Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weekend Reading

The Irish Cinderlad
The Irish Cinderlad, by Shirley Climo.
Climo also wrote The Egyptian Cinderella and The Korean Cinderella.

In this tale, the cinderlad comes with the cruel stepmother and accompanying stepsisters, and he even loses a glass slipper boot.
The princess has to hunt each village to track him down, making all the other lads try on the boot.

Also, the fairy godmother is a he, a Magical Bull, who provides nightly feasts from his inner eardrum.
(Note to self: Get Magical Bull.)

 Chico, by Dan Andreasen.

Before she became the first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor hung out with horses and cattle.

When she was 6, she said, "Ma, I'm going to ride Chico." 
And her Ma said, "Yup.  Just don't get bit by any rattlesnakes.  Or eaten by coyotes.  Also, be home by dinner." 

Her ma was a Free Range Parent.  

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map 
Basketball Belles by Sue Macy.

"Raised on a cattle ranch, Agnes Morley was sent to Stanford University to learn to be a lady."

But she ended up playing hoops!  
In 1896, Agnes played intercollegiate basketball in a gymnasium entirely filled with women. Because men were not supposed to see women sweat.  

I will admit I liked this book better than Miss C.  
She thought it would be funny. 
And because it didn't have the phrase "poo poo head", it was not.  

Theme of weekend reading: cattle ranch girls are tough.
And Irish princesses are relentless. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sexy Halloween

Take Back Halloween is "a costume guide for women with imagination."

It has some creative ideas about alternatives to the overused "Sexy _____" theme. 
(Sexy Fire hydrant!  Sexy Lamp!  Sexy Coffee Mug!)
No, seriously, better ideas than even those.
We think there’s a serious lack of opportunities in life to dress up in strange clothes and pretend to be somebody else. Unless you’re in show business, Halloween is pretty much it. Why waste it?
Take Back Halloween is sponsored by the Real History Project, which doesn’t have a snappy motto but is considering “No, Men Did Not Invent Everything.” 

Miss C has donned various costumes through the years:

a skunk that sprayed you if you came too close
a wallaby princess
a burlap ghost (not recommended)

This year she has been alternating between two possibilities:
Dorothy Gale, and Mary Ingalls, post scarlet fever.
(Laura is deemed less interesting because she didn't go blind.)
And now she wants to know if we can get a guide dog and call him Toto.

Perhaps we'll go back to the burlap ghost next year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Over 200 Indian girls whose names mean "unwanted" in Hindi chose new names Saturday for a fresh start in   life.
Activists say the name "unwanted," which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden. 
"When the child thinks about it, you know, 'My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,' she will feel very bad and depressed," said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.
This article mentions some of the reasons why the birth of sons is celebrated but the birth of daughters is mourned, and they struck me as cultural, different in only their shades and specifics.

They are not foreign reasons, and have been repeated in every country and culture across time. 

A familiar one here that was in practice not too long ago:
Only men can vote.
Because only men can own land.

Why can only men own land?
Because they are voting citizens!

Because because because because.  Tiring, circular illogic. 

These rules...these rules which are made by mere mortals, and then discard an entire half the world. 
I am tired of them. 

I am also so proud of these girls for claiming a new name.
And so grateful to the expanded hearts who are facilitating the first step for these girls.

Named, Beautiful.
Named, Generous.
Named, Wanted. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?

The longest I paid attention to a football game was the one I played in, in 11th grade. 
The boys dressed in skirts and threw pom poms.  The girls dressed in tight pants and wore helmets and shoulder pads.  It was the Annual Powder Puff Football Game.

I scored two 90 yard touchdowns. 
I was told: when you get the ball, run. 
Since I'm good with simple instructions, and not play-by-play handbooks, I did as I was told.

My team didn't win.  And the Powder Puff tradition has been discontinued, due to coaches of the girls sports teams objecting to their soccer and field hockey players returning with jammed fingers and bruised tailbones. 
(But it was really fun while it lasted.)

I returned from a bike ride today with Miss C around 4:30.  The quiet street that we live on was filled with whoops and hollers and neighbors milling around on their front lawn, congratulating each other as if we had collectively won the lottery.  One woman was nearly verklempt, "We've been losing for so long, it would have been okay if we lost.  But it is so nice to win." 

I won't even curse the team they speak of by naming them, but it's not the Rochester Radicals. 
And they apparently have had a surprising season.  As evidenced by all the people pouring out of their homes at 4:30 each Sunday, gasping for air and looking shocked with disbelief. 

Sometimes, it is the fan that is in the arena, as much as it is the man that is in the arena.

Frank Deford is a writer and sports commentator. 
Last week he read this piece that he wrote about female sideline reporters,
No Respect for Women on the Sidelines.

If you need a one sentence synopsis, this quote is it
television wouldn't dare allow a female up into the booth to actually call the game.
So while we see what Deford calls highly overqualified and highly attractive women asking asinine questions down on the sidelines, there seems to be some unspoken law that keeps them there.
Despite qualifications.
Despite that women do the job of calling the game in many other sports.

just as football offensive linemen are supposed to be fat, football sideline reporters are supposed to be women –– attractive women.......And so the sideliners are delegated to freeze down on the tundra while the male play-by-play announcer and his hefty old gridiron warrior expert babble on comfortably up in the heated booth.
The most asinine task sideliners are required to carry out is to ask coaches, before the second half, what plans they have for the rest of the game. The coach who's ahead says he wants to keep up the intensity and avoid turnovers. The coach who's behind says he wants to get more physical and avoid turnovers. Back to the booth. And all the guys watching with their buddies laugh at the ditzy babes who ask such obvious stupid questions.
But the irony is that most sideline reporters –– whatever sport, whichever gender –– really have done their homework and really do know their stuff. Most of them are terribly overqualified for the assignment of being a human scroll. But, of course, whereas it has not been uncommon for years for newspapers to have women on the football beat, television wouldn't dare allow a female up into the booth to actually call the game.
The funny thing is –– as I was reminded when I heard Mary Carillo doing tennis commentary during the U.S. Open –– is that when you hear a female voice in tandem with a male voice, the contrast sets off both advantageously –– as TV stations always pair male and female anchors on the local news.
But in sports television, sideline reporters can only go side to side, never up. Their place is down on the field, with the cheerleaders.

Pam Oliver,  sideline reporter for Fox Sports, interviews head coach Mike Tomlin of  the Pittsburgh Steelers as he leads his team against the Denver Broncos.
Highly overqualified and highly attractive. 
And if in Western New York, highly cold.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


If you've had a hard week, and just want some happy news, go ahead and skip down til you see the word Uppers.
I understand. 


*Toddlers and Tiaras: Have They Gone Too Far?
 It's not like they're up there stripping, for Pete's sake.
 They're living every girls dream: getting spray tanned and wearing padded bras.
 What 3 year old wouldn't want that?
 Is art imitating life, or is TLC making gads of money from this insane minority?

*JCPenney pulled this shirt, after people complained vociferously said, "Wha?"
 Sometimes, it pays to say, "Wha?"

*And, the grand finale of Downers: Maggie Goes on a Diet
Amazon listing this book for 4-8 year olds.
So, if you are looking for a good diet picture book for your 4 year old, call a nutritionist, then your pediatrician, then your therapist.  Then give your 4 year old a hug, and don't buy this book. 


*Scholastic responds to vociferous "Wha?"
Late last week, Scholastic contacted us to let us know that it was reducing its InSchool Marketing division—which produces teaching materials sponsored by corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies—by approximately 40%.  And the overwhelming majority of cuts are coming from its corporate-sponsored materials.  You can read more about it in today’s New York Times
This change brought to you by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
They really rock.

*Grand Finale of Uppers: from Pig Tail Pals
There was a time when you were five years old,
and you woke up full of awesome.
You knew you were awesome.
You loved yourself.
You thought you were beautiful,
even with missing teeth and messy hair and mismatched socks inside your grubby sneakers.
You loved your body, and the things it could do.
You thought you were strong.
You knew you were smart.
Do you still have it?
I think you do.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Screen Free Week

Last year at this time, I wrote about our screen-free week, where we cooked gourmet macaroni and cheese, and learned that Gouda is not a popular choice for three year olds.

We recently finished Screen Free Week 2011, where our trio unplugged from our devices and did other things instead.

This year's Week included:
Cover Image 
Sesame's Street C is for Cooking, by Susan McQuillan M.S., R.D.

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lewis Brown

Cover Image 
The Watcher by Jeanette Winter

The biggest discovery of this Week was in this book:

Turns out, the land of Oz has a princess.
No, not Dorothy.
Her name is Ozma.  And she kicks arse.
(And, like all modern princesses, she has a facebook page.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Last month we went to visit some very wonderful people in Ireland.

Dave and I haven't been over in nearly four years, and last we went Miss C was exactly 12 months.  And she was that baby on the flight over.  The one that you wish you weren't sitting behind or in front of or next to because of the nonstop crying.  It was an overnight flight, and the first hour, the other travelers were so sweet, making smile faces at her and asking about how old was she?  The second hour, there was a feigned indifference, like, If I pretend not to hear your child, then maybe I can actually tune her out and get some sleep.  And the third and fourth and following hours?  Just downright hostility.  Which: I understand, and I'm sorry.  I don't expect people to adore sharing their crammed space with vocal babies.  But the strawberry gum and vodka I gave her just weren't working.

That experience made traveling over together this time all the more beats traveling with a 12 month old!
Every single part of traveling with a 4 year old I would do over and over again.  Nonstop questions I can take far better than nonstop crying.  And the questions began as we pulled out of the driveway in Rochester and continued as we drove across the border to Canada, to fly out of Toronto.  You keep asking questions, I'll keep drinking coffee, and eventually, one of us will win.  Either my responses will get too caffeinated and long-winded or your tongue will get tired of forming words.

"Why isn't the border patrol looking at me?  Why did they ask you all the questions and not me?  I know where we're going."   
Just don't tell them where the drugs are, I said in my head.
And then spotted another Tim Horton's for a re-fill. 

My favorite set of questions came as we prepared to go through security at the airport.  Dave and I were in the zone: he removing his belt and hiking boots, me removing my sandals, earrings*, every stray bobby pin in my hair. Miss C stood back, looked over at the other line of people moving with ease through the metal detectors, and called out, "Why are you getting undressed?  I don't want to take my pants off!"

I was bent over, holding a shoe and wallet in one hand, when I saw us from her perspective: getting naked right there in the airport.

What's that?  Canadians don't strip to walk through security?
O Canada.  How much you miss. 

A line of bemused and fully clothed people watched as we walked barefoot through the detectors, though I only overheard one, who sort of whispered, "That seems quite unnecessary." 
I agree, entirely.  The problem is I've been trained this way, and I've gotten quite good at taking off rings and things in a matter of seconds flat.

Now, what would you have me do with this skill?  Not use it?

I collected my bobby pins, shoved them into my pocket, and called to Miss C, who still hung back and clutched the waist of her pants.

Here I thought the cultural exchange would begin after we'd crossed the Atlantic!

We had a really stupendous week visiting, and the learning did indeed continue, as per demonstrated:
(in a conversation with my dad's cousin)

Me: Have you felt the effects of the recession at all?

Cousin: Of course, of course.  At work, you know.

Me: A lot of people have been let go?

Cousin: That, but also the reduced pay, you know.  Many people now have a salary decrease in order to pay off the national debt.

Me: Oh, really?  So, you guys are paying that back huh?  That's an interesting way to approach the problem. 

To each their own!

(Now that I've indulged you in a tangent with no relation to this blog topic, how can I tie it all together?)

On our way back to Shannon Airport, with Miss C tearfully waving goodbye to each field and foal that we passed, Dave and I realized we hadn't packed enough snacks.  Our goal whenever traveling with child is to always have enough snacks.  It became clear then that there is a dearth of billboards on N69.  "How are we supposed to know where to shop!" he quipped.

"How will we ever find Tesco without The Billboards!" I wailed.

We never did find Tesco.  But we did survive to tell the tale.

Here's hoping your summer adventures are as exciting and informative.

*I don't really wear earrings since the ear-piercing accident of '87.  But if I were wearing them, I would have been removing them and my shoes simultaneously.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Imagination Soup

I'm guest posting over here at Melissa Taylor's Imagination Soup.
Judging by the content of this site, Ms. Taylor drinks a lot of coffee. 

Chock full of ideas, a great spot to click around for inspiration.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Miss C:  Josh, pretend you're good.

Josh:  No, I'm bad but you think I'm good.

Miss C:   Okay.

Josh:   Pretend you're a robot.

Miss C:  Can I be a woman robot?

Josh:   No. Robots aren't people.  They're metal.

Miss C:  Can I not be metal?

Josh:   Fine. You can be made of animal skin.

Miss C:    Okay.  Wait.  I don't want to be made of animal skin.  Can I be not a person but just have skin like a person?

Josh:   Can you just be a robot?

Miss C:    I'll just be a girl.

Josh:    Fine. You can have human skin.

Miss C:   Okay, I'll be a robot.

Josh:   Okay.

Miss C:   But then I turn into a woman and I have wings.

Josh:   But you're not bigger than me.

Miss C:   Of course not.  But my wings are.

Josh:   Okay, but you don't know how to fly.

Miss C:   No, but I learn to fly.  And also, my wings are not made out of metal.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm in a waiting room at the dentist's.  There is a circle of chairs, a TV on mute, and one other woman.
The woman and I chat on and off.  She is waiting for her son, a 14 year old with many cavities, and some anxiety that began when a tornado touched down in New York State.
"I'd told him that tornadoes most certainly don't come to where we live.  Wouldn't ya know it, next day, it's confirmed that one touched down here.  He's been scared shitless ever since."

She takes the remote and unmutes the television.  The newscaster describes a tornado in height, width, level of destruction, and velocity.  Photos are shown, live footage slowly moves across piles of rubble.  "This used to be a 3 story house.  See here that it now is a pile of wood."  I bite my cheeks, the woman sucks in her breath.

The reporter gets a gleam and says, "Now watch this."
Cut to a homemade video of a couple in their car as the tornado blows at them with speed and certainty, in agonizing force.
The sound of the car accelerating as they try to get beyond it.
The sound of her wimpering as she films with an unsteady hand.
Him clearing his throat repeatedly.
Her wimpers turning to pleas.

The woman in the waiting room turns to me, clucks her tongue.  "And they wonder why kids are so nervous today, you know?  Showing this stuff!  As if we don't get it with the pile of a neighborhood, they have to show this."

I find myself nodding in agreement.  "I wonder too," I say, "if it's desensitized us.  Maybe we're so accustomed to seeing these images that we no longer feel..."

"Holy crap!" the woman points to the screen.  "Have you seen this one.  This is the one---watch this---that motor home right there---BOOM!  Yup.  He's not gonna make it."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Good

Nothing but goodness here. 

Two bits:
1.From my friend Katie in Boston:
New website could boost body image in teen girls.

2.Books about Jane Goodall for the little ones:

The Watcher by Jeanette Winter
Me Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Review of the books by Steve Jenkins here.

The Bad and The Ugly

Listening to the news this morning in the car, Miss C interrupted each report 3 seconds in with a list of questions:

What is a levee?
What is a loss?
Will the farmers be okay if the losses keep...mounting?
What is mounting?
Why are the watermelons exploding?

As tired as I am of all things Wizard of Oz, I turned on the soundtrack at the end of the exploding watermelon story, before we got more details about Strauss-Kahn.

There is something strange going on with reporting on this story. 
Yes, it is in the early stages.
Yes, more details emerge every hour.
But the radio report I heard this morning was odd.
You know how it is said that if you answer the phone smiling, the person on the other end can hear it?
This is what I hear, intermittently, as reporters comment on this story.  There are details thrown in, things that seem so irrelevant to the allegation that a 32 year old woman, a single mother, was a attacked as she tried to do her job. 
It seems the gravity of sexual assault is getting old, boring, and we need to spice it up.  
Australian author Melinda Tankard Reist is apparently seeing a similar trend: "Not a tale of a charmer and a sexy French maid."

After looking through some of Melinda's writing, I'm including this post of hers below.  Because all things are related, and as we sexualize young girls, turn women into sexy little girls, it makes sense that reporting on sexual assault will be, world-wide, littered with winks and smirks. 

How come Brad Pitt is never asked to pose as a little boy with a firetruck?
 jennifer aniston bed

Monday, May 16, 2011

Scholastic...Smooth, Just like Silk

If you grew up in the US, or if you have a child in school here, then you know all about the Scholastic Book Order form.

The day the books are delivered in the classroom is like Christmas, with the teacher calling out the name of the student like The Wizard summoning the Lion for courage.
Except you'd walk back to your desk with a shiny copy of the latest sad story by Katherine Paterson.
And then bury your nose in the crease and smell that new book smell.

Orrr, you would wait to see what your sister ordered because it wasn't your turn and that's okay.

Or, you just went to the library for your hit of Beverly Cleary.

Anyway, however you got your Scholastic books: first hand, handed down, or through peeping over the shoulder of the student who sat in front of you, they've been around awhile.

In theory, the notion of a flyer going home to advertise books is awesome.  Kids looking at a catalog of books, and talking with friends about their favorites is better than them comparing which push-up bra they'll pick when they get to 2nd grade.  But in practice, Scholastic has something that detracts form this format.  It's called Scholastic InSchool.  From their website:
In schools, Scholastic provides partners with integrated communications and education campaigns that reach educators, students, and families. Scholastic InSchool develops and distributes curriculum connected, free educational programs, including behavioral change, pro-social, cause marketing, brand awareness, and consumer loyalty programs, with support from corporations, organizations, and government agencies. From initiatives like the recent 2010 Census In Schools: It's About Us education initiative to health and civic responsibility programs, Scholastic InSchool and our partners provide valuable, free materials for schools, educators, students and families throughout the U.S.
Translation: Scholastic advertises for Disney, McDonald's, Cartoon Network, SunnyD, Claritin, and most recently, the American Coal Foundation. 

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which works to get corporate advertising out of schools, has raised awareness about the connection between Scholastic and it's clients.  Why is this necessary?
According to the Executive Director of the American Coal Foundation, hiring Scholastic allowed ACF to dramatically increase its presence in schools—from about 7,000 to 70,000 classrooms.  “Four out of five parents know and trust the Scholastic brand,” she explained.

Awesome!  I'm going to think of something strange and inappropriate to market to young children, and then partner with Scholastic InSchool. I have so many ideas.

But there is good news.  Activism works!
Late Friday, Scholastic, the world’s largest educational publisher,  announced that it would immediately stop distributing “The United States of Energy,” a controversial fourth grade curriculum paid for by the American Coal Foundation.  
So while your 4th grader may have already told you in very descriptive language why Sunny D is the most satisfying and nutritious beverage available (and so so pretty as a river )

if you want them to extol the benefits of coal, you're going to have to teach them on your own.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


A few nights ago, tucking Miss C in, she made an announcement: "There are three people that I don't like."

She paused until she had our attention, and held up three fingers.

"The Wicked Witch of the West, the Wicked Witch of the East, and....Hosanna.  Bim.  Lobbem."

She said the last one with a question mark, either because she knows that's not quite the name, or because she's not sure about if she should not like him.

"Osama bin Laden?" I ask, just to be sure there's not a new student in her class.

"Yes, that one."

Earlier that day, we'd been having breakfast when my mom called, and it was a brief conversation, but when I got off the phone, Miss C had questions:

Why does Nana want us to listen to the news?
Who is...that man?
What happened to him?
What did he do?

I don't know how other parents have discussed this with their kids, especially when their kid wants to know everything.  How do you explain this and this and the past 10 years in between to a four year old?

In that moment, I told Miss C that this was a person who had hurt other people, and he'd just been captured.

What did he do to hurt other people?
Why did he do that?
Who captured him?
Where is he now?
Was he bad?
Did he have some goodness?
Will he become good?
Can I see a picture of him?

I pulled up a photograph of him on the computer.  She looked at the bearded face and said, "But!  He doesn't look bad at all!"

And then more questions:

Do you think he will become kind?
Do you think he had some kindness?
Was he kind to some people, or did he hurt everyone?

This news comes on the heels of many weeks spent listening to the soundtrack of The Wizard of Oz, and us reading her her favorite sections of the book over and over again.
Her initial questions about the Wicked Witches were along the same lines.  She seemed certain that given enough time and a good sequel, the Wicked Witches would shape up and be UnWicked.

Thus, Dave told her about prequels, specifically Wicked, which he has read, but I have not.
He told her that  perhaps we only knew one part of their story.
And that Glinda was a biatch in high school.

So some actual news trickles into her world and how she fits it all together looks like this:

People who aren't green are generally nice.
People who are green might be prone to being unkind, but had a hard time in high school.
Classifying situations without green people makes much less sense.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Voluntary Pledge: A Story

My husband Dave works for a company that is located on a busy road.
Not a wide road, only two lanes, but a busy one.

Across from his company, there is a grocery store, which includes a cafe, sushi counter, sandwich shop, and salad bar.

To get from Work to Grocery Store, employees must cross this busy road. 
There are hundreds of employees, and so at any given time during the day, you can see handfuls of them jogging across the road to go grab a cup of coffee, or a sub, or sushi. 

When I say jogging, I should also say, sprinting.  Because although it is a direct route, the cars going down the street do not slow down.

A pedestrian cross was installed.  And still the cars did not slow down.

A yellow BE CAREFUL sign was installed.

And the cars did not slow down.

I have both crossed this road as a pedestrian (and nearly been hit), and driven this road (and nearly hit someone).

When I was nearly hit, I was infuriated that the driver was not paying attention enough to see me.  The nerve!

But, when I nearly hit someone, I saw that this particular spot in the road sort of popped up.
And that while I respond quickly to traffic lights or stop signs, it took me another 1/2 second to register the BE CAREFUL sign, mixed in with the many worker bees that covered the sidewalk on both sides of the road.  Be Careful?  What should I Be Care....oh look!  Someone's on my windshield.

I also realized that while STOP grabs my attention, BE CAREFUL feels more like a suggestion.
The yellow sign feels like, Would You Please Take A Moment And Look Around You, Kindly?

This was not a pseudo problem, not a mere annoyance.  Three employees were struck by vehicles this past year, and sustained injuries.

A traffic light was installed.  And guess what?  When the light is red, cars stop.    
No one has been struck by a car since the installation.
There is no more confusion, or sprinting across the road while trying not to slosh your latte.

I tell this story here because in reading this article in the NY Times, I read this sentence:
Since 2006, 17 major corporations — including General Mills, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Burger King — have taken a voluntary pledge to reduce marketing of their least nutritious brands to children, an effort they updated last year to include marketing on mobile devices.
I take a voluntary pledge to drive cautiously every time I get in my car.
But, sometimes I fail.

When I've been pulled over for the occasional infraction, I don't say, "But I took a pledge!  Didn't you see the agreement that I wrote up this morning that I signed myself?  I said I would try!  Awwww man!  Why you always on me!"

People who run corporations are people.  Some of them are impeccable drivers, and some of them are not.  When the rule is the same for everyone, regardless of whether they've made the Girl Scout's Promise, both the consumer and the company are protected.  In a way that is fair, and universally understood.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I meant to pick this book up and read the back cover, and then put it back down and perhaps add it to the goodreads list, but then I went ahead and bought it and have been laughing all night.
Bossypants [Book] 
But, if you are The Anonymous who hates SNL and feel that every time you have to read or see something redeeming about that show that it kills you, STOP. 
I do not want to kill you.  I don't.

If you do not have that sensitivity (and I'm not mocking sensitivity, because do you know what I'm sensitive about?  Velvet.  I actually feel like I am going to die when I touch it, and sometimes my siblings would throw a velvet blanket on top of me as behavior deterrent, and it worked), then risk reading on:
Let's talk about the hair.  Why do I call it 'yellow' hair and not 'blond' hair?  Because I'm pretty sure everybody calls my hair 'brown.'  When I read fairy tales to my daughter I always change the word 'blond' to 'yellow,' because I don't want her to think that blond hair is somehow better.
 My daughter has a reversible doll: Sleeping Beauty on one side and Snow White on the other.  I would always set it on her bed with the Snow White side out and she would toddle up and flip the skirt over to Sleeping Beauty.  I would flip it back and say, 'Snow White is so pretty.'  She would yell, 'No!' and flip it back.  I did this experiment so frequently and consistently that I should have applied for government funding.  The result was always the same.  When I asked her why she didn't like Snow White, she told me, 'I don't like her hair.Not even three years old, she knew that yellow hair is king.  And, let's admit it, yellow hair does have magic powers.  You could put a blond wig on a hot-water heater and some dude would try to f&@k* it.  Snow White is better looking.  I hate to stir up trouble among the princesses, but take away the hair and Sleeping Beauty is actually a little beat.
* (I herein omit the full word because it's Easter, and writing fuck on Easter just seems wrong.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Not My Life

My parents have lived on the same block in the city of Rochester for centuries.
They are a fixture, and can tell you who lived where, and when, and how many kids they had, and what color the house used to be, and what suburb the family moved to for better schools.  

On their block, one such house belonged to a family with 6 kids, 2 parents, and many pets.
When that family moved out, a couple moved in.

Each Halloween, the couple would take photos of the neighborhood kids that came collecting candy, and one year they hung a poster on their front walk with 10 years of evidence of my terrible costumes.
I had no idea that I dressed as a waitress 3 years in a row, and can only guess that by the time I got to our attic chest of costume pieces, all the good stuff had been taken.
The 4th year I had a breakthrough and managed to put together some semblance of Amelia Bedilia.  Which looks just like a waitress, but with a nametag.
Labels do make a difference.

In December of last year, the husband, Richard Young, passed away.
A documentary he had been working on, which explores the worldwide abuse of children through the sex trade and underage labor practices, will be shown May 1 in Rochester at The George Eastman House.

A quote about the film:
Good films stir emotions and may even spur filmgoers to action. In this case, they will feel anger toward the abusers and deep empathy for the abused and will, hopefully, leave the theater richly, if painfully, informed and deeply moved.
If you are local, or local-ish, and interested in attending, you can read more here.

If you are not local, but are interested in a powerful look at a modern slave trade, here's the trailer:

Product Placement

Question: When you are on youtube, are you capable of watching one video, the one thing you went there to see?
Or do you click on one of the links on the side, until you find you are watching a video of someone else's cat make strangely human noises?  In the nation of Georgia?

If you have self-control, congratulations.  Please send me some.

So I am listening to this song, intentionally, on youtube.
And after listening to it, I look over to the list of profiled music videos, and see Avril Lavigne's What the Hell?
And I think, What the hell, and click on it.

Initially, I wondered What the Hell!  Because it had nothing in common with the song I'd just listened to.  Except that Avett and Avril....what the. Heck.
The video has cr-a-zy product placement: Sony tv, computer, phone, Converse sneaker line-up, Avril's perfume, her clothing line.  You must see it now, right?  Video and product placement breakdown here.

It's not unlike Britney's video Hold It Against Me, and if the trend continues, it looks like every new pop video done by a female will have them dousing their body with perfume before turning on their Sony product. 

Which makes the Avett Brothers video even more salient.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


President of J. Crew is criticized for running this photograph of her son:

PHOTO: A new ad for JCrew shows the company's president painting her son's toenails pink.

Full article by Brett Michael Dykes here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dermatology, Then and Now.

I just finished Jane Eyre yesterday, and it has instilled in me the desire to address everyone I encounter as Dear Reader.
As in, Dear Reader, do you believe Mr. Rochester frightens me?  If you do, you know me not!

Anyway, not resisting that urge, dear reader, I will tell you this: I have whiled many an hour in the office of various dermatologists.  There was the one in South Dakota when I had that rash, which turned out not to be a rash at all, but scabies, contracted from cuddling with too many stray dogs.  That dermatologist, dear reader, would not step past the door, and placed a prescription for very strong drugs on the counter, as I stood near a window ledge, rubbing my back vigorously against it for some relief.
I don't believe he even shook my hand.

Did you know that when you have scabies, someone has to administer a cream on your body to the places you cannot reach, such as your middle back?
And did you know, that when you have just moved somewhere and know each acquaintance about 10 days, it is a great test of humanity to find a person to do this chore?  To say, "Hi, I have parasites crawling under my skin, and they are at this moment burrowing tunnels and laying eggs.  Oh, and it's highly contagious!  Would you be a love and slather this on my back?"

The infrequent cases aside, I began my visits and continue them because I am a freckled person.  And sometimes my freckles decide they would rather test the boundaries of their lot in life, and change form.
Sometimes a freckle begins life shaped like Ireland, then revolts and becomes Nigeria in too short a time.

And I seek the dermatologist, and sit there while uprising freckles are examined, and answer questions like, "Have you ever had a blistering sunburn?"

Hasn't everybody?  Isn't that how freckled people tan?  Because after the blisters have finally burst and scarred, there is one heck of an afterglow. 

Having seen dermatologists over much time and in every location in which I've lived, I have noticed a marked change in what is hanging on the walls and set upon the tables.
My first visit, I recall, the waiting room had a poster with photographs of moles that had changed shape or color.
Pertinent information.

This week, upon visiting, there is no trace of such pertinent information.  There is however, many a pamphlet letting me know that when this aging process becomes so incredibly uncomfortable, there is relief, such as fillers, and the phantom promise that some man may nuzzle my cheek after I avail myself to such injections.
There are pamphlets letting me know that if I am finally dissatisfied with the length of my lashes, well, Brook Shields can help me with that.

Strangely, the desire arises to thrust my back against some protruding ledge and scratch until there is relief.  Though I swear I haven't cuddled a stray dog in years.

Sarah Haskins on DPs

Thanks to Brooke for pointing this out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

He Really Signed His Rights Away

An advertising agency is being criticized for using the likeness of a NYC firefighter in an advertisement.
The ad was created for the company's client, law firm Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern.
Say that three times fast.

The firefighter has objected, stating that he joined the fire department in 2004.
So while he may have been there on 9/11/04, he was not there on the other 9/11.

He was holding a helmet in the original photo, but with a magic eraser, he ends up holding a photo of the crumbling twin towers.

The spokesperson for the advertising agency Barker/DZP, before making a heart-felt apology, slipped and stated that the action was legal because the firefighter "really signed his rights away."

(Full article here.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Disney School of Acting

Key Disney Channel acting skills (such as entering on a scooter) provided here from Miley Cyrus on Saturday Night Live.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I'm so excited for Outdoor Reading Weather to arrive that today I pulled  Miss C's small wooden bench from our garage and set it on the dry patch of our drive, next to a pile of blackened icy snow.
Isn't this how the law of attraction works?  Your pretend that it's not still freezing?  Or something?
We made it through three books, by which point she had climbed onto my lap, then turned and to me and said, "Please. Can we go back inside now? It so much warmer reading not in all this ice."

Here's what's on our bookshelf this week:

The Arabian Nights by Wafa' Tarnowska

Seven Brave Women 
Seven Brave Women by Betsy Hearne

Goldie and the Three Bears by Diane Stanley

Elizabeti's Doll by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Signed, Abiah Rose by Diane Browning.

What stories are keeping you warm until March 20?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hummus, Homicide, Pringles

Reading this, I passed it to Dave, who read it, and passed it back to me.

"We live in a very strange world," he said.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Action (iv)

This action takes 7 seconds.  I timed it.

The strangeness of the situation still strikes me.

Imagine coming from gastric bypass surgery, or an appendectomy, or your scheduled lobotomy, and waiting for a post-op on how things went, and then having your surgeon end the update with, "Also, don't forget to sign up for free coupons to Home Depot.  Here's your Home Depot jacket.  It's waterproof, with thermal pockets."

Let's see if we can take 17 unrelated things and throw them together in the maternity ward.  Because entering parenthood is not confusing enough. 

The hospital where I had Miss C, along with every hospital in this area, has signed on to this deal.  And though I had a good experience there, I also brought a doula with me.  She was sort of like a bouncer.  She ran interference, talked with the staff, brought me juice, and helped Dave to help me.  At one point, in the thick of things, I was sitting buck naked on a giant exercise ball, and the door to the delivery room flew open and in walked a medical student.  Nothing against medical students, because many of them become doctors that help people.  Except this guy was so excited.  To see a natural childbirth.  That he just couldn't stop talking about it to me.  In a loud and enthusiastic voice.

"Good job you're doing great look at you go what a good job lookin' good you're looking goooooood!"

Since the power of speech had left me back at 8 centimeters, I just held on as he bobbed from side to side, like a cheerleader on speed.

My doula was swift, got in my face and asked, "Do you want him in here?"

I shook my head, and the happy man was escorted out.  Never to return.

I think she is the one who should help escort Disney out, gently but firmly.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Disney Looking Into the Cradle for Customers

The chief executive of Disney is super psyched about an extra vulnerable market: newborns!
And the women who've just expelled them from their body!
"If ever there was an opportunity for a trusted brand to enter a market and provide a better product and experience, it’s this," said Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney. "I’m extremely excited about it."
Coming soon to a maternity ward near you:
 Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.
The article is just rich, including mention of the problem that kids don't really get exposed to Disney until preschool, and also, a shout out to those few parents who object to stealth marketing.
Because the ideal consumer is one who believes there is no choice.

One mother commented,
"It surprised me that Disney was in there promoting something right as the baby was born, but we figured as new parents we weren’t in a position to turn free things down."
I know, I know: this is the system within which we live.
Still, I can't help but idealize: what if, rather than visiting brand new mothers with ever more Disney Products, they instead came by with a warm water wash for your ripped vagina?

Or,  some of those bulky pillow-pads to absorb all the blood?

At least a card that said, "Well done, uterus.  We're so glad to have another customer coming our way.  Keep up the good work!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Aging 8 Year Old

Has your tween been looking a little, well, old lately?

Do you look at her across the breakfast table and wish she'd do something to prevent the wrinkles that will be here any minute?

Or, do you gaze at her youthful complexion and wish there were a product to help her preserve that smooth countenance?

Well, fear not.  Walmart is here.

The Geo-Girl beauty line will be in stores this February. It is reported to be: 
aimed at the 'tween' market of 8-12 year olds, and will include blusher, mascara, face shimmer and lipstick that is 'mother approved', as well as anti aging products.
That's anti-aging products, in case you missed the bold print.

Hopefully, they'll have another line that targets the pre-tween.  No need to leave 3-7 year olds out in the cold.  They've got their face to think about too, you know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lot's Wife.

Found this while engaging in serious research and study (here).

Lot's wife deserves a name
I bet Dinah knew her name.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter (too)

It's here.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
The author will be doing readings from Connecticut to California.
Check here for locations and times.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I know people who make things, and the way they make things is so much better than the way I make things.  And so mostly, I leave the making to them.

My friend Ali made this Rapunzel pillow for C:

 And my friend Luc made this Rapunzel notebook:

C loves both of these, and they've sparked some conversations about why one Rapunzel has red hair but the other has yellow.

Her thoughts on this have evolved:

"Maybe the red-hair girl is really Ariel, and she is stuck in a tower?"


"Maybe they are both Rapunzel, but different Rapunzels.  Like one is from New Jersey."

She's settled on the last line of reasoning for now, but won't tell me which one is from New Jersey.

If you make things, or know someone who does, feel free to leave a link to their site in the comments. 

Meanwhile, I will just keep melting bars of chocolate and drinking them: my solemn pledge until the temperature rises above 0. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is Pink Necessary?

This morning, while it was 10 degrees outside, Dave and I sat inside dividing up the New York Times between us. Also, I melted two bars of Cadbury Royal Dark Chocolate and made the real deal drinking chocolate.  Because when it's 10 degrees, the powdered stuff won't do.   I went right to the book review, where Annie Murphy Paul reviews Peggy Orenstein's new book Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

Miss C skipped in and climbed onto my lap.  She studied the photograph which accompanies that review, and then asked, "Is that a Barbie?  Or, a real live person?"

Jury's out on that one.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Disney Princesses Get Earthy

I was running through mecca two days ago to grab some of C's favorite cereal, the kind that if we don't have to start the day, we might as well just throw in the towel and go back to bed because the wailing and gnashing that's like me when we're out of coffee.

With the box of delicious tucked under my arm, I felt powerful and fast and did a turbo run down a side aisle, one lined with books and magazines and more books, and then I was not moving anymore because there were all these books!  And I needed to look at them and read the back covers.
I think this might be called Grocery Store ADD.  And I certainly have it.

After I'd thoroughly familiarized myself with the girl who kicked nests and had tattoos and played with fire, I remembered that this was supposed to be a quick trip.  A two-minute run to get one thing.  I was in a hurry, I reminded myself.  But the children's books were right next to me and when I glanced at those, I was made aware of the next holiday approaching.  Valentine's Day!  Because each book had some sort of heart or pink and red or chocolate theme tied in.

The rack:

There was the typical fare:

Wherein Cinderella, on her first anniversary with the prince, is given a sapphire ring

but then she loses it (and much trembling and weeping ensues)

but then she finds it!  and the prince gives her diamond earrings too, and then they have a massive ball:

But what caught my attention, on the other side of the rack, was this one:

Wherein the princesses are all planting trees and picking up litter and conserving water and saving electricity and tending to animals and eating from their gardens and making their own clothes.
And it's printed on recycled paper.  

They're practically composting and eating their own placentas!

What's up Disney, this is tripping me out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That Swimsuit Becomes You

I grabbed this book at the library while I was checking out:

Like an impulse buy, except with a lower interest rate. 
It was filed under "New NonFiction" right next to The Bellyfat Cure.

I'm not far enough in to give My Two Cents on it yet, but there is a study cited that I thought was interesting.

It was run by social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson and explored self-objectification.
The author of the Girls on the Edge, Dr. Leonard Sax, describes it as such:
Dr. Fredrickson and her colleagues recruited college men and women, then randomly assigned each volunteer to wear either a bulky sweater or swimsuit.  The men wore swim trunks, and the women wore one-piece bathing suits.  Each volunteer was sitting in a dressing room: no windows, no observers.    Each volunteer was then asked to take a math quiz while sitting in the dressing room.  Fredrickson and her team then compared how women wearing swimsuits performed on the quiz compared with women who were wearing bulky sweaters, and likewise for the men. 
The results?

Men can rock math tests in swim wear, and even do slightly better than men wearing frumpy sweaters.

Women can rock math tests in frumpy sweaters, but do waaaaaaay worse while wearing a swimsuit.

Sax goes on
[Fredrickson] found that these women were objectifying themselves.  Just wearing a swimsuit made these young women focus on their own bodies as objects to be evaluated and rated. 
So the word is, if your daughter is off to school in a midriff shirt and JUICY pants, "at some level she's going to be thinking about, analyzing, and judging her own body when she ought to be thinking about geometry or Spanish grammar."  Or when she ought to be thinking about how her mama gonna whoop her when I find out she took my JUICY pants!  Give me those.

Now, where did I put that oversized reindeer sweater Miss C got for Christmas?  I think I'm going to order a few more, sizes  4 Toddler through 18 I Hate My Mom.

Monday, January 10, 2011

So Tan

I was 16 when a classmate asked me a very important question: Where was I going to go tanning in order to get ready for prom?
Since I thought he was joking, I told him I'd be rolling around in the snowbanks outside my home to give my skin a nice rosy glow.

But he was serious, and even told me where he'd be tanning.

And I was all, "No you aren't."

Yes he was.  And so were a lot of other guys and girls in my class.

To get ready for prom.

My skin comes in two shades: Pasty, and Sun Poisoned Sienna, and in my youth I alternated between these. I'd get red and blistered, then the burn would peel off and I'd be Pasty again, with some fine new freckles.   I've since settled into a more permanent Pasty, protected with slabs of SPF 250.

But when I was 16, and sir asked me where I'd be tanning, I began to notice how many of my classmates were glowing.
In January.
In Upstate New York.

Word on the street is that this is still popular.
I know this because I am back in Upstate New York.
In January.
And people are still glowing.
Something is not right here.

This NYT article reports:
Indoor tanning, it seems, has become in many families a mother-daughter bonding ritual, like shopping or going to the hairdresser.
Why not just roll around in a snow bank?
Rosy glow, mood enhancing, and free.

Just sayin.

(Thanks Kristi, for pointing this one out.)

The Feminist Breeder

Jill Lupescu wrote a guest post over at The Feminist Breeder, titled 'Why Disney Princesses Should Come With Warning Labels.'