Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mars Needs Moms Needs You

Nothing like a traumatic intergalactic experience to tighten the bond between mother and child.  Disney's Mars Needs Moms is --wait for it-- Gribbletastic!  This movie hits home for this blog because even as the premise is all about children learning to appreciate their moms, the deeper message is all about parenting. 

Metaphors flew everywhere!

The mommy Martians who had to design nannybots to discipline their little Martian kids because they have absolutely no time to do so stereotypes the human career woman mom who can't be bothered with parenting that she has to hire a babysitter.

When the Martian moms decided that the Martian dads did nothing but goof around and so had them all banished typifies the idea that men don't ever grow up.  Ok, maybe some don't.  But the movie also showed that it was the dads who connected better with their kids because of this.  The banishment is the Martian's over-the-top way of divorce.

The old, prune-skinned Martian dame of a supervisor represents good ol' mother-in-law who would do anything to get in the middle of her daughter's marriage and gingerly poke her gnarly fingers into the disciplinary process of her grandchildren.

In the end, Mars Needs Moms, although billeted as a kids' movie, is a parents' movie as well.  It's a wake up call.  Do great with your parenting and... and you won't have to kidnap a parent from another planet to do it for you.  Haha!  Or... or, do great with your parenting, earn the envy of your extraterrestrial peers, win a free trip to outer space, plus, a laser treatment!  Woohoo!
No, seriously.  Do great with your parenting as a unit of mother and father... and have a happy family.  The end.  Simple.  But like I said, it hits home. 

Wonderfully crafted from messages to images, Mars Needs Moms is a must-see for the whole brood.
(That's 'Awesome!' in Mars-speak.  Look it up.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Freebie Toy War

There's a monthly food war in this household.  And more often than not... the toys win.

My boys buy McDonald's Happy Meals and Jollibee Kid's Meals because of the toys.  The meals that come with them ARE the freebies.

I think McDonald's knows this and embraces it.  It has brilliant toys.  Sturdy, long-lasting ones.  And it almost always ties up with the coolest movie of the moment in all authentic quality.

Jollibee does that, too.  But there would be times when it would stray.  During those instances, the kids' meal would come with some lame washing machine toy, a pathetic Jollibee mascot toy that not all kids find adorable, or some movie toy that somehow looks fake.

Oh and don't get me started on toughness.  Kids' toys in general should be built to withstand wear and tear and tantrums galore.  Jollibee's toys don't meet that challenge quite as much as McDonald's.

What the toy does is a big plus.  Both fast food joints meet head to head on this, but I'm taking Jollibee's side here.  I like it that usually the Happy Meal would have movie toys that, at a push of a button, would say popular lines from the movie.  The Kid's Meal toys' strength is on usability.  They would have TV show toys that double as sharpeners, stampers, pencils, sticker dispensers.  And being the queen of value-for-money, that's way awesome to me.

Now what about the food?  McDonald's wins that fight, too.  My boys find its fries just a bit crunchier and juicier, and the spaghetti, meatier and tastier.
So whenever Jollibee comes out with a better toy, we go out and buy some Jollibee Kid's Meal (and when I say 'some', I mean until we get to collect all the toys available for that particular monthly theme --and they're a lot!), and then swing by McDonald's to get Happy Meals for dinner.  That's paying double!
And that is when the queen of value-for-money... fails.

This is why I'm happier when McDonald's Happy Meal wins the war.  Thank goodness it usually does.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Discovering by Dismantling

Kids are natural builders and inventors.  That's how rich their imaginations are.  And that's how they learn construction and possibilities.  But have you ever tried doing the reverse?

Give them an old, non-working toy and a couple of screwdrivers --and let the dismantling begin!

Aside from the utmost thrill of taking something apart, just like inventing and building, dismantling is a good 'construction and possibilities' learning tool.  Kids learn care and craftsmanship.  They learn how one piece attaches to another and another to create a cohesive whole.  They learn cause-and-effect.  How flicking one lever can will this doodad to open and bump this thingamajig so that it makes this gizmo make a sound. Why, they may even find out why the old toy isn't working anymore.

Their imaginations are put to work through the ultimate euphoria of discovery.... one revelation after another.

Of course, 45 popped screws later, this carnage is expected.
What --nobody said anything about putting all the pieces back together, right?  One lesson at a time, come on.

ps.  It goes without saying (but I will anyway), parental supervision during dismantling is required and thorough hand-washing immediately after.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rango: Watch At Your Own Risque

Johnny Depp --frankly, that's the only thing that drew us to this movie.  He did the Corpse Bride, Pirates of the Carribean, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory --how can Rango do wrong?

Well, it did.  For me.  A bit.  While the premise of 'Reinventing yourself' was original and solid, I felt that the execution had some bugs in it.  An old Western to me is, well, old.  A city boy lost in the country is old for me, too.  And I have issues with the script and a couple of scenes.  My prudish, maternal mind tells me that jokes about being ready to mate, having prostate problems, and a mom having an active, crossbreeding social life don't sit well in a kiddie movie.  Likewise, Rango flirting with the naked torso of a Barbie doll, and the bad dude snake licking the face of the damsel in distress.
But hey, that's just me.

I love the use of a chameleon (which Rango is) to perfectly illustrate the concept of self-reinvention though.  How else can you debunk the idea of 'blending in' but by making use of an individual known to do nothing but 'blend in'?  That was one eureka moment! The texture of the movie is incredible, too --from animal fur, feather, and scale.  The music is almost awesome.  And as usual, Johnny Depp (who Rango is) does the character justice.
So I might just be a tad too hard on the movie.  I could be secretly comparing it to Toy Story 3 which is very unfair.

At the end of the day, the boys DID like Rango  --what with all the chasing and gun-slinging action.  The film IS for them anyway.  So if I were to ignore that stupid 'mating-ready, prostate-problematic, crossbreeding mom, Barbie-fetishing, and face-licking' bit, maybe the movie IS kinda ok.  Not excellent, but ok. A good one-time watch, I suppose. 

Oh but I did like the bullet-strapping, machine gun-toting antagonist, Rattlesnake Jake!  If only he was given more exposure (over and above licking a lady lizard's face), I'd be a happier camper.

Monday, March 7, 2011

DIY Doggie Duds: La Belle Epoch

OH MY GOD!  I've become one of those pet parents who dress up their dogs in frilly frocks to the mall!

Not quite.  This happens to be Alpha's very first homemade costume to the Hobbes and Landes La Belle Epoch Pet Club fashion show.  Why homemade?  Because pet clothes are insanely expensive.  More ridiculously expensive than human clothes.  Even more so if the requirements are specially-made Victorian doggie duds!

It's easy, really.  If you're semi-friends with a sewing kit and own an old lacy shirt you'd be shot dead wearing in public again --then you're good to go.

Cut the shirt in half, and sew one half in a tube structure that would hug your dog's body ever so snugly.  Pay close attention to the neck and leg holes.  Your dog has to move freely.

Add unnecessary lacy embellishments that would make Liberacci and Prince proud.  Just make sure your dog won't be able to reach them and tear into them.  That would be damn frustrating.

It's dire important to consider plumbing, too.  Leave an opening on the dress for little accidents -- without sacrificing style, of course.

Hey presto!  I've got a lovely puppy who can rock any puppy party!

Plus, a proud dad seeing his baby belle blossom into Victorian womanhood.
*le sigh*

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The One-Foot Rule

This school rule reminds me of that Harry Potter scene where the very prude, very pink Dolores Umbridge shook her wand to separate a couple of high school kids doing some breaktime lovey-dovey in the hall.

It IS applicable in middle school and high school, I suppose.  But applying this rule to primary schoolers --and even Prep kids-- is just weird.

Imagine disallowing hugs between 7-year olds.  Or banning 8-year olds from skipping while holding hands.  That's supposed to be cute, right?  And innocent!  When the school tells these children that such show of playful friendship is actually taboo, that's introducing the concept of malice at a very early age.

It also alarms me that some schools put a censorship on kids calling each other 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend'.  What!  He's a 'boy' and he's a 'friend'!  Geez.  Oh, and kids giving each other cute little drawings of flowers or hearts.  Whoa!  Where's the fire???  That's friendship, prude patrol.  It's not a wedding ring or a condom.  Double geez.

I understand that these days, paranoia is a handy thing to have.  But too much of it can just spell trouble where it never existed before.  Now children will wonder why the simplest of actions have become 'bad'.  And, more often than not, when kids know something is 'bad' --they'll do it behind authority's back.

Now look what you've done.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Creative Manila To A Freelanzilla

SAHM.  WAHM.  Thank you, ma'am!

When you leave the rat race cold turkey, you're like a severed arm from the industry you've carefully, maniacally built your career on.  Suddenly you're wiped out from seminar lists, workshop invites, swanky parties.  And that's a no-no if you plan to get freelance writing gigs with the very little downtime you have at home.  You still need to get exposed.  Learn new tricks of the trade.  Find out what's up and see where you can squeeze yourself in.
What I do is ram a whole lot of self-study in between housework, family time, and existing writing jobs.  The internet has become my friend.  And Creative Manila... my very bestest friend.

Creative Manila is a fun, totally free flowing share site where you feed, learn, drop, chat...
It's like Starbucks with your good ol' creative team minus the caffeine and the people-heckling.  It's like social time at the Ad Congress minus the booze (ah, bummer).  It's like Jobstreet minus the inactive, impersonal touch.  It's like a walk into a museum of great art minus the entrance fee.  Creative Manila gives you anything and everything that spells inspiration and opportunity... in the comfort of your home.

And it does it grassroots-style.  So unlike the other more popular advertising sites that have nothing to offer but gossipy news about bigwigs --where this famous Creative honcho has moved and what kind of furniture the new offices of so and so top 5 agencies have.  How can a workaholic work-from-home mom possibly grow with that info?

Now excuse me while I absorb all this creativity while chatting with a friend on another window, while watching Kick Buttowski on TV, while waiting for the meat in the pot to tenderize.