Tag Archives: mother’s day

Bad Moms.

Image from: pinterest.com

Image from: pinterest.com

This month I’m taking a break from my director’s cut series to celebrate moms and motherly love. 

Happy belated Mother’s Day, dear readers. If you forgot to call your mom yesterday, here’s some motivation to pick up the phone: always remember that your mother could have been worse. Much, much worse.

And now…The Music, Film & Audio Department’s Top Ten Bad Moms in Film:

  1. Back to the Future

Not the worst mom, even though hitting on your own son is kind of gross. But really, who could say that they wouldn’t have accidentally done the same if their son traveled back in time and attended their high school?

  1. Friday the 13th

Is Jason’s mom really a bad mom? I mean (spoilers) she does kill quite a few people, but at least she did it out of love.

  1. Throw Momma From the Train


  1. Coraline

Image from: pinterest.com

Coraline’s new “other” mother seems pretty great, until she tries to sew a pair of giant buttons into her new daughter’s eyeballs.

  1. Dead Alive

At least your mother didn’t keep you from the one you love, and then turn into a zombie who causes a zombie outbreak.

  1. Only God Forgives

Your mother is not a chain-smoking drug kingpin (queenpin?) who forces you to avenge your brother’s death, and you should thank her for that.

  1. We Are What We Are

Did your mother ever make you go out and kill a person just so she could put (cannibal) food on the table? No, she probably did not. Lucky you.

  1. Flowers in the Attic

Image from: collider.com

And did your mother ever lock you in an attic and slowly poison you, until you had no choice but to form an inappropriate relationship with one of your siblings? I didn’t think so.

  1. Mommie Dearest


Image from: Popfilter.com

Image from: Popfilter.com

Two words: wire hangers.

  1. Carrie
Image from:

Image from: litreactor.com

And your mother most certainly did not react like Carrie White’s mother when you told her you had a hot date for the prom, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

Now go do something nice for your mom!



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Happy Mother’s Day! Read Some Military Science Fiction to Celebrate!

The terms “mother” and “military science fiction” are probably not ones you’d naturally put together in the same sentence.

But there are a few good reasons you should.

(Mother’s Day is this weekend, in case you’ve somehow been avoiding all the television and radio commercials for dozens of roses at deep discounts and cute teddy bears and other kitsch that moms supposedly like, and in case you missed Ross’s post about Mother’s Day movies.)

My mother and I have incredibly different tastes in books, but I do have her to thank for my love of reading. Not only did she make sure my brother and I had plenty of books growing up, but she encouraged us to try new authors and found new series for us to read all the time.

That’s why this post is about military science fiction, specifically about two of its moms, and why they’re awesome — because my mom found these for me to read.

Thanks, Mom!

Reason #1 Why You Should Think of Moms When You Think of Military SF: The Honor Harrington Series (Or, Moms are More than the Sum of their Babies)
basiliskstationDavid Weber’s Honor Harrington books were my first introduction to military science fiction. As soon as I read the first book in the series, On Basilisk Station, I was hooked (thankfully Weber is still writing Honor novels, and there’s a movie coming out in 2015, and now there’s a comic book series spin-off, and a young adult series…basically I’m in heaven).

The series’ protagonist, Honor, is a genetically modified spaceship commander who is a tactical genius. Over the course of the series, she picks up many other skills as well, and eventually becomes a mother as part of a polygamous marriage that involves one man and one other woman who has a physical disability.

As a middle-schooler struggling to figure out what kind of person I wanted to be, Honor was a great role model. She is smart, strong in many ways, but flawed too. Sometimes she makes the wrong decision, and sometimes she lets her emotions get the best of her. But she learns from her mistakes, and doesn’t let tragedy ruin her life.

atallcostsHonor’s pregnancy came as a surprise (in the eleventh book, At All Costs): All members of the space fleet have birth control implants to prevent pregnancy while they’re on active duty. Because of some crazy stuff that happened, Honor’s expired and no one realized it. She decided to keep the baby, and I appreciate Weber’s portrayal of this difficult decision. I also appreciate that Honor’s child is not the ultimate happy ending for her. Of course she does get joy from her baby, but she finds fulfillment elsewhere, too: from her work and her other family members.

Reason #2: The Vorkosigan Saga (Or, Moms Have Their Own Adventures, Too)
cordeliashonorAlthough a majority of Lois McMaster Bujold’s 16 Vorkosigan Saga novels focus on Miles Vorkosigan, a hyperactive nobleman from the planet Barrayar who moonlights as the admiral of a mercenary fleet under a secret identity, the first two focus on his mother, Captain Cordelia Naismith. Cordelia makes frequent appearances in Miles’ books as well.

Cordelia’s two books have been collected into an omnibus titled Cordelia’s Honor, or you can read them separately as Shards of Honor and Barrayar. Shards of Honor follows what happens when the survey team Cordelia is leading is attacked on an uninhabited planet they’ve discovered. Cordelia winds up stranded and captured by Captain Lord Aral Vorkosigan (who, yes, you guessed it, she later marries, but don’t worry, it’s not as cheesy as it sounds, I promise). Vorkosigan’s crew is on the verge of mutiny, and guess who helps stop it? Cordelia, because she’s awesome.

shardsofhonorI love Cordelia. She’s an adventurer and a leader, and she has the uncanny ability to figure out how other people work and what they need and want. As a mother, she gives her son room to explore while still providing boundaries and a safety net.

When she appears in Miles’ books, it’s often in the form of Miles thinking, “What would my mother do?” When she makes a physical appearance, she tends to take over the chapter with her nuggets of wisdom and wisecracks. I wouldn’t trade my mom for anything, but I wouldn’t complain if I had happened to land Cordelia as a mother. Bujold is a mother herself, and I’d imagine she channeled some of her own experience into Cordelia.

What books has your mother (or other important lady in your life) introduced you to? Share them with us in the comments!



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Movies for Mother’s Day

I love mothers. They make the world go ‘round.

Since my contribution to Eleventh Stack will almost always be about or pertaining to movies and since Mother’s Day is this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to list a bunch of movies for Mother’s Day.

A caveat: these aren’t necessarily mother-themed movies or even typical mother/child movies; you won’t find Juno or Stepmom anywhere on this list. These are movies that I have memories of seeing, at one time or another, with my mother. Never fear, because I have thrown in a few just in case you need to browse a library-themed blog in order to find something to watch with your mother on Mother’s Day.

There are some (potential) spoilers below, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip the entries that you haven’t seen.


Psycho (1960)

Just kidding. But not really. I’m not sure when I first saw this movie, but I want to talk about one time when my best friend was spending the night and we watched it. If you’ll recall, there are a few times when Janet Leigh is topless, save for a bra. Now I’m sure this was scandalous in the 1960s, but it didn’t bother my friend or me; we were both in high school. My mother, on the other hand, kept running into the living room to hold up a towel or a sheet to cover the television screen whenever Leigh was exposed. Other than that personal memory, why is a movie about matricide on a list of movies to watch on Mother’s Day? Well, because of the line: “a boy’s best friend is his mother.” In the context of the film, it’s creepy, but my mother and I frequently and mockingly said it to each other. There is some truth it the line, though; our mothers are often our first and best friends.


What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

I’ll admit that this movie really has nothing to do with mothers and their child(ren). It’s campy and ridiculous and for some reason was always playing on Sunday afternoons on Turner Classic Movies when I was younger. I don’t know if we ever saw it from start to finish in one sitting, but my mother and I couldn’t get enough of it. We thought this scene was particularly hilarious:

Or maybe I was the only one who thought that and she was just humoring me. If you have no prior knowledge of this film, then that scene is really all you need to know.


Finding Neverland (2004)

Here’s a tip: don’t take a girl on a date to the movies if you’re going to end up bawling your eyes out by the movie’s end. I made this mistake when I took a girl to see this movie, back when Johnny Depp was still making good movies. It’s a fantastic movie, but definitely not a date movie. I saw it again with my mother and we both just held hands and cried as J.M. Barrie (Depp) consoles a grieving Peter Llewelyn Davies (Freddie Highmore) over his mother’s death. I got the DVD as soon as it came out and we sat on the couch, watching and crying again. It’s crazy that the guy who directed this also directed Quantum of Solace, World War Z and Monster’s Ball. That’s almost Richard Linklater-levels of diversity. If you haven’t seen it, why not watch it with your mother this year?  Just don’t forget the tissues.


Beauty and the Beast (1991)

This is one of the first memories of a movie that I have. It’s also the first memory I have of seeing a movie at a drive-in (remember those?). I still have a VHS tape (remember those?) of this movie. I even have an autographed picture of Angela Lansbury that I’m sure was the result of my mother encouraging me to write to her. Do I really need to explain why the first full-length animated movie in the history of cinema to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award is on this list? It’s just a movie that’s very much ingrained in my childhood.

Angela Lansbury's autograph

Angela Lansbury’s autograph. You know you’re jealous. If you had some kind of CSI-zooming technology, you would see the postmark on the envelope is from August 1992. I was 5 years old.


The Land Before Time (1988)

What is it about kids’ movies killing off the parents? I’m looking at you, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Bambi, Finding Nemo and Frozen (to name a few). Is it some kind of perverse wish-fulfillment? Or is it more about showing that a family can be a group of people who love each other and doesn’t have to necessarily fit the typical nuclear design? I’m feeling optimistic as I write this, so I’m going with the latter. This is another movie that, to this day, still makes me cry. I tear up just listening to the beginning piano notes of this:

I guess you could argue that this movie is about friendship and overcoming obstacles and all that, but the kid dinosaurs definitely look happy when they’re reunited in The Great Valley with the adult dinosaurs at the end. I’m just gonna go ahead and ignore the twelve (!) direct-to-video sequels and the television show.


An American Tail (1986) and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)

I have very vivid memories of my mother and me watching these movies, along with the previous two entries, during the lazy, salad days of my youth. Whenever the Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram duet of “Somewhere Out There” came on the radio, we’d assume their parts and sing along at the top of our lungs. Then when the sequel came out, we’d sing along with “Dreams to Dream” on the cassette tape (remember those?).  It could be argued, again, that this movie is about friendship, but I choose to focus on the family aspect of it. I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about when Fievel finds his family at the end of the first movie.

Yes, these are mine. And yes, I willing moved them with me from my childhood home to Pittsburgh.

Yes, these are mine. And yes, I willingly moved them from my childhood home to Pittsburgh with me.


Watchmen (2009)

Here’s another tip: don’t go to see a movie with your mother and younger brother if there’s going to be a graphic sex scene right in the middle of it. I don’t remember the exact chain of events that led to us being in that theater that day, but there we were, watching Zak Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s best-selling graphic novel. As Nite-Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) start going at it, my mother shielded my brother’s eyes. She told me to do the same and I pretended to. Awkwardness aside, my mother still says she enjoyed the movie.


50/50 (2011)

My mother and I saw this when it came out because we both like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the movie since we saw it on that rainy day back in 2011. That’s not because it was terrible or anything like that. If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, JGL’s character is diagnosed with cancer and has a fifty-fifty shot of surviving it. There are some strong mother/son scenes that really resonated with us. We both loved it and cried (again) as we held hands (again) in the theater. I really should revisit it soon.


Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

This is another movie that I feel was always on TCM growing up. It’s also a musical and I’ve never met a mother who doesn’t like musicals, so maybe you can watch it with yours! I remember being swept up in it all, really believing that Copenhagen was wonderful and that being a shoemaker’s apprentice could be thrilling. I remember my mother telling me she wanted to marry Danny Kaye when she was a child. I’ve always thought that was incredibly endearing.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2012)

My mother, my brother and I started a sort-of tradition of going to the movies for Christmas in 2009. We saw Sherlock Holmes. After the incident with the sex scene in Watchmen, I’m really glad we didn’t see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake in 2011. We’ll probably see Tim Burton’s Big Eyes this year; it just got a release date this week. This past Christmas, however, we saw Mitty.

Because of my mother’s aforementioned affection toward Danny Kaye, I was worried she wouldn’t like this movie, a remake of Kaye’s 1947 film, both of which are adaptations of James Thurber’s short story. I hate remakes, mostly on principle, so I wasn’t expecting much myself. I was happily proven wrong; this movie was one of my favorites of 2013.  Part of the reason is because we shared a nice moment, immensely enjoying a movie together. And why was that? Was it because of the tender moments that Walter has with his mother, played by Shirley MacLaine? Was it the breathtaking cinematography? The beautiful score and perfectly picked songs? Was it because one time, when my brother and I were at an open casting call for The Bridge to Nowhere (that’s another story entirely) we met a man who we swear was Ben Stiller’s twin? These are all possible reasons, but I really feel that it’s because we’ve all been Walter Mitty, even you, dear readers. Who amongst us can honestly say we’ve never escaped into our own imaginations and thought up the perfect scenario? The quickest quip? Daydreamed the best possible outcome of an awful situation? If you can honestly say you never have, then I’d like to meet you, because your life must be fantastically awesome!


My mother taught me the importance of imagination. In today’s world of insta-tweeting and face-chatting, it seems the art of imagining has been lost. When one of my action figures lost an arm, it wasn’t broken; it was an amputee version of that toy. She was always ready, willing and able to nurture the growing tapestry of wonder that is a child’s imagination. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for that.

I love you, mom.


What’s your favorite movie to watch with your mom on Mother’s Day? Is it a traditional classic? Or is it more off-beat? Either way, let me know in the comments below!



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