Snow White and the Huntsman (aka Charlize, Bella from Twilight and Thor get in a dustup)

The husband and I just returned from watching this year’s second adaptation of the fairy tale involving a wicked stepmother thwarting a stepdaughter’s access to love, royalty, and a lifetime of happiness. No, not Cinderella. The other fairy tale that gives stepmothers a bad rap — the one involving seven little dudes, three drops of blood, a poisonous apple and a magic mirror.

Question: How do two versions of Snow White get released within three months of each other?

In the world of multi-million-dollar movie making, doesn’t word get around in Hollywood that certain projects are in the works? I mean, doesn’t one studio exec assistant share a martini with another studio exec assistant, say, at the Chateau Marmont, then exchange whispers about whatever their bosses are cooking up? It’s the same broken logic that allowed for Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe and Report to both come out in theaters in 2009. You would think Julia Robert’s agent runs into Charlize Theron’s agent at some point and brags about the paranoid schizophrenic evil queen role their client has landed.

Synopsis

To save youthe trouble of watching the year’s second, ickier version of this tale, I will sum up it for you.

The beginning is roughly the same — Bella from Twilight is sad because her mom dies from some kind of illness. Her dad, the king, gets massively depressed and lonely in his big stone castle then goes into a battle fighting a big army of freaky soldiers that shatter into a million obsidian-like shards when they get stabbed. His men find a gorgeous blond previously held captive by the fakey-fake soldiers (which really should have been his first clue — something was a little too easy about all this). Stuart Townsend’s ex is all perfectly dirtied up and tousled-hair-like and looking victimized. The widowed king falls for her in one day and the very next day assembles the whole kingdom at the castle for the craziest shotgun wedding slash ascension to queenship ever heard of.

Little princess Snow White (who by the way is freckled not porcelain-skinned with  brunette hair not raven, and pink lips not deep red — did ANYONE read the original story?) upstages Theron during the wedding walk down the aisle with her purity and cuteness. As Charlize and the king engage in marriage night activity, she starts mumbling about power while he’s in the midst of coital bliss, then, she stabs and kills him.

Instant queen.

Flowers die. It starts to snow. Everything in the kingdom goes dark.

Years later, we find Kristen Stewart imprisoned in the North Tower where she makes a big fire with some kind of flint, her breath, and some twigs. She looks very greasy and dirty.

She watches as a girl with a baby-doll face is brought in as a prisoner.

Baby-doll face gets her youth sucked out of her by the aging queen appearing to have an asthma attack or a bad case of the Mondays.

(Apparently way more effective than Botox).

But somewhere in this mess, the queen’s magic mirror which produces a metallic dude that talks to her who nobody sees (ref: “paranoid schizophrenic”) gives her really bad news, reminding her that the stepdaughter she never wanted is still being kept in the North Tower, only now, she’s of age, and pretty, and perhaps the fairest of them all.

Charlize’s bro, an albino looking guy with a super bad Hamlet type hairdo is dispatched to fetch Hottie Snow White, which he fails at doing because she cuts his face with a nail and escapes.

Here’s where things get interesting.

Immediately, Kristen’s puffy sleeve dress goes off-the-shoulder damsel-style as she disappears into the Dark Forest, which is filled with grossy gross things like maggots and sulfur-spewing bubbles.

Thor eventually shows up at the request of Charlize – to hunt down Little Snow, but instead of a cosmic hammer, he carries…a hatchet. With far less power. And it doesn’t magically fly across the room into his grip by the sheer extension of his open palm. (See: The Avengers, a much better movie.)

Hemsworth winds up wanting to save Snow White instead of bring her back to the queen, but only after a whole village of women with funky tear scars is burned down by the queenie’s meanie brother and the soldiers helping him. (I spent a good 15 minutes wondering about the tears scars till one of the women explained to Snow White they did it to themselves to avoid being beautiful, thereby escaping notice of the highly insecure Queen Ravenna).

Back at the castle by the sea, Ravenna goes through a whole series of CGI Extreme Makeovers ™ from old to young by inhaling more youth. Think North Country vs. Devil’s Advocate.

Snow White and the drunkard Huntsman are strung upside down in the woods, they meet the Dwarfs, all escape the bad people (again) and retreat behind a leaf curtain through a grotto to FairyLand…where the fairies look like miniature grey Avatars.

Despite the healing presence of Princess Snow, which relieves the coughs and aches and pains of her height-challenged companions, she #FAILS to save the life of the 7th dwarf during another mini-battle. A shame, since just the night before he had buried his oversized head in her bosom.

She winds up kissing someone she thinks is William her boyfriend (cousin?) from her childhood days. Oh yeah, he’s the guy who ditched her years ago while the castle was raided and overtaken, but he’s come back to rescue her. Sorry, did I leave that out?

But alas, the apple he gifts her to snack on grows instant moss and his face goes all Scooby Doo mask revealing (gasp) he’s actually the evil queen-witch! Lucky for Twilight-girl, Thor shows up just in time with the real William, and Charlize instantly transforms back into a gagillion ravens who fly back to the castle and drop as an oily messy heap onto her magic room floor. (think: Bond…Goldfinger…environmental disaster-style)

Bella dies a human death and becomes a vampire.

No, wait.

She wakes from her slumber (coma?) atop a really comfy looking bed of animal fur after Hemsworth plants one on her. She gives a Braveheart-like speech, dons chain mail, then expertly wields a sword, rides a horse and leads an army into battle. Never mind the years she spent trapped in the North Tower. Those skills just comes naturally when you’re Snow White, I guess.

I won’t tell you how it ends, but I will tell you, I couldn’t be more impressed with the consistency of Kristen Stewart’s pensive far-off non-expression. It’s a mixture between “I just ate a Sour Patch Kid and I don’t want you to know it” and “I’m not thinking of a single thing at all but I want to appear as if I’m deep in thought.” She applied it liberally in Twilight. And she masters it here. Especially when she’s crowned queen and wields that twig-scepter in the final scene. Even from a distance, as she steps off the throne into an awkward pose, and the camera shot goes wider…and wider…and wider…I can help but wonder, what is she looking at? A cute grip? Craft services? Robert Pattinson visiting her on set? What? What?

There. I just saved you 127 minutes of your life and 11 dollars.

You’re welcome.

**I just Wiki’d the Hemsworths. Thanks to alert reader JM-Farley, I’ve corrected my assertion that it was baby Thor who showed up in this movie. It was actually Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Brother Liam appears in The Hunger Games — also, a better film than this one.

**Forgot to mention. Kristen Stewart never eats in the film. In fact, no one eats. Maybe the Dwarves at one point. I seem to recall one meal portrayed. But other than that, no one consumes anything of substance.

“Will You Marry Me” Lip-Dub Marriage Proposal

Someday, Amy Frankel and Isaac Lamb’s children will ask Dad how he asked Mom to marry him. Dad will then chuckle, maybe plug in a thumb drive, or navigate to this link.

And their kids will immediately realize their Dad rocks.

Champagne and rose petals? Cliche. Diamond ring baked into a dessert? Please. Suddenly, the new standard for a creative marriage proposal includes secret rehearsals of 60+ people, borrowed marching band uniforms, and parents from afar linked in on Skype.

Oh, and a video that burns up the InterWebs.

And to think, he pondered not even videotaping it.

“A lot of people talked me out of that,” says Lamb. “They said, so much work went into this, we want a record of what happened!”

In an interview Saturday with KATU News, Lamb and Frankel stood in front of his parents southwest Portland home, on the street where this musical theater all played out last week.

Lamb says he started mulling over the idea of a lip-dub proposal back at Christmas-time, when he asked Frankel’s parents for permission to marry her.

“I knew when I got around to asking, it would have to be something incredible and special, because that’s how I feel about her,” he explains.

“I’ve always had sort of a flair for the dramatic. I’m a musical theater actor. I think in those terms a little bit.”

Both are involved in theater as members of the Third Rail Repertory Company. They have also watched and appreciated the entertainment of lip-dub videos, like this one, from the good people of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“It’s such a special thing, it expresses a whole city’s heart, so I thought what a perfect way to communicate to her how much I love her,” explains Lamb.

He mapped out a plan and enlisted the help of their friend, Gina Johnson Morris to choreograph. She owns Radish Underground Clothing in downtown Portland, and used the entryway of her store during off hours for group rehearsals. She also made instructional videos recording herself doing the dance moves, wrote detailed instructions, and sent that homework out to the friends and family members participating so they could practice at home.

(Yes, she’s the foxy brunette in the red dress. And sorry guys, she goes home every night to that bearded guy swinging her around in the video, her husband.)

Was Lamb worried about having an audience for this highly personal moment? Nope. And he has the perfect reasoning for that.

“I really do believe marriages exist as a part of a community and I feel like you need that community, that support. That’s why you celebrate marriages with your community, so I thought it was very important for that be a part of the proposal,” Lamb says.

The group had one three-hour rehearsal last weekend, five days before the performance Wednesday. Lamb lied, telling Frankel he was somewhere else.

“I knew something was up. We’ve been talking about getting married, so I knew someday a proposal would happen,” Frankel says.

But the day of the proposal is when things got really weird.

Lamb sent Frankel to pick him up in downtown Portland at six o’clock at night, through traffic, only to text her once she arrived telling her he was at his parents home, and to go there instead.

“She was a little mad about that,” he says, laughing.

“He made me drive back through traffic, but they were doing that to keep me away from the setup to keep me safely far away from them all gathering.”

By the time she arrived, everyone was in place. They’d parked their cars elsewhere and were hiding in arranged spots. It was Lamb’s large and commanding brother who was in charge of getting Frankel to sit in the SUV. She put on headphones, which would serve as the soundtrack; the street, SW Marigold, became the stage.

“I did not expect 60 people to start dancing in front of me as the car moved down the street, it was amazing. It’s completely overwhelming,” says Frankel. “I’ve been in the theater profession, and this was hands down the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced.”

As the car traveled slowly down the street, Frankel was wondering how she could ever top this, thinking there’s no way.

“Just wait till you have a baby,” joked Lamb. “You could birth a human being. I’ll make a lip dub video about it!”

She cracks up at that.

Lamb thought their friends and family would get a kick out of the video, and that it would be a great document to show their kids someday. He never expected it to go viral.

“What’s been most special about that is everybody posting about it is talking about how touched and moved they are by it. To know we contributed a little bit of love and positivity into the world that way — injected that into people’s lives — is really pretty special. That’s rare I think, something to be cherished. It means a lot to me.”

And at the heart of it all?

“As crazy and fun as this all has been, truly, the most thrilling thing is that she said yes and I get to spend the rest of my life with her. She makes every day brighter just because of who she is. She is a beautiful person and a beautiful soul,” he says, gazing at Frankel.

Yup. You’ve done it Isaac Lamb.

You’ve raised the bar even higher.

For all of us.

Turning to her future husband, Frankel says, “Life is so exciting with him.”

And it’s only just beginning…

What’s with these teachers and coaches?!

Scott Zeigler, Oregon coach charged with sex crimes

I don’t get it.

For the umpteenth time in my 12 years as a reporter, I’ve covered another coach/teacher/teacher’s aide arrested and accused of having sex with an underage student. For 12 years, it’s been different people, same story line. Man in a supervisory role with access to kids abuses that trust and commits sex abuse. Sometimes, it’s a woman. Sometimes, it’s a church. Nearly every time, it is an adult parents have placed their confidence in who winds up violating a sacred boundary.

As reporters, it’s easy to use the word “relationship” to describe these crimes, especially when the timeline of what’s taken place spans one, two, or three years. But isn’t it important to remember what these incidents really are? Neil Goldschmidt taught us that. A grown man doesn’t have a sexual relationship with a minor. He abuses that minor. It’s sex abuse. Let’s not romanticize it.

Arrests like this remind us that the vast majority of molestation doesn’t happen when a stranger grabs your kid off the street. Chances are, you know the abuser. Your kid knows the abuser. The abuser has access to your kid.

The vast majority of teachers, coaches and educators are hard-working, ethical people for whom boundaries aren’t an issue. Sadly, abusers of this trust give other mentors who share their title a bad name.

Let’s celebrate those among us who are the champions of children.

Let’s keep our eyes peeled, our ears tuned to the signs of abuse.

Kids are our most precious investment.

Let’s protect them as such.

Crash

Maybe you’ve seen the movie.

I saw the reality of it today, as I sat in Dean Pace’s home. With his wife of just eight months by his side, he showed me the ten-inch long purple scar down torso, accentuated with the dots where the staples once punctured his skin.

I watched as he got winded just standing, and lamented his inability now to rough house with his 5-year old stepson, Roman.

I observed as a man who has every reason to be angry and bitter toward the 14-year old police say hit him in a stolen van, instead, extolled the virtues of positive thinking.

Dean realizes he has many reasons to be grateful.

He’s alive, out of the hospital, and loved by his family who painstakingly cared for him.

He wonders still about the stranger — a man, he thinks — who came up to the window of his SUV shortly after impact, and asked if he was okay.

But he can’t help think about what was lost. “All of February,” he says. And Valentine’s day. And Roman’s fifth birthday. All transpired while Dean fought for his life in the hospital, with the help of doctors and nurses at OHSU.

The teenager who hit Dean Pace faces felony hit and run charges. See, after the crash, police say he fled from the scene on foot. Investigators say a post on social media led to his arrest the next day, at Sam Barlow High School, where the kid’s a student. The boy’s dad tells me his son’s never been in trouble before. Also, that the family’s had to move because of this.

He says they pray every day for Dean Pace and his recovery.

When I tell him Dean is out of the hospital and mending, a relieved sigh comes through the receiver.

Two families. One fateful afternoon.

Dean Pace shared with me text messages he and his wife, Olga, exchanged that day as he left work. (Olga is freshly emigrated from Russia. They were married just six months when the crash occurred.)

Dean: I’m coming home. I love you!

Olga: I wait you. I love you too.

Olga: Bad traffik?

Olga: I worry. You ok?

Olga: I worry.

Olga: I worry.

Olga: I worry.

Olga: I worry.

By then, Dean was en route to the hospital, via LifeFlight.

Deadly Force

This is a report I filed for K-2 examining the training for Oregon State Police troopers when it comes to deadly force, and the criteria they use for deciding when to use it. It followed a man’s 2006 attack on an officer with a knife in La Pine that resulted in the man’s death at the hands of Deschutes County law enforcement. It was also shortly after traffic stop turned shoot-out in Albany between a trooper and a driver he’d pulled over.

It came to mind as I covered the Aaron Campbell shooting settlement, and his family’s cry for change with how police are trained.

Is Anna Canzano pregnant

According to the statistics for my blog, that’s the number one search phrase in Google that brings you to this page: “is Anna Canzano pregnant.”

Kinda freaky.

It makes my stomach turn.

Not because I hate children or the idea of becoming a mother. Not at all. I love my stepdaughter and nephews and nieces. I like them better than most adults.

I’ve just always been deathly afraid of pregnancy. And by that I mean, everything in the 260 days between conception and birth.

It’s been that way since I first understood how babies come into the world. And when you really think about it, why wouldn’t I be terrified?

Once you get past the magical stork-myths of early childhood, movies and tv shows portray pregnancy and childbirth in some simile of one of the following:

1) woman throwing up due to morning sickness
2) waddling woman with sore back and arms bent behind her trying to provide self lumbar support
3) madwoman with tousled hair screaming bloody murder and cutting off circulation to husband’s hand during child bearing

Of course, there’s also the helpful “mother dies during childbirth” story arc or “husband faints in birthing room” comic relief.

It ain’t pretty.

My job doesn’t help. I did a story a few months ago about midwives and at-home births. As a concept, the idea of having your baby at home sounds amazing. Familiar surroundings. Nurturing, experienced women talking you through labor. A kiddie pool inside your home!

While there are numerous births like this that go off without a hitch, the woman I interviewed had what can only be described as a nightmare experience

She was in labor at home for eight days. Eight days. Her son was so overdue, he’d had his first bowel movement inside of her, effectively poisoning himself. The few pictures she had of him revealed tiny baby fingers discolored by the toxicity in the womb.

Devastating for her. Haunting for me.

(Not lost on me is the irony that I’m contributing to the negative media images of childbirth that scarred my own developing mind.)

So what am I supposed to believe?

Maybe my perception should rely more on the Surrogate Mom who “so loved being pregnant” she’d acted as a surrogate four times. Four. Times. She’s had ten children. Three of her own, then twins, triplets and two single babies for other people! A true baby making machine.

I found her delight in pregnancy puzzling. It’s confusing to me whenever I hear women extol the virtues of it. I’m at best, skeptical that the improved complexion, healthy hair and overall hormonal nirvana are for real. And I look at those women with those serene expressions, searching their faces for the truth.

Babies are on the mind, of course. In a newsroom, like most any workplace, any recently married woman is subject to “bump watch.” Unlike other workplaces, newsroom women sometimes factor in sweeps months as they plan pregnancies — the four months of the year that are an especially big deal for ratings. They’re all hands on deck months. No vacations allowed. Longer hours expected. And you know, if you could manage to take your maternity leave between those months, that might be helpful….

Being pregnant on television! That’s not even something I’ve actively cogitated. People would get to watch me…slowly…get…huge over the span of 40 weeks.

Again, freaky.

Pausing a moment here to bite my lip in apprehension as every part of me that is insecure and petty has a small panic attack.

…………..deep breathing…………..

Okay.

I will find a way to get past that.

But how do I grit my teeth through the countless horror stories I’ve heard from friends and relatives, including the ones that make their way into, of all places, baby shower conversations? Maybe you’ve been there?! That precious moment when women are gathered around an expectant mother who’s cooing as she opens another delicate onesie — and (insert name) launches into a detailed description of the child birth that came “this close” to killing her. Which prompts someone else to share a story that one-ups her. And so on and so on.

That scene is more like war veterans sitting around at the American Legion, swapping stories about the rocket-propelled grenades that tore their leg off, or the IED that exploded their Humvee and left them with a traumatic brain injury.

Leave the pastel colored gift bags at home. Cigarettes and smokies would be more appropriate.

I get it. It’s a big deal. It’s arguably the biggest deal a woman can experience in her life. I am deliriously happy for my friends and co-workers and family members who’ve been blessed with kids or who are excitedly preparing baby rooms right now. I have classmates from high school who have two, three, four, even five kids! Their Facebook photos are proof to me it can be done.

So, what advice can you offer me? Tell me what’s worked for you? I can’t be the only 34-year old woman who’s ever ruminated on these unknowns. What can you offer this feeble mind that will help me proceed with confidence toward something that has gripped me with fear for so long?

I welcome your thoughts.

Maybe someday the number one search term will instead be “Anna Canzano baby”.

Wouldn’t that be something.

Brandon Roy Explainer

If you’re like me, you’re not exactly an expert on NBA salary caps, amnesty clauses and collective bargaining agreements. So maybe this will help.

Given the news on Brandon Roy’s sudden retirement, I sat down this morning with Tom Penn, former Portland Trail Blazers vice-president of basketball operations and assistant general manager. He’s now a commentator for ESPN.

Anna: What does this mean for the Blazers?

Tom Penn: If Brandon chooses to retire, and the medical director for the NBA says it’s a career ending injury — that it qualifies — then a year from his last game, in all likelihood, his salary would completely come off the books. Brandon still gets his money but the salary comes off the salary cap and the luxury tax but that doesn’t happen for a full year.

AC: So that’s relief for the Blazers down the line?

TP: Down the line it does, but it doesn’t give the financial relief that choosing to amnestize him…if they amnesty Brandon and take him off the books, they get luxury tax relief right away for this season. It’s unlikely they get that for this season. It depends on when he comes off the books. If the Blazers still choose to use the amnesty clause, they can remove his salary effective immediately, so it gets them below the luxury tax immediately, and they can spend more money on a free agent right now. If he retires because of medical, they have to wait for that year to run its course and he won’t come off the books until then, so they get more flexibility right now. The advantage of not using the amnesty is they could still use that in a future year on another current player. So they could wait for Brandon’s salary to come off in a year, then they could still amnestize someone else and get more cap space.

AC: Would it be likely for them to do that?

TP: Sure, if they get to a mode where they want to rebuild this team using a lot of cap space. Let Brandon’s money cycle off, choose to eliminate another big salary on the books, go get a glamour free agent.

AC: He’s due 64 million right?

TC: He’ll get every nickel he’s due. He’ll get that whether he’s cut via amnesty or whether he retired medically. The difference is…if he was cut via amnesty other teams had the opportunity to pick him up off waiver and he wouldn’t get to pick which team he goes to, so that might not have been too appealing to Brandon as an alternative.

AC: After this year is up, it’s not that Brandon Roy will never ever play again in the NBA:

TP: That’s an interesting question. Yes, he could always play again. Whether he’s cut via amnesty or whether he retired medically because you can’t ever sign an agreement that prevents the players from coming back for sure, anytime in the future. One of the issues with knees is that you never really know how the knee’s going to react. It’s feasible Brandon could come back for another team in the future.

AC: Final thoughts:

TP: What Brandon’s meant to this franchise, to this city, is really what needs to be celebrated. It’s sad that he’s having to retire early, but what he did for Rip City, reviving it, bringing it back, we owe him gratitude for that. This franchise is in really good shape going forward, but it is sad to see Brandon leave.

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