Monday, February 7, 2011

Tiger Mom vs Amber

The same week that Amy Chua's controversial book Tiger Mom came out... Kamran was moved up to a new classroom. His teacher decided to move him, mid-term, to a big-kid room. More academics. More written homework. More reading. More math. Kamran is three years old.

I did not fully understand the implications of this move until Kamran began to struggle and cry every morning when I dropped him off. Used to be that he ran away from me into the playground without a glance back. That was in November, December and I sang the blues to my mommy that it was breakin' my heart "Ma' kid he done growed up all so quick!" Ridiculous I know. But I wanted my three-foot mop-headed tot to need me more. Be careful what you wish for.

It was January and he clung to me like a spider monkey and I was the tall branch and he wa slooking for, well, spiders to chomp on (or whatever the heck it is they eat - if I was really a good reporter I would just Google what they eat...oh, never mind). Neway I had to wriggle to break free of his death-vice grip. Tears sprung from his big almond eyes. Now THAT broke my heart. "No don't leave me." Who wants to hear that every morning?

And in the evening his complaint would be: "Lion, jaguar. I saw sand. And then Ms. Monica said there was an alphabet and I pee-peed on the potty all by myself. And I was happy but i didn't want to nap can I watch Diego today? I really like Max and Ruby. Where's my cement truck? I'm hungry. I want to eat chicken. Are there mini Wheats? Ryan's shoe was blue. I like red. Is that my crayon." You see where this is going? A three-year-old's recollections and ability to explain his feelings are like a pot of spaghetti. It's just a jumbled mess and very messy and difficult to separate each strand to see clearly!

I will say that I'm not the kind of parent who believes in pushing her kid. I really don't. I believe the ages 0-5 are the play years. He's got plenty o time to stress and study and stress and work and sweat and hunker down over textbooks and stay up all night until his eyes bug out. Oh dear I am dating myself. I guess he'll be holding an iPad or whatever the next generation of technology will be by the time he gets there. You get the drift.

The point is I don't push. So Kamran's crying jags continued he'd come home with 12 pages of work. His pudgy little fingers spent hours a day writing rather than colouring or scrabbling around in the dirt looking for worms or rocks or climbing the jungle gym. And that upset me. And... One big parent/teacher conference later.... and....

Here's what ended up happening..... Oh, I'll tell ya later!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Movie Review - TRON: Legacy

There was a moment early in TRON: Legacy that my husband turned to me and said, “Holy Hell am I ever glad I’m not trapped in a videogame. If I was Sam I would have committed suicide by now.” He was joking, of course, but his reaction illustrated how difficult Sam’s task was.

If you’ve seen the original TRON (I hadn’t) you’ll know that Sam Flynn played by the oh-so-easy-on-les-yeux Garrett Hedlund (the young actor from Troy who looks like Brad Pitt and who got his throat slit accidentally by Eric Bana’s Hector) is the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). In the 1982 film, the elder Flynn created a program called CLU, his digital doppelganger, as well as the do-gooder program, TRON, to help him create a digital Utopia.

For no apparent reason, old-man Flynn was sucked into the digital underworld where he fought CLU (who turned to the dark side) to stay alive for two decades on the deadly grid. In TRON: Legacy, Sam somehow ends up in getting “sucked” into the same game and valiantly goes to rescue daddy-o, who he hasn’t seen since childhood…and who he thought abandoned him.

That be the plot. I wish there were more.

Here’s the good stuff. The soundtrack. In a word - AWESOME. Buy it, download it. Listen to it. Love it. I loved it. At the media screening on Monday night the sound-check ran late so the film started an hour late. It was well worth it. The El Capitan Theater in L.A. shook and rocked and rolled …

The special effects are spectacular – it’s so pretty and crisp. It’s like living a tidy ice-house lit up by the Northern Lights. During the Lightcycle race (think chunky motorcycle covered with rows of Christmas lights), the screen is filled with trails of ice blue and green and purple and red. Uber-modern.

The costumes. Sam Flynn and Quorra a program who helps Kevin Flynn (Olivia Wilde from House) wear skin-tight motocross-inspired suits that light up. She wears platform shoes with cutout heels and some of the guys are in corsets. It’s so stylish, with shades of Barbarella though not the grit of Mad Max or Bladerunner. All in all, the wardrobe has the elegance of The Matrix. And Tronnies (Tronites?) can have a piece of that elegance by shelling out. There’s a clothing collection designed by Opening Ceremony (available in West Hollywood and online) and jewelry designed by Tom Tom.

The actors. Jeff Bridges. It’s obvious he’s having a blast. As the aging and trapped Kevin Flynn, he walks around the grid in flowing white robes and with one touch of his hand shows how much power he still has. He is the creator after all. But he’d rather not show his power. He’d rather find Zen, man.

I'm a fan of Olivia Wilde primarily because her mom is the amazing journalist/producer Leslie Cockburn who wrote a great book Looking for Trouble in which she chronicles, among other things, the destruction of Somalia while six months preggers with Olivia, voyages to Afghanistan and Haiti, and befriending Pablo Escobar. Cockburn was Peter Jenning’s producer and she co-wrote a book with her husband upon which The Peacemaker (with George Clooney) is based.

Wilde delivers one of my favorite lines in the film as Quorra to Sam: “Do you know Jules Verne?” I won’t say anymore. Let’s just say that she needs to get out more.

Michael Sheen (The Queen, 30 Rock, Underworld) who plays Castor is terrific although I didn’t really understand why his character was in the film. Is there any role this actor can’t conquer? He just consumes every scene he is in especially when he’s in a top hat and tails and singing with glee.

All in all, TRON: Legacy is a treat for your eyes thought not necessarily for your mind. It won’t be fun to watch on a small screen like say your iPhone or DROID or even on your 60-inch home telly.

Oh, and not to forget that first fight-to-the-death scene on the grid (that my husband referred to) where the newly arrived Sam fights a growling masked goon/program. Call me chicken but I’d rather jump off the grid by choice and shatter into millions of bits and bytes, than have one of those freakishly pretty Frisbees of death cut through my flesh. But I’m not Sam and my dad’s not trapped in a videogame.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


(Double-click on images to enlarge and read article from Chatelaine.)

For my complete interview with Kim Raver, pick up the November 2010 issue of Chatelaine magazine

Friday, October 8, 2010

Columbus Day Sale at L.A.'s The Address Boutique

Like a child coveting a new toy at Christmas, I often press my face up to the windows of Gucci, Chanel, and Versace, to stare at the glittering treasures inside.

If you’re like me and want to dress like a diva but have the budget of a church mouse get thee to The AdDress Boutique this weekend. For every $100 you spend at the designer resale store in Santa Monica, you get a $25 gift certificate (expires on U.S. Thanksgiving).

The AdDress Boutique is where stylists for celebs like Lindsay Lohan, Heather Graham, and Sharon Stone go to sell designer duds when the star has worn them once too many. Which is to say they’ve worn an outfit twice. And sometimes not at all.

I wandered in there today and was gob-smacked to see reasonable prices on an entire shelf of designer handbags. Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton all murmured suggestively “Buy me.” A black suede ruffle bag by YSL was $185 (USD). A gorgeous purple patent Salvatore Ferragamo was $395.

In the back were racks of pretty shoes. Golden Christian Louboutin slides for $175. Manolo Blahnik pumps for $135. An Herve Leger rainbow bandage dress that retails for $2250 at Nieman Marcus was priced at $695.

Unable to wait for the weekend sale, I hankered after a pair of oversized Dolce Gabbana sunglasses ($160 down from $395). Salesperson Crissy Madden convinced me they looked fabulous on me, even more so than the $190 Chanel cat-eye glasses. That's salemanship! It’s not Christmas…but, hey it was my birthday last week.

The AdDress Boutique ( is at 1116 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica

Monday, September 27, 2010

Child of Thieves

When you see thieves on film they're always glamorous. It's George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven, all chisel-jawed, debonair, hunky, stealing with hi-tech flair. Or there's suave Cary Grant stealing priceless baubles and Princess Grace's heart in To Catch a Thief.

It sure as heck ain't like that in real life. Thieves are missing teeth, have pock-marked skin, greasy hair and shabby clothes; well, at least it looks that way judging by the mug shots on Bad Boys.

My one and only collision with the dark underbelly of crooks and thieves came when I was 13 - that awkward time between youth and adulthood when you don't fit in anywhere. Still like the comfort of childhood but covet adult things although you're not quite sure what to do with them.

I was in a smoke and gift shop - that's what they called convenience stores in the late 1980s - in a plaza not far from my parents' house. It was a narrow twig of a shop with two aisles. There was a deep freezer at the back filled with ice-cream, shelves of magazines, chocolate bars, Dettol, Archie comic books, and cigarettes behind the counter. No gifts to speak of.

My accomplice, Sherry, hissed at me, "Take the Mr. Freezie! Put it in your shirt!" Now any sane person would know better than to put a 12-inch hunk of ice down her shirt but I was impressionable i.e. stupid, so I grabbed the big white one (Crush flavour), stuffed it down my blouse and hoofed it for the door. I didn't make it. A cold hand was on my back. Nails scratched me. Sherry was out the door. "Wait for me! Sherry!! Sherry!" She didn't look back.

Through the large windows of the storefront I saw Sherry jump on her purple beachcruiser and tear down the plaza sidewalk. She didn't look back. She was shaking. At first I thought she was afraid and then I realized she was laughing. At me. At my stupidity.

The cold hand swung me around. It was the owner. The slender Chinese man who owned the store and to whom I'd said hello to so many times before. The man I'd paid money to for Mars bars and wax vampire teeth and gobstoppers and silly string.

"Who are you? Who is your father?," he said, "Where you live? Why are you stealing from me?" He lectured me on and on. It took everything not to pee my pants. The Mr. Freezie was still in my blouse and it was melting. I handed it to him. He didn't take it. Just looked disgusted. Gestured to the garbage can.

I began to cry. I spilled details like a bag of torn peas from the freezer. I told him my dad's name, where we lived. He made me write it down. He even checked it against the phone book. I thought I'd throw up. "Go home and pay me for what you stole. Right now. Go home and come right back."

"If you're not back in 10 minutes I'll send the police to your house." I was too young to know the police wouldn't come to his store for a 25-cent-theft. Or maybe they would have.

By the time I got back the store owner was angrier than before. He gave me another lecture. "You're an immigrant. You have to work harder that these people around you. You should be ashamed. Your father should be ashamed."

When he mentioned my father I couldn't bear it. "Never come back to my shop. Ever."

I cried again. "I'm sorry," I squeaked. I was a worm. Less than a worm.

When I went to school the next day, Sherry had told my classmates and they thought it was hilarious. Of course I'd have been a hero if I'd gotten away with my 25-cent-heist.

"You dipshit," Sherry said, when I told her what happened. "Why didn't you tell him your dad was John Smith or something?"

I couldn't think as quickly as her. Did I look like my dad's name is John? I'm brown-skinned you idiot I whispered under my breath.

Looking back I recall having monster fights with my mom who didn't want me to be Sherry's friend. "She's not your kind of girl." And she was right.

And now it's my turn to be bitch-slapped by my know-it-all kid. He's only three-years-old, but I know that the teenage train will be here soon. I can feel it thundering towards me! Will he listen to me? How do I get him to listen to me?!!

I watch him in the play-yard at school. Sometimes he's the alpha male, sometimes he sets the rules, sometimes he lets someone else do the bossing around. And sometimes he's democratic.

I wonder what stupid things he'll do. Who will he try to impress?How do I get him to avoid the mistakes I made?

How do I get him to listen to me when I didn't listen to my own mom and dad - who were AMAZING parents? There are no answers in the movies. There are no answers in self-help books. I just have to bumble along and watch and listen to him and hope and pray that I figure out good parenting as I go along.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm at Rocky Horror's 35th Anniversary Convention in L.A.!

I remember the first time I saw him, the “Sweet Transvestite of Transexual, Transylvania”. I was in Grade 13, wide-eyed and (mostly) innocent and Tim Curry’s Frank-N-Furter was shocking and sexy. I'd joined 10 friends in a local air-band competition and we chose to perform two songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Fifteen years after its release the film was still inspiring teens’ make-up and wardrobe choices. (We came in second to a group from another high school that did Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. Gag.)

But I digress. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the cult musical, and downtown L.A.’s Million Dollar Theater hosts the annual Rocky Horror Convention from Sept. 23-25. (

I’ll be there – in jeans – eyeballing convention-goers in fishnets and corsets (and less than that) as they preen for the costume pageant, autograph sessions, star Q&A, and screening.

Barry Bostwick who played Brad Majors hosts; Cliff De Young (Shock Treatment) and other talent are booked.

If you can't get to the convention, practice your Time Warp dance and check out Glee’s tribute episode on Oct. 26. (FOX/Global). Meat Loaf and Bostwick guest star as TV station managers wooing Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). Curry has apparently said no. I, for one, will ache for his lasciviousness and delicious humour.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Here's my interview with Kristen Bell. (In case you're wondering how to read the miniscule type, just double-click on the article.) She was lovely. I've interviewed her once before, on the set of Veronica Mars in its first season. She's as big as a blade of grass and has big opinions. I've interviewed a lot of celebs and I got the sense that she really wants to have as "quiet" a life as possible in Hollywood...and yet make positive contributions to the planet too. Bonne chance!

For the complete story pick up the October 2010 issue of Chatelaine magazin