Sunday, November 22, 2009

Twilight, Ticks and Terrifying Turkeys

Unless you have been living under a rock -- in a cave -- on another planet -- in a different galaxy -- you know that countless tweens, teens and cougars fed their vampire addiction this weekend with the opening of "New Moon", the second movie in the incredibly popular Twilight series.

Based on the books by Stephenie Meyer, "New Moon" follows the love triangle of emo heroine Bella, hot werewolf Jacob and hotter vampire Edward Cullen. Despite abysmal reviews by the critics, the movie boasted a record $72.7 million on its opening day. Even my 66-year-old mother elbowed teen-age girls out of the way to see the film Friday, but she's a wee bit perverted (now you know where I get it).

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times dissed the movie, giving it only one star and further insulting Twilight fans by misspelling Stephenie Meyer's name throughout his critique. (It's spelled with an "e", not an "a", Mr. EbArt.)

In his review, Ebert panned the scenes featuring werewolf Jake and the rest of his pack, saying they "…are mostly seen in long shot, shirtless in the rain, hanging around the edges of the clearing as if hoping to dash in and pick off some fresh meat."

My goodness, he says that like wet, buff, shirtless, hungry men are a bad thing!

What Ebert and other reviewers don't get is that Twilight movies are not about the movies. Yes, the acting makes a third-grade play for the PTO seems like Broadway material and the plot holes make Jennifer Lopez's ass look small by comparison.

But we don't camp outside the theaters for the film. That's like saying we wear Edward Cullen panties for their 60/40 cotton-poly blend.

Twilight devotees love the movies because they are extensions of the books and the emotions the stories evoke. And by "emotions", I clearly mean "unadulterated lust for young, hot, immortal men who say all the right things and never get beer bellies or belch in public."

On those points, dear reviewers, the movies deliver.

I'd tell the critics to "bite me," but I'm saving that line for Edward.



The sounds of fall in Kentucky: leaves crinkling underfoot, wood crackling in the fireplace and shotguns blasting through the countryside.

Hunting season is upon us again, so I've been privy to numerous photos of friends dressed in camouflage and proudly hoisting up dead deer with their tongues hanging out (err, the deer, not the hunters -- in most cases).

The photos bring back horrific childhood memories of inviting home friends from school, only to discover a skinned buck hanging upside down from the backyard tree or rabbit carcasses floating in our kitchen sink. Needless to say, I often had a difficult time convincing girlfriends to come over in the fall.

My father is an avid outdoorsman and a hunter, so I understand that hunting helps control the animal population and that most hunters eat what they kill (though I'll never forgive my parents for telling me that the rabbit on my plate was fried chicken. I don't care how much sawmill gravy they put on that sucker, some things don't taste like chicken).

I also realize that hunters have a deep appreciation for nature and are some of our greatest conservationists. But it's not for me.

Because I had been traumatized by the "Bambi" movie as a child, I refused to hunt animals with my father or enthusiastically support his hobby; to his credit, however, he never let that stop him from trying to instill his love of the outdoors or the thrill of the hunt in me. So he'd ditch the guns and take my siblings and me mushroom hunting.

I loved traipsing through the woods with my dad, brown grocery bag in hand, searching the moist terrain for the perfect morel mushrooms. It was like a treasure hunt, and I'll never forget the joy of circling an old elm to find a cluster of mushrooms at its base. I'd call triumphantly to my Dad, heckle my siblings and harvest my find. I loved it!

What I didn't love, however, was standing over the toilet when we came home and letting Mom pluck ticks from my head. If you spend an afternoon in Kentucky woods, you likely will pick up a tick or ten. And my long, brown hair apparently was tick heaven. It was hot tick real estate, and they quickly set up condominiums on my scalp.

I'll always remember peering nervously into the toilet bowl while Mom took the tweezers to yet another tick embedded in my head. The disgusting little bloodsuckers would squirm helplessly in the water as Mom urged me to "hold still". I still shudder when I think about it.

I recently shared this story with a friend, who like my dad, loves the hunt and the great outdoors. He told me he, too, had to endure the dreaded tick checks as a child. He distinctly recalled one terrible afternoon when he was eight:

"I came home from playing tag after dinner and went to the bathroom to check myself for ticks," he said. "To my horror, I found one on my, uh, scrotum."

Frantic, he began to pull, yank and wrench, in an effort to dislodge the tick, which refused to budge from his most sensitive parts. After trying for 30 minutes to remove the tick himself, the mortified boy called for his father.

"Dad came in and asked why I was crying," my friend said. "I told him, 'I got a tick...down there!!'"

Concerned, his father told him to relax and to let him see the tick. Embarrassed, the youth obliged his dad.

"I remember the laughter seeming really odd," he said, "And then, with a big smile, Dad told me I'm gonna' have a hard time pulling that mole off my bean bag.

"They took me to get glasses one week later."


Terrible Turkeys

I'm trying to decide if my little boy is immensely creative, slightly warped, or like his mother, a combination of the two.

Thanksgiving is fast-approaching, and I was thrilled to attend a special Thanksgiving lunch at school with my first-grader last week. While waiting for our feast, parents were encouraged to peruse the halls and view the work of their children, displayed on the walls.

My child's class has been writing fall and Thanksgiving stories, and I was anxious to read the words of my little guy, who has a great passion for reading and storytelling. Students were asked to complete two stories: One story began with "My scarecrow came to life and…"; the other started, "If I were a turkey, I would…"

I couldn't help but notice a group of parents were gathered around a couple of the stories, whispering and shaking their heads. Some looked impressed; others appeared mortified.

As I made my way down the hall, I read my son's classmates' stories. Most were sweet, simple tales, like "My scarecrow came to life and told me a funny story. He was my friend." Or "If I were a turkey, I would get up off the table and watch T.V. all day with my new family."

I kept looking for my boy's stories, and eventually discovered his works were the ones collecting a crowd. Like any proud Mama, I declared, "Oh! Those are written by my son!" only to be met with raised eyebrows and a few wary stares.

The crowd parted, and I noticed that my son had illustrated his turkey story with little people who had "X"es where their eyes should be. Hmmmm. I moved forward and read his words: "If I were a turkey, I would hunt people on Thanksgiving and eat them as my revenge. I would dress up in people clothes, so they would never know I was a turkey. Then I would show up for their dinners and gobble them up."

Parents watched for my reaction, so I laughed nervously and said, "Oh. He's a vegetarian. And VERY creative."

They merely pointed to his scarecrow story. Anxiously, I read his tale: "My scarecrow came to life and opened its mouth. Saliva drooled from its sharp teeth. It ripped through the hay and attacked me and my sister. Thankfully, our dog attacked it, leaving nothing but slime and hay. But not before it ate my sister."

"Well," I said to the other parents, "On the bright side, you have to admit his vocabulary is impressive for a first-grader, and his strong verb usage is remarkable!"

My son is a happy, fun-loving boy. And no, he's not allowed to watch violent movies, play video games that aren't rated for his age or read junk, which leads me to surmise that I might be raising a little Stephen King, Richard Matheson or Dean Koontz. Or, okay, yes -- perhaps a Unabomber.

Give a kid a library card, and it's a crapshoot.

Sure, we had to eat at a table by ourselves because the other parents were afraid of us, but I'm immensely proud of my wonderful, bright, imaginative boy, and I will continue to encourage his creativity. Just to be safe, though, I'm not serving turkey for Thanksgiving.


  1. well, at least you didn't refer to hunters as "sportsmen."

  2. I bet that Han Dodson guy grew up to be awesome...and cautious after a day in the woods....

  3. kat loved new moon, too, jenn!!! on sunday, she watched it first on then made the trek with the bf to see it on the big screen yesterday after school.

    it's a really good thing your friend didn't use the old hot match trick to get that mole er... "tick" to back out of his bag, huh!!?!?

    yay!!! for the jenkins' writing genes!!!