Stimey at the Movies…and, You Know, on My Couch Too

Because it is Golden Globe night, I almost called this “Stimey’s Golden Globules,” because every time I hear about the Golden Globes, my brain changes it to Golden Globules, but then I decided that would sound weird and upsetting, so I decided to call it this other thing instead.

Anywho.

You know how every time I post here, I’m all, “Yeah, I’m not doing anything at all. My life is totally boring”? Well, that is not entirely true because I have been consuming enormous amounts of pop culture.

I decided that I have thoughts about all of this pop culture and that you should hear them. (Feel free to click away now.) But if you’re looking for something with which to kill some time this week, I have some ideas for you.

You should know, however, that I am a very non-critical sort of consumer. If I were a movie reviewer, most of my reviews would probably start out with, “Yeah, it was pretty good.” So if you go to see these movies or buy these books or whatever and you hate them, don’t blame me.

Movies I’ve Seen in Theaters This Fall:

Gravity: Yeah, it was pretty good. Actually, let’s say really good. I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was beautiful, both visually and metaphorically.

Twelve Years a Slave: I worked so hard to see this movie. I was going to go on the one day in December that my kids were in school and I didn’t have plans. The only problem is that it turns out when I showed up at 11 am to buy a ticket that I had misread Fandango and the showing was actually at 11:05 pm. I finally went out the day after Christmas by myself to watch it. It was showing in a small theater, but it was entirely packed. I don’t think I heard a single sound from the audience throughout the entire movie. It was an attention-demanding movie and perfectly acted and directed. There was a moment when Chiwetel Ejiofor’s face filled the screen and his eyes looked directly into the camera that felt like a direct demand of accountability of everyone in the audience. It was an intensely powerful movie that I think everyone should see. I am rooting for it for best picture at every awards show this year.

American Hustle: I tell you about this movie with the caveat that because of my friend and my late arrival to the theater and the theater’s entirely full capacity, I saw this from the first row, so I may have been looking at the right side of the screen and missed something crucial on the left side. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a movie from the first row, but I wouldn’t recommend it. My friend actually got motion sick. Regardless, this movie was a ton of fun and almost made me want to live in the 70s what with their discos and science ovens and all. Plus, I love every single thing Christian Bale has ever done as an actor, so there is that too.

Anchorman 2: I wanted to like this movie so much. I really, really did. I liked the first Anchorman and every review that I read said that this one was great too. There were moments that were good but I think this movie relied on one of two tactics for most of its laughs: (1) It slightly altered something hilarious from the first movie so that the joke in this movie would remind you of when you loved the scene the first time and you would laugh, and (2) the writers seem to believe that if something is shockingly offensive it is automatically funny. Too often in this movie, it just wasn’t.

TV Shows I’ve Binge Watched This Fall:

The Walking Dead: Zombies are one of my things. I’ve been into them for a long time. Like, I had to admit that I read “zombie literature” back when it wasn’t cool to do so and I will continue to consume all the zombie pop culture I can find long after everyone else considers them to be Over. Needless to say, I’ve been watching The Walking Dead since it premiered, but somehow Alex got interested in it a few weeks ago and we watched the whole series together and are now gleefully awaiting the second half of season four. The best part of watching this with Alex was looking over at him during scenes with lots of the undead and seeing him with his eyes closed AND his hands over his face. “I don’t like the zombie parts,” he would explain. I would respond with a blank face. Because…dude? It’s a show about zombies. (But really, as zombie stories always are, it isn’t always really about the zombies.) Also, Alex had lots of questions and opinions about the zombie apocalypse, and it was really fun to finally find a subject matter where I am more knowledgeable than he is.

Vikings: Alex discovered this History Channel series when he was out of town at some point last fall and kept talking about it and after he agreed to watch The Walking Dead with me, I had to agree to watch this with him, but I was sure that it was going to be boring as hell, because, c’mon, who’s heard of the History Channel breaking ground with scripted dramatic series lately? Turns out that it’s pretty exciting and fun and even though Alex originally wanted Sam to watch with us, he fortunately declined before the second episode when one of the vikings and his wife invite a priest to join them in a three-way.

Sons of Anarchy: I’m getting a little tired of this show. When I started watching it from season one about a year ago, I wasn’t sure I liked it. Then I really started to like it. Now I end up rolling my eyes at it more often than not, but at this point, I kind of feel like I have to see it through to the end, which is…I don’t know. I think they just keeeeeep making more episodes.

Orphan Black: Entertainment Weekly kept telling me that this was an awesome show, so I finally buckled and watched the first season of it this fall while I ran on my treadmill. EW was right. I’m totally hooked. It turns out that it is great fun to watch adorable clones and their friends.

Dexter: I was watching the last season of this on DVD without realizing that it was the last season (I thought there were nine seasons. Nope.). I am one episode away from the end and am sorry to see it go. Now I have to find another series to keep me busy while I run.

Books I’ve Read Recently:

The Interestings: I was kind of annoyed at this book from the beginning, but it was well written enough that it totally kept me entertained. I was way more interested in the peripheral characters than the main characters though and I was also highly fucking irritated at the book’s portrayal of the father-son relationship when the son in question was autistic. Honestly, that very minor part of the book annoyed me so much that I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?: God, I loved this book. It was funny and delightful and heartrending and truthful and now I want to go to Antarctica even more than I did before. Highly recommended.

The Divergent series: This is a young adult dystopian blah, blah, blah. I liked it though. It was fun. I loved The Hunger Games too, but I feel a little bit like Katniss was not an active participant in propelling the action. In this one, the main (female) character seemed much more proactive.

The Day by Day Armageddon series: Again, zombies. I find this trilogy interesting, because the first book was self-published at first and then became successful in the genre and the dude got a publishing deal. By the third book, the author is a much better writer (and features better copy editing), but the story got a little too broad for him to handle, I think. It’s not my favorite zombie fiction (that would be World War Z—the book), but it’s a decent way to kill some time. I’d read the first two a long time ago and had to reread them before I could read the third. It took me a long time because I couldn’t read them in waiting rooms and stuff because I was too embarrassed to be seen reading them in public.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: I’m reading this right now. This is, sort of obviously, a running memoir. I try to read a lot about running to help keep me motivated. If you’re new to running literature, though, you should totally start with Born to Run. I think that one is good for runners and non-runners alike.

Also, even though I haven’t read it for several months, I always say that if you haven’t read Life of Pi, you should. It’s one of my all-time favorites and a repeat read for me.

So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to. I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

Now, I want to hear from you:

What TV shows can I binge watch after I finish Dexter?

What books should I absolutely not miss?

What was your favorite movie this year?

Writing Love Stories

Figuring out how to write about my kids can be tough. In one sense, their story is my story. I have a lot invested in them and pretty much everything that happens to them has an effect on me. Much of it involves me. But, in another even more, you know, accurate sense, their story is their own. Walking the line between respecting their privacy and being able to write about my own life (which is usually intricately intertwined with theirs) can be tricky sometimes.

Plus, it is so fun to write stories about them and it makes me sad when I can’t write about something funny they did.

As they have gotten older, their stories have evolved from being ours to being theirs. I’m trying to respect this and make sure that I am not co-opting their beings unless I am doing it for a good reason. One of the good reasons I write about them is to keep a record for them. I hope that they will read this blog sometime and be able to see how amazing I have always found them all to be. I’ll co-opt for that.

Another reason is to educate or give support and sometimes I’ll write about my kids in order to get support or advice. Then there are times when I write just to entertain. Although there are some damn entertaining stories that haven’t passed my Older Kid Privacy Threshold Test, which irks me to no end.

I’ve always said that I write as if the person I am writing about is reading over my shoulder. That doesn’t mean that I won’t write things that will upset people, but I only write things that I am okay with the subject reading with my name attached as the author. At this point in my life, that means I don’t write things about my kids that would embarrass them or make them sad.

This is one of the reasons why you see less of my kiddos here on this blog. Well, that and because they are in school more often than they are at home, which means that it is their teachers who are probably getting the really good stories about them—although I do prefer that they don’t blog about my kids. Can you imagine? Like, http://thereisthiskidnamedQuinninmyclassOMG.blogspot.com

As it follows, there is also a lot more about me here lately. I’m hopeful that I come across as a bit of a narcissist because of this. (<—sarcasm)

But mostly I’m hoping that I can give my kids a written love story to them. Because that is the ultimate reason behind what I do here.

Raising-Cubby-by-John-Elder-Robison

This post was inspired by Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison. Robison does an excellent job walking that line of respecting his son as he manages to write funny, charming, and interesting stories about him. Even more relevant to my parenting experience, both father and son are autistic. Join From Left to Write on March 12 as we discuss Raising Cubby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

NetZero Mobile Wifi is Wifonderful!

I don’t do a lot of reviews here at Stimeyland anymore, but every once in a while something comes along that fits into my Criteria for Reviews. Those criteria are (1) the thing is Nintendo based, because Nintendo!, (2) the thing will result in Stimey making an ass of herself in public, creating fodder for an excellent post, or (3) that rarest of things—something that I really need, like actually need.

NetZero-4G-Mobile-HotSpotThis review falls into the last category. NetZero contacted me a while ago about reviewing their 4G Mobile Broadband hotspot. The hotspot is basically mobile wifi that you carry with you. I was intrigued by this because I have a little bit of an internet addiction and while I usually don’t, you know, NEED wifi when I’m out and about, sometimes it is really handy to have. And, yes, sometimes I actually do need it.

So here’s the thing. The NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband Hotspot is awesome. I am a big fan. I am very happy with the hotspot and it is likely that I will continue to pay for service after my review service contract runs out. That is saying something. There are lots of things that I like and say are great because they are but that I might not spend my own money on. This I would.

So: Yes to NetZero, BUT there are some things I should tell you.

YAY! The hotspot can supply up to 8 devices with wifi at one time. NetZero also offers a stick hotspot that you can put in your laptop, but it just works on the one device. This thing I just put in my bag (it’s a couple of inches square and less than an inch thick) and it runs my iPad, iPhone, laptop, Alex’s laptop, Alex’s iPhone… Seriously, it’s awesome. We don’t have enough portable devices to max this thing out—and we have a lot of portable devices.

BOO! My hotspot didn’t work right out of the box. As a matter of fact, I had such a hard time getting it to work that I was convinced that I was not in a coverage area. I finally ended up calling the customer service number and they were able to help me. It turns out that I had to hard reboot the thing or something. Once it worked though, it worked. I live in the DC suburbs and I get coverage pretty much anywhere I am. You should definitely make sure there is NetZero 4G coverage where you want to use the hotspot though, because it isn’t available everywhere. There is a map on their website.

YAY! Once I got the hotspot working, I used it around the town. Then I really decided to test it out on our trip to New York. We used the hell out of that thing. Hotel wifi cost $15 a day, and we were able to just use the hotspot instead. We did run out of data (right in the middle of me streaming a movie even), but you should consider that Alex was telecommuting off the thing, we were streaming movies for our kids in the hotel room, I was blogging, and we were using our mobile devices on it when we were out in the city. If you run out, you have the option of buying more data as well. (Data plans range from $10/month to $50/month.) Using it in a less high-demand way this January, we have yet to run out of data.

BOO! I have had a hard time logging into the website to access my account, which I think is mostly a function of my being on a press account for reviewing the device. If you signed up yourself, I think it would be not a problem. That said, I am not able to access information on how much data I’ve used, etc. to help you decide what amount of data you might need.

YAY! I used to buy a cellular plan for my iPad whenever I traveled or my power went out so I would have easy access to the internet. I would buy the cheapest monthly plan at $20. It was great. But the hotspot price is totally comparable and you can have wifi for up to 8 devices. The hotspot itself costs $99.95, but it is on sale for $49.98 at the NetZero website.

YAY! So, how do I use this thing? The hotspot isn’t something that will replace my home internet. We have too many devices/data needs for that. But my home internet is crappy and sometimes doesn’t work in my living room, so I can use my hotspot there if the home wifi is acting up. I also watch Netflix while I run on my treadmill (OMG, Sons of Anarchy! Why did no one tell me to watch this show?) and that corner of my house is the least likely to get a home wifi signal, so I use my hotspot there. I also consider my iPad to be a tool to help me with my neurodiverse kids. If they get overwhelmed and need to calm down, my iPad is something that really helps. However, some of the games (Dragonvale!) need internet access to work. If I have my hotspot with me, it’s not a problem.

BOO! Sometimes the rechargeable battery will run down on you. I think the battery life is six hours, which in almost all cases is enough, but you have to remember to charge your hotspot every night. It is quick to pick up its charge though (YAY!)

YAY! The coverage where I have used the hotspot is really good. When I talked to customer service, they told me that the hotspot wouldn’t work in my house, just outside on the street, but it still works in my house. I have used it on major highways and have lost the signal here and there, but it’s been pretty consistent. It even held its connection when I went through a tunnel once. I could not, however, get a signal at the top of the Empire State Building.

Connected in a tunnel!

Connected in a tunnel!

BOO! There is a free data option, so you can use your hotspot without paying a monthly fee. However, that data plan only gives you 200MB a month. I am guessing that most people probably use more than that. When I used to add a cellular plan to my iPad for travel, I would buy the smallest amount, which was 1GB for $20 and it was a good amount for me for that device. 1GB also costs $20 for the hotspot. If you only use a little bit of data, you might be able to get away with the no charge plan.

BOTTOM LINE! I would never have bought this device because I get nervous about gadget purchases and part of me didn’t really believe it would work. I would have hemmed and hawed and thought it was a really good idea, but I would never have believed it would work. I’m a believer now. It is so handy to have this little gadget all the time, but it was crazy awesome to have when traveling. I was super frustrated with it at first and was ready to throw it out the window, but once I got it to work, it has become an indispensable part of my stable of gadgets. I have been really pleased with this and would recommend it to people who are looking for something to help them with their mobile wifi needs.

I would have had lots of questions if I were thinking about buying one of these. Let me know if you have questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!

Disclosure: I received a free hotspot to review. I was also given a year’s free data service

My Epic Nintendo Post

So, you may know that I am a Nintendo Brand Ambassador and they keep sending me all of these awesome things that I have been woefully remiss in telling you about. I had the best of intentions to write about them as they came in, but then everything in my life imploded in October and November. So I’ve decided to do it all here in one post, which I will call my Nintendo Shopping Guide of New and Awesome Things in the Nintendo World That I Have Recently Acquired.

1. Let’s talk about the 3DS. First off, I know a lot of people have reservations about the 3DS, but we LOVE ours. And now that it is not much more expensive than the regular DSi, I think it is the perfect time to think about buying one for your kids. There is a ton that this thing can do. It’s really cool. Plus you can buy it in red. Hit me with your concerns in the comments and I’ll let you know based on my experience what I think about it.

2. Did someone say Star Fox 64 3D? Yes. Yes, someone did. Waaaay back in, like, 1998, Alex and I used to spend a LOT of time playing Nintendo 64. We had epic Mario Kart tournaments, but one of our favorites was Star Fox 64. Now, Star Fox is available for the 3DS, with gyroscope controls (steer by moving the whole 3DS—it’s kinda badass) and super awesome cartoon animal action!

Although either the game has gotten harder or my reflexes have gotten slower in the past 13 years.

You wanna know something else cool? When my Star Fox 64 3D came in the mail, it came with this awesome flight bag, which is maybe my favorite thing ever.

Oh, hi, Algernon.

I took the bag to a PTA meeting at some point and someone saw it and thought it was real and was really excited about it and my supposed military service and then I had to admit that Nintendo sent it to me in honor of a cartoon fox.

3. If you have a kid with a 3DS, buy him or her Super Mario 3D Land for the holidays. This game is all kinds of fun. The Super Mario type games are my favorites. I hoarded this game for myself for a while because I knew that once I let my kids see it, I wouldn’t get it back…ever. I was also afraid that seeing as how there are only three slots for games and there are three of THEM, that they would erase my game in favor of a Team Stimey Junior game.

Not to mention that once your kids have handed your ass to you by breezing by all your accomplishments, it gets a little less fun to play. It kind of reminds you how quickly you’re moving toward not knowing how to change the clock on the VCR. Or whatever the 2011 version of that is.

I would also like to share with you some of the really hilarious things that the Nintendo people sent me along with this game. If you’ve played the game, you know that Mario can wear a raccoon suit, which gives him all sorts of advantages. Naturally, my kids call the raccoon suit “the squirrel,” which is all I can remember anymore when I’m playing.

Wait. That’s not the only thing I can remember. I also remember this:

Problem Girl, this if for your file. (Alex, Embarrassing Photos of…)

If you prefer your Mario Squirrel with a mustache, well, here you go:

I was a little concerned that this would turn into DuckHead Part II,
but so far so good.

For those less inclined to wear the (faux) skin of a raccoon squirrel on their heads, there is this nifty mirror that does just about the same thing.

It was surprisingly difficult to get this photo.

And just because I didn’t want to leave Sam out, I bribed him with a dollar to wear this:

He was NOT happy.

4. I don’t know what Fortune Street is, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to buy it. Sam came home from school the other day with a folder featuring a Nintendo game I’d never heard of. He says that his teacher gave one to every student in the class. I actually have a number of questions to ask the teacher about this, but I will probably never do so.

“See, Mom! Fortune Street!”

Clearly Sam has been enjoying my Nintendo Ambassadorship because he was all, “Can we borrow this game, Mom? So we can advertise it? Like how you always want us to test games out for you?”

Did I mention that Sam no longer believes in Santa, but he evidently believes in the Nintendo Fairy?

Honestly, though, I kinda do too.

There you have it: Soul sold to Nintendo. I should DISCLOSE here that the games mentioned here, as well as the 3DS and fun accessories, were given to me at no charge. Including the raccoon head. Which is awesome. All opinions expressed here are my own. Especially the opinion about the raccoon head being awesome.

Also? This is awesome.

That poor dog.

Not to Imply That My Friends and I Are 6-Year-Old Children, But, Yeah, We Kinda Are

Last Friday I went to the movies with my friend ALW. She suggested that we go see Adam, which is a love story about a young man with Asperger’s. It was a phenomenal movie and I’m tremendously happy that we went to see it.

In some places, the movie was difficult for me to watch. In fact, I was stifling big, ugly sobs right from the beginning. But the ending was so honest, so perfect, so wonderful and inspiring that it made all of the tears worthwhile.

Unfortunately, that ending was slightly overshadowed by an incident in the theater in which ALW and I were sitting. Like I said, it was Friday night and the small theater was packed. There were very few empty seats. ALW and I were about halfway back on the left.

Here is our view of the screen:


It was maybe 20 minutes before the end of the movie, when this guy stood up:


Evidently this guy needed to get out of the theater. And in what I can only assume was an effort to not disturb the people on his left and right, he decided to go over the empty seats in front of him instead of sidling down his row to the aisle.

So the guy threw his leg over the seat in front of him. And everyone in the theater could see him doing it. Although his actions were not obtrusive. Yet.


We continued to watch the movie, while the guy continued to crawl over the seat.

Almost there!


And then, when he was aaaaalllllllmost there, he’d practically gone all the way over the chair, it happened. There he was…ass up in the air…silhouetted in front of the screen…right down there in the second row…in a practically silent theater…


…and he farted.

Loud.

And the entire theater heard it. And we all tried to act like it didn’t happen.

With the possible exception of ALW who was trying so hard to not audibly laugh that she was shaking uncontrollably. And I am not normally the type of person who is like, “Ha, ha, someone farted! Ha, ha!” (Evidently ALW is.) But I have never seen such an obvious fart set up quite so perfectly in front of such a large group of people.

It is, quite possibly, one of the top five funniest things that has ever happened near me.

The movie ended. I cried a little more. I accused ALW of acting like an infant. And we’re on the escalator headed out of the theater and ALW and I and the couples both ahead and behind us all started laughing about the fart.

It was, most definitely, the most distracting fart I have ever been witness to.

Photo from the movie Adam was borrowed from Fox Searchlight. (Go see Adam. It was a great movie, and well worth your time. Take tissues. And do not—DO NOT—climb over theater seats if you are feeling gastrointestinally challenged.)

The Image For My Guest Review on Another Site is Right Here

Hi everyone! I’m over at Momicillin today reviewing a Wii game that I bought Quinn for his birthday, Animal Crossing: City Folk. I’m thrilled to be part of the Momicillin team even if only as a guest reviewer. You can find my review here.

Of course, when I was approached to do a review at the excellent Momicillin, my first question was not “What should I review?” but rather “Do I get my very own glam sketch?” If you’ve been to Momicillin you know of what I speak.

Unfortunately their answers were “give us some ideas of things you want to review” and “No, you lunatic. You don’t get a sketch.” Or something to that effect. I’m not quite sure because I’m still a little bit bitter and hurt.

Regardless, read my review and gaze at my very own glam sketch that I have created and posted here.

Selling Out

Thus far I haven’t done many reviews. Really, I did one. And then I unintentionally did another one. But then I went to BlogHer and the VTech people had all these cool toys there, and I couldn’t control myself, so I wrote my information down on a piece of paper for them.

And then they emailed me and were all like, “Hey, do you want free VTech stuff? ‘Cause you can be part of our demo team, which means we’ll send you free stuff and you’ll give us feedback.”

Or something like that. I totally didn’t get very far because I mostly saw the words “free VTech stuff.”

And I emailed back to tell them that, yes, I would be delighted to receive free VTech stuff, and what are your expectations, and here are my kids’ genders and ages, and they really like hand-held video games.

And then a few days later, a giant box arrived in the mail.

I have happily entered the world of product review.

If you would like to hear some of my happy thoughts on VTech’s V-Motion and VWhatsahooey, check out my new review blog: Things. And Stuff.