Posts Tagged With: A to Z

The Z that Stands for Zorro

In Part 4 of my Cowboy series on Ploughshares, I confessed my love of Zorro. The Zorro legend began as a pulp character in 1919. Zorro, which literally means fox, is the superhero identity of Don Diego de la Vega, a wealthy Spanish nobleman who battles the corrupt establishment during the Colonial Spanish era.

Zorro has been reinvented over the years, most recently with Antonio Banderas. However, long before Banderas donned the famous mask, I have had a fascination with Zorro, specifically the 1957 Disney television series.

It’s logical that Zorro would appeal to me–I loved Robin Hood and the Scarlet Pimpernel when I was kid. Zorro is of the same cloth. Add the allure of colonial era California to sword play, horsemanship, and Guy Williams’ matinee idol performance (although he was Italian rather than Spanish) and we’ve got a ball game.

When I think of that short lived series, I think of the music, particularly Bernardo’s theme, which highlighted the work of pantomimist Gene Sheldon. I think of the rhythmic speech patterns of both Williams and the fabulous Henry Calvin. And I think of laying on the floor of my grandparents back bedroom, glued to a show that had been off the air for almost 30 years.

I own the series on DVD in all its black and white glory (I am a huge critic of colorizing black and white–gross). Soon might be the time to introduce my daughter to the fox so cunning and free.



Categories: Let Me Entertain You | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments


is for 10 things that rocked this week. See how I did that? It’s X day, but I’m twisting it for my own meaning. Perhaps I should got into politics. This week was pretty stellar, I have to say, so coming up with 10 instead of 5 was an easy task.

  1. Buzzfeed article are regulars on my list because they are so darn funny. My favorite from this week? “26 Reasons Kids Are Pretty Much Just Tiny Drunk Adults.”
  2. Kendragarden talks about her love of Horror movies. She likes what she likes and that’s okay.
  3. Artist Jhenai Mootz gave a fantastic Wild Women interview.
  4. We’ve been watching House of  Cards on Netflix. It’s shaping up to be really intriguing, although I have mixed feelings about Kate Mara being the Mistress–again.
  5. Loving the new season of Mad Men? Over on Ploughshares, A.J. Kandathil (my new pen pal bestie) discusses the “hidden narrator” who drives the series. A thought provoking take on a show that often defies explanation.
  6. Caitlin O’Neil’s “Riding in Cars with Words” reminisces about how her childhood road trips have shaped her as a writer. Plus it has a Muppet video, which is always a good decision.
  7. Part Four of my look at Cowboys debuted this week. I hope people are enjoying reading these posts as much as I’m enjoying writing them.
  8. It was a big week in general for writing on my end: both Cinefilles and The Baraza featured my posts, on Shakespeare and Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, respectively.
  9. Peggy Orenstein’s look at the sexualization of Candyland is insightful and thought provoking.
  10. Speaking of Orenstain, I finished reading Schoolgirls and wrote this post on it. The reaction has been fantastic. Thanks to all of you who have Tweeted, Shared, Commented, Emailed, and Texted me about this post and how much you can relate. My only regret is that I only have one copy to lend out and the line is getting longer every day.

What rocked your week?



Categories: Get Smart, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense, Objects de Art, The Little People and Furry Friends, Write On | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Q is for Quirks

Yesterday I vented my pet peeves; today, I celebrate weirdness. People are strange animals, ripe with little twists and turns that make them unique. These quirks can be annoying I’m sure, but they are also what makes us unique. So I’ll start my raising the curtain and showing off my of my oddities. For the sake of brevity, I’ll keep it to just eight. Only the first two of these are done on purpose–the others are compulsions that I don’t realize I’m doing until it is pointed out to me. My friends and family can confirm that these are just the tip of the massive ice burg of weird.

  1. When I watch movies on DVD/Blue Ray, I like to watch the trailer first because it gets me more excited to see the movie, even if I’ve already seen it.
  2. For a long time I thought I was psychic because I could guess what song would be on the radio. Now I have a feeling it is just that radio stations overplay songs.
  3. I have to wash my hands after I brush my teeth.
  4. When I drive under a yellow light, I kiss my hand and slap the roof of my car.
  5. During a lecture, when I’m trying to think of what I want to talk about next, I flick the end of my nose with the crook of my right index finger.
  6. When I am tired and my brain needs to rest, I make a “meep” noise. My college roommate used to refer to it has my powering down noise.
  7. I hate hate hate paper straw wrappers. They gross me out.
  8. My glasses are always slightly crooked, which means either my face is crooked or one ear is higher than the other.


What are your quirks, my dear readers? I’d love to know.



Categories: Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Write on Wednesday: O is for Octopus (and Victor Hugo)

I was spent some time in Madrid. It was a strange time in my life when I was in that weird place at the end of college and beginning of life. My time there held many wondrous things like learning to cook (visit on April 25 for more on that) and reading Don Quixote in Spanish. There were also a few not so stellar moments, like falling in not one, but two fountains at the Alhambra. Perhaps one of the most inspiring parts of my time in Madrid was my encounters with art. Goya, Picasso, Dahli–the list goes on and on. One of the most surprising artistic discoveries I made in Spain was the visual artistry of French writer Victor Hugo. As it turns out, when not writing about 24601 and a hunchback, Hugo was quite the artist.

Most of his work are simple pen and ink sketches where he plays with light and shade (thematically similar to his written works), evoking images of characters, justice in the form of the guillotine, and cityscapes. I would, in my meager understanding of art, call Hugo a Surrealist, or at least a pre-Surrealist. The afternoon I spent perusing his collections of drawings on exhibit at the Thyssen-Bornemisze Museum down the street from the Prado was one of my most memorable. Often when I find I need inspiration, I’ll open the book I bought there that showcases his drawings. Not only does it allow me to brush up my Spanish, it reminds me of the layers of meaning even simplicity can have. One of my favorite pieces of his is this tentacled wonder. Note how it fills the space and how he uses layering and pressure to create varying depths of shading.

Another fantastic piece:



Categories: Get Smart, Life and Other Nonsense, Objects de Art | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

N is for Nutty Netflix (with his buddy Hulu)

Last August our family gave up cable, trading it for streaming Netflix and Hulu through the Wii for a fraction of the price. While mostly satisfied with both services, we have had some frustrations.

Hulu Plus is like a drunk uncle–it forgets where it is and when it tries to find where it left off, it often vomits up whatever show it feels like. Case in point: we were watching The Following the other night when it froze for a good five minutes. When it restarted, it had switched to some random show about Elite modeling, causing us to say, “Go home, Hulu, you’re drunk.” Sometimes Hulu will lose things it previously had for no apparent reason, despite promising that it did indeed have them. The first two episodes of Hannibal were on Hulu for about two weeks before suddenly becoming WEB ONLY. Thanks, Hulu. You ruined yet another party.

If Hulu is an inconsistent lush, Netflix is a coke-head with stalker undertones. Netflix will decide what our Top Ten List is based on absolutely nothing logical except some secret formula. Sometimes it will spit out oddly specific categories like “1960s Movies with Black Haired Women That Feature Rabbits.” Or it will play a bizarre word association game with “Because you watched Futurama you might enjoy . . . Star Kid!” Of course! A long running witty television show is EXACTLY the same as a terrible 80s movie with Power Rangers level special effects–such important thematic connections. It’s like Netflix’s brain is racing and every single thought comes spilling out on our television screen.

Most of the time these services work pretty well. The ability to watch series that we might otherwise not have gotten into is also a plus (The KillingHouse of Cards). So when they do relapse, we’re more amused than annoyed. Here’s hoping that their recreational lapses won’t become daily occurrences.



Categories: Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

M is for Morality

There is a quote by Oscar Wilde that I am particularly fond of in which he states, “Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.” While I don’t agree that this represents the depth of morality, it does reflect an unfortunate abuse. Oftentimes I think people mistake morality for personal opinion. For example, there are is an organization in my town that does a great deal of charity fundraising through gun related events. I elect not to participate because I don’t want to be involved with guns in any way and it doesn’t make sense to me personally to connect charity with violence. However, that is my personal opinion and certainly doesn’t make the organization immoral.

With a less glib and more reflective version of Wilde’s thoughts, Socrates argues that “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” Both men raise the question of how emotional and personal bias can pollute morality; I ask then, if those elements are not part of morality (or at least shouldn’t be), what components should be used in constructing a moral code?

One of the many things I didn’t think about in great detail when my husband and I elected to become parents was how we would implement a moral code for our children. Certainly I considered it in an abstract way, but it wasn’t something that we made a clear plan for as we did for things like college funds. So now we (and I would guess a number of other parents) find ourselves trying to teach our children morality on the fly through modeling and real life events. Case in point:

A few weeks ago I was on my way home from a work function when I received a message from my mother (who had picked my 6-year-old daughter up at school) telling me that Liliana was in trouble for stealing. The basic story I got out of my mother (and later from Lili) was that my daughter found a bracelet on the playground. Lili was holding the bracelet and told one of the teachers that it was hers instead of turning it in. Another teacher asked her again if it was hers and she lied, which was quickly revealed because the actual owner of the bracelet had already told the teacher it was missing. On the phone, my mother was livid and had a list of things she wanted to implement as consequences. I told her just to wait as I needed to talk to my husband and Lili before we did anything (my husband was away helping the family of a friend of ours who had just had a stroke). I knew that this was an important moment that had to be handled carefully. (Side note: my husband and I talk about any consequences in big moments in advance so that we are both on the same page.)

I arrived at my mother’s house to find Liliana in time out in her room, pitiful and sulky. We talked about why she lied about the bracelet and tried to keep something that wasn’t hers (she liked it and thought it was pretty). We talked about how the other little girl, who did have the bracelet, must have felt losing it. We talked about consequences and consideration. We talked about right and wrong. It was a hard conversation because I didn’t want to lose my temper but instead wanted to make a point. Liliana did know that what she did was wrong; she knew it at the time. Yet she acted against her better judgment for short term satisfaction.

As a parent, it’s easy to say we teach our children morality, especially when we are there to help them make the right choice. It’s when we aren’t there that they are truly tested. I can’t say, even now, that I know exactly why she did what she did. Piecing it together from her story, I think that when the bracelet had no owner, in her mind it was up for grabs. By the time she was questioned about it, she panicked and lied. From what I hear from friends, lying to avoid trouble is common at this age. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. In the end, Lili lost her favorite toy for a set period of time and was made to write individual apology letters to the two teachers she lied to and the little girl she stole from. She spent several hours during her weekend playtime writing the letters (and rewriting until they were error free).  As she wrote them, we talked about how the other person must have felt when she was committing the act for which she was apologizing.

Did we tackle this in the correct way? I don’t know. Like I said, events like this lead to parenting on the fly. I’m sure there was a better way to deal with it, better consequences to levy. Being responsible as the moral architect for another person is a heavy burden–I just hope I’m up to the job.



Categories: Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

J is for Judgment

I originally wrote this post last summer. Although some of the circumstances have changed, I still deal with judgment of a destructive nature often when it comes to my kids. And it still makes me just as mad.

Yesterday was a tough Mom day for me. Whatever shortcomings Pixar’s Brave might have, it nails one image perfectly–mothers are bears who protect their young.

This Mama Bear is in a fighting mood.

It started during pick up time at my childrens’ Christian Mother’s Day Out program. Standing outside my almost two-year-old son’s classroom, I waited just a moment before getting his attention to watch him dance and play with his friends. Another mother standing next to me complimented me on his plaid deck shoes (which are super cute). I told her he had picked them out himself and that he loves shoes. Her response? She looked at his shoes, looked at him dancing, and then looked at me and said:

“Uh oh. Better be careful or he might end up . . .”

When she didn’t finish, I started to ask, “Might end up what? Working in a shoe store? Doing the Safety Dance? In the Navy?”

But I didn’t. Because I knew what she meant. However, something in me wanted to force her to say it out loud, to make her actually say that  judgmental thing she was thinking about a toddler dancing in the bubbles. So I just raised my eyebrows and waited.

Instead of saying it, she went with something worse: she did a hand gesture. A stupid, early 80s making fun of Billy Crystal’s character on Soap hand gesture.

I actually felt the acid in the back of my throat to the extent that I truly believe I could have spit like that dinosaur in Jurassic Park. In some ways, I guess I did.

“He might end up denied basic civil rights and judged by small-minded hypocrites?” I asked her. Then I smiled. “I would hope that wouldn’t happen to anyone’s child, no matter who they are.”

She started to say something, but I got my kids and left.

On the drive home I heard my daughter unzip her lunch bag. Still angry about the encounter outside Alex’s classroom, I asked her why she didn’t eat her lunch again. She gave me the same response she’s given me for the past two weeks: “I was full.”

Some back story–About three weeks ago Liliana asked me not to send her (vegan) meatballs in her lunch, even though they are her favorite. She said the boys in her class were making fun of her food by telling her it was gross and looked like poop. Her daddy and I talked to her about doing what she liked and ignoring people who make fun her. She and Daddy even practiced saying, “You don’t know, you’ve never tried it,” as a response to her lunchtime critics. She hadn’t mentioned it again, so we figured the situation had been resolved.

Sadly, it has not.

It turns out that Liliana has been telling me and her teacher that she is full each lunch hour and not even opening her lunch because she doesn’t want to listen to the boys tell her that her lunch is “gross’ and “looks like poop.” Now, I know that we have been a little hippie-dippy lately with our vegan ways, but it’s not like I’ve been sending her mung beans. Today, for example, she had a pretty normal looking sandwich: veggie turkey slices with rice cheese on wheat. If you aren’t familiar with vegan deli options, veggie turkey slices and rice cheese look like round lunch meat and Kraft cheese. There is no way these 5-year-old boys are the culinary experts to discern that her lunch is anything out of the ordinary. Other days I’ve sent her pasta, cream cheese pinwheels, and pita pockets. To go with it she usually has carrots, some sort of dried or fresh fruit, and, if we’ve been baking, a muffin or cookie. Yes, these things are vegan, but they look the same.

These boys are just being mean. Liliana, for those who don’t know her, isn’t a timid little girl. She stands up for herself and her friends. However, I think part of the issue is that the leader of the group is a little boy Liliana was best friends with from age two. They’ve played together, gone to each other’s birthday parties, and now, he has become her tormentor.

I’ve tried to explain that this sometimes happens with boys–they get silly and pretend they don’t like girls for a few years. She’s told them her taught line about not having tried it. She sits at a different table with little girls who are her friends. And yet, for two weeks she has been eating her lunch at 3:15 pm in the back of our car because she’s hungry and afraid to eat during lunch.

The compilation of these two events has spiraled me into a new realm of pissed off. In terms of Alex, what set me off about that mother is how easily she slipped into the role of judge. He’s a year old. He’s smart, funny, cute, and loving. He’s a great little guy. If my son is gay, my son is gay. If he’s not, he’s not. No lame stereotype she’s concocted is going to define him. The only reason I wouldn’t want him to be gay is because the world would be harder for him.

We live in a country where normal is defined in a way that strips people of their rights and identities. As his mother, I want Alex to love who he wants to love and not be made to feel ashamed of it nor denied civil rights simply because he is being honest about who he is. Mothers like that judgmental mother will raise sons and daughters who think like they do. Which means one day another child–maybe my kid, maybe not–could be mocked and bullied for being different. That, to me, is not acceptable.

Liliana is another matter. It breaks my heart to watch her learn about cruelty. We want her to fight her own battles, to be strong and proud of who she is, but in this case that has been deflected. I’m going to talk to teachers and possibly the ringleader’s mother because a little girl should not be going through the day hungry due to mean children. It’s ridiculous.

I have had several conversations about motherhood over the years and have named several things that at one time or another seem like the hardest part: the isolation from other adults, the frustration of trying to teach them when you want to strangle them . . . the list goes on and on.

Right now, this feels like the hardest part. Watching the world work its meanness on my cubs is hard enough; knowing that I can’t act on my impulses to protect them in the way I want to tears at my heart. Instead of of one swiping blow that knocks out judgmental mothers and bratty little boys, I have to settle for warning growls and hard lessons for my cubs about standing up for yourself and not letting anyone make you feel bad about who you are.

That being said, if my warning growls get ignored again, this Mama Bear is going to draw blood.

Categories: Feed the Belly, Get Smart, Let Me Entertain You, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

I is for Ingrity: Mean Professor Tells Student to “get your sh*t together”

I is for Integrity. My colleague sent me this today and I am jealous–there are so many students I wish I could call out for their ridiculous behavior. A grad student should indeed get it together. Well played, professor at my alma mater. Well played.

Things Doanie Likes

Ok, let’s get serious here. A popular professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business replied to a student’s email in a way that is part jerkface but mostly, part sage life advice. Deadspin reports that a student walked into the 1st day of class an hour late and the professor told her to leave & come back to the next class. In the comments section, most people were surprised to find themselves siding with the professor, citing topics like the rudeness of interrupting 80 people who pay full tuition to the foolishness of  “shopping” 3 classes in the same time slot. The professor actually XXXX’d out the student’s name and emailed it to all of his students! See below.. what’s your take on this?

Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 7:15:11 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Brand Strategy Feedback

Prof. Galloway,

I would like to discuss a matter with…

View original post 755 more words

Categories: Get Smart, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

H is for Happy Cassarole

My fear of cooking is a strange animal. What some people find relaxing, I have always found stressful. Instincts? None. If I didn’t have what a recipe called for, I panicked. The weird glitch in this machine is Spanish cooking. That makes sense to me. But that is a story for another time (come back for V!).

Changing our eating habits has changed the way I view cooking. Preparing food for my family is fun and easy. Vegan baking, especially, just makes sense to me. I use my growing collection of vegan cookbooks for inspiration but then adapt them to what I have in my kitchen.

The vegan experiment continues to be interesting. I find the more I cook with real ingredients, the less I want to use the fakes (soy cheese, soy burgers). My son’s perpetual runny nose as cleared up after over a year. Personally, my energy continues to escalate.

Monday afternoon my daughter and I were chatting about something or other (with a 5-year-old you never know) and she said, “Mommy, you should have a restaurant.” What should I call it, I asked her. She thought for a long minute and then said, “Mama’s Happy Gift of Food. And you could serve Happy Casserole every day.”

This made me feel so good about the changes we’ve made. Below you will find my “Happy Casserole,” a dish my daughter asks me to make every day. Mix it up, make it your own.

Happy Casserole (as named by my daughter)

Use whatever green vegetables you have on hand, fresh or frozen, if you prefer to peas and broccoli. I mix all the ingredients with my hands and let my kids help. Feel free to toss in a handful of your favorite savory seasonings. I used Italian Seasoning.


Two 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 onion, chopped

2 cups carrots, chopped

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped

1 1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup whole wheat Panko (or breadcrumbs)

3 TBS olive oil

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

Cheese or rice/soy cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Mash up chickpeas with a fork or potato masher until they have the consistency of lumpy mashed potatoes (about 2 minutes).
  3. Mix vegetables into chickpea mash. Add panko and mix, the oil and mix, and the vegetable broth and salt. Mix one last time.
  4. Press the mixture into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes.
Categories: Feed the Belly, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , ,

G is for Good Eats

Last night I arrived home after a fabulous weekend in Austin, Texas. Among the highlights were a Designing Women season 1 marathon, a visit to BookPeople, and tea at The Steeping Room. Most exciting (aside from sleeping in and seeing my friend Mitzi) was attending Texas VegFest at Lady Bird Lake. It was a wonderful event for vegans and meat eaters alike, with food varying from the super healthy (vitamin drinks and greens) to the deep fried vegan fare (it is Texas, after all). Here were my star samplings:

Good Karma Kitchen

This veg food truck hails from Fort Worth and I would like to personally thank them for making the trip because it made my trip. Their Spicy Asian Tacos put a veggie spin on Korean BBQ with amazing sauce and crisp vegetables. It had just the right amount of spice so that the flavors were elevated without blasting my taste buds beyond repair. So good I actually woke up this morning craving it. My friend tried their Deconstructed Tamales which were also fab, but those tacos will haunt me with their deliciousness. I will definitely be hunting them down when I’m in Fort Worth next month.

Capital City Bakery

While I am not bad at making vegan sweets, Capital City Bakery puts me to deep shame. My oatmeal cookie sandwich (I don’t even like oatmeal cookies!) had a divine texture, wasn’t so sweet I felt like I needed a trip to the dentist, and provided that little bit of comfort I want from cookies. With the generous portion, I was able to sneak bites throughout the day. Even in the heat the filling didn’t melt so I got to bask in the yummy for hours.

The Hearty Vegan

This Texas based tempeh sausage was insanely good. I tried both the lemon pepper and BBQ; win on both products. Beth and Becky, the ladies behind it, know how to throw down. The texture really held up to cooking and flavor, making each mouthful off my kabob as tasty as the last. I hope to see more of their products in my local store.

I was thrilled by the overall organization and vibe of the event. Next year I’d like to take my kids and husband with me as well. It’s the perfect place for my wacky daughter who has been known to loudly announce to the grocery store that “cow milk is so gross” and question how anyone can drink it. VegFest is definitely on my yearly must list now.



Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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