Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Product Review: Maybelline Fit Me Foundation

Friday, July 11, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - I'm not that big on makeup. Lots of days I forget to put it on. And when I do, it's almost always just eyeliner, mascara, and a little lipstick. But I acquired a sample of Maybelline Fit Me foundation stick, and gave it a try.

One of the reasons that I don't wear a lot of makeup on my skin is that I have very oily skin plus rosacea. Ideally, I'd find a product that can minimize the redness and tiny red veins on my cheeks. I have very little expectation that there's a coverage product out there that can provide all of the benefits I'm looking for without exacerbating my skin into the lumpy mess it previously resembled.

Not actually me, but about the same as my face without any coverage - flushed, with broken capillaries.

About what my skin looked like a couple of years ago.

But I'm always happy to try another foundation, BB cream, CC cream, or tinted moisturizer. Especially if it doesn't irritate my rosacea AND can mattify my oily skin, plus somehow simultaneously moisturize it and pump it full of anti-aging benefits.

Moisturize AND mattify. Right. I'll let you know when I find this miraculous elixir of contradictions.

Maybelline is not a company whose products I usually go for. Like, ever. I think of them as appealing to young people who are just experimenting with makeup. I put them and Bonne Bell in similar categories. Probably because their models are all about 13 years old.

Foundation sticks are out of the norm for drugstores, but every once in a while a company releases one. The idea is you draw it on your T-zone - or wherever your skin needs to most coverage - and blend outwards from there.

The Maybelline Fit Me stick foundation felt as one would expect it to feel: thick. And that's how it went on. Despite my clean, exfoliated, freshly moisturized skin, I had a hard time blending the foundation outwards. So I got some uneven coverage that I had to correct. To do it, I had to add more moisturizer, negating some of the mattifying ability of the foundation. Moral of the story: This stuff dries quickly. The second day I used it, I moved much faster and it blended a little better.

The coverage was fine, but wasn't right for my skin type. The powdery finish seemed to sit on top of my skin, and whether or not it actually highlighted the fine crow's feet around my eyes, I felt like it did.

As for staying power, I got maybe four or five hours into the day before I felt like I should reapply on the T-zone. But I hate reapplying foundation during the day. I feel like I should just take off everything and start over, as opposed to reapplying over the powder and grime of the day. But, for those who don't mind it, the stick foundation is a very portable way to do it.

Ultimately, I think this is formulated for a core audience of teens and young adults who need the oil-reducing properties, but don't worry too much about drying. If you have ever looked at yourself in the mirror round about noon and thought, "When did I run my face into the Exxon Valdez?" then this product might be something for your to try.

So, if you have a very active teen with oily skin who also likes a full coverage foundation, this might be a great product for them. If your teen has dry skin, I recommend they stay far away from it. They might end up looking like Benjamin Button - and not during the hot Brad Pitt middling years.

Nope. Sorry.

Because the real issue with having oily skin as a teen is the acne.

Of course, the issue with having oily skin in your twenties is the shine. Then, again, the issue with having oily skin in your thirties is also the shine.

In your forties, it's still the shine, only with the added minefield of fine lines. I swear, I spent the previous three decades trying to figure out how to dry the surface of my skin of oils. Now, I'm trying to dry my oily skin without drying my skin of all moisture and looking like Emperor Palpatine before I must.

 These are not the wrinkles I am looking for.

I am still searching for that perfect product. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Is the Pope Catholic?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Emerson and her friend, Kayla, had a sleepover at the house. Wow, can these girls make a mess. I think they may actually be running an underground My Little Pony breeding operation.

I was so tired of stepping on and around the toys that they scattered from her bedroom, down the stairs, through the kitchen, and all the way to the back door. And I was just about to lose it if one more Lego jammed itself into my foot.

"Mom, can we have some ice cream?"

Ahhhh, my time to shine! "If you get all this cleaned up, you can."

And there was much rejoicing!

Ha, I'm kidding. Just looking at their shoulders slump gave me sympathy scoliosis. They took about an hour to get everything back under control, as slowly as possible, heaving as many sighs and groaning as often as they could. It was one of those days when you have to choke back your giggles and go on about your Mom Business of Being Boring All the Time, Cleaning Things That Are Already Clean, and Creating Chores Ex Nihilo. And, let me tell you, business is good.

Finally, they came skipping up. "Okay, we're done! Can we have ice cream?"

I glanced over their handiwork. It was some of their best.

"Can we?" Emerson pleaded.

"Is the Pope Catholic?"

She stopped and blinked at me, then looked at Kayla, who shrugged her shoulders. Emerson made Concerned Eyebrows at me. "Uhhh, we don't actually know."

*snicker* "He is. Let's get that ice cream. You guys did a great job."

"Thanks, mom! ... Mom, what's Catholic?"

#parenting, #blogging, #catholic, #icecream, #mylittlepony, #sleepover

Monday, July 07, 2014

Making messes

Monday, July 07, 2014 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Emerson and I had lunch with my awesome parents on Saturday. I was talking about my plans to bring home two refrigerator boxes and make a stair slide for Emerson.

I'm sure I'll have another blog post afterwards, detailing my injuries.

Anyway, it sparked a conversation about the things kids do - and that we did as children - to annoy our parents. There was the time my father decided he was Superman, and climbed onto the roof and jumped off - spraining his ankles.

"You really did that?" Emerson asked.

"Oh, yes," my dad replied. "It didn't work out very well."

"Em, I remember when your aunt Kelli and uncle J.D. and I took all our blankets and pillows, piled them in the floor, and jumped off the bunk bed onto them," I said.

"Did it work?" she asked.

"As I remember, it did. But Granny put a stop to it real quick."

"It was the thudding that bothered me," Mom grinned. "But the one I remember most is the time you all spread baby powder all over J.D.'s hardwood floor in the bedroom, and 'ice skated' around in your socks."

"Oh, my gosh," I gasped, laughing along with Emerson. "That's pretty creative, you have to admit. I'm kind of proud of that."

Mom pursed her lips. "I was not impressed."

Georgia Regents University, Metro Spirit, Augusta Chronicle, parenting, blogging,

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Me and my big mouth

Thursday, July 03, 2014 By

I was running late, and R.H. and I had to leave immediately to make the show. We settle into our seats. A few minutes later, he leans in for a kiss.

Me: "Wow, I was wondering when you were going to kiss me."

Him: "When you stopped talking."

Okay, fair enough.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Play Review: Evil Dead, The Musical

AUGUSTA, GA. - You know you're at a great show when they have to use a shop vac to suck up fake blood at intermission. In the "splatter zone" at the Trustus Theater in Columbia, S.C., audience members at "Evil Dead: The Musical" wiped a crimson mixture of who-knows-what off their arms and legs, while a stage hand dried the boards. Behind them, my date and I grinned stupidly at each other. This was exactly the experience we had anticipated.

"Evil Dead: The Musical" is a stage show based on the 1981 Sam Raimi film, which the director followed with the sequels "Evil Dead II" and "Army of Darkness." The films starred B-movie demigod Bruce Campbell

Like the film, the stage production follows Ash, the character Campbell originated, as he leads a group of five spring breakers to a cabin in the woods. There, amid the collegiate debauchery, they discover a 13th century book called "The Necronomicon" ("Book of the Dead") and - oopsy! - unleash a hoard of Candarian demons. Each member of the group is possessed by a demon or turned into a zombie at some point, except Ash. He loses a hand, replaces it with a chain saw, uses it to decapitate his girlfriend and... errr, it's a little complicated. Don't think about it too much.

The set of "Evil Dead: The Musical" at the Trustus Theatre in Columbia, S.C.

Designed in the manner of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," with self-referential dialogue and over-the-top plot constructs, the only way this horror comedy musical could get cheesier is if it were staged in Wisconsin at the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival. This is high camp, played for laughs. And it is idiotically effective in its pursuit.

The songs are - well, this isn't Rodgers & Hammerstein, or Gilbert & Sullivan, or George & Ira Gershwin. It's barely even Tom & Dick Smothers. It's more like Frost and Peg - if they wrote musicals, that is. Please, God, let them write musicals

Anyway... The song listing in the show program, with titles like, "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons" and "Ode to An Accidental Stabbing," were enough to set the audience giggling. During the performances, I could hardly hear the lyrics over the laughter, at times.

The highlight of the show, for me, was the rousing tune called "What the Fuck Was That?" Here's a video of the song from some other production, somewhere else entirely. Thanks, Internets! 

I'm not going to spend time dissecting the quality of the acting and singing. It would be like writing your physics masters thesis on whether or not there was enough room on the floating door for both Rose and Jack in"Titanic." It's just useless. And worrying about it drags down the narrative. They were very entertaining, and that's all that's called for. 

The raked set was perfectly constructed and dressed. As for production values, there were a few small issues with the actors' mics cutting out mid-sentence or mid-song, and not all of the stunts, costumes, makeup and props were as effective as they could be. Eh. It's still bloody hilarious. 

The show runs through July 26. Tickets are $20. Free popcorn is included. Parking is free after 6 p.m. at the metered spaces near the theater.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Every bunny was kung fu fighting

Friday, June 27, 2014 By

Me: "I heard today that a group of bunnies is called a 'fluffle.'"

R.H.: "A fluffle?"

Me: "Yeah. I don't know if that's true, but I love it."

R.H.: "Sounds like kerfuffle. Can you have a fluffle kerfuffle? A kerfuffle fluffle?"

Me: "Most. Adorable. Fight. Ever."

Side note: Do not mention "Watership Down" to me. That movie gave me nightmares.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I shouldn't ask questions first thing in the morning

Thursday, June 26, 2014 By

I was getting on the elevator at work when one of my co-workers caught up just before the door closed. He opened a bottle of VitaminWater.

"Oh, do they have that in the vending machine?" I asked. He nodded.

"Isn't VitaminWater owned by Coke?" I asked. "And Powerade, too?"

He nodded again.

"Do you ever worry that VitaminWater is just Powerade in different packaging?"

He looked at me, then down at his water, and back at me. "Well, now I will. Thanks."


Monday, June 23, 2014

Product Review: Maple Leaf Farms Duck

I love duck. This versatile, bold, fatty bird is rich and delicious, and good for anything from a classic roast to a stew. Oh, it's not particularly popular in the U.S., where we'd rather feed wild fowl bread at parks than use them to feed ourselves. But Maple Leaf Farms would like to change that, and they distribute roast duck through Publix supermarkets.

But... frozen? I was skeptical. I thought it would be bland and tough. So I tried a couple of the frozen half duck with orange sauce. Turns out, I was both wrong and right.

First, the meal I made was quick and easy to prepare. Pop the duck in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 375, toss some rice in a pot, some fresh green beans in a skillet with garlic and olive oil, and boil the orange sauce in a sauce pot during the last five minutes. It's a meal Rachel Ray could showcase.

Turns out, it wasn't half bad. The bird was tender, juicy and gorgeous. So, not tough as I expected - but the flavor was certainly toned down from restaurant-quality small-farm duck. So much that the included orange sauce was a tad overwhelming, since the flavor of the frozen farmed duck is tamer than its wild cousins. 

Connoisseurs of duck won't be particularly enthused about the meal, since it's quite small in size and loses some of its decadence in the freezing process, but it's a great substitute when you can't get your fork into a fresher serving. And it's a lovely introduction to duck for those who might not have tried it. My 9-year-old daughter declared it "delicious!" She loved the orange sauce, but shunned it with the rice. Eh, kids. What can you do?

I really wanted this duck to rival that the Bourbon Street Duck at the French Market West, but they're just not in the same category. Maple Leaf Farms is the largest distributor of duck in North America, so it's kind of like the McDonald's cheesburgers of the exotic poultry world. Flavorful, but hardly the best that can be found. 

Still, for a quick meal with an air of distinction, or for a welcome change of pace, it's worth a try. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Movie Review: 'Earth to Echo'

Thursday, June 19, 2014 By No comments

I was lucky to be among a few folks who were given advance special screening passes to see the new Disney live-action film "Earth to Echo" at the Augusta, Ga., Regal Cinemas on Wednesday evening. The movie officially releases to the public on July 2.

We had four passes, but only three people, and it was surprisingly difficult to interest a fourth person to attend with us. Many had not heard of the movie - even though I'm sure it's probably being promoted all over the Disney channel - or reacted to the title with disinterest. Overall, the advance opinion about this film, among friends, was a resounding, "Meh." But that wasn't going to stop us from enjoying a free first-run movie. So off we went.

In "Earth to Echo," four adolescents adventure to help an alien life form after their phones go nuts and reveal a secret message. Instead of dialing tech support like all normal people, they jump on their bicycles and embark on a 20-mile journey to help an adorably anthropomorphized alien get back into space.

Watch the "Earth to Echo" trailer below.

The plot will feel familiar - even derivative - to adult viewers. It's reminiscent of "E.T.," "Mac and Me," "Super 8" and "Batteries Not Included," with a little bit of "The Goonies" thrown in, as the kids race against time, grown-ups and the government to help the little guy, nicknamed "Echo," get back to the mother ship. But most kids haven't seen these movies (except my kid, who I insisted watch "The Goonies" with me - for educational purposes, of course.)

The movie doesn't explain the much about the alien, and that's slightly disappointing. How do we know he's not an adorable alien mass murderer? What are these kids thinking when they set off to Witch Mountain, or wherever? And where are their parents? Seriously, if my child hopped on her bike to pedal 20 miles with three friends after an alien signal beamed into the smartphone that she does not even have, she would not leave her room until the age of 30 - or until my death, whichever came first.

But I guess coming up with an alien back story is probably more difficult than coming up with a back story for human children.

And the focus is really on them, and their journey. The four leads, plucked from relative obscurity, are capable actors with good chemistry. Teo Halm plays Alex, Brian "Astro" Bradley is Tuck (I wish my nickname was "Astro," for real), Reese C. Hartwig plays Munch ("S.V.U." 4 LYF!), and Ella Wahlestedt is Emma. Side note: Ella Wahledstedt has a brother named Thor. No home improvement projects for him.

Tuck (Astro!) is the film's narrator and biggest personality, and the young actor, best known from "X-Factor," has fun with his character's bravado. Halm makes Alex a subtle character with a rewarding conclusion. Wahledstedt imbues Emma with smarts, social intelligence and the natural tween girl tendency towards dramatics. But Munch (Hartwig) is the real screen-chewer, with instinctive comedic timing. Good luck to this kid.

All of the young actors work well with some slightly stilted dialogue - particularly in the lunchroom scene, doing their best to deliver what feels like an adult's imagining of how kids talk to each other. But I think Disney owes a real apology to Wahlestedt for making her Emma the "token girl" in the movie. The actress is lovely, but the character has little to do, and is rather clumsily crammed into the storyline. The movie could have just as easily been about three adolescent boys on an adventure. There's nothing wrong with a single sex collective, by the way. Witness:  "Now and Then" and "Stand By Me" ('Sup, Wil Wheaton, call me).

The studio decided to use some first person point-of-view camera work and "found footage" from the children's perspectives. It's been done before, but it really works well within this story, particularly for the target audience. Although there are a few suspenseful moments where I was looking for the "Cloverfield" monster. Fair warning: If you suffer from vertigo, this movie is not for you.

Check out the first-person cinematography in this trailer.

And that brings us to the effects. The animated alien, Echo, is an owlish snippit of adorableness, beeping and mewling like a cuddly R2-D2. Outside of the alien, the other effects not obscured by the shaky POV camera work were fine, if uninspired. Except for a scene where Echo takes apart a tractor trailer and puts it back together. That particular sequence felt cartoonish and pulled me back out of the story. It also made me question whether or not the filmmakers should have consulted a physicist to align the alien's abilities with the storyline. But, hey, it's Hollywood, not Harvard.

That scene actually sold me in a different way, because it impressed on me how well the child thespians in this movie reacted to the CG effects and alien - who wasn't even there when they were filming. Honestly, if working in a CG environment could bring Sir Ian McKellon to tears, kudos to the little moppets for getting the job done.

If laughter is any indication, the audience thought this movie was hilarious. The two tween girls I brought with me certainly approved, cackling uproariously at the verbal and visual gags. And most of the movie's appeal comes from the interaction between the adolescents onscreen - even as unevenly scripted as their dialogue was. Their chemistry and banter sparkled in places, failed in others. Personally, I think when adults work with kids, they should allow the kids to paraphrase lines to make them feel more organic. These kids were trying to hit the script just right in certain places.

This is definitely a PG movie, because there are a couple of slightly risque jokes, moments that will scare smaller children - and you don't want your more adventurous 4-year-old to get any ideas... like riding his or her bicycle 20 freaking miles to find a friendly alien. But also because it's directed by first-time feature-length filmmaker Dave Green, whose background includes "Zombie Roadkill." This is not a guy who aspires to direct children's fare.

Overall, I think the film will get run over at the box office after being book-ended by "Transformers: Age of Extinction" the week before, and "Planes: Fire & Rescue" the week after. The only saving grace is that it will be one of the few family-friendly PG movies out for a while, and parents can only see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" so many times.

I'm sure that Green and Disney are hoping that getting the jump on the July 4 weekend will position the film well. He'll get a "Ya did good, kid" from the Disney execs, and they'll keep him in their wheelhouse for his entire career. Here's hoping, Mr. Green. It's not a bad life, as I understand.

"Earth to Echo"
Rating: PG
Run time: 91 minutes
Produced by: Panay Films, Walt Disney Studios

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The best reason to let others go first in line

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 By

I'm locking up the house while Emerson walks to the car, and I hear her irritated voice behind me:

"Well, you're welcome. I just walked through a spider web for you."

*chortle* "Thanks, Doodlebug.

*sigh* "Whatever."