Monday, May 21, 2018

Casa Querida: Rental Searches

The rental market in Tucson is like most college towns: overpriced and unforgiving. We are currently in a tight rental market as well, which doubles the anxiety.

Recently on the hunt again, we tried craigslist, our local MLS costa nostra website, and Zillow. Not much else needs to be said about craigslist, as enough skeezy anecdotes about anything having to do with its pages litter the internet. We even started down the road of a scam about a house in a neighborhood we were wanting to rent in. The place looked empty, ready for rental. There was a sign out front. Eva started texting the craigslist listing, only to get a spiel about overseas travel, and how they didn't trust the property management, and that you can work with them remotely. The rent seemed too good to be true. A quick google search and this seems to be a not uncommon scam in Arizona. There was even a news story about it.

Zillow, while still better looking that craigslist, is more or less the smoothed out icing on a birthday cake that you dropped on the floor when baking it for your friend. You're pretty sure you can salvage it with the right amount of "architectural" sugar. And no one will notice when it's cut into because they'll already be drunk by then and they'll eat anything. Zillow doesn't do rentals well in Tucson. Landlords seem to put their ads on autopilot and you're never sure if it's actually available. I messaged one once, and he lazily forwarded his dashboard email to my email address, instead of in-app messaging. I was then able to then take his rental off the market, because the access to it was included in the email he wasn't supposed to message me.

College town landlords can pretty much do whatever they want in this town. There will always be someone ready to rent to. They have carved up good looking neighborhoods that are teetering on the edge of historic recognizability by taking advantage of the market and installing "mushroom dorms." These are kludged together rooms tacked on to the back of older houses that just barely squeak by the lax building codes.

The other thing college town renting does is restrict the ways you can rent. Almost no-one will do a lease less than 12 months, and I've only come across one or two rental companies that will let you go month to month after your lease ends.

One rental company seemed to purposefully rent to Chinese national students attending the university, but then didn't seem to hesitate to sue them when they left after the semester was over, but their lease wasn't.

When we first moved here over 10 years ago, we had an apartment hunter lined up to help us the first day we were in town. They never showed, so we ended up cruising up and down the streets in neighborhoods we thought were close to the university. This is still our recommended way of finding rental housing. Almost all of the places we've rented in Tucson have been found by hitting the pavement. When you cross compile bike routes or areas of attraction, like retail or downtown areas, you can easily see which neighborhoods may be located well, and then drive up and down looking for rental signs. This is time and fuel consuming, but seems to be faster in the long run. It's like doing a drive by of a place before scheduling time to look at it. Plus landlords are almost always bad photographers, so getting a sense of the neighborhood might be a better indication of the quality of your surroundings.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

And We're Back...

It's been several years since our last blog post, and the march of time has chased us over a narrow picturesque bridge with low stone walls, where we hilariously and accidentally got pushed over the edge into the slow moving river below. The river is not too deep but it's cold and somewhat unexpected situation. We'll be fine, we can swim and it's not a wide river. We parked our car nearby and we have still have our credit cards. 

Long winded analogy aside and among the birth of our child, international travels, layoff, the start of new jobs, moving (twice), death of our beloved dog, the publishing of a momentous book, and the explosion of a start to a documentary, we decided it was time we needed a mortgage. To a house. Were we'd all live. Forever.

Fast forward 12 months, to right about now, and we're still renting.

So, as with any other reasonable blog, I decided it was a good opportunity for catharsis on the long painful journey (swim?) (for us) of house hunting. We've learned not only a lot about ourselves, but about ourselves house hunting in Tucson. Most of it good, possibly useful, and occasionally funny. I will try to highlight both of those in coming blog posts to a category of Tucson Querido, entitled imaginatively "Casa Querida."

Please stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Crunchy Parenting in Tucson: From Pregnancy to Baby

When I moved to Tucson a decade ago for grad school, I didn’t realize that I was moving to the bestest town for the hippie-dippy parenting journey that I would eventually undertake. I had no idea what kind of parent I would be—or if I would even want to be a parent. But as the years went by I traded my diabolical Procter and Gamble face wash for local jojoba oil and started washing my hair with baking soda. In the process it became clear to me that I wanted to have a child and that I wanted everything about that child’s world to be as natural and healthy as possible—starting with the prenatal care and delivery.

My first choice for prenatal care was an Evenki shaman but he wasn’t taking new patients. I therefore just slathered on some coconut oil and made an appointment at the midwives’ empire known as The Birth Center (formally, The Birth and Women’s Health Center—An El Rio Clinic). After two miscarriages we finally got a pregnancy to stick and I set my sights upon a fully natural, medication-free water birth. I expected to wear a Baltic amber necklace and call it good. Of course, I landed at Tucson Medical Center on Pitocin and a big fat epidural instead, but that’s a story for another post. (In a word: pre-eclampsia).

My partner and I joined a pregnancy and delivery education group offered by the Birth Center, where we made a number of friends expecting to become parents around the same time as us.  It was wonderful to be a part of the group as it met periodically throughout the entire pregnancy and we gradually got to know people as we went through similar stages. In this group I learned about Hypnobirthing classes offered in the evenings at University of Arizona Medical Center (Now Banner University Medical Center). At an affordable $125, I figured why not. Developed by a Marie Mongan, one of Hypnobirthing’s main premises is that labor doesn’t have to hurt if a woman trains herself to trust the process. This is done through hypnosis, deep relaxation, breathing, education, affirmations and visualization. I was already into yoga, meditation, the power of the mind and making my own granola, so hypnobirthing was a perfect fit for me. Seriously though, look up hypnobirth videos on YouTube and you will see a whole slew of home videos where women peacefully “breathe a baby down” until it quietly slides out of the vagina as it blossoms like a beautiful flower. 

There are definitely some things about the book—Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method—that didn't work for me, but I simply endeavored to mentally substitute them with things that did (and the author encourages this). For example, one of the affirmations recorded on the accompanying disk is read by a woman with an uppity British accent: "My birth will be easy because I am so confident and relaxed." I can't handle it because it sounds like "I have chosen a better birth method because I am obviously better than most people." Also, I, like many, recoil from the word "easy" due to the deeply-ingrained notion that labor is called that for a reason. You can substitute the word "pain" for the words "intense sensation" but the truth is it will still hurt like the dickens.

Certainly, there can be a lot of discomfort involved in labor and pregnancy, but Tucson features a number of talented body work specialists and alternative medicine practitioners who can help. I took Deep Water Aerobics at the YMCA downtown where I regained confidence in my sex appeal after being hit on by a grandfather doing the doggy paddle. I also took prenatal yoga at Tucson Yoga, where cat/cow pose took on a whole new meaning. My chiropractor offered some great physical therapy exercises and a few vaguely sexual adjustment sessions. And when I was tired of it all and needed some effortless relief, I got acupuncture from Charlie Roach Acupuncture on Campbell; nothing like a hundred tiny pricks. Did I mention that pregnant women can be very horny?

Fortunately our baby was born on one of the first warm days of spring. Fighting the baby blues is easy in Tucson if a woman is lucky enough to not give birth in the months of June, July, August or September. Most of the year the weather makes going for walks with baby convenient. Getting out of the house and into the sunshine can be challenging early on but is so beneficial. (Check out Hike It Baby on Facebook for support with that.) No matter when you birth, though, you can sign up your newborn for free mom and baby swim classes during their first six months at the indoor DeMont Family Swim School; it’s super fun and your baby will nap hard afterwards, allowing you to drive through a Starbucks in peace. Some report that eating the placenta can also be very effective for fending off post-partum depression. I fried mine up and ate it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Just kidding. My partner wouldn’t let me use our kitchen for that. Instead I had it encapsulated by Tucson Doulas ( They even desiccated the umbilical cord in the form of the word “love.” (I wanted the word “delicious” but it was too long.)

Socializing is also key for keeping the post-partum mood lifted. The Birth Center’s Baby Love Group became the cornerstone of my week. It’s free and doesn’t require registration. It’s a great opportunity for babies and their parents meet weekly to hang out and learn about things like baby massage, essential oils, baby proofing, and generally compare notes. Another place Tucson moms go to meet is Mom Baby Yoga at Tucson Yoga. I consider it a great place to feel like I’m doing something about that weird floppy stretch-marked pancake stomach I’m left with after the birth of my child, besides putting coconut oil on it. Disclaimer: Mom Baby Yoga sounds like it is going to be all adorable and zen, but it can be a shit show—a room full of crying babies sticking to sweaty mamas with nerves frayed from trying to sneak in one $6 downward dog between diaper changing and breastfeeding. I still recommend it, though.

Tucson’s parents’ online presence is also robust, and there are a number of Facebook groups where parents, particularly moms, can meet virtually to give each other support, advice, and buy/sell/swap baby goods. My favorite group is Badass Breastfeeding Tucson Moms (1500+ members), because these mamas don’t play. They are fully dedicated to breastfeeding anywhere, anytime, and until their babies are any age. And if anyone makes a comment or a face at you while nursing in public, just post their home address in this group and dead animals will start appearing on that poor fool’s lawn! The group wall is often wallpapered with brelfies (breastfeeding selfies. Get with the program.)  But for reals, Arizona law protects breastfeeding in public, stating that a mother may breastfeed in any place she is otherwise authorized to be, and breastfeeding cannot legally qualify as indecent exposure (See Title 13 of the Criminal Code, 1402.B.) That said, while online and legal support is great, sometimes you just need a real live stranger to flick your nipples and tell you you’re doing it wrong. This is where lactation consultants who do house calls like Mama’s Latte come in. I’ve also heard La Leche League meetings are excellent for those seeking to troubleshoot their lactation woes and get support. And new in town is Milk and Honey, a specialized breastfeeding and postpartum support center.

Another active online group is Tucson Babywearers (1400+ members), who post all day long about ring slings, Tulas, Moby wraps, Ergos, Kinderpacks, Líllébabies, Infantinos, etc, If you don’t know what those are, that’s okay. Neither do I. Oh alright, I confess; I wear my own squish around in a cotton gauze Moby-wrap type wrap I got on Etsy. One of the coolest things about Tucson Babywearers is their monthly lending library event where you can borrow different wraps and carriers for a month and see how you like them before you go out and buy what can sometimes end up being a very expensive carrier. 

Tucson Cloth Diaper and Baby Fluff Lovers (600+ members) post about, you guessed it: cloth diapers (which also come in a stunning array of types and brands.) This is a good place to buy/sell/swap cloth diapers, but the drawback of buying anything in one of these groups is the extra work you have to put in to coordinate a pick-up, and often the people who have what you want basically live in South Phoenix or North Mexico. That’s when Little Bird Nesting Company on Broadway comes in handy. They specialize in gently-used baby everything, and really, baby stuff is outgrown so quickly that it doesn’t always make much sense to buy new. If you find a blemish on something, just rub a little coconut oil on it.

Once babies get bigger there are a number of free activities and groups about town. My LO (Little One—you gotta get with the lingo if you want to have a baby!) is still pretty small, but we have heard great things about the story times hosted by the different public library branches and some of the classes offered by Parks and Recreation.

Being a crunchy parent in Tucson is more fun than I imagined—but I had a hunch. I suppose that’s part of the reason why we named our daughter Sonora after this wonderful desert, and in honor of this wonderful desert town where she was lucky enough to be born and where she is (too) quickly growing up. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Campbell Grant Neighborhood Picks

Image from

This is a list of favorite picks that are within walking distance from our house, compiled especially for our AirBnB guests, but good for anyone who loves hanging out in the area :)


Conner Park (3 min. walk) Shady picnic tables, bathrooms, playground and grassy softball diamond.

Tahoe Park (15 min. walk) Shady picnic tables, playground, tall palm trees and a gorgeous view of the Catalinas.

Favorite Restaurants

Blue Willow (10 min. walk) They serve "American classics." I would especially recommend them for breakfast. Go for patio seating and set aside some extra time to get lost in the gift shop.

Lovin' Spoonfulls (15 min. walk) Best vegan restaurant in town. Get the Stroganoff Supreme.

Amelia Grey's (17 min. walk) Fantastic, new cafe in the neighborhood. I was so sad when they shut down their location in the Copper Country Antique Mall, but so thrilled when they re-opened right in our neighborhood. Perfect for lunch, breakfast or high tea. Yes, I said high tea. They have an absolutely precious teacup collection, and you can pick your own cup. I recommend the crème brûlée tea and the monte cristo.

Umi Star (11 min. walk) The newest kid on the block, it calls itself a "Street Style Asian Food Bar" and includes sushi and "tapas" on the menu. I'll have to update after visiting, but the place looks very hip and cute from the outside.

Yoshimatsu (13 min. walk) Self-proclaimed "Healthy Japanese Eatery," they do great sushi and more. Modern ambiance.

Brushfire BBQ (12 min. walk) Yummy. Friendly. BBQ. Totally casual.

Kingfisher: (15 min. walk) Upscale, sophisticated, great service, excellent wine list. Best place pretend you're a mobster and eat oysters. They also have one of the most famous burgers in town. Also, they have a reverse happy hour.

Ted's Country Store (7 minute walk) Quality lunch sandwiches.

iLuv Pho (11 min. walk) Tiny, casual, cheap pho place. They often have Groupons, making them an amazing bargain. That and proximity win them points, but if you are willling to go up the road a few miles, Miss Saigon is the queen of Vietnamese food in these parts.

The Curry Leaf (13 min. walk) Very decent South Indian food, although not the best in town. Still, can't beat how close it is to home.

Best Coffee

Raging Sage (12 min. walk) Great coffee and even better scones. One of my favorite work spots is on the little patio under the trees. Weird note: no WiFi until after 4 p.m. (probably due to limited space in this tiny adobe).

Cartel Coffee Lab (10 min. walk) I personally don't think their coffee is as good as Sage's, but their baked goods are equally delicious. The hipster factor is high in here, so be warned. This place is often packed, but so is Sage and Xchange.

Coffee X Change (13 min. walk) One of the only 24 hour coffee shops in Tucson; not the best, but can certainly get you out of a late night pickle.

Best Chains

Beyond Bread: Soups, sandwiches, bread and beyond.
Sauce: Salad, pizza and pasta.
Dunkin Doughnuts: You know. Oh yes, you know.
Yogurtland: Fro-yo and fruit!
Jamba Juice: Juicy.
Five Guys Burger and Fries: What it sounds like.


Aqua Vita: Crunchy granola health food store. I like it here.
Albertson's: I hate this place, but it's a supermarket within walking distance.


Plaza Liquors: Probably Tucson's best boutique liquor store. The beer selection is especially impressive. Great people work here.


Yoga Oasis: Life-changing yoga studio, I'm not exaggerating. Good meditation classes, too.


Bookman's (used books and media) A great place to hang out with Tucson's friendliest geeks. Dog friendly, great bargains.

Mac's Indian Jewelry (jewelry and artifacts) One of Tucson's best stores for authentic native jewelry and artifacts, particularly unique collection of Zuni fetishes.

Ross They sell clothes and household goods you find at department stores for a fraction of the price. I do almost all my clothes shopping here. I love their business model so much that I bought some of their stock, and it's doing pretty well!

Nail Salons
Nail Trix
Campbell Spa Nail Salon

Dry Cleaners
Sparkle Cleaners
Schaefer's Cleaners
Hourly Cleaners


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Weekend in Prescott

The view from Nob Hill from behind the Elk Theater.

We were so busy that Labor Day weekend surprised us this year. Andrew has so little time off that we decided we had to take advantage of the holiday to get in a little road trip, even though it was the last second. We wanted to go someplace cooler, dog-friendly, within driving distance, and that still had room. 

The lobby of the Hassayampa Inn.

The Hassayampa Inn is so large that they still had rooms, and they weren't priced astronomically, either. They have a "wing" of dog-friendly rooms. No pet fee! You leave a cell phone number so they can call if you your dog is being barky while you're out (in contrast with many places that simply prohibit you leave your dog in the room alone at all.) That said, we barely left Frida "at home" the whole weekend, given the great amount of dog-friendly establishments in Prescott.

Frida and I at the Hassayampa Inn. Photo by Andrew.

The Hassayampa Inn is exactly the kind of place I like to stay: charming, historic and haunted. Open in 1927, its architecture is described as "an eclectic mix of Spanish Colonial Revival and Italianate features," but what enchanted me are the Pueblo Deco details. Famous guests include Tom Mix, Will Rogers, Clark Gable, Gen. John Pershing, Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Joan Rivers, Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and George W. Bush. But the most famous guest, perhaps, is the ghost of  Faith Summers. (We snuck up to the room she haunts and took a picture of the door, but no orbs or otherwise were revealed.)

The Prescott Courthouse against the setting sun.

The heart of Prescott's downtown is the courthouse, where criminals such as those hunted by the Earp brothers and fellow lawman Doc Holliday were tried. Prescott was known for its brothels, saloons, and opium dens around then-notorious Whiskey Row. Whiskey Row still keeps that spirit of raucousness alive. 

Mannequin representing Sharlot Hall next to her beloved Star Four Touring Car, (Durant Motors, 1927) at the Sharlot Hall Museum. "Besides the low price of $737.00, she liked its open body and pulling power on bad roads" the nearby placard reads. I knew I had found a kindred spirit in her, being that I love our Miata because we got at it auction for a good price, it's convertible and I have a penchant for maneuvering it on unkempt, scenic roads that lead to camping in remote areas.

In my opinion, any trip to Prescott should begin at the Sharlot Hall Museum. This darling museum gives a great overview of the history of the region and honors a pioneer woman who loved and fought for Arizona: Sharlot Hall. I relate to her adventurous, free spirit and passion for this land. This is an excerpt from her poem, "The West":

The wanderers of the earth turned to her, outcast of 

   the older lands--
With a promise of hope in their pleasing, and she reached them pitying hands;
   And she cried to the Old World cities that drowse the Eastern main:
"Send me your weary, house-worn broods, and
    I'll send you Men again!
Seed of Man--Seed springing to stature and
    strength in my sun--
Free, with a limitless freedom no battles of men 
    have won."

Beautiful Watson Lake.

One such primitive road I love to explore in the Miata: Williamson Valley Road (Yavapai County Road 5) between Prescott and Seligman. It's one of Arizona Highways's Scenic Drives.

Our drive culminated in a very private hike down the Oaks & Willows Trail in Prescott National Forest. This was also an Arizona Highways suggestion. We got a little confused trying to find it, being that the Walnut Creek Ranger Station they use as a marker in the directions hasn't been there since the nineties!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Story About a Few Hummingbirds

This is a female Broad-Billed Hummingbird who built a nest and laid eggs by our living room window this summer. Predictably, we watched her a lot and took photos. We noticed when she disappeared.

You can see the chick's beak and head emerging from the nest here.

I was hanging out in the hammock near the nest when I realized that the chick was chirping incessantly. We had some friends over for dinner and we sat at the table out front. After dinner I noticed that the chick was still chirping and the mother was still nowhere to be seen. I googled it and found an article claiming that if a chick chirps incessantly it's starving and needs first aide immediately. I gave it some sugar water with a dropper. The chick settled down.

Our dinner guests excused themselves (they had a baby bird issue at home, too!) and I went back to Google. After seeing the chick and mother every day, watching her harvest spider webs for the nest that started out as a weird little tuft stuck on a vine... after all that, I didn't want to see the chick die. But who would help me? It was a Sunday night. If I can even get a hold of anyone, they will say it's the process of natural selection: baby birds die all the time.

But I care. I posted a photo of the tiny thing on facebook and somehow it got the name "Chuck." (I misspelled "chick" and then it stuck).

I found a Tucson wildlife rescue online. There was a phone number--and someone answered. I explained my predicament and the person gave me Noreen's number. (There was an awkward moment when her husband answered the phone and I was like Is Doreen there? And he was like Who? and I was like this guy wonders who the crazy is calling his wife this late on a Sunday. "Doreen" tuned out to be Noreen Geyer-Kordosky, founder and director of Tucson Mountain Hummingbird Rescue.) First she asked me if the thing was definitely alive, since I had given it sugar water with a regular dropper. (Sugar water can be lethal to the hatchlings and feeding them from a regular dropper can drown them; they take sustenance through the gullet and it gathers in the crop. The dropper needs to have a type of extension.) Noreen also explained that when the chicks go from hatchlings to fledglings, the mother doesn't sit on the nest anymore. She just comes for quick feedings periodically. She explained that for me to know for sure if the nest was abandoned, I had to watch tomorrow morning at peak feeding time (5:00 a.m.) for an hour and a half without blinking. (She was only kind of kidding.) If I didn't see the mother, then she was really gone. In that case, Noreen would come pick up the fledgling.

I was so pleasantly surprised that Noreen had actually volunteered to pick up Chuck. This is one of the reasons why I'm going to miss Tucson. There are people who care here. They even care about a tiny little bird I thought and it made my heart warm.

I googled the issue some more and found that hundreds of baby hummers in the U.S. are "rescued" unnecessarily by nest audience members. In other words, my case exactly: a closely I mean closely watched nest.

I got up at five the next morning and curled up in my hammock. I had the phone in my hand. I watched the nest and the until an hour and a half had gone by. There was plenty of bird activity, but no sign of mom.

I called Noreen at 6:30 on the spot. (She had told me she'd be up.) Finally I was free of the hammock and more importantly, free to brew coffee.

It was great to meet Noreen in person. She showed me a tiny worm-like hatchling she had picked up that morning. She had rescued 60 hummers since January--a number a bit up from normal. Wow, that many other people care about baby hummingbirds? Noreen told me Chuck's outlook was good and she could release it back here when it's ready and did I want to sponsor a feeder?

Of course I volunteered to sponsor (maintain) a feeder for Chuck. I anxiously awaited the day I would see the wee bird again. But weeks went by and I didn't want to call Noreen because I didn't want to hear bad news. She must not be calling because it went bad.

This is Chuck as a hatchling and the egg that never hatched.

One day Noreen called, and she was very honest, bless her. She had forgotten that I had volunteered to sponsor Chuck; she recovered fully and was re-released. Chuck was (of course) a female. And there had been another egg in the nest I had hadn't seen. It never hatched.

But would I like to sponsor a feeder for another female Broad-Billed who was ready to be released? Yes! I was just happy just to hear Chuck was fine!

The next day Noreen brought a skinny little hummingbird in a mesh "carrier" (pictured below). She had a branch in there to perch on and she showed me quite a skilled hover. I took some pictures while Noreen unzipped the carrier. It took the bird a second to realize it was open, then she hovered out carefully and perched for a moment on an orange tree branch. Assertively, she shot up into the sky, so high that she became a microscopic spot my eye could no longer follow. They do that, said Noreen. You may see her again but she may go somewhere else. She's free.

I can't say that I've seen/recognized the released hummingbird around, but I've been maintaining a clean feeder and it has been getting a lot of action. (Don't let black mold get in there! It can soften hummer beaks!) I moved the feeder closer to the window where I work. The other day I saw a hummer just hover squarely in front of the window, as if looking at me behind my computer.

Sometimes I think Chuck's mom built her nest where we could see it because she knew she wasn't going to make it. She made us Chuck's godparents. That maybe sounds cheesy but I kinda believe it.


Feeders can make a difference for hummingbird survival, especially during the dry season when nothing is blooming.

Use 4 parts water and 1 part sugar. You don't need red food coloring. In fact, it may be harmful to hummers over the long run.

Clean the feeder regularly by flushing with warm water and scrubbing the inside with a toothbrush.

Once a month clean the feeder with a weak Chlorox solution.

Never let the feeder grow black mold as this can be very harmful to the birds.

If you are having a real hummingbird emergency, contact Noreen at 520-743-0677 or 520-240-2686. If for some reason she is unreachable, call The Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson Center at 520-743-0217 .

Saturday, May 07, 2011

At The Loft: Super

SUPER: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillion

Being that the only two posts of 2011 thus far have both come on the heels of tragedy, in a sense, I think it's time to lighten things up a bit.

Tonight we went to see Super at The Loft.

It's a little weird because it borrows from a few different genres, making it feel at times like a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be.

The excessively graphic violence is congruous with the comic book genre, for example, but perhaps the more tender, human moments make scenes where heads get bashed in or blown apart even harder to stomach. (For more relevant theorization on the topic of violence in film read "Masculinity as Excess in Vietnam Films" by Susan Jeffords.)

I was hoping the presence of Ellen Page (playing the side-kick) was an indicator that the film does something beyond typical Hollywood gender roles, (I'm thinking about Hard Candy) but...meh, not so much. The side kick is just that, a side kick. In this case Page's character, Libby, is played like an overly enthusiastic junior antihero-cum-sacrificial lamb. Liv Tyler plays a whore of circumstance who needs saving. Pretty predictable female roles.

What I do like, however, is that the film has some "heart," if you will. Frank, (played by Rainn Wilson of The Office fame), starts out as someone who can only recall two perfect moments in his life. By the end of the film things have not gone the way he wanted, but he gains something precious: he has collected an arsenal of perfect moments. He represents them in naive-style drawings but we aren't compelled to belittle them. Instead, we are brought to acknowledge that this really is the magic stuff of life: any chance we have to share and connect with others, a scene as quotidian (and moving) as a moment of affection between a person and their pet rabbit.

Having seen this movie shortly after, Megamind, I have to wonder if the antihero is on the rise. I'd like to believe films like these are a sign of how collectively tired we are of oversimplified "bad guy/good guy" constructions in current-day dominant media representations related to war situations in which the United States is currently embroiled. I mean, I'd like to believe that.