Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Transformers Franchise!

As a kid, I remember coming home and watching the animated Transformers series. I loved it. I was really excited when the new Transformers movie came out a few years ago.

My thoughts on the first installment...WOW!! I mean, sure, there were a few scenes that I thought were a bit ridiculous and made me uncomfortable. The mother's interaction with Sam was VERY inappropriate and Megan Fox was overly sexualized, but the movie itself was so great, I thought I could over look the rest.

Then the second installment came out and I wished I could not only take back the couple hours of my own life, but those hours in my kids life. It, too, was oversexualized and added to it were gangster robots who were annoying AND very inappropriate in their use of language. I found myself flinching throughout the movie and Sierra was made to feel very uncomfortable (Daniel saw only robots and action). It was just awful!!! We had been warned, but did not heed the warnings and came away feeling disturbed...not to mention how AWFUL the story and movie were.

So, it was a no-brainer to say we would be skipping the 3rd installment. I read article after article about how the director, Michael Bay, likes to cater to the overly-hormoned teenage boy by presenting sexy women for their fantasy pleasure, and lots of violence.

But, we also read lots of articles that said that the people who made the 2nd installment admitted that they made a mistake with the movie and were going to totally revamp the franchise. I was optimistic, though I became more and more concerned...especially to find out the new female lead was a Victoria's Secret model. The idea was to wait for reviews and than make our decision. The reviews have been read and the decision is clear....we are officially giving up on the franchise.

Here are some excerpts:

"Director Michael Bay may possess the sensibility of an over-caffeinated twelve-year-old, but he really shouldn't be making movies for kids - who, let's not forget, are the intended audience for the TRANSFORMERS films. While kids will obviously love every destructive second of the film, the film opens with the panty-clad butt of Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), the most punch-worthy protagonist in American cinema since Andrew McCarthy's oozed his way through the WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S films. The first punishing hour of setup nonsense would be fine if dispensed with quickly, but Director Bay has fiendishly decided that Sam's job woes are the hilariously surreal stuff of a Coen Bros. movie. So we get John Malkovich dishing out bizarro line readings as Sam's tyrannical boss, and Ken Jeong scurrying about as a nutjob coworker with wild conspiracy theories literally stuffed down his trousers - and you better believe there's a zany men's-room confrontation that results in Malkovich believing he's interrupting a rough bout of toilet-stall sex between LaBeouf and Jeong.

And then there's Bay's treatment of women, which is yet another reason to keep the young ones away. It's one thing for Bay to shoot the girlfriend as the lingerie model she is in real life, but quite another to have Sam's mom blurt out "What a nice box!" the minute her son lays eyes on his true love for the first time (this really happens). There's a nasty misogynistic streak running through all of Bay's films. Like those 80's-era films, Bay views women as either trophies or impediments. Sometimes they're both. Rarely are they useful. When I saw TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN theatrically two years ago, the audience roared with delight when Bumblebee slammed a woman's face into his dashboard (this was before they learned she was a Decepticon). At least in his R-rated efforts, Bay amplifies this hatred/fear to the point where you're laughing at him; when he smuggles it into a family movie, it's just flat-out repugnant.

As I walked out of TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, a friend asked me "Where does Michael Bay go from here?" Six years ago, I thought he was ready to become the next James Cameron. That didn't work. Then he tried to become the next Spielberg. That really didn't work. BAD BOYS 3....that's where he's headed."

And by Plugged In Online:

An early scene features lingering, exceedingly close-up shots of Carly's backside as she's clad in skimpy bikini underwear and one of Sam's shirts. We watch as she climbs on top of him and straddles him in bed. Though we never see the pair in bed together after that, a sexual relationship is clearly implied between the couple. And even though they're apparently living together, both agree that they're not yet ready to say "I love you."

Carly's physique, including her long legs and cleavage-baring outfits, get regular attention throughout the film, though never quite as obviously as in the scene described above. Dylan has eyes for her, and he compares her curvaceous figure to the sensual curves of a vintage automobile in his collection. Someone makes a joke about wanting to frisk Carly, and a scene with her involving licorice is played suggestively.

Sam's mother offers him an explicitly titled book about female orgasm and says he won't be able to land another beautiful girlfriend unless he's well endowed and knows how to pleasure a woman. A male colleague corners Sam in a restroom to give him secret information, but a scuffle breaks out between them instead. Their melee (played for laughs), ends up with the man straddling Sam with his pants down in a men's room stall—something that looks like a violent homosexual tryst to Sam's boss, who happens to walk in as they stumble out. (His boss later mentions the encounter again, stressing that he doesn't care about what his employees do with others in a bathroom stall.)

Women frequently wear revealing tops, while skirts and dresses display a lot of leg. An office worker dubs a colleague a "hoochie mama" because she wears a very skimpy outfit. Sam and Carly kiss twice, as do one other couple. One character fondly recalls a secret tryst with a woman and makes a suggestive comment about her backside.

The massive worldwide success of the Transformers franchise, despite the critical drubbing of the two previous installments, has apparently given director Michael Bay license to do whatever he wants. Because of that, Transformers: Dark of the Moon clocks in at a staggeringly indulgent 154 minutes—that's 2 hours and 34 minutes for those keeping score at home.

The last hour delivers a nonstop apocalyptic conflagration so unremittingly intense that my CGI-numbed mind struggled to process the chaotic carnage onscreen. And I'm not the only one who felt that way. Bill Goodykoontz, of the Arizona Republic, wrote, "As if realizing he's spent all this money on such spectacular effects, Bay pulls out all the stops in the last act in an orgy of cacophony, pitting shrieking, grinding metal against metal in one incoherent battle after another. By the time it's over you'll be beaten down, pummeled into submission."

Precisely. And let's place extra emphasis on the word "incoherent." When cars speedily morph into clashing robots, for example, it's often difficult to differentiate between the scrapping metal personalities enough to tell who's who.

Just as Plugged In reviewer Paul Asay mused after viewing Revenge of the Fallen in 2009, it dawned on me as I sat through this installment's unceasing explosions (not to mention Bay's shameless objectification of Carly, played plastically by newcomer and former Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) that this is what Hollywood believes people want to watch.

And given the billion-and-a-half dollar box office tally of the first two films, this probably won't be the last Transformers film to assault our senses and sensibilities. As Goodykoontz concluded, "Bay's hammering technique works, in a commercial sense. Executive producer Steven Spielberg is the richer for it."

Unfortunately, audiences won't be.

So, that is that. I will not support a movie like this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kia, Alaska, and Buick Oh My!

June, what a month this has been for us. It has been crazy in many, many good ways and crazy in...well...sort of bad days. I have written many times about our lovely car, our Kia. Oh, what a joy this car has been for us. In the short time that we have had this car, we have had plastic melted on it (driven off the lot like this), we have had a sliding door get stuck open (and due to the dealership's unwillingness to come tow it though it was only a few months old, we had to drive it down the freeway with said door stuck open in a HUGE rainstorm to said dealership), had to have all door handles replaced, and many, MANY more issues.

The latest is simply an unacceptable issue when you live in the area of Houston...our air went out. Now, it went out several months ago, but it took a while for them to diagnose this latest issue in the ever growing list of problems. Diagnosis? Well, something to do with the condenser and a hose or whatever....I stopped listening when they quoted $1000+. It should be noted that they originally quoted about $350 stating that seemed to be the average cost of most cars with this problem....not so with Kia, though.

Now, the Kia is almost to 100,000 miles and the ultimate thing would be to trade it in, but we are still a bit upside down on it...this particular model has practically no resale value. So, the wiser thing to do would be to hang on to it until we can pay it down and than trade it in, but the resounding opinion of most was NOT to put $1000 in repair on this car.

For 12 years, almost exactly, Matt wrecked out 2nd car ("technically" his fault and only insured with liability). This was when we went down to 1 salary and it wasn't much of a salary at that. So, for 12 years, we have had only one car. We have not made the wisest of decisions in this respect, but it is what it is and I have been a taxi driver. For 12 years, I have taken Matt to work, done errands around town, picked Matt up from work. I have had to revolve everything around him and his schedule, often cooking dinner in the morning hours just so I could not run into issues with when he gets off interrupt the cooking. My menu for each week has to be planned accordingly, which has been quite a stress. His work is between 20-30 minutes away and often he would say he would be ready at 5:30, but then I sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes waiting. It's crazy.

So, with this latest a/c issue, my in-laws, graciously, offered to give us the second car they had just acquired from Matt's grandmother. OH MY...this is an INCREDIBLE blessing in so many ways. Matt can drive the van to work and back...I can drive the car where I need to go (mainly in my small world I stay in within 5 miles of my house). I mean....WOW!! It did not take us long...ok, we did pray on it for a few days...but we accepted this generous gift. And, my father-in-law being the type of guy he is, offered to drive it to us from North Carolina to Texas because he knew how stressed Matt was at his job. He drove it in....he cleaned it, had it inspected, oil change, and title and than flew back to North Carolina. In my garage right now, there it sits...our second car. It's a 2001 Buick Century and it is wonderful. Today, Matt drove himself to work...and I didn't take him!! Today, I got in my car and drove around to get some errands done...tonight I will make dinner at my leisure.

It has been our life for 12 years and it has worked. It has been Wednesday nights has been one of the worst...dinner, Matt's work, and getting there....Oh, the scheduling issues!!! No more!! We will save tons of money on gas (the van is a GAS GUZZLER), save loads of time (mostly mine), save loads of stress on Matt (trying to get out earlier than he really needs just to pacify me and my own duties), and many more benefits.

So, what about Alaska?? Well, I may just have to blog about that another time. BUT, I will say that while the majority of this was going on, Sierra was in Alaska. In fact, she missed seeing her grandpa because she was in Alaska having the time of her life. Oh yeah, I must blog about this at a later time!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Wife Rocks!

As I looked at my living room tonight, dog hair rolling over the laminate landscape like some sort of tumbleweed, I saw Sandra's computer. For once in her life, she left her laptop downstairs after going to bed. As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, "Big Mistake". My wife tends to flatter me with many a blog, yet I have no recourse in flattering her where it can be seen....until now. I know her password! Bwahaaaaaa!!!!

My wife, God bless her, is as good as it gets. Sure, she usually has a headache, is tired at the drop of a hat, and can scold many a Wal-Mart patron who happens to jump in front of the line if a checker opens a new register, but she is mine! She raises our children in a manner that would make Jesus proud. She stays young with our lovely daughter Sierra in order to be the coolest Mom ever....which she is. Splashtown, Cinemark movies (five so far this summer), library, VBS....she does it all!

Cuddles know no end where Daniel is concerned (he's her little man)! Now, if I could only find a way to get her to cuddle with her big man! Sandra is the Mom to end all Mom's (apologies to other Mom's out there), but it's true. For me and my family, the sun rises and sets with Sandra, and I couldn't be more grateful to God for this gift he's given me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What about the dads?

Yesterday, a friend posted an article on facebook about what NOT to say to Stay-At-Home moms. It got a giggle out of a lot of my friends while at the same time being OH SO TRUE. As a SAHM, I can say that all too often I get that remark that cuts to the core of what I do. I will hear: "well, since you have all this free time, could you....." or "it must be nice to have a husband that makes so much money" or any number of other statements. I often smile and let these comments roll of my back, but they do hurt sometimes.

That last statement, the husband one, made the list in the article (well, both of them did) and that got me thinking. What about the dads whose wives stay at home? We, as SAHM, go on and on about how hard our jobs are (and they are...very much), but how hard is it on most of our husbands to be married to a SAHM??

It is a common misconception that if a woman stays home to take care of house and children that the husband must be making a whole heck of a lot of money. I do not, though, know many SAHMs where this is true. Almost all of my friends who are at home face the same monthly, weekly, and daily money stresses that I do. We are not rolling in the dough, getting manicures weekly, going shopping and having tea at fancy restaurants.

So, speaking in my own situation, where does this leave my husband. Well, he is under tremendous pressure to provide for his family. He is the sole provider. His job holds our insurance plans. His paycheck puts food on our table, keeps our electricity working, and keeps clothes on our backs. He must pay all the bills including the daunting house payment. If he makes the slightest misjudgement in his financial plan, the whole house could fall a part. If he makes the wrong person mad at work, we could be on the street. That is a lot of pressure to put on one person. A man finds satisfaction and pride in providing for his family and if he fails, it is a LARGE blow to him.

What about the pressures for peers on why he has to provide everything. He has heard from other people, why isn't your wife working. As a husband and dad, he gets the same grief I do.

Why do we get grief? We have both talked about this subject often and we both agree that our priority is the raising of our children. I offered to go to work when Daniel entered school, but Matt adamantly objected stating that he wanted me to be there for the kids. What about part time? NO!!! (and, of course, I started to homeschool Sierra which shut that door)

I see how the pressures of being married to a SAHM affects at least one husband/father. I want to give a shout out to all those dads out there that share the sacrifices in providing that one income....whether it be small, medium, or large. It is not the rewards in the here and now that we are is the future and heavenly rewards we are sowing.

And, for the record, my husband works VERY hard to keep me as a SAHM and is far from "rich". His salary provides us with what we need and little more. We sacrifice a lot to live as we do. It is often hard....there are tears....there are clenched stomachs as we try to figure out how we are going to do it.........and there is LOVE, JOY and PEACE as we see the sense of security and love on each of our kids faces. Ask our kids if they would rather have the benefit of 2 salaries over having their mom at home with them and they will ALWAYS say NO.

So, don't be condescending to the SAHM or the husband of a SAHM. And give those dads a fist bump or a shoulder pat of encouragement. They work hard or harder to provide that place of security and love for their children....they are the SAHM's biggest fan and best support.