The Intouchables

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Alica Mckenna Johnson, Intouchables, French Movies

Yes, another French movie. My son wants to go to France, ASAP, and is continuing to study French during the summer. Anyway, this is a wonderful movie. The character growth of both the main actors is extraordinary. The basic plot: a wealthy paraplegic white man doesn’t want to be treated with pity so he hires a young Senegalese man from the ghetto of Paris as his full-time caregiver.

Compassion, friendship, humor, and adventures tie these two men together in a beauty of a movie based on a true story.

Okay, watching the trailer again made me tear up, this is such a beautiful movie.

The power of salsa

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Cuban_Fury

CUBAN FURY

Nick Frost plays Bruce, a man hiding from himself and his passion, the dance of salsa. His co-worker Drew, Chris O’Dowd, is a jerk who goes after the new boss Julia, Rashida Jones. Will Bruce allow the fire of salsa to once again burn inside him?

This is a very funny movie with great characters. The only thing I didn’t like is Chris O’Dowd plays a jerk, and I love him and I don’t like seeing him be mean like that.

My Kids Are Home, Save Me

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So it’s Labor Day, which means the kids are home from school. That doesn’t inherently sound bad, but they are currently making a list of ways to spend my money, playing French rap, and talking to me while I’m trying to write.

How is your Labor Day?

Video of French rap, just in case you wanted to hear it.

Kicking Ass in France

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Disterect B-13, French Action movies, Alica Mckenna-Johnson
District B-13 Ultimatium, French Action Movies, Alica Mckenna-Johnson

District B13 and District 13: Ultimatum
I begged my son to review these movies, but he sucks and never did, so it’s up to me. Intense action, parkour, martial arts, social issues, sexy men and women—add it together, and you have two great French action movies. These are fast-moving films set in a future Paris ghetto walled off from the rest of the city. I have watched these movies several times and enjoy them each time. If you are an action movie fan, you need to add District B13 and District 13: Ultimatum to your to watch list.

Riding the waves of depression.

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Sometimes happiness seems very far away.

Sometimes happiness seems very far away.


So like many people I know, I have a large range of ups and downs. I have discussed this with a doctor. According to him I’m within normal range, if on the higher end of things. I do not do anything harmful or majorly self-destructive. Please note this is my experience, and if you have depression, please check with your doctor to make sure you’re safe :)

Anyway last night I felt a shift. I’ve had a few lower stress days, but my life hasn’t really changed, just my perception of how to live. I don’t know if I can explain it but I went from feeling overwhelmed and incapable to What can I do right now to make things better?

I can tell when I have a break through, as opposed to trying to give myself a pep talk because I flossed. YES, I should floss every day, but my barometer for how depressed I am is if I floss. When I get to the point that I don’t care, and too tired, or just don’t feel like flossing then I know I’m sinking and I do my best to be gentle with myself.

So last night I flossed, yay! And then this morning I exercised, another important tool in keeping my mood even. I’m hoping going to bed early will come next.

My focus for managing my depression is sleep, diet, and exercise.

Sleep is usually the first one to go under the guise of reading a book so good I can’t put it down, never mind that it’s a book I’ve read before.

Exercise? Now this one is tricky because even when I’m depressed, I will go to the gym with my friend. It helps temporarily, but it is the daily exercise and the willingness to do it in my home without anyone that lets me know when I’m feeling more stable. This morning I did a ten minute dance quickie, Hula Hoop for one song (I’m just starting out), and then did some yoga. I love yoga. I’m never sure why I don’t make time for it every day, but depression isn’t logical and it can take away things we enjoy.

This was not extensive, hard-core exercise—this was moving my body in ways I enjoy, getting blood pumping, and opening myself up. I feel better, and even if I don’t go to the gym, those few minutes will sustain me for the day.

One of the yummy meals my daughter made for me.

One of the yummy meals my daughter made for me.


Food? Now I am extremely lucky. My hubby does the grocery shopping, makes me breakfast, and my daughter makes dinner. This means when I get depressed and want to eat crappy food I have to go out of my way to get it, and when I’m depressed I don’t want to leave the house.

“But you could order in,” you say. And you’re right I could, but with my food allergies, even that is limited, unless I want to have migraines and curl in bed for days with painful stomach cramps. IF I WAS WILLING TO DO THAT TO MYSELF I WOULD SEEK MEDICAL HELP FOR MY DEPRESSION.

I used to fight these times of depression. My inner thoughts would become vicious and ugly, and I would ask myself why I couldn’t just suck it up. I’ve learned this makes things worse and once I recognize what is happening and can be gentle with myself, I don’t sink as deep and I don’t stay depressed as long.

I feel that now that I know myself better, I am stable for longer periods of time. A huge turning point for me, which just happened, isn’t about creating the perfect routine. My life isn’t that stable—things change too quickly and in ways I can’t control. So I now do my best to focus on What can I do today? How can I take care of myself right now?

Some days it's chocolate that makes everything better.

Some days it’s chocolate that makes everything better.


Some days it will be yummy salads, hitting the gym, writing 2000 words, and spending time with my family. Other days it will be five minutes of yoga stretches, crackers and hummus while I do paperwork, and reading while a child fitfully sleeps between throwing up until 2am.

How can you tell you’re sinking into a depressed cycle? What do you do to help yourself out of it?

Tips for those with food allergies, and the people who love them.

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Beautiful things I can't eat. Photo by Molly MacRae

Beautiful things I can’t eat. Photo by Molly MacRae

About eight years ago I discovered I was allergic to gluten, then eggs started giving me problem, a year later fish began causing horrible stomach cramps, and I’ve known for a long time that dairy doesn’t love me as much as I love it, more an intolerance then actual allergy.

I wanted to share some tips I have discovered through a lot of trial and fuck-ups so hopefully thing can be easier for you :)

Food allergy first aid kit. You should always have on hand chia seeds, charcoal, ginger, and a digestive aid you like. NOTE THESE ARE NOT ‘MEDICAL ADVICE’ AND NOT TO BE USED IF YOUR ALLERGY AFFECTS YOUR BREATHING!!! THESE ARE THINGS THAT WORK FOR ME.

Chia seeds: these small black seeds are so amazingly helpful. If I eat something I’m allergic to, we’ll pretend it was an accident and not me being a pouty brat. I will put a teaspoon of chia seeds into a quart of water or juice, wait for them to swell, (they are gelatinous, just FYI) then drink them. I find the chia seeds remove whatever evil thing I ate from my body gently, effectively, and quickly. But I don’t need to stay near a bathroom all day. This is safe for me to use at work.

I find the chia seeds not only help with tummy/intestinal issues but also help remove the allergen so well that my migraines aren’t as bad.

Charcoal capsules: I get these at the health food store. When I eat something that causes a lot of bloating (gas), nausea, and cramping, charcoal is what I grab first. For me it seems to neutralize whatever evil is going on in my stomach. Just don’t freak out when what comes out of you is black/ grey in color. :)

Ginger helps soothe my stomach, helps digest greasy foods, and breaks up mucus. I find if my tummy is what needs the help, eating candied ginger works really fast. Ginger capsules help but they will help, including clearing up my sinus congestion .

There are tons of digestive aids, some basic, some specific to food intolerance (not allergies). Find one you like and help your body deal with possible contamination. This is really helpful when I travel. I take some digestive aids before each meal I eat out, just in case .

Restaurant tips

Gluten Free option at one of my favorite restaurants.

Gluten Free option at one of my favorite restaurants.

Go to the friggin’ website. Most restaurants have their menus posted on their website. Do they label dishes for allergies? Can you find something to eat? If you have in-depth questions, please call the restaurant ahead of time, during non-busy hours, or email them. It is very inconsiderate to ask a list of allergy questions of a waiter during the dinner rush.

BTW, dear restaurant peeps put your menu up with allergy info, I won’t go to restaurants I can’t check out first.

Do not expect friends and family to do this for you, and if you show up someplace and can only eat the dinner salad because you didn’t do your homework, no pouting. You cannot expect other people to look out for you like this, and if they DO, thank them repeatedly.

ALSO tip accordingly to the amount of help and extra work the staff need to do for you.

AND help fellow allergy sufferers. If you find a good place, post about it, on your blog, YELP, a website for people with food allergies, whatever. Share the wealth!

Ask

Seriously, many many people suffer from allergies and/or know others who do and these people have little kernels of wisdom that can help you, if you ask.

One day I was complaining on Facebook about craving an egg sandwich that I can’t have because eggs hate me, and a friend asked if I had tried farmer’s market eggs. What? No? Why would I?

Now, I can’t eat normal eggs. Not even the organic, range free, from chickens who listen to Mozart all day, eggs. BUT I found out I can eat eggs from farmer’s markets, from chickens or ducks that run around someone’s back yard and eat bugs and stuff. No idea why. And I would never have thought to try them if my friend hadn’t mentioned it.

Food allergies are a pain in the ass, expensive, and frequently make me want to cry. But I’m not alone and neither are you. What advice, tip, tidbit do you have to share?

Lots of Places Have a North

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Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’sit
Apparently France is not all coveted beauty, they have a NORTH. A place where bad employees are transferred to, a place with weird accents, unrecognizable slang words, and cold. And fortunately for us, it is a place of fun characters, beauty, and drunken bicycling. A very enjoyable movie, but you need to be a good subtitle reader because they write in the odd accent to show you what is happening and why things are funny.

How would you stay safe?

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Another new adult book, and another fiery rage burning in my body by chapter two. I’m beginning to hate this genre as a whole, so if anyone knows of a good new adult book, please let me know. BTW, a good one won’t have a heroine who is TSTL (To Stupid To Live) and who is forced into situation by her ‘best friend.’ Also it won’t have a womanizing jerk for a hero. This one looked at a crowd of drinking girls and thought of them as ‘easy pickings.’ Now once he gets our heroine in his arms, he wants to protect her and soothe her fears instead of coerce her into bed, but it’s too late—I hate him.

I’m also wondering if I’m just being a horrid judgmental bitch. Having been raised by a strong feminist mother, one who volunteered for a rape crisis center, I grew up with ‘rules’ of how to stay safe on dates and at parties. My mom taught me these rules and I will teach them to my daughter in the hopes of keeping her as safe as possible.
A PERSON IS NEVER ASKING TO BE RAPED OR ASSULTED AND IT IS NEVER THEIR FAULT, NEVER! RULES OR NO RULES.

My ‘rules’
1) Always have one person who is watching out for the others. You can take turns, or in my case it’s always me, because I never drink much. This person makes sure no one drives drunk or goes home with a stranger.

2) Never—ever—take a drink from someone you don’t trust. Watch the bartender pour it if you can, or get drinks in unopened bottles.

3) Never leave your drink unattended. If you walk away from your drink ,you get a new one.

4) Always have ‘mad money’ set aside to get a taxi if you need to. A lot of cabs will do credit cards now, but it’s always good to have $20 stashed just in case.

5) Never go somewhere to be alone with someone you don’t know/trust. Find a corner table, sit outside where others are nearby, but where you can still have a conversation. You do not go to their car, an empty room, or anywhere else they can isolate you.

Obviously if you want to have sex with someone, this last rule does not apply, but then you are making a choice—which is how it should be. People should choose to have sex.

So I put the question to you, what advice, rules, and strategies do you use or tell your children or friends to do in order to keep safe while going to clubs, bars, or parties where there is a lot of drinking?

So, Who Are You Supposed To Have Sex With?

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I was part of a discussion on Facebook the other day about whether as a parent, you would buy contraceptives for your teens. I had to leave because some one said “No, because I believe in no sex before marriage, at least for girls—boys are another thing.”

UM WTF??? Not the no sex before marriage—while it is not part of my belief system, I understand that it is important to a lot of people—but why it is only important for girls. If sex is a sacred/spiritual act and purity of body is important to start a marriage, why are only women expected to show that level of commitment to their future husbands and marriages?

“Because girls can get pregnant.”

I’ve heard this answer before and I call bullshit. Yes, girls can get pregnant. If they try hard, they can get pregnant, have a baby, and get pregnant again in one year.

A boy on the other hand could get more than 300 women pregnant in one year. Yes it would be unlikely, but he could, which makes the consequences of boys having sex outside of marriage, especially unprotected sex, greater than the consequences of girls having sex before marriage.

So, if girls are supposed to remain chaste, who are these boys fucking? No, really. The girls who are good enough to become their wives and mothers of their children have to say no to sex, even though girls have the same desire for sex that boys do. So who does that leave?

Girl they don’t respect. These boy can have sex with the ‘bad girls’, the ‘sluts’, the ‘easy girls’. And is that really okay with you? If your religion/culture/spirituality says that sex is sacred, are you really okay with your boys having sex with women they don’t respect/love/treat well? Because these are the girls they don’t bring home. Don’t admit to dating. And won’t talk to in public. And to me this is sickening.

Married women. Should these teen boys who are being given permission to act like the easy, dirty, sluts we shun in girls, should they be having sex with married women instead of the teens girls who are supposed to be saying no? At least those women ‘saved themselves’ for their husbands, so the important bit is out of the way. It should be fine if they take younger lovers right?

Widowed/single women. Maybe these teen boys should be finding elderly widowed or single women to sow their wild oats with. These women can’t get pregnant, won’t have their hearts broken, and are lonely. Maybe this is the solution to this pathetically double-standard problem.

No wait, I’ve got it.

These boys should be having sex with EACH OTHER! It’s the perfect solution. The teen girls can stay pure and chaste, the married women won’t commit adultery, and the widows/singles, well they kind of lose out, but, hey, it was a squicky solution. The boys can’t get each other pregnant and they won’t be ‘ruining’ anyone for their wedding day because it’s okay if boys come into the marriage bed as dirty sluts. A win-win solution for everyone.

Huuummm I have the feeling not everyone likes that choice, so I have one final offer:

Professionals. Teen boys could get jobs so they have enough money to have sex with professional sex workers. This way, once again the teen girls can remain virgins, and the teen boys can live out the double standard to the fullest without it negatively effecting anyone else.

Have I missed any options? Who do you think these boys should be having sex with if the girls their age must remain virgins?