Friday, July 17, 2009
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
For someone who has voluntarily kept her DNA out of the gene pool, I watch a lot of kid-targeted television. It’s my not-so-guilty viewing pleasure and a source of bemusement for my friends who have young’uns and wistfully dream of someday discovering if other stations exist besides Disney and Nickelodeon.
Call me developmentally arrested, but I’ll watch four consecutive episodes of “iCarly,” and I’ll laugh loudly, shamelessly, and frequently. Call me a bored escapist who should get out more, but I’ll vehemently debate the social relevance of “SpongeBob SquarePants” (it has none). Call me a kid at heart, but I get a nostalgic thrill when I happen upon oldies but goodies like the “ZOOM” video I found in a thrift store, the revival of “Schoolhouse Rock” and a show I watched since its inception, “Sesame Street.”
I hadn’t visited “Da Street” in the three or so years since my twin nephew and niece outgrew the program, so I decided to catch up with my Sesame peeps. I saw several new kids on the block, as well as all the old homeys. Ernie and Bert – still kickin’ it bachelor-style; the Count – his same number-lovin’ self; and Cookie Monster was stuffing his gullet full of … fruits and vegetables?
I felt boondoggled, mind-boggled and hornswoggled, like I’d stepped into “Sesame Street: The Bizarro World Edition.” I’d always been confident in the knowledge that three things in life are certain: Death, taxes and the fact that “C is for cookie.” But my faith faltered upon hearing Cookie Monster’s new anthem, “Cookies Are a Sometimes Food.”
Being a seasoned newshound, I consulted the Internet to investigate this unsettling turn of events. I learned that the program’s producers, noting the national rise in childhood obesity, restructured the show to teach kids about exercise and healthy eating. I also found out I’m four years late discovering this, but that’s beside the point.
What kind of cockamamie world are we living in where a Cookie Monster munches on mangos instead of macaroons, tomatoes instead of Trefoils, squash instead of snickerdoodles, lentils instead of … well, you get the picture. It’s radicchio … er, ridiculous! What’s next, Oscar becoming a compulsive bather? Grover achieving calmness through yoga and Ritalin? If they want to create a Broccoli Beast or a Veggie Varmint, fine, but gimme back my cookie-chomping critter!
Certainly, I don’t take health matters lightly; I realize obesity is a problem in our nation … heck, it’s a problem in my mirror! But what harm is there in keeping Cookie Monster true to his name? Obviously, he’s suffered no ill effects from eating nothing but sweets the first 36 years of his life – he hasn’t aged a day, his fur has a healthy glow and he doesn’t have to worry about sugar rotting his teeth, for he has none!
I say they can the veggies, boot the fruit and let him eat Cakesters. After all, C isn’t for carrot, it’s for cookie. And that’s good enough for me.
Friday, July 03, 2009
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
With unemployment rising faster than Megan Fox’s hemlines and gas prices oscillating like Tila Tequila’s sexual preference, folks are canceling vacations and seeking cheaper alternatives. If your purse strings are tighter than Beyoncé’s weave, there’s a way to hit the highway without shifting the car out of park. It’s one of our most revered cinematic pastimes: The road trip movie.
For the cost of two, maybe three, gallons of gas, you can see the world without enduring traffic jams, flat tires, the eternal wait at baggage claim or Mommy’s Little Precious playing punt-the-passenger on the back of your seat. So pop some Orville Redenbacher’s, fire up the DVD player, and settle into that you-shaped groove in your sofa.
This list isn’t comprehensive by a mile because there are so many road trip classics, including “It Happened One Night,” “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and of course, “Easy Rider” – not a personal pick, but nonetheless a linchpin of the genre.
Even “The Wizard of Oz” is a road trip – bonus points because it’s on foot! More recent years have brought “Dumb and Dumber” – I’m not a fan, but many are; “Sideways,” which I haven’t seen but hope to; and “Road Trip,” which I’ll never see for two reasons: Tom. Green.
I’ve narrowed my choices down to a few favorites from the last three decades:
* “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983) – The quintessential road trip flick, featuring Chevy Chase at the height of his hilarity.
* “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985) – Tim Burton kicked off his directorial career with man-child Pee-wee’s search for his stolen bicycle, a trek that takes him to truck stops, biker bars, tourist traps and don’t forget – The Alamo.
* “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” (1987) – This screwball comedy manages to have heart and depth, thanks to funnymen Steve Martin and John Candy.
* “Thelma & Louise” (1991) – A chick flick that feels like a dude movie, except dudes wouldn’t hold hands and grin during their final trip. I won’t spoil it for the three cave-dwellers who haven’t seen it; let’s just say the last journey is a short one.
* “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” (1994) – Forget “To Wong Foo.” This Aussie trio makes those so-called drag queens look like … well, three guys in women’s clothing.
* “The Muppet Movie” (1997) – A froggie goes a-courtin’ stardom, as Kermit heads to Hollywood. I dare you not to get misty during “Rainbow Connection.”
* “The Straight Story” (1999) – An unconventional road tripper featuring one man, one riding mower and a six-week trip to make peace with his estranged brother. Even weirder: It’s a David Lynch film.
* “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (2006) – Reporter come to U.S. for do movie-film about greatest country in world and hopefully make sexy time with Pamela Anderson. High five!
* “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006) – “National Lampoon’s Vacation” for the indie set, with a more dysfunctional family and a kiddie beauty pageant thrown in for extra laughs.