Circus Nursery (no clowns allowed, well, maybe one.)

So this pregnancy journey is coming to an end, which I can hardly believe. The last month of pregnancy is a character-building exercise, one which I have not weathered the most gracefully at times. I’m told once I have her these last few weeks of discomfort, constant bathroom trips, and waddle-y gait will all be a distant memory–reason number 324 why I’m excited for her arrival!

So, before I become too busy ensuring that another living person’s every primal need is attended to, I thought I’d better post pictures of my nursery, which I am very pleased with. Anyone who knows me well knows I love a theme. I can’t have a party without a theme, such as my ‘Blue Ribbon BBQ’ I hosted last year. I’m sure no one remembers the decorations and details I relished over, but a girl’s gotta do something to occupy her time. Anyway, the great thing about nurseries is that you can obnoxiously pick a theme and run wild with it–which is my specialty. Also, anyone who knows me knows I love fairs, freak shows, animal decor, and red, white, and blue. What combines all of those?? THE CIRCUS!!!!

I got to work on Pinterest, carefully crafting how I was going to execute this theme. You can check that out here. People were great helping me execute my vision. My sister in law, Steph, let me use her crib and changing table, my mom offered to make the bedding and accent pieces and my mother and father in law started work on a furniture piece. My sister gave me a PERFECT antique elephant toy for the room. My friend Hannah Mae brought some great handmade accent pieces and helped me actually begin nesting when she visited. My friend Anna let me hold on to her childhood music box (the one clown allowed) which I remembered fondly from our childhoods, and our friends Paul and Lisa gave us a beautiful “Isn’t She Lovely” lyric poster. I am so grateful for everyone’s excitement and thoughtfulness in helping me prepare!! (Of course the room is full of the essentials because of everyone else’s generosity who attended my showers, so a huge thank you to them too!)

So, without much further ado, I bring you pics of the circus nursery! Please excuse my amateurish iPhone photos and blatant abuse of filters.

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Bedding made by Grandma Cheryl, dresser made by Grandma Cathy and Grandpa Bill, canopy from World Market

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Crib courtesy of Aunt Stephanie

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Music box courtesy of Auntie Anna, books courtesy of Auntie Hannah Mae

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Antique elephant toy courtesy of Aunt Livia

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Handmade night light

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Print from Uncle and Auntie Paul and Lisa, from Etsy

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Ferris wheel night light from ModCloth.com

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Banner and blanket made by Grandma Cheryl, basket piece from Sal Val, changing table courtesy of Aunt Stephanie, rocker from my childhood

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The final product!

In case you are wondering about what is in the little pictures, they are artwork from the Etsy shop The Black Apple. They are part of her series, Lost in the Midway. Here they are up close, as my iPhone takes TERRIBLE pictures of pictures in frames.

Lost in the Midway

What’s that? Circus freaks in a nursery are weird?
Sounds like you’re dealing with your own issues. Jokes.

Adorbs

Wow this room contains a lot of love from a lot of people! A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to my vision and helped me get ready, emotionally and materially!! Now this room needs a baby…

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Categories: Baby Bumble Bea, myfriendsareawesome, The People We Know Are Amazing | Leave a comment

remember when I had a blog?

Wow. Really failing here. I wish I could tell you that the reason for my hiatus was that life was just too fabulously full of Instagram-able moments and adorable Pinterest projects to stop and write some lines. But that would be all lies. I mostly had a creative dry spell and lost interest. Sorry, I’m just not that in to you, WordPress! But that’s all about to change!! (No, it’s not.) I’m going to post regularly! (No, I’m not.)

One major reason I will not post regularly in the future is that holy crap – I’m going to be a mama. My husband and I will be parents roughly around the end of June. That is exciting and terrifying, depending on what day you ask me. I am not a kids person. I know nothing about babies. Newborn’s weak necks scare me into not holding them. I never relished babysitting – I was terrible at it. Yet I have lots of highfalutin ideas about how I will mold my child in to the most polite, witty, coolest, and well adjusted human being ever – with absolutely no experience or expertise to make that a reality.

What is really terrifying is that as a child (ages birth to 13) I assumed all parents had their shit together. I thought everyone at the age of 30 had all their shit together and that 17 year olds were like the coolest people ever. I was disabused of that notion in high school. As a result of this assumption I thought someday when I have kids I will be fully actualized adult with no more issues or problems. That is not presently the case, and that scares me. I tell myself the reality is that no new parent (and likely any parent) has their lives together, no matter how polished their social media posts are. I tell myself I just have to accept that it will be hard and I will make mistakes and not let it overshadow the impending awesomeness of parenthood (so I am told).

The cats have been formative, but certainly no surrogate for parenting – the Google results for  litter training children are surprisingly disappointing. I won’t ‘get’ being a parent until I am one so I need to just let this all happen without expectations of perfection or doom. Maybe I’ll even have some blog post worthy moments. But fear not, reader, this will not become a repository of mundane parenting stories. I will share the nursery, however, when that is finished. Cause it’s going to be awesome, says me.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The People We Know Are Amazing: Paul

I have decided to begin a re-occurring series of posts incorporating interviews with family and friends who have interesting stories. Think of a mixture of StoryCorps and This American Life with a lower production value.

I begin with a written interview with a dear friend of mine, Paul. I have known Paul since he was born, as our families’ history stretches back to our fathers’ friendship in high school.  The latter half of my childhood was spent in his father’s childhood home, which my family purchased. In adolescence and young adulthood, I drove two generations of Paul’s father’s prized Buick Park Avenues which I can say with confidence were treated with far better care prior to my ownership.

Many of my happy childhood memories are set in our backyards or living rooms at birthdays, holidays, and dinners. The cacophony of our blended families created the pleasant din of conversation and laughter that served as the backdrop to our time together. Paul’s sister was closest to me in age and she has throughout my life been like a second sister to me.

Throughout the years our families celebrated joyful events and inevitably experienced sorrow, but our families’ friendship has always been a comfort and source of support to me. In early 2008, my family and I received the shocking news that Paul had a brain tumor that required immediate surgery.  Of course my reaction could only be a mere fraction of what he and his family were feeling at the time. With that background, I present my interview with Paul about his experience.

***

Paul, let’s start from the beginning. How did your experience with cancer start?

During the summer of 2007, I began experiencing headaches. This was the summer before my senior year; the headaches were attributed to stress. As I entered the school year, the headaches began to get worse and more frequent. They felt like an extremely painful pulsating was happening inside my head. I visited the neurologist and they only gave me medicine for migraines.

Eventually, my mom convinced me to have an MRI. We did the MRI on January 30th 2008. The next day, I returned home from school and my parents were already there. I thought I was in trouble and that they had checked my internet history. They took me to the living room where they told me that I had a brain tumor. The first thing I thought of was that I had to call my friends because we were supposed to see “Meet the Spartans.” He didn’t believe me when I told him, but eventually I convinced him that I wasn’t lying. I had emergency surgery on February 1st where they did a partial resection of the brain tumor.

I had a pilocytic astrocytoma blocking the drainage of spinal fluid in my fourth ventricle. It was probably there for a long time before I presented symptoms. My head is in the 98th percentile in size because my skull continued to grow to accommodate the excess fluid buildup that resulted from the blockage. The tumor ended up being stage 1 which means it was benign. I thought I’d miss a few days and be back in action after a couple weeks but I was wrong.

The surgery completely shot my balance. It was weeks before I could walk with assistance and over a month before I could walk without. I missed about a month and a half of school and had to come back to school in a wheelchair. As cool as this sounds, I felt like everybody treated me differently, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Through hard work and determination, I was able to graduate on time. I attended my first year of college on time and was able to finish my first year successfully. Immediately following that year, I needed more surgery so they installed a shunt to make the next surgery safer. After a month of draining fluid, I had another major resection in June 2009. They were able to get the entire tumor, but I had a hell of a time recovering from the surgery.

I decided to forgo school in the fall because I didn’t think my body could handle it. It’s a good thing I didn’t because at a follow up appointment in September 2009 they found bleeding on my brain. Apparently, the shunt had over-drained the fluid in my skull, causing air pockets to form which in turn lead to bleeding. To fix this they drilled four holes into my skull and placed drainage tubes in my head to get the blood for a week. Thankfully that worked, and I’ve been slowly getting better ever since.

Prior to discovering you had cancer, what was your experience with it and how did you feel about it? What is your perception of it now?

Prior to my diagnosis, I was sort of indifferent towards cancer. My mother had breast cancer when I was in 5th grade, and I didn’t like it but I’m ashamed to say it didn’t make that much of an impact on me. I was pretty self-centered and always thought about how her cancer would affect me. After that I ignored it pretty much.

Now, I hate it with a fiery passion. I am involved in The American Cancer Society raising money to fight this disease and fund research. I just didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until it happened to me. It disappoints me that it took me having a brain tumor to realize this.

What were your initial thoughts after the diagnosis?

As idiotic as it sounds, I was a little excited. This would make me special. I would miss a few days of school and get to kick it in the hospital. Little did I know how very wrong I was. Now this sounds like the dumbest thinking ever.

You were an active high school senior when the tumor was found. How did your life as a high school student change?

As soon as the tumor was found, I was taken out of school because it required immediate surgery. When I finally did return about a month and a half later, I had to use a wheelchair. As I mentioned earlier people treated me differently. Guys socialize by giving each other shit. Now, I would dish it, but nobody would give me shit back even though that’s what I expected. I was in golf and tennis all my high school years, but I couldn’t do that anymore. I couldn’t do any of the things I would normally do. I was confined to my house due to my limited mobility. My senior year was a failure to me. I didn’t go on dates. I didn’t have fun. I was miserable. I wish I could do it over again.

You had a considerable number of surgeries to remove the tumor from your brain stem. What was the hardest part of going through treatment and recovering?

The hardest part was my lack of mobility. When I went from normal functioning to being confined to a bed, it was horrible. Sometimes you don’t value things until they are gone. Having to lie down all day and rely on others for everything sucks.

What was your biggest hurdle during recovery?

My biggest hurdle during recovery was this tailbone pain I got from lying in bed all day. I was in bed for so long that made it excruciating to sit up. The only comfortable position for me was lying down, but recovery requires movement. The tailbone pain made movement very hard.

What was your biggest success?

My biggest success was regaining my independence after months of depending on my family for everything. When I was able to go get a snack by myself, I thought that was a huge deal.

How did your perspective change throughout the whole process?

I don’t know if it was just part of the whole growing up process, but I appreciate my parents a hell of a lot more now. They are amazing, and I took that for granted before. Along with that I think I became much less self-centered. Whether this was because of my experience or natural maturity, I’ll never know.

Naturally everyone was extremely worried for you during the series of surgeries and offered a lot of encouragement. Were there any sentiments or support from your family and friends that stuck out to you?

While I was in the hospital, I received countless balloons and visitors wishing me well. I guess I never knew just how loved I was. There was a boy from my high school who came and visited me in the hospital. We weren’t even friends. When I asked him why he came to visit me, he said, “It’s no trouble. I just wanted to visit.” I was so impressed that this kid who barely knew me took the time to drive out to Blank Children’s hospital in the middle of winter. I just hope that someday I am that good of a person.

During some of the darkest times in your experience, what kept you motivated? What helped you cope?

My darkest time was when they found that bleeding on my brain in Sept 2009. I thought I was done with surgery, and now they were telling me I had to have another maybe even several more. That was the worst day of my life. I thought, “When will this end?” Luckily, my parents were there for me to hold a strong front. I can imagine that they didn’t like it any more than I did, but they were there for me. Geez, I have good parents.

Is there anything about your experience with cancer that you are grateful for?

I like to think that my experience has made me a better person and that I can now go through life with a little more empathy. This experience also showed me what amazing family and friends I have. They are amazing. I didn’t really have friends abandon me, and that’s good.

What perspective did you gain from your experience with a brain tumor? Do you think it has changed your life course, such as what you want do study or do after graduation?

I don’t “party” as many of my peers do. I often see my cohorts being stupid and engaging in malfeasant behavior. I just realized that some of that nonsense was stupid, so I don’t do it. As for my future goals, I cannot tell you for certain whether or not my journey has affected them. I would love to find a cure for cancer, but I’m just not smart enough.
I’d like to think that I’d be a genius had this not happened to me, but that just leads down a bad path. Honestly, I feel like my current major [Gerontology] does reflect my experience a little bit. I want to work with older adults and make their lives better in whatever capacity I can.

Your humor is dry and sometimes delightfully dark. Do you have a story from the experience that made you laugh?

After my second surgery, I was lying in my bed when a young lady appeared by my bedside. She was roughly my age, and I think she was doing some sort of nursing training. She stuck by my bedside for quite a while talking to me. I thought she was cute, so I was trying to throw some game at her, but it didn’t end up working. It must have looked pretty funny to have a guy try and flirt while being hooked up to tubes and passing out mid conversation.

You have been a great fundraiser for Relay for Life, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Why do you feel compelled to be involved with advocacy and fundraising efforts around fighting cancer?

I signed onto the organization initially to try and make friends. You see it was my first year of college and I was trying so hard to make good friends like my sister had. I was at an organization fair held by UNI when I came across a booth manned by three ladies. After speaking with them for a few minutes and me trying to flirt, I ended up signing up for the organization and getting zero numbers. Yeah, I’m just that smooth. I started going to the meetings and fell in love with the organization. I know and see the impact cancer has on others, and I’m just trying to do my best to fight it.

What kind of support would you give with someone who is newly diagnosed or fighting cancer, or facing a substantial recovery period?

Just stick with it. At times, things are going to be shitty, but just keep fighting. It’s not how many times you get knocked down. It’s how many times you can keep getting up.

***

I’d like to thank Paul for being my first interviewee for the series. He has continued to wow his family and friends with his recovery despite some very difficult and painful moments. His perseverance has paid off as he will finish school and necessary internships in 2013. He hopes to translate his passion for helping others in to a career in Gerontology, working with the Baby Boomer generation as they retire.

He is cautiously optimistic about the future.

Categories: The People We Know Are Amazing | Tags: | 1 Comment

Flirting with freeganism–and failing.

It all started because of mint.com. If you don’t know about mint.com, let me elaborate.

It’s freaking awesome. It tracks your spending and makes budgeting awesome. It does this by providing a read only view of your accounts and categorizes your transactions. It also provides metrics to track trends. It is my obsession despite the fact that I frequently go over budget in certain monthly categories, like Faberge eggs. My love for the service probably has something to do with my need to control everything I can as well as my penchant for planning and charts. The husband hates it.

Damn you, tawdry sirien!

Anyway, I began downloading spreadsheets regarding my utility costs and calculating averages and variances and decided that it was time to develop a plan. The husband and I had a plan previously to reduce the heat bill. It was called “it’s free to put on a coat”, but thanks to mint.com, I now realize that strategy was perhaps ineffective.

I needed to figure out different austerity measures, especially since operation mittens-in-the-house isn’t appropriate this time of year. I turned my attention to the water bill. I knew this could be a hard sell to the husband considering anytime I start breakin’ it down mint.com style, he gives me a resistant eye roll. 

"You want me to do what?"

My primary strategy, I decided, was to not let the water run the entire duration of a shower. Instead I would do the ol’ in and out–Water. Loofah. Water. That is actually harder than it sounds. Its deceptively easy to be lured in to an extra minute or seven of cascading warmth instead of standing there shivering as you loofah your elbow. Husband accepted that attempt at frugality.

My next strategy was inspired by an idea I got from a woman who was a freegan. Now I get that most people would not be inspired by people who eat the ‘less moldy’ stuff from the trash, but the lifestyle appeals to my total aversion to waste as well as my passing interest adhering to an ideology. Freegans are essentially nightmare fuel for the people who use the term ‘dirty hippie’ without irony.

Proto-freegan?

The she-freegan detailed how she keeps a bucket in the shower to collect the water and then uses said contents of the bucket to flush the toilet. I think she had gotten the idea from spending time somewhere in Africa. I was immediately down.

Husband did not feel similarly. He refusal is absolute and furthermore he’s concerned I might be a crazy person. I told him that we should be preparing for World War III over water shortages, but he was not persuaded.

Alas, I’ve stepped down on this one. Husband 1, me 0.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

An open love letter to my friends

So I’m going to get a little sentimental on this post, but I haven’t felt like posting for awhile so I think this is a good way to start back up. This week has been a great week for catching up with old friends I miss dearly and it’s got me thinking.

I want to say first of all thank you to all my friends and tell you how lucky I am to have you. You guys listen to me, hang out with me, come visit me, and put up with me. Shucks, you even post on my Facebook wall. As a pathological extrovert, you literally keep me going. I hope that I can be as essential in your life as you are in mine. I’ve maintained for quite awhile now that everyone should just live in gypsy caravans we can all just travel around together. Trust me, everyone would benefit.

Hey, it's you and me!

Lately I’ve been working on being grateful since my problems are miniscule compared to, for example, the refugees I worked with last year, or people who are in ill health, or any other assortment of serious issues people actually have. Lately I have lamented that me and the hubby have not ever really taken a long vacation together and as we attempt to build a fledgling household, sometimes a vacation seems impossibly costly or an impractical use of money (you can thank my father for that sentiment.) As our summer schedule has begun to fill up, I realize that although I do want to try to squeeze in a vacation, I should focus more on the fact that we will have so many visitors coming, and I am so excited and grateful. I realized all it takes to go on vacation is money, but visitors come because of friendship.

(That being said, I’m also not laboring under any illusions that people aren’t also coming to see Atlanta!)

Thank you to my friends near and far. Despite any actual distance, I keep you close to my heart.

Categories: Favorites, myfriendsareawesome | 2 Comments

Crazy Cat Lady v2.0

I promised pictures of my cats, and today I’m delivering. Some of these are older, but Aloysius hasn’t had his chance in the sun. Without much more ado, I present you Orenthal James and Aloysius Biscuit:

 

 

Enjoy!

Categories: Cats in Drag | 4 Comments

5 Horror Films…

…you should see right now.

So not everyone loves horror films, so some people will avoid these suggestions. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love to be scared yet most scary movies are simply just bad movies, so the pickin’s is sometimes slim. If you love being scared as much as I do, I present to you some films that walk that fine line between being scary and being a watchable. My rule of thumb is if I would watch the horror movie more than once, then it was worth my time. (Exception being Paranormal Activity, which for some reason I watched twice.)

Some of these movies are not your typical horror films and some are totally well-known classics, so hopefully this list does not simultaneously confuse and bore you.

[REC]: I saw [REC] with no idea of what to expect or any idea what it would be about. This is kind of how I want you to watch it as well, but I suppose by even writing about it, I’m giving you some preconceived notions about the film.

Hopefully you have not seen the American re-make, Quarantine, because I’m sure it’s not as good. I’ve never seen it and that’s my inner movie snob talking, but c’mon, rarely does the American remake surpass the foreign original. I digress. I watched this movie with 2 other people and we were all delightfully terrified throughout and came to a breathless consensus when it was over that we had just witnessed something awesome. Don’t want to give too much away. Just trust me when I say this is my favorite horror film ever.

Other horror films with subtitles: The Orphanage, A Tale of Two Sisters, Let the Right One In, The Host (But really only watch the opening, the rest is too long)

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil: More of a black comedy, this strange little gem employs all the well-known conventions of backwoods hillbilly slasher films but puts a twist on events that make you laugh and cringe at the ensuing bloodshed.

The film pits a group of typical partying, pot smoking vapid college kids against Tucker and Dale, two loveable good old boys who are excited for their first weekend at Tucker’s ‘vacation home’. Things spiral out of control as the body count rises and Tucker and Dale are left scratching their heads. One strange thing about this film is that it was released only via Netflix, so if you don’t have it, find a friend with a subscription and enjoy!

Other black comedy horror films: Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, The Orphan (Not really a comedy, but I laughed the entire time)

The Descent: This movie appeals to my personal fascination with caves. Whenever possible, I begged my family to go visit roadside cave attractions and my mother indulged me with various trips to local caves (thanks, Ma). The Descent is a solid B-movie.  This film really doesn’t need a whole lot of set up, and I appreciate that they don’t really try. One character has a semi-meaningful storyline, but the rest I don’t even want to know their names– I just want to see them go spelunking.

Yes, there’s gore and icky creatures but what I found most terrifying is the complete sense of claustrophobia in the scenes of the women navigating the cave system. You almost don’t need the things that go bump in the night to make this film scary. But you do have them, and it makes for an enjoyable, creepy excursion.

Other horror B-movie guilty pleasures: The Strangers, Friday the 13th, Event Horizon

The Changeling: Haunted houses creep me out. I thought my house was haunted when we first moved in 2 years ago but it ended up it was just unemployment cabin fever, I hope. Anyway, The Changeling is about a man stricken with grief who moves inadvertently in to a haunted house which contains a terrible secret. The house is a mammoth gothic structure with gorgeous interiors and creepy secret passageways which almost just makes the movie for me.

The storyline has twists and turns which keep things interesting and having George C. Scott as the main character means this movie will at least have excellent acting. This movie is a product of slower storytelling than today’s thrillers, so mood is everything when watching.

Other horror films with creepy things happening in houses/structures: Insidious, Them, Poltergeist (Duh.)

Freaks: Considering my love of circus sideshows since middle school, it should be no surprise to those who have known me a long time that I would be interested in this 1932 classic horror film. In a world where now CGI would likely be used on actors portraying circus freaks to avoid political incorrectness, this film employed actors who actually worked on the sideshow circuit to portray the characters. Its the type of film where you question whether you should be watching it at all in the name of good taste. Considering it was banned in many places upon release, even depression-era critics questioned its good taste, so you know it’s shocking.

The film skirts that uneasy place of sympathetically presenting the ‘freaks’ as normal, emotional human beings and making them out to be monsters, which leaves the viewer questioning what the message was exactly supposed to be.  My favorite character hands down (no pun intended) is the limbless Prince Randian aka ‘The Living Torso’. The scene in which he lights a match and his own cigarette all with his mouth is pretty amazing.

Other black and white horror films: Night of the Living Dead
*of course there are a ton of b/w horror films, I just wouldn’t particularly suggest them.

As always, please be a responsible when watching these horror films. Dim the lights, pull up a blanket, and view with no more than 3 other people who do not attempt to chatter the fear away.

Fellow horror movie fans–suggestions? Feedback?

Categories: Favorites, IMHO, Movie Suggestions, Spooky Oooky! | 4 Comments

What’s in a Name?

When I first named this blog Messy Tessy it was because the moniker was always a term of endearment. I looked up my name on babynamer.com recently, which tells you a name’s possible drawbacks– mine being ‘Messy Tessy’ or ‘Messa Tessa’. Messy Tessy has never been insulting as it’s fairly accurate due to my almost constant creation of clutter and struggles with life. Generally I like anything with Tessy in it, as that is what I want to be called when I become a weird neighborhood old person who the kids visit on summer afternoons. I’ll offer them outdated hard candies and expect them to eat it in front of me for my enjoyment.

What babynamer.com forgot about was “Tessa the Molesta” which my sister coined and tortured me with until I got red in the face and no doubt attacked her, as was my custom. Someone else actually casually slipped in to conversation once freshman year of college and I shut it down. When I searched babynamer.com for ‘Daniel’, teasing nick names included Fanny Danny (probably only really funny in the U.K.), Dan Dan the Garbage man (what??), and Dan-druff (haha!). Subsequently, I came up with ‘Wahhh-niel’ (a la Wahh-mbulance) which I will employ at some point in the future, I’m sure.

After I named the blog, I googled Messy Tessy and I came to a stunning and terrible realization. ‘Messy Tessie’ was a Garbage Pail Kid.

Sick.

As a child, I hated disgusting things. For example, I refused to touch the back of any issue of Ranger Rick when it featured a spider or newt or something disgustingly slimy. Topping my list on disgusting things I hated was Garbage Pail Kids. I was on the tail end of this trend, but I specifically remember feeling ill after viewing this rather tasteless spoof on Cabbage Patch dolls, which I loved dearly at the time. The Garbage Pail kids were always getting violently maimed or mucking around in disgusting substances which ended up being a play on their names that likely made some similarly named kid’s life hell as those nick names were bestowed upon them.

What is even more disturbing are the stills from live action movie made based upon the series, which apparently is one of the worst pieces of cinematic crap ever produced.  Messie Tessie features prominently. The costuming was done by John Carl Buechler who had done the film Troll (and we all know what that leads to). As a so-bad-it’s-good movie junkie, my interest is piqued.

I’m not regretting my blog title, but honestly, ‘Messy Tessy’ is a little bit tarnished now.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

5 Documentaries…

…you should see right now.

This is the start of me chronicling my movie recommendations. I am doing this because I talk about movies too damn much anyway in every day conversation so hopefully this will curb that habit. Also, my mother always laments that I need to write my recommendations down and this will force her to read my blog. Hope you enjoy the suggestions and please leave your own in the form of comments if you– like me–are a documentary junkie.

American Movie: Anyone who knows me well has probably been shown this movie, by me. It’s actually a requirement of our friendship. This documentary is about a B-movie horror film obsessed man and his quest to make his own horror masterpiece. Mark Borchardt is a loser– he hasn’t finished anything in his life (including high school and military service) and likely hosts a cocktail of mental issues which, from an outsider’s stance, have very obviously hindered any real progress in his life.  He is accompanied in his quest to actually finish something by a rag-tag group of loser friends, weirdos, community play actors, and his family.

Mike Schank has forever changed the way I pronounce 'vah-kah'

The characters are just too priceless here– particularly his friend, Mike Schank who has been on one too many acid trips. Mike’s sweet disposition and desire to be sober is a perfect foil to Mark, who has endless energy and a bit of a mean streak.  The plot revolves around the making of Mark’s grand B-movie horror masterpiece, “Coven”, which Mark mispronounces as “c-OH-ven” throughout the entire film.

Other documentaries about people obsessed with pop culture: Darkon, King of Kong, I Think We’re Alone Now

Little Dieter Needs to Fly: By now many people know of Werner Herzog’s documentary, Grizzly Man, and may have seen Rescue Dawn with Christian Bale, the movie which is based off this documentary. After seeing both the documentary and the dramatization of the story, I must say the documentary was far more compelling.
The doc recounts the story of Dieter Dengler, a German born man who dreamed of being a pilot all throughout his childhood. That dream became a reality when he moved to the United States, joined the military, and was sent to fly planes in Vietnam. In Vietnam he was shot down, captured, and forced on a harrowing death march to his final internment site, where he was tortured and starved.  There, he and his fellow prisoners planned an escape from the camp. When he was found he was 85 pounds.

Dieter reenacting his capture. Craziness.

Of course this documentary has all the Herzog-ian touches—Werner’s strange and deliberate narration that sometimes makes you wonder how much the director is projecting on the to the storyline and strong real-life characters who are amazingly candid. Dieter is an incredibly interesting person– extremely bright and admirable. He actually goes back to where he was captured to re-trace his steps, which is amazing considering all the traumatic memories surely conjured up by the reenactment of his ordeal.

Other Werner Herzog documentaries: Encounters at the End of the World, Grizzly Man

How to Draw a Bunny: This documentary about pop artist Ray Johnson describes him as the most pop famous artist you’ve never heard of. As the layers are peeled back on this Warhol contemporary and you’re not sure if you admire his quirk and genius or are thankful you don’t have it. Interviews with artists who knew him such as Christo, Chuck Close, and Roy Lichtenstein reveal their bemused appreciation for his eccentricities and art pieces consisting of collages, mailed art and performance art. The lines between his life and his work are so non-existent that even the seemingly carefully constructed circumstances around his death make you wonder if it was his final performance piece.

The enigmatic Ray Johnson.

Other documentaries about art/art history: The Rape of Europa, The Art of the Steal, My Architect  

Marjoe: Marjoe is the story of Marjoe Gortner, a man who was raised by evangelical ministers who marketed him as a novelty child preacher throughout the Bible Belt.  As he grows older, he continues to preach, but secretly he is a non-believer. This film follows him through his final tent revival tour, giving the viewer a front and center view of the Pentecostal revivals Marjoe leads. We see how the preachers rifle through bags of money after their performance and explain all the different ways to ‘move’ people to donate to their ministry.

Marjoe's permed hair is strangely attractive. Maybe that's just me.

Despite the fact that Marjoe is essentially defrauding his fellow worshipers, he is an extremely likable and watchable protagonist who claims he never knew any other way. The scenes of Marjoe leading the revivals are fascinating yet respectful of the Christians in attendance.

Other documentaries exploring religion: Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, Jesus Camp, Religulous

The Cruise: This documentary follows the stream of consciousness of Timmothy Levitch who is a strange mixture of Woodie Allen, Ira Glass, and my favorite Art History teacher, Professor Cunnally (You probably haven’t met him, but trust me, it’s spot on).  He is extremely eccentric and works as a double-decker New York city bus tour guide. His grandiose statements about the city around him mixed with his obvious love of the place make him incredibly entertaining to watch. I would love to be one of his passengers. This is a really hard movie to describe, but trust me, it’s worth it. And if I haven’t intrigued you, then maybe this trailer will. After all, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?

My description does not accurately portray the awesomeness of this film. Go see it.

Other documentaries about eccentric people in New York/the East Coast: Bill Cunningham New York, Grey Gardens, I Like Killing Flies

Do you have any favorite documentaries? I would love to hear suggestions and comments about the docs above!

Categories: Arts and Culture, Favorites, IMHO, Movie Suggestions | 3 Comments

A writer’s promise to her readers

Ohh mansies. Blogging. I have the same sense of dread and confusion mixed with exploratory curiosity that cats have when you let them out of their carrier at the vet’s office. Imagine me bobbing and weaving around the WordPress site smelling everything, hissing, and eventually curling in the corner to stare at you.

Maybe my recent acquisition of another cat has me in a weird place, I don’t know.

Regardless, half the reason why blogging scares me so much is because I mercilessly mocked blogs back in college, doing what we called dramatic blog readings. This activity also extended to middle school diaries of friends because they contained the same painfully earnest melancholy delusions of grandeur that I hope to avoid while blogging.  This is not my first foray in to the world of the blog. I did have a Xanga account and a Myspace page, but times were different back then, mostly because I couldn’t post links to my facebook page desperately vying for attention and readership, as I intend to do now. So I better not suck.

This all being said, I have drawn up a promise to you all (the delusions of grandeur are starting!!), to which you can keep me accountable to should I stray. Hence, a writer’s promise to her readers:

1. I will not wallow in self pity (and blog about it).

2. I will attempt to establish a proper posting schedule so that you don’t decide to randomly stalk my blog and see that the last time I posted was about the bad cod fish sandwich my husband ate 3 months ago.

3. I will not write about the time my husband ate a bad cod fish sandwich.

4. I will update you on my comings and goings, goals, the happenings, favorites, memories, stories, weekend recaps, etc.

5. I will post pictures occasionally, a likely majority of which will be cat pictures. If that’s not your bag, you better leave now.

6. I will state my opinion on various things. I will try not to be a curmudgeonous ass about my stances, so hopefully I won’t piss you off.

7. I will make up words like curmudgeonous.

8. I won’t likely use comas or apostrophes correctly, so brace yourself now. I will use the proper form of their, they’re, there and your and you’re. I may also give up on capitalization eventually as well.

Well that’s all the main points I can think of right now to avoid being inducted in to the annals of Blogs That Suck. Besides, with our minuscule attention spans, you probably haven’t read this far. Heck, I’m barely paying attention anymore.

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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