Tribute: The Mockingbird That Died of a Broken Heart

There will be no candlelit vigils outside theatres. No tribute performances in memory. No posthumous award with a standing ovation at a gala event—that would be too ironic for both of them.

Perhaps instead we could consider a single image—a mockingbird, lying dead on the doorstop of a local bookstore. It died of a broken heart in a world no longer moved by the symbolic gestures of strength and virtue.

This would be the best way to remember Umberto Eco and Harper Lee; two very different writers who influenced the Evil Genius Mum I am today. Continue reading Tribute: The Mockingbird That Died of a Broken Heart

Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: Death, Survivor’s Guilt, and the Power of a Well-Timed Story

A long time ago in a neighborhood two counties away, I found two small action figures in our new house, left behind by the kids who’d lived there before.

I was five and a half—I’d been to preschool, I had older cousins, I’d seen enough to recognize the military type and the hairy brown creature as Star Wars characters. But ugh, that wasn’t my thing. I didn’t like robots and blasters, and I was frankly terrified of outer space. I much preferred my stories set in magical kingdoms with knights and princesses (nobody’d told me Star Wars actually was about knights and princesses).

I kept the two figures anyway, and incorporated them into my own playtime, and you’ll have to forgive me if I may have thought the brown hairy one was an evil monster. (The military one, it turned out, was an Imperial Officer, but I thought he was dumb-looking, and tended to make him the butt of jokes).

We’d moved here just before I had to start kindergarten, the best possible time to move since I wouldn’t have to switch schools. Ostensibly, though, we moved because my dad had gotten transferred to a new office. It just so happened to be right before I started school. It just so happened to be nearer my grandmother, who babysat more and more frequently. It just so happened to be nearer the world-renowned Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where my toddler sister, Annie, was spending more and more time. Continue reading Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: Death, Survivor’s Guilt, and the Power of a Well-Timed Story

A Little Death With Your Tea?

tea death
Image By Duncan Barfuss

As a TeaPunk, I come across some interesting tea facts. To get into the spirit of this month, I looked up death. Can you die from tea? Apparently so (or at least get really, really sick). Bring these up at your Halloween tea party for some macabre conversation starters:

The “Teacup Poisoner,” an English serial killer of the later 20th century put poison in the tea (and other drinks) of over 70 people! I like this quote from his father, when his boy had been “experimenting” with poisons on his family in his early years: “He warned his son to be more careful in future when ‘messing about with those bloody chemicals.'” Really? Be more careful? That’s it?! It wasn’t until he killed his step-mother that the family finally turned to the police.

This seems to have been an honest mistake: A server mixed up sugar with a toxic cleaner in a restaurant making tea for a patron. She survived, but eeeeep!

I am a big fan of bubble tea, but this is so dangerous! You can’t even see them in the glass! Who created these? Choking hazard!

Not exactly deadly, but cheap tea may contain too much fluoride for your health. Good tea doesn’t cost that much, so don’t go for the cheapest box on the shelf, okay?

Taking too many green tea supplements can cause liver damage. This is how people come to the conclusion that “natural” remedies are bad for you: A lab takes a whole food, like green tea, turns it into some concentrated pill form, and then someone is able to take waaaay too much of the stuff and gets sick. Drink a few cups of the normal version (it’s so much nicer of an experience than chugging pills!) and get all the benefits without liver problems.

However, even the whole version of tea can be abused. Too much of anything is a bad thing. Moderation, people. Even tea. This woman had 150 cups a day!!! Of course something is going to go wrong! Is her bladder half the size of her body? How is this even possible?

And now for death fun and games! How much caffeine would it take to kill you? Plug in your drink and weight and find out! My son explored this a bit, and laughed at how hard it would be to ingest that much tea…though I’m sure someone has tried.

Robin Williams, 1951-2014: GeekMoms Will Miss You.

Robin Williams, you will always hold a special place in my heart for taking your humor to the front lines. Here is Williams on the USS Enterprise in 2003. The t-shirt reads, “I <3 New York” in Arabic. Photo credit: Navy News Stand

We GeekMoms have been incredibly saddened by Robin Williams’ tragic death Monday morning.

We are on Twitter discussing our favorite Robin Williams films, television, and Broadway shows. We are on Facebook sharing photos, videos, and quotes. It’s known that his passing might have been related to his battle with depression, and the discussions on social media tonight are covering that, but I’m glad we’re also smiling with some of our happiest, funniest memories of him.

I might be dating myself here, but I remember Robin Williams’ earliest days with the ABC sitcom Mork and Mindy. It was one of our family’s favorites. I was young enough to not quite understand some of the innuendos of the show, and when we showed it to our sons earlier this year when it was syndicated on Hub Network, I couldn’t believe I was enjoying some of those jokes at age 5!

Over the years, we have enjoyed his incredible range of acting, from the jokester in Good Morning, Vietnam (where he played a US Air Force Airman, whoo hoo!), to a reluctant Peter Pan in Hook, to a Southie therapist in Good Will Hunting, to a frightening, socially inept stalker in One Hour Photo. I’ve also enjoyed his standup comedy, although that’s definitely not for children!

My sons know and enjoy Williams more through his family-friendly personas: the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, Fender in Robots, and the Adelie penguin Ramón in Happy Feet. They also know him from his leading role in Jumanji, one of their favorite films.

I also hold Williams in high esteem for his service to deployed servicemembers throughout the world. The USO issued condolences on Facebook Monday evening. Williams amassed scores of performances, and I wish I could have seen one. One of his more memorable standup comedy routines is from Christmas 2007 in Kuwait. I leave you to enjoy this video from that particular performance, and I hope we all remember Robin Williams with smiles for many years to come.

PS: Geeky fact! Did you know Williams’ oldest daughter is named Zelda? And yes, it was because of his affinity for the video game!