I Keep Saying I’ll Blog

Three Things Which Are True:

(1) I’ll never stop badmouthing George Orwell. *

(2) Never.**

(3) I’ve got work to do. (Wonderful, wonderful work.)

*I’m not saying my sentiments are new to you or this blog. I’m not even saying that’s the best article on the matter, it’s just the easiest one to find that refers to Orwell having reviewed Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. And I’m still indignant.

**As long as 1984 is on required reading lists and any list of well-received, impacting novels, I will continue to do so.


The Enemy’s Gate Is Down

I’m a writer. (Doy. But there’s always a reason when I state the obvious – because everything I write here or speak in real life is measured and precise. …. Just kidding, I’m an idiot.)

Okay, so I’m a writer, and I write projects I intend to present through various mediums. I also started as a film major in college, which we’ve already talked about somewhere and also, who cares. More to the point, I made a film while there, based on my own short story. Moral: Things change in the translation. They have to. I won’t bore you with the details (suffice it to say my favorite part of the movie is the title…and the fact that we did it). So I said all that to say, I do not consider a novel and a film based on a novel to be the same thing, nor do I expect the film to attempt plastering book pages to the screen.

And I honestly, genuinely, consistently feel that way.

Unless Ender’s Game forces me to give up that religion. O_O


….and of course, I can’t really say what concerns me about that trailer in any sort of detail because I’m trying not to help the editor do what s/he was clearly trying to do which is RUIN THE GREATEST SCI-FI STORY EVER BEGUN. (Begun because – come on. Speaker For The Dead. I will seriously die next to that book.)

I mean, seriously, this looks like a pretty (aesthetically speaking) rendition of the “He’s our greatest hope because he’s just a military/warrior god” Independence Day dealie but with a kid. AND NO. IT IS NOT. So that’s *one* reason I’m concerned.

Another would be the glaring error in what I hope is just the approach taken by the trailer team. WHICH I CAN’T COMMENT ON BECAUSE OISJDJOFJLDIJDFGL;DFG.


You’re making it really hard to keep my faith, Trailer.

…Get it together, Trailer.

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30…

And other gems of wisdom from perhaps the preachiest series of films ever. But let’s not start there. (Then why did you, Bethany? Is what the fiends would say! To the bluffs! <–obligatory Simpsons quote out of the way.)

This is hard because dang, it’s five movies, y’all. (And yes, this is about five movies not the book.) But I guess we can start at the part where it seriously did NOT need to be. Like, capital negatory on the serialization, you guys. I won’t go over the first since it’s a classic, except to say, early on in the movie Senor Heston has a soliloquy that pretty much lets you know there’s a soapbox here. To be honest, it’s a little soapbox – at least in the first movie – and doesn’t interfere with the presentation of a sci-fi story.

Sigh. The same canNOT be said for Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Lemme roll my eyes around a bit. Geez. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with the stance being presented – other than by grounding it so deftly in the “spirit of the 60s” the science fiction vehicle employed looks hyperbolic and extreme in relation – it’s moreso that…well, yeah, it screams counter-culture. I mean, these guys opted to leave the only planet known to support life to plummet into deep space because they were so disillusioned with the state of things. (I won’t bother going, wow, buddy, where’s your sense of social responsibility, because Mr. Heston proves at the end of BPA that despite being supposedly “anti”, he still believes a white guy decidedly over the age of 30 has the right to hit the button when he’s had enough.)

A big problem is the second movie throws a pretty REEDIC storyline at you that seemingly requires that you continue watching the series in order to have it explained… which brings me back to the audaciousness of a LOT of sombodies insisting that this thin storyline NEEDED five movies. (Did I mention the series is five movies long? That’s almost a dozen!) I think it could easily have been streamlined into three if we’re being greedy and honestly… for the amount of story? One. Serious. I mean you wouldn’t have the iconic end of the first and all that dead sound time that I’m assuming was an intentional signature but hey. One longish film coulda done it. (I’m willing to split the difference at two.)

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them – obviously I watched every single one after realizing I’d only ever seen the first (and after falling in love with love is falling for make-beliiiiiieve the new reboot that was all kinds of right). I really like watching older sci-fi movies…especially when the big bad future starts in a 1991 imagined from the beginning of the 70s. Pretty great. I really like the sounds we no longer hear in contemporary film. It gives a grittiness to it that – sure – probably keeps the film from reaching it’s goal of transporting me into a post-apocalyptic future (I mean this series is a lesson in how NOT to make something timeless), but that I really like. Being accustomed to the age that brought us Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Shout-out to Andy Serkis, yo.)

The second best of the series is Escape from the Planet of the Apes, which is the third film. Part of that is because the others don’t quite succeed at world-building. As in, is this Planet etc etc or is this…plaza and field in Los Angeles …of the Apes. They make mention of other continents in the final film and how apes will mimic what’s been done but…wait what? Okay, so this is tantamount to a riot. You overthrew one city’s riot police MAYBE. Where’s the national guard, the military, the league of women voters? (Okay, that’s the un-obligatory Simpsons reference.) So, because I kept going, Wait, is the whole world this one square mile, EPA was a welcome change. It’s set in “present day” LA and features the two main apes from the previous films. The arc is satisfying on it’s own, much like the first movie, showing them as having taken the second shuttle back in time from the future (and coincidentally? ending up in the proper time and place), first as the toast of the town and then of course as the subject of intense scrutiny.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes introduces Caesar…played by the guy who played his father in the previous movies. So that turned out to be a sweet gig. Ricardo Montalban has raised him secretly in his circus, thank heavens. I’m not sure there’s much wrong with this one other than the thin story and the fact that it encourages very silly observations (wait, so the way you train apes for service is in groups of 100 and by shouting “do!”?? hold on, who thought it a good idea to do this on the terrace in front of the downtown mall?!) – until we get to the part where American slavery is outright aligned with the HORRIBLE enslavement of MONKEYS.

Unamused Ezzie is unamused.

No, seriously. There’s a black guy – who’s wonderful, btw… is it just me or were these actors so much more dignified and thespianly back then! the declarations, my liege! – who says, “As the descendant of slaves…” – and he’s talking to the only proven sentient ape. Unless I missed something all that happened was a disease wiped out domestic house pets and so we (shortsightedly, I mean COME ON) replaced them with apes who we then made slaves… but to my understanding they’re still ANIMALS. Did you just have this guy – purportedly in 1991, remember! – discuss his ancestor’s enslavement with a talking monkey? And though they are destined to nearly wipe.out. the human race, he HELPS Caesar begin the revolution. Because that’s what the black guy would do. >.> Mmm, thanks, friend. #Nope. Gonna wanna talk to the screenwriter when this is done.

Okay. But then there’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes. (NO WAIT! I forgot to mention that Caesar incites this revolution by first staring at different chimps who then – no doubt because of the power of the extreme close-up – demonstrate their defiance against the MAN? And then they find some alley in which to congregate a la When You’re A Jet and NO ONE’S PAYING ATTENTION EXCEPT THE FIRST HALF OF THE MOVIE YOU’RE CONSTANTLY HEARING APE CONTROL OVER THE CITY INTERCOM REPORTING THE SLIGHTEST GATHERING OR ABSENCE AND THEY SEEM TO HAVE A PRETTY GOOD HOLD ON THINGS but whatever. Oh, and the monkeys are… collecting knives. And then again, based solely on a few shots of other monkeys being inexplicably drawn to him throughout the movie and those stolen, intense glances, Caesar organizes them – the still mute and unspectacular monkeys – and overthrows that one terrace in Los Angeles. Bon.

Okay, for real this time – Battle. It’s meant to:

A) be 10 years after the revolution and um, NO. I don’t believe we would’ve bothered going to war against each other when we had a freakin’ monkey problem on our hands, for one, and then also, no, I’m just not buying it.

B) dazzle us with the origin of that crazy set of A-bomb-thumping loons from the second film. Nope. Why are they like that? Why do they still care about fighting when they’re basically radiated zombies, mon frere? And how through the power of revering the bomb instead of using it (get that MESSAGE spit-shined, people!) they end up with telepathic powers and deceptive beauty (as in the second movie)!? Or maybe they don’t since there are signs of the slightest alteration between the second and fifth movie and also Virgil the Orangutan mentions in passing the different lanes of time and blind choice. >.>

And while we’re asking questions, were these fight scenes choreographed and practiced in ANY sense of the words? Oh and when you realized the sci-fi-y wrist restraints on the shock table weren’t gonna wrap around Caesar, why instead of cutting and rethinking this whole shoddy attempt at futurism did you just let that actor hold it “closed” where we could totally see him? Riddle me that.

… So that happened. Are you guys even still reading this?!

So I was (and still remain) really skeptical unclear as to whether these were all released to the screen. Because. Wow. And then I found this.

(See how I was totally right about the third movie being the second best?) How HONESTLY did they get away with this?

Finally: Tim Burton’s “re-imagining” [insert fight scene pitting me against a copy of the dvd – and I have a sonic machete] of the original cost MORE than Rise, the recent reboot. O_O Taste that. I can’t even comprehend that.

Has anyone else actually watched all five of these?!?!

Something Something Queen Latifah

How. HOW have I neglected to blog about this?! Ever?! Babs helped me see the light with her hilarious series on her adventures in drama school — no, seriously, go to, go to!

But what of my days in theatre, you ask. And not that time I lip synced Too Darn Hot in college drama while wearing a plastic lei and dancing around with the lovely Laurisha. (And you thought owning the soundtrack to MGM’s Kiss Me Kate was silly. PISHPOSH!)

Nothing of my days in theatre because I wrote the above like eleventy days ago and now I have to tell you about something else. ::screeching needle on a record sound:: And I’m seriously too confused to try to be funny.

So, this happened.

AS we were watching it, my husband said, “A blog’s coming on.” That’s hilarious in itself since, as we all know, he’s not talking about himself. Basically, Josh said I have to blog about Joyful Noise. And it only took me two or three days to comply.

Because I’m not really sure what to say? Yes. I’m…sort of lost right now. It’s like when you watch the second season of Being Human (US). Every so often you forget you’re watching something that just isn’t great. (That’s a compara-burn.) Maybe a list would help clarify.

(1) This should’ve been a stage play. Seriously, there were scenes – short and seemingly accidentally left in? – where I could’ve sworn I was watching a church play. That Corky directed.

(2) The problem with it being a church play? It was Christian the way you’re Christian if you go to church on Easter. >.> Which made me wonder who their target audience was? Like, it felt like they kept changing their minds. Whether because the Bible never came up in the “church play” dialogue or because no one seemed to know much about God other than Queen Latifah’s character – who then agreed that God “made” her son autistic…without ever having a genuine conversation about the fall (ie sin entering the world). Now, you may wonder why this matters… um, because they’re pretending it’s a Christian movie but they’re presenting a secular and uninformed version of it? Right. The same way books have to be more logical than real life (as in the plot and character motivations must be clear as opposed to in reality), a movie with an “angle” shouldn’t be so lazy as to be like, “well, there are plenty of Christians having sex outside of marriage.” If you’re gonna have a choir member who is one-dimensional do that, at least don’t have the pastor be totally blah about it when it’s brought up in conversation. Actually, have people act however you want – but don’t expect people to believe it’s a faith based movie if you don’t say anything about what they’re doing. #notrocketscience

(3) I like musicals and because this movie didn’t actually know what it is, I kept going…oh….they’re gonna sing again. But I will say that Queen Latifah’s solo at the piano was beautiful. Her character, dialogue, etc was spot on. It was crazy. You don’t usually find a character like this in an otherwise shabbily crafted movie! Every time she spoke, I was like, YEAH. Thank you for having sense.

(4) What was the conflict? Like, they tried to play up the Cat-Face-Woman (Dolly Parton) and Choir Director (QL) rivalry but then for like an hour, they forgot? Also, there was seriously like a Bye-Bye Greasy deal with the romantic storyline – except what? They had a snort-inducing “fight” at the quarry and then he played with the choir? And also, it was only his third scene in the movie so it was kinda cliche and remarkably dumb? Oh, right – the whole will they get to perform at Nationals or some Glee-tarded thing. It was like Glee meets Sister Act but with a better overall cast and …. I lost it.

(5) Keke Palmer did just what I was praying she would. She matured! GAH! So happy. This girl is gorgeous and I loved that she got her own nick show but she apparently went to the Angela Basset school of overemoting and I sort of got used to cringing when she FELT. THINGS. But no! She was great in this! And I loved the scenes with her and the main guy.

(6) Which brings us to the apparently new south. And I have no problem with it. Who’s tired of encouraging-by-oversaturation the whole racialism-is-all-we-are-ness of movies set in the south? Present day, I mean. Don’t go trying to rewrite history or anything. But also, it was clearly an agenda thing because it was so over the top. Every gospel choir was seemingly equally diverse and the only relationship that wasn’t interracial was the one you basically only saw in home movies. So I had no problem with it. Does that make sense? It being over the top made it obvious they were saying, get over the stupid. Shout out for Blasian stuff, even if it was pretty inconsequential and laughable and then BAM, wedding. Who cares. It wasn’t the worst thing about this movie.

(7) Yeah, basically, I watched the entire thing – only really REALLY bothered about Dolly Parton’s face and her retarded and almost ungodly bra size. Like, WHY?! Sit down somewhere, girl. And because of so much “wth” happening, they could basically do whatever they wanted. Even have snapshots of mini characters better suited for the stage, have glee club moments and not really flesh out a single aspect of the narrative. And still – since I figured out it was not to be taken too seriously – have a somewhat enjoyable movie. That I might even watch again, for QL and Keke.

(8) I do wish they had devoted more time to the love story. They were pretty much together immediately and we only got a small build…including a throw away line about how they’d interacted as kids…yet her brother hadn’t ever met him? No idea, friends. But the kids were cute together.

(9) I don’t remember Keke being that strong of a singer…::cough:: Also, I didn’t think her Man In the Mirror song was good enough for what it was supposed to establish in that scene.

(10) Aaand then I had to watch Just Wright. Because I love Queen Latifah. And plus it was all NBA cameos and awesomesauce. And COMMON. O_O Yeeeeah, Imma need to watch it again. Loved it. Paula Patton’s character was hilarious. And this IS the cutest poster ever.

Conan The Barbarian Is The Worst

[You are not prepared.]

You guys I found it. ::nods:: Tell Videogum. I have found…. the literal and indomitable Worst Film Of All Time. And it is the remake of Conan the Barbarian.

Things They Did Right:

Ron Perlman.

Things They Did Wrong: (you might wanna get comfy for this one)

See that guy up there? He does this thing where he talks with a cartoonishly gruff voice. …. But he only does it sometimes?

See that guy up there? He has chest-length hair that – when added to the fact that he’s traipsing around in a skirt – is extra. It’s extra, you guys. You know what else is extra? I don’t know if he’s supposed to have *wavy* hair or he’s just supposed to be perpetually wet, but CHILL. OUT. ON THE PRODUCT. Seriously, his hair is so crunchy, I can’t even.

See that guy up there? The whole beginning, getting to know you part was a lot less Sound of Music, although there was running over hills, which were alive with some special interpretation of Native Americans crossed with velociraptors. Which. Completely confused me. And Conan was a little kid who was supposed to be proven awesome but really he was just very visibly and certifiably sociopathic. O_O Really, they even have this scene of him hauling back his kill – three Native Velocimerican heads – and he’s doing this *super* extra I-perform-unnecessary-animal-autopsies look on his face. Yes, everyone’s looking at you, kid, you’re carrying heads into the village! Stop with the psycho-stare!

What’s left of Rose McGowan was the witch. I’m not even gonna post a picture because I’m pretty sure nothing gets that out. I know I’ve seen her in movies pre-op and I feel like somehow she got so much plastic surgery that now she can’t act? It was weird. I mean, no weirder than a movie simultaneously being way too long and also having no sub-plots (and I don’t mean what they *think* sub-plots are) and a very thin, cliche main plot that pretty much revolves around this chick tasting people’s blood with her razor-claws and trying to find the pure blood.

But hey, about that pure blood? They’d been looking for her since Conan was a kid. The witch girl has this special sense of smell and junk and was able to find all the pieces of the most outlandishly ridiculous mask-of-no-doom but somehow couldn’t find the tribe of monks who’d put her mother to death and were ostensibly hiding in their rather large monastery for like 1000 years?! WHAT? So the plot doesn’t move forward until – guess what – Conan’s a grown psycho! NOW they find the pure blood who’ll make the stupid looking mask come alive with freshness and reboot the executed witch mother and make the super bad reputation boss daddy who never does anything amazing at all …a god.

Spoiler: This movie is horrible. No, seriously. The spoiler is that Rose McGowan uses magic throughout the movie. Except during her death scene. Huh? And also, she goes after the pure blood whose chest has already been LIGHTLY scratched with A HUGE BARBARIAN SWORD and the blood has been used to activate the mask (spoiler alert: it does nothing) – but later they make it like the witch mommy would’ve possessed the pure blood and that’s how she’d come back (this is called plot armor and is also info that is not presented until it’s necessary for the story…) so basically Rose McGowan was inexplicably going to kill the vessel through which her mom would come back? Which was the point of the whole movie? I mean, I know they tried to make a whole You don’t need mommy now, you have me! moment but nobody bought that and it was never brought up before or after.

Also, when hand to hand combat take place, buildings crumble. O_o It’s science.

There’s also a magic, semi-furnished cave that comes into existence just in time for Oh-my-gaw-why-is-this-happening?!

I can’t even keep going with this. Suffice it to say, if you hated the remake of Clash of the Titans…. you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Oh, one more thing: Yes. Horrible “action” movies – particularly those made for their inevitably short stay at the IMax – forget to write actual stories because they’re too busy brainstorming all the “cool” ways they can kill people. Never do it the same way twice! Too bad that little nugget wasn’t applied to the horrible dialogue and various tropes throughout the rest of the film.

Sick Sad World

Do you know how long it’s been since I uploaded pictures and videos onto my laptop? Me, who cannot breathe without writing it down? (God, that’d be horrible if that weren’t an exaggeration.) There are so many things I’m missing that – had my delightful child not destroyed altered my laptop – I would be sharing with friends and family.

For one thing, today Ezra had his first school chum over for a play-date. This was especially adorable because this child doesn’t speak or understand English so listening to the two of them play the Wii and express pride in their accomplishments was nothing short of epically hilarious. I would have loved to take some video of them but, I realize, when I can’t upload them, I don’t even bother taking pictures! Case in point, we also just had a great get-together with our favorite kid-filled family – and I took zero. No pictures, no nothing. Ridiculous. Which brings me to the thing I MUST document. While preparing the kids’ dinner plates, Ezra described the piece de resistance thusly: “These ribs will break your heart.”



I’ve just decided that I should draw you a representation each time I want to document something. Then I remembered that I can’t draw. Not in a funny way, like Hyperbole And A Half, where she clearly has some artistic talent. In the way that a semi-handicapped puppy can’t draw. As in, you would have no idea that a demon-possessed pencil didn‘t just scratch the heck out of that piece of paper.

I feel like you need some proof.In my defense… I tried really hard. That. That is apparently what my hand and Paint think my son looks like. In trying to demonstrate his lack of top teeth, I’ve actually given him ALL the teeth anyone ever had and also, apparently, I think my son is a scary woman. I feel like I nailed his physique though. So.

I think I’ve made my point.

Content Me In My Discontent

(1) People like Pauline something-or-other write ridiculous things about Accountability, International Baccalaureate and drizzle Foucault verbage over it in a manner that suggests she’s made some rather specious inferences and now I feel the need to reread all of the literature from senior year of university. You know, to … write an article… on her wrongness? Yep. Thanks.

(2) Mmmm, Quebec. I know I’m just a silly, modest American – that…doesn’t even read correctly. Are we really seen as modest? I mean, I personally consider myself as such but… Apparently, it is said modesty and not common sense and indignation that made me wonder why OH WHY I was caught sitting between my six year old son and a strange man while sitting in the waiting room of a dentist’s office and OH YES witnessing frontal nudity in the movie being played.

For serious?! This isn’t completely unacceptable to anyone else? Apparently not, because no one even seemed uncomfortable! Meanwhile, I looked at my son who somehow wasn’t looking at the television (mercy of mercies) and then politely asked him to take the New Testament + Psalms out of my bag and get started on Psalm 119. Now’s as good a time as any to work on memorization. O_O And before you Americans ask why I didn’t say something, let me chortle to myself and point out: We’re not in Kansas anymore.

(3) This. This is all there was or ever shall be. (If you don’t watch this, don’t bother coming back.) (Just kidding.) (Not really.)


Ships At A Distance

If you’ve known me longer than three seconds, you probably know that while I have a hard time buttoning down a favorite on most things (song, artist, band – which gets particularly different to decide once you get out of the hormonal fangirl teen years), there is one indisputable title. Best first line of any book goes to Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Ships at a distance hold every man’s wish onboard.

Again, I’ve said it before. But SWOON. It is tattoo worthy (and shall be made so). Splendid. So, what does that have to do with anything? Well, there are lots of people who automatically despise movie adaptations in an annoying hipster-like fashion, constantly pointing out what changes were made and how it’s not “true” to what it isn’t supposed to be, namely a book. I’m not one of those people. I realize that these are two different animals.

Except for when Oprah and ABC made Their Eyes Were Watching God. Worst moment aside from the fact that the opening line wasn’t part of the movie? The pathetic way in which the title of the book was tossed in (no, not worked in, I promise), basically attempting to make it part of Janie’s characterization. O_O As opposed to the poignancy of the title being a piece of the narrative describing the way in which the frightened victims of the hurricane were staring into the darkness while the storm raged…it was reduced to Janie floating in a bog on her back, watching. God.


Aside from the fact that I really didn’t like Janie in the film and couldn’t understand what was wrong with her.

WHY am I talking about this? I have no idea. Something happened while I was on TweetDeck just now and then I thought of the beautiful first line and then I thought of the title-rape that Oprah’s people committed.


Oh, look. She’s about to watch God. ::snort::

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.

You know what’s distracting? White kids in The Last Airbender. See, the Hubs and I got pretty into the Nickelodeon series, which was remarkably easy to do. It was pretty sweet. So, I was immediately confused by the actors. And yes, I was already aware of the controversy that fell when the movie was first coming out. (And at this point can I mention without giving details but yes it’s totally related and if you already follow his twitter you’ll know what I’m talking about – *inhale* – Gabe of Penny Arcade is hilarious.) I just…had no idea how t-o’d I would be within mere MOMENTS of the movie beginning. First of all, it looked like crap. And I do mean LOOKED, as in the actual visuals were IMMEDIATELY disappointing. Did M. Night Shamalamadingdong even WATCH the show before he raped it of its bonnie-ness? Because WOW. You can’t make this stuff up.

And yeah, full disclosure? I haven’t resumed watching it yet but the horrible dialogue, visuals, white kids – oh wait, except for the Fire Nation peeps…why’s that, mon frere – and M.Night-ness have got me pretty convinced that this is going nowhere good.

Which brings us to the next potential victim of white-washing which can we just take a minute and look at the calendar and the 2011-ness of it all and ask ourselves why this is still happening?! The Hunger Games. Yes. Jezebel summed it up and honestly I hadn’t even blinked at the blonde girl they want to cast. I’m apparently complacent and too accustomed to Hollywood.  From Jezebel:

Collins’ world includes several more key characters who are either explicitly non-white or whose ethnic background is left more ambiguous, including love-interest Gale, mentor-figure Haymitch and a young black girl named Rue, Katniss’s closest and the star of some of the novel’s most gripping action scenes.

Because honestly, Suzanne Collins is apparently being punished for not making stereotypical and offensive references to REALLY ensure everyone gets who’s not white in her book. Subtly? Not ready for that, Ms. Collins, we want racial slurs, if possible.
And finally? The Book of Eli did not disappoint me. What is it with me and post-apocalyptic, dusty, depressing books/movies? Love ’em. And guess what? This. ‘Cause the music did it for me. If I were still a dancer, you best believe I’d be all over this soundtrack. I have a feeling my sister Ana’ll hear me on this one.
P.S.? I’m pretty sure M.Night hates himself.

Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: You all know me. I’m sardonic, by nature. That’s what you love about me, is what I tell myself. I had a wonderful time tonight, believe me!

This guy.

This little guy saves. lives. And concerts. And of course by “concerts” I’m referring to a ragtag brigade of nursing students and the few they can wrangle to accompany them on a Wednesday evening in the relatively packed sitting room of a convalescent home. O_O

We were really proud of ourselves. That was probably the first problem. Who *wouldn’t* feel good about themselves, going to entertain and encourage and generally brighten the day of so many nursing home residents?! So when I tell you that our performance was humbling – for us – and that, used here, the word “humbling” is me taking the coward’s way out… Yeah.

We didn’t know what we were singing – in which case, we didn’t know if they would be songs with which we would be familiar – until we arrived. By we, this time I’m referring to myself and my boys. Second problem.

Third problem would be the singing. I like to think of myself as an Alto-Cusp, phasing to Tenor. Because I like to. The point is that the average group of girls starts singing well above my comfortable range but to sing with them without sounding like I’m well into my <ahem> transitioning process, I can’t sing the lower accompanying register. Now I can carry a tune, a fact I’m most comfortable admitting when others admittedly can’t sing and therefore have the lowest possible expectation. Unless there’s the chance of them electing me choir director.

Can I just cut the chase? We got pity claps.

I KID YOU NOT. The slightly enfeebled or otherwise delicate patrons had not let age or time diminish their “burn” capabilities. Seriously, after we “sang” Oh, Christmas Tree – a song too traditional (a word which here means “antiquated”) for any of us to know the actual melody and therefore a song they knew well enough that one of the men attempted for a very short minute to sing along – the smattering of half-hearted and possibly confused applause was so perfectly done, I actually had to stifle laughter. “Burn,” I choked out under my breath. And they were right, people. We had decimated that song. I expect tomorrow they shall give it a proper burial.

There was one song, which I can’t recall at the moment, when I felt that naive, ill-fated inclination: I could save this. You see, I have this strange self-consciousness when reading music. If I’m not holding a clarinet and someone instructs me to do so, I freeze or start dry-heaving. Right. But there are things that are obvious to me, even sans woodwind, such as cues as to how many times to sing something before you go to something clearly marked “refrain”, the difference in melody between a measure beginning in a low C versus one that begins in a high E… stuff like that. So when I realized that we were quite obviously butchering the melody (because we were singing straight through from the prelude through the melody through the refrain and then starting over entirely for the second verse and going all the way through before starting the third), I did the unthinkable. I turned to Josh and pointed to where we *should* have been and what key in which we *should* be singing.

Josh was the last person. I was next to him. To my right were the rest of the singers. So I’m not sure what I thought would be achieved – outside of embarrassment – by correcting him. But I thought of that little rudder. How it majestically steers the entire body of a ship, despite its small size. … I could be that rudder, I thought.

I failed.

So that was a problem.

Lemme reapply a visual that I find most effective in expressing or summing up my sentiments. The following. Is the face of our audience.

Eventually, I came to my senses, though. I had standing before me one weapon against failure. Not only that, I had the most effective weapon. It was worthy of distinction. A secret weapon, if you will. I was standing in a room full of the elderly with Ezra standing in front of me, invisible to those behind the first row, and I was not capitalizing on his presence?! Insanity.

For the 12 Days of Christmas, I instructed him to hold up a finger to show us what number day it was. I of course had to bend down with him to do days 11 and 12, but I also unnecessarily whispered in his ear each time we were starting again to tell him how many fingers to hold up. Now we all know he’s six and this was completely for show, but come on. They’re old folks.  Instant giggles and cooes.

For Jingle Bells, I leaned down and turned him from side to side – which made him smile broadly – and then tossed his arms up for the “hey!” Grins and tittering ensued.

For Silent Night, I picked him up and let him hold the song book. Immediate gasps and whispers. We hadn’t even starting *singing*. He read along with us so he actually ended up singing the verses he didn’t know!

Afterward, I took him around row by row, holding him of course. To encourage their appreciation of his infancy. “God bless you”, “I love you”, “You’re gorgeous”, “I miss my grandchildren”, “How old are you”, “Your mother’s beautiful”…. that last one was from one of the old men. It was still very sweetly said! 🙂 To each couplet or trio sitting together, we introduced him, said Merry Christmas and then thanked them for having us. Some held his hand, some kissed his hand, some just reached toward him. One woman blew him a kiss and when he blew her one back, all four close by were happy.

In short.

God bless Ezra.