A news nerd in an ‘Avengers’ world

Several years ago I was appalled when I kept hearing what seemed like to me, lighthearted reviews of a new film. There was even talk of it being a musical, which I simply could not believe. How, I wondered, could you make a musical about war starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor?

The movie in question was, of course, 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, a far cry from the musical I had imagined depicting the atrocities committed by the notorious Cambodian Communist Party led by Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge.

Not a Khmer in sightReally, how could you even make that kind of a mistake? Even given that I’m a semi Broadway geek, at that? I chalk it up to a life more or less in the news business. As a former reporter and college political science major, it’s just in my nature to keep up with current events, even when I’m not particularly keeping up with current events. This happens frequently during Big News Stories. After a solid week of tsunami coverage, though something like this is intensely interesting, important, and grave, I still get on overload and take a break from daily NPR, CNN, and Facebook friends’ updates. Consequently I miss other stories that they manage to squeeze in between Snooki and Tan Mom updates.

So recently I began to hear about the new movie, The Avengers. I don’t actually go to the movie theater all that often any more. A month or so ago we ventured out to the art-house cinema here and saw The Artist, the Academy-Award winning silent film. Loved it. Before that — eh. I can’t remember. Probably something Cohen-related.

But the point is when I heard “Avengers,” my mind again went totally elsewhere. Namely, to cat suits and bowler hats. Yes, I was expecting a remake of the 1960s British television series with the awesome clothes. If I could be said to aspire to anything when I was under the age of 10 years old, I probably wished I could be Emma Peel in skin-tight clothing, dangerous-looking boobs, and a gun. When I wasn’t wishing I had my own horse, naturally.

Like when reality finally dawned and I didn’t expect to see Nicole Kidman in the jungles of Cambodia, at some point I realized that this new Avengers movie wasn’t going to be about Mr. Steed and a lady with the awesome rack. No, there was too much yapping on the Internet about it. Oh sure, I do have plenty of geeky friends online, but “avengers” seemed to be a bit too prominent on a bit too many lips. I wasn’t hearing anything like “the new Diana Rigg” for instance.

She's got man appeal. Emma Peel. Get it?

Then the teen crowd began to get involved and I knew my assessment of the situation was rather, shall we say, off base. Midnight showings? Tickets purchased in advance? Behavior for The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, maybe. Not the revival of an ancient (to them) TV series featuring English eccentricities with a side of science fiction, fantasy and fighting crime.

But hey, it more or less pegs me for who and what I am, when I make these hare-brained assumptions. I know pop culture, but it’s my pop culture. Call me if you need market research on the nerdy preferences of a Southern/midwestern white lady of a certain age. Just keep me out of the jungles of Southeast Asia if at all possible.

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And yes, I totally want Diana Rigg’s boots. As if you didn’t know.

Accessorizing for the apocalypse

This post originally appeared in March 2012 and is consistently one of my most popular blog entries. I’m repeating it today for Halloween. Enjoy!

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When the dead rise and zombies take over the world, it is comforting to know that I am equipped with the appropriate footwear.

AMC style zombiesI’ve been, you see, watching The Walking Dead on AMC, a series now in its second season based on the graphic novels by the same name. It was conceived of by Kentuckian Robert Kirkman, who hails from Cynthiana, so zombification-wise, I’m pretty much at Ground Zero.

I never read the books, but since watching the series I’m becoming more interested in them. What preoccupies me at the moment, though — in addition to following the ethical struggles, babydaddy drama, and child-in-peril moments the show spews in abundance (and oh yeah, zombies and bullets to the head) is Frye boots.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise.

Frye and small frySince stomping onto the set in the pilot episode, female lead Lori, wife to Our Hero Rick Grimes, has been ubiquitously clad in my go-to shitkicker, the Frye harness boot. It’s even the same color as mine, so my preoccupation is justified (sort of). You go, girl.

While I’m a little surprised she’s wearing the things even in the height a hot Georgia summer, I’ve got to go hey, you flee your home with little more than the clothes on your back of course you’re going to pull on the most serviceable good-looking boots in your closet.

“Carl! Pack up some t-shirts, jeans, and a metric buttload of sunscreen, we’re hitting the road!” Lori yells, standing in the bedroom, pulling on her negative-2 size Levis and throwing all the family photos into her luggage.

“Daddy’s dead and the neighbors want to eat us, honey. Pack appropriately.”

Now of course when I’m sitting in front of the screen watching this thing, these thoughts are far from my mind. I am of course much more interested in the moral struggles these people must face, including and up to killing other living, breathing survivors and having unprotected sex in zombie-infested woods, or perhaps abandoned pharmacies. Kiss me before we get eaten!

But give me some time to reflect and my thoughts return to preparing for these conditions with style and comfort in mind.

Of course, the Frye selection is good-looking. Dansko clogs would also be a good choice if you have to plan for wearing the same shoes while squishing over rotting corpses until the year 2525. Flip-flops are right out, unless the Zompocolypse caught you out while on vacation in Myrtle Beach.

Standing in my closet, I ponder the End Times appropriateness level of my own wardrobe. Yes, these capes and shawls could be excellent protection against the elements, as extra bedding, and perhaps even camouflage if the zombies lose their sense of smell. No, I doubt the prairie skirts and  faux fur are going to be of much good. Better stick with skinny jeans, fleece and utility vests.

Wedge-heels and mules are right out, of course — who can run when you’re in danger of throwing a shoe? Running shoes (well, walking shoes in my case) could pose a problem; any length of time spent running in them results in run-down Reeboks, but I suppose in a Mad Max world, there will always be plenty of Foot Lockers to plunder.

Lori, Andrea, Carol and Maggie, our Walking Dead women, seem to favor tank tops under cute tops for their zombie-world wear, though I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the wardrobe designers who prefer them so uniformly. Anyway, Lori’s going to have to make a run to Motherhood Maternity at some point, unless she’s got a zom-bun in the oven.

Maybe she plans on taking over Rick’s old sheriff uniforms — hey, that worked splendidly for Margie in Fargo, at least. Yah!

Ready to fight zombies at workI know there’s going to be a lot I have to give up when facing down the undead every day. Fashion just isn’t a priority when the only medical practitioner you’ve got is more familiar with fillies than impaled fibias.

But it is good to know if I’m gonna be walking dead, at least my feet are firmly planted in boots already endorsed by one of the survivors.

Tales of a stealth mom

I heard a story on Morning Edition on NPR today that made me think, for the first time, that being an FBI agent might be an awful lot like being a mother.

The story was on “Tac Ops,” or tactical operations, which involves bugging, searching, or otherwise legally creeping around people’s homes and offices to gather information. The interview, which you can find here, featured an author who had interviewed these operatives and found out how they go about their covert business.

The mom/FBI Agent connection came near the end of the story, where the poorly timed death of an agent in the middle of an operation was detailed. What happened was the poor man died from heart failure in the middle of an oriental rug in a foreign embassy, with the resultant unfortunate mess that often occurs to the human body when it expires.

The creative operatives rolled up the rug and whisked it to an all-night D.C. cleaners, who promptly returned it to a more pristine state. It was, however, still wet. The agents solved that immediately — they simply painted a faux water stain on the ceiling directly above the wet carpet.

This is the kind of ingenuity we mothers with damp, smelly children have been employing since our water broke.

What mother of diapered dozens doesn’t have a cache of wipies in her bag, or even purse? These things could conquer the world. I remember another woman telling me once they’re even perfect for cleaning ceiling fans. Spit-up, leaking diaper contents, actual bottom clean up: there’s not much these things can’t do. Hail the Huggie wipe.

Another amusing tidbit about the tac-op agents was their bag of goodies they bring along. Say they have to move something on a desk, disturbing the dust pattern that had accumulated since the criminals departed. No problem-o. They bring their own dust. Think about that a minute: they travel with dirt so that they can put a room back to rights after they’ve gone over it with a fine-tooth comb for evidence. I once heard dust referred to by a particularly harried mother as the “protective coating” on her furniture. I’d love to know if there’s any way you can test for the authenticity of a room’s dust. We know (via This is Spinal Tap) that you can’t dust for vomit. I wonder if you can dust for dust.

The bag of tricks also apparently includes small, high-powered vacuum cleaners, to suck up the evidence that walls were penetrated to hide bugs, and some sort of high-tech paint-matching chemicals, for smoothing over the destruction of hiding things in people’s walls.

At home, the Stealth Mom merely moves a recliner or love seat and bam! all evidence of a toddler’s creativity after finding a deep-blue Sharpie is erased. Or say an actual bug or spider met his demise halfway up the dining-room wall. Well, that painting would look better on that wall anyway, now wouldn’t it?

I’m reminded of the old Flintstones cartoon, which featured Wilma in a failed attempt to hang a picture on the stone wall of her Bedrock hut. Predictably, the wall cracked in all directions the instant she hammered in the nail. No problem; Wilma the FBI Agent/Mother immediately painted leaves and flowers along the cracks, creating a unique mural that enhanced her lovely home.

Perhaps the Stealth Mom/FBI agent tie isn’t so surprising, come to think of it. After all, moms are women, aren’t we? Hear us roar! Even if we’re slumping around the house, picking up after children in our jammies or sweat pants, inside all of us are June Cleaver in pearls, daintily following the vacuum cleaner in high heels. I seem to recall rumors that J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed the same sort of attire.

Isn’t that darling? The FBI is one of us.

Get thee behind me

Apparently my investigative work into all things rump in Lexington was woefully inadequate; earlier this morning I received a phone call from Alert Reader Teresa, who informed me that my catalog of assinine-named businesses obviously, was incomplete.

Photo via Hugh Ass Burgers websiteBehold. Or rather, perhaps — “BEHIND!”

Here we have a beer and burger joint down by the University of Kentucky reveling in its endearing moniker. A certain amount of sophomoric hijinks can be expected near a university campus — yet this nobel enterprise is aiming higher: franchise opportunities are available.

So if you want to hit this action, buddy, time to get your butt in gear.