Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Cheese Face: A Retrospective

Yesterday Alec turned two and a half. (Yes, I'm that mom. I know these things.)

And in his honor, I'm doing something I've been meaning to do for the last six months.

Right around his second birthday, we saw the emergence of Alec's "cheese face." It's his tried and true camera pose: eyes squeezed shut, mouth wide open. The cheese face is like Alec shorthand, a perfect manifestation of the impy, sunny, spirited little munchkin he is.

The seasons have changed -- the balmy summer nights awash with fireflies have given way to Halloween costumes and then, to four foot piles of snow. But, like death and taxes, the cheese face endures. And so, without further ado, I bring you, in roughly chronological order, the Cheese Face: a Retrospective.

You know what they say -- beware of Greeks bearing gifts. And toddlers bearing asparagus.

Please, no more pictures.

OK, that one's a little gross. Sorry. cocoa!
This one almost looks painful.
Best he could muster after a long day in the snow.
So long, cheese fans. Happy Half Birthday, my little man.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowmaggedon, Part Deux

There really is no way to convey the magnitude of what's happening out there right now. It's truly approaching Biblical proportions. We're filled with a strange mix of awe, excitement and an undeniable hint of fear at what a storm of this magnitude could possibly wreak. There's something curiously primal about this experience, about realizing that for all our technological advances, we are still very much at nature's mercy.

In trying to show just how much snow we have, I found this photo, taken out Alec's bedroom window several years ago. The window looks over the flat roof that covers our back addition. This was the "before" photo for the new roof. (Or maybe that goes without saying?) You can make out the ivy-covered brick garage at left.

And these are pictures taken out the same window this morning. The snow, now totaling close to three feet, was just about up to the windowsill; you can see the corner of the garage at left.

My intrepid husband went out and shoveled it, fearing for our temperamental skylights.

For now, we are warm, we are safe. We made chocolate chip cookies. We just watch and wait. And hope for the best.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


And now that I have dug from back door to front, you can see why said door wouldn't open.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Buzzed: The Sundance Wrapup

One of the most telling moments of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival didn't even happen in Park City. It happened some 1800 miles away.

While I was at Sundance with my brother Matt, my husband very graciously played Mr. Mom for a few days, a job that included taking our two year old to his weekly My Gym class. Chatting with one of the other moms by the trampoline, my husband explained my absence: Matt and I had gone to the festival to be with our brother, Eric, a writer-director whose film, 3 Backyards, was in the dramatic competition.

And so began the inquisition.

So is he out there looking for distribution?
So maybe when he's there they can sell the film, right?
Do you think he'll be able to get an investor interested?

And there you have it.

Whereas Sundance was once a place for film purists to celebrate independent film precisely for its independence from the commercial mainstream, so many people now view the festival as nothing more than a J.V. Hollywood. It's a place where people on bathroom lines chat about which film they think is going to be the next Clerks or Blair Witch Project, a place where buzz reigns supreme and even suburban soccer moms immediately inquire about an indie film's commercial prospects.

Which is why, when kicking off this year's festival, with its "return to roots" ethos, Robert Redford took a shot at none other than Paris Hilton. Redford said Sundance has been "sliding," allowing celebrities, swag and buzz to overshadow the festival's real purpose. "It kind of engulfed what we did," Redford explained. "You end up with parties and celebrities and Paris Hilton...and that's not us. Sundance has nothing to do with any of that."
So perhaps it's only fitting that my 2010 Sundance Film Festival experience was about as far from Paris Hilton as you can get: I saw only one hauntingly beautiful and decidedly un-commercial film the whole time I was there. (Three times!) I didn't attend a single party or see a single celebrity, unless you count the supremely lovely Kathryn Erbe, of Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Oz fame, who is one of the stars of 3 Backyards. Had I gotten there a day earlier, I would have been hanging out with The Sopranos' Edie Falco, but since she's been my brother's dearest friend for almost 30 years, I don't really think of her as a celebrity any more. I wanted desperately to follow Eric's lead and refuse to read any so-called buzz, but alas, the lure of the Twitter search and the google alert proved too great for me.

So how was my Sundance experience? Perfect. We were there solely for moral support -- a nervous Eric told one interviewer he was "still looking for the 'fest' in 'festival'" -- and that's exactly what we provided. Eric introduced me and Matt at one screening, explaining that we had come to "rescue him;" we later joked it was between Haiti and Park City.

And how was 3 Backyards? Come on. I thought it was brilliant. But my brother wrote and directed it, so maybe you'd rather hear what Variety said. Or the Los Angeles Times.

Was it the most buzzed-about film at Sundance? Nope. Not by a long shot. But ultimately Eric transcended the ephemeral buzz and instead received an indisputable piece of actual acclaim: on Saturday night, he was named Best Director of the dramatic competition. You can watch his hilarious and heartfelt acceptance speech below. My screams were so loud I almost woke up the neighborhood.

Congratulations, Eric. Not that you'll ever in a million years read this, but I hope you know I'm so so so very proud of you, not just for "winning" but for being true to who you are and making a film you believe in. I hope you get to make a million more. And that you never, ever, have to work with Paris Hilton.