Friday, January 23, 2015

Matilda, the Baby, and Me

For Christmas, the Baby received a Kindle from my in-laws. They were incredibly generous with the children's gifts, which was much appreciated since the K has us all on austerity measures because of his new job. The Baby is obsessed with the Kindle and takes it with her everywhere. The Kindle was supposed to be a reward for learning how to read, although it is debatable that she's reached this milestone. But, if you listened to her struggle through all 15 pages of Paw Patrol's Chase is on the Case in 20 minutes, while sounding out every other word, you'd agree that someone deserves a reward.

Now, does she use the Kindle to read books? Of course not! She plays some creepy princess beauty parlor game, the free version of which assigns you a wrung-out looking princess with ashy skin and bags under her eyes who you spray, scrub, smooth, and spritz until she looks good enough to go shopping at Walmart. You can't get rid of all your princess's flaws unless you buy (with actual, real money) additional products and treatments. To which I say, Nope! The princess should not worry about her appearance, because it's what's inside that counts. The Baby responds by glaring at me and then at the imperfect virtual princess, probably thinking that the princess's insides are not part of the game.

When she's not saying, "meh, I guess you'll do," to princesses on the Kindle, she's watching movies. Her favorite movie is Matilda. In case you're not familiar with Matilda, it is based on the Roald Dahl book and is about a brilliant little girl, Matilda Wormwood, who is misunderstood, unappreciated, and badly treated by her tacky, ignorant parents and older brother. Matilda's father enrolls her in a school run by the evil Miss Trunchbull, who belittles and bullies all the children. The one kind adult in the book is Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey. Eventually, Matilda realizes that she has telekinetic powers which she uses to vanquish Miss Trunchbull. When Matilda's parents flee to Guam to avoid being arrested for scamming customers at her father's used car dealership, Miss Honey adopts her and they live happily ever after. The movie stars Mara Wilson as the title character and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman as her terrible parents.

Via
At first I was unbothered by the fact that the Baby clearly identified strongly with Matilda and her persecution by all the despicable adults in her life. But, as her obsession grew, I started feeling defensive. I mean, I can totally see the similarities between the K and Danny DeVito. Used car salesman, lawyer - potato, potato, I say. Other than a 15 inch height difference, they're practically the same person. But, I'm an understanding, patient, saintly parent, nothing like Matilda's tacky, superficial mother. *Ahem* But, I didn't think that the Baby's Matilda binging would cause any harm. Sure, she might attempt to move objects with her mind, and maybe Miss Trunchbull's appearance would give her nightmares:

And that's her good side.

but I never could have predicted the lasting impact that Matilda would have on her.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Analysis of State Google Searches

I am the hugest sucker for maps, the Internet, pseudo-social science, and pop-culture. So, when I saw this post that combined all my loves, it was like Christmas came early (Christmas 2015, because it was posted on December 29, 2014). The post is a state-by-state compilation of Google searches, listing the searches for which each state dominated. For example, Google-users in my home state of New Jersey searched these terms more than Google-users in any other state:

In July, Tracy Morgan was riding in a limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike when the limo was hit by a Wal-Mart truck, so it kind of makes sense that people in New Jersey would be disproportionately interested in that story. New Jersey does political scandals better than anyplace outside Chicago, as was proved in 2014 with Bridgegate. In August of 2014, a staff member and some political appointees of Governor Chris Christie conspired to close toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge and cause a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey as political retaliation against the Mayor of Fort Lee. It's somehow fitting that New Jersey, a state that most people know from driving through on the highway, dominates in Googling stories which involve highways.

Of all the celebrities and athletes that New Jerseyans are furiously Googling, only one makes immediate sense to me. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, everyone was Googling Team USA's goalkeeper Tim Howard. But, New Jerseyans were Googling him extra hard because he's originally from New Jersey. And, let's face it, when your other big local news stories are fatal car wrecks and political operatives creating traffic chaos, who would blame New Jerseyans for cyber-stalking Tim Howard?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

No Debate about Ebates

While our house was in quarantine due to the plagues, I had a bunch of blogs written in my head, but no time to write or share any of them because I was too busy doing laundry and disinfecting everything. This week (precious optimism), I hope to clear some of the backlog. My future blogging plans include writing about the pantry moths (per request by a kindred reader) and how I'm one step closer to being investigated by DFCS because the Baby gave herself a haircut and then tried to hide the evidence by dousing her head with a combination of blue tansy and hand lotion.

A mother's prayer: Please let there be a bald Barbie,
please let there be a bald Barbie, Amen.
When I was down with the flu I logged a lot of hours watching HGTV, including a marathon of Fixer Upper, in which a telegenic couple (Joanna and Chip Gaines) renovate and redesign homes for their clients. Since this is the plot of nearly every HGTV show, the twist is that Chip and Joanna live on a ranch in Waco, Texas with their four children. It's like The Pioneer Woman meets The Property Brothers if the brothers were married to each other or if the Pioneer Woman's husband worked with her making meatloaf, instead of being a Carmex-addicted cowboy. It was either the fever or HGTV's magically delivery, but for about a minute I considered ditching the ATL and moving to Waco. The kids could grow up on a ranch (ignore the fact that I would probably hate everything involved in ranching) and we could buy a pretty legit house in Waco for under $100K, which is like what people spend on their cars in Atlanta. Hopefully, I'll get the flu next year and can enjoy a season two marathon of Fixer Upper. By that time, I'll bet the Gaineses will be all Hollywood. Chip will have gotten caps to fix his wonky tooth and Joanna will be shopping for a house in Calabasas. I joke. For real, they seem like a lovely couple. Check out their shop for a $65 "Lost Sock" Hanger, or, alternatively, go buy a new pair of socks for $5.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sayonara 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Hanukah! And Joyous Kwanza! And Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year! Our family has been in illness purgatory since November 20th, so I have been unable to write anything. Well, not entirely true. I wrote a parody of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie called If You Give a Kindergardener a Craft Project that I didn't finish. You have that to look forward to sometime in the future. Whether I will actually finish it, or will just publish it unfinished like The Mystery of Edwin Drood remains to be seen. (Note to self: add opium den to If You Give a Kindergardener a Craft Project to make it edgier.)

According to Facebook, 2014 was a great year. Thanks for being part of it. You know what? Screw you, Facebook, 2014 kind of sucked. Okay, so it wasn't as bad as, say, 1934 (hard to top the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the Great Depression, Hitler, and the dust bowl), but it wasn't all that great. On a global level, there was the Ebola crisis, Russia invaded Crimea, the Middle East continued to be a mess, Atlanta was paralyzed for days by a freak snowstorm, there were lots of plane crashes (and one plane that went missing and still hasn't been found), terrorist groups thought killing people was a good way to stop girls from going to school, we lost Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, and celebrities found out that their private cellphone pictures weren't so private (maybe that wasn't so bad; depends on your perspective). But Facebook has to be all Johnny Mercer and accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. The Facebook year in review for Malaysia Air probably featured the new snack offerings for passengers in the coach cabin.

Flight attendant: "Don't mention that elephant sitting in 12D."


Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween: Rubik's Cube Costume

Best Halloween Ever - 1980, Halloween birthday party. Pre-Pinterest, Mom put together a haunted house in our terrifying-under-normal-circumstances basement. Party guests were blindfolded and touched a dead man's "eyeballs" (peeled grapes), "intestines" (cold spaghetti noodles), and hand (surgical glove filled with wet sand). I dressed like a fortune teller in some hippie clothes borrowed from Mom's artist friend.

Worst Halloween Ever - 1993, Austin, Texas. I woke up to find out that River Phoenix had overdosed outside the Viper Room and (unrelated) that my Toyota Carolla had been towed to a dump/impound lot in southeast Austin.  I spent November 1st bumming a ride to the lot (guarded by an actual junkyard dog) and retrieving my car from a guy who, between his lack of teeth and heavy Texas drawl, was nearly impossible for me to understand. Okay, technically that was the worst November 1st ever, but since the precipitating events actually occurred on October 31st, I'm calling them for Halloween. If only the Internet had been around, I could have crowd-sourced my $75 towing fee like this girl did when she took an unexpectedly pricey Uber.

In other news, someone needs to come up with a funny Uber picture, because this is all the Internet's got:

2010's favorite meme subject, Ryan Gosling:


Oprah:



and, of course:


Let's get some new meme material. I'm old and I've grown bored with Hey, Girl and The Most Interesting Man. I will never say a bad word about Oprah because she could find and destroy me. Plus, this will never not make me laugh. That Oprah, rich as she is, would take a road trip is amazing (even if she made her BFF Gale King do all the driving). You'd never catch Streisand and Walters on a road trip; no makeup, dirty hair, eating Corn Nuts and drinking Mr. Pibb, nary a soft focus filter in sight.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween Teacher Breakfast

At our elementary school, we have a guy called "Bike Dude." Bike Dude is in charge of all of our "Walk and Roll" days, which is the one day each month when kids are encouraged to walk bike or scooter to school. Whenever the Bike Dude's kids graduate from elementary school, we get a new Bike Dude. It's like the new Darren on Bewitched:


Via
Everyone just pretends that this is the only Bike Dude that ever was and the kids don't seem to notice (a sign that all grownups look the same to kids). I've been a parent at the elementary school for so long, I'm on Bike Dude number three. Since the Baby is in kindergarten, I'll probably be looking at Bike Dude five or six before I'm done. Instead of saying, "I've been a parent at this school for nine years (!)," I can just say I've been there for "five Bike Dudes."

So, last year I pledged to volunteer less this year, and I almost succeeded. Yes, almost. After going an oddly long time without any contact from the room parents in the Boy's class, I asked around and learned that due to various issues, all the room parent volunteers, save one, had quit. Quit?! I am kicking myself for never realizing that this was an option! Here I was thinking that being a room parent was like indentured servitude, and that, once committed, I was obliged to serve for a year until I secured my release.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Soccer Match Predictor

I'm sure that some of you, like me, will be attending your kids' soccer matches this weekend. I've discovered that sometimes all you have to do is observe the opposing team and their fans to figure out how a game is going to turn out. I've prepared a test that predicts for you whether it's going to be consolation Powerades at QT or celebratory ice creams at DQ. Answer the questions and check your score at the end of the quiz.

1.  Goalkeeper

The opposing goalkeeper is warming up before the game. +1
The opposing goalkeeper is warming up before the game and has tattoos and visible facial hair (male or female). +2
The opposing goalkeeper is warming up before the game and looks like this:

+10