but that is nothing new, folks. Back in the early '90s my high school had plenty of girls doing stripper numbers. And ever since then I just can't stomach "Hey Big Spender." I cringed all through that part of the group dance last night, memories of my high school auditorium and braces and flannel shirts (it was the grunge years) running through my head. 

But I do love Cabaret. I love it a lot, and I thought that part of the dance, to "Money Money" was quite clever and well done by all. If only the entire group dance could have been that. Or a medley of Cabaret songs. 

Next week is Halloween Night, or something like that, which I'm really looking forward to. I mean, how cute were those dancing kids doing "This Is Halloween?" So cute. Loved it. Love Halloween. Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with next week...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getchur Geek On

I cannot believe I have not written about New York Comic Con yet!

It's been four whole days since I was there, and yet my blog remains void of any mention of NYCC. For shame, self.

So, er, on Sunday, my brother Mr. Funny, and I went to New York Comic Con 2011. It was awesomesauce, or whatever the kids are saying these days. We would have liked to have gone all four days of the con - as we geeks in the know call conventions - but alas, he had work and I have a three year old who naps in the middle of the day and also isn't as into the Star Wars movies as his cousin Rudy, Jr. is. (I'm not saying I feel competitive with my cousin Rudy over this or anything, but when his little boy - who is the same age as my son, the Juban Princeling - referred to "Empire Strikes Back" as "The Ton-Ton Movie," I seethed with envy. Now, my son is my son and I love him as-is, but I'll admit here that I might love him slightly more if he did something adorable and geeky like that and just once asked to watch "The Ton-Ton Movie" instead of "Yo Gabba Gabba.")

Also, cons cost money, both to attend, and while you are there. The Jacob K. Javitz Center here in New York, which plays host to NYCC, charges an arm, a leg, and a kidney for the grub in the food court (no joke: my lunch of 3 chicken fingers plus a handful of sad french fries, plus a small soda and a mini chocolate bar, came out to $15 and change), and then there's all the geek crap you have to buy. YES, YOU HAVE TO BUY GEEK CRAP. YOU JUST DO, OK? Mr. Funny walked out of that con $50 poorer, but the proud owner of a Mr. Spock-inspired bathrobe. It's about quality of life, people. Try to keep up.

We chose to go on Sunday because there were two panels I wanted to attend: the Geek Parenting Panel, and We're No Angels: Leading Ladies of SF/F. Actually, honestly, I felt like I had to attend the Leading Ladies panel because it featured Patricia Briggs and Kim Harrison, both of whom I've read and both of whom I adore and want to stalk a little bit. 

When we got to the con, my brother made a comment to the effect of, seeing people in costumes we don't recognize makes us feel less geeky. And that's pretty much how I felt at the Geek Parenting panel. It was good times for sure, and gave me lots of food for thought - I'll never buy a pre-packaged costume for the Princeling again, I promise - but I went in thinking we were all going to discuss methods of slipping more Star Wars-themed media into our children's lives, and whether or not we should show the series to them in order of when the movies were released versus their chronological order (I vote the former). Alas, silly Mer. That's not what the Geek Parenting panel was about at all. Most of the other geek parents in the room - the overwhelming majority, in fact - were avid comic book readers and/or role-play-gamers, or RPGs. I...have never picked up a comic in my life, except for when I dated that idiot in college who read them and I had to step over them to get into his room. I've also never played an RPG. Once in a while when we're watching "The Guild," my husband will causally suggest we try out World of Warcraft, to which I respond it's not like I've got tons of free time on my hands and need something new to occupy my life. Besides, thanks to "The Guild" we know how real gamers feel about "casuals," which is pretty much all we could be.

So, I felt slightly inadequate at that panel, geek-wise, but at least I learned that certain RPGs are actually good for kids and help children and teens build worlds and tell stories, so that once day if the Princeling decides he's into it, I'll be prepared.

The Leading Ladies panel was also informative, for wholly different reasons. As a writer, getting to hear Patty & Co. wax eloquent on subjects like writing discipline, world-building, faith in yourself as a writer, and publishing myths, made me want to come home, lock myself in a room, and finish my damn novel already. Which I've been mostly doing all week, when I'm not picking my son up from school, spending quality time with him so he doesn't turn into a recluse, feeding myself and/or my family, seeing a chiropractor for my sciatica pain, or sleeping. And, I'm pleased as punch to report that I managed to finally break away from my habit of acting like a total jackass in front of famous people I love, and actually said hello to Patricia Briggs and told her what a fan I am, and she did not seem scared or weirded out by me. That's progress.

My inspiration.
Photo copyright:

Mr. Funny, for once, did not attend the con in costume, but I did. I needed something to go with my pregnancy, and there's not a whole heck of a lot out there in genre-land. The night before the con my husband and I worked on attaching the head, arms, and upper torso of an alien from the "Alien" movies onto either my baby bump or a t-shirt, but the thing was just too damn heavy and kept flopping down. And here I bought an ounce of stage blood for it and everything. Instead, I put on one of my husband's grey undershirts, and then one of his black tank tops, and my army green cargo pants, and went as Sharon from "Battlestar Galactica." I kept rubbing my belly at the con hoping someone would get it, but no one did. Sad face. And it wasn't until the Leading Ladies panel that I even saw another BSGer. We gave each other mutual props. 

What I actually went as. Or, tried to. Not shown: Sharon's baby bump.
Photo copyright:

In all, the con was amazing, and I'm glad we went. Maybe next year we'll go for two days so we have time to go to more panels.

I came home with a bag full of swag, including a Lego Transformer for the Princeling, courtesy of the Geek Parenting panel, a Peter Parker/Spiderman mask he hates, and a Stormtrooper coloring sheet he ignored. But I also spent $8 to buy him a little plush Ewok - shut up, my son is 3, I'm not about to buy him pointy-toothed Chewbacca - which he LOVES. He's been a little scared of monsters lately, so I told him the Ewok is a protective Ewok that will look after him when he sleeps. He even asked me to tell him a story about the Ewok, so I did:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a place called Endor. And in that place lived the Ewoks. And they were furry and small and sweet and wore clothes. So once day, some monsters came and wanted to build a weapons system on Endor, [Princeling: "What's that?" Me: *ignoring and continuing*] but the Rebels, lead by Luke and Leia, went to Endor to fight the monsters. And the Ewoks helped the rebels! They helped protect Luke and Leia and the other Rebels! That's what Ewoks do, they help people against the monsters. And so the Rebels won and the monsters ran away and everyone was super happy. The end.

We may not read comics or play RPGs, and my son may not know his TIE-fighters ("twin ionic engine," don't test me) from his X-Wings just yet, but that kid loves him some protective little Ewok toy. It's a start.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dancing With the Stars Post-Mortem: Week 5

I had to watch this week's episode on the day after it aired, because Monday was my husband's birthday and I had to go out to dinner with him or whatever. I think he had his birthday on a Monday on purpose so he wouldn't have to watch DWTS. And then, of course, less than a week after crawling back to the Dark Side with our tails between our legs and re-installing cable, our DVR neglected to record the show for me. It records everything else, but I'm pretty sure Time Warner is in cahoots with my husband to keep DWTS out of our home. I'M ON TO YOU JERKS!

So I had to watch the episode streaming from my computer, which meant I was subject to the same goram ads about a zillion times. No joke, at some point I watched the same commercial for "How to Succeed In Business Without Trying" starring Harry Potter FOUR TIMES IN A ROW. Four. I'm not making that up. And I swear to dog, if I have to see that idiotic Bank of America commercial one more time I will cut a bitch. I will. 
Deep breath, Mer. We're here for the dancing and the train wrecks. Focus.

This was 80s Week, which I don't think is so much a dancing show theme as it is a collective nightmare we all had. Right? Who else remembers the 80s? I'm actually amazed any of us survived, what with all the hairspray we inhaled and the colors that should have blinded us. My grandmother died in 1983, and since it was the 80s nobody cared about children so instead of being sent to a child psychologist to deal with my grief I had to suck it up. AND, even worse, I still had my natural hair color, no braces yet, and no boobs. Why on earth would I remember the 80s fondly?

Anyway, everyone on DWTS except for Tom Bergeron - who I'm pretty sure is a cyborg - made their hair really big and put on shoulder pads and bright colors that give the middle finger to any color found in nature, and we had an 80s show. 

And the Bangles performed. Badly. 

Speaking of performances, not that I'm complaining, but can anyone remember the last time the men wore actual shirts for the opening dance?

Last week Hope Solo did one of my favorite dances of the night, but this week I felt embarrassed for her, and not just because she did a Tango to - god help me - Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer." Feeling embarrassed for someone else is almost worse than feeling embarrassed for yourself and I DON'T LIKE FEELING THAT WAY, OK HOPE? She showed so much potential last week, but this week her dance felt stressful. Like she was trying too hard. I could almost hear her internal voice saying, "Be sexy! Finish your lines!" Hope, here's some free advice: while Len is only trying to help, you can't take every word he says too seriously. Listen to Maks, who, despite seeming like kind of a douche is actually a really good dancer and can bring out the best in his partners. Relax. Have fun. You have natural ability, so try not to kill yourself over this, yeah? Also, my husband has a crush on you because he likes "pretty but scary" women (his words), so as long as you stay in the competition he'll reluctantly watch the show with me. For you. No pressure, girl.

I'm glad that Tristan listened to me last week and pushed Nancy Grace into some more complicated choreography. It paid off: Nancy's Rhumba to Spandau Ballet's "True," which is an awesome song, was really good. The Rhumba is not my favorite dance because it always looks like the interpretive dance of a really terrible movie sex scene, but it has a special place in my heart because my husband and I did a Rhumba for our wedding dance. (To the Beatles' "And I Love Her." Don't pretend like you didn't just say, "Awwww!") And Tristan? HUGE props for NOT doing the usual "We're in our sexy pajamas!" costumes for the Rhumba. Seriously. So. Over. That. Anyway, Nancy's Rhumba hit the spot and I think she did a really good job last night. Good girl, Nancy.

J.R. Martinez. Oh my freaking god, what a dance! I want to live inside his Samba. This dance is what is going to win him the mirror ball trophy. I miss the encore dances, and I really hoped they'd ask Jose Rene to do his Samba, to Miami Sound Machine's "Conga," again. (Miami, whatwhat!)

Rob Kardashian did a pretty good Rhumba to Lionel Richie's "Hello," but I think Nancy Grace's was better. Len pointed out that it's hard for the male stars to do the Rhumba well, but I would go so far as to say that it's even harder to do with Cheryl, who has such a strong, domineering personality. Not that that's a bad thing, but I think that Rob's been a little intimidated by Cheryl, and even though his Rhumba was fine, I think it could have been better. 

Chaz Bono no longer has a sour puss about being on the show, thankfully. I actually managed to enjoy his Samba to Kool & The Gang's "Get Down On It," but I still think that at this point he's got maybe three weeks left, tops. Also, when Tom mentioned that Chaz and Lacey were going to Samba to Kool & The Gang, but didn't mention which song, am I the only one who hoped it would be "Jungle Boogie?"

I admit, when I saw David Arquette's costume, I thought he and Kym might be doing a Tango to something by The Sex Pistols. Or at least, The Clash. Then I realized: it probably defies the laws of physics to do any kind of dance to The Sex Pistols, plus then we'd have to hear Cyborg Tom say the word "sex," and no one wants that. But a Tango to "London Calling" might have been kind of awesome. Just saying. Then again, maybe that's more of a Paso song. Anyway, he was competent, but I don't think he's a contender like J.R. or Hope or Ricki are. I think that the week after Chaz goes, thus goes David.

I nearly peed myself when John Waters showed up at Ricki Lake's rehearsal. Who doesn't love John Waters? Terrorists, that's who. Despite what the judges said, I kind of dug her Roger Rabbits. I never did master that particular dance craze from the late 80s, so good on ya, Ricki. But Derek was right, doing a Foxtrot to Phil Collin's "Easy Lover" was not a great pairing, so whatever little blips and bloops happened in her dance I'm just going to pin on the idiot producers. Dumbasses.

And now we come to this week's Train Wreck: Carson Kressley's Jive to Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go." I almost could not watch this. I knew he would get eliminated for this dance, but I don't blame him - he's been charismatic and charming and I have been rooting for him so hard. I blame Anna for his departure, though my husband flicked me for saying so because if there's anything he loves more than "pretty but scary" women it's "pretty, scary, and red-headed" women. AHEM. Anna's been my husband's long-term DWTS crush ever since Juliana Hough left the show, so he's heartbroken that she's gone. And, again I will say, for someone who hates the show with the vitriol that he does, he's keeping a rather close eye on it, huh? Anyway, I blame Anna because this Jive: a)had no Jive in it; and b)highlighted Carson's weaknesses instead of playing up his strengths. Yes, he's showy, but that was no reason to force the guy to do high kicks (painful to watch) or jumps (ouch). Unlike last week's Chynna Philips Train Wreck, which was one of those unfortunate things that just happens, this week Carson got eliminated because of Anna's poor choreography choices. *wagging finger at Anna*

Still, what a good sport, eh? "I'll still be in the audience cheering on my team mates!" Love you, Carson. Fair thee well.

Next week: Maks mumbles some words of encouragement; Cheryl gets annoyed; and the boys all take their shirts off. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Juban Princeling Photo of the Week: 10/15/11

Brunch at Barrio in Park Slope for Daddy's birthday (on Monday). One of these guys has red sangria, the other has chocolate milk. Guess who has which:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dancing With the Stars Post-Mortem: Week 4

Welcome to a new weekly feature here on Grey Skies, the DWTS post-mortem, in which your humble blogess tells you exactly what you should think about the week's dances and elimination, and why, if you disagree with me, you are wrong. I have been watching DWTS for years, ever since Season 3, when a co-worker of mine said, "No, trust me, just watch. It's awesome." And I did. And it was!

My husband, a usually calm and laid back, chill kind of guy, hates this show with the type of toxic virulence he usually reserves for Republican presidential candidates. But he loves me, so he puts up with it. Grudgingly. And with many noisy complaints. ("Live! From my personal Hell! It's Dancing With the Stars!") And usually with his new iPhone in hand to distract him from the agony of having to watch "stars" do their "dancing" on our TV.

If you are one of those "I need 'SPOILER ALERT!!1!!!!' written on everything or else I will sue you!" types, then please avert your eyes nowish.

I know, I know. Enough coddling. Let's just jump in, shall we?

Week 4's theme was "Movie Scores," and I have to say, I kind of loved it. I don't usually like when the couples use props and other stupid stuff like benches or hats in their dances, but I like movie score week. It's just fun, you know? Kind of cheeky, kind of cute. I dig it.

And I think that most of the stars liked getting into character for their dances this week. The actors especially - Ricki Lake and David Arquette - really nailed this one. Of course, that's to be expected, right? They're actors! Give them a character and they will act! And though I like Ricki Lake a lot, and I think she will go far in this competition, I don't think she was 29-worthy. Part of it is that I hate when the judges bust out their "10" paddles too early in the season, but part of it is that I think her dance was good, and a 29 should be reserved for a really great dance. Hers was maybe a 25 or 26.

David Arquette did amazing, I thought, especially considering his past dances have been kind of blah. As my husband so eloquently put it last night, the guy's brain seems to have been fried from his substance abuse and now he's just a space cadet. (Husband's words, not mine. For someone who hates the show so much, he pays an awful lot of attention, knowwhatImean?) I don't know if it was getting into character as Indiana Jones that did it for him or what, but he nailed that Paso Doble. I hope this dance gives him some confidence and he comes back next week doing equally well or better, because I really like seeing Courtney Cox and their daughter Coco in the audience.

My two favorite dances of the night were, by far, Hope Solo's Foxtrot and Carson Kressley's Viennese Waltz. I know that Carson isn't the judges' favorite, and he probably won't make it past week 6 or 7 because that's how this show works, but I like him a lot. He's funny, he's fun, and his dances are consistently entertaining. And Hope is a much better dancer than she seems at first, but most of the athletes are. Except you, Mr. Ron Artest I don't care about your stupid new name! My only problem with Hope is her professional partner, Maks, who is probably my lease favorite of the pros. He's just too conceited for me, and I don't like how he mumbles.  You have an accent! Try to articulate better so I can at least hear you, even if I can't understand you! A few years ago I tried that DWTS exercise video starring Maks and Cheryl, and, seriously, Maks is, like, comatose for the whole thing. Just...blech, Maks. Anyway, Hope did a super-cute dance to the Toy Story song (does Disney actually own Randy Newman, or what?) with her nephew in the audience IN A BUZZ LIGHTYEAR COSTUME. I COULD SERIOUSLY DIE OF ADORABLE OMGNOMNOMNOM.

Nancy Grace was OK. I think she could be a decent dancer, and I know Tristan is newish, but I'm not digging his choreography. I think he plays it safe, and maybe that's because Nancy isn't as strong a dancer as some of the others, but their dances are kind of zzzzz.... to watch, and I fully blame Tristan for that, even though he is kind of a hottie. I kind of wanted Nancy to be eliminated this week, though. Not because I don't like her, but because I think hers are the weakest of all the dances overall.

I've been supporting Chaz Bono from the start because I identify as an LGBTQ-ally, and because I wanted to see Cher in the audience. Maybe she could perform a song on one of the results shows? Maybe she could do "If I Could Turn Back Time" for us? Cher? You listening? But let's face it: Chaz seemed utterly disappointed last week when he didn't get sent home, and even though his Paso was pretty good this week, I think he still wants to go home. Either that or he's just massively media unfriendly. Either way, I think voting him off soon will be a mercy for everyone and for Chaz most of all.

Me: "If my kid was on this show, I'd be in the audience for every single episode."
Husband: "Maybe the producers told Cher to wait, so people would have to keep voting to keep Chaz on."
Me: "Yeah, well, if that were the Juban Princeling there, I'd be like, 'Fuck you and your ratings, producers! That's my kid and I'm going to go be there for him!'"

I'm not saying I'm a better mother than Cher is that way - not at all, as I'm sure she can beat me up. I'm just saying we have different mothering styles. Please don't hurt me, Cher.

J.R. Martinez did OK. Last week his dance made me cry my face off, and I think that he may win this whole thing, but this week he was just pretty good. I didn't think he did as badly as the judges thought he did, but he's done better. He's a really good dancer. I worried at first that he'd only get the sympathy vote, but the guy can really, really move. This week, though, he lacked a certain effortlessness he usually has. 

Rob Kardashian pleasantly surprised me this week, and even though I can't stand his professional partner Cheryl "Man Stealer" Burke, I kind of crushed out on his Superman-inspired Paso. I was shocked he wound up in the bottom three, but happy that he survived another week. I think he's going to continue to surprise us all. (Note to Carrie-Ann: "Rob Kardashian is a better dancer than Kim Kardashian!" This isn't a competition between siblings, OK? That comment was wholly unnecessary, and, I think, a little mean.)

And so we come to the train wreck of the night, Chynna Phillips's Tango. Oh, Chynna. I'm so sorry you got eliminated this week. I can't believe the audience wasn't more forgiving of her little - ok, major - boo-boo. I fully expected the championship dance to be between her and JR. Was her complete breakdown on the dance floor worth sending her home? I didn't think so. Was it painful to watch? Oh, hell yes. And, since Tony is my favorite professional dancer, I have to say BOO TO YOU, AUDIENCE! You sent my Tony away! Waaaaaaaah!

Next week: Bruno gesticulates wildly; Carrie-Anne gets emotional; Len gives the studio audience dirty looks. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Happy Place

I am not coping well with the news lately. And honestly, I probably shouldn't be allowed to watch the news. Not in my delicate condition.

During my last pregnancy the entire economy crashed. At the time I worked at a high net worth wealth management firm (exactly what it sounds like), and pretty much every morning for a week in September 2008 we had "emergency" all-staff meetings that went like this:

"Well, Bank ABC has gone under, but please assure your clients that Banks DEF, GHI, and JKL are still fine and cannot possibly go under."

"Well, Bank DEF was just bought by bank GHI, but please assure your clients that Bank JKL is still fine."



"Oh, crap."

And so on.

I ended up on bed rest three weeks before my due date because one day at work I lost the abilities to speak and to see. Literally. The day my replacement came in to train for my maternity leave I sounded like a stroke victim and kept bumping into things. I didn't even think to call my doctor about it until my husband - who has no medical training - said that losing vision and speech is not normal in the 9th month of pregnancy. I was all ready to tell him what a nervous nelly he is, but the nurse on the phone sent me to the labor & delivery ER and the doctor told me to go home and stay there. That sure showed my stupid husband!

This time around there is no need to force myself to endure the slings and arrows of this cold, cruel world and endanger both myself and my fetus by doing stupid things like paying attention to the world outside my little life. Besides, there are natural disasters beyond my control happening here in New York, and the 10-year anniversary of September 11th just passed, which, even with my news-blackout I can't avoid because we LIVE in New York City and because I was here on September 11, 2001. And, my neighborhood is currently being terrorized by at least four would-be rapists, which I can't avoid even if I want to because I have to pass by the enormous NYPD double-wide parked on my route to my son's preschool.

So, some things I can't avoid, but most things I can. I've told my friends and family that from now until I am 6 months post-partum I do not want to hear about anything going on in the world unless it involves me directly, and not in a New Agey, hippie, Mother Earthy, "We are all part of the interconnectedness of Life and the Universe, and when a mosquito dies in Australia all our hearts die a little inside" kind of way. I mean a direct way, like, "Michelle Obama is hosting a dinner party and wants advice on a good budget wine from a fellow mom, so she needs your cell number, MEREDITH LOPEZ," kind of way.

That, I can handle.

Anything involving politics, the economy, natural disasters in places that are not New York City, wars in foreign countries, and so on, I cannot handle. For the sake of my baby, I'm not even going to try. I can't have booze to take the edge off, I'm no longer on anti-depressants, and every time I tear up it induces vomiting. I have zero release for my stresses, plus a 3-year old who thinks that I force him to nap as a way of ruining his life, a husband who works late most nights, and at least two pinched nerves in my back. And did I mention no booze, pills, or even crying to make myself feel better?

The other day when we had our friends and their kids over for a playdate, and the husband started talking politics with my husband, I just sort of spaced out and thought about this instead:

And really, what does the rest of the world need from a pregnant, tired, achey woman anyway? Do I control the world's economy? (Though, with the timing of my pregnancies, it looks like my womb might... I promise, no more kids after this, lest we all end up in bread lines again.) Can I avert natural disasters? (Answer: not yet, but give me time.) 

So, I'm on a news hiatus until well into 2012, at which time I am sure there will be world peace, no hunger or disease, and the economy will be fixed. Right?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Very Special Juban Princeling Photo of the Week: 10/8/11

October 8, 2008:

October 8, 2011:

Happy birthday, little man. May all your hopes and dreams come true. May you live a life of integrity and truth. May you be respected and admired. And may you never forget that Mommy loves you most of all.

And yes, you can have cookies for breakfast today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Paris Museum Experience

Not Paris, France.

The other Paris.

The drunk, annoying one who used to haunt the celebrity gossip rags. 

The other night I went to the Museum of Sex, alone, as you do. Yes, that's a real thing. New York has everything! Our McDonald'ses even deliver!

So, I went to the Museum of Sex, alone, while pregnant, because they currently have an exhibit I wanted to see about the history of sex in the movies, both inside the mainstream and outside. I'm a BA in Cinema Studies, and my senior thesis was on the relationship between American culture and Hollywood movies, so this was right up my alley, no pun intended.

Also, I thought it would be funny to walk around a Museum of Sex with my baby bump, no partner with me, and no ring on my finger. (I've developed a metal allergy with this pregnancy. It's a thing.) When he was still cooking in my baby oven, my son the Juban Princeling got to go to the last home opener at the old Yankee Stadium; this baby got to go to the Museum of Sex. I'm nothing if not fair.

But no one noticed me, because everyone at the Museum of Sex is too self-conscious to pay attention to what anyone else is doing.

Do you know what people aren't too self-conscious to do? Call to each other across the room to come over and see something and then giggle about it like 12-year olds. (Who are not allowed into the museum.) 

The exhibit I saw, "Action," included a brief summary of each era of cinema and what kind of moral code was in place at the time regarding how moviemakers were forced to deal with the issue of sex. (From the 1930s to 1968, during the time of the "Hays Code," you could not show "white slave trade" or miscegenation, which is just dumb, or scenes of "real child birth," because that is so sexy, I guess.) It was actually quite interesting, and if there are any other cinema students out there who have seen the exhibit, I wouldn't mind getting into a super nerdy discussion about it. 

Part of the exhibit covers sex in modern day films, including the popularity in the past 10 or 15 years of the celebrity sex tape. This part of the exhibit included the showing of Paris H.'s infamous sex tape (I'm not using her entire name because I don't want this post popping up on searches for her). And this group of 6 or 7 young men could NOT tear themselves away from it, calling each other over, loudly talking about it, and generally acting like a bunch of morons. Like, haven't you guys seen this already? And, can't you go home and watch it in private, and not, say, when you are blocking the path for me to get through to the other part of the exhibit?


I know when I go to a museum called The Museum of Sex, there are going to be idiots there who just want to be titillated, who think that the museum is some sort of giant, walk-on porn set. And, yeah, the exhibits do show a lot of graphic photos and videos to get the point across. (Part of the "Action" exhibit showed some of the old "stag" films from the early 1900s.) But it's also a museum, not a 1970s Times Square peep show.

Eh, what did I expect on a Saturday evening?

As I left through the gift shop, I was almost inspired to do a bit of impromptu performance art: picking up one of the condoms for sale, looking at it sadly while rubbing my baby bump meaningfully, and then sighing dramatically and shaking my head. But I chickened out. I'm not a performance artist. I'm just a film nerd.

Sunday, October 2, 2011