Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Movie Review

movie poster photo courtesy of

Waiting for what felt like forever since we finished the reading the entire Stieg Larsson trilogy, we finally got to see the American version of the movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at Landmark theatres, Olde Town Wadsworth yesterday.  And it was definitely worth the wait.

The movie was based on the first of the Larsson trilogy novels and true to the book, the movie follows the book almost exactly with a few deviations to condense it.  But even condensed, the movie still ran two hours and 38 minutes.  If you do not remember the book because you read it sometime ago, don’t worry, it will come back to you and if you never read a single one of the trilogy books, fret not- you will love it too but if you haven’t read the book, you should mentally prepare yourself for about two or three extremely graphic scenes including a few involving violence towards women.   From what I noticed, these scenes are when a lot of the faint of heart audience members used the restrooms or left to refresh their drinks and popcorn.  In any case, discomfort of these scenes aside, (which if you read the books you would understand the history from Larsson of Swedish society) you will definitely enjoy this American version of the Larsson trilogy and if you saw the Swedish versions, you will also notice the differences between the two.  All in all, a definite watch and as always, I would recommend reading the books first if you can swing it.  The movie has scored well among critics and is an 8.3 out of 10, and 70% on critic meters and a “must go” as well.  Additionally, if you can catch a matinee over the weekend or a morning discount show, that may be the way to go!

Happy New Year and Happy Movie Watching too!


Get Clued In’s Top 10 posts for 2011 & A Year In Review

Get Clued In turned a year old in December of 2011.  Last October (2010) a friend of mine “outed” me so to speak and I entered a public forum of blogging and as a result, have met some pretty amazing bloggers, women, moms, dads, etc., and also had equally amazing opportunities.  It has been an amazing adventure so far doing what I love to do for fun:  writing.

So, I only felt it right to do a Get Clued In’s Top 10 posts of 2011.  After all, I have never done it before, and it is time for doing new things with this blog.  A year ago, I got a new name and went from Clueless in Colorado to Get Clued In.   In 2010, I turned the focus of this blog to consumer reviews, such as restaurant, products, books, and movie reviews.  This has been fun but for 2012, my resolution is to also intermingle more of the blogging I once cherished- personal opinions, thoughts, philosophy, and just plain fun family blogging.  Happy 2012 and hope you enjoy what I consider to be Get Clued In’s most fun posts (meaning, forget the traffic, forget the comments), I just plain enjoyed myself writing these in 2011:

10.  The King’s Speech- My Academy Award Pick – I loved this movie and it is hard to believe it won the Academy Award almost 9 months ago.  It feels like it has been longer since I saw this low budget, very well-made movie that taught me more about the monarchy than I ever knew.  And a few short months later, we got to see a royal wedding as well.  History – I love it!   After politics, I absolutely adore history so it is no wonder this post made my Top 10.  If I had written about the Royal Wedding, that would have made my list too.  History- I adore it!

9.  A Hindu, A Catholic & A Palm Cross– While it may not get a lot of hits, this was a fun piece for me to write.  Or shall I say a fun “peace” for me to write.  Okay, all joking aside, Easter enlightened me a bit this year and I enjoyed writing about it.

8.  Financial Friday- Special Day Tax Day Edition– whether you knew it or not, I had the privilege and still do (although I have slacked in the latter part of this year) of writing for  I was writing Financial Fridays when I could and this was one of my favorite pieces (third in the series) that I wrote for them and then re-posted here at Get Clued In.  In any case, check out all in the series if you can.  They were fun to write, I learned a lot, and hope I shared some good tips too.

7.  Social Media: Friend or Foe?  Being new to this whole blogging publicly thing, and feeling pressures from work, family, and writing, I wrote this piece after I encountered some sense and sensitivities I was unfamiliar with prior to entering this public world.  In any case, I got some comments and overall I really enjoyed writing this piece.  Balance is key!

6.  Top 30 Baby Must Haves for New Parents–  This posting not only took me weeks to write and a lot of thought but has gotten as many hits if not more as this posting: Les Mills’ Body Pump.  A lot of my friends were having babies this past year and so I decided to nip all the questions in the bud and put them into this concise article of what helped me and what didn’t.  Then, when friends asked, I referred them here.  The hits have been endless and the comments were very helpful.  I hope new parents can still use this guide of sorts in 2012 to help them navigate the often overwhelming maze of gadgets and gizmos out there and they are coming out with new things almost daily.

5.  The Help- A movie review & book review revisited –Other than the movie review I discussed above in number 10, two other books/movies profoundly impacted me and my way of thinking in 2011.  No. 5 belongs to The Help– not only was the book moving and touching but the movie reinforced what I felt reading the book.  And if you think cliques and “inner circles” are gone as the 60s, think again.  It may not be wholly race-based but discrimination and exclusivity still is present and this book and movie were eye-opening.

4.  The Adjustment Bureau- a Movie Review-   No. 4 belongs to Adjustment Bureau because it has impacted my spiritual life quite a bit and of course, I look at my life and the events and sometimes when things fit or work out perfectly, I flash back to this movie.  Could it be accurate? While it did not do well at the box office nor win a lot of awards, this movie has impacted how I view God, the concept of a “plan”,  and spirituality.  And I have to say, despite its simple concept, this movie has moved me like perhaps no movie has.

3. Gender Gap– What working dads are not talking about at work – perhaps tied at 3rd are the two more recent articles I wrote regarding gender gap here at home and abroad in India.  Gender Gap– Troubling Statistics from the Motherland  I wrote these two articles and they reminded me of how I used to write.  I used to write about issues, philosophy, and things I saw that perhaps I would like changed.  I wrote these from the perspective of working moms in the U.S. and also from my travels abroad but the common theme is: women and women’s changing roles and their rights.  Women’s studies is near and dear to my heart and I truly love writing about these topics.  Hope you will enjoy these articles and find some time to comment.

2. Get Fit in 2011 – I wrote this article for the Mile High Mamas as January kicked off with new gym memberships, new resolutions, and new goals.  I did pretty good fitness-wise but slacked right before our big trip abroad in October.  Ah well… here’s to a fresh start in 2012.  Just change the year, and go for it, everyone!

1.  Two Years and Growing- Perfect Moment Monday — I really enjoyed writing Perfect Moments for my friend’s truly amazing blog at Write Mind, Open Heart.  In fact, it was tough to find just one to make this Top 10 list but I’d have to say my daughter’s birthdays were quite fun.  Memorializing Milestone Moments (My daughter’s 4th birthday) Both these posts top my list of the Perfect Moments and I am so thankful to Lori, an amazing blogger, writer, mom of two, and friend for making this possible.

Happy New Year to all … Here’s to even more fun in 2012!


Storybook-Music CD Review, “Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important” & GIVEAWAY

all rights reserved The Secret Mountain

I recently was invited to review a children’s book and music as well.  In this posting, I do a review and promotion of the storybook with music CD by The Secret Mountain titled Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important.  It’s a cute little story which made me want to use a Southern accent when I read it.  Maybe ’cause I’m from New Orleans, or maybe just because the language and names of the animals inspire it or perhaps the folk/bluegrass music CD that accompanies the book.  In any case, it’s a truly fun book for kids and adults too.  You can also play the story for them on the CD and then, after the storybook there are several songs that are both cute, funny, and fitting performed by Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet who make up Trout Fishing in America, a band duo that makes family music fun. They are four-time grammy nominated as well and described by the Los Angeles Times as “Some of the most lyrically creative, musically sophisticated, vocally muscular music-makers in the family music business.” Their tunes are spunky and catchy which have led to accolades from both Billboard and USA Today. Check out the band’s website and all their other music as well.  To preview the book, Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important, check out Secret Mountain’s website and all the other cute, educational books they carry as well.  The illustrator for this book, Stéphane Jorisch is a four-time winner of the Governor General’s Literature Award in Children’s Literature Illustration, the Ruth-Schwartz Children’s Book Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award.  The publisher of the book, the Secret Mountain, has earned a NAPPA Gold Award and is a Gold Medalist in the Moonbeam Awards.

All Rights Reserved by Illustrator and The Secret Mountain

The premise of the storybook is as follows: Chicken Joe, the cat who sleeps in the hen house, is happily dreaming about rock and roll. A rooster’s raucous crow wakes him up way too early. Everyone on the farm knows today is a special day, but in his sleepy morning haze, Chicken Joe can’t remember just what it is. Even Joe’s best friend, a city dog named Miss Kitty, won’t tell him. Find out why this is Chicken Joe’s big day!  The most interesting thing about the book is how the characters are named such that you would think when hearing their names that they are a certain animal but in reality, they turn out to be something else.  It is a great lesson for kids too – not to rush to judgment or judge just by names alone and to dig deeper.  The illustrations are amazing and the musical accompaniment just brings the story to life.

Currently, the book with CD retails on Trout Fishing in America for $16.95 and on the Secret Mountain website for $22.95 but you can get a copy of this storybook-CD set for FREE!  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway here (see below) and good luck.  I have a feeling your kid(s) will laugh and enjoy it and the music that comes along with it.

GIVEAWAY: To enter the giveaway (U.S. residents only please) to win your own copy of the book-music CD that retails for up to $22.95, do the following:

Mandatory (for one entry):  

(1) Leave a comment to answer this Q: What animal do you think Chicken Joe is?

Optional (leave a separate comment for each one you do):

(2) Tweet the following (can do once per day) and then leave in a comment the link to your tweet and your twitter handle.  Chicken Joe Forgets Something Important- StoryBook-CD enter for your chance to win here:  via @getcluedin

(3) Follow @getcluedin on twitter

(4) Like Get Clued In’s page on facebook

(4) Subscribe to Get Clued In! (this blog) via one of the methods listed: RSS, Emails, or through Networked blogs on facebook

Contest will run from posting through January 6, 2012, 10 AM Eastern Standard Time- Winner Selected and Chosen using “And the Winner Is” plug-in and announced here and notified via Email on January 6, 2012 by 8pm.  

Thanks for everyone who entered… the plug in “And the Winner Is” Chose: I confirmed this and she was notified and has responded.   Thanks again for all who entered and if you did not win, fret not.  Please check out the websites linked above for your very own copy of this and other great books by The Secret Mountain.



Your Winner

Author: Amanda H (email REMOVED – Privacy purposes)
Comment: permalink
The Meow Meow as my kids call it.


Disclaimer:  In addition to this, please also see Get Clued In’s disclaimer which applies to this entire blog.  I was compensated with a copy of the book and CD accompanying it.  Get Clued In is in no way responsible for sales and transactions by the Secret Mountain or Trout Fishing.  Giveaway rules must be complied with to be eligible to win and contest winner must be a U.S. resident and/or shipped to a U.S. address.


Gender Gap in India- Troubling Statistics from the Mother Land

photo courtesy of

As a working Indian-American mother of two daughters, and after a recent trip to India, I get concerned when I see statistics out of India like this:  “India is placed 129th among 146 countries in terms of GII, or gender inequality index, far behind neighbouring Sri Lanka at 74 and lagging most other countries in the region.”(1)   It is a bit disconcerting to learn that India is doing so well economically in the world and progressing in other industries, but yet ranking behind countries like China, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Botswana- yep, Botswana ranks higher than India when it comes to a gender gap report. (2) The World Economic Forum does a survey in which it ranks almost 128 countries on “proportion of resources and opportunities made available to women on educational, economic, political and health parities.”(3)  Thanks to Mrs. Indira Gandhi who was prime minister of India, India ranked high in the area of political empowerment of women.

So, the largest democracy in the world (pure democracy) and where women are some of the most politically empowered makes me wonder why women are still receiving such disparate treatment.  Well, to find an answer you would not have to look far.  Visiting India and staying with family, the answer is even clearer.  Even today, in the most educated, affluent, and influential households in India, the feudal and patriarchal system including “the joint family” concept still dominates.  And, even in bigger cities, daughters live with their parents (in almost all cases) until they marry when they become part of yet another family and oftentimes, these are joint families.  The joint family is one in which families live together.  The sons stay in the house with their parents, daughters marry into this and in turn, everyone lives together presumably in one big “happy” family.  The head of the household is always (I am not generalizing here) male and in that household there may be up to three generations of males running the place — Granddad, Dad, and now, the son this daughter has married.  That new household gains a daughter but also appears to dictate whether that daughter can continue to work, and what role she will assume in the family. In villages as compared to bigger cities, the roles may be even more traditional.

photo courtesy of

Historically, the days of “Mogul” rule in India are quite influential regarding the treatment of women.  Keep in mind that Moguls were Muslim, and the concept of multiple wives prevailed in India during that time.  The ‘Ramayana’ influenced the present-day concept of Hindus marrying only one wife.  In the story of the ‘Ramayana’, King Rama (LORD RAMA) said he would only marry once and his wife, (who was also a Devi or Goddess) Sita, enchanted the hearts of Hindus and to this day, that is the story of why Hindu men only marry one woman instead of multiple wives.  However, no one can ignore how Islam still influences Indian culture and philosophy to this day.  While India is influenced by many religions depending on the part of India you are in- Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, there is no doubt Islam played a huge role in Indian history and continues to prevail in modern-day India.  Hindus may have gods and goddesses, but the worship of female gods does not appear to vitiate cultural norms which dictate what women should and should not wear, what they should do, and how they should behave or act in society and in the home.  More importantly, the culture lends itself to a male-driven society.  Sure, western influence is alive and well and making strides towards more equality for women, but based on my personal experience and visits there since the 1970s, I have to say, it is moving at a slower pace than other progresses like technology and infrastructure. Where India is making strides in technology, industry, and manufacturing of goods and products, it is not making the same strides in social progress especially in terms of gender equality.  Overall, from conception, boys are still valued more than girls.  In household where there are no sons, some keep having children to see if they can have sons- after all, a son is valued more than a daughter.  On my side of the family, I have cousins who have only one kid — they will stop at one even if it is a daughter but you hope that she will be treated with the same respect that you treated her with growing up.  After all, once she marries she becomes part of another family right down to her middle and last name.  That’s right!  In India, when a daughter marries, she not only loses her last name, she is expected to take on her husband’s name as her middle name.  So, Reena Krishan Shah becomes Reena Harish Patel (assuming she married Harish Patel).  All kids, whether male or female inherit their dad’s first name as their middle name when they are born.  Do you see a trend here?  What happened to the mom who endured hours of labor?  Well, her kids will carry the values she imparts on them and that is about it.  I thought it interesting that people asked my husband in India (more than one person asked) whether he was happy with two daughters…”Don’t you want a son? Don’t you want to try again one more time for the prospect of a son?”

In poorer, less educated areas of India, it gets even worse.  Women who carry daughters are often tortured, and abortion rates are higher if the sex of the fetus is discovered to be female.  This is because of the tradition of dowry (something that is slowly being dispensed with in the upper classes) which is alive and well in small, rural, and poorer areas.  A dowry is what a family may have to pay (not necessarily money or cash) when marrying their daughter off.  Not only are parents of daughters expected to give their daughters “away” literally but also they are expected to “pay the piper” for taking on the burdens of her.  All of these trends lend to the surveys and the ranking of India which is low in the area of women’s rights and gender equality.  Not only is health care of women and women’s health ranked low in India, education is among the lowest as well especially in rural, poorer areas. Despite having female prime ministers, both India and Pakistan share the same fate and ranking in the arena of gender equality and this is nothing to be proud of even for Indian-Americans.

We visited the Taj Mahal in 2008- breathtaking

I like visiting India, not just to see family, but to do a lot of watching, thinking and studying. Culturally rich, India both inspires me and makes me feel sad at times.  The poverty and pollution issues aside, each time I visit, I am more and more thankful and grateful for the efforts of Gandhi for freeing India from British rule, President Johnson for opening the gates of immigration to Indians in 1965, and of course, my dad for taking a huge risk coming over to a new “foreign” country to make a new life for himself, my mother and eventually me and my brother.   But for one in the aforementioned chain of events, I would not be here where the sky is truly the limit for me.

Now, I do not intend to paint a bad picture of India but this article is focused on the gender gap.  India is making great strides in many areas but gender equality appears to have a long way to go.  Granted, on a positive note, I have a lot of cousin sisters who are doing quite well for themselves both in India and abroad but I have always thought my family and extended family as the exception not the rule.  I have cousin sisters who are working outside the home as engineers, doctors, dentists, designers of clothing lines, running businesses, making jewelry and purses, and yet still balancing work, life, and family. Conversely, I have witnessed and over heard a lot of the opposite as well.  I have heard how a distant cousin once taught as a teacher and now that she is married, she is no longer permitted to do so.  I heard stories of abuse and mistreatment of a distant relative once she was married into a home that disliked her.  In a country where a woman is still segregated and not able to be touched during “that time of the month” for religious reasons, you wonder whether these obstacles can be overcome if they are fundamental – ie. rooted in religion and philosophy.  And yet during a time when individuals are worshiping to Goddesses like Durga and Mataji at wonderful times like Diwali, you would think that women would be revered.  Again, I re-emphasize that I believe the Mogul influence over India has left its mark.  Women who show their shoulders, legs, cleavage, or too much skin in general (short of wearing a burka), are not respected and looked down upon. Granted, cities like Mumbai and Delhi see a lot of progress in these areas, but nonetheless, it is considered that women from “good homes” will NOT wear such outfits and if they do, it is frowned upon and talked about in an ill manner by the elders. Decency and dress codes aside, India is making progress in many areas where it comes to women’s rights and equality.  More and more women are in the work force – banking, accounting, teaching, and even non-traditional roles- engineering, doctors, lawyers, and professionals working outside the home.  Of course, they have to seek permission from their husbands and husbands’ families after marriage but assuming all are progressive, they may get to achieve their dreams, but then again, if they have kids, the traditional role of the Indian female will most likely be at home. I have yet to see an Indian man in India at home raising kids while the wife runs out to be a bread winner for the family.  I think that man would rather commit suicide than face the humiliation of society and I am not making this up- few in India will disagree that no man will stay at home and raise kids while his wife heads out to earn the money to keep that house going.  Desperate times may call for desperate measures but these are far and few between and unless a health reason is involved, this would never be tolerated.

Indian Flag

Americans can learn a lot from India – respecting elders, taking care of our elders, not becoming a burden on the government, religious and moral convictions, and deep-rooted and unconditional love of family and friends.  But conversely, I hope Indians can learn something from us as well and close that gender gap.  Granted, America has yet to see a female President or Vice-President but in the cultural sense, I would love to visit an India one day which is at least 80% free of the evils I hear about towards women- dowry-related deaths and torture, abortions of fetuses or killings of live babies simply because of gender, and more reverence of daughters and daughters-in-law and the respect of their right to choose career or home.  I have a dream that I will visit an India one day with my two American-born daughters and be able to tell them — “this is your culture… you come from a culture that reveres you, that respects you; that daughters and sons are raised equally, valued equally, and have the same opportunities whether in education, health, politics, in the home, or the workplace.”

That is my one vision for the India that I call the Mother Land.

Continue reading Gender Gap in India- Troubling Statistics from the Mother Land


The Commedia Christmas Carol- Stagedoor Theatre in Conifer, Colorado

Last night, some of my colleagues and I attended The Commedia Christmas Carol at the Stagedoor Theatre in Conifer, Colorado.   Truth be known, our boss from work was in the play so we were curious but what we found in addition to our boss’ amazing talents was the gem of a theatre in Conifer that boasts many other programs and shows including musicals.  Check out their website and their season of plays and musicals.  Every town appears to have these gems- local theatres that support the community and in turn, the community supports it. Theatres like this also support local schools and kids’ programs as well.  The Commedia Christmas Carol is playing this weekend, December 10, and then playing again December 16-17 before they shut down for the holidays.  Make sure you go check out and give a shout out to the local talent- You will be amazed and delighted at the hometown talent.