Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Birthday, some Moronic Movie references, and Beautiful Music

Eric celebrated his birthday last week.  I forgot to ask his permission to write about it, so I'd better not mention his age (32).

I use the term "celebrated" rather loosely, because we were crazy-busy from 7am until after 9pm on his actual birthday, owing to before- and after-school activities for both girls that day.

In my typical sentimental fashion, I was hurriedly signing a sarcastic birthday card when he came downstairs that morning.  I've forgotten his birthday too many times to count, so I was actually ahead of the game to even have a card.  We decided to save the presents for the one hour break when we'd all be home together, between work and the concert we were scheduled to attend that evening.  I prepared a nice supper (I forgot just now what I made, but I'm sure it was excellent) and we all caught our breath for a few minutes around the dinner table.

Now you may be wondering about a birthday cake.  I usually do some sort of cake, but since Eric's birthday is so near Thanksgiving, we sometimes substitute his favorite dessert (cheesecake) for a birthday cake.  But this year, in the interest of breaking our tradition of gaining 5 pounds per person per day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I came up with a different treat that I wanted to try in advance of making a batch for Christmas.

On a cookie sheet, I arranged three dozen pretzel rings, and set a piece of candy inside the circle.  I used Rolos, his favorite candy, as well as miniature Reese's cups, The One True Food of the Gods.  Both candies displayed odd and inconsistent melting tendencies, yielding decidedly unphotogenic treats - plus I just plum forgot to take a picture.  So clearly, more experimentation is needed to perfect my culinary creation, which I actually copied from a book club hostess, but intend to make uniquely my own somehow.  Regrettably, as ugly as those little treats turned out, they were tasty enough to ensure that we are on still target for packing on the pounds with no difficulty.

So, no cake, but great presents this year.  I've already mentioned my fatal flaw - I am horrible at choosing presents.  I'm proud of 2 or 3 unique gifts I've come up with in our marriage, which means I'm heartily ashamed of several others; I usually stick to clothes, and keep the awkward reactions to a minimum.  But the girls both hit home runs this year in their gift choices.

A little background:  Eric and the girls have become devoted fans of a cartoon series called "Avatar - The Last Airbender" (Nickelodeon - consult your local listings). They seem to watch it all the time since they DVR about 50 episodes per week.   It's a good show, but I'm definitely not in the fan club with these three.  They have major intellectual discussions about character development, moral conflicts, adolescent angst, family loyalty versus tribal loyalty, and how far an earthbender can throw a 500 pound chunk of granite; you know, important stuff.  So our elder daughter, Mary Kathleen, gave him the four-dvd set of the first season:

Yes, my husband got cartoons for his 64th birthday.  And he was thrilled!  Go to for the best price on the set, unless you are buying the theatrical live-action movie version, in which case Target has a $10 gift cards if you buy the cartoons as well.

Did anyone notice that I added some links?  Do you think those multi-national corporations might want to advertise on my blog now?


Daughter number two shares an affinity with her father for totally absurd movies.  Recently, against my protestations, Eric convinced my baby girlchild to watch "Dragnet."  Not only not great cinema, but truly lame crap. These two have watched "The Blues Brothers" at least 10 times that I know of, and who knows how many more times when I wasn't around?  It wouldn't be so bad if they just skip to the scenes with Aretha or Ray, but they watch every minute!  And I'm not proud of this fact, but both daughters can quote almost the entire movie verbatim.  In fact, often we'll be sitting at the dinner table, and for no apparent reason the three of them will launch into the speech that precedes the big car chase scene (Elwood: "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses." Jake: "Hit it.")  Cue hysterical laughter - buzzkill mother shrugs, rolls her eyes in disbelief - how can her family be so smart, yet so silly? 

And while I'm on a politely raving roll:  God help Eric if he ever tries to introduce the girls to the cinematic works of Pauly Shore or Chris Farley - he'd go straight from the La-Z-Boy to divorce court, begging for visiting rights to see the dogs!  I'm reasonable.  I like funny movies, I like slapstick and silly and naughty and offbeat and profane and subversive - but I really hate DUMB STUPID movies.  Fortunately Eric likes FUNNY STUPID movies.  Let's hope he keeps it that way.

I don't want to make it sound as if only Camille shares his passion for these dopey films.  Mary Kathleen joins them in repeat viewing of "Blazing Saddles," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Young Frankenstein," "Groundhog Day," "The Simpsons Movie," and many other silly titles that most sane people can watch once or twice in a lifetime and meet their quota.  But I think their all-time favorite stupid movie, based on the sheer number of pointless references they drop, is "Airplane!"

So back to the original subject:  Camille found this birthday gift and looked no further: 

For my money, no one compares to Wireless for funny t-shirts.

And considering the recent passing of that great thespian, Leslie Nielsen, aka Dr. Rumack, I think it was a very timely choice.

It appears Eric liked the safe and boring plaid flannel shirt and cargo pants I chose, since he wore them the whole darn weekend.   But the real hit, as usual, were the homemade cards from the girls:

On your left, Jake and Elwood share birthday wishes on Camille's  card.  On your right is Mary Kathleen's artistic rendition of how Eric would look if he was an earthbending cat (for those of us who have always wondered about that).  I think these were his favorite presents of all, if you want to know the truth.

After dinner and presents were done, we went to hear Penn High School's winter orchestra concert.  Mary Kathleen plays cello in the Pre-Advanced orchestra, which performed beautifully.  The Intermediate orchestra and the Advanced symphonic orchestra were very good as well, but Mary's group played the most interesting selection of pieces.  It was a wonderful way to end the day, particularly since they always close the winter concert with "Sleigh Ride," which kicks off the Eating Season with a brisk, calorie-burning toe workout.

Here's MK and her fellow celloist (and Blue Lake Fine Arts camper) Anna, after the concert:

Did I mention? - I love to hear my daughter play her cello.  Although she didn't like the cello very well when she started, the instrument has grown on her over the years, and to me, it seems to fit her.  But her first love is art.  Another day I'll feature some pictures of Mary Kathleen's drawings.  She is quite the gifted artist - very creative and bubbling over with ideas and initiative. 

Kind of like me, except for the initiative.

But I'm so creative I've actually written a blog containing pictures and hyperlinks!  I had  really better get busy looking for an agent, before Amazon and Target come calling.



  1. Links?! You figured out links!!! You go, girl!!!

    I read part of this post out loud to Tom over breakfast and it's one of your best!

  2. WOW!!! Links and everything..wooohooo..MK is sooo talented!! I can not wait to see more of her work:)
    Hugs to all of you and I miss you and I LOVED our talk yesterday. (I say Susan Bishop at school today and told her I talked to you:)