Google Something Clever 2.0: June 2012

Jun 29, 2012

Misheard Lyrics (by a Three-Year-Old)

Here’s a sampling of lyrics from a few my son’s favorite songs, as sung by him. Way better than “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy.” See if you can identify them all.

· “Billie Jeans is not my son…”

· “Sweet home All-bamina, where Skylars are blue…”

· “Because this is the thriller, all night long…” Trick question; this is a mashup.

· “War! Huh! Good Gabba!”

· “We do not need any education. We do not need any thought control…”

· “Whoa, children, it’s just a shower one, it’s just a shower one…”

· “The kids say in the supermarket: ‘Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh way-oh!”

· “We are not men! We are Devo! Are we not men? D-E-Devo!”

Side note: if you don't buy your kid Raffi CDs, they won't listen to Raffi. It's just that easy.

Jun 25, 2012

Santa Doesn't Come to My House

Although we are not Christian, my family observes Christmas, or really, more like X-mas. We have a tree with a star on top, we exchange gifts, we watch "A Christmas Story" on TBS over and over (my husband's record is seven times in 24 hours). We think of Christmas as winter gift holiday. We don't believe in Jesus, and we don't believe in Santa Claus. This includes my 3-year-old son.

We've gotten many comments on The Santa Issue over the years, ranging from "Oh, really? Okay" to "You're ruining his childhood!" I figured I'd lay out all the reasons why right here, so from now on, rather than going into all my explanations for the 400th time, I can just give out this URL.

Before you read any further, please understand that this is a choice we made for our family. I'm not trying to convince anyone else that they should do the same, and I'm not implying that if you made a different choice for your family, I think you're wrong, or a bad parent, or anything like that. We have many good friends who do the Santa thing with their kids. They are wonderful parents with wonderful kids, and we have no problem with their choice, just as they have no problem with ours.

I want credit for those gifts!

I'm sure there's some satisfaction in being an anonymous benefactor. People do it all the time, so there must be some reason for it. But my husband works very hard to earn the money for our son's gifts. I work (kind of) hard making the lists, reading reviews, finding the best prices, shopping (come on, Christmas shopping is really awful!) and wrapping the toys up all nice. We deserve credit. I think he appreciates a gift more, knowing that we put a lot of effort into it because we love him, rather than if he was told it was something that cost no money, that he was entitled to simply for being a child.

His innocence is still fully intact, thank you.

Many people take issue with our choice because they think we're "destroying his innocence," or "robbing him of the magic of childhood." That is ridiculous. As far as innocence goes, he is still blissfully unaware of the concepts of death, rape, homelessness, animal cruelty, and all of the other harsh truths he'll one day have to learn about. He was never told that Santa was real to begin with, so nothing was ever "destroyed."

As for the "magic of childhood," everything is magical to a child. There's no shortage of magic in his life. Just this past weekend, he saw a rainbow and fireflies in the same day! How magical is that?! He's seen my friends grow a new friend for him right in their bellies. He's currently raising caterpillars, which will soon turn into butterflies. He's held a baby chick, eaten pizza for breakfast, been surprised with ice cream and trips to the museum and toys for no reason. His childhood is excellent, and plenty magical.

He will not spoil it for your kid.

Kids like to pretend. When his friend says that there's a dinosaur in his bedroom, my son doesn't call him a liar, or correct him. He plays along. We've told him that some people like to pretend that Santa is real, and that he should play along. He knows that if another kid asks him any direct questions, such as "Did Santa come to your house?" or "Do you think Santa is real?" he should say "I don't know" and change the subject. We practice scenarios like this every December, and he gets a refresher whenever he's going to be seeing his friends.

Finding out the truth is devastating.

My only Santa-related memory is when I found out Santa wasn't real. I have no fond memories of discovering a fat stocking on Christmas morning, writing letters, or sitting on some guy's lap at the mall. I actually don't even remember how I found out. I just remember the aftermath. I remember being at my Nana and Grampa's house, hiding behind the drapes in their living room. I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. My face was drenched in tears, sweat and snot. I was gasping and hiccuping. I felt like a fool. I wasn't concerned about getting less presents next year. I was simply outraged and humiliated to learn that everyone I knew, everyone I cared about, every single one of them, had been lying to me my entire life. And I had fallen for it. I wouldn't wish that on any other kid.

I don't need an imaginary enforcer to make my son behave.

A lot of people use the threat of Santa to get their kids to behave in the month or two leading up to Christmas. He sees all and knows all. He has two lists, and you want to make sure you're on the right one. This is a lot like promising someone a throne in the clouds or 72 virgins if they behave. As an atheist, I believe that God/religion was invented to scare people straight. God sees all and knows all. There are two places he can send you when you die. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good, for goodness' sake! (Isn't that line odd, by the way? The whole song tells you that you should be good under penalty of not receiving gifts, not just for the sake of being good. Then they throw that line in, I suppose because it rhymes, and the whole point of the song goes out the window.)

I don't behave because I think there is a god watching and judging me. I behave because it's the right thing to do. I don't expect a reward when I die. The reward for being a good person is the knowledge that you are a good person, and you have made others happy. That's all I need to keep me in line. And that's how I want my son to conduct himself, too. Don't hit, because it hurts. Don't whine, because it's annoying. Eat your vegetables, because they keep you healthy. He may be young, but I'll go out on a limb and say he's a bit more sophisticated than some ancient hut-dweller who can't be trusted not to steal his neighbor's camel without the threat of burning for eternity in a lake of fire.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to comment below, anonymously, if you'd like. I'll answer them all. If there's any argument you think I didn't address, I'd be more than happy to. But please know that we are very happy with the choice we made, and nothing will convince us to change our minds.

Jun 19, 2012

Unrealistic TV Tropes

I love TV. If you don't know that, this must be your first day. But there are some things that every show pulls out and dusts off whenever they can't come up with anything even remotely believable, and I'm tired of them. Things that we all just accept as completely normal on a show, even though they never, ever happen in real life. Here are a few:

The Charity Bachelorette Auction

I have a hard time believing that, at any point in history, someone has held a bachelorette auction. I should clarify that. I have a hard time believing that someone has held a bachelorette auction for charity. I'm sure they happen in Romania and Dubai all the time, but I think the money probably goes to mobsters. I also don't think they refer to it as a "bachelorette auction." I think it's probably called a "girl sale" or something.

Maybe I've been missing out because I don't belong to a country club, but do people really do this? And who are these people? "Sure, I'll be a prostitute for one night! It's for Darfur!" "Gosh, I wish Sally would give me the time of day. Maybe if I rent her, she'll fall in love with me? I think she'll be obligated to, right?"

The Father-Daughter Dance

Another thing I have never heard of in real life. Please comment if your school did this; I want to hear all about it. Perhaps I just don't get it because I didn't have a good father (to put it mildly), but why would you ever want to attend a school dance with your dad? Aren't all teenagers, particularly girls, embarassed by their parents? Your dad is so cool, and you're so proud of him, that you want to go on a date with him? At school?? Weird, weird, weird.

The One-Millionth Customer

I wish this one was real. We all wish this one was real. This is never going to happen. Stores don't even hang up their first dollar anymore; they're certainly not counting customers. And when's the last time you went to a store that wasn't a chain? How would that work? I'm pretty sure Target gets its one-millionth customer of the day at like 9:15 AM, if you're counting all the locations.

You will not get your picture taken with the mayor. You will not get a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni. You will not be invited to participate in a Supermarket-Sweep style race with another shopper. Balloons are not waiting for you up in the rafters at Stop & Shop. Sorry.

Meeting the Band

In TV Land, everyone gets to meet their favorite band. Well, maybe not everyone, but at least every teenager, and also the Golden Girls (twice). This is generally accomplished by winning backstage passes in a radio contest, but sometimes if you write to them, you can get them to play your school dance (but never the Father-Daughter Dance; that's too over-the-top).

 I actually do have some experience with these situations. When I was 14 or so, I wrote a lot of fan mail to the Beastie Boys. I took special care to draw really cool pictures on the envelopes so they would totally pick mine as the one out of 5000 that the personal assistant actually passes on to the band. I probably sent them about 20. Well, I married a civilian and robbed Adrock of his shot, and now MCA is dead, so he'll never come over for dinner.

I also once won backstage passes in a radio contest. It's really not hard to win radio contests; nobody tries anymore. I've probably won 10 out of the 15 that I've attempted. So once, on the way home from work, the local classic rock station announced that they were giving away a pair of front row tickets and backstage passes to the 38 Special/Lynyrd Skynyrd show that night. You just had to answer a trivia question. When I got home, I Yahooed it, because this was in 2004. I called, I got through, I won. Yay! Our tickets were at will call. The lady behind the glass told us to go backstage after the show for a "meet & greet."

The show was rad. We made friends with a girl our age and her parents, who were really just there to see 38 Special. I think she was conceived to "Hold on Loosely" and it was their anniversary or something. They were cute. As soon as "Freebird" ended, we made our way to the right side of the stage and showed a security guard our passes. (Stickers, by the way, not lanyards. Boo.) He told us this was not the entrance. We went to the left. We were turned down again. If you've ever been to a concert, you understand that what took me one line to explain took 20 minutes in practice, what with the crowd. We finally found out that the entrance to "backstage" was actually at the complete opposite end of the arena. Not so much behind the stage.

We got there just in time. A bunch of people were lined up against a wall in a very narrow hallway. We were ushered to the end of that line, right across from the dressing room. I got my white t-shirt and Sharpie ready. Skynyrd arrived. It was a feeding frenzy. They spent two minutes in the hallway with us, signing whatever was shoved in front of them. I managed to get Ricky Medlocke's autograph. Then, they disappeared into the dressing room and we were all told to leave. That's what a "meet & greet" is. I was lucky, though; at 25 I was still cute enough that I convinced a roadie to bring my shirt into the dressing room and get the rest of the band to sign it. But I never did meet any Van Zants.

Jun 13, 2012

How to Be a Good Neighbor

In case you're planning on moving to my street, here is some advice on how to be the best possible neighbor:

Do not have a dog

I suppose if you really love dogs, I can make an exception, but there are certain issues you must overcome. First, you must do like Fred next door and have a magical dog that does not bark. Ever. I don't know how Fred manages this, but I can ask him, if you like. I just found out the dog existed after living here three and a half months. She is not "debarked,"* she just never barks.

Second, you dog may not come onto my property. A couple weeks after we moved in, we discovered a "housewarming gift" left in front of our mailbox by a local dog. Disgusting. I wouldn't touch it, and after about a month, the street sweeper finally came by and took care of it.

Third, when you walk the dog, it must be on a leash, and you must be holding the other end of it. I don't care how well-behaved you think your dog is. Have you seen these jerks who let their dog run around loose, trailing a leash behind them so if they get caught, they can pretend the dog just broke free? Unacceptable.

If you have something cool, you should share

My neighbor Donny has a pontoon boat, and he has taken the boy and I for a cruise on it. He said he will take us out on it any time we want. That is the right way to own a boat. The wrong way would be to cruise around with your friends all the time, having obvious fun, while I sit on my deck watching you and pouting.

At my old place, I lived near to two college girls who would regularly share their tequila and cupcakes with me. That was almost as good as the boat. Whatever you have, if it's neat, I want some, please.

If your neighbor has a small child, ask when nap time is

Most people know not to make a racket early in the morning or late at night, but for parents of small children, there is a third period of quiet time that you should never disrupt. I used to have a school bus that would lean on the horn right under my son's bedroom window during nap time. I had to make multiple calls to the school just get them to honk slightly less. An interrupted nap ruins the whole day for the whole family. The kid is pissy, the grown-up who stays home with them is pissy, then the other family members come home to pissy people and guess how their evening goes? Don't mess with nap time.

When we got the boy a drum kit for Christmas last year, I asked the people next door when their 5- and 2-year old sons napped, so we could keep him off the drums during that time. It's the right thing to do.

If you have neighbors who nap, find out when their nap time is. During that time, you should either go out (preferred) or sit inside with all the windows closed and your hands neatly folded in your lap. If you don't, you have nobody but yourself to blame when you hear a constant stream whining and screaming from 5pm to 8pm every night.

Your lawn should look good, but not as good as mine

Everyone benefits from freshly cut grass and neatly trimmed hedges, but no one likes a show off. Take a look at my yard, and then try to go for just a smidge lower-quality than that. You wouldn't want to harm my self-esteem. Always wait until the day after I cut my grass to cut yours. If you accidentally made your yard look better than mine, go throw some crap on yours to trash it up a little. Nothing that could blow into my yard, though.

Christmas and Halloween decorations should follow the same rule. If everyone decorates, our whole street will look cool. But only my house should look spectacular. A couple more notes on Christmas- nothing religious, because that's creepy, and do not play any music outside. Christmas music is terrible. Halloween music is cool. Halloween music during Christmastime would probably by awesome. We all know your Lord was a zombie, anyway. (Note to self: this December, see about getting animatronic Jesus and 12 apostles to do "Thiller" dance on the lawn.)

Ooh, I hope I get carolers!

Don't stare at my house

For some reason, people think it's ok to stand in front of a house and stare at a cat that's perched on the window sill, oblivious to the fact that they're staring into my window. It's mostly children that do this, but they're usually with adults who stare right along with them, rather that teaching them a lesson in manners.

I had an episode recently where my son and I were playing in the yard, and a woman with a couple kids stopped at the end of our driveway to stare at... something. I think it was my peacock. To be fair, it is really cool.

Please don't make fun of my clover problem. I'm working on it.

The proper thing to do, when they noticed actual humans just beyond the thing they were staring at, would have been to say something along the lines of, "Oh, hi! Sorry! Um, we like your peacock!" What I got instead was, "Mommy, why does that grown-up have pink hair?" Um, because mind your damn business, you little brat.

And that's all you have to do! I'm so easy to please. See you at the block party!

* This is when you have a vet sever the dog's vocal chords so they can only manage a raspy wheeze. This is a real thing. I knew a dog who'd had that done to her, and I can't express how repulsive I find that. If you're into that, fuck you.

Jun 11, 2012

Prepare to Fail

New parents, I bet you have a whole lot of plans for your kids. I bet you plan on always doing this and never doing that. I did, too. You'd be surprised how fast most of those plans fly out the window. Here are some examples.

I will always feed my son organic food.

I started out with buying only organic baby food. It doesn't cost that much more, and of course it's way better than that pesticide-filled poison on the shelf next to it. Then, one day, the store was out of a couple flavors we needed, so I bought the regular kind. He did not die. Eventually, we just switched to regular.

I will never feed my son American cheese.

I'm not sure what the point was with this one, except that the word "processed" is vaguely scary. Also, I really like cheese- nice, imported cheese- and American cheese seemed like it wasn't good enough for my boy. The problem is that nice cheese is expensive, not individually wrapped, and a lot of it goes bad before you can use it. And no matter how classy it seems, grilled manchengo just doesn't seem right. I dare you to feed a toddler for more than a week without including grilled cheese.

I will never yell at my son, unless it's for safety reasons.

Yelling is awful. It's the lowest, most aggressive form of communication. When someone yells, all I hear is, "I don't respect you, and my vocabulary is not equipped to deal with this situation." "They" also tell you that you should reserve yelling for emergencies, such as, "Get out of the street!" That way, your child will know that on the rare occasions when you do yell, you really mean business. But try listening to someone yell at you when you're really tired, really stressed, and absolutely sure that you're right and they're wrong. Now try it for a couple years and see how fast you crack.  You will crack, and you will hate yourself for it, but you shouldn't. As long as you don't make it a habit, it will probably be ok.

I am the boss of what my son eats, not him.

As the adult, I was going to be 100% in charge of everything he ate. If he didn't like it, he could go hungry. The first time his belly rumbled, he would cave in and eat the broccoli. Right. When I try to make my son eat something "gross," he literally gags. It's hilarious, but painful to watch. And can you really look into the eyes of the person you love most while they're whining, "I'm hunnnnnngry!" and stay stone-cold? No. You will feed them yogurt and Goldfish crackers, because they are a decent balance of healthy and yummy. You will also begin to tell yourself that fruits and vegetables are the same, and eventually count a package of Craisins as a serving of vegetables.

My son will not watch television until he is two years old, and no more than an hour a day.

I came close with this one. Kids aren't supposed to watch TV until they're two years old, because it can cause language delays. They did a study (Google it yourself) that showed that kids under two who watched TV knew something like half as many words as their non-TV-watching counterparts. Or something.  I've mentioned this story before, but if you haven't read it, the gist is that my son was a little under two when he came down with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and was absolutely miserable. He had no interest in doing anything except sitting around looking sad, and he already knew well over a hundred words (I think by that age, he was supposed to know like 20), so I figured a little Yo Gabba Gabba! might cheer him up, and probably not turn him into an idiot. I was right. He's now three, watches approximately 22 hours of TV a day (joking, don't report me), and can carry on a conversation with any adult, throwing in five-syllable words here and there. I still feel that we were lucky it worked out, and if I have another kid, I will try really hard not to show them TV before 2. Notice I said try.

Now, before you start to think that I'm a giant failure, please know that there are rules that I have stood firm on, and they were not easy ones.

The boy has never eaten anything from McDonald's

 ...and he won't until he's 16 and can drive himself there and pay with money that he earned at his own job. Once he gets to that point, I really can't stop him, but I'm hoping that by then, he'll be out of the impressionable zone where kids delelop a taste for it. He's asked to go there a couple times, because they have a playground outside, but I remind him that there are playgrounds everywhere, and if he likes, I'll gladly take him to a park. My husband did once talk me into letting him have a couple nuggets and fries from Wendy's, but once he produced his first fast-food diaper, I banned Wendy's, too.

My husband and I have never, not once, lied to him.

I mean, not at all. I don't tell him that a toy is "broken" or "sleeping" when it's really hidden in my closet. We don't do Santa or the Easter Bunny. This one is not as hard as you'd think. When he asks a question that we'd rather not answer, we just give a broad, but still true, answer. I forgot that "The Muppet Movie" has a scene with men firing shotguns (because that was ok 30 years ago), and he asked what "those things that go pshhh!" were. I didn't want to explain guns to him yet, because I didn't want to explain death yet, so I just told him they were "weapons," and changed the subject. There have been a couple occasions (I'm sorry, I can't think of an example) that he asked something I really couldn't talk my way around. So I just told him, "I'll tell you when you're older." And he accepted it! The hope with this plan is that he will know he can come to us with anything, and since he knows we don't lie to him, perhaps he won't lie to us. At least, not as much as your average kid.

As for the Santa thing, that should probably be a whole separate post.

Jun 1, 2012


In case you've been living under a rock lately, I'll catch you up to speed: there is a very slow but undeniable zombie outbreak upon us.

On May 26th, Ronald Poppo was dragged onto a sidewalk in Miami by the naked body formerly owned by Rudy Eugene. Eugene proceeded to eat Poppo’s face for almost 20 minutes before police arrived on the scene. Officer Jose Rivera shouted at Eugene to stop, which he didn’t, because he was a zombie. Officer Rivera then shot Eugene. Eugene looked up, growled at Rivera, and then resumed eating Poppo. Rivera eventually shot Eugene several more times before he was finally dead.

Many have speculated that Eugene was on a drug known as "bath salts", but Eugene's brother claims he didn't use hard drugs. Their mother insists,"He was a good kid... He was no zombie." She continues, "that was his body, but it wasn't his spirit." Sounds like a zombie to me.

Please understand that I am not exaggerating when I say he was eating him. Mr. Poppo is now missing 75% of his face. His bone was exposed. His nose, forehead, cheeks, mouth and one eye are gone. This guy got straight-up ate. Disturbingly, he is still alive, and currently in the hospital in critical condition. Just waiting for The Change, at which time I assume he will infect half the patients in his ward before anyone catches on. Critical care patients must make for very easy pickings.

This is not the only case.

On May 27th, Wayne Carter barricaded himself in his New Jersey home. When police broke down his door, he disemboweled himself and then began throwing bits of flesh and intestines at the officers. Not typical zombie behavior, granted, but still an effective method of infection.

On May 29th, in Maryland, Alexander Kinyua’s brother and father discovered body parts in Kinyua’s basement. The police arrived, and Kinyua promptly confessed to killing his roommate, Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, and eating his heart and brain.

It has begun. Sure, we all imagined the zombie apocalypse would be swifter, more blatant, more publicized, but make no mistake: it’s on.

Are you prepared?

Everyone heard about the CDC’s Zombie Preparedness campaign, but did you actually read it? Did you make your Zombie Kit? Don’t assume that the only things you need to survive are a shotgun and a bad attitude. Also, if your checkpoint is the gun store in your town, think again. That’s also the plan for everyone else in your town- first and foremost, the people who own the store, have keys to it, and know how to use the guns inside.

I’d argue that the most important assets in your zombie preparedness arsenal (besides condoms- we all hate you, Lori Grimes) are vigilance and creativity. Vigilance is easy. Here’s how to tell if you’re vigilant: did you know about all this stuff before I told you? No? You fail. Try harder.

Creativity, unfortunately, is not something that can be learned. And zombie apocalypse creativity is a different animal entirely. I can pull a room together, decorate a cake, write a song, whatever. My husband constantly tells me I’m creative. But zombie-wise, he’s the go-to guy. For example, I once mentioned to him how ridiculous it is that in zombie movies, the characters all happen to have a bunch of two-by-fours lying around, just waiting to be nailed over the windows. “What would we do if they came tonight?” I wondered aloud. “Should we make a Home Depot run?” Without missing a beat, he said, “We’d use the interior doors and cabinet doors.” This was not something he’d thought long and hard about. That’s just how his brain works. He’s zombie-creative. It’s like book-smart versus street-smart. That’s who you need on your side.