Monday, July 21, 2008

Mamma(s) Mia!

While everyone else in the world was watching The Dark Knight, I went with my mom to see Mamma Mia. Well, sort of. See, my mom's never been to the movies by herself in her life, and I go all the time, so I suggested a date to ease our Midwest/East Coast divide. I went to Iowa City's Sycamore Mall at 1:30 Sunday afternoon, and she attended a showing a 2:30 at Penn Cinema in Lancaster, PA. So, we were watching the movie together. Kind of.

I was envisioning her sitting next to me until a cancer patient came and took her seat -- even in Iowa Mamma Mia! drew a strange crowd of young women, older couples, older women, and gay men.

Which leads me to a major problem I have with films like this. Why do they get reviewed so badly? Judging by the Tomato-meter at, all the middle-aged white men hated the film. Well, it turns out most of the major reviewers in this country are middle-aged white men who hate fun. Don't be hatin' on fun, A.O. Scott!

I think the last time I saw a film that was so gloriously fluffy I was in High School and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion was in the theaters. Great art? Perhaps not. But we need films we can drag our best friends too.

Here's my mom's take.

Me: Man, Pierce Brosnan can't really sing.

Mom: Well, I don't care, he can sing at me!

UPDATE: Turns out my mother-in-law was seeing Mamma Mia! at a theater in Ames at the same time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Magic with words

Sarah Prineas gave a reading to a packed room at the Iowa City Public Library today. She was a complete doll -- really connected with the audience and kept them on their toes while reading parts out of two chapters, the beginning of her book The Magic Thief and the chapter where he main character, Connwaer, turns himself into a cat. She served biscuits, which play a prominent role in the book. I spoke to some adults on my way out who seemed rather taken with her and the book. One man spoke of being particularly fascinated with the way she explains how magic works. This pic shows her writing secret messages in a Rune alphabet she created with her daughter, Maude, in some of her fans' books.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker Writes

Got this email from the New Yorker today after sending a comment about their current issue's cover (Barack and Michelle Obama as a Muslim and a Black Panther). It really lifts my spirits to see intelligent people reasoning their way out of running images that are flagrantly distasteful. Satire of satire, it seems, does not good satire make.

Writes The New Yorker:

Thank you for writing. We appreciate your comments and, if you have a question, we’ll do our best to respond. However, owing to the volume of correspondence, we cannot reply to every e-mail individually.

About this week’s issue: Our cover, “The Politics of Fear,” combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are. The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall — all of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that's the spirit of this cover. In this same issue you will also see that there are two very serious articles on Barack Obama inside — Hendrik Hertzberg's Comment (, and Ryan Lizza's 15,000-word reporting piece on the candidate's political education and rise in Chicago (

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Salad fit for a queen

The season of eight weddings has begun. And while we still have no Internet at our place, we do have a stove, and stock and stomachs. We have spent the past two weeks starting a new job (I am teaching features writing as an adjunct at the UI), packing up our stuff for our big move (into our friends' basement until we decide where we're going -- hurrah!) and finishing off all of the old canned and frozen food we've been hoarding for two years.

As with all archaeological digs, this process has yielded some discoveries: an old scrapbook I created for my husband in which I mythologize the story of our meeting and long-distance relationship and... ta da! A recipe that approximates the Red Avocado's Queen's Salad dressing, which I created through alchemy and trial and error:

Queen's Salad dressing (for two)

Juice from one lime
1T walnut oil
1 T soy sauce

Toss with quinoa, lettuce and raw veggies. So amazing, you'll never have to spend $12 bucks on salad at Red Avocado again. Instead, you can get the sweet potato gnocchi!