Google Something Clever 2.0: 2012

Dec 31, 2012

The Year in Review, From Someone Who Doesn't Watch the News

I need to warn you before you start reading this. I am going to make light of some very serious shit in this post. It’s not that I’m insensitive; in fact, I’m too sensitive, and I need to somehow spin all the tragedies of 2012 into laughs. 

That’s a weird coping mechanism, I know. But I think some of you will appreciate it. Some of you will not, and I get that. I’m not going to make any gross Sandusky jokes, or anything, but if anything awful that happened this year hit you a little too close to home, you may not want to read this post. 

Don’t worry; I won’t go as far as Daniel Tosh did. Also, please note that this is a very link-heavy post. You need only click on the links if you don't understand one of my references; they are all total bummers.

Without further ado… What did we learn from 2012?

We learned that there is a man named Todd Akin (what a douchey name, we should have known) who makes up his own crazy science that is even more bananas than Jesus riding on a dinosaur.

We learned that Rick Santorum makes his children kiss dead fetuses (fetii?).

We learned that black teenagers may not wear hoodies (for their own safety), and they must use a hot comb if they want to earn that Olympic medal. Make a note of it, kids.

We learned that the name “Sandy” is baaaaaaaad luck. I mean, really bad. I bet nobody names their kid Sandy for the next 40 years. (No links necessary.)

We learned that the North Koreans are experts on rockets and unicorns. If you’re a three-year-old with a sticker collection, North Korea is just the boss right now.

We learned that people will kill over a YouTube video. Yet somehow, Fred is still alive.

We learned that Sikhs are not Muslims, although you really shouldn’t kill either one. But, you know, just saying… They’re not Muslims. Does that clear everything up?

We learned that most Americans think that the Joker had orange hair. It was green, assholes.

We learned that you can, in fact, be gay while wearing a wedding dress. At least, more of us learned that. I hope the rest of you figure it out soon.

We learned that some people didn’t know the difference between Ving Rhames and Michael Clarke Duncan, but now they will. I’ll think of you every time I smell me some corn bread, Big Mike.

We learned that everyone has an international musical kryptonite. Some of us can’t stand that Canadian girl. Some of us are fed up with that Korean guy. We’re all pretty sure that Lana Del Rey is American, although she seems vaguely Eastern European… And we hate her most of all.

We learned that that age-old stereotype is true: Italians are the worst cruise ship captains. I’m sorry, is that racist?

We learned that you can make anything hilarious if you try hard enough… Even a review of a binder on Amazon.

We learned the meanings of the phrases “fork lift foot” and “glitz pig,” thanks to the defining person of America 2012: a morbidly obese toddler (not that one that smoked; he was Indonesian and that was 2010).

And there you have it. 2012 pretty much sucked. I hope you come into 2013 a little drunk, with fabulous hair. Happy New Year from Jenn, Molly, Chevelle, the husband and the boy. I love you guys.

Dec 19, 2012

Food Pyramid for Mothers

When you're a parent, it's so important to take care of yourself. You have a lot of people depending on you. How much time do you spend thinking about your children's nutrition? You probably did a lot of research before deciding whether to breast- or bottle-feed. You buy organic meat and produce when you can, limit junk food... But when was the last time you gave a second thought to what's on your plate? Mothers have different needs than growing children, you know. I give you the Food Pyramid for Mothers:

At the top of the pyramid, you have Chocolate. The chocolate group is a very important component in a mother's diet. It provides smiles, short bursts of energy, and it's great for when you need to "eat your feelings." But you only need a moderate amount. A good rule of thumb is to only eat chocolate when your kids are sleeping. Follow that, and you should get just the right amount. Note: If you feel your blood sugar dropping, it is okay to sneak into the bathroom for an emergency Fun Size if needed.

The second food group on the pyramid is Cheese. Cheese is a valuable source of protein, calcium, and happiness. And there are so many varieties! Don't just limit yourself to the mozzarella your daughter peels off of her Chuck E. Cheese pizza. Other great sources of cheese include Combos, Handi Snacks, Cheetos and cheesecake. Throw some strawberry goo on top; it's got loads of vitamins.

Next on the pyramid is the Caffeine group. Some experts believe this may actually be the most important group; consult your physician or registered dietitian to determine your individual needs. Caffeine is instrumental in providing the energy your body needs to chase after younger children, and tolerate older ones. If you want to make your diet more efficient, try combining the Chocolate and Caffeine groups together in the form of dark chocolate-covered espresso beans.

The base of the pyramid, and the most crucial group in my expert opinion, is the Wine group.They say that a mother is the heart of the family. And you want that heart to be healthy, right? Wine provides a very important antioxidant... The name escapes me just now. I believe it's called relievitol? Something to that effect. Anyhow, grapes are good for you, and red wine is good for your marriage, so be sure to drink eight glasses a day, just like you've always heard.

I wish you all good health in the coming new year.

Dec 18, 2012

I Don't Want to Talk About It

I don’t want to talk about what happened in Connecticut. I don’t want to read about it. But I feel compelled to explain myself. You may have noticed that I’m one of the few people on the internet who hasn't said much about it, other than this:

This is because I have nothing else to say. That hasn't stopped some people. I've seen a lot of people on Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts saying a whole lot of nothing: "I'm devastated." "This is a tragedy." Even "There are no words..." or "I don't know what to say." I understand that for these people, this is authentic, and they feel like it must be said. But not for me.

I don't want you to think I'm an asshole because I'm not tweeting "I'm sad" every half-hour. Of course I'm sad. I'm a human being. I just don't feel like I have anything relevant to add to the discussion.

I've even heard about people getting angry at others for talking about anything but Connecticut. To me, that's offensive. There are those out there that are all up in arms that someone else dares to live their life and focus on anything but that incident, for even a moment. They're using words like "insensitive" and "selfish." That is beyond ridiculous. I happened across a profile on Twitter today who had been called out for tweeting about a book.

Tweeting about a book. The mere act of tweeting about anything other than those children was apparently a selfish act, according to some asshole on the internet. If you agree with that, please run head-first into a brick wall right now. She explained herself quite eloquently:

She's right. They don't need our tweets. What do they need? I don't know. Maybe they need hugs. Maybe they need someone to make them dinner for the next couple of weeks, while they try to put their lives back together. Maybe they need money for funeral expenses. But I'm going to go out on a limb and try to put myself in those grieving parents' shoes for a moment: If that was me, I wouldn't give a good god damn about your internet activity.

So now you understand why I don't want to talk about it. I have nothing worthwhile to contribute.

Why don't I want to read about it?

I am a wuss. I am extremely sensitive. I am physically incapable of watching the news. When I saw "I Am Sam" in the theater (as in, surrounded by a hundred strangers), I cried seventeen times. Perhaps I come off as bad-ass (I hope), but I'm really very delicate. I still don't know exactly what Michael Vick did, other than something very bad involving dogs. And now, of course, I'll have to have my husband screen the comments for this post before I read them, because I'm terrified that some asshole will try to tell me.

I know what happened in Connecticut. And it's awful. So awful. But I don't need to know how many bullets went into each victim. I don't need to see their photos. And I sure as hell don't need to see interviews with eight-year-olds describing what they went through. None of that is helping anyone.

I understand that a lot of bloggers view their blogs as a form of therapy, and they must get their thoughts out. And some readers might take comfort in their words. But I just can't think about it anymore.

I don't need you to tell me how tightly I should be hugging my son. I don't need to see people argue about whether this is or isn't the "right time" to talk about gun control, or how this might have been prevented.

If you are outraged about gun control or mental health care, please contact your elected officials, who may be able to do something of consequence. 

If you would like to provide financial support to the families who were affected, please get in touch with Newtown Youth & Family Services, Newtown Parent Connection or The United Way of Western Connecticut

If your child wants to help, the school is requesting that they make snowflakes. You can learn more from the Connecticut PTSA.

This is the only way I know to be of help, and I hope that's enough for you.

Dec 14, 2012

You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me, Sketchers

Sketchers, the purveyors of those ugly bedazzled sneakers that all the little girls love, has hit a new low.

No, not the $40 million settlement that they had to pay after the FTC busted them for claiming that their Shape-Ups line could make your fat ass disappear. That's old news.

And I'm also not referring to the ridiculously dangerous Bella Ballerina line for girls- the one that includes a spinning plastic disc in the sole.

Check out their newest line of sneakers:

If you weren't able to watch that, I'll summarize: this is a commercial for "Hydee HyTops," a shoe for little girls with a hidden lift in the sole. The jingle starts off, "I've got a secret! Do, do you wanna, be, be a little bit taller?"

Since Amy Poehler is no longer on "Weekend Update" with Seth Meyers, I guess I've have to do my own "REALLY!?! with Seth and Amy"...

Really, Sketchers? You figured that little girls didn't have enough people telling them that they weren't thin enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough, so you decided to tell them that they're not tall enough, either? Your height is the one thing about yourself that you absolutely cannot change (except with your product), and you chose to give little girls a complex about it?

Seriously, you're the company who podiatrists already want to burn at the stake for making children's shoes with absolutely no arch support, not to mention Shape-Ups, which cause a whole host of injuries to both children and adults. Now you're making a shoe that can deform the very skeletal structure of children's feet? You really have it in for podiatrists, huh?

And really, you're advocating for girls to "have a secret" wherein they fake their height to impress boys? What's next, padded bras for 8-year-olds?

I mean really.

Dec 13, 2012

A Wedding Ceremony Riddled With WTF

There are so many fun stories I could tell you about my wedding. Other than the fact that I never got to get drunk, it was a really great wedding. People still tell me how much they loved it, over seven years later. But today, I’m going to focus on the ceremony. Specifically, how nothing I planned went right, and how the two best parts were planned by other people.

Yes, this is my actual cake.
I took almost two years to plan my wedding. I wanted to do it right. There were two women who worked at the venue that I had been dealing with that whole time. I liked them. I trusted them. I was confident that, as my “wedding coordinators,” they were going to help me pull off the perfect wedding. I did not know that they had Saturdays off, and my actual wedding was going to be run by some bitch I’d never met. And I’m not using the word “bitch” as a rapper would, in place of the word “woman.” Even my nephew, who was 13 at the time, pulled me aside during the reception to tell me that she was a bitch.

We had an outdoor ceremony. I wanted it to be fun and different. There were personal touches all over the place. The first one was that I was barefoot, and my bridesmaids wore flip flops. And I don’t mean pretty little sandals with a low heel; I mean I bought five pairs of white flip flops at Old Navy, and glued a little fabric rosette to each one. This, in and of itself, was not a problem…

We ladies were all lined up and ready to walk across the lawn (maybe 50 feet) and down the aisle. Bitch-face was with us, and her colleague was over by the justice of the peace, operating the sound system.  They would signal to each other, “Start the music,” “The music has started,” and then we would walk. Only it wasn’t going that way. Bitch-face went and talked to the other one. She came back. Apparently they couldn’t get the music to play (Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” if you were wondering- I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason). She ran back and forth a couple times, then told us to walk.

Silly me, I took this to mean, “I’ve done my job correctly, everything is fine, and your perfect wedding starts now.” What it actually meant was, “I’m lazy and impatient. Fuck your plans. You’re walking in silence.” I didn’t even realize the music wasn’t playing… Until it did. It started playing just as I hit the beginning of the aisle. If you’re at all familiar with “Canon,” you know that it’s perfect for weddings because the way it times out (if you have an average-sized party) is that the gentle, muted strings intro plays while your party is walking, and then the crescendo hits just as the bride shows up. It’s quite an entrance.

Here, I’ll show you. Play this video. At 1:43, that’s when you see the beautiful bride in her beautiful dress and she’s glowing and it’s magical and you’re all, “Holy shit! Is that Jenn? She looks amazing! She is an angel sent to Earth to teach us all what love is!” Here are the lyrics I made up to that part:

Here comes Jenn!
She’s the bride! 
Oh my god, she’s so beautiful!
There she is!
What a dress! 
I can’t believe how great she looks!
She’s so rad!
She’s the bride! 
And oh! he’s such a lucky man!
How she glows!
Holy shit! 
This is the most wonderful wedding ever! 
[Repeat four times, fade out]

Here’s what I got: The girls all walked to the sound of flap flap flap flap flap. Then I got the muted strings. Then they abruptly turned it off when I reached the front. Assholes!

The ceremony itself was very off-script, too. I had always planned on asking my grandfather to give me away, but he had passed away. So I asked my older sister to give me away, and I carried one of Grampa’s old handkerchiefs, to dab at my tears of joy. Except… It was 90 degrees that day, with approximately 1000% humidity, so I used it to blot my sweaty forehead. I also asked my aunt for “something borrowed,” and she leant me the dainty white gloves that she wore to her own wedding. Again, it was 90 degrees. And I forgot about the whole ring thing. I ended up awkwardly removing them and passing them to my maid of honor (who wasn’t expecting them) behind my back.

So, now it’s time for our friend to come up and speak. He knew us well, so I told him to say whatever he wanted. I knew he’d get it right. He’s a really funny guy, so I assumed he’d just be giving your typical speech about how we’re great, and hahaha no more carousing for you, mister. Imagine my surprise when he steps up and says he’s come across a poem that he thinks is appropriate. He reads poems? What?

I could see our friends in the seats were equally surprised. So he reads this love poem, and it’s nice and all, but not what I expected. Then he says that this poem reminds him of me and my husband, because to us, “You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet…” Wait a minute. Does any of this sound familiar to you? It did to me, and to everyone under 30 in the audience. He worked in a quote from “Fight Club.” Yes, that “Fight Club.” The three of us had watched it together about a hundred times, so it was completely appropriate. And none of the old people got it (he stopped short of saying “You are not your fucking khakis”).

So, that was awesome. And we’re almost done. Maybe this ceremony won’t completely suck, after all. The justice of the peace is now asking my husband if he’ll take me as his wife. He pauses, and puts on his best “Hmmmm” face. He turns around and walks away. He approaches his best man and ushers, and they form a huddle. They all murmur for a moment, and then he returns and tells the justice of the peace, “I do.” I am not kidding. And I did not know that he was going to do it. The crowd cracks up. I’m still flabbergasted when she asks me the same question. I was very kind, and simply said, “I do.” We did get a great picture of me laughing my ass off right afterwards.

The final step of the ceremony should have been easy enough. My cousin, who was too old to be a flower girl, and too young to be a bridesmaid, served as our “Butterfly Girl.” She was to release 100 painted lady butterflies from a basket covered in mesh as we were pronounced husband and wife. Only, I had forgotten to transfer the butterflies from the suspended-animation icepack shipping container to the basket (and into the sun) until just before the ceremony. So they were still pretty logy when she removed the mesh. They didn’t do anything. She ended up shaking the basket pretty hard to shoo them out. Then, they all landed on the ground and stayed there, so my new husband and I had to pick our way around them as we walked down the aisle.

At least the bagpipe guy kicked ass.

Dec 11, 2012

A Tree Says a Lot About a Family

As you may have heard, Three Monkeys and a Martini is hosting a Christmas tree contest. She's looking for the prettiest, and the ugliest trees.
"The winning photo submitter from each category will receive a prize valued at roughly $100,000,000,000 (a set of 4 handpainted Martini Glasses and free advertising on my blog for a month - a 150 x 150 size... and I'll help you design your ad if you need a little graphic help).  The handpainted martini glasses will be worth a ton of money when I go loco like Van Gogh.  Or Picasso.  Or Cezanne.  Whatevs... they will be priceless 'cause I made 'em."
The other day, Mrs. Martini personally invited me to enter the contest. I'm not sure if she was assuming that I had a pretty tree, or an ugly one... I think it's mediocre. But she insisted, and I'm kind of afraid that she'll throw a martini in my face or sic her monkeys on me (remember that poor lady whose face got all eaten and shit?), so I relented. Behold, the Clever Family's Christmas tree:

The definition of "meh"
After I took the picture, I realized that you can't really make out any of the ornaments, so I starting snapping a few close-ups. The ornaments are what make our tree special.

You see, when my husband and I first bought our condo, we decided that we would each only get one ornament per year. I shouldn't say "we." I decided, and he didn't really care, because he was raised Jewish. He went along with it, and bought his very first ornament in 2004...

He wasn't really all that "on board" at first

So each year, we added four more ornaments- one each for me, him, and our two cats. (Yes, our cats get ornaments. We are those type of people.)

I dunno, it looks like a cat toy.
Cats love bells...
... and birds.
Chevelle's first Christmas. Awww. Yes, they get gifts, too.

These last four Christmases, we've been adding five a year. My son was old enough to pick out his last two. If you look at our ornaments, they really tell you a lot about us. Look up there at exhibit "A." Those hideous fuzzy dice clearly state, "My crazy wife wants this stupid Christian thing in our living room, taking up space, even though she's not a Christian. Why the hell do I have to buy some dumb sparkly thing to hang on it? I'll show her..." And he did.

He finally came around once he realized that there are some pretty cool ornaments out there. If you want to know what he's like, these do a pretty good job of telling his story:

He is an 80's movie buff...
... from New England...
... and proud of it!
And although he doesn't like Christmas...
... he does love "A Christmas Story"...
.... like, a lot.
You probably won't be too surprised by my ornaments if you're a regular reader. I bet you know me pretty well by now.

But did you know that I ♥ Hello Kitty?
This guy is just hilarious to me. Hilarious.

This guy, too.

And you've already seen this one. It's my favorite.

The boy only has a couple, like I said. His first was a tiny version of those digital picture frames- it plays a slideshow of his baby pictures. His second Christmas, he was almost two, so he had "interests."

Two interests, to be exact. "Yo Gabba Gabba" and robots.

And now that he's a big boy who can choose his own ornaments, you can see that he's just your average almost-four-year-old boy...

Who is obsessed with movies...
... that he's not even allowed to see yet.
So there you have it. This is how we do Christmas. Do you feel like you know us better now? Don't forget to head over to Three Monkeys and a Martini and enter your tree in her contest!

Dec 6, 2012

Ugly Christmas Decorations

I’m not a Christmas fan. I’m trying hard not to hate it, for my son’s sake. I could probably start a whole new side-blog about all the Christmas things that drive me nuts, but I’ll just focus on one today: Bad Christmas decorations.

First, let’s discuss the net lights. Have you seen these? It is a net of lights. Supposedly, you can just throw it over a shrub and get the same magical effect you would by painstakingly draping a string of lights over each and every branch, but without all the fuss. Um, no. Perhaps, if you got a large net for a small bush, and made sure to tuck the corners in just so, you could pull it off. But then, you’re still stuck with the tell-tale perfectly even spacing. The thing is, nobody does this. Everyone gets the smallest net they can find (I’m assuming it’s to save a few bucks) and throws it on a bush that’s way too big. Now, we can see the obvious edge and corners. It just looks awful. Here’s the thing about Christmas lights: they’re not mandatory. If you don’t have the time or the patience to do a good job, just don’t do it. Nobody’s making you. I’ve never passed an undecorated house and thought, “What’s up with those lazy slobs?” But I do think that all the time when I see half-assed decorations. If you don’t have the inclination to wrap a 50-foot wire around a bush four times, maybe Christmas lights aren’t for you.

Then there are the giant 1950’s colored lights (they’re called C9 or C7 bulbs). These things are gross. My guess is that the people who put these up are nostalgic for a time when technology was in its infancy, for some reason. I’m thinking they’re the same people who have an MP3 of an old-fashioned phone ringing on their iPhone. There’s a time and a place for nostalgia. I like to watch the old “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” special, too, guys. But I watch the remastered high-def version on my 50” TV. Get some 21st century lights, already.

And let’s not forget the nonsensical and the straight-up trashy decorations. Usually, these are inflatable. I’m not saying all inflatables are trashy, although I will say they’re not for me. But some are kind of cute. You know what isn’t cute?

Santa flying a helicopter. What statement are you going for, exactly?

Snoopy on a motorcycle. Huh? Oh, but he has a Santa hat, so that makes it okay.

And what’s this? A god-damned golfing moose. In what culture is this a symbol of Christmas? Please tell me, so that I can be sure to never visit in December.

Here’s a four-foot tall Dora dressed as Santa, for those who want to let their neighbors know that “Yes, we will buy literally anything our kids demand.”

And here is a dolphin holding a gift, for those who wish to cause traffic accidents in front of their home by forcing all passers-by to do a double-take on an icy road. But the ultimate worst inflatable I’ve seen has to be...

Santa in a hunting blind, with an absolutely terrified reindeer below. I desperately need you to know, if you put this thing in your yard, you are a terrible person.

I’m getting too worked up. I don’t think I can talk about this anymore.  Merry Christmas to you all, and if you’re going to decorate your lawn this year, please, I beg of you, don’t make it look like shit. Thank you.
If you want to buy any of the awful decorations featured here, you can do so at Also, I kinda hate you.

Dec 5, 2012

What Do You DO All Day??

Being a stay-at-home parent is harder than you think. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but you don’t buy it. Here’s proof:

You think

I hit the McDonald’s drive-through for lunch every day.

But really

Sometimes I make him a mouse for lunch. Maybe it’s not Pinterest-worthy, but he doesn’t know that.

Clearly, if I were pinning it, I'd try harder.

You think

I look at pictures of cute cats on Facebook all day.

But really

I have my own, thank you very much.

Grumpy Cat, meet Surly Cat.

You think

I let him zone out in front of Dora for 10 hours.

But really

We be learnin’. I bet my kid knows more dinosaurs than you do. Challenge!

Look at that E! It's perfect.

You think

I let him play Nintendo all day.

But really

Playing Mario and Zelda are sacred rites of passage that help form bonds between a father and son, and I would never interfere with that. We play tic-tac-toe… 

He let me win.

...and Star Wars Angry Birds.

Shut up, it teaches... Cause and effect? I don't know.

You think

I feed him Stouffer's frozen lasagna for dinner.

But really

Okay, I feed him frozen dinosaur nuggets. But they're all white meat, I swear!

And SO GOOD with honey mustard.

You think

I sit around eating bonbons.

But really

I’m not even sure what bonbons are. Are they those ice cream nuggets? Those fancy chocolates in the gold wrapper? Don’t be silly. I eat leftover Halloween candy…

Hahaha, he forgot all about it!

...or leftover Easter candy. Depending on which half of the year it is.

Who am I kidding? I stockpile Cadbury Eggs year-round.

You think

I can’t wait until he goes to bed, so I can drink wine and hang out on Twitter.

But really

You’re kind of right. But I do miss him, most of the time.

Hey, I need some grownup interaction! @JennSmthngClvr

Dec 3, 2012

A Playlist For Christmas-Haters

Recently, I told you that I hate Christmas music. But that’s not entirely true. There are a few songs I like. Perhaps you have a bummer like me in your family who will be celebrating Christmas at your house, and you need to know what songs to play so that they don’t flip out and throw your tree out the front door. I’ve got you covered. People who hate Christmas music will usually make exceptions for songs that are performed by their favorite artists. Personally, I also like to throw in a few melancholy songs so that I can properly wallow in my Christmas-hating. Many of these songs fulfill both requirements at once. Here’s the Clever Family’s Christmas playlist:

“Last Christmas” by Wham!

Dude, it’s Wham! That’s hilarious. You can put on your own little show where you sing along and over-emote every lyric. Fun.

“The Twelve Pains of Christmas” by Bob Rivers

I’m not sure how well-know this song is. Maybe it’s just a local hit in Massachusetts. I hope you know it. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s fun to shout random lines from it in Target and see who “gets it.” I do that a little too often.

“Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC

It’s a Run-DMC song that happens to have sleigh bells in it. Rad.

“Christmastime” by the Smashing Pumpkins *

A beloved band who is also depressing. I mean, for the love of eyeliner, they have a double album called “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.”

“Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses

I will listen to anything these people put out, even the theme song for a god-awful sitcom starring a transvestite donkey witch.                                                                                                                                 

“Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones

I don’t really need to do any selling for this one, right?

“Christmas Time is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio

Classic and a complete downer. It makes me want to lie on top of a doghouse and contemplate the meaning of life.

“12 Days of Christmas” by the bird and the bee

Man, do I love me some bird and bee. They make everything better. Did you know they put out an entire album of Hall & Oates covers? And it is brilliant.

“What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder

Stevie is the happiest guy in the world. I have never seen him not smiling. If he can’t make you wiggle your butt a little bit while you’re basting that turkey, I’m afraid there’s no hope for you.

“2000 Miles” by the Pretenders

I’m not a huge Pretenders fan, but they are really good at being depressing. This song is a great example. I guarantee you’ll heave a deep, satisfying sigh before Chrissy even starts singing.

“Jingle Bells” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra

Don’t pretend you didn’t love that brief resurgence of swing music in the late 90s. Shh, it’s okay. We all did.

Is there anything that I missed? Let me know in the comments. I should warn you up front that if it's a country song, or anything by Mariah Carey, you are dead wrong.

*Yes, The Smashing Pumpkins. They’re not talking about vandalism; they’re talking about gourds that a British person really likes.

Nov 28, 2012

Christmas Music Sucks

Christmas music is awful. Can we all agree on that? Why can't Devo write a Christmas song?

My favorite ornament

Please enjoy the following concrete evidence as to why Christmas music sucks:

“Little Drummer Boy”

Okay, aside from the fact that you were so hard-up for a rhyme, you just ended every line with “pah-rump-a-pum-pum”… The highlight of this song is when a newborn smiled at you. Great job, you just wrote a song about the baby Jesus farting.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

Ah yes, my favorite go-to classic for when I want to hear the transcript of Will Farrell date raping Zooey Deschanel in the showers at Gimbel’s.

“Jingle Bell Rock”

How far off from the truth are you? This song is neither “Jingle Bells,” nor rock. I feel like Linda Richman on “Coffee Talk.” Discuss.

“White Christmas”

Oh, go fuck yourself, Bing Crosby. You are from Tacoma. White Christmases look lovely on cards, sure, but have you ever had to clean that shit off of your car? No, you haven’t. You had rain, and then you were rich and probably had servants to deal with that. Snow is a nightmare.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

You all know how I feel about Santa. This song is the thinnest of the thinly-veiled ultimatums. “This dude is peering through the window right now, kids. Stop crying; he has Legos.”

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

I used to like this song, because it was featured in my favorite Christmas movie, “Gremlins.” Then, stupid Mariah Carey spoiled it with her obnoxious showboating and dolphin-like high notes. Now, whenever I hear it (even the U2 cover), I think of her fat ass. Thanks, Mariah (also, how the hell did you snag Nick Cannon?).

“Feliz Navidad”

“Hey, look at me, I’m cultured! I like this song that’s partially in another language.” Yeah, have fun with that.

“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” 

Oh hey, here are a bunch of clichés. If you’ve ever heard of Christmas, perhaps this song will feel nostalgic to you, and you’ll be compelled to love it. Here’s my version: “It’s snowing. I ran out of bows. Should I get a gift receipt? Crap, I forgot to get something for Uncle Carl. Snuggie? Maybe.” There you go, instant classic.

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”

Okay, we all get that it was really Daddy… All of us, except the kid singing it. What the hell is wrong with this kid? “What a laugh it would have been”? Seriously? You are under the impression that you witnessed your mother committing adultery, and you think it’s funny? This kid is severely messed up.

“Christmas Shoes”

Oh, hellllll no. Have you heard this one? It’s this awful country song about a poor kid who can’t afford to buy his dying mother some purdy shoes to impress Jesus with. You know, since she’ll be seein’ him real soon. This song plays two sympathy cards, by using an imaginary poor kid/soon-to-be-orphan, and a lady who’s dying. “If you don’t like this song, you have no soul!” Fine, then. No soul it is.

Nov 27, 2012

Not Even Close to Almost Famous

Did I ever tell you that I used to be in a band? It all started when I was 19 and I got fired from Toys R Us. I can't remember why; I think it may have been because I dyed my hair purple or something. A couple of days later, I was at the mall, just passing Hot Topic, and I thought, "Hey, I want to work there." So I went in, walked up to the cash register, and said to the guy, "Hi. I want to work here."

It turns out they were hiring, and he was the assistant manager. He interviewed me, and I got the job. It was a great job, for someone with no expenses. They only paid minimum wage, which at that time was $5.45 an hour (this was in 1999). But here's the cool part: the discount was 40% off. Since I was 19 and still lived with my parents, clothing was pretty much the only thing I spent money on, anyway. I got along great with pretty much everyone who worked there. It was a small store, with a tight-knit staff. Those who didn't fit in didn't last long. I was soon promoted to "part-time assistant manager," which meant that I still worked full-time, but I didn't get any benefits. Lame, but I didn't care, because I was young and carefree.

The other assistant manager, the one who first interviewed me, introduced me to punk rock. Don't get me wrong; I knew The Ramones and The Clash and all that, but he was super into punk rock, and knew all the bands you've never heard of. We went to shows in Boston. I met the Dropkick Murphys before Jonathan Papelbon made them a household name.

Remember this?

So, one day at work, he turns to me and says, "Hey, you play guitar, right?" I did. He says he wants to start a band. He would play guitar and sing, and he knows a guy who plays the drums. He asks me if I want to be the bass player. I told him I've never played a bass, and he assures me that it's just like the guitar, only easier. He has an old bass lying around, and he can teach me. I tell him sure, as long as I can sing a little. So the band was born.

We started practicing in his parents' garage, once or twice a week. The three of us would split a sixer of Mike's Hard Lemonade, because it was the only booze we could all agree on. I wrote maybe three or four songs that I sang lead on. He wrote eight or ten for himself, and I'd sing backup on most of those. In the winter, mom and dad wanted their garage back, so we started renting a practice space.

Now, the thing about Hot Topic, at least back in the 1999-2000 era, was that the kids loved it. It was like an underage club. They would all hang out there all weekend, and most days after school. And they all thought that the employees there were the coolest people ever. Seriously, we called them groupies. So when word got out that we had a band, the groupies were all about it. We got our first "show" at a local high school, broadcast live on the school's radio station. Not long after that, a local kid who was going to school in upstate New York (not Rochester!) got us a gig up there. Nothing big, just a VFW, but it was a paying gig. I don't think the pay even covered our gas, but we just wanted people to hear us. 

We got more shows. A lot of them were in Massachusetts, but a lot were in upstate New York. We built a little bit of a following there. We recorded a demo and burned our own copies from the master disc. I designed an album cover and we color-copied it. A girl we knew had a silkscreen kit, and she made some t-shirts for us. Our friends and coworkers would sometimes come along as "free roadies," although we didn't really need the help. As a Tetris Master, I was the only one who could fit our equipment into the trunks of the two compact cars we drove. 

My car died, and I bought a van. We started booking shows at bars. Shows with kinda-big-deal bands. We still only made enough to cover gas, beer, and maybe $10 apiece left over. And I was still making very little money at Hot Topic. Also, I had shitty teeth and a really bad cold that lasted for four months. So I got a second full-time job at a big-box store that offered benefits and a 401(k). Now I was working 80 hours a week. I'd have to wait for one store to make their schedule, then bring it to the other store so they could work around it. Both jobs were constantly questioning which one I took "more seriously." At one, I was a manager. At the other, they paid a lot more, and provided benefits. I'd practice with the band a couple times a week, by myself every day, and then, on Saturday nights, I'd have a show to play. Sometimes that show was 6 hours away, round trip.

Oh, did I mention that this was around the same time that I was kicked out of my parents house? And I had just turned 21, so I vastly preferred drinking to sleeping at that stage in my life? Yeah, that was some hard livin' I was doing.

Don't I look healthy?

After the third time I overslept and opened Hot Topic late, I was fired. My bandmate/boss was the one who actually had to fire me. And I mean, he had to. When a store opens late, the mall fines the company. Corporate knew what happened. I'm glad that it was him, and not some suit from the home office.

A couple months later, I believe, the band got an offer to do a tour. It was not for very much money; mainly for the exposure. But there was no way I could take a month off of work. Even if they would have let me, I didn't have the vacation time saved up, and I couldn't afford it. And I sure as hell couldn't quit; I needed three root canals.

Luckily, a friend of the band played bass. He pretty much knew all of our songs already. He came to practice and I taught him everything I knew. Everything I wrote. It sucked handing over the reigns like that. They went on tour, and it didn't go well. The drummer left the band and it was pretty much over. Eventually, the guitar player rebooted the band with his cousin playing drums, and my replacement playing bass. They played a few of our old songs, and a few new ones. 

I got a call from him one day, maybe three or four years later. They had a show booked and the bass player had hurt his wrist and couldn't play. They wanted me to sub for him. I came to their practice and they showed me the new songs. I still remembered all the old ones. I was pretty psyched to learn that the new guy had never been able to pull off this one riff that I'd written, one that I was really proud of. We played the show. It was great. But I knew it was the last one I'd ever play.

I miss the band, but I can't imagine doing it again. I'd love to, but I just don't have the energy anymore. Hell, I barely had it when I was 21. I thought working 80 hours a week was exhausting. Now I'm 33 and I work approximately 126 hours a week. Those days are most definitely done. I will say that I really look forward to the two or three times a year that I sing karaoke. But nothing will ever top the feeling of singing my own song that I wrote, and watching those kids in the audience singing it back to me. Nothing.

Nov 22, 2012

Don't Ever Go to Rochester

When the boy was about one and a half, we were invited to the out-of-town wedding of my husband’s cousin. It was about six and a half hours away, in Rochester, New York. For some reason, we thought that was a completely reasonable drive. We were told about an amazing restaurant in the neighborhood of the hotel, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Awesome, we love barbecue! We were told about the Strong National Museum of Play. Fantastic, we have a toddler!

And off we went.

We were about a third of the way to our destination, either in very Western Massachusetts, or very Eastern New York, when things started getting fishy. Every town we drove through looked abandoned. We’d ask our trusty Tom Tom to find a place to eat, and it would route us to five different out-of-business restaurants before we could find a Subway that was open (Subway is not my first choice, ever).

Driving on an elevated highway through a farming community, I was admiring all the (empty-looking) barns that I could see fairly well through the suspiciously dense fog and dead trees. Then we heard a weird alarm. A loud alarm. It seemed to be coming from the municipal building in the middle of the town (-of-the-damned). It sounded like an air-raid siren from the ‘40s. And I’m telling you, there was not a soul in sight. No people, no cars, no cows. We joked that it was the town’s Zombie Alarm.  Little did we know, it was a harbinger of things to come.

We arrived in Rochester, what we presumed to be a bustling city, and found the sidewalks practically empty. Hmm. As we were checking in, we learned that there was a tattoo expo going on in our hotel that weekend. Hooray! Why didn’t anyone tell us? This is going to be great! We decided to walk to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for dinner. On the way there, we found all the people. They were all congregated on the Federal Plaza, where all the busses stopped. And I mean all the busses. At any given time, when we passed by, we would see at least six busses stopped there. Sometimes as many as ten. And here’s the weird thing about the busses in Rochester. We saw a lot of people get on them in the three days we were there. But we never saw anyone get off.

We ate at the barbecue place and it was, indeed, very good. On the walk back, we noticed that a lot of the stores were closed. It was just after six on a Friday. That’s odd, right? We figured they just kept weird hours in that city. We went back to the hotel, and I drew a bath for the boy. He watched me toss a washcloth into the tub and clapped. He toddled off into the main part of the hotel room. A few seconds later, he returned, and gleefully tossed something into the bath himself. I looked. There, at the bottom of the tub, was my cell phone. I don’t want to talk about that anymore.

Saturday morning, we went to the front desk and asked them to recommend a place for breakfast. They recommended their own restaurant. Fine. We all had sausage, eggs and orange juice. I think it came to around fifty bucks. Never again! We went out to explore the area. Everything was still closed. Maybe they all open at noon? We needed Wet Ones, but the only place that was open was a dollar store. I got a travel pack of Huggies baby wipes. That was all they had. We went back to the hotel for the morning nap. We figured we’d go out for lunch when the boy woke up, then hit the tattoo expo. If we wanted to stay for a while, he could even sleep in his stroller.

He took a long nap, and woke up grumpy. We went down to the front desk to ask for a lunch recommendation. “Do you like barbecue?” the concierge asked enthusiastically. We explained that we did, but we’d just had it for dinner the night before. The back-up recommendation was their own restaurant again. We told them that although the fare was very nice, we were not about to play an arm and a leg for a couple of sandwiches. After some awkward back-and-forth, the concierge finally admitted that the Radisson and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que were pretty much the only Rochester businesses still in operation. What the hell happened to this city?

Pictured: The only reason to go to Rochester.
Or you could just order it online.

We went back for more barbecue, and the boy refused to eat. This was when we finally figured out why he was so grumpy; he had a couple of molars coming in. Great. It took forever to get a few bites of macaroni and cheese in his belly, and he was in way too foul a mood for the expo, so we went back to the room. It was really hard getting him down for his nap. He slept a long time, and we ended up missing the wedding ceremony. The reception was nice, though.

On Sunday morning, we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. We drove all over looking for breakfast, coming damn close to settling on a place called Mr. Goody’s (the clientele was a little too seedy-looking for us) and a restaurant that was somehow inside an apartment complex (no explanation needed for why we didn't eat there, I hope). We ended up driving three towns over and found a nice diner. We drove back into Rochester because we wanted to take the boy to the Museum of Play. We sat in the car, in the rain, waiting for them to open. The boy fell asleep. We took it as a sign and decided to go home.

The rain was absolutely absurd. It was the kind of rain that makes you turn your wipers to that comically fast setting. It backed up traffic for approximately one state. The traffic and the storm conspired to travel at the exact same speed, and along the exact same route as us. It took us thirteen hours to get home. Yes, that would be double the amount of time it took us to get there. And it was pouring rain the entire time, and our son was teething. So yeah, that sucked.

Don’t ever go to Rochester.

Nov 21, 2012

Newsprint Nails

I'm going to teach you how to do something cool with nail polish.

Huh? This isn't that kind of blog! I know. I don't talk about it much, but I love doing my nails. I don't have fake nails, and I don't pay anyone to paint them. I do them myself, and I really enjoy it. It's like painting ten lovely pictures once a week. It's art. I've been all about it since I was around ten years old, save for a recess of approximately one year when my son was teething... He enjoyed chewing on my fingers, and the first time I noticed a chip of nail polish on his lip, I realized that I should probably lay off of it until that phase was over.

When I was a kid, I would spend hours on my nails. I'd use toothpicks or sewing needles to painstakingly draw little designs on them. As I got older, I didn't have that kind of time. I'd do one color, maybe a layer of glitter over them.

A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube of a woman with an absolutely delightful accent showing the world how to do water marble nails. It is the coolest thing in the world, and not that hard (once you get the hang of it), but it does take a while, so I don't do them very often. It was so amazing to me the first time I saw it, I made my husband watch it when he got home from work. I figured that he'd roll his eyes and be all, "That's nice, dear," but he actually found it really interesting, too. Here she is:

But like I said, that shit is time-consuming. If you're lucky enough to have a kid who takes long naps, I highly recommend that you try it.

If you don't have a lot of time, but want another impressive nail polish trick, you need to try newsprint nails. I did them the other day prior to attending a party, and so many people commented on them. And here's the thing: I was a little tipsy when I did them, and they were far from my best work. That's how great they are: they're a show-stopper even when you half-ass them.

You will need:

  • White (or really any light-colored) nail polish
  • Base coat
  • Top coat
  • Newspaper
  • Rubbing alcohol
Do your base coat and polish. White or light gray would be the norm, but I've also done lavender and lime green, and they looked awesome. Let it dry completely. I mean, so dry that you would feel comfortable scratching the price tag off of something. 

Rip up some small bits from the newspaper. Choose pieces without any line breaks. Also, the smaller the font, the better. If you can get classified ads, those are great. You'll need one for each nail, and you should count on screwing up a few times, so get maybe fifteen. Then, get a shot glass or ramekin and fill it with rubbing alcohol.

One at a time, dip your nail in the alcohol for ten seconds, shake off any drips, then press a piece of newsprint on it for another five or ten seconds. The alcohol will suck the ink out of the paper and onto your nail. 

Be sure not to press too hard, or some fibers from the paper will adhere to your nail. If that does happen, it's not the end of the world- you can't really see it; it just feels lumpy and weird. 

If you smudge one, put it on crooked, or what have you, you can just rub some of the alcohol on your nail to erase it and try again.

Please note that the print will be backwards, but that's okay. It's fun to try and read them later when you're bored.

Finish with top coat. Top coat is an absolute must for this- the newsprint will wash right off otherwise.


Nov 20, 2012

Ouch! My Blog Hurts.

So, you’ve decided to start a blog. Good for you! It’s fun. But beware of these common maladies that afflict the modern blogger:


This is when you stay up until 3:00 in the morning writing, because it’s your only opportunity for “me time,” and you feel like shit the next day. And you didn’t even get drunk!

Systemic platform failure

When you put too much time and effort into one platform (your blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to the detriment of the others. It’s tough to entertain on every level all the time.

Blogger’s schizophrenia

When your blog, Facebook page, Twitter handle and the name you comment under are all slightly different, and nobody knows who you are.

Irritable Spouse Disorder

When your spouse “just doesn’t get it” and give you shit for being on your smartphone all the time.

Delusions of followers

When you're all excited about suddenly get 20 new Twitter followers in an hour, and you don’t realize that they’re all just bots trying to sell you something.

Bloated inbox

When you comment on a big-time blogger’s post and subscribe to the comments, hoping that they write back to you. The next time you check your email (approximately one hour later), you will have 139 messages. None will be for you.

Parental Attention Deficit Disorder

What your kids do to your house while you’re busy trying to write.

Blogger’s wrist

This is exactly the same as carpal tunnel syndrome, only there’s no worker’s comp.

Blogger's Cramp


Nov 19, 2012

PSA: Mysterious Grease Stains

Have you ever discovered a mysterious grease stain on your clothing, in a spot where you're sure you never spilled any food? It happens a lot to dress shirts. Something like this:

It's from your dryer sheets. When you dry your laundry, be sure to throw the sheet in just before you turn the dryer on, and never on top of something you don't want stained. Think socks, underwear or towels.

And if you ever do get a real grease stain from food, try Dawn dishwashing liquid.

You're welcome!