Joyful After Losing My iPod

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Consumer Info, Droid, Household, Podcast

When I searched repeatedly and couldn’t find my Nano a few weeks ago, I finally took up the initiative to start using my new Droid X as my mp3 player. I was willing to do so because Chooch related he was having so much luck with his. I’m using the app he recommended, called “Listen” in the Droid store, and it is so simple even a techtard like me can use it. It uses Google Reader to manage the individual RSS feeds (subscriptions to text, video and audio posts) and syncs immediately without needing to connect to your computer. It’s managed remotely, updated as often as you tell it and the episodes are either streamed or downloaded to your device.

With Google Reader, I still have a desktop option for loading the X with all the tasty podcasts and novels that I listen to. Even better, I no longer have to wait until I’m home to add something. This has already proven useful as I always had trouble remembering what I wanted to add by the time I made it back to iTunes on my desktop, and my phone is almost always at hand.

By the way, it turns out that “lost” was an overstatement. I later found my iPod in my purse even though I’d searched it several times. Yes, my purse is too big but comes in handy when I need a notebook to track things for my failing memory; when I need to drag the H4N recorder around and when I taking the better and larger digital camera. Plus, batteries for the last two items.

Since finding it almost immediately after loading up the X, I’ve only used it a handful of times. I won’t be going back. Until I get a secure strap of some sort for running, I’ll continue to use my iPod. Beyond that, I can really see no reason for switching back. By streaming podcasts instead of downloading them, I have TONS of space available for music, at least as much as is available on the iPod.

So farewell, Uncle Steve. This old girl is finally able to move on from well over five years of crappy experiences in iTunes. You’ve made plenty of money off of us and our kids, and now it’s time to say goodbye.

*waves gleefully*

Thanksgiving 5k Race Results

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, Chooch, Computer, Exercise, Firsts, Health, No Whining

Chooch and I headed out early on Thanksgiving morning for the local Turkey Trot. It was cold, but we’ve run in colder and felt well prepared for it. I had my mittens and my hoodie over yoga pants and long sleeve race t-shirt. I had been tempted to wear shorts, as I’d overheard a hard-core runner tell incredulous friends at a January race in 25 degree weather that he runs faster in shorts because after a while he can’t feel his leg soreness due to numbness. Luckily, I’m not that insane. I haven’t baby stepped my way back to 5k’s by taking risks that could cause a long-term setbacks.

I was super excited because this was my first race since all the silly health drama started. We had to forfeit our registration in 2009 as that was the beginning of my health issues and I was having a ton of tests for scary illnesses being run. I was not running, exercising or psychologically prepared in any way last Thanksgiving.

This year’s race was held at a new location on an unfamiliar route, and I secretly hoped there wouldn’t be many hills since I seem to have knee pain more on the hilly routes. I’ve altered my stride when going down hill using lessons learned while covering hilly lands in the Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG. Laugh if you like, but in game you can run up hills as fast as you like, but running downhill at the same speed you’ll get a “broken bone” injury.  I now take what I call “gentler landings” and I’m already seeing improvement. Genius that I am, it took me forever to put the two together, and maybe they are unrelated but I’m certainly having less knee issues since I’ve made the change.

We made our way to the race start to pick up the optional race time chips. These are small, lightweight loaner chips you strap to your ankle to track your start/finish time since it’s impossible for everyone to cross the start line at exactly the same time. It also allows you to track your pace. After the race, the results are provided with your race time and pace. I have no expectation of having a winning race time, rather this is how I track my progress across races, as do many others.

We next headed over to the start line along with the other racers and walkers. We again survived the push and shove of over-adrenalized and aggressive runners wanting to start as close to the front as possible. Having been stuck behind walkers and strollers in the past, I can understand wanting to ensure you don’t have to try and run an obstacle course to keep your running pace. Still, there is no need for such rudeness. Personally, I would prefer if they said, “Excuse me, but you’re clearly not an elite athlete so I’d like to get in front of you now so I won’t have to run around you in a few minutes.” I’d find it far less rude than people averting their eyes as they elbow past. Chooch and I just shook our heads and laughed at their need to be “first” at the start. They should consider arriving earlier next time. Just sayin’.

The race started and off we went at a steady pace. Chooch was having trouble breathing because of his recent illness, and we’d already discussed the possibility of me continuing running if he needed to walk. I’m supremely proud of him pushing past the 1 mile marker before stopping to catch his breath and I continued on alone.

I had no music with me, so I just ran with the street noise and conversations of runners around me. I told myself I could stop when something hurt. I told myself I could stop at the water station at the 1.5 mile mark, but only for 10 seconds. I never had pain, only muscle fatigue. And I was stopped less than 5 seconds at the water station. Adrenaline wouldn’t let me stand still for long while the clock was ticking, but I truly needed water for my throat. The cold air had my throat very sore and very dry, but three sips were all I needed and off I went. Honestly, if I didn’t think it was bad manners to snatch a cup from a volunteer, suck it down and throw it on the ground as so many other runners do, then I wouldn’t have stopped at all. I make sure and say thank you and put the cup in the trash next to the station and continue on my way. Nope, I’ll never win any races that way. And nope, I don’t care.

I’m very happy to report that I ran the entire 5k for the very first time. And the race results showed that I solidly beat my previous best time by more than six minutes. I still have a very slow pace, but I’m thrilled with these improvements. Chooch also had a great improvement on his last race time and I’m proud of him for going when he had an excuse not to go. He’s got a warrior spirit, just as I’ve always known.

I also want to give a Universal thank you to those that cheer for runners along the route. As with all the races I’ve done, there were people that had put up signs or were standing outside on the streets or their porches lending their strength to us as we plodded past. I’ve always appreciated it, as it does indeed add a spring to this gal’s step.

I know hubby took a tally of the oddly costumed folks at the race, and I’m hoping he’ll post those in the comments. There was one very memorable one that had us laughing and wishing we could snag a photo, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The next race is in 2 weeks, and I’m not so cocky as to feel that my successful completion is assured. Even if I’m a bit slower, or can’t run the whole damned thing, I’m just happy to be in motion again.

Baby steps, indeed.

Baking Your Own Cherpumple (or PiCake)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL

I wish I’d thought to post this before Thanksgiving, as it seems a lot of folks took the annual American day of unrestrained gluttony as justification for baking their own cherpumple.  While I did not make a full cherpumple for Thanksgiving, I did make two PiCakes (term coined by my husband for the individual cherpumple-like layers). One was the pumpkin pie/spice cake layer, (we’ve nicknamed Spumpkin) and the other was the pecan pie/chocolate cake layer which we’ve nicknamed ChocoCan (pronounced like Chaka Khan).

I’ve previously baked two full cherpumples and 2 PiCakes, starting back in August. I had already forgotten the process I developed through trial and error, so am documenting them here for myself and anyone else that wants to give them a try. I considered taking pictures and posting them also, but I just don’t think they’re necessary as I’ve embedded creator Charles Phoenix’s video instructions at the bottom of this post. It’s the guidance I used to bake mine and while it’s fairly general, it take the mystery out of the process in a humorous way.

Ingredients for full traditional cherpumple recipe:

  • 3 frozen pies – apple, cherry and pumpkin;
  • 3 cake mixes – yellow, white and spice;
  • Ingredients specified on cake mix boxes (you will be following the box directions for the cake batter);
  • Canned frosting – cream cheese (see recommendations below).

My recommendations:

  • 10″ cake pan works perfectly, I prefer the Wilton aluminum pan.
  • Substitution of vanilla for cream cheese frosting, based on the stickiness and unforgiving texture. It may be different with other brands, but the stuff I had resulted in a really rough looking finished product. Swapping the vanilla gave a much nicer-looking cake. The flavor change didn’t matter to me since I don’t eat the frosting, I dive into the layers.
  • Whipped cream for the Spumpkin (Spice cake/pumpkin pie) PiCake. It’s heavenly, but then that’s my favorite topping for both pumpkin pie and spice cake, separately.

Ingredients for PiCake layers are essentially the same as above, except you choose the flavor combinations you want to try. For instance, the ChocoCan PiCake is chocolate cake mix with pecan pie and chocolate frosting.

I’m embedding the slideshow of photos of the cherpumples and PiCakes I’ve baked. If you’ll notice, the first cherpumple (better seen in the video at the end of my slideshow) is not nearly as attractive as the second one. This is for two reasons: One I was short on time so used an 8, 9 and 10 inch pans to bake all at once and ended up with a layered effect. I also used the cream cheese frosting which was unforgiving and nearly transparent. The second and subsequent cakes have been MUCH more attractive.

Here are the steps I take to ensure the best possible end result:

  • Bake or thaw the pies. They will not thaw inside the cake if you don’t, and your cake batter will not cook if you have a cold or frozen pie inside. Raw cake batter is not the goal here since you need the cake structure to support the ooey-gooey pie.
  • Bring the pies to room temperature before starting. You don’t want them hot since you’ll be using your hands to drop them into the cake. I disliked even using slightly warm pie because the whole thing is much more fragile.
  • Set oven temperature to 325 regardless of cake box instructions. Anything higher and you risk undercooked batter or burned cake in trying to get the batter fully baked.
  • Now is the time for putting a sheet of aluminum on the bottom of the oven to catch any overflow. It can happen.
  • Use a 10″ cake pan. It’s the perfect size for the pie, even if one of larger than average. It also allows for all the cake batter to be used.
  • Spray generously with cooking spray.
  • Cut a parchment circle for the cake pan interior bottom. The ease in removing the cake is COMPLETELY worth the effort of this step. Yes, it’s easier to line with aluminum, but my results were tremendously better with the parchment.
  • Spray again with cooking spray. Yes, it’s overkill. You’re welcome.
  • Mix the cake batter according to package directions.
  • Carefully break off the crust around the edge of the pie, but don’t break the top or bottom crust! This step is optional, but preferred. It makes it easier to cover the pie with batter and I just like it better taste-wise.
  • Pour most into the bottom of the pan, reserving about a third for covering the pie after you drop it in.
  • Drop pie and smooth remaining batter of the top, making sure to “seal” the pie in batter.
  • It will obviously take longer to bake than a regular cake. I recommend setting the timer for 45 minutes and doing the standard toothpick test. It’s a bit tricky since you don’t want to go into the pie and distort the results. It usually takes about an hour for it to bake in my oven. Expect it to take even longer if you have more than one layer baking in the oven. The first cherpumple I made, I had all three in there and I do not recommend doing this.
  • I recommend running a knife along the inside of the pan after it comes out of the oven. If there is any cake batter overhanging the cake pan edge at all, you’ll have an easier time when it first comes out than after it cools and hardens.
  • Wait 20 minutes before removing from pan instead of 10. The cake is a bit more fragile with the essentially liquid core.
  • As always, allow cake to fully cool before frosting.

Cherpumples I Have Made


Charles Phoenix Video Instructions

Thanksgiving Eve Thoughts

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Chooch, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, Friends, Health, No Whining, Our Kids

Like kajillions of other folks, I’ll be working in the kitchen today for more than just normal meal preparation. With Thanksgiving already upon us and day two of brain pain, I’m glad that I only have minimal work to do.

I’m not hosting dinner, so we’re only bringing a few sides and two desserts. And while I’m grateful for this lighter load, I’m even more grateful for the company we’ll be in tomorrow.

This year, my baking list includes two PiCakes (PiCakes = term my husband coined describing stand-alone cherpumple inspired layers). I won’t be stacking them because I want to use different frostings on them. The ChocoCan PiCake (Chocolate cake and pecan pie) will have chocolate frosting and the Spumpkin PiCake (Spice cake and pumpkin pie) will likely have vanilla. I haven’t decided yet, as I’m considering leaving it unfrosted for topping by the slice with whipped cream, in traditional pumpkin pie/Thanksgiving manner.

I’ll also be baking a sweet potato casserole. I’d intended on a healthier recipe, but am having second thoughts as I hate to serve an untested recipe at Thanksgiving. I suppose this is the ideal venue for it, as the diners are an adventurous sort and Lord knows there will be plenty of other tasty food to eat if it’s not as tasty as I hope.

Besides beer and wine, we’re also bringing a simple green salad. I’m hoping to find and whip up a yummy mustard vinaigrette to go along with it. I fell in love with it at the Dogfish Head restaurant a few weeks ago and want some of my own. If you have a tried and true recipe that you want to share, please let me know in the comments!

In the morning, Chooch and I will do the annual Turkey Trot 5k race. It’s the third year we’ve been registered, but we had to skip it last year because of my then new-and-unknown illness. Since I stopped waiting around to get better, I’ve been “training” for it for months. Knee and back problems have hindered me of late so I’m not where I’d hoped to be, but I’m still thrilled to be able to do it. Just crossing my fingers that this downgraded migraine will subside and let me actually run it.

As has been the case for the last four Thanksgivings, Mom is heavily on my mind. We used to bake together in preparation for Thanksgiving and knowing that another year is passing without her is not an easy one to wrap my mind around. Hell, as recently as last week, I had to correct myself when I said “… my parent’s house…”.  On the one hand, I know I need to find out how to accept on a subconscious level that she’s gone. On the other hand, I just don’t want to. It’s hard to give up the comforting feeling of unconditional love from knowing that there’s this person out there that loved you before you had a name or even took your first breath. She loved me at just the thought of my existence, and that’s a heady feeling. I’ll be grateful for her for the rest of my life and refuse to let sadness take the day. I instead choose to celebrate her and all that her life meant to others. <3 Pocket Mom!

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to share some of the things I’m grateful for on this day:
~ That my family is healthy and happy, in spite of the bumps on our paths. I love them all, for their perfections and their flaws.
~ The amazing friends I’ve somehow lucked into finding. Whether its my friend of 22 years or friends I’ve made this year, I can’t help but reflect that this is one of the richest times in my life. I’m inspired, challenged and emboldened by them all.
~ Three handsome boys that break my heart from longing to see them and heal it just by existing. Regardless of the distance, they are the spring in my step and I can’t imagine my life without them in it.
~ My husband, for all that he is and wants to be. I pledge my turtle love. Forever.

Dear Reader, know that whether you are traveling or staying at home, I heap blessings upon you for a safe and happy holiday.

Fun in Measured Doses

Author: Chooch  //  Category: Dizzy, Games, Movies, Music, Uncategorized

For some reason, the potential impact of a concert-triggered migraine didn’t really occur to me until I was mired spinny and owie in a doozy at the They Might Be Giants concert earlier this year. While I was fine and happier than a newb geek has any right to be during Jonathan Coulton’s opening set, the much higher volume and lights sent me running from the venue for relief during TMBG. The horns certainly didn’t help. I was really bummed, since it was my first time actually making it to one of their shows and also because we were with friends Pat and Lisa, who we rarely get to spend time with.

Since then, I’ve been afraid to buy tickets to any shows. My recent heartbreak was newly found Metric playing in Richmond last month. My Scott Pilgrim Fangirl heart was broken at missing them (Their “Black Sheep” was performed by The Clash at Demonhead in the flick. Easily my fave song on the soundtrack.), but we couldn’t justify springing the dough for a show I might have to bail on.

My new heartbreak is the Linkin Park show in February. Their Hybrid Theory album literally catapulted me singing and screaming through a lot of rage and heartbreak at a dark time in my life. That album unsurprisingly resides on my “Perfect Album” list and I’ll always have a soft spot for them, regardless of what I think of their recent releases.  The Projekt Revolution concert I went to in Fairfax, VA was a high-energy, face-twisting, lustful-singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs show and I loved fangirling after the show when I met them. Yes, I told Mike Shinoda what the album meant to me and how it helped me in a wrenchingly cathartic way.

Not surprisingly, I’ve also had to show restraint with movies although it’s only been recent ones that have really triggered the symptoms in any notable way.

After viewing Scott Pilgrim vs. The World three times in the theater and once at home, I’ve yet to see the ending boss fight. The visual effects drive a spike through my brain and I have to close my eyes and cover them to negate them. Bummer, but not unexpected. Video games have reportedly caused seizures in people before, and the movie is pretty heavy with video game effects. I was disappointed that I was unable to view it at home, as I was sure that the smaller screen would help. I was wrong.

Seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the big screen last week hit me harder than I anticipated. It’s possible that the long day played a part in this, however. I was up at 6 a.m. and we went to the midnight-oh-one showing. There were a few scenes that were particularly harsh,  the one where Harry departs Privet drive, one with Hermione and a snatcher in the woods, the battle in the Ministry and the ending battle.  I was quite loopy after the end and needed to remain seated for a bit, and kindly Jett offered me her arm as we exited for stability.

I’ve already reduced my video game time, especially those that have a 3D effect. There have also been nights were I’ve had to log off of Lord of the Rings Online because of dizziness when navigating the Misty Mountain trails, among other things. But these don’t surprise me as much as concerts or movies since they are far more immersive.

I now have to stop and make a concerted effort to evaluate the possible effects, and even carry ear plugs with me, as I did the night of the Geek Radio Daily Pub Crawl and Chooch’s band practice the other night.  Although so far it’s only been the visual inputs that trigger dizziness, both the visual and the audio can trigger the migraines.

Talk about a buzz kill.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One – Spoiler Free

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Friends, Movies

Chooch, Jett (our HP movie marathon partner from last weekend) and I went to see the midnight showing at the local theater. We settled into our reserved seats with no fuss or muss, and braced ourselves for awesome. We were not disappointed.

If you are a Harry Potter fan of any sort, see this movie. If you aren’t a fan, you should read the books. If you don’t have time for that, get the audio books and listen during your commute. If you don’t have the time for that, see the movies, starting at number one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I felt this movie was very true to the tone of the books, being dark and frightful. The danger that has been building throughout the series is at its greatest, and you really feel it. I was completely immersed in the story and jumped, gasped, laughed and cried. It was all I hoped for, and I can’t wait – err, I will wait patiently for the final installment.

For parents wondering if their children are old enough to watch the movie, I recommend YOU see it first. You know your kid and what they can handle better than anyone. If, however, you are unable to do that and can handle spoilers, I’ll point you to my hands-down favorite online resource Kids In Mind movie review site. They use a numerical rating system that I have found to be pretty accurate compared to the films I’ve used it for. Keep in mind, it’s five in the morning and I got up 22.5 hours ago, so I only skimmed the HP#7 review but I’d say it’s spot on for what I read.

Just know that it’s a dark movie and you see some scary things (wearing my parent hat here). It’s rated PG-13 for good reason, in my humble opinion. Besides the physical violence, there are also some extremely upsetting emotional occurrences and this should not be taken lightly either.

If you’ve seen it already, or otherwise don’t mind the hit and miss spoilers we divulge as we discuss the film, check out the Into the Blender episode we just recorded. We got home, grabbed our chocolate frogs and butterbeer (thanks M.A!) and headed into the burrow to record a discussion of the HP marathon we did last weekend, the films themselves and some tangents (naturally). Many thanks to Jett Micheyl for joining our discussion and our Harry Potter activities.

And, WOW!, thanks to Chooch who is working as I type this on posting the episode. It’s very rough with no cuts (we’re exhausted) and stream of consciousness. We’d love feedback and discussion on the episode or the Harry Potter movie, books or world.

SPOILER:

Okay, that’s an overstatement, but I did want to mention an extremely enjoyable bit of animation during the movie gives me hope for future projects. It’s the only continuation I’d really like to see beyond the original seven books. There, was that such a bad spoiler?

Going Off Preventative Meds

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Health, No Whining

I was all ready to go into the doctor’s appointment and fight for his approval in going off the two preventative medications that I’m currently on to combat my vestibular migraines (dizziness, migraines, fatigue, occasional nausea when the dizziness is extreme). I was actually disappointed when he didn’t argue. It seems we’ve exhausted the meds I can take that won’t wreak havoc on other minor health issues I have. I think he was disappointed as well, because he wasn’t able to give me relief after all this time. I actually felt kinda bad by the end of it, as if I were firing him which isn’t the case. I still feel like he’s done and is doing everything possible. I haven’t completely decided if I’ll return to him or seek a new neurologist of this continues. I’ll likely do both.

We worked out a plan for the next three months: I’m to wean off one medication over the next 2 weeks. Then I start to wean down off the other over a couple weeks. Then we just wait and see what happens. It could take a month or so from that point for all that stuff to be out of my system and to be able to get a clear baseline as things stand now.

If it’s bad, I can go back and try something else, but for now I’ve got an appointment in February to discuss the results. This allows three months to wean down and “normalize”. I’ve also got a non-prescription route I can try before returning to him. And there’s acupuncture, which I’m leery of but know folks that have had great results.

For for those keeping score, this change will remove two medications for a total of five pills a day. I will hopefully be able to drop 3 other daily pills and an every-other-day pill that are needed for side effects. *crossing fingers*

I’m really excited to see if this change also lifts the persistent brain fog or if that is part of the condition or whatever it is that I have. I’m really tired of feeling stupid for not being able to remember things or make simple mental maneuvers.

And yes, I’m nervous about what I’ll be dealing with when the meds are out of my system. As I told my doctor, it’s possible that the medications are tremendously helpful and I just don’t know it. While I’m hopeful that the condition resolved itself already and that it’s the pills (with listed side effects of dizziness and headaches) making me feel so crappy, I know that it’s more likely that they are not. But it’s been a year, and I feel I have to try, especially since nothing has allowed life to resume normally.

One interesting tidbit – interesting to me, at least: One of the things the doc always does is a test of my balance, motor skills, eye movements, etc.,. It’s simply done in the room, and I was pretty proud that I was able to do everything with coordination, including standing still with my eyes closed. I felt like I stood stock still, like a soldier at attention. Chooch informed me later that this was not so. Apparently, I was swaying dramatically. I didn’t even feel it. Now I’m left to wonder how much my body automatically compensates for the dizziness after all this time, and how accustomed I’ve become that I don’t even notice something like swaying. Crazy.

Harry Potter Movie Marathon

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Books, Chooch, Cooking, Exercise, Friends, Health, Movies

Late Friday night, dear friend Jett Micheyl arrived so we could rise early and begin our long planned Harry Potter Marathon in preparation for the release of the seventh installment in the movie series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.

Although it was just the three of us (including Chooch, of course), Jett began long ago planning out theme foods for the weekend. Much to the doom of my health plan, she succeeded in making adorable and delicious sugar mice and horrifically addictive pumpkin pasties. And by horrific, I mean the screams coming from my bathroom scales when I stepped on them this morning. The work she put into them was richly paid off as both her desserts were gorgeous and delicious.

My contribution was a batch of chocolate frogs and pumpkin juice (which Jett ended up doing most of the work on), as well as regular meals. I’ll be honest when I say that I was unfamiliar with all but the chocolate frogs before settling in on Saturday morning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. But we literally squealed with delight when we saw the sugar mice being chomped on by Harry and Ron in the first movie. Later in the weekend, when Jett dropped a chocolate frog she was eating, I couldn’t resist saying “What a shame! They’ve only got one good jump in them.” And I imagined that every time they sat with the orange colored beverages in front of them that it was pumpkin juice. In truth, I’m already eyeing some recipes for butterbeer in preparation of a sudsy beverage on movie launch. If anyone has a recipe they like for it, please link to it in the comments.

Fear not for our health, dear readers, for we planned to counter all this gastronomic delight with a healthful jaunt. We went for a brisk hour-long walk in my neighborhood, on a route I had long wanted to share with her. We braved dogs off leashes and an aromatic gift from Kaylee. We prevailed against these hazards and immediately settled back into the movie marathon, refreshed and ready for the remaining adventures of Harry and his posse.

Having only read the last few books only once each at the time of their releases, I find that I’m really missing that world. The movies are fantastic and truly enjoyable. Particularly in watching the kids grow up in a seeming fast forward effect when watching them all back-to-back. But there is simply no way to pack all the charm and depth of the books into the movies. This is proven by the nearly unanimous acceptance of us devoted Harry Potter fans of the seventh book being broken up into two parts. After all, the one continuing complaint since the movie franchise started up was that the movies were too short and left too much unseen.

I will say that thanks to the tantalizing draw of TuacaCon, created, planned and executed by P.G. Holyfield (with help from Chooch, Rich Sigfrit and others), I understandably missed parts of the movies. I’m tempted to watch them all over again, before the movie is released in theaters on Friday. I would feel that was obsessive if not for the fact that Jett read the entire series TWICE since we started our planning. Time is short this week, with two exams and much work to be done. If only I had a time turner. *sigh*

Judge us all you like, but we had a truly magical time geeking out to our approximately 16 hours of immersion into Harry Potter’s world. And I can’t wait for more!

Sharing Scott Pilgrim

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Family, Friends, Movies, Music, Video

Approximately two years ago, Chooch and I invited my family over for dinner and a movie. The impetus for this was that no one in my local family of 11 (at that time) had seen Firefly or Serenity. The shame I felt was immense, so we went about correcting that. Each one of them loved the movie, but I was unable to get anyone to commit to a viewing of Firefly, either in marathon or across multiple nights. Still, progress.

Once again, Chooch and I are having dinner and a movie for the fam. Some have moved away, so the count is lower.  But, having discovered how cool he is in the last few months, we are including my BET (Bro’s Ex’s Twin).  Our count is 8, possibly 9 if BET brings his son.

If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll appreciate that I’m serving garlic bread and chicken parmesan. In lieu of the gelato, I’m serving turtle pecan cheesecake as a belated birthday cake for my Baby Sis. I may yet pick up some gelato as I’ve always wanted to try it and it certainly seems like the right night.

I fell in love this movie, from the first second of the Universal logo. I didn’t understand the hub-bub around it, but was happy to see it with Chooch and the visiting P.G. Holyfield. I literally had to use all my willpower not to dance on the seats in the theater. The music, cinematography, editing, acting and every other aspect of this movie made me swoon and giggle at the same time. I have been absolutely joyful upon all three viewings in the movie theaters at its utter perfection. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that, for me, this movie was game changing. I love it deeply and fiercely, but will try not to judge you if you don’t. No promises.

I could gush for a few thousand words on why, but I won’t bore you with that. Instead, I’ll give you a quote from a recent chat between director Edgar Wright and Guillermo Del Toro. At the end of the article, Guillermo says something similar to what I’ve been saying since it came out in August:

“To me, [this] is a really important screening because I think we all can go out to the world after this screening and tell every motherfucker out there to watch the movie,” said Del Toro. “Why? Because anyone that didn’t watch it is a motherfucker. We can tell them when they ask why does Hollywood make such shitty movies because when they do great ones, you don’t fucking show up.”

Rent it. Buy it. Share it with others.

Happy Holidays! What? Too Early For You?

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Family, Kids, Our Kids, Soulful

For me, the weeks building up to Halloween are like the tantalizing moments when you are doing the slow crawl up on a roller coaster to the first big drop. The holidays are still far off, but visitation is being negotiated and airline tickets are purchased, if needed. The closer you get to it, the anticipation builds as you try to make this year a grander celebration of your love for each other than ever before. At least, that’s how it is for me.

When I see Christmas decorations for sale before Halloween, I know it’s just a matter of time before I hear the first grumblings of “Too soon!” and “FFS, it’s mid-October!”. I get it, and I used to be right there with the crowd, complaining. In recent years, I get a bit of a tingle for that magical time around Christmas that most of my family gathers together, and I get to see my two sons again.

Yes, it’s early. But for those of us that don’t have our children living with us, the holidays can’t start soon enough. (I can only speak from my experience having our beloved baby chicks living far off for amicable reasons. I can’t imagine how it is for those that are separated from their children for other reasons, so won’t address that here.) In the last several weeks, you would have found me wandering the aisles of Christmas cards and decorations without shame.  Bring on the holidays, I say!

Once the dates are negotiated and checking account balances drained, the real planning can begin. I was again basing my decision on whether or not to decorate for Christmas based on when the kids would be here. Since I have them the week before Christmas this year, there shall be decorations and all the appropriate hoopla made. There will be a family holiday party with too much food and too loud laughter that will end far too soon.

Like a roller coaster cresting and dropping for the exciting run, there will be adrenaline, laughter and joy. Then, harshly, the car pulls back into the station. The boys fly back to their dad on Christmas Eve. And I start complaining that the ride was too short and whining that I want to get back in line again.

Even worse, we were unable to afford flying us all out to California to visit my step-son. We knew it was a long shot at best, especially since we were just there in July, but I still hoped for it. With luck, we’ll be able to resume our plan to alternate years in Virginia and California for the holidays. Damn. It’s hard to keep your heart in pieces all over the country.

For those with children in families of all types, shapes and sizes I ask you to hold tight to your kids when they’re little. Because they grow up faster than you’d believe and take bits of you with them when they go. And life is too short, for all of us.

So suck it up, cupcake. Christmas is coming, and some of us have been waiting since July.