We are mad men!

November 9, 2009

I couldn’t watch the season finale of Mad Men last night because it’s on past my bedtime, but I caved and bought the season pass on iTunes a few weeks ago after being totally, totally reeled in by Season 2 on Netflix. So, now I’m going to watch the Season 3 finale and mourn the lack of Don Draper in my life until Season 4 starts. Also, tomorrow is the start of the 40th Season of Sesame Street! What better way to celebrate than with this Mad Men skit!

 

My dear friend Adam wrote a profound piece in his blog today about marketing, art, and of course, Bill Hicks – namely that although, yes, marketing has its demonic dark side, the man could have benefited from targeting his demographic. I’m still mulling over Adam’s thoughts and their implications for art – should we as artists eschew certain venues in favor of others where we think people will “get it?” Where does that kind of thing go over the line from targeting to pandering?

Anyhow, I also feel like my own demographic would enjoy a positive drug story. This also, by the way, sums up my own religious philosophy and I’ve never even taken LSD.

I think now that Mercury is in retrograde it’s the right time to share one of my secret nanny tricks. I can’t claim full credit for this, I originally observed Nuno’s brother showing his 15 mo. old son Muppet videos on the iPhone and thought “Why doesn’t Apple market this? This is genius!” When I got my own iPhone a few months later, I knew it would come in handy for occasional child-taming. And oh, it does. Thing 2 loves the iPhone (it helps that my ringtone is Banana Phone) and he loves the Muppets. I dole them out sparingly to keep them exciting and it’s like crack. For toddlers.

Some of the greatest hits among the 15-18mo. age bracket. Hint: they’re soothing for adults too – especially if you’re having one of THOSE days.

(Ok, that last one is just my favorite.)

Nanny 911.

August 28, 2009

nanny 911

I haven’t had cable TV in eons. Well, ok, over year, but that’s practically its own geologic age in TV years. I’ve seen Jo the nanny on whatever show she’s got, and thought it was kind of redonk, but that was a long time ago and before I started nannying full-time. So, tonight I’m sitting on the couch while my partner is jury-rigging my computer back together so that I can type something other than just a continuous string of the letter “z,” and there it is. Nanny 911.

I was somehow biologically compelled to watch this. Like if I didn’t watch at least one full episode of Nanny 911, my kidneys were going to go on strike. I was expecting to roll my eyes back into my head to the point of requiring surgical removal, but I did it anyway.

And actually, I really kind of loved it. The episode I saw featured Nanny Deb and a family with three sets of twins. Three sets of twins who were all trying to kill each other. The typical whining and hitting nightmare. Nanny Deb had a week to “fix” things, which of course, sounds impossible.

But lo! At least as far as the viewing audience at home is concerned, she prevailed! Who knows what happened after that week, but we saw a few tearful shots of reconciliation and a nice denouement over a peaceful dinner. What magic did she work? What was in her bag of tricks? What did she put into their water?

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*Of course* there’s a Nanny 911 game.

I swear it’s almost becoming like Rule 34: If you can think of it, a video game exists of it.

Here’s Nanny Deb’s super-magic secret: She talked to them. She got down on her knees and looked directly into the kids’ eyes and kindly, but firmly, TALKED to them. I heard so much of myself in her, it was frightening. My partner made a joke “Oh look, that’s you in ten years!” but seriously… that’s me in ten years. I heard the same words that I say all day long coming out of someone else’s mouth, ON TV, and it was a bit jarring.

What amazes me more is the fact that this show probably does help a *lot* of parents, and not just the ones who are on the show, because there are so, so many parents who honestly do not know how to talk to kids. So many adults in general don’t know, and just kind of assume that once you have kids, you’ll magically be aware of how to talk to them. And it’s just not true.

If you want well-behaved kids, there are very few things that you need to do, but you need to do them all the time. You need to talk to the children, you need to LISTEN to them when they talk to you, and you need to be consistent. And that’s what Nanny Deb got these parents to do and their lives! They improved! Almost instantaneously! Just talk to them! I know it sounds corny, but phrases like “I need you to use your words.” and “I’m sorry that made you feel upset.” go a LONG WAY. Also listening to children and understanding that it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you that Jojo got the blue fork – it is a big deal to kids. And most of the time – more than anything else, they just want this acknowledged.

I could go on and on, but really, it just amazes me how little some truly caring parents understand about talking to kids. Be calm, be firm, be kind. Be consistent. If you say No, that has to mean no. That can’t mean “No, but if you keep screaming, I’ll say yes.” But truly, if you talk to a child about what’s bothering them, you really won’t have to say no very often. I honestly only ever give firm NOs to dangerous behavior. Everything else is negotiable.

Also, I try to instill in children the Golden Rule that my mother taught me: No whining, no crying, no begging. It was mostly in the context of the grocery store, but it’s a pretty good rule.

We Are the World.

June 26, 2009

In memory of Michael Jackson’s passing, I’m posting this here video of one of the most influential songs of my childhood. Yes, MJ managed to touch even those of us hippie children who spent more time listening to Free to Be You and Me than Thriller

Special bonus track. 

 

Infinite Wisdom.

June 26, 2009

I can’t access the Infinite Summer webpage here at the library, which is just ridonkulous. Perhaps it’s some sort of public-health measure “This website has been deemed too nerdy for safe library consumption.” In any case, I am using their internet capabilities (which are lacking in my home at this point in time) to share my reading strategies for this, my second go through of Infinite Jest

For first time readers, totally ignore this. Just enjoy the madness. 

I have heard of some individuals tackling the beast with three different colors of highlighter. Me, I’ve got my IJ specific turquoise fountain pen, a regular ballpoint, and Post-It flags. The latter was bought specifically for this endeavor after four pieces of paper sticking up got a bit confusing as to what was a bookmark and what was a reference. Yes, not only does this endeavor require investment in the book itself, like a mountain climb, you need good supplies.  

The method I’ve got that’s working out for well me goes as such: I sit down and get all nice and cozy with IJ with my pens. Any thing I need to look up later gets circled in the blue pen, and then referenced in my journal. Things I simply want to remember/comment on get underlined with the regular black ballpoint. 

The intermediary between the book and the journal, so I don’t have to go back through the book to find all of the circled terms, is the bookmark. Items are crossed off as soon as they’ve been looked up. I’ve got a bit of a backlog at the moment due to aforementioned lack of internet access in the home. I also lack an actual physical dictionary, having been depending on Merriam Webster (like Hal, I am primarily an OED man, but that shit requires paid subscription. Curses!) online for years now. I do prefer M-W to Dictionary dot com, which I find to be inferior. 

Open pages, where you can see the IJ pages in the journal next to the regular blatherings from my fool mind there in black. I’m usually a black-ink only lady, so it’s wicked easy to open up the journal and find my IJ references. 

Typical page. Like everybody else in the known universe, despite having a large vocabulary and what my partner would refer to as a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of “everything” (I can kick your ass in Trivial Pursuit, oh yes I can), this book makes me feel almost retarded at times with references that I don’t know. For first reading, this are very easily passed over without being detrimental to the greater understanding of the book, but on this my second go-through, I’m definitely picking at the details. 

Use of the Post-It flags for infamous Endnote 24. The other flag I’ve got in there right now is the endnote discussing Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents. At this point, I’ve far surpassed the 75 pages for the week. I’m not so much a reader as an eater of books. I’ve also finished another novel concurrent to my IJ endeavors. I’m not double-fisting right now, having a bit of free time and most importantly – mental energy – but I’m heading out to Portugal next week, and while I imagine that the flight will include some cozying up with Mr. Wallace, I also imagine that at some point my poor brain will need a break and reading will be supplemented with something lighter (both literally and metaphorically – this shit is heavy in every possible way). 

I hope you fellow nerds have appreciated my pro-tips. I would read yours, but the library is cramping my style over here. Go figure that I’ll have to go to Starbucks later on to catch up. The world, as DFW would be sure to agree, makes no sense.

Despite the fact that I do have a blog specifically for books, I am going to blog about the Infinite Summer project over here, since that other blog is specifically for books that Kat & I have finished reading. I’ve read Infinite Jest one and a half times before: the first time, I only got half-way through. My ex bought it because friends of his had raved about it, and being a literati, he needed to see what the hype was about. He never finished it. I don’t think he even liked it, but it’s hard to say. Infinite Jest is lovable, but I’m not sure if it’s quite likable. Anyhow, intrigued by its vast size (I like big books and I can not lie!), I tried to succeed where he had failed… 

And I failed. 

Other large books require endurance. I’ve read plenty a long book in my day. Cryptonomicon was soundly defeated in mere weeks (as was Anathem – Neal Stephenson is nothing if not verbose). House of Leaves is itself a book that might require a “support group,” but I’ve managed it several times on my own. I have read the entire Bible. It’s actually safe to say that the larger a book is, the more I am intrigued by it and thus, the more likely I am to read it. Skinny books just seem… too easy. I want a nice meaty book. Infinite Jest requires more than endurance. It requires commitment. A commitment that no other book I have ever read has managed to wrench from me. (Which probably explains why I failed at reading Ulysses.) Generally, I am a committed reader, but Infinite Jest truly demands that you consider the book itself to be a graduate seminar.

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David Foster Wallace “Choose Your Own Adventure” by Toothpaste for Dinner

The second time I attempted, and the first time I succeeded in finishing, Infinite Jest was after David Foster Wallace’s death in September. I read his obit and ordered a copy of Infinite Jest in the same day. Funny how that works. I did the same thing with Vonnegut – his passing reminded me that I had meant to read his books, and so, I did. It’s my own sort of tiny little tribute, I suppose.  This time, I sort of knew what I was in for. Sort of. And I managed to make it to the end! And I found out that yes, it does require every last brain cell in your head (and perhaps a few borrowed from others, if you can manage it), but yes, it is also totally worth it. 

So, now I’m going through for my second and a halfth time. The Infinite Summer group doesn’t technically start until Sunday… but I’m in the middle of a move and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to do anything in the next ten days or so. I started last night and this time, I’m going through with two different pens, two bookmarks, a notebook, and Wikipedia. In the first 25 pages, I already tracked down what might be the most obscure reference to Gravity’s Rainbow (1) EVER. (Bonus points if you can find it.) I’ll start sharing these sort of things after the spoiler-warnings on the Official Schedule (Year of the Infinite Summer Reading Project) have passed. Which means there will probably be a few Wallace-sized entries in the middle of July as I’ll spend the first half of the month in Portugal where I might not have anything better to do than read gigantic books, but I will have better things to do than write about gigantic books on the internet.

1)This would be where I put the footnote that Infinite Jest inspired me to read Gravity’s Rainbow, which I ordered at the same time, having heard that it had inspired DFW and that the two held structural parallels (that structure, of course, being the parabola). And that also took me one and a half times to read, and a serious commitment. I only managed to get through by creating a cross-referenced list of the “cast of characters” which, if it sounds simple, you haven’t read Gravity’s Rainbow. Again, the commitment paid off. I will even probably attempt more Pynchon in the future. 

But for now, I’m moving and then I’ll be off in Portugal for a few weeks, and I can only fit one brick sized book in my carry-on without requiring the aid of a sherpa. At least I won’t have to worry about not having anything to read on my trans-Atlantic flight.