“There’s plenty of funny and relatable stories inside this little book, for both moms and dads and will give you that extra boost of cheer for the day.”
- Parent Magazine
Click here to download a free PDF that (if wikipedia is to be believed) should be compatible with iPAD, Kindle, that goofy Motorola tablet and just about anything else with a screen. Feel free to forward to as many friends as you want to, too.
PARENT: What do you want for Christmas?
CHILD: I dunno. Maybe a bike.
PARENT: A bike? We just got you a bike last year.
CHILD: No you didn’t.
PARENT: What do you mean? Of course we got you a bike.
CHILD: No you didn’t.
PARENT: I know for a fact we got you a bike because I’m the one who went to three different stores and then spent two hours assembling it in our unheated garage after everyone went to bed.
CHILD: No… you didn’t get me a bike: Santa did.
PARENT: Oh… uh… I must have been thinking of… of… something else.
1. THE COSTCO AMENDMENT
What do you do with eight gallons of stewed tomatoes? A 4-pack of 120 oz. mustard jars? 50 lbs. of rice?
If you’re like most households, you stick them on a shelf in the back of the pantry and try to ignore the fact that the giddy joy you felt because you saved so much money can’t possibly last long enough to counteract the guilt you’ll feel when you end up throwing half of it out.
This amendment would have legally prohibited club stores from selling bulk items that:
(a) the average consumer can’t possibly consume before the expiration date
(b) the average consumer doesn’t need – i.e. cashew butter, creamed spinach, dried parsley, tapioca pudding, etc.
(c) or that taste so good when sampled in the store nobody can resist their multi-ounce siren call.
2. CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR FOOD HYPOCRISY
This amendment would have made it illegal for anyone to cop a militant attitude about food – holier-than-thou vegans, organic-only food-nazis, food processing plant owners and/or executives who roll their eyes (and mobilize their lawyers) if anyone questions their quality or commitment to cleanliness, etc.
3. SPECIAL PROVISION FOR SPOKESPEOPLE AND OTHER PUBLIC RELATIONS EXECUTIVES
When it comes to outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli, listeria or other types of foodborne illnesses, it takes a special kind of flak to stand at a podium in front of a bunch of reporters and claim the company’s products are “perfectly safe” and that the media is making the situation out to be a lot worse than it really is, or that it’s not really company’s fault but the work of disgruntled employees and/or unscrupulous food activists, and that in either case, the company is “cooperating fully” with authorities to resolve the situation in a safe and timely fashion.
Since spokespeople can’t be sued for lying, this amendment would have made it mandatory for them all to attend a special private banquet where the only food they got would have been the very food they claimed everyone could “trust and continue to consume without any health and safety concerns.”
4. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET – OR ELSE
Ever order anything online, or from the back of a magazine because the photos looked so good?
This amendment would have not only banned the use of Photoshop and other means of digital enhancement, but made it illegal for anyone selling direct-to-the-consumer food to hire a photo stylist to, for example, sort through 10,000 bushels of pears to find the one – and only one – in the lot that looked like you’d want to eat it.
It would also have made it illegal to embellish descriptions, meaning that if a wine-of-the-month club promised “world-class” bottles, they had better come from a part of the world that’s actually known for its vineyards and taste really, really good.
5. VEGETABLE JAIL
This amendment would have authorized the FDA to work with state and local law enforcement officials to create “vegetable jail,” so that instead of threatening kids who won’t eat their broccoli, carrots, green beans, etc. with no dessert or having to sit at the table until everything – “And I mean everything!” – is finished, parents could just say “Look… it’s either spinach or 18 months hard time.”
(Not that some kids wouldn’t choose jail over spinach, of course, but at least it would have helped.)
TWEEN: Do you think I’m mature for my age?
DAD: I don’t know. Why do you ask?
TWEEN: Because I was just thinking about the way I help take out the trash, put my clothes in the hamper, brush my teeth at night, wash behind my ears when I shower, do my homework most nights without being told, and sometimes even go to bed early the night before I have a big test, and I wanted to know if you thought that was a reflection of how mature I am.
DAD: Uh… well… I guess if you put it that way, then “Yes.”
TWEEN: “Yes” I’m mature?
DAD: Yes, you’re mature.
5 minutes later:
TWEEN: Can you take me to the video game store?
TWEEN: I need to get “Call of Duty: Black Ops.”
MOM: You mean that ultra-violent first-person shooter a lot of parents have been concerned about?
MOM: But isn’t it rated “M” for “Mature?”
TWEEN: It is rated “M,” but Dad just said I’m mature, so it’s okay.
MOM: Uh… No.
KID: Mom? MOM!
MOM: What are you doing out of bed?
KID: I woke up.
MOM: Then go back to sleep.
KID: I’m not tired.
MOM: I don’t care if you’re not tired, it’s the middle of the night.
KID: It doesn’t feel like the middle of the night.
MOM: What time does the clock on my nightstand say?
KID: I accidentally tripped over the cord when I was coming over, sorry.
MOM: What does the clock on your father’s nightstand say?
KID: I don’t know. Dad? DAD!
MOM: No! Don’t wake him!
DAD: Too late, I’m already up.
KID: Do you know what time it is?
DAD: I can’t see the clock without my glasses.
MOM: It says 5:45.
DAD: It can’t be 5:45, it’s too dark outside.
MOM: It’s dark because the days are getting shorter.
DAD: But we just went on Daylight Saving Time last night!
KID: What’s Daylight Saving Time?
MOM: It’s when you change the clocks so you get more light during the day.
DAD: Yeah – “Spring forward” and “Fall back,” which means it’s not 5:45, it’s 6:45.
MOM: You mean it’s not 5:45, it’s 4:45.
DAD: That’s what I said.
MOM: No, you said it was 6:45 not 5:45.
DAD: Well… that’s what I meant.
MOM: Except that I remembered to change the clock, so it’s actually 5:45.
KID: Do I still have to go back to bed then?
DAD: No, because I remembered to change the clock, too, so that means it’s…
MOM: No, because your father always gets Daylight Saving Time backwards, so even though I changed the clock back an hour your father probably changed the clock forward, which means if it says 5:45, it’s actually 4:45.
KID: I’m really confused.
DAD: Me, too – and I didn’t get Daylight Saving Time backwards this time, I totally forgot about it.
MOM: Then why did you say you changed the clock?
DAD: Because you always make such a big deal over the fact that you remember and I forget.
MOM: So rather than come clean, you lied?
MOM: You didn’t lie?
DAD: Like you said… I have such a bad memory, I just forgot the truth.
MOM: Don’t get sarcastic.
DAD: You’re the one who started it.
DAD: I was asleep.
MOM: So everything is my fault?
DAD: Not everything.
KID: Excuse me – before you continue, can somebody just tell me what time it really is?
MOM: Why is that good?
KID: Because I think you’re both gonna need the extra hour you have before you need to get up to figure out what you’re really fighting about.
KID: What’s Daylight Savings?
PARENT: It’s when we set our clocks back an hour.
KID: What does that mean?
PARENT: It means what used to be 10:00 is now 9:00, so there’s actually an extra hour in the day.
KID: Which day?
KID: That’s a relief – I was afraid it was gonna be Monday when I’m in school.
KID: Are we gonna watch “Two and a Half Men?”
KID: Why not?
PARENT: Because we never watch “Two and a Half Men.”
KID: But I want to see Charlie Sheen.
PARENT: Why? Because he supposedly trashed a hotel room with a hooker?
KID: What’s a hooker?
PARENT: Never mind. The point is: bad behavior should have consequences.
KID: It does: higher ratings.*
*If half of parenting is threatening kids when they’re about to act inappropriately and the other half is punishing them when they do anyway, what’s a parent to do when the specter of public shame and humiliation not only stops being a deterrent, but is a legitimate pathway to fame and fortune?
“So… what’s it like having kids?” the would-be parent asks.
“It’s great,” you say, “Having kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. They’re a lot of work, but when you see the way they smile and laugh and take in the world, it’s definitely worth it.”
And then maybe you chuckle and offer to let them stay over and take your kids for a weekend “test drive,” knowing they probably won’t but hoping they will so you and your spouse can get away for that “romantic weekend” you’ve been talking about since pretty much your kids were born (with the term “romantic” being parent-code for “getting some sleep and being able to watch pay-per-view movies all the way through, in one sitting, without being interrupted a dozen times because ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I had an accident’ or ‘I spilled jam on the carpet,’ etc.”).
You may suggest these would-be parents pick up a movie or two, too. But while many recommend something like “Parenthood”1 for its funny and touching insights into the ups and downs of, well, parenthood, there’s another movie that gives a fuller and more complete picture: 1970s horror classic “The Exorcist.” Here’s why:
Demonic possession is just another name for a weekday morning.
As every parent knows, at random and unpredictable intervals, your little angel will wake up snarling and nasty like a beast from Hell. Foul-mouthed? Before you even get through the door to say “Good morning, I made you breakfast,” you find yourself assaulted with “GET OUT! Can’t you see I’m sleeping? You always wake me up like this. I hate you. I hate you. I HATE YOU.”
And their appearance? Definitely something unholy (though, to be fair, not because they’re suddenly sporting horns, scales and some grotesque demon pig-nose, but because nobody looks good when they don’t shower for three days – why is personal hygiene such a difficult concept for kids to get, anyway?).
As for being able to crawl across the ceiling? Well… maybe not the ceiling, but when you consider the gravity-defying ways kids flip around in their beds while they sleep, it’s not such a stretch to think they might some- how end up on the ceiling.
Green puke? How about orange puke, yellow puke and blue puke, too?
It’s not called “The Technicolor Yawn” for nothing, something parents usually find out fast. Often, these multi-colored hues can be traced back to two types of foods: foods consumed in excess, like artificially-flavored fruit punch, Halloween candy and birthday cake; and foods consumed under protest such as salad, non-breaded fish, and brussels sprouts (with the eventual volume of puke increasing exponentially if you happen to say something like “I don’t care if you don’t like it. Nobody ever threw up eating brussels sprouts, so finish your plate!” first).
You know a child’s head can’t spin completely around… but a 5-year-old doesn’t.
And no matter how quickly the parent dashes into the other room to get the phone or answer the door or shut the oven off before dinner burns, it’s five seconds more than the 5-year-old needs to twist the 2-year-old’s head around to the point where it’s about to snap. “But we were just playing owl,” the child protests.
You don’t need an exorcist, but a child psychologist might be a good idea.
What parent hasn’t thrown up their hands at some point and said “I can’t do this anymore!” before turning to an expert for help?
Whether it’s the therapist, the math tutor, the reading coach, the college placement counselor or even the pitching specialist, all these experts are trying to do is exactly what Father Merrin was trying to do to Linda Blair’s Regan: make the kid “normal” again.
There can always be a sequel because evil – like parenting – goes on forever.
Which means the moment parents think they’re done and their kids are on their own, they move back home. Or go into therapy. Or just stop calling. This can happen at any time, for any reason (though it’s often financial), and it’s generally a lot worse than the original, just like “Exorcist 2 – The Heretic,” “The Exorcist 3,” and both versions of “Exorcist – The Beginning.”
And if that isn’t scary, nothing is.
From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”
1Is the TV version of this movie a reasonable substitute? Clearly the show has plenty of fans – here, here, here and here, for example – but what if it gets cancelled? Imagine devoting hour after hour to something, getting attached and becoming emotionally invested in its well-being, only to have it suddenly just grow up and move go away? On second thought… maybe that’s even more like parenthood than the movie “Parenthood.”
The bad times may be over, but the good times aren’t going to return any time soon.
For many of us, that’s troubling. But it can also be inspiring – especially when it comes to finding appropriate ways to spend quality time with family.
Kick The Can(didate)
Family members divide up into two groups: Democrats and Republicans. Democrats try to prevent Republicans from kicking the can, just like in the classic childhood game, but have to put on blinders and argue among themselves, making it very easy for a lone Republican to come out of nowhere and kick the can.
Alternately, family members don’t divide up into Democrats and Republicans at all, but just play as a single group of Democrats who work against each other to both kick the can and prevent the can from being kicked, turning the whole game into an ugly, shameless, ultimately un-winnable waste of time.
Liar’s Dice, The Wall Street Edition
In the traditional game, players roll a handful of dice and then try to lie about how many 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s they have. If one player doesn’t believe another, he or she says “liar.” If the accused is actually lying, he or she loses a die; if the accused is telling the truth, the accuser loses a die.
The game continues until there’s only one player left.
This version is played the exact same way, except that whenever a player lies and loses a die, he or she gets to replace it with one provided by the Treasury Department for as long as the government has adequate dice reserves, or can borrow dice from China.
The point of this game is to pretend to spontaneously gather around an imaginary table drinking imaginary tea from imaginary cups until the media believes it’s real, and then form a grassroots special interest group to force everybody to move to the right.
Duck Duck Goose
Each player pretends to be a homeowner and sits in a circle with the other homeowners. One player – representing a soon-to-reset adjustable rate mortgage, crushing equity line, further decline in housing prices, prolonged period of unemployment or other form of bad luck – walks around and taps each of them on the head, saying “Duck… Duck… Duck…”
This goes on for an inordinately long time, with all the anxious homeowners hoping the bad luck will just go away.
When bad luck finally says “goose,” the player he or she just tapped sits there quietly in a complete state of denial, then wanders off leaving an empty spot in the circle.
This goes on for an inordinately long time, too, until even the remaining homeowners are too depressed to continue.
What’s my party line?
Throw a blanket over your TV set and then randomly tune it to Fox News, CNN or MSNBC and see if you can tell what party’s talking points the supposedly non-partisan/independent/”fair and balanced” experts are secretly touting.
Just like regular “I Spy,” only with the more apropos subjects: “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with F… a foreclosed house.” Or “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with O… a one-term president.”
The Telephony Game
Start with any of the promises Banks made when they needed to be bailed out – to take fewer risks, not put profits first, learn from their mistakes, help homeowners modify bad loans, etc. – and play the telephone game to see if any of these phrases end up making any sense at all.
Pin The Tail (Of Blame) On The Donkey
Much like ‘08s most popular game, “Pin The Tail on The Elephant,” this one substitutes a donkey and uses a much, much bigger tail.
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf
Players divide into three teams, and then each team builds a house.
The first uses straw, which represents a “no-doc” loan, the second uses wood, which represents a zero-down, adjustable-rate mortgage, and the third uses brick, which represents a 30-year fixed-mortgage with 20% down that will never, ever cause problems.
They then wait for the Big Bad Wolf to huff and puff and try to blow their houses down.
How low can President Obama’s approval rating go? Put on “The Limbo Song” and see.
Republican Hokey Pokey
You put your right foot in, and then instead of putting your left foot in, you put your right foot in even farther unless you want the Tea Baggers to knock you over.
Ghost in The Graveyard Shift
Similar to the classic childhood game, except when word gets out you’re playing, 10,000 people show up.
(To see family games from last year, click here.)
WIFE: What’s wrong?
WIFE: You sure?
HUSBAND: Positive. Why do you keep asking me?
WIFE: You look like you’re angry.
HUSBAND: I don’t feel angry.
WIFE: But you look angry.
HUSBAND: But I’m not angry.
WIFE: If you say so.
WIFE: So there’s nothing you’re upset about?
WIFE: Nothing you’re not telling me?
WIFE: Nothing you’re gonna stew about for the next few days and then finally admit to me this weekend has been bothering you all week?
HUSBAND: No. Do you want me to be mad?
HUSBAND: I think you do.
WIFE: I do not.
HUSBAND: Don’t get so defensive.
WIFE: Stop attacking me.
HUSBAND: You’re the one who’s attacking me.
WIFE: Only because you lied.
HUSBAND: About what?
WIFE: About being angry!
HUSBAND: I’m only angry because you made me angry.
WIFE: So you do admit you’re angry?
WIFE: I knew it.
FROM: YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT
As we kick off the new school year, we thought it necessary to take a few moments to discuss some of the challenges we’re facing this year. As many of you know, the economy is still struggling and we have been hit particularly hard by state budget cuts.
Again — wasn’t Obama supposed to have fixed everything by now?
As a result, we have undertaken a series of steps to deal with this unfortunate situation, and ask for your understanding in this difficult time.
The first and most obvious change is a slight reduction in the total number of days school will be in session this year. In addition to usual holidays, we will also be observing Halloween, All Saints’ Day (in a non-denominational way), Dia De Los Muertos, Guy Fawkes Day, the Winter Solstice, The Great American Smoke Out, Pearl Harbor Day, World Religion Day (again, in a non-denominational way), The Day The Music Died Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Good Samaritan Day, The Ides of March, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools’ and Arbor Day.
We had planned to observe Cinco De Mayo as well, but since the last day of class will now be April 15th, school will already be closed.
Our vacation schedule is undergoing some adjustments as well: Thanksgiving Break will now go through the end of the November, Winter Break will last until the day after Martin Luther Kind Day, and Spring Break will be March.
We will also be closing the school February 16-20 to give all parents a chance to take part in — depending on your situation — either a “Take Your Child to Work Week” or a series of field trips to The Unemployment Office, Health & Human Services, and various shelters and soup-kitchens.
We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause, but would like to point out that because these additional closure days will be unpaid, all teachers and administrators will be available for babysitting at the standard rate of $9/hr if your child is well-behaved, $25/hr. if he or she is not.
(If you’re not sure which category your kid falls into, ask the principal or one of the teachers to check the secret “trouble-maker” list in the office, or ask your child directly — though if talking to your child is not something you normally do, just go ahead and assume you’ll be paying the higher rate.)
In addition to schedule changes, we have also been forced to make adjustments to what we call “non-core classes,” or what most students refer to as “fun.”
Where we used to offer music class and after-school guitar, violin, flute and coronet lessons, we will now just have an iPod filled with classical music in the library that students can check out.
Art class will continue, thanks to the generous corporate support of Exxon, but will consist solely of students painting pictures of happy animals frolicking among oil derricks and pipelines in a global-warming-free world. And not with pastels or water-colors, either, but only oils.
The biggest change will be to shop class, which will be mandatory for all students, and will focus exclusively on offering them practical, hands-on experience, beginning with re-tarring the gymnasium roof, which was supposed to be paid for with federal stimulus funds, except the governor rejected them.
In light of all this, we are also revising our official “Back to School” supplies list to include the following:
- Work gloves
- Hard hat
- Safety goggles
- Notarized liability waiver
We have also changed the required quantities of the selected items.
Students will now be required to bring:
- 10 rolls of tape so the old torn-up text books that were pulled from the incinerator just before they were scheduled to be burned can be taped up and used for one more year
Students will now be required to bring:
- 120 oz. bottle of Whiteout to correct any outdated information in the above-mentioned text books such as references to the 48 states, the U.S.S.R., American economic dominance or The Great Depression — not because this type of information is incorrect, but because we don’t want students reading about it and freaking out that it still might happen again
Given increasing concern about Swine Flu, we also recommend each student bring:
- Medical-grade hand sanitizer
- Rubber gloves
- A hospital mask or filtered respirator
And where in past years we have discouraged students from brining an apple for their teacher out of food-safety concerns, we now not only encourage it, but suggest canned goods, cereal, grains and shelf-stable dairy products as well, as their pay has recently been involuntarily de-raised by 20%.
We appreciate your understanding and ask that any parents who are able should join us next Tuesday for a bake sale, where we’ll be offering a wide variety of donated cookies, cakes and pies all starting at $172.50 each.
Your School District
P.S. We are also looking for unpaid volunteers, specifically five parents who just happen to have teaching certificates and can commit to spending five days a week from 9:00 am to 3:15 pm with between 20 and 30 students for the rest of the year.
KID: Can I ask you something?
DAD: What is it?
KID: Promise you won’t get mad?
MOM: What makes you think we’d get mad?
KID: Just promise.
MOM: What’s your question?
KID: What’s “stress?”
DAD: It’s a prolonged state of mental and emotional strain.
MOM: It’s like you’re being pulled in two different directions.
DAD: At the exact same time.
MOM: You’re stuck.
DAD: But you can’t get unstuck.
MOM: Until you feel totally and completely overwhelmed.
DAD: And irritable.
MOM: And short-tempered.
DAD: And impatient.
MOM: And you can’t sleep.
DAD: Or focus.
KID: But it’s not contagious, is it?
KID: Good — ’cause obviously the only thing you can do about it is drink, and I’m not old enough.
Awakened by phone.
Son’s friend’s mother calling to ask about afternoon playdate despite being told many times before do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency, especially on a Saturday because that’s the only day I ever get to sleep in.
Tell her to call back after 8:30 am.
Climb back in bed.
Reluctantly accept fact that chance to sleep-in ruined.
Even more irritated.
Think of other ways to get the do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency point across because, clearly, plain English is not working.
Also think a playdate is not an emergency, and sure as Hell isn’t going to happen today.
Realize this is harsh/unfairly punishes kids for mother’s behavior.
Fantasize about retaliation/payback.
Wonder if I could live with myself if I called every night for a week at 12:01 to remind her do not call before 8:30 am unless it’s an emergency.
Accept fact that I could not.
Try to think of other alternatives.
Have one idea.
Go out for extra-large coffee.
Hear phone ring just as door is closing.
Know instantly who it is.
Think disconnecting phone line may be only option.
Do you get Netflix? If you do, it was probably Blockbuster’s ridiculous late fees that got you to sign up. But as outrageous as they were, at least you could always say you lost the movie and just pay the replacement cost.
Not so with Netflix.
If you’re like most people, your Netflix queue is a mix of movies you want to watch and movies you should watch because they come up in casual conversation and you’re the only one who hasn’t seen them, which makes you feel stupid.
The problem is that your Netflix cue can’t monitor your mood, which means that when that red and white envelope arrives and you tear it open, there’s a better than 95% chance whatever’s inside won’t be what you feel like watching tonight.
Or the next night.
Or the next night.
Or the next night.
So you say “I’ll watch it over the weekend” and set it on the DVD player, where it sits for three months, picked up occasionally but never watched, until you finally admit to yourself that you’re just not going to get to it anytime soon and send it back.
(And maybe you even rate it, too, so your cue doesn’t think you’re a film loser, either.)
But then a few months later, you’re out somewhere and everybody starts talking about movies and, once again, the movie you didn’t get around to watching comes up, and you’re — once again — singled out.
THEM: You’ve really never seen it?
YOU: No. But I want to. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
THEM: But it’s so good.
YOU: I know, I just don’t usually have time for movies.
THEM: But you told me last week you watched the entire Jim Carrey collection.
So you add it back to your queue.
And then one day it arrives in your mailbox and, naturally, you don’t feel like watching it tonight, tomorrow, or the next day, so you stick it on top of your DVD player, where it sits for three months before you send it back, take it off your queue, and shortly thereafter find yourself — as usual — the lone member of the “I’ve never actually seen that” club.
Repeat this every 18 months or so for five or six years, and factor in the cost of even the most basic Netflix membership, and you end up spending $114.87 for something you could buy new at Target for $19.95.
(Though, of course, even if you did buy it at Target you still wouldn’t get around to watching it.)
Movies you should watch but probably won’t ever get around to if you haven’t seen them by now:
- 12 Angry Men (1957)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- The 400 Blows (1959)
- 8 ½ (1963)
- A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
- The African Queen (1952)
- All About Eve (1950)
- Annie Hall (1977)
- Apocalypse Now (1979)
- Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
- The Battle of Algiers (1967)
- The Bicycle Thief (1948)
- Blade Runner (1982)
- Blow Up (1966)
- Blue Velvet (1986)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- Breathless (1960)
- Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
- Bringing Up Baby (1938)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- Casablanca (1942)
- Chinatown (1974)
- Citizen Kane (1941)
- The Crowd (1928)
- Double Indemnity (1944)
- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
- Duck Soup (1933)
- The Exorcist (1973)
- The Graduate (1967)
- Grand Illusion (1938)
- In the Mood For Love (2001)
- Ikiru (1952)
- It Happened One Night (1934)
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
- Jaws (1975)
- King Kong (1933)
- The Lady Eve (1941)
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962))
- M (1931)
- The Maltese Falcon (1941)
- Modern Times (1936)
- Network (1976)
- Nosferatu (1922)
- On the Waterfront (1954)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
- Paths of Glory (1958)
- Princess Mononoke (1999)
- Psycho (1960)
- Raging Bull (1980)
- Raise the Red Lantern (1992)
- Rashomon (1951)
- Rear Window (1954)
- Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
- Roman Holiday (1953)
- The Searchers (1956)
- Seven Samurai (1954)
- Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
- Some Like It Hot (1959)
- The Sound of Music (1965)
- Sunset Blvd. (1950)
- The Third Man (1949)
- This is Spinal Tap (1984)
- Titanic (1997)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
- Ugetsu (1953)
- Vertigo (1958)
- White Heat (1949)
- Wild Strawberries (1957)
- Wings of Desire (1988)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- The World of Apu (1959)
- Yojimbo (1961)
One of the most popular feeds on twitter is “$#*! My Dad Says,” which is a collection of the irreverent, biting, very-funny comments 29-year-old Justin’s 74-year-old dad makes. It has close to 1.4 million followers and is being turned into a sitcom by CBS starring William Shatner.
A national family-advocacy group called the Parents Television Council is threatening an “unrelenting campaign” against the show’s advertisers and CBS’s affiliates if the show airs because they don’t like the idea of a show named “$#*! My Dad Says” being on at 8:30 pm.
(They probably don’t like the idea of the show being on at all, as well — these are the same gate-keepers of morality who don’t recommend the new Shrek movie for kids under seven because it includes “toilet humor, with Shrek’s children belching, farting, pooping their pants and urinating on Shrek,” which, as even the most conservative parents know, is exactly what kids under age seven think is funny1.)
It’s not like CBS is actually going to use the s-word in the title, of course; instead, they plan to substitute the all-purpose curse-word stand-in “$#*!”
Which means the problem is… what exactly?
Because CBS broadcasts its programing over the public airwaves, the FCC insists (more or less, depending on who’s in charge) that it and other broadcasters adhere to a higher standard of decency than, say, every other media outlet in the known universe, because there’s a reasonable (though infinitely small) chance some unsuspecting innocent will accidentally turn on the TV and be offended:
CHILD: I just saw something on TV I don’t understand.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: What was it?
CHILD: It was a promo for a new show called “$#*! My Dad Says.”
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: You saw that on TV!?!?
CHILD: Why? Is that bad?
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: Of course it’s bad: “$#*!” is a swear word.
CHILD: Really? I’ve never heard of that one before.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: Well… technically “$#*” isn’t a swear word, it’s a substitute for a swear word, but it’s still offensive.
CHILD: Which swear word is it a substitute for?
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT:That’s just it: it could be any one of ‘em — though usually if you think about it you can figure it out.
CHILD: Oh.. now I know.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT:Exactly. Now you go wash your mouth out with soap while I write a letter to FCC to complain about the way the liberal media is corrupting our youth.
There’s nothing wrong with parents protecting their kids from what they feel are bad influences, but isn’t it kind of silly to make such a big deal out of something like this? If for no other reason than the fact that there probably isn’t a kid left in this country who doesn’t already know the s-word, the a-word and probably the f-word, too.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I know my kids know them because (a) they are sometimes in the car with me when I drive and (b) I think it’s important they have a full and complete grasp of the English language, including words that are inappropriate, which is why I sat them down one night and taught them.2)
Besides, when you think about it, television doesn’t need to be censored because televisions come with a remote control and a power button.
Isn’t that easier than a national boycott?
(That said, remotes can be so confusing and complicated it is possible somebody somewhere can’t turn their TV off, change the channel, lower the volume or remove the annoying on-screen overlay because they haven’t managed to crack the secret combination of input/source buttons even this most basic level of functionality can sometimes require. But that’s the fault of the manufacturer, not the media.)
Rather than being bad, in fact, a situation like “$#*! My Dad Says” is actually good because it’s a potential springboard for a family discussion about the the way personal beliefs shape behavior, and how these truths help us decide appropriate from inappropriate, right from wrong and good from bad.
(Though, admittedly, given the time and effort that kind of thing would involve, a national boycott would probably be easier and less time-consuming.)
So what do concerned parents do about “$#*! My Dad Says”?
Just explain in clear and graphic terms exactly “$#*!” is: punctuation — because if the fear is that exposed kids will suddenly start slinging obscenities willy nilly, nothing will kill that impulse more quickly than a long, drawn-out lesson in grammar:
PARENT: Have you ever wondered why they use “$,: “#,” “*,” “@” and “!” to denote obscenities instead of, say, a semi-colon?
WOULD-BE FOUL-MOUTHED CHILD: No more, please!
PARENT: Sorry, we can’t stop now: we haven’t discussed your reading assignments from The Elements of Style, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and The Mother Tongue yet.
WOULD-BE FOUL-MOUTHED CHILD: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
And as for the show itself, the only reason to ban, condemn or make it the focus on an “unrelenting campaign” is if it isn’t funny.3
1 If anyone should be offended by this it’s parents, because they know from first-hand experience there’s nothing funny about pee, poop or puke, especially when it’s just been splattered all over you.
2 Given the current political climate, I’d venture that liberal households aren’t the only ones where kids are getting an education in vulgarities, either:
CHILD: Where are you going?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: There’s a Tea Party Rally at the park.
CHILD: What’s a Tea Party?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: The Tea Party movement is a grass-roots effort whereby patriotic Americans join together to save our country from Obama, Pelosi and the rest of those f-ing liberals.
CHILD: GASP! You said “f-ing.”
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: I know, but it’s not my fault — liberals make me so mad I just can’t control myself.
CHILD: You still have to wash your mouth out with soap though, right?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: I’ll be glad to, too, ’cause everything that’s happening to our country right now leaves such a bad taste in my mouth, soap would be an improvement.
3 If anything should be banned, condemned, or made the focus of an “unrelenting campaign,” it should be ads for erectile dysfunction that air during shows kids probably shouldn’t be watching with their parents but do, because trying to explain that is really, really uncomfortable.
Now that Mother’s Day is over, it’s time to get back to blaming mom.
While this might seem harsh, research indicates it may actually be justified: according to experts, “the way mothers talk to their children at a young age influences their social skills later in childhood.”
In other words, children of mothers who explain things – specifically other people’s feelings, beliefs, wants and intentions – are better off socially than those whose mothers dismiss their budding curiosity with “Because,” “Because I said so!” or “Because if you ask me again you’re going to bed for the rest of the day!”
Not that being more socially advanced is the key to a trouble-free childhood – researchers pointed out that kids who are more comfortable and confident expressing their emotions and opinions are much more likely to actually express their emotions and opinions, usually in complex and sophisticated ways, especially when they are contrary to yours.
But while some authority figures might consider this “bad,” “inappropriate” or a reason for detention and/or counseling, researchers downplayed this implication and pointed out that, in a perverse way, these bile-filled diatribes are actually a good sign. And that when a teenager erupts in rage and frustration and screams “You disgust me!” “You’re the worst parent ever!” or “I have complete and utter contempt for everything you stand for,” it’s not proof he or she is possessed, it’s proof mom created exactly the kind of positive, loving, supportive environment her child needed to feel comfortable acting like an ungrateful little shit.
FATHER: Why are you crying?
MOTHER: Because Junior just told me he hates me.
MOTHER: No, it’s fine. I’m not crying because I’m sad, I’m crying because now I know I’ve raised him right.
MOTHER: According to experts, his ability to express himself with confidence and authority proves I’m a good mother.
FATHER: Was there something on Oprah I should know about?
MOTHER: Just hold me.
If mom gets the credit, however, she also gets the blame. Which means that when a child is sullen, moody and silent, it’s probably because mom messed up years or even decades ago, and can now add that to the long list of things she feels guilty about but can never make up for, no matter how hard she tries.
MOTHER: My kids are grown, so what am I supposed to do now? Go back in time and try to explain everything to them more thoroughly?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Is that something you can do?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Go back in time?
MOTHER: Of course not.
PSYCHOLOGIST: So that’s the problem: you need to go back in time to save your children but you can’t.
PSYCHOLOGIST: And who do you need to save them from? A terminator?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Or maybe aliens?
MOTHER: I can’t talk to you.
PSYCHOLOGIST: Why? Are the aliens monitoring us?
Before us Dads get all superior and start pointing fingers, we should keep in mind that researches were only able to study the relationship between mothers and their offspring because fathers and their offspring didn’t spend enough time together to make enough of an impact, leading many to conclude that if we’re going to blame anyone because Junior is socially inept, we should probably blame dad, too.
Though not until after Father’s Day.
Rumors are swirling around that Pampers new, reformulated Swaddlers and Cruisers lines of diapers are causing rashes and chemical burns. But is this true? Has anyone come forward with conclusive proof that this is actually happening? Has anyone come forward with conclusive proof it’s not?
According to P&G, these allegations are “completely false.”
This response makes sense because we live in an age where misinformation gets passed off as gospel, and large, multi-national corporations like P&G have to act decisively.
On the other hand, we also live in an age where large, multi-national corporations spin just about everything, so who’s to say that 25 years from now, after some kind of “Jane Doe v. Pampers” class action lawsuit has been filed, all appeals have been exhausted and 150,000+ boxes of research, focus-group results and internal memos have been subpoenaed, cataloged and read in search of a smoking gun, P&G won’t pay a nominal fine and admit that while they didn’t lie, intentionally ignore some data, or make a critical error in judgement, they are sorry their long-since-reformulated product might have caused a limited number of cases of diaper rash all those years ago.
What strikes me as really silly is that P&G didn’t stop at denying the rumors were true, but went on to claim they were actually part of some giant conspiracy.
“These [diaper rash] rumors are being perpetuated by a small number of parents, some of whom are unhappy that we replaced our older Cruisers and Swaddlers products while others support competitive products and the use of cloth diapers,” said Pampers Vice President Jodi Allen in a statement.
A cabal of disgruntled former customers, Huggies families and the cloth diaper mafia?
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that we are Huggies family and have been for 10 years.1 That said, I don’t personally have anything against Pampers, and can’t honestly remember why we chose Huggies over Pampers in the first place, though I suspect it was because the supply of newborn diapers the hospital gave us ran out at 2:40 am some night, and when I went to the nearest all-night drug store to find more, I grabbed the first box of diapers I could find, which happened to be Huggies.)
While it’s possible that P&G is right, and eventually some hidden camera footage of the secret meeting where the plot was first hatched between the aforementioned groups will emerge, but until then, do they really want to handle the concern parents have for the health and well-being of their offspring this way?
CONCERNED PARENT: Your diapers gave my pride and joy a rash.
FICTIONAL P&G SPOKESPERSON: That’s a lie.
CONCERNED PARENT: Then why was my little angel, whose life I care more about than even my own, crying in pain?
FICTIONAL P&G SPOKESPERSON: We don’t know. But let us ask you a question: Are you now, or have you ever been a member of an anti-Pampers organization?
CONCERNED PARENT: No — but I guarantee that I will be in the future.
However this all shakes out, one thing seems clear clear: just because Pampers is in the diaper business doesn’t mean they can handle a big mess.
1Yes, we should be using green diapers, or at least cloth diapers, but we don’t and to the extent we are ruining the planet, we are sorry.
Is there anything worse than bringing a baby to a bar?
Judging by all the anger that’s being vented online, this seems to be among the most grievous sins any parent can commit.
To begin with, it’s more than likely the lonely, bitter, child-hating singles who seem to be so put out by this are in the minority, and that the majority of bar-patrons either don’t care, or accept the fact that there’s really no getting around the situation because babies need to be with their parents and their parents need to relax and have a few drinks before they completely lose their minds.
(Though I might be more than a little biased about that.)
On the other hand, if the baby-haters are in the majority, then… well… at least they’re in a bar where they can just order another round to numb their senses, right?
But forget that for the moment.
It seems like the primary objection to babies in bars is that they do a lot of things that ruin it for everyone else.
Maybe that’s true, but is a suckling newborn any more off-putting or “obscene” than two semi-intoxicated singles groping each other in a back corner of the bar that’s not nearly as dim as they think it is?
If spit-up is the problem, it’s important to keep in mind that when babies do that — whether in the car, or in a bar, or in a country called Myanmar (sorry, too much Dr. Seuss) — they usually do it on themselves, their mom or their mom’s childless, single friend who suggested they meet for a drink in the first place.
The same can’t be said for the just-turned-21 winner of the “Let’s see how many shots of Jack Daniels I can do” contest.
(Though he, too, may spit up on mom’s single, childless friend:
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: You ever watch “Cougar Town?”
MOM’S CHILDLESS, SINGLE FRIEND: I do, actually.
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: Me, too. I… I…
MOM’S CHILDLESS, SINGLE FRIEND: You want to come over and watch it with me some time?
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: No, I think I’m gonna be sick. BLA-AAAAA-A-A-TCH.
Think baby spit-up smells bad? It’s nothing compared to the stench of half-digested bar nuts and bourbon.)
So what about drool?
Any two geezers who’ve spent the entire day knocking back $2 PBRs produce a lot more than an infant.
Ditto for diapers, and the whole Huggies vs. Depends thing, too.
Which leaves what? Crying?
Sure, that can be loud, grating and unstoppable, but even a 5-month-old with a bad case of colic can’t compete with the sobs and wails that ring out when those same two semi-intoxicated singles run into each other a few nights later and one claims to have absolutely no memory of the other, let alone the passionate night they spent together where they pledged their mutual love and promised to be soul mates forever.
Conclusion: Baby-haters 0, Babies 1
In fact, maybe more than “1″ when you consider that to singles, a baby in a bar might not just be a reminder that they should enjoy themselves while they can still get out of the house without hiring a sitter, but that they should be careful, too, lest some intoxicated encounter take an intimate turn and they find themselves having to do that way too soon.
Now… if there’s anywhere babies should be banned, it’s coffee houses, because nothing makes every coo, burp, squeal, shriek or sob more irritating than a whole lot of caffeine.
(Note: to be fair, of course, if we ban babies from coffee houses, we should also ban loud talkers, people who yell into their cell phones like they’re stuck in a hurricane, anyone with an iPod who sings along to whatever’s playing through their earbuds, people who push three or four tables together to have a staff meeting, teenagers who spread their textbooks out across all the tables but then sit there and text their friends instead of studying, anyone trying to sell anything, promote anything, or affect any kind of social change, anyone coming from, or going to yoga, because who needs that kind of guilt, politicians, dog walkers who leave their dogs outside, nannies who leave their strollers outside, and, of course, anyone trying to write anything on a laptop — especially if it’s a post like this.)
Links to the many online articles and rants:
“Babies in Bars”/New York Times Blog
“Babies in Bars”/CNN
“Babies in Bars”/Luke Constantino
“Babies in Bars”/Brownstoner
“Babies in Bars”/New York Blips
“Babies in Bars”/The Nervous Breakdown
“Babies in Bars”/Parent Dish
“Babies in Bars”/Gothamist
“Babies in Bars”/New York Times
|Do you need to go?
|Do you want to go?
|Can you think of anything bad that will happen if you don’t go?
|If you lie and say you can’t go because you already have plans, will anybody find out?
|Will you really care if that happens?
|Will there be an open bar?
|Can you leave early if you are having a terrible time?
KID: Why are you using your angry voice?
PARENT: I’m not using my angry voice.
KID: It sounds like you’re using your angry voice.
PARENT: This is not my angry voice.
KID: Oh. Is it your totally-stressed-out voice?
PARENT: My what?
KID: If it’s not your angry voice, then it must be your totally stressed-out voice.
PARENT: It’s not my totally stressed-out voice, either.
KID: Is grandma coming?
PARENT: Why do you think grandma is coming?
KID: Because if it’s not your angry voice or your totally stressed-out voice, then it’s probably your grandma-is-coming-to-visit voice.
PARENT: I don’t have a grandma-is-coming-to-visit voice.
KID: No, you do – you definitely do.
PARENT: Well… grandma’s not coming to visit so it can’t be my grandma-is-coming-to-visit voice.
KID: Did you get a bad email from somebody?
KID: Are you tired?
KID: Do you have to wait around the house all day for the cable guy to show up?
KID: Hmm… if it’s not your bad-email voice, your I’m-really-really-tired voice or your I-hate-waiting-for-the-cable-guy voice, then what is it?
PARENT: Maybe it’s just my normal voice?
KID: If it’s your normal voice then why haven’t I ever heard it before?
PARENT: What’s that supposed to mean? Are you suggesting the only time I ever say anything to you I’m angry, stressed or irritated?
KID: Uh-oh… I think I know what voice it is.
KID: I don’t want to tell you.
KID: Because I think it’s your if-you-say-anything-else-I’ll-get-upset-with-you-and-make-you-do-chores voice.
PARENT: I don’t have an if-you-say-anything-else-I’ll-get-upset-with-you-and-make-you-do-chores voice!
PARENT: But go clean up your room anyway.
KID: I knew it.
HOUSEGUEST: Mind if I bring my dog?
HOMEOWNER: To our house?
HOUSEGUEST: He’s not any trouble. You won’t even know he’s there.
HOMEOWNER: Is he housebroken?
HOUSEGUEST: Of course.
When it comes to pets, there seem to be two kinds of people: those who believe being housebroken is an either/or proposition — either a dog goes outside when he needs to do his business, or he’s not housebroken — and those who favor a more Zen-like interpretation, where “housebroken” is more journey than destination, a path to potty enlightenment that every dog must travel at its own speed, peeing and pooping along the way as the need arises.
As you would expect, the latter position is most often adopted by those who think of their dogs as their children, and they are usually as unapologetic when their “baby” has “an accident” as a real parent is when the same thing happens to their child.
The problem is that when a child poops or pees, it’s in his pants; when a dog poops or pees, it’s on the bedspread in the bedroom.
HOMEOWNER: I thought you said he was housebroken?
HOUSEGUEST: He is.
HOMEOWNER: Then why didn’t he go outside?
HOUSEGUEST: Everybody has accidents. He probably just got excited.
How do you react to this kind of situation?
There seem to be two kinds of people in this case, too: those who understand that “shit happens,” and when it does the only thing you can do is grab some paper towels and clean it up, and those who want to know who’s gonna pay for the new mattress.
(And, unfortunately, you won’t know which camp you fall into until it happens to you.)
To: All Taxpayers
RE: Replacement for IRS Form 1040 EZ for taxpayers experiencing economic hardship
In light of economic conditions facing the country, we are temporarily replacing IRS Form 1040 EZ with a new form that more directly addresses taxpayers financial difficulties. Anyone who has been recently (or not-so-recently) unemployed, who has lost their entire savings in the Madoff scandal or because they invested on Wall Street, who works for a Detroit auto maker, or who finds themself in a position where they owe more on their house than it’s worth, should now request IRS Form 1040 F.U. — because no matter how bad your situation is, you are still required to pay your taxes, and you will be penalized if you don’t.
As a parent, time is precious. So how do you make the most of it? Time management experts offer the following advice:
3. Set time limits for tasks.
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
5. Don’t waste time waiting.
At first glance, these suggestions seem simple and straight-forward, but when you actually try to implement them you quickly realize they are better suited to some kind of parallel “self-help dimension” where the laws of time, space and sibling in-fighting don’t apply.
In theory, yes. In practice – forget it.
Take, say, the tasks of treating an injury versus giving a toddler a bath. Typically, bleeding kids come first, unless they’re bleeding because they did the thing you told them not to do five times, in which case the toddler would get the bath. If the bleeding kid is bleeding on furniture, however, then the furniture needs immediate attention.
On the other hand, if there’s only a little bleeding and it’s not on any furniture, then that might not be as important as preventing the toddler from trying to bathe himself.
Which means what? Parents are supposed to ship their kids off to India to get help with their homework?
3. Set time limits for tasks.
Okay. But what is the appropriate time limit for a temper tantrum? And if getting everybody ready in the morning takes 15 minutes longer than whatever amount of time you set aside – whether it’s 40 minutes or two hours – how are you supposed to limit that? Or if you make reservations for that one night out a year you get a leisurely three hours to eat, what happens when the babysitter is 20 minutes late and the restaurant gives up your table?
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
Most parents already do this, but it doesn’t seem to help. For example, a typical morning routine would be telling the kids to get up, get in the shower, get dressed, get some breakfast and get in the car, then repeating this three or four times over the course of 20 minutes before threatening them with some kind of bodily harm if they don’t do all of the above RIGHT THIS MINUTE!
This is followed by the nagging suspicion that something that was supposed to have been done last night wasn’t, and the sudden realization that this “something” was making lunches for all the kids.
As there is now not nearly enough time left to do everything and still get off on time, vows that “This will never happen again!” must be shouted so that all in the house can hear, spouses must be silently cursed for not helping, and God must be asked “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”
5. Don’t waste time waiting.
Clearly this was not written by anyone living in a small house with kids. How else is a parent supposed to get into the bathroom?
From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”
How can a two hour and 20 minute flight take five hours?
Electronic check in:
|| 17 minutes
Manual check-in after electronic check-in can’t find everyone’s name:
|| 34 minutes
|| 37 minutes
Pat down, additional questioning after dad was randomly flagged as a potential terrorist (which the kids thought was funny, but the parents couldn’t believe):
|| 11 minutes
Flight Delay (cause unknown, but “kid in control tower” incident suspected):
|| 40 minutes
|| 2 hours 20 minutes
Wait on tarmac (after pilot announces “We’ll be taxing to the gate in just a few minutes”):
|| 17 minutes
Wait at gate:
|| 7 minutes
Wait at baggage claim:
|| 34 minutes
Wait at baggage claim “lost luggage” department:
|| 19 minutes
Time-out for deep, calming breaths:
|| 6 minutes
Finding car in long-term parking after losing slip of paper with level and section number:
|| 22 minutes
Explaining why there won’t be any more family trips until the memory of this last one has faded away completely: