A place for random thoughts, ideas, and fun!
What really goes on in Amy's brain? I'll use this space to share more about myself and my interests, journal some of the more exciting goings-on in my life, and work through some of the writing ideas and dilemmas I'm wrestling with. Enjoy!|
Movie Review Mondays . . . if you watch a film after reading a review, please come back and let me know what you thought!
|I found this article absolutely hysterical! My favorite part was the tugboat captain's reaction!
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|I don't want to survive. I want to live!
With the character of both science fiction and romance films, Wall-E is all heart.
A robot alone on a decimated Earth with the exception of a hearty little cockroach, Wall-E was given the directive to clean up. Working diligently for 700 years, Wall-E has built a little pseudo-life for himself. The only thing missing is a companion.
Then along comes Eve, a bright and shiny robot sent to Earth to search for plant life. But where are all the humans? When Wall-E follows Eve back into space, we learn what’s become of humanity. Can the Earth, and humankind, be saved?
Similar in both appearance and charm to Short Circuit’s Number Five, Wall-E is simply the most endearing character to come along in a long time.
The film has several laugh-out-loud funny moments, as well as many tender ones.
Wall-E sends some very strong messages, but they’re presented in such a wholly captivating way that the viewer can’t help but become engrossed. Pixar’s stellar animation and storytelling elevate this film far beyond the typical animated film.
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Three islanders from Lesbos — home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women — have taken a gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name.
Oh where do I begin? I've been there . . . to Lesvos (and yes, in Greek, it's pronounced with a "v" not a "b" . . . ). I spent my Spring Break there, while studying in Athens. The people were friendly and hospitable. In one shop, I was told that Skala Eressou was the town that George Dukakis’s family was from, and they had a photo proudly displayed.
It was my experience while there that the residents referred to themselves as Lesvosians . . . though now that I’m looking for it, I cannot find it in Greek! They are quite proud to be known for the birthplace of Sappho, and there’s a statue of her at the port in Mytilene town.
While I was studying in Athens, the battle over the name Macedonia was taking place. Signs everywhere shouted out “Macedonia is Greece!” , some with pictures of Alexander the Great. So, battles of this sort are not unheard of in Greece. But . . . why now? Because a pride group is using the name, just as similar groups all over the world have been doing for many years? Because the group is Greek.
"My sister can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou.
Well, of course she can! Why is it different, now that there’s a pride group IN GREECE that uses the name? Three people are involved with this lawsuit. If it were the entire island . . . well, I’d probably still be annoyed, to tell the truth!
A memory of my week on Lesvos:
*note - copied directly from my journal, no editing
21 April, 1992
It’s a perfect day to sit on a rock, by the beach, in Sappho’s world. Listening to the water lap over the rocks, watching the sun make the blue sea glisten – peace with the world and everything in it, is how this scene makes me feel. I suppose that this really is a pilgrimage, in a sense. I’ve come to pay respects to the birthplace of the woman whose poetry sang the praises of the women she loved. And I think, in a spiritual sense, I’ve found her. And more. The beauty of this place is in its absolute naturalness. In the same way, I believe, that the beauty of love is in its naturalness. Love – in whatever form it takes – is embodied in spirituality, whereas hatred can only be embodied in ignorance and close-mindedness. Spirituality is love, for me, and love is spirituality. I suppose that’s why living without love can be so difficult. If god exists, she exists as the love that one creature has for another – physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, psychological, metaphorical, metaphysical, elaborate, simple. Love transcends the earth, and becomes the air that we breathe. In that sense, god is love.
Aphrodite, Sappho’s goddess, is a more true deity than any western idea that has been pushed on an unsuspecting world. Fear and suspect replaced love and freedom. Where do we go from here?
I baptized myself in Sappho’s waters.
This is the memory that I hold within me, when I think of Lesvos. That a few individuals feel the need to battle over the use of their name saddens me deeply.
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|My Dad and stepmom wrote this for the Rabbi to read at Grandpa's funeral. I've edited it very slightly. It's funny, moving, and wonderful.
Harry P. was small in physical stature, but he was a commanding presence in the lives of all he touched, especially his family.
He was born in Bransk, Poland in 1909 and emigrated to New York when he was 5. While visiting Ellis Island a few years ago, he showed Sandy the exact spot in which he was standing when he saw his father for the first time.
Harry was the youngest of six children of Elka and Jacob P. He had four sisters, Gussie, Fannie, Sarah and Mary and one brother, Ben. Harry says that he was born on December 25th, but that he celebrated his birthday most of his life on the 15th. He said that his brother, Ben who was a year older than him, "stole" his birthday when he entered school. In recent years he reclaimed the 25th, which meant we had 10 more days to get his card and present together.
In 1935, Harry married the love of his life, Lillian F., with whom he will now lay beside forever. She idolized him and it was reciprocated totally. He was a truly incredible and caring husband. They had a wonderful family life together. They enjoyed one another and enjoyed the clearly defined roles they had created with one another.
As an immigrant, Harry took advantage of the best of what America had to offer. Coming here at 5 and not speaking English, he followed his early education at Torah Vodath Yeshivah in Williamsburg by attending City College. There he got a Bachelors Degree and later a Masters degree in Civil Engineering, at a time when graduating from high school was itself an accomplishment. And he also found time to be on the wrestling team.
His education and his natural intelligence (yes, he did the New York Times Crossword puzzle daily) gave him access to important and satisfying work that took him all over the world. He worked in Nicaragua, in Alaska, in the Azores, and in Australia, to name just a few. In Australia, he lived with Lee for two years, establishing a whole new community and loads and loads of wonderful stories. To the end, he maintained contact with much of his Aussie family and we in fact got a message from one of them just a few days ago when we shared with his many friends his situation. He told us to Be of Good Cheer, one of Harry's favorite sayings.
Through most of his career he worked for Tippetts, Abbett, McCarthy and Stratton, a major engineering and architecture firm in New York. On retiring from TAMS, he and Lee moved to West Palm Beach Florida where they lived wonderfully together until Lee got sick and they had to move back north. While in Florida, he became an avid golfer, as did Lee, playing most days of the week. He also continued to work at some level while living there, getting his third Professional Engineering license, after New York and New Jersey.
The home that he and Lee created also produced two devoted children, Sandy and Stuart. The love of Judaism and of family that he and Lee transmitted to them has now been transmitted two generations further, to their three grandchildren Mark, Jodi and Amy and to their seven great-grandchildren Danny, Alex, Hailey, Shari, Sarah, Sophie and Jakie.
Just a month before Harry passed away, he and the family celebrated the Pesach holiday at the home of Jodi, Michael, Hailey and Shari. It was a marvelous holiday, which he, despite his rapidly failing health, enjoyed thoroughly. The food, the stories, the laughter, the giggling, these were traditions passed down from Harry and Lee, traditions that will continue to live on thanks to them.
Harry was a powerful man, very committed to his views. And he could be stubborn! Oh so stubborn. But as stubborn as he could be that was also how devoted he could be. First to his mother, Bubba, and then later to Lee. Harry's devotion to Lee while she was in the Nursing Home, sitting with her every day for hours on end, feeding her, devoted to her, these are images that all who knew them then will always remember. And now he is with her again, no doubt catering to her as he always has.
Harry P. will be missed very very much, by all he touched, by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; by the many other close members of his family and of Lee's family; by his extended family and friends around the world. He was a unique presence and a unique man.
Harry: BE OF GOOD CHEER!
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|I just got a call from my Dad a little while ago . . . Grandpa passed away late last night. He was 98 years old, and lived quite an amazing life. He was the patriarch of our family, and will be greatly missed. I love you, Grandpa!
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|This morning, right after we'd arrived at Target, Jakie started complaining that he had a tummyache, said he needed to throw up . . . we went into the rest room, he tried using the potty, nothing. Went back to finish our shopping, cuz he said he'd be ok . . . it was clear within another minute that he wasn't. The pain was on his left side, below his navel. By the time we got to the car, he was in so much discomfort he was scared to get out of the shopping cart. Managed to get him into the car, but he was whimpering and crying and "ow ow owwwing" the whole way home. Called Dr office as soon as we got home, and they said to come right in. He was practically screaming . . . he WAS screaming . . . at the Dr. office. Dr. said it felt like he had something in his intestines (like he was constipated, though he'd had a bowel movement in the AM) but he was in way too much pain for it to just be that . . . it was very tender. So she sent us to the ER to have some imaging done. He was whimpering, crying etc in the car . . . but actually managed to fall asleep for a few minutes. Pain continued when we got to the ER, and through the exam by the nurse. She wondered about a hernia, and felt to see if everything was where it should be . . . wasn't sure if one of his testicles was descended or not. He giggled and then screamed while she was feeling for that. By the time the Dr. arrived . . . he wasn't in any pain anymore! It wasn't that long of a wait, either. In any case, he had us wait around for a while, we waited for the supervising Dr. to come in, and he was still fine at that time. They never did an ultrasound . . . we just sat there for 3 hours. *sighs* In any case . . . he seems fine now. We need to keep an eye on him, though.
And in other news . . . my dad called from the car, on his way up to visit Grandpa. The fact that he was going up today tells me . . . it's the end. I couldn't hear most of the message he left, so I don't know for certain what's going on.
I'm wiped out, emotionally a wreck, got nothing done today (except part of my Target shopping) . . . but I'm going swimming tonight, darn it! I NEED to!!!
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|Just received this email from my stepmom. I'd talked to my dad over the weekend, and knew generally that Grandpa was failing . . .
|Dad has been in the Gallen Insitute for more than two years now. At first he was totally involved with his surroundings and read the paper daily (well, the sports section, anyway) and followed the Giants football team and his beloved Mets. He went to services at least daily and maintained a wonderful relationship with the Rabbi. Many of the employees at the Institute remembered him as the devoted caregiver of his wife and always greeted him with warmth and respect. .
At the holidays, which he spent at Sandy's and recently at Jodi and Michael's home, he kvelled at the joy of seeing the traditions passed on to the new generation. Each holiday, while we saw how much he enjoyed these occasions, we also saw his decline. At the last seder, he wasn't speaking but could follow along in haggadah during some of the seder.
Sadly, in the last few weeks, we saw a significant decline and we were told that his kidneys are failing. It was recommended that he go onto hospice care (in his regular room) to insure his comfort during this next stage. Dad was 98 years old in December and, while he has surprised us before, we know that the end may be sooner than later.
We wanted just to let you know what is happening so you could keep Dad in your thoughts and prayers.
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|Dhoc-li Llama and I just got back from Orlando, and her band's trip to the Festival Disney competition.
Well, I worried and I stressed and I nearly drove myself over the edge, but the trip ended up being SO INCREDIBLY fantastic!!! Despite 107 LOUD teenagers!
We left Wednesday at 1 PM, and drove straight through to Orlando. Made a few stops, fast food for snack and dinner (yuck - I ended up buying some snacks from the convenience store next to the Arby's), but a Golden Corral breakfast buffet in the AM. I managed to get about 4 hours sleep on the way down - not too bad, considering! I did take a Lunesta, but it wasn't particularly comfortable on the bus. We arrived in Orlando around 8ish, had breakfast, got our tickets, basically changed clothes on the bus (first the boys got off, while the girls changed, and then the girls got off so the boys could change. Oy! We got to Disneyworld around 10 AM. There were 6 girls in the group I was chaperoning - 3 of Dhoc-li Llama 's friends I already knew, but the other 2 I'd not met before. 1 of the girls I didn't know ended up being very . . . assertive, shall we say? I'd pretty much decided I would let the girls set the schedule, and just be along for the ride, so B pretty much controlled the show. The one thing I definitely wanted to do at Disneyworld was to ride It's a Small World . . . It was AWESOME!! It's been a lot of years since I've seen it, but I think they've added a lot. We walked along Main Street, and there were some cast members with jump ropes, offering everyone a turn to jump . . . so I did! *giggles* 13 jumps, baby! Mumsy's still got it! I'm trying to remember everything we did, now. Perhaps I should get my maps. Anyway, we were there until nearly 10. We stayed for the parade, and went back to the buses just before the fireworks. Oooh!! Oh! We got to sit in the FRONT of the monorail on the way into the park in the morning! With the conductor - we got co-pilot's licenses from the conductor when the ride was over! Sarah got the side of her face painted, at it was pretty awesome - she had to wash it off before the performance the following day, though. ** Image ID #1422729 Unavailable **
We didn't get to the hotel until after 10:30 . . . and then the band conductor had to go in and check us in, get all of the room keys, get them organized by who was going into each room . . . I was so exhausted when I got to my room (I was sharing with Sarah's old elementary school band teacher, who had also come on the trip) . . . but I HAD HAD HAD to take a shower!! Hadn't had one since Wednesday 11 AMish . . . it was now Thursday 11:30 PM, after a night on a bus, 12 hours at Disneyworld . . . in the sun. I was about to crawl out of my skin! Another Lunesta, and I slept very well.
We had a breakfast buffet at the hotel, and then were able to relax for a bit. We didn't have to leave until around 11 AM, to head to Sarasota Springs for the Chorale's performance. They did a great job, and the soloist was wonderful. Daren - it was the same girl who solo'd at the concert we went to. After the performance, the judges did a 10 minute clinic - basically gave the group some ideas to help improve their overall performance . . . it was FABULOUS! The way it was done was very helpful, interesting, and not just something to use for that particular performance. Then it was back on the bus, to backstage Epcot for the band's performance. They also did an awesome job, and the clinic afterwards was terrific as well. We didn't get to Epcot until after 4 PM, so had to strategize fairly well as to what we were going to hit. I wanted to see Figment (remembered him from when I was a kid! ) and then when I saw that they had Morocco, I had to see that, as well! We did a lot of hustling back and forth across the park *giggles* . . . but we had an AWESOME time in Morocco!! There were a few shops there . . . Dhoc-li Llama had hoped to have her hand henna'd, so when we found someone in one of the shops who was doing it, I treated her to a henna. It looks AWESOME! Had falafel for dinner (yummy!) and went over to Japan for dinner for a few of the other girls. Ran back to Imaginationland for Figment (which everyone LOVED! ) and back to the bridge between France and UK, where we were supposed to meet the whole group by 8:30, for the light show. There were crowds of people gathering in one area, and on our way back we were accosted by a few other girls from the group, who had met some celebrities (guess that's what the crowds were for! ) One girl was shrieking so loud and high pitched we had no idea what she was saying. Apparently the Jonas Brothers (?) signed the girl's sweatshirt. We arrived at 8, so Dr B and a few of the other girls in our group went to France to buy dessert. I gave her a $20 and said bring me back something yummy. And a water. And some change. She came back with 4 desserts . . . no water! By then many many other kids from the group had gathered, so there was a little communal dessert-fest (I had a few bites of my SINFULLY good Napoleon, and offered it up to the group). The light show was pretty amazing, over the water, there were little "islands" in the water that were basically fireworks machines. Oh, there was a bunch of shopping in there, somewhere! Back to the hotel around 10ish . . . but apparently a few kids on one of the other buses had decided to go off on their own, away from their chaperones, and then gave a bunch of attitude . . . so the ENTIRE group was punished, unable to visit between rooms before lights out. Chaperones organized the t-shirts that had been printed up . . . lime green with blue printing . . . for everyone to wear the following day. Basically . . . boxes of t-shirts in different sizes, in the hotel hallway. Lists of who was in each room, and what size they'd ordered . . . chaperones grabbing shirts, and dumping them in front of hotel room doors. The band director gave them to the students when he did room checks before bed. Chaperones got shirts, too.
Another good night sleep, thanks to Lunesta. The following morning, we were off to Downtown Disney for breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe. The best meal of the trip (ok, the falafel was a pretty close second!). Then shopping at the Rainforest Cafe shop and back on the buses for Hollywood Studios theme park. This was probably my least favorite of the parks, but it was still fun. We saw a Little Mermaid show, a 3-D Muppet show movie, went on a Star Wars simulation ride, went on a ride that took us through the history of some of the greatest films . . . did a bunch of shopping . . . and met at the Indiana Jones theater for the Festival Disney awards ceremony. There were . . . maybe a few dozen middle and high school groups there. Some just brought a band, or a chorale, some brought a few groups . . . some had 5 or 6 different groups! It was great - the band received an Excellent rating, the chorale got a Good. Each of the groups who won an award got SO excited . . a few of the schools won award after award. At some point it started pouring sideways (good thing the theater was covered! ) but fortunately, it stopped before we had to leave. We headed back to the buses after the award ceremony, around 9 PM and off we went . . . we didn't even stop anywhere to brush teeth, we didn't even have a chance to change into comfies . . . (I managed to change into exercise pants under the huge towel I'd bought that day to use as a blanket on the bus) . . . and we didn't stop until breakfast this morning! But . . . there was a STARBUCKS at the place we stopped! I got a white mocha (yay, Brandi! and a cinnamon chip scone, and then discovered the Subway next door had omelet sandwiches. I decided to get one . . . so I got in line. There was 1 girl working. She'd make a sandwich, wait for it to toast, cook, whatever. Wrap it, and ring up the customer . . . didn't even take the next order while she waited. We were in line for over half an hour when we were told it was time to go back to the buses! *sighs* I HAD to pee before getting back on the bus . . . so no omelet sammich for me. We didn't stop again. The kids wanted to watch Juno, but it was vetoed by a few of the chaperones. Touchy subject matter. It was ok to watch Disturbia on the way down, though. Horror films with blood and violence are fine. Just don't let's get into a touchy subject . . . Anyway, we ended up watching Pirates of the Caribbean 3 . . . and then the first 1/3 of 13 Going on Thirty. And that brought us home!
All in all, it was an absolutely fabulous experience! I think I enjoyed the parks as much as the kids did. I loved watching Dhoc-li Llama having such fun, being with her friends, being happy, seeing how much they love her (because she's very concerned that she doesn't have any friends . . . ) . . . and I'm so glad I got to spend the time with her. I spoiled her a little (the henna, and an awesome t-shirt from Hollywood Studios that says Judge me not by my size on the front, and Yoda standing next to a sign that says you must be this tall to ride the ride on the back. *giggles* I let her have pie for breakfast, more than 1 dessert . . . she was in HEAVEN!! (just don't tell her siblings, ok? *giggles*)
I'm SO glad that I went! I'm SO glad that I managed to work through my anxieties, come up with solutions, talked to my wonderful friends and got the support I needed to get TO this . . . and then continued to support me through it.
In progress . . .
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|I made it through the seders! I honestly was not sure how I was going to make it TO the first seder, let alone stay functional through it, but I did ok. I did wish I'd brought my Ativan with me, but oh well. I didn't blog about the previous day, but I'll just say . . . it was DEFINITELY not one of my better days. I literally reached a breaking point, and I realized that I can't begin to focus on moving forward until I get a better handle on living in the present.
So, back to the seders . . . as usual, the 2 nights could not have been more different. For the past 3 or 4 years, we've spent the first night with my stepmom's family. Prior to that, all of the seders I attended were with my dad's family. The seder with my stepmom's family is always held in a grand banquet room in a posh Philadelphia hotel. There were 37 people, including 12 children. The service part was rushed, as always, so we could get to the food. It was formal and elegant . . . but lacking in the indefinable element that makes a seder a seder, for me. I don't know how else to describe it. It wasn't cold and impersonal, but it didn't have the same warmth. The food was elegant . . . but it wasn't prepared with love. The seder is always hosted by my stepmom's aunt, who is quite elderly, and run by Aunt Mim's son, Steve. His wife always puts together this wonderful gift bags of stuff for each of the children - books, and toys, and markers, and pads of paper, stuffed animals, even even gift cards at times. Despite all of this, I was not able to really relax. Sophie was whining about being bored, about being hungry (there were things I knew she WOULD eat . . . but she decided she didn't want them) . . . that's where the Ativan would have come in handy. In any case, we made it through the evening. Bob always takes the kids (well . . . Sophie and Jakie, and often my cousin's son, as well) across the street to Rittenhouse Square to take photos. He got some great ones, this year!
The second night . . . we drove up to my cousin's house. This is often a stressful drive for me, when the family is with me. Mainly, I worry about Jakie not napping in the car, and then being utterly miserable while we are there. It took a concerted effort on my part to not focus on it, to just keep my cool. And, in the end . . . he did what he always does, and fell asleep about half an hour before we arrived! Moral of the story . . . he's gonna do what he's gonna do, regardless of how much you stress about it. So . . . DON'T!!
This was the seder that means Passover to me. My family - my dad and stepmom, as well as my mom (she's still a part of the family, even though my parents divorced when I was a child . . . in fact, she was at my cousin's for the first night, as well! ). My cousin and her family, my aunt, and my 97 year old grandfather. 5 years ago today (according to the Hebrew calendar - the day after the 2nd seder . . . actually, just hours after the 2nd seder ended) my grandmother, who had Alzheimers, passed away. She waited until the seders were over. Up until that time, my grandfather had been strong and active, albeit aging and slowing down. He continued to lead the seders up until . . . 3 years ago? . . . when his health started deteriorating. He was there, sitting next to my dad, who led the seder. The same jokes were told, the same humorous emphases made in certain parts . . . and while he was just sitting, sometimes dozing, not speaking, he was a part of the seder. He had a nurse there with him, who was absolutely wonderful. My cousin took over the seder hosting and preparation 3 years ago, when it got to be too much for my aunt, and her tiny apartment. She did a magnificent job. I'd gone up last weekend to help her with some of the cooking, and Dhoc-li Llama came with me. We had a BLAST making applesauce and kugels . . . and brownies that ended up being horrid. But, when you read a recipe, and it says ŕ ½ cocoa" . . . well, there's a chance you might have a bit of trouble with it! In any case . . . as usual, there was an obscene amount of food. Let's see . . . hard boiled egg, then chopped liver and/or gefilte fish (I skipped this course, as usual ). Then matzoh ball soup or borscht. THEN . . . stuffed veal, brisket, stuffed cabbage, turkey, stuffing, baked chicken (like shake and bake - Jakie loved it, whoooo!), homemade applesauce, 3 kinds of kugel, candied sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cranberry sauce . . . I know I'm forgetting something. A lot of food! Mandel bread, macaroons, meringue cookies, sponge cake and of course the horrid brownies. Next year she's going back to the brownie mix, which we LOVED growing up!
The food was amazing, the seder was wonderful, the singing was dreadful . . . No, it was tons of fun, but ours is not a family that sings well together. Well, most of us can't carry a tune in a shopping bag, but what we lack in talent, we make up for in enthusiasm!
Sophie had a blast with my cousin's younger daughter. Dhoc-li Llama was very grown up and a wonderful participant. Both nights she read the Four Questions to my dad, in Spanish. I'd gotten him a book for his birthday that had the Four Questions in many different languages, along with some history of the Jewish culture in the areas where those languages are spoken. The first night, she insisted that I read them in Greek on the second night . . . so I did. It was tough though, because it wasn't actually modern (demotic) Greek . . . so the pronunciation threw me off a bit. But I did it. Jakie had a wonderful time, and was very well behaved. I wrote down several Jakie quotes, on the drive home . . . I'll get them posted in "Notable quotables" [ASR] shortly.
The children are all very excited because my cousin and her husband invited them to come for a weekend, again . . . so Bob and I can go into NYC ALONE! So ok . . . the children AND the adults are all very excited!
Despite a VERY rough start on Friday night, it turned out to be a good weekend.
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