Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Here Goes. Of Hurricanes, and Such.

Today we are pleased to feature a first person account of Hurricane Ike, written by our very own Mrs. Drunken Housewife of two years running, Missy! (Missy has well-earned that title through our Annual Readers' Photo Contest). People often say that they can't imagine living in San Francisco because of earthquakes, but earthquakes are puny lightweights compared to hurricanes in terms of fatalities and sheer destruction. Missy, being made of sterner stuff, faces down hurricanes with aplomb paired with compassion:

I began to write, a month or so ago, about what it was like evacuating for Hurricane Rita, and taking in Hurricane Katrina refugee children at the school where I taught, and I could not finish. I found it too depressing and upsetting to remember in detail and write about the evacuation for Rita, and I could not go on.

Then, Ike appeared on the horizon. It was all over the place on predicted paths, and I thought for certain it would be like most late season hurricanes, and go in around Corpus or Brownsville. (Corpus Christi, that is.) I began buying water early, checking supplies, we gassed up for the generator and the cars, but all along, I kept thinking that surely we would get lucky and it would go south or east.

"Why aren't we leaving?" one of the girls asked when it became obvious that Ike was headed too close. "Do you remember Rita? That was hell," my husband said, and the girls agreed. It was 15 hours for what was normally a five hour trip, but that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was sitting in complete gridlock at the intersection of I-10 and a highway, with cars stuck in all directions, and an overwhelming sense of anarchy ready to erupt. I remember thinking that it was like a bad disaster movie, but it was our lives and it was real, and one bad decision meant we wouldn't survive. I realized afterwards why people from generations ago didn't like to talk about such experiences. You don't want to talk about or remember how badly it felt at the time, to know there was a solid, realistic chance that you might not survive. You knew that one slight wrong decision would mean death, but there was no clear right way. It was the most traumatic and horrific experience of my life, and I knew why the people who didn't evacuate chose to stay. They simply could not take that again.

With Ike filling the Gulf like a giant white crayon swirl, everyone I knew was staying put and hunkering down. A couple of teachers whose husbands were gone or were policemen made plans to bag out as soon as we were released from school Thursday, not wanting to ride out the storm alone with small children. During the day a few children were taken out early by their parents, obviously heading out. Everytime one left, my eyes teared up, me thinking that if I wasn't working, I would be a better parent, we could take our children away as well. Even so, we could have left Thursday or Friday afternoon, but with the storm forecast to be a Cat 2 at worst by the time it reached us (one hour from the coast) it seemed safer to stay put. Rita had left our neighborhood largely untouched, but we well remembered the authorities saying "Don't come back yet." The same people who had shrieked hysterically that we were all Going To Die telling us to not come home? Open roads, enough gas, we left Dallas in the early hours with a complex GPS aided map from my storm chasing brother in law. Afraid of leaving, feeling as well prepared as possible, we decided to stay. We were not in the evacuation zones, we kept telling ourselves. If all of us left, those people would surely die, unable to get out. We would stay, we said.

Friday: 9:00 a.m. We watched in amazed horror as the Gulf water began creeping, brown and opaque, over the feeder streets of I-45 in Galveston. With the storm well over 12 hours from landfall, the streets of Galveston flooding and filling up with water was eerily reminscient of the accounts of the Great Storm of 1900 that took 6,000 lives and forever altered the future of Galveston from a thriving port city to a small island resort. People were calling already for rescue from Bolivar Peninsular. How could they not see this coming, we wondered. The west end of Galveston which had mandatory evacuations a day earlier, seemed a doomed place even then. The Gulf was hungrily eating away the shoreline with the eye of the storm still many hours away.

I did load after load of laundry, cooked chicken and ground turkey so we could heat it up on the gas-powered cooktop when we lost power. We taped up windows just to keep the glass from scattering, finished moving everything from the backyard and front. We made a bunker in the master bathroom where a neighbor's close house would provide a windbreak, packing in food, water, and a thin Ikea mattress over the small bay window.

Friday, 5:00 p.m. The sky had begun to cloud over . The wind blew briskly with an occasional little gust, once in awhile, a more ominous whine. My fifteen year old daughter who had breezily dismissed our preparations as crazy, happened to be walking by me as one of the gusts whined through. Her eyes widened. The sound of an incoming hurricane is no like no other wind sound or storm you will ever hear. As the sun went down and the sky darkened, we watched the radar on tv and it was unbearable waiting. Sunset was both eerie and beautiful; with a red rose sky and bands of deeper purple clouds. Time seemed to crawl unbearably slowly , as we simply waited, wondering and worrying.

As the sky darkened, the wind gusts picked up. The large palm in the neighbor's yard began swaying more furiously, and the 8 foot hedge around our fence began bending over on the north side. The other sides remained motionless while the windward side bent over in an odd dance. I stood outside in the dark while the wind blew my hair straight back from my face. And yet, we were still hours from the actual storm reaching us. By nine, the gusts made it impossible to shut the door easily. The girls came down of their own into the bunker room, and I put the two younger cats into the laundry room. We turned on the tv to watch the yellow and red bands advance on the radar, and waited.

At midnight, we moved into the back of the house. The wind was blowing in continuous gusts, but there was still little if no rain.

Two a.m.: The storm was hitting in full fury. We still had power, and we clung to the words of the weathermen on tv. The gusts were continuous and rain was hitting the glass like a fist. It came in bursts, like a machine gun. I began dozing off from sheer exhaustion, but the girls and my husband were wide awake. We had lined the floor of the master bathroom with cushions and pillows and we all curled up, flashlights in hand, waiting and watching.

As I slept, I dreamed I was awake, so there was never a sense of being free from the storm. Over the top of the mattress, the lightning flashed continuously. The reporters talked about green lightning, but it seemed more like someone flashing a lightnonstop over our house.I foolishly thought it might be the neighbors, and then realized, it was lightning. The constant light was unnerving. The power went out after several flickers, at three a.m., nad the darkness and sudden silence were like a blow. We knew it would happen, but we still dreaded it.

"It's gone!" we all shouted. The battery pack that allowed a small nightlight beeped like a clock alarm every five minutes. Half of us wanted it silent. The other half said they could not bear the complete darkness with only the sound of the storm.

At five a.m, the storm was at its worst for us. We were on the clean side of the storm where the winds were lessened, and we were an hour from the coast and to the west of the direct line, but the gusts of wind were stil much more powerful. The windows shook. The rain beat like a fist. The whine was more like a shriek and yet, I kept falling asleep from exhaustion.

"You need to stay awake! You need to be vigilant!" my husband said, as the girls finally slept in equal exhaustion.

"Why? What can I do to stop anything from happening? I'll wake up if something happens!"

I went to the half-bathroom in our house, and tried to look out the front window from the dining room. It was pitch black, coated with rain, impossible to see anything. I gave up. We would have to be ignorant of whatever demons were at work outside. I realized the foolishness of standing next to the window trying to discern something from the darkness. We were ignorant and helpless. Nothing else.

Dozing off again, I realized with a sudden start I hadn't prayed all night, and I started praying. I thought of angels, outstretched arms, protecting our little room, and I prayed. Meanwhile, the wind shrieked and howled and paused, took breath, and howled again.

"It's moving on. It's going to be better by six thirty, by seven. It's going to be moving on," I said confidently. I had no real idea that it would get better. But it had to, I thought. It had to move on, and it had to get better.

I woke just after six, startling to the unfamiliar view. The small patch of window was purple but clear. No more flashes of light, no more rain. We were past the storm. My daughters were silent and still, sleeping finally. I fell asleep again also.

At seven a.m., we awoke again. The girls were still sleeping soundly. We laid down on our bed, and slept for two hours. We were alive, the house seemed intact, and we were completely exhausted.

We awoke to the sound of large motors running. I had a vague hope it was perhaps some kind of electricity repair crew, but I knew it was the hum of generators from neighboring houses. I began heating up some coffee on the cooktop. We walked outside to find neighbors out cleaning up, walking about, talking. Trees were down, but only a few houses had been hit by trees.

We were almost giddy with the sense of being alive and having survived. We began sweeping, raking, cleaning up. The roof, our biggest concern, was intact. We drove over to my brother's at the front of the subdivision, to find him standing outside with a glass of cabernet at eleven.

"Are you finishing late or starting early?" He had just talked to my parents, who were fine and had power, and were busy assigning rooms and bathrooms for their refugee children, he said. I was surprised he had anything left in his wine cellar after that conversation, and we inspected the ruins of his backyard together. The storm had come down his street like a bowling ball down the lane, and his prized plants and trees were shredded. Still, he was happy, and he cheerfully offered me up a bottle of French cabernet.

By five p.m., we had swept up over eight bags of yard debris with more left. Impossible, that the trees and shrubs could lose so many leaves and still be alive. The hedge was bowed over and the pool full of debris. Amazingly, the front live oak tree had lost its top third of limbs, but none had gone into the house. The remaining canopy of leaves and branches had caught the limbs from going into our house or anywhere else. The ice cream scoop out of the middle of the tree was a sobering visual to what we could have experienced.

We cooked dinner on the gas powered cook top. Sunset, around seven, was beautiful, but odd. The sky was golden yellow with puffs of dusky slate blue, like a Laura Ashley pattern. The last rays of the sun hit one of the clouds in an odd greenish way. I thought to myself, how beautiful the sky was, and how odd that last ray of greenish cloud looked. I have never seen a cloud that color, in my whole life. I didn't want to say anything about it. I was finished with the oddities of the hurricane and done with the twists of nature.

"Look at that green cloud there," said my husband.

Then, everything around me was lit up in the way that only the sunsets near the Gulf Coast can do. It's so flat here, the last golden rays from the sun touch everything. Houses, schools, any building gets covered with a golden radiance. When you are driving on a highway, it's almost blinding in a kind of St. Paul on the way to Damascus way--the last sun light waves touching everything in a brilliant golden glow. In the midst of the most ordinary day, I sometimes find myself in the middle of a medieval painting, with a golden aureole, or a latter day impressionist glow of light. And it was again this way, the day after the storm, that the golden light covered all.

I thought, how beautiful, how lucky we were.

We went to bed, by nine p.m., hot and sticky. Around one or two a.m., my husband got up to fix the generator, which kept cutting off due to an overheated vent. For some brain-fogged reason, he kept setting the house security alarm. Beep beep beep beep---wooden blinds on door rattling--then beep beep beep beep again. In and out, in and out, again and again. By three a.m., he had found the instructions, fixed the problem vent, and started up the fans again. We all slept til nine, and I plugged my coffee maker into the generator. Hot coffee. Cinnamon scented. It was heaven, despite the heat. By two p.m. though, we were all cranky and tired, and frustrated. There was nothing to do but take a nap and long for deep sleep.

Six p.m. Sunday: The power came back at five, to cheers and astonished shouts. I immediately grabbed up an essential load of laundry. One of the older DD's friends from dance along with her sister came over to spend the night, as they were the last of their subdivision to get power back. We got take out Chinese from our favorite restaurant and we were thankful for hot wonton soup and crab puffs. The air conditioners hummed in the background.

The pool vacuum, having run continuously for three hours, miraculously cleaned the pool of most all the debris. The air conditioner hummed in the background, the appliances sang. We saw lines of other people waiting for ice. With electricity, we did not need help. The volunteers and authorities could help the truly needy, because we could continue on our own. We were no longer in need or disconnected from the world, or counting the hours we had til fuel ran out. We talked about how if we stayed here, our next home would be self-sufficient and self sustaining. Whole house natural gas generator, deep porches and hurricane clips on the roof, the ability to be helpers, not helpless.

Eleven PM: The pool was serenely clear and almost blue again. A near-full moon behind a drifting veil of smoke blue clouds shone calmly. Less than a fifty miles away, cafe au lait water lapped at the pilings of shredded houses and over the concrete foundations of others in silence as the stars began their nightly journeys. A cooler wind from the north whispered, chasing away the last dripping remnants of the storm. The local tv stations, exhausted, gave way to national broadcasting, having shown the last photos of devastated homes and beaches and shorelines possible. The girl in the Chanel-style suit has been talking for hours. Time to sleep, where ever that sleep may be.

Twelve thirty p.m. We walk outside. The moon is a distant coin behind the purple smoke of the clouds.

"We were lucky, we made it," I say.

"Other people weren't so lucky," he says.

"Yes, but...."

There is no finishing the sentence. There are plenty of tomorrows for that.

Monday, September 22, 2008

the chip on my inbred shoulder

I recently received an invitation to an annual camping party, which read in part
Dear Cousin,

Myself and the current missus (Cassiopeia-Karaoke Bodeen, your 3rd cousin, twice removed on Aunt Jackie's side) are once again having a family gathering at Fortuna Farms, and were wondering if'n you might want to be attending again. . . .

To be frank, it's been a powerful hard year for us, what with the bank trying to foreclose on the farm (fortunately they don't shoot as good as we do), the drought which has made bath-time kind squirmy, and campaigning for John McTaint and his VPILF. You probly also heard your cousin Sissy ran off to Vegas with the blonde copier repair man. We ain't heard nothing from her 'cept one post card with a half-nekkid lady on it, saying "wish you were hear." . . . As usual, we can't promise you nothing but a patch a ground to sleep on, but that never seemed to bother you in the past. We still gots the big army surplus cook pots for baths, and soaking. Your Uncle Walter and Aunt Jane have even more beautiful plants growing in the cement pond. These days, I think we's as civilized as them city-folk Bodeens that is always turning up there noses at our outdoor kitchen and chain-link bar-b-que pit.

Last year as you recall, we had a very unfortunate batch of moonshine. Uncle Earl Bodeen Jr. (Timmy-Ray's husband, you know, the one with the monkey tail) swears on the grave of his daddy (Angus-MacPhereson, your great-great-great Uncle on both sides) that quality control has been restored at the distillery so that won't be happening again. Thank the lard!

I had actually been quietly planning to slip off without the husband and children to go up to this party, but as soon as I saw the theme was Making Fun Of Rural People again, I resolved against it. The last time this theme was used, I spoke up as eloquently as I could, explaining that this line of ridicule is unseemly and hurtful. I argued that it is mean spirited for members of the dominant culture to ridicule marginalized groups (and in the United States, the dominant culture comes out of New York and Los Angeles, from educated city-dwellers). I was not the only person who felt that way, but years later, here come the same jokes again, and they're even staler and less funny to me.

The truth, though, is that I have a chip on my shoulder. I'm from rural Maine. My parents grew up on farms in Gorham, Maine, the town demonized in literature by Carolyn Chute in "The Beans of Egypt, Maine." Although no one has ever addressed it, I am apparently a product of some degree of inbreeding: my mother's mother had the same last name as my father and his family. (And yet I got a perfect score on the LSAT, outperforming 99.9% of the urban, city-dwelling, silver spoon-possessing aspirants of my year. Go, hicks!). I grew up with an extreme rural accent, which I lost along the way, but I still know my way around a cow.

My upbringing was so rural that I was completely stymied as a small child when I read an activity book which asked me to describe my block. Block? What was a block? I couldn't imagine it. In my town, we had no sidewalks, no streetlights, no grocery stores, no malls, no movie theatres... By high school I'd gained a bit of sophistication, but not much. There was a popular song about a girl who'd been dumped nursing her broken heart by riding the metro around and around, and I thought it was science fiction. In college I acquired some polish, but it was gradual: I remember telling everyone I knew in astonishment that I'd been given coffee in Spain "that was soo strong, they only serve it in a tiny cup!" (indicating size of cup with fingers and look of awe). Nowadays Starbucks has spread espresso everywhere, but my rural mind was blown by that first one.

I'm sickened by people who, by complete luck of the draw, were born and raised in cities or suburbs who think people from the country are automatically stupid and ugly. Many of my deep Maine relatives are wittier and more cunning than almost anyone to be found in large cities. Perhaps we Maine people may be lacking in exterior polish -- I am virtually the only mother from my children's private school who lacks a Prada bag -- but we have inner resources we've cultivated over those long, hard winters (or at least one would hope so. There should be some reward).

Coincidentally I'm currently reading "Deer Hunting With Jesus" by Joe Bageant, a book which argues that the left has lost power in America precisely because urban liberals have such scorn for the uneducated country dwellers. Republicans woo these people's votes and pay lip service to their values, while liberal urbanites like my friends make fun of hollers and cousin-lovers. This makes all too much sense to me. Laugh while you can, city dwellers. You're just buying us more Republican administrations.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the further adventures of Cupy

This morning the children were extra sleepy, and it was hard to get them dressed and breakfasted and ready to go. However, five year-old Lucy snapped out of her lethargy at one point. "Where's Cupy?" she squawked.

Cupy, the Slushee cup she brought home from the movies, normally resides in the dining room, next to the wine rack, but he wasn't there this morning. Lucy ran about frantically, until the Sober Husband spotted Cupy in the kitchen, next to the knife rack. Lucy carefully carried Cupy back to his normal place.

"There! Now Cupy is in his palace!"

The Sober Husband noticeably stifled a laugh. "Cupy has a palace," he observed to me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

an unbearable affiliation

"First thing tomorrow," nine year-old Iris announced angrily, "I'm going to turn myself in to an orphanage! I'm going to contact an orphanage! I cannot BEAR to be affiliated with Lucy any longer!" Iris went on about the comparative joys of living in an orphanage as opposed to residing in her current home with her little sister.

"You can't turn yourself in to an orphanage. You're not an orphan," I quibbled.

"I'll turn Lucy in to an orphanage!"

"Lucy's not an orphan, either."

"I'll MAKE her an orphan," Iris threatened.

I pointed out that this would require executing both parents, but Iris felt she could stay the course.

Friday, September 12, 2008

tragedy struck!!!

My every-other-week cleaning lady threw Bottly away.

so many changes in this world

Driving home with Lucy after the end of the Very First Week of Kindergarten, Lucy remarked, "School is called Sucky Suck Suckington!" We laughed. Lucy is having a hard time adjusting to getting up early each morning, and she is still sussing out the other girls.

We passed a Muni bus with an ad for the Chronicle on the side which read, "All About You and Your Family." "It is NOT all about me and my family," Lucy remarked acerbically. Then she stopped to think. "All good things are about me and Mommy and Daddy! All bad things are ABOUT IRIS!" She liked that thought so much that she repeated it a few times.

I reminded Lucy that she had her dance class later, with her preschool friend, Isabelle. "Won't that be good to see Isabelle?"

"Of course, Mom-zoid," said Lucy irritatedly. "But there have been so many changes in this world!"

In a surprising change in this world, Lucy seems to be on the ascendant in the sibling rivalry wars. Iris complained to me this morning that Lucy hadn't acknowledged her when Iris deigned to stop by Lucy's kindergarten class. Iris had expected to be shown off like royalty, with Lucy bragging about having a glamorous older sister, but instead "she acted like she didn't know me!" I asked what Lucy should have done, and Iris decided Lucy should have looked at her.

"Next time, Lucy, look at me!"

"Look at who?" said Lucy dreamily.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

recent Lucyisms

Lucy put on a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses. "Don't alarm Iris, but I'm not Lucy!"


In a caring, instructive voice, five year-old Lucy told her mother, "If you see a vampire --- (she paused here to make sure her mother was paying attention) -- go LIKE THIS." Lucy demonstrated clasping her hands around her throat. "Then the vampire can't get any blood!" She made sure her slow-witted mother grasped the mechanics and significance of this protective act before running off in pursuit of Iris.


Morbidly Lucy expressed the desire to die soon. "Then I would have all my birthdays at once! Then you would come to me, and Daddy would come to me. But Iris will go to hell! Even if she doesn't want to." The idea that you get all your birthdays at once in heaven is a new theological nugget in the Lucy creed.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cupy's birthday

Five year old packrat Lucy treasures a used Slushee cup, "Cupy", to a disturbing and unhygienic extent. The Sober Husband and I didn't feel up to facing the wrath and angst that would follow from throwing Cupy out, but he did move Cupy down to the garage as an interim step.

The same day he put Cupy in the garage, Lucy had the good fortune of finding a Snapple bottle, which she brought home carefully. "It's Cupy's birthday! And I have the BEST present for him!"

Of course Cupy had to be brought back into the house and presented with his present, "Bottly." "Now Cupy has a brother!"

Cupy and Bottly reside in the dining room at present. I only hope their family won't grow further.

a rite of passage

Today was Lucy's first day of kindergarten. She'd been dreading it, but her school is well-schooled in overcoming the objections of five year-olds. An ice cream social held last week and two letters, one from the head of lower school and another from her teachers, did a lot to soften up her objections. Indeed, the ice cream social persuaded her so much that she put on her school uniform the day before school started and wore it all over town.

In the event, Lucy was shy but resolute, moving away from her doting mother when the time came to start class.

On the way to school, Iris took the same haranguing tone every feminist of my acquaintance takes: "Mom, now that Lucy is in kindergarten, aren't you going to get a job?"

I shared that with other stay-at-home mothers at the kindergarten parents' reception. "I WILL work again. I swear that one day I will once again become a capitalist and an earning, tax-paying member of society! I'm just not ready yet."

Another mother agreed. "I want to clean out my closets before I get a job."

But another frowned, who has been trying to return to the workplace for the last six months, and looked away.

In actuality I felt fortunate not to be employed, as Lucy's class will be attending from 8:30 to 11:30 only for the first week, while Iris is excused at 3:30 after today. Additionally this school starts later than the local public school district, adjourns earlier, and has longer, differently-scheduled vacations during the school year, so the "camps" for school-age children don't fit. Only homes containing a stay-at-home parent can handle those logistics without quailing. I frequently end up helping out the families where everyone works by taking a child for a day now and again.

I was displeased with the Sober Husband, who blew off Lucy's first day of kindergarten in favor of a meeting at work. "Can't you email everyone and tell them it's your daughter's first day of kindergarten?" I urged, but he didn't listen.

Afterward Lucy had little to say about her initiation into the ways of school.

"Did you like kindergarten? Was it good?"


The children fought so bitterly in the car on the way home that I became stressed out and upset. Later they pushed for ginger ale, which had been purchased against my wishes by the Sober Husband (I don't keep soda around the house, reserving it for special treats). I allowed them a ginger ale apiece only on the condition that they hug each other and attempt to be nice to each other (a welcome change from the prior throwing things at one another and such remarks as "I will hate Iris even after I am dead"). Lucy pretended to be an alcoholic hobo slugging her ginger ale, and Iris attempted to be kind to Lucy. "I like it when you are gone."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

one person's garbage is another's special friend

Lucy is a hoarder by nature, as anyone could tell by glancing idly into her bedroom. Recently the pink light bulb in Lucy's nightlight burnt out, and she couldn't bear to see it thrown away after it was replaced. "Nighty!" she sobbed, stroking the burnt-out light bulb. "Nighty kept me company at night for so long!" She ended up making a little blanket for "Nighty" and cradling the little light bulb in her arms that night in bed.

Over the weekend we took the children to see "Wall-E", and Lucy took a liking to her slushee cup. The Sober Husband tried to pull it out of her hands when she dozed off towards the end of the movie, and Lucy, waking up, slapped his hands away and clutched the empty cup passionately to her bosom. That cup, now named "Cupy" (Lucy put a post-it note on it reading "Cupy" as a primitive form of nametag) has become an important member of the family, although I worry about Lucy getting food poisoning from bits of decaying chocolate milk gunk in its seams.

Yesterday I took the children and one of Iris's friends out to lunch, and Lucy held onto her lemonade cup for some hours. Eventually she dropped it on the sidewalk and the rest of the lemonade spilled. I told her to put it in a nearby trash can. Later at home, Lucy confronted me. "If you hadn't made me throw out my cup after I dropped it, CUPY WOULD HAVE HAD A BROTHER!!" She gave me an angry and aggrieved glare. "AND CUPY WANTS A BROTHER!"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

new technology vs. old technology

The Sober Husband is deeply enamored of his iPhone. He announced sometime ago, with pride, that his iPhone has a new application providing all local movie information. The last time I sought to go to a film, he was deeply frustrated by not being able to get a signal so he could look up the times and theatres. I gave up on his iPhone attempts to get the 411 and instead used my laptop.

Yesterday I wanted to take the children to see "Wall-E", long after the rest of North America's children had seen it. I marked the newspaper up in the morning, after completing my daily Sudoku, and informed everyone of my intention to attend one of the evening showings. In the afternoon, the Sober Husband and I were doing yardwork in our minuscule garden when the question came up as to when we should retrieve Lucy from her friend's house in order to get to the movie.

"Please let me use the iPhone," said the Sober Husband emotionally. "What good is it if I can't use it for these things?" I went on raking and weeding while he fussed with the iPhone for an inordinate amount of time. Eventually he admitted defeat, saying the application was down. I went inside, picked up the marked-up newspaper, and read the moview showtimes out loud.