Archive - February, 2012

Behind the scenes at

I’m not very Internet savvy. I don’t know the difference between SEO and SEM nor do I care to know. I used to check my analytics, but I honestly don’t care to anymore. I did stumble across some website stats while I was googling myself (Oh, come on–don’t tell me you’ve never done that) and was pretty shocked at the number of estimated daily page views this blog receives. HELLO LURKERS!

I write this blog because I enjoy writing it and I’m hoping that on any given day, some people will enjoy reading it. I’ve never given much thought to placing ads on this site, although I will promote people and/or products I believe in.

Last week I received an email from a digital marketing firm (whatever that is) asking if I’d be interested in placing a small, text-based ad on my site. I’ve received requests like this before and simply deleted them, but for whatever reason, I replied back saying that I might be interested, depending on the size of the ad and what they were advertising. After a couple of emails back and forth and reading the terms and conditions of the ad, I realized that the “small text ad” was a backlink. What’s a backlink? Glad you asked:

A backlink is a link coming from another website to your own. The number and quality of backlinks that your site has can affect your search engine optimization efforts, as some search engines provide significant weight to the backlinks of a site. (Source:

I use backlinks all the time. Whether it’s to link back to a previous post I’ve written or to provide a link back to another site I’ve referenced in a blog post. But that’s different. I make it clear (at least I hope I do) that if you click on the link it’s going to take you exactly where you expect to go. And based on the sample copy they provided me, that’s not exactly how these backlinks work. In exchange for a set payment to me (which, under the terms and conditions of the agreement, I would not be allowed to tell you about), I would write a blog post and place a backlink back to their client’s sight within the body of the text. So, it might look something like this:

Child of the 80’s

image courtesy of

My formative years of junior high and high school were spent in the late 70’s to mid 80’s. Musically speaking, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time when MTV and VH1 actually played music videos instead of mind numbing, soul sucking reality television 24-7. It was the era of the Go-go’s, the B-52’s, Peter Gabriel and Rick Astley. Good times, bad times. You know I’ve had my share.

See what I did there? If you clicked on “Rick Astley”, you got Rick-rolled. And that’s essentially what I think these hidden text ads are equivalent to. They’re inherently dishonest, and I just can’t have ads like that on my blog no matter how much they’re offering to pay me for the space. When I expressed my reservations about these type of ads, their response was to offer me more money.

Long story short, they will not be placing ads on this site now or ever. I appreciate that you take time out of your busy days to visit this silly little blog, and the least I can do to show my appreciation is to be upfront about what you’re going to find here. In the words of Rick Astley, Never gonna give you up, never go let you down, never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

image courtesy of

If I ever DO run ads on this site, they will be for products or services I unequivocally stand behind and support like New Blog Hosting or SwitchFlops by Lindsay Phillips (who currently does not advertise on this site, but call me, we’ll talk. I love me a good flip flop.)

The envelope

The envelope sits on a table just outside of a popular eatery at an upscale outdoor mall.

My immediate inclination is to be nosy and open it. But I don’t. It’s not addressed to me and besides, I’m hungry.

Instead I walk inside the resturaunt, order lunch and find a table. As luck would have it, there’s a table for two (or one, as the case was today) which sits opposite the table with the envelope on it, separated only by the wall of glass delineating the outside from the inside. I sit and wait for my soup and salad.

And I stare at that envelope.

Did the intended recipient find it and simply leave it behind? Was it a note to say that the person she was supposed to meet for lunch couldn’t make it after all? Given the fact that it was in a highly visible place, how many people would see me if I snuck a peek at what was inside?

I begin to over-think the implications of reading what was inside that envelope versus not reading it:

What if the information within that envelope has long lasting implications for its recipient and she never found it?

What if it’s a ransom note left for a mother who was supposed to meet her child there? (There is a junior high and high school just across the street.)

What if it’s a note from the woman’s husband telling her he’s leaving her for another?

Yeah, I know. I should not be left alone with my thoughts.

I even go so far as to send an email to a friend asking what he would do. He not-so-helpfully suggested that I was probably watching too many episodes of Fringe.

The multiple plots playing out in my head are abruptly interrupted by a young man carrying a backpack who walks purposely up to the table, picks up the envelope, reads the name on it, opens it and reads its contents. He then returns the note to the envelope, places it back on the table face down, sits in a chair three tables away, takes out his phone and begins texting someone.

I’m a little incensed at this point. Not only has this teenager done what my curiosity tempted me to do but my upbringing prevented me from doing, but he did so brazenly and with little thought to who might see him doing it. Clearly that envelope was not intended for him. There are many names which can apply to either gender, but Virginia isn’t one of them as far as I know.


Maybe I’m judging him too quickly. Maybe he knows Virginia and is texting her at this very moment to tell her someone has left a note for her.

Five minutes later, an SUV pulls in front of the restaurant driven by a woman I assume is the kid’s mom and drives away. So much for the thoughtful teenager theory.

And the envelope remains abandoned and alone on the table.

But not for long…

The next person to arrive is a man I judge to be in his 50’s. He glances at the overturned envelope, reaches for it but then reaches back. Instead, he sits at the table, pulls out his phone and proceeds to make a phone call. I notice he’s wearing a blue tooth device. His attention is divided between the smart phone he holds in his right hand and the overturned envelope sitting on the table he now occupies.

The man with the blue tooth.

The man sits at the table for about ten minutes. After he completes his phone call, it doesn’t take long before curiosity overtakes courtesy. The man opens the envelope, reads it contents and quickly places back on the table just as he’d found it: face down. I presume he did so quickly so as to avoid being seen by the bicyclist who finds a place to chain up his bike right next to the table.

But that’s not how it was to begin with.

It was facing up with the recipient’s name clearly visible!

And if Virginia comes by she won’t see it!

Clearly I’m not the only one concerned with this envelope, because the man with the bicycle has taken up residence not three feet away from me and is now also looking at the envelope from the next table over.

At this point I’ve long finished my lunch and I’m nursing my Acadia berry iced tea. I need to move on and let someone else have my table.

But not before I put the envelope back to the way it was: facing up with the name turned outward.

As much as I wanted to read its contents I didn’t. It wasn’t mine to read. If Virginia read the note and chose to leave it there that’s her prerogative, but it’s not my place or anyone else’s to read something intended for someone else.


Bicycle man was watching me.

The art of beating a dead horse

You know when you see a play on words

or a funny poster about people’s often misguided perceptions,

and you think to yourself, “Ha! That’s pretty clever.”?

And then roughly 48 hours later you’re completely over it because the phenomenon has become the equivalent of annoying chain email your Aunt Edna has sent you and 15,000 of her closest friends and relatives?


We get it.

Please stop now.

We have ants (repost)

Due to the heavy rains of late, I am anticipating a large onslaught of fire ant mounds in and around my house. In honor of my forthcoming misery, I offer the following repost:

image courtesy of google imagesWe have fire ants.

In our house.

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular sub-species, fire ants are like regular ants except they bite and leave large, red itchy welts on you. They are also very aggressive. Think the non-flying version of Africanized killer bees.

Like mosquitos, love bugs, june bugs, tree roaches, mega prosperity gospel churches and bad drivers, fire ants are simply a fact of life if you live in Southeast Texas.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there will always be fire ants in my yard. There’s no such thing as getting rid of all of them. As soon as you get rid of one mound, the surviving members pack their tiny little suitcases and find another spot to build a new one. There is a product called Over and Out that promises to kill the ant population on your property for an entire season. The only problem with that is it’s very expensive. The instructions say to use a broadcast spreader to cover your entire property. A 10 pound bag is $25, which covers 5,000 square feet. Our property is just over 2 acres. You do the math…

No, seriously…I suck at math. I have no idea how many bags that would be, but according to my husband (who doesn’t suck at math), that’s a lot of money to kill some ants for one season.

Okay, I just figured it out (Thank you, Google).

One acre equals 43,560 square feet
Two acres is 87,120 square feet
87,120 divided by 5,000 is 17.424
17.424 multiplied by $25 is $435.60 (plus shipping and handling)

(Did you eyes sort of glaze over there? I know mine did.)

So, for roughly $450 every six months, I could have a fire ant free yard. And angry neighbors on either side of me because all of those ants are gonna pack up and move next door.

But back to my original point: We have fire ants in our house. They have been getting in through the weep holes in the brick and setting up shop in the walls. We are living in a giant, creepy ant farm.

I called Dave the exterminator last month. He came out, treated the outside of the house and sprayed the inside. When he was finished, he told me that I would most likely see a few more ants “here and there”, and that if I did I should just treat the area where I find them.


I took this to mean spray them with ant killer or, if they happen to be, for some inexplicable reason, congregating in the microwave, turn on said microwave to high until they stop moving. Random fact: It takes longer to kill fire ants in a microwave than it does to pop a bag of popcorn. They’re tough little suckers!

and "there"

As I feared, I did see more fire ants “here and there”, and I sprayed them or nuked them as I saw them. The only problem with this plan was that every time I got rid of the ants in one part of the house, they would show up in another area. (Again–giant, creepy ant farm.) After a couple of weeks of killing ants in one place only to have them show up somewhere else, I called Dave back and told him we still had an ant problem.

The following day, Dave came out to my house with his business partner. They walked around with flashlights trying to figure out where the ants were coming in. I showed them the ant killer I was using and explained again that when I killed them in one location, they would show up somewhere else. After a brief discussion and more walking around with flashlights, they determined that the best course of action was to set traps for the ants and allow the worker ants to take the poison back to the queen thereby killing the mound. “Okay. That makes sense. You have to get to the source of the problem in order to eliminate it. I’ll do that.”

But here’s the best part. Dave says to me, “You need to NOT kill the ants with the spray. Let them crawl around and take the bait.”


So now I’ve STILL got hundreds of ants crawling around in two out of 3 bathrooms in my house, which makes the morning routine for a family of four a tad stressful.

You may be asking yourselves at this point, “What is the life lesson I can take from this story? What bit of wisdom can I take away from this post?”

My answer?

“I don’t have one. I do, however, have fire ants in my house.”

Not everything is a metaphor, people.

How to be miserable without even trying

Check out the above graphic of a recent Wakefield Research survey conducted for 1-800-Flowers.


And by shocking I mean not at all surprising.

What the survey results don’t show is to whom that disappointment is directed towards, but can we all agree that women are disappointed in their significant others? Whether that be their husband, their boyfriend or some poor schmuck who was foolish enough to ask a girl out on Valentine’s Day?

In a recent articleI read at, speaker and author Cindi McMenamin wrote:

Surveys show that countless women feel frustrated every year and let down on February 14, primarily because of unmet expectations. Women look for expressions of love that will meet their preconceived romantic notions. And many times, even well-intentioned men can’t possibly compete.

In a recent study of what makes married women happy, it was found that the biggest predictor of women’s happiness is their husband’s emotional engagement. The extent to which he is affectionate, to which he is empathetic, to which he is basically tuned into his wife was the most important factor in predicting the wife’s happiness. The study also found “if the wife had to choose between having a husband who is taking half the housework and having a husband who is really making a conscious, deliberate effort to focus emotionally on his wife, the emotional focus is much more likely to be a paramount concern.

That speaks volumes of what women want and expect. And men, who tend to be more action-oriented in how they show their love (by helping with the chores, repairing the garage door, and bringing home a paycheck) can miss the mark with us when it comes to trying to express their affections on Valentine’s Day, or any time, for that matter.

That said, fulfilling a woman’s idea of romance is not something most men, in particular, specialize in. In fact, many men struggle with how to convey their feelings in a way that their wives or girlfriends will understand and appreciate. And often times, what they think will impress you, doesn’t.

Do you see the disconnect here? As a woman who actually likes men, do you understand why I don’t like Valentine’s Day? Because February 14 tends to leave women feeling disappointed that whatever their men gave them was not enough and leaves men scratching their heads at best and in the dog house at worst.

A recipe for misery for life in general and in romantic relationships specifically is assuming what you desire is naturally what your partner desires, because that’s so rarely the case. In a survey asking “What do spouses really want?” for Married Romance (dot) com, a married man of 14 years put it well:

Men want their wives to respect them and their opinions. Women want to be loved and appreciated affectionately. Apparently the problem arises when men give only respect to their wives, and women give only love and affection to their husbands. We are giving what we want to receive and not what the other person needs or wants to have. A man’s needs (wants) in marriage from greatest to least are sex, recreational companion, her to be attractive to him (not necessarily to society’s plastic mold standard), a good home life, to be admired by her. A woman’s needs (wants) from greatest to least are: affection, someone to talk with, honesty and openness, financial security, and famly committment. When we as husbands and wives begin to focus on the other’s need we will improve our marriages.

As a woman, how can you be miserable without even trying?

By expecting your man to act and react like a woman.

By failing to recognize that that leaky toilet he fixed or the garbage he drags down to the curb or the air he put in the kids’ bicycle tires or the spider he squashed in the bathroom or the job he goes to 5 days a week are all love notes to you.

It’s not that most men don’t show their love to their wives or girlfriends, it’s that most women fail to recognize it.

Men are not big, hairy women. They’re men. Recognize that. Celebrate that, and you’d be amazed how much more loved you’ll feel.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival: Disappoint hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. To read more disappointing posts (Ha!), visit him at

Romanticizing Addiction, Part 2

Yesterday I posted a conversation between two well known news commentators about the addictions which presumably lead to the death of Whitney Houston.

People die every single day. People die as a result of disease, malnutrition, violence and neglect. People die defending their countries. Some people die simply because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless of hows or whys behind their deaths, I don’t imagine the mourning process is any easier for the ones they leave behind. I suppose what’s so unsettling about Houston’s death is that no one was particularly surprised by it. Her death saddened me. I’m know I’m not alone.

But my sadness is not what I’ve been struggling with.

It’s my anger. And perhaps the guilt associated with where that anger lies.

I’ve done the blame game. Her ex-husband is an easy target. Her life seemed to turn south quickly after she began a relationship with Bobby Brown. Maybe he introduced her to addiction, but unless he held her down and forced drugs on her, he’s ultimately not to blame.

I’ve blamed her entourage. Surely they knew the downward spiral she was on. But rather than help her, they enabled her. How could they allow her to destroy herself? But who am I kidding? Celebrities often surround themselves with people whose soul purpose is to accommodate them.

I’ve blamed fame and fortune. Addicted celebrities are a cliche. Fame destroys people.

But ultimately, the responsibility for Whitney Houston’s death lies with Whitney Houston. Whether she did so intentionally or accidentally, she killed herself, robbed the world of arguably one of the purest, most beautiful voices we’ve ever know, and robbed her family of a life spent with them.

My anger is fueled by the knowledge that not only is her daughter without a mother, but the fact that for all intents and purposes, she has been without a mother the majority of her young life. Because while addiction is a horrible disease for the addict, not much is said about the other victims of it–the people they love. I’ve been around enough addicts to understand this undeniable truth: Everything and everyone is secondary to the addiction. When an addict is in the midst of his addiction, nothing else is more important than their fix. Not their kids, not their spouses, parents or friends. They will often justify bad behavior, they will lie, they will manipulate and take advantage of people. Is it any surprise that the vast majority of all reported child abuse and neglect cases are at the hands of a chemically dependent caregiver?

I’m not angry at Whitney Houston specifically. I’m angry at a society that romanticizes addicts as heroic yet helpless victims to their addiction.

I will not be so flippant to say that addicts just need to get their shit together and sober up. I know the addiction is the symptom of other underlying issues and sobriety is a life long, difficult road. But I also refuse to believe that because addiction is a disease, the addict is helpless to do anything about it.

I started smoking when I was 14 or 15 years old. I tried to quit several times, but it wasn’t until I found out I was pregnant with my first child that I gave up tobacco. Because when you come to understand that you’re not only endangering your own life but the life of someone else, you begin to take the damage you’re doing seriously. Quitting smoking was a no-brainer for me. I simply wouldn’t risk the health of my unborn child to feed my addiction. Was it easy? Heck no. Have I slipped since them? Honestly? Yes. The craving may go away for some people, but I’ve never found that to be the case. Even though getting pregnant is no longer in the realm of possibilities for me, being around for as long as I can for my family and setting a good example while I’m here is too important to give in to addiction.

There’s such a thing as personal responsibility and caring more about the people who love you than your own immediate cravings. When all you want to do is give in and numb the pain, remember that numbing your own pain comes at a high price–the pain of the people who love you and that are terrified they’re going to lose you. You’ve got to get honest with yourself, break the cycle of guilt and ask for help before it’s too late.

Whitney Houston didn’t have to die. She embarked on that road years ago. She could have gotten off that road but chose not to. I’m not suggesting it would have been an easy choice, but it is a choice.

Editor’s Note: I apologize if this post seems mean spirited and judgmental. It’s not meant to be. As I said, my anger is not directed specifically at the death of Whitney Houston. I suppose it’s in part the result of attending too many funerals of friends who died as a result of their addictions, and seeing first hand the emotional wasteland their deaths leave behind for those who loved them.

Romanticizing Addiction, Part 1

I’ve thought a lot about the death of Whitney Houston this week. I’ve struggled with it. I want to share more of my thoughts about that in a subsequent post, but before I do that, I wanted to share a portion of an interview I watched this morning. I’m not going to mention who the participants are because we’ve become such a polarized society that I fear if I told you who the two men were, you would make up your mind about the content of the interview and the validity of their arguments based upon your personal feelings about them. Both can be polarizing figures.

Guest: Whitney Houston wanted to kill herself. Nobody takes drugs for that long if they want to stay on the planet. The hard truth is that some people will always want to destroy themselves and there’s nothing society can do about it.

Host: Addiction is a disease. And if you are suffering from a disease you can’t make the choice. You have no choice.

Guest: Well then they don’t believe in free will, and I don’t believe anyone is a slave to addiction. I do believe it’s a disease. It’s a mental disease, but you have free will and you can get through the disease, as millions of people have chosen to do. It’s a lot of free will. You don’t have free will when you get lung cancer. You do have free will when you’re a crack addict. But, it’s very difficult. My point is that there are self destructive people, and that society does not grapple with them. We, the media looked the other way on Whitney Houston. Everyone knew she was a drug addict for decades.

Host: You said in your column, “The media has no bleeping clue how to cover the death of Whitney Houston. That’s because she was slowly dying for years and many in the press simply averted their eyes.” Guest, I have seen dozens of stories over the years detailing the addiction, the erratic behavior, the denial of the addiction on the part of Whitney Houston.

Guest: They were sensationalized to exploit the woman’s condition, not try and help her. When’s the last time you saw a public service announcement from a famous person–a singer, an actor–to the American public to say, “You know, you don’t want to be like Whitney Houston. Don’t be like Elvis. Don’t be like Janis Joplin.” When’s the last time you saw that? They don’t exist. Do you know what we do in the media? We wink-wink it. We Snoop Dog it. We Willie Nelson it. “Hey, oh yeah. They’re stoned. That’s fine.” And what message does that send? “It’s okay.” It’s not okay.

Host: I think it’s apples and oranges you’re comparing. On the one hand, the media did detail her troubles and highlighted it…

Guest: They exploited it.

Host:…but at the same time I would agree that they celebrated her talent and stardom.

Guest: Name me one media commentator outside of myself who said, “Hey Whitney, you’d better knock it off or you’re going to be in the ground.” Name me one.

Host: Maybe people don’t come out and say it like you do because that’s the style of your show, but by covering her behavior, and detailing her actions…

Guest: They exploited her.

Host: …over the years. In a way, that’s shining a very bright light on it.

Guest: If everyone in the show business community had said to Whitney Houston, “Hey. You’re gonna kill yourself…”

Host: But that’s different. Are journalists supposed to be in a position of conducting intervention?

Guest: They’re supposed to be in the business of telling the truth. And the truth is, if you get into hard drugs you can go at any time.

Host: And by showing her behavior over the years, didn’t we shine the light on that?

Guest: No. Because it wasn’t put in any kind of judgemental capacity at all. It was like a sideshow.

Host: (incredulous) Do you think she was cast in a positive light over the past 15 years?

Guest: It wasn’t positive, it was, “Oh look at this. Now she’s going to rehab.” It wasn’t, “Hey Whitney, knock it off.” It wasn’t that. It’s never been that. Ever.

Host: Let’s move on because you and I could argue for hours.

Guest: That’s right. And I’d always be right.

Host: On the subject of the flags flying at half staff in New Jersey on Saturday, the day she’s laid to rest. Governor Christie has called for that. Is that the right idea?

Guest: Yes. I think we should respect the life and talent of Whitney Houston. I said a prayer when I heard she died. This isn’t a personal thing, it’s a preventative thing. And I want society and the media to tell the truth about drug and alcohol addiction. It’s hell. It’s a horror. Let’s stop exploiting it and start explaining it.

So what do you think? Do you think our view of celebrity addiction and addiction in general is flawed?

I’ll post more on this topic tomorrow.


On Wednesday, September 10, 2003, I was part of a worship planning meeting where I viewed for the first time a video of Johnny Cash’s cover to the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt”. Cash had recently lost his beloved wife, and knowing about his lifelong struggle with addiction, the lyrics were especially poignant.

I never would have remembered that particular planning meeting except for the fact that the Friday before that sermon introduction video was played in church, Johnny Cashed passed away, just four months after his wife:

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember, everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know,
goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

Fast forward nine years. Jeff Hogan, the creative arts pastor with whom I viewed that video is now the senior pastor of a church which had its first service in my living room. (We’ve since outgrown meeting here.) Saturday evening, he and his wife Tamara sat with my husband and I around our kitchen table making hotel and airline reservations for a church planting conference we’ll be attending later this year.

Just as they were about to head home, my son came into the kitchen and announced that Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room. My initial shock and disbelief settled into sadness of a life too short and an amazing voice silenced. The likes of which we may never hear again.

The following Sunday morning after sound check and set up, I picked up a worship guide and read the title of the sermon:

What to do when life hurts

Jeff did not play the Hurt video, but he did talk about Cash singing that song, about how painfully honest those words were coming from him, about how worship needs to be honest. Even if, and perhaps especially if, life just hurts right now. He talked about Psalm 88. About how the Sons of Korah didn’t hold back:

3 I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death…

The Bible says “in this life you will have trouble”. Not if you have trouble, or just in case you have trouble, but you WILL have trouble. Towards the end of the sermon, Jeff told us he didn’t know why he felt compelled to preach this sermon. That as late as Saturday morning he tried to come up with an alternative one but that this one just wouldn’t let go. I later shared with him that he many never know the purpose of that sermon, but that it was most assuredly for a reason. Someone needed to hear it. Maybe someone who happens to read this blog. Which is why I’m sharing it. Houston’s death on Saturday made the last words to “Hurt” that much more clear:

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

The way is not my own. Or yours, either:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” – Matthew 16:25-26

RIP Whitney Houston. I believe she’s in a much better place now.

The McRib Effect

Every year, McDonald’s offers the McRib sandwich for a limited time. This is a brilliant marketing strategy in my opinion because every few years, I will invariably order one even though I’ve eaten them in the past and thought they were disgusting. I begin to doubt my own assertions, my own taste buds. I even begin to question why I would have renamed this sandwich “The McPig Knuckle”. Why?

Because they’re bringing it back, people! By popular demand!

The McRib effect is when you know better from past experience. You simply need to convince yourself that it really was as bad as you remembered the first time.

I know better now. I’ve never really been one to jump on the bandwagon of anything just because it’s popular. However, I often do follow the recommendations of people whose opinions have proved reliable in the past. So when my Twitter friend Tony Alicea tweeted the following, I was intrigued:

So I watched the trailer:

And since all I had planned for Tuesday afternoon was laundry, and it was available via live streaming from Netflix, I decided I would indulge myself and watch it.

After the first five minutes, I was confused. After the first 20 minutes, I was in awe. Literally, in awe. At how BAD this movie was.

Like the McRib phenomenon, I began to question my ability to understand and/or appreciate what “good” is. I thought to myself, “Surely this movie gets better. What am I missing?” Then later, “This movie is incredibly awful on so many levels. Might be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Howard the Duck.” By the end of the movie, I was laughing. And not because anything in the movie is remotely funny. I was laughing at the sheer absurdity of the acting, the writing, the storyline and the cinematography. The only thing that could have saved this movie for me was if Tim Curry had come out in drag and lead the cast in a rousing rendition of “The Time Warp”, thereby letting us all know that the entire thing was supposed to be blatantly pretentious, sophomoric and cheesy.

On second thought, probably not even then.

Still astonished that anyone could actually like this movie, I googled “Ink movie reviews”. That’s when I REALLY became confused. At, I found outrageous, glowing reviews for this movie. Ten stars out of ten. Many of them reading much like this one:

This is one of the greats of cinema – rich, vivid storytelling, a journey deep into the imagination with simple but powerful cinematography. Intelligent, affecting, and thought-provoking. Most importantly, Ink is a parable for our time – a time in which we have lost sight completely of what’s important in life. As far as comparables – this movie is reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth. It is perfectly cast, carrying it’s weight through the story not the lightweight effects, and leaving you with strong after-thoughts. If you feel like letting go for 107 minutes and allowing this excellent piece of fantasy to carry you along, it won’t disappoint. No review I can write could do it justice.

I searched and searched for a bad review, but after 5 minutes, I couldn’t find one. I finally did a search within the reviews for “Hated It” and found common ground. People as astonished as I was that this movie was given such glowing reviews, most of them surmising that the creators of the movie had launched a behemoth positive spin campaign using review sites to get people to watch this stinker of a movie.

The title lines for these bad reviews restored my faith in honest movie reviews. Lines like “Good grief”, “Stunningly awful” and “One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen”. One reviewer suggested, “This film is the celluloid equivalent of the emperors new clothes. I watched it because of the buzz associated with it and its high rating on IMDb. It is without doubt one of the most pretentious , tedious pieces of film making it has ever been my misfortune to witness.”

And that’s exactly what I felt like I was witnessing: People wanting to like the movie so much that they convinced themselves it was good. That the emperor wasn’t standing there looking ridiculous and butt nekkid.

Reviewer tomodlin from the UK sums up the bad reviews nicely:

Pretentious Nonsense, 17 November 2009

Author: tomodlin from United Kingdom
I have trusted the rating system on IMDb for years, though I’ve never bothered to register before.

I do so today only to balance out the ridiculous reviews for this horse muck of a movie.

It’s terrible! There is literally nothing good to say about it. I duly stuck with it after the first 20 mins (as advised on other reviews). I’m not sure what they all think happened after 20 minutes, but whatever it is, I didn’t see it.

Ink is so bad, I felt the need to register to moan about it.

Don’t watch it. It’s just not worth it. Do some washing and watch the machine for a couple of hours. You’ll have more fun and the plot will be better.

The other reviewers must, must, must be part of some campaign to get this recognised. I’ve seen more entertaining stains in my bathroom.

I would happily sit and extract my own toenails with a taser rather than watch this again.

Seriously, I’m dead on the inside. I just want to adopt the fetal position and cry for my mummy.

I like Tony and respect and agree with many of his opinions. This just isn’t one of them. And that’s okay. We are all wired differently. It’s okay to agree to disagree.

Have you ever fallen victim to the McRib effect with movies, shows, books or artwork? Thinking that you have surely missed something everyone finds obvious?

And if you’ve seen this movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

I’ll be here.

Quietly judging you.

Editor’s Note: This film was originally released in 2009. Had it been a new release, I probably would have suffered in silence. But something about all of those glowing, and in my estimation, highly inflated (Read: Mostly fake) reviews just stuck in my craw. Because suffering through that movie is 107 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

Words with friends: An idiot’s guide, Part 5: Know your opponent

Celebrity Words with Friends enthusiast, Alec Baldwin

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated this important and compelling blog series, so in case you’ve missed earlier installments, you can find them here: Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 2

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 3: Strategery

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 4: More words that shouldn’t be

(Sorry/You’re welcome).

As the name of the game would suggest, I play with friends. At any given time, I’ve got games going with my husband, both of my sisters, my 14 year old son, a friend or two from church and a plethora of Twitter buddies.

On the rare occasion I’m challenged by a random opponent, I typically play the game and neither of us choose to rematch. Such was the case last week when I was saw a WWF challenger’s name which I did not recognize. This doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t know them. I have a friend named Michael whose WWF name is Juan Pablo George Ringo. Why? Because he likes the Beatles and he’s quirky and disagreeable. And of course, there’s Ricky Bobby, who goes by the name Arthur 2 Sheds on the twitter and 1357 Bob of WWF, but I digress…

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. So, I’m challenged by someone whose name I don’t recognize. The only thing I can surmise with any confidence is that he or she is not a Steeler’s fan. I won’t tell you this person’s WWF handle for reasons which will be readily apparent soon. After I narrowly defeated said opponent, he challenged me to another game. I assumed he was a sports fan, so we chatted about sports during our game. Cuz I’m friendly like that. He asked what football team I liked, I told him I was from Houston and that I rooted for the Texans if and when I watched them and that I rooted for whomever was playing against the Cowboys. Then he says,

At this point in the conversation, he’s already expressed that he hates the Steelers, the Red Sox and Tom Brady, and I’m beginning to wonder about all this pent up aggression towards sports teams displayed by my opponent…and then I begin to understand.

Notice how calm I am? Notice how I steer the conversation away from the fact that I’m playing Words with Friends with a ten year old boy? Ha! I immediately turn to the twitter to share my dismay.

And to make matters worse…

The little ankle biter actually BEAT ME!

So, in conclusion, let this serve as a cautionary tale fellow Words with Friends players. You never know who you’re playing against. Unless you actually DO know who you’re playing against. And that you can count on your long time opponents to be there for moral support:

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