Charlie Day Time! *Special Craft Edition*

Spotted these while farting around at work today. After squealing like a little girl, I printed them out and started cutting away. Enjoy the end result.

These awesome little paper crafts can be found here.  And don’t worry fans, more episode reviews of It’s Always Sunny are on their way!

Posted by Wendy.

Song of the Day: Sexy Singles for ya!

Tonight as I sat in my bedroom wondering what to do with the evening I contemplated a few things. I could move some furniture and vacuum all the fur tumbleweeds I’m sure are collecting behind them. I could move the big pile of books on the window ledge that have a layer of pollen and dust on them, clean them off and organize them. Or I could watch more episodes of Nip/Tuck online (because watching three seasons in about a week isn’t sad or anything). And as I sat on my bed, trying not to move too much for fear of sweating, I glanced over to my records. My eyes wondered over to the tiny red bin that holds all my 45s. I couldn’t even remember what was in the bin. What gems would I uncover? Surely there must be some musical masterpieces that I could share with the wonderful readers of Matterful.

Never fear, dear Matterful reader, I found you some sexy gems to warm up your hot and sweaty summer nights with.
Click to get your groove on

A World Without Abuelas

Recently, I started thinking about what life would have been like without Abuelas.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • No creamy mashed potatoes that you can pat down into a flat pancake.
  • Nobody saying “Que dios to bendiga” as you bid your good byes.
  • No family secrets divulged in Spain over sangria.
  • No balconies overlooking the hustle and bustle of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico.
  • Nobody to ask you over and over again if you want another banana, or another glass of water, or a third plate.
  • No front porches filled with scorpions or back yards filled with coquis.
  • Nobody to pass you a $5 or $10 behind your Abuelo’s back.
  • No unmatched croquettas made with love and lots of secret ingredients.
  • Nobody to make me and my cabbage patch dolls custom-made clothes, including the coolest, hot pink, off-the-shoulder,  Christmas Formal dress I wish I still had.
  • No glimpses of Spanish-language novelas that never quite sucked me in.
  • No old photographs.
  • No smarties every Sunday.
  • No Jetta I could pretend was mine.
  • No coke that cross-my-heart tastes different in Puerto Rico.
  • Nobody to try to teach English to just for a loving laugh.
  • No frijoles recipe living in my Hotmail inbox for years.
  • No perfectly manicured nails…even at the end.
  • No witches next door with hair down to their knees.
  • Nobody babysitting on nights that brought out the most mischievous in you, like exploding godzillas in microwaves or playing with your dad’s razor.
  • No favorite nights at Pizza Hut with an arcade overlooking the dining area.
  • No house to live in while we were in between houses.
  • No Dulce Maria’s in my immediate family.

A world without Abuelas is a sad world indeed.

Posted by: Mariela

Women Matter: Modern Family and Parenthood Tackle (Non)Working Moms

Recently, two very different shows about families – Modern Family and Parenthood – addressed the difficult choices many mothers make when it comes to work and family.

In Modern Family, Claire (Julie Bowen) makes a catch-up date with her old friend, co-worker and business rival Valerie (Minnie Driver).  Claire left her fast track to executive-dom behind after she met Phil and became a homemaker, keeping together a loving yet typically insane household of three kids.  Valerie is single, maintains lovers on different continents and gets news that she’s been promoted and will be moving to Paris while at lunch with Claire.

At first, Claire thinks Valerie must envy her stability but then realizes that she actually pities her.   In her effort to one-up Valerie’s promotion, she invites her over to see her awesome family-life in action.  Instead, Valerie witnesses a house in disarray – kids barely dressed holding liquor bottles, a husband stuck in a porta-potty and bragging about having “taken care of business,” and a rat on the loose.  Valerie high tails it out of suburbia, and Claire gets over her initial embarrassment and anger in a sweet, “Gotta love ‘em” dinner time moment.

Parenthood addresses possibly opting back in.  Kristina’s (Monica Potter) former boss is about to announce her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor and wants her to come to Sacramento to help with her speeches, just like “old times.”  The stay-at-home mom’s initial reaction is to say no – life lately has been intense with her son’s Asperger’s diagnosis and her teenage daughter buying sexy Victoria’s Secret bras.  Her husband Adam (Peter Krause) encourages her and the clearly excited Kristina says yes to a three day stint.

Once there, she feels out of place amongst the 20 something campaign staffers sitting in front of laptops, calling each other “dude” and talking about tweets.  But, her moment of triumph occurs at about 25 minutes into the 43 minute episode during a pitch for an important endorsement.  She uses – gasp – a personal connection, a sense of history and a carefully placed “dude” to lock it in.

With that success comes the offer of a full time job and one of the better pieces of writing the show has seen.  Kristina explains to Adam:  “Honestly, while I was there, I felt so alive…It was like I was being seen for the first time in so long.”  And, Adam, perfect husband that he is, soaks it all in and starts making plans about how they can adjust to become a dual working parent household.  But the plans are too much, and the pull toward family even more, and Kristina decides against taking the job.

I’m not a wife or a mother, but I’m surrounded by women everyday making similar choices and being torn in similar ways.  And I can’t say that I haven’t thought about what being a mom would mean for my personal identity and level of fulfillment, and what working full time would mean for my time (or lack of time) with my child.

I was recently at a More magazine lunch about happiness in a post women’s lib world and when one older high-powered executive asked the younger feminists what they are fighting for, temperatures rose.  Of course, there is still a lot to fight for.  Women make significantly less than men, are severely underrepresented in positions of power and our reproductive rights are constantly at jeopardy – not to mention the horrible abuses that women are subjected to worldwide, from being forced to become child brides to being the victims of the sex trade (see Nicholas Kristof’s “Half the Sky”).

But one issue that the different generations agreed should be a major one to rally around is making life easier for working moms.  There’s a new book by Brooklyn-based mom Sharon Lerner called “The War on Moms: On Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation,” in which she argues that the U.S. federal government needs to have better systems in place to support moms, including mandated paid maternity leave (it’s alarming to hear that only 42% of moms take off 12 weeks off after giving birth), a public daycare system and solid flex work options.

I’m going to keep tabs on the White House Council on Women and Girls as they tackle these and other policies that’ll help create that “21st century workplace to meet the changing needs of the 21st century workforce.”  They recently hosted a Forum on Workplace Flexibility that seemed to kick things off.

In the meantime, let’s thanks mom this Mother’s Day for her hard work, whether it’s in or out of the home.

Posted by: Mariela

Matterful Art: Marina Abramovic is Present, Indeed

Start on the sixth floor at MOMA, and enter the fascinating, disturbing and compulsive world of Marina Abramovic.  Decide what to look at first:  her “Freedom” series where she screams until she loses her voice, speaks until she can’t find the words or dances until she collapses of exhaustion; the props used during her most famous “Rhythm” piece where she turned her body into a passive object that would be invaded by 72 different props for six hours; or the photos of her stabbing between her fingers repeatedly with knives.

Notice the nudes standing between the doorway and stare for a while before you decide to go the other way because you have too many bags to squeeze through such a tight space.

Enter the room where she meets Ulay, her collaborator and lover for the next 12 years, and realize you share their mutual birthday.  Think maybe you should amp up your adventurous side, but not quite to the level of Rest Energy below.

Stare at their series of 22 staring matches they did around the world in the least likely of places, from an empty museum in the middle of the night to a dirt pit in a war-torn country.  They went on in this immobile way for hours on end.  A commentator says:  “They’re doing their utmost to do nothing.”

Read about their Great Wall Walk, which was supposed to lead to marriage but instead led to separation.

Continue through the next few rooms where you realize her later solo work was just as bold and possibly even darker, with images of war and blood throughout.  The years did not mellow her.  There’s a naked, heavily breathing woman splayed on a table weighed down by a skeleton.

You’ve seen her age from her 20s to her late 50s.

On the second floor, you share a room with her at 64, live and engaged in ongoing staring matches with random strangers.  A beefy guy gets up after going head-to-head with her for some time, walks away and breathes heavily before he says to his friend, “That was intense.”  You can check out more peaceful, emotional, pensive, dulled and focused contenders here.

You leave MOMA thinking “present” is the most active verb around.

Posted by: Mariela

Where Have All The Theme Songs Gone?

“You take the good, you take the bad you take them both and there you have…”  That takes me straight to Tootie, Blair, Jo and the Facts of Life gang and noon sandwiches at home after swimming lessons.

“Here we are face to face a couple of silver spoons.”  That one makes me wish desperately for a rideable indoor train, if only my apartment was big enough.

“I bet we’ve been together for a million years.  And I bet we’ll be together for a million more.”  That was the motherload, Thursday’s Must See TV that welcomed the slow but oh-so-stylish Mallory and the charming and forever young Alex P. Keaton.

In the last month, I even managed to get the theme songs for Disney’s Adventure of the Gummi Bears and Dear John stuck in my head and dutifully song bombed them forward.

Because they are memorable.  Because they wisp you back to a very specific time, when TV schedules mattered and brought people together.  Maybe it’s because I just watched more TV back then?

All I know is that, these days, theme songs have all but been washed away.  Blink and you’ll miss them.  Modern Family’s lasts all of 10 seconds and 30 Rock’s a mere 18.  A quick review of the 15 top rated TV shows last week showed, first off, that only six were original comedies or dramas (the rest were reality TV, the NCAA Championship Game and 60 Minutes).  Of those six, only one could be categorized as good and that one is “Who are You?” written and performed by The Who for CSI.  The rest all sound like a version of the same sort of Muzak.

So…what happened?  Is it a theme song revolt against our multitasking lives, impatient viewing habits and too-quick-to-fast-forward fingers?  Are the writers saying: “Enough is enough.  If you won’t respect us, then we won’t respect you!”

I bet that’s part of it.  And I even bet that shorter theme songs are part of the revolt.  The shorter they are, the harder they become to zip through in order to get right to the storyline.

I zip through them myself, but I do think it’s a shame that we’ll never find ourselves, late at night, having group sing-a-longs to any theme song post 1995.  And maybe that’s being generous?

Posted by: Mariela

Just Did It: A View from the Bridge

Growing up, it was all about The Crucible and Death of a Salesman.  That’s one of the reasons it was such a pleasure to get to know A View from the Bridge, Arthur Miller’s play about a Brooklyn-based, Italian-American longshoreman’s obsession with his niece and the codes and ethics of a close knit community in the 50s.  Another pleasure, of course, was the all-star cast featuring perennial Top Five-ee Liev Schreiber and Broadway newcomer Scarlett Johansson.  But we’ll get to that later.

This play is like taking a mirror to On the Waterfront — both protagonists rat, but with very different consequences — and many people think that Bridge was Miller’s response to Elia Kazan’s Waterfront, after that playwright chose to name Communist names before HUAC.  Miller was also called before HUAC but refused to talk.  Making this circle even more incestuous, Miller wrote the original screenplay for Waterfront, before the HUAC controversies led to a major falling out between these best friends.

The play is swift and climactic.  The narration and plot build the action to the point that it’s impossible to not know that things aren’t heading down hill for Eddie Carbone and his family.  Yet, I was enthralled and somehow still rooted for this fink — he of the “tunnel” vision (did Miller originate this phrase?) with a singular goal to stop his niece from marrying the illegal Italian immigrant who just wasn’t “right.”

I guess I wasn’t the only one rooting for him.  Listen to how lawyer-come-narrator Alfieri closes the play:  “Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better. But the truth is holy, and even as I know how wrong he was and his death useless, I tremble for, I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory–not purely good, but himself, purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him more than all my sensible clients.”

I’ve seen Schreiber on stage as the sexy lover in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, playing the great villain Iago at the Joseph Papp production of Othello and starring in Talk Radio.  He never, ever disappoints.  I was very curious to see how Johansson — she of the low, raspy voice, sultry eyes and many times dead performances — would stack up.

Pretty well, I have to admit.  For most of the play, her actions and words spoke innocence, but her body and dress spoke maturity and that delicate balance is crucial to the play’s tension.  When she finally does break free from her uncle’s firm grasp, you may even believe that it has nothing to do with love for her illegal Marco, and everything to do with the fact that she’s never tasted air.

Posted by: Mariela