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Most people in my life know that I am unabashedly addicted to anything Disney: Walt Disney World, the Disney Store, Disney movies, Disney soundtracks, Disney lunch boxes, even Disney themed Chex Mix. If a retailer slaps a Disney logo on it, I’m buying it. I’m renting it. I’m going there. I’m even helping other people go there. All the time.

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Now hold on a minute. I’m not quite that lady with her selfie profile picture in front of the castle. (Not yet at least.) She’s the one with the Mouse ears on and a sugar-high grin plastered on her face. She’s the lady back here in Oklahoma that has the Mouseketeer stick-family decal displayed on her minivan. I’ve heard all about her engagement at Walt Disney World in 2001. Well, I already have a minivan you guys! If my Prince of a husband can figure out how to make this happen retroactively, I’m only one Cinderella Castle engagement away from all out Disney hysteria!

If you haven’t been sprinkled by that golden pixie dust, one visit to Disney will do the trick. One deep breath on Main Street, U.S.A. that smells so sweet. One breeze past the line with your FastPass at Toy Story Mania! One hug from Mickey himself. I promise you will be feeling the magic. (Below, my then two-year old was not feeling the magic so much in this photo but he still speaks to me. I am now an expert on thrill levels for preschoolers.)

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First, the Disney Magic is about having fun and staying positive. At home I have some real Wicked Queen moments as a mother. (Check out my cute shirt below.) At this particular moment at Walt Disney World this fall, I wanted to take a photo and this little pirate wanted to dock the ship for a temper tantrum. All I remember is that my mother and I became hysterical with delight. Who knows what storm was ‘a brewing right there in front of Thunder Mountain Railroad? All I know is that this Wicked Queen remembers something hilarious.

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The Disney Magic is also believing in kindness. I’m not just talking about the kindness I showed these little worn-out faces when I finally let them take a break.

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I’m talking about the “Beauty to the Beast” type of kindness. If my boys are asked as adults, “Sum up what your parents taught you into one phrase- one phrase that you see your parents holding up on a sign for you to read from the playing field of life.” I hope and I pray that my banner from the bleachers would read, “BE KIND!” Be kind. I have to show them that in a world where there are so many people different from us, so many people who are in need, that kindness and love can make a difference. While the connection between Belle and the Beast and kindness is probably lost on them at this age, I think Disney’s brand embraces this value and I’m glad to let my kids be a part of it.

Here we are on another trip being kind to each other for almost a whole day! He was really into roaring like Sully.

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I also want my children to dream. This means more than having an active imagination. I want them to dream about a world free of terrorism and to dream about being President of the United States! After all, dreams aren’t just the fantasies of childhood that end when we grow up. One kid dreamed and invented computers, another dreamed the “I Have a Dream” speech, and hopefully soon, another kid will dream up the cure to cancer. Kids have to believe that dreams can come true. So I want them to experience a little of the Disney Magic that does just that.

Here is my little monster meeting Mike and Sully for the first time after playing with these monsters for two years in our playroom. It was a dream come true.

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Here is our family magically not being late to our White Rabbit photo opportunity. We were not late. Dreams do come true people!

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Lastly, I love that Disney allows me to gently introduce my kids to the villains. I think that a knowledge of good and evil is important even in childhood. Because sometimes there is a Wicked Queen and a poisoned apple out there. I want my kids to be able to recognize it, guard against it, and be the good in this world. I also want them to know the difference between the people who make a few mistakes and people who make mischief and mayhem their calling card. A good example is knowing the difference between a true villain and a mother (prone to motion sickness) who literally loses it after the fifth tea cup spin. Forgiveness is something we have to practice daily. There are a lot of life lessons happening in Fantasyland!

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These days I’m living a pretty great life planning our next Disney trip and hoping for a Mickey emoji with every iPhone update. My only worry in life is figuring out how I’m going to talk my boys into a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. In fact, I’d be just as excited to get up at 7:00 Eastern time to book your reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Be warned, if we talk Disney, my enthusiasm is contagious and it does usually result in a trip for your own family. You’ll thank me later!

PeterPan

 

 

 

 

 

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I just finished reading a fun and light book by Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret? The heroine, Emma Corrigan, is reminiscent of one of my favorite characters of all times, Bridgett Jones, and spills all of her “secrets” to a complete stranger during a bumpy airplane ride. These “secrets” aren’t really serious, mainly things like- what kind of underwear she prefers to wear and that she really doesn’t love her boyfriend, etc. Like I said, it’s a fun and light read!

So it got me thinking- what might my secrets be? And while I wasn’t able to come up with any “secrets” per se, I do have a number of “wishes” that are always on my mind that I’d like to share.

1. I wish I could tell Oprah how sorry I am for everything I’ve said about her.

2. I wish I could really sing. Not so that I could go on tour- I love my life now and don’t need the headache of an international sell-out. But, I’d love to be able to really perform 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton at the office Christmas Party. I would act like it wasn’t going to be any big deal, I’d be a little shy, and then it would be AWESOME. People would talk about it for years to come.

3. I wish I always had a pair of scissors with me when I saw those “balls” hanging from a truck’s (or Mazda’s- you know who you are in Little Rock) trailer hitch. I’d just do a little snip-snip.

4. I wish I could be featured on the Today Show– but not because of a tragedy, or some sorry story. I’d like to be called as an expert of something I love like the movies. Maybe I could have my own segment, joke with Al Roker, and be awkward with Anne Curry.

5. I wish I had my own stylist. He or she, preferably someone like Cinna from the Hunger Games, wouldn’t have to work for me full-time, they could just pick out my wardrobe and dress me for special events like Supper Club and Bible Study.

6. I wish all of my friends lived next door to me. We could share a backyard like sister-wives, but not husbands. I’d have the adult hang-out in my backyard, one friend would have a pool, another a trampoline, and so on. And we’d never get tired of each other or get in a fight.

7. I wish I could time travel. This is so cliché but it truly is one of my wishes. I would just observe and try not to drink the water. My top three, time destinations: Cleopatra’s era, JFK assassination, and an early Elvis concert.

8. I wish that I could pay off Sarah McLachlan (and the Humane Society) to stop playing those Angel commercials. Every time I see one I wish that I was rich and could make it worth their while to pull all those spots, immediately.

9. I wish everyone had a dog like Greta and a lifetime supply of Diet Dr. Pepper.

10. I wish I had ten wishes to make it an even number, but nine really sums it up.

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I love to be entertained. I’d say it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I love a good book, a well-written television show, and everything about going to the movies. Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Mad Men are my most recent loves. I couldn’t wait for the next book, that next episode, the next film. But each has come to an end and this last year I found myself a little depressed.

I’ve tried all sorts of replacements: DivergentHunger Games reworked; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– shock value;  and the worst yet- ABC’s Once Upon a Time– the Lost writers trying to fit the Lost blueprint into the popular fantasy genre, not to mention the horrendous special effects. I had almost given up.

Then a ray of light, hope in the midst of my despair! Downton Abbey.

I happened upon this little historical fiction on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre right before New Year’s Day. Because I was highly disappointed by the BBC’s The Hour last year, I didn’t expect much from Downton. I thought I’d try a few episodes while my husband watched the 10,000 bowl games that I care nothing about.

Well, right off the bat- The Titanic sinks and the Earl of Grantham is left with no heir to his title, his money, and Downton Abby, a fictional estate in Britain’s North Yorkshire. The story follows the Earl, his three daughters, his American millionairess wife, and his meddling mother played by Maggie Smith. As the aristocrats grapple with the antiquated world around them- dealing with issues of inheritance, different classes in a changing society, and love and marriage, a parallel but very separate society in the servants’ quarters tackles the same issues.

The things I loved about Season 1:

The writing is superb– Each storyline is well developed and relevant. Each character is intriguing and vital to the plot. Mary is selfish yet endearing. I feel sorry for Edith and hate her all at the same time. I am appalled by O’Brian and equally repelled by Thomas. I cheer as the love develops between Mr. Bates and Anna, and hope that Matthew can figure it all out before the War begins. There are many characters, many story lines, and no lack of action. This show never slows down.

The art direction is fantastic– Highclere Castle in Hampshire is used  as a setting and could not be a more perfect and beautiful backdrop as the drama unfolds. The costumes are equally as stunning, bringing to mind the 1998 film, The Titanic, (sans early/cheesy computer generated special effects) and giving Mad Men a little competition in the television period-drama category.

The Season Finale puts both the writing and the art direction together beautifully. The excessive and dated aristocratic society come face to face with its absurdity as World War I is announced- announced during the most beautiful and lavish garden party- complete with linen-clad guests, white roses and a mint julep.  It’s a story for the eyes as well as the heart.

The things I hope for Season 2:

Better character development- Season 1 left me disliking Thomas so much that I couldn’t believe in him. He was too evil, too mean, and too selfish. The writers even managed to weave in a thread of humanity for O’Brian but left Thomas as terrible as ever. What bothered me the most about Thomas’s characterization was that he is the only homosexual character. I was troubled that the only gay character was the only completely horrible character- and I long to see him made real. To my relief, the beginning of Season 2 provided Thomas some depth, and the beginning of a back story which might prove to help.

The unrequited love story lines- I’m so over the unrequited love story lines and so tired of all the whining. I just get so Twilighted out and wish people would just say how they really feel! The relationship between Mr. Bates and Anna begins to take a very intelligent and intriguing turn in the Season 2 premiere that I applaud. On the other hand, the Matthew and Mary love story that is based upon the “I love you but I just can’t say so” mentality wears on me. My hope is that the writers are developing Mary’s character- maturing her and allowing her to show some empathy for Matthew’s fiance- instead of just creating the inevitable drawn out love affair that we expected for Season 2.

All in all, I can’t wait for Sunday nights. Thank you PBS for a wonderful surprise. How did I miss this one for so long?

I dare say that all of The Tiger Lilies readers will enjoy Downton Abbey too- you will not be sorry- at least until the episodes end.

Also, if you dig what I dig, check out this blog, YABookBridges.com. There is a post about Vixen, a book series set in 1920’s Chicago. I know I’m going to check it out.

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Don't worry, we're about to Manage some Mischief.

I had the time of my life at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After Matt denied my request to celebrate our fifth anniversary at Hogwarts, a.k.a. Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, I easily convinced my sister that we needed  a “girl’s trip,” and fast.  After only a day of planning, Reagan and I had secured a hotel room, plane-park-and express pass tickets, and child care for our children. We were off like a Nimbus 2000.

I was already suffering from a mysterious pre-trip dizziness, (which the genius doctor at the after-hours clinic diagnosed as a possible brain tumor) but it didn’t matter, I was going to Florida. I packed only the essentials: a messenger bag, a visor and granny panties. And if these items weren’t enough to classify this as a “girl’s trip,”  for our pre-Park fare, we bought wine and cookies at the local grocery store. We had a great night-before carb load and were ready for an early morning.

Reagan and I woke up at the crack of dawn to get to the park early. Upon arrival, my dizziness lost its battle to an intense adrenalin surge as we raced to the back of the Islands of Adventure Park. Entering The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was surreal. I’m not making this up: the Castle, the Hogwarts Express, Hogsmeade etc. is breathtaking. We later learned that Universal Studios spent an estimated $200 million on this creation, and I am here to say, every penny was well spent.

Hogwart's Express

Platform 9 3/4

Entering Hogwarts

After entering the gates of Hogwarts, you are instructed to stow all of your belongings in a locker in order to ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”  Stowing all of your belongings is mandatory. This should have been our first clue. Then, as we walked through the Herbology Greenhouse Three, the following sign was posted:

See the stick guy vomiting over the side of the boat?

I’m pretty sure whatever  potion they slipped us had a little bit of Tiger Lily in it. We were about to be motion sick out of our minds.

But before the nausea ensued, we walked through the Hogwart’s corridors, past Dumbledore’s office, and through the Griffyndor Common Room. Right before you get on the ride, Harry, Ron and Hermoine appear from underneath the invisibility cloak in the Great Hall. They explain that we will be flying through the grounds of Hogwarts, and that we should beware of a dragon that Hagrid has let loose. At this point in the line, the 13 year-old in front of us began to panic, and Ron made the Great Hall actually snow, by accident, of course.

Talking Portraits

Dumbledore's Office

Griffyndor Common Room

At this point in the line (probably about 75 minutes into our wait) I was feeling impervius to motion sickness. And even as the Sorting Hat warned us of the dangers of the ride, Reagan and I boarded our enchanted bench.

The Sorting Hat

After four minutes of the coolest ride I never experienced, (about two seconds into the simulation, Reagan and I both closed our eyes– tight) I silently willed myself onto the moving walkway that led to the end of the ride. Reagan and I walked side-by-side without a word, through Filch’s Emporium Gift Shop and straight to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. We were both concentrating really hard on not puking our guts out. (If only we had a Purple Puking Pastille.)

It only took about a half an hour before we were ready for the Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster. To get on this ride, you walk along a path laced with banners for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. After passing through the Champion’s Tent, which showcases the Triwizard Cup, you then choose whether to ride the Hungarian Horntail or the Chinese Fireball Dragons. We chose the Hungarian Horntail and quickly found ourselves in the midst of a levicorpus spell.

Banners leading to the Coaster

Champion's Tent

It was after The Dragon Challenge that we had to the leave The Wizarding World all together. After a good hour of complete still-ness, and a few bottles of water, we went back for more. The last, and only ride in The Wizarding World that we really enjoyed was Flight of the Hippogriff. It’s a kiddie roller coaster that won’t put your equilibrium in check- if you even have any after the previously mentioned rides. And as a bonus, while waiting in line for this kiddie coaster, you pass right by Hagrid’s house.

Hagrid's House

Look closely to the right and you can see the Hippogriff flying right by.

By day two, we were back to just “hang out” in Hogsmeade. This was probably my favorite part of our trip. We had a Butterbeer, sat on the patio at the Three Broomsticks, bought some candy at Honeydukes, had a laugh at Zonkos, and watched some lucky kid get chosen by his wand in Olivander’s Wand Shop.

It may look cold, but it's June in Florida.

Fantastic.

Inside Honeydukes: Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans; we also bought a few chocolate frogs.

Inside Zonko's. They had Extendable Ears but no Love Potions.

Darn kid. It should have been me.

And although we were pretty upset that Olivander picked some little kid over the two of us, we bought our own wands before leaving. I chose a replica of Hermoine’s wand and Reagan chose a generic wand– or, excuse me, it chose her.

Hermoine's wand. It has a vine on it that signifies loyalty.

Reagan's wand.

Overall, I would say we had the time of our lives. It is so fun to see the books come to life, and I had the best company and Harry- Potter-expert in my sister as a tour guide. I would venture to say that this is one of the places I would think about if Expecto-ing my own Patronus.

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Dear Oprah,

I’ve had an “ah-ha” moment.

Although I don’t (yet) have a gratitude journal, I am a recent Oprah convert. It was as if the clouds parted, my eyes were opened and I finally saw the light.

For the last few months, I’ve really been enjoying your Farewell Season. I watched intently as you brought on The Judds to talk about their own farewell tour, I wished that I was given that trip to Australia, and I almost cried when I realized that I’d missed the Fergie interview. (Still waiting for that one to re-run, hint- hint.) Not only did your Harpo magicians bring us all the “A List” guests this year, but they also managed to have Aretha Franklin belt out an extremely slow and moving version of  Amazing Grace at your Surprise Spectacular. Season 25 was some amazing television.

Why Not Me?

Ironically, although I’ve always watched your show, I have only been a fan of yours for about the last fifteen minutes. I’m sorry to say that in the past, I’ve even given you a hard time on my blog for what I thought was your self-appointed Deity Status. But after your re-interview with James Frey, I began viewing you afresh. The episode: “James Frey: Five Years Later” shocked me. I had witnessed his lashing five years earlier when you and many others in the U.S. gave him such a hard time for publishing his novel as a memoir. I couldn’t believe the way in which you let him have it.  I felt so sick for him in that moment, being human myself and often making my own mistakes, and I just wanted you to show him a little grace.

You were about to unleash the Fury.

And then you did, in your most recent interview. I thought, in fact, you showed all sorts of grace. You apologized for the way in which the interview was conducted, for making Frey feel “ambushed,” and for the way in which you went about berating him for his mistake. I thought that was very big– even for Oprah Winfrey.

It was a freeing experience for me. I could now not only watch your shows, but finally understand what everyone had seen in you all of these years. And now, instead of cynically viewing your last episode as a tribute to yourself, I was really able to view it as you intended: as a Love Letter to your viewers.

Your last episode inspired me: your pretty pink dress, your words of wisdom, and most of all your encouragement to follow one’s calling. You said, “My great wish for all of you, who have allowed me to honor my calling through this show, is that, you carry whatever you’re supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don’t waste anymore time. Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.”

Amen, ya’ll!

I know you can't really see the earrings, but I loved them.

So now I’m hooked, and just in time. I’ll have to see how much it’s going to cost me each month to add the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) to my cable package. But for Gayle, Shania and Fergie, no amount could be too much.

Thanks for all of your hard work,  Oprah. I’m really going to miss you.

Leanne

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How could you cheat on a lady like Maria? She’s so beautiful, she’s an accomplished author and journalist, she’s the mother of his children. The news about the split of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver (and  what caused it) makes me sad.

I guess I’m not surprised. It’s like Tiger all over again. And President Clinton, and Michael Jordan, and JFK, and Prince Charles, and Magic Johnson, and even FDR.

I am not suggesting that each of these men should have been forced to wear a scarlet “A” for the rest of their lives, but I am saying that our society should place a little more value on fidelity. Maybe if fidelity was regarded as an important virtue, (just as important as good diplomatic skills, good offensive skills, and good looks) these men would be more motivated to be faithful.

Arnold will be raked through the mud for a few months. The media will unveil all of his dirty secrets and we will eat it up while shaking our heads. But just like Tiger, I predict we will be cheering for Arnold in less than a year– or at least going to see one of his new movies. That’s ok with me. Let’s forgive him and move on.

But let’s start a new trend. Let’s brag about long-lasting marriages and couples that have faced adversity and made it through. Let’s support marriages and families and value these commitments. Let’s celebrate someone’s character rather than just his or her contribution to a score board or an appearance on the silver screen.

Maybe we won’t solve this problem of Maria’s, but let’s start a positive trend. To all those who are faithful: Tiger Lilies all around!

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By the Queen. (If I were Queen, that is.)

Whereas, I have taken into my Royal consideration the extent to which I have been obsessed with the marriage of William and Kate, a spectacle provided for our viewing enjoyment by a number of  media providers: the BBC, People Magazine, NBC’s Today Show and Lifetime Television, to name a few; and being desirous that all of my loving subjects (you, my Tiger Lily readers) may avail themselves, with all convenient speed, of the great benefits and advantages of such a spectacle;  I have thought it fit to hereby publish and declare to all of my previously mentioned loving subjects, that I formally mandate, under the authority of the Great Seal of the Tiger Lily Nation, the following statues:

Each subject should immediately view the Royal Wedding in its entirety or in its synopsis form- as provided by NBC’s Today Show, carefully considering and absorbing all of the pomp and circumstance, Queen snobbery and quirky British humor. Be sure to don an appropriately smashing morning coat (for the gents) or a fantastic hat (for the ladies.)

Furthermore, after having viewed the Royal Wedding at least once, each subject should then take an evening to view at least one, if not all, of the following British movie staples: the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice starring Collin Firth; (thank you Traci) Bridget Jones’s Diary part I or II, also starring Collin Firth; any, or all of the Harry Potter feature films, which should star Collin Firth; and my latest recommendation; The King’s Speech, also, and not coincidentally, starring Collin Firth. This will give you further insight into the British culture.

Hereto, and finally, each subject should view Lifetime Television’s made-for-tv-movie: William and Kate. (Let Love Rule.) As per personal experience, such made-for-tv-movies are the stuff that change lives. Her Royal Highness is now properly obsessed with William and Kate after viewing the (literally) awfully-fanatastic William and Kate.

. . .

This proclamation is the result of my recent and unplanned obsession with William and Kate. I guess this new fascination has grown out of every girl’s fantasy of becoming a princess; this is just the grown-up version. I can’t help but compare myself to Kate and think that “it could have been me.” Don’t kid yourself girls, we all thought this. Right- my parent’s aren’t part of the British aristocracy or even self-made millionaires like the Middletons, but the fact that I have English roots (on my mother’s side) and am of the right age: just a year or two William’s senior- is enough for a girl to dream.

What I’m most fascinated with is the idea of “Royalty” in the 21st century. Now that there is no need for an aristocratic ruler of Britain, being a “Royal” sounds like a great job. From what I can tell, each Royal family member is doomed with donating all of his or her time to charity and serving as the Nation’s figurehead with no responsibility to actually govern. This idea really appeals to me. Not to mention the tiaras.

On a cerebral level, being part of history is also appealing. Kate’s little branch is now grafted to the Windsor family tree. I think it’s the combination of my love for history and a new fascination with ancestry (thanks to NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?) that makes this so interesting for me.

On a vanity level, having a stylist would probably be the first wish I’d have my Genie grant. My second might be to have the House of Windsor bank roll the wardrobe that he or she would pick out. As frivolous as this sounds, it’s less about having the clothes and more about getting to play a grown-up version of dress-up. I’d even settle for being part of the cast of AMC’s Mad Men  just for the wardrobe.

I’d change one thing though. I’d never marry William. I don’t care what they say- William is not overly attractive. And judging by his father’s and Aunt Margaret’s looks, I’m pretty sure there has been some in-breeding going on. If I could substitute Matt for William I’d go through with it- you wouldn’t even have to twist my arm.

I guess I wasn’t old enough to sympathize with Princess Diana’s as her unhappy life began to unfold so publicly. Now I have a (probably naive) hope that Kate’s fairytale will be just that. I guess she and I will live and learn. Maybe in a few years she will think of a life like mine and wish, for just a second, that she was in my shoes.

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