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FIRST “CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS” MISSION FOR KIDS: CONVINCING PARENTS TO LET THEM BUY IT

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.
TWEEN: Great.

5 minutes later:

TWEEN: Can you take me to the video game store?
MOM: Why?
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?
TWEEN: Yes.
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.

CHARLIE SHEEN: ROLE MODEL

KID: Are we gonna watch “Two and a Half Men?
PARENT: No.
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?

SPENDING $114.87 ON "RASHOMON"

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.
YOU: Uh…
THEM: Again.

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)

KIDS, TV AND THE S-WORD: TIME TO BRING BACK THE NETWORK CENSOR?

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.

Maybe.

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.

Click.

Click.

Click.

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

Stay tuned.

__________________________________________

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.

LITTLE IRRITATIONS: THE PAPER CUTS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

  • Door dings.
  • Trash bins that are supposed to be animal-proof but aren’t.
  • Dropped calls.
  • FEDEX drivers who double-park.
  • Stores that post the wrong hours online.
  • Meter maids.
  • Parents who bring their kids to daycare when they’re sick.
  • Traffic.
  • Drivers who make phone calls instead of turning.
  • Construction delays.
  • Drivers who don’t wait their turn at 4-way stops.
  • Tele-marketers who claim they don’t have to heed the “Do Not Call” registry because you’re a customer of their subsidiaries’ off-shore cousin’s shell company.
  • SUVs parked in compact spaces.
  • Chatty baristas who don’t seem to care/realize there are now 37 people in line.
  • The drive-thru (especially McDonald’s).
  • Golf.
  • People who don’t pick up after their pets.
  • News promos that use the words “deadly,” “outbreak,” and “protect yourself” when all they’re actually talking about is the flu.
  • Parents who call before 8:30 am.
  • Activities that are canceled or postponed by e-mail a few hours before they’re supposed to start.
  • Radio stations that have 25 minutes of commercials every hour.
  • Things at the supermarket that are still on the shelves days, weeks or months after their expiration date.
  • Cable-company DVRs.
  • Apple Airport Extreme Wi-Fi.
  • Universal remotes.
  • Spellcheck.
  • When your kids hide your keys.
  • Saran Wrap.

If Eskimos have a thousand words for snow, shouldn’t we have a thousand words for life’s little irritations?

For most of us, a day doesn’t go by that God, the universe, fate, karma, quantum physics or all-of-the-above don’t needle our emotional well-being, usually when we’re running late, just had an argument with our spouse or suddenly realized we forgot to get a babysitter for tomorrow night so we could go to dinner and a movie and finally get a break from all this crap.

It doesn’t help that these cosmic paper cuts never seem to be isolated one- offs, either, but instead come in sets, like celebrity deaths and unsolicited parenting suggestions from opinionated strangers – it’s not just the long line at Starbucks, it’s having them mess up your order twice and then spilling your extra-hot, half-caf hazelnut mocha down the front of your shirt as you pull out of the parking lot.

The impact of these little irritations – and they are little, even if we can’t figure out how not to sweat them – increases exponentially as the day progresses, to the point where we find ourselves cursing some 82-year-old women with a walker because she’s not crossing the street fast enough, or threatening to ground our kids for the rest of their natural lives if they EVER give the dog another peanut butter and jelly sandwich again, or contemplating divorce because our spouse forgot (again) to fill up the car when it got close to empty, leaving us in the position of having to coast down the hill to the Shell.

Psychologists say the only reason any of this stuff annoys us the way it does is because it reminds us that we’re not really in control (no matter how thoroughly we’ve managed to convince ourselves otherwise) and that ultimately mastering the moment isn’t nearly as important as just being in it, regardless of whether that moment is good, bad, satisfying, awful, rewarding, stressful, happy, sad, amusing, aggravating, etc.

But as nice as that sounds (in a zen-like, higher-consciousness kind of way), who has the time to learn how to do that? Or the energy? Or the patience?

If learning to live in the moment can’t be accomplished in one 30-minute session two times a week, in the car on the drive home from work, or during one of those rare moments when every kid in the house is quietly pre-occupied, then it just becomes one more thing we don’t have time to squeeze in but try to do anyway – or would try to do if we didn’t have to wait for the knucklehead in the car ahead of us to get off the phone and go.

Note: It’s easy to complain about life’s little irritations, but it’s also important to point out that we could probably eliminate entire categories of irritation if we really, really wanted to – just moving to a remote cabin in Montana and living off the land, for example, would instantly rid us of driving-, shopping-, neighbor-, school- and work-related annoyances (though it would probably more than make up for that by adding starvation-, bear attack-, hypothermia-, and isolation-related irritations, so maybe that’s not such a good trade-off. Plus, let’s not forget that Unabomber Ted Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin in Montana so he could get away from it all and look what happened to him).

OPRAH + SARAH PALIN

Oprah and Sarah Palin sitting down together? Isn’t that like matter sitting down with anti-matter?

And isn’t that supposed to make the universe explode?

Since we’re all still here, it must have gone reasonably well. Which raises the question: what will they do next?

First, of course, Oprah will have to call The White House to explain why she gave millions of dollars in free publicity to President Obama’s 2012 opponent, and Sarah will have to call Rush Limbaugh (or Glenn Beck) to explain why she gave a guaranteed ratings bump to a liberal.

But after that?

While they could just go their separate ways, both are shrewd enough to realize that between the two of them they appeal to 94% of the U.S. population, and would therefore be unbeatable at the polls.

True, they do have philosophical differences, but they also have Dr. Phil to help them work those out.

(And if he couldn’t help, they could sit down with Hillary for a little advice on how to get along with somebody you don’t always agree with.)

Absurd? Sure, but what aspect of politics isn’t? And think of all the advantages they’d have:

  • Both are comfortable on camera.
  • Both speak their mind.
  • Both are wealthy enough to self-finance their campaign.
  • Oprah knows where Africa is.

There is one sticking point: who’d be the candidate and who’d be the running mate?

Which brings up the following poll:

If Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Palin were running mates in 2012, would it be:

View Results

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SCENES FROM MARRIAGE NO. 4

HUSBAND: What are you doing?
WIFE: Watching TV.
HUSBAND: I can see that, but why aren’t you watching in HD?
WIFE: Do we get this channel in HD?
HUSBAND: Of course! Don’t you remember the expanded super-premium top tier all-access HD cable package I told you about?
WIFE: No.
HUSBAND: Let me show you: this is what you were watching… and this is the same channel in HD.
WIFE: What’s the difference?
HUSBAND: What’s the difference?!?!?!?
WIFE: Besides the extra $1000 you spent on the really, really big screen, instead of putting it into the college fund.
HUSBAND: It’s not just the size. Can’t you see how much better the resolution is? This is a 720p HD signal on a 1080p monitor, not that up-converted 480i crap you were watching.
WIFE: I don’t even know what you’re saying. Can’t I just want to watch the show?
HUSBAND: I don’t know why I even bother trying to explain this stuff.
WIFE: I don’t know why you even think I’d care. But while you’re standing there, go into the closet and grab my gray cashmere sweater, will you?
HUSBAND: Fine. Here.
WIFE: I said “gray cashmere.”
HUSBAND: That’s what this is.
WIFE: It’s not gray, it’s charcoal.
HUSBAND: Huh?
WIFE: And it’s not cashmere, it’s wool.
HUSBAND: What’s the difference?

MOVIES FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD YOU WON'T WANT YOUR KIDS TO WATCH

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”

Sure, it’s fun and the songs are catchy, but the bad guy’s main henchman tricks kids into thinking they’re getting free candy, then locks them in a jail wagon and takes them away. You could argue this provides a much-needed opportunity to talk to kids about the scary realities of the world we live in (and the people who live in it with us), but not at 3 am when your kid’s crying hysterically because the “candy jailer” is hiding in the closet.

Old Yeller”

Not only does beloved dog Old Yeller get rabies and die in the end, the kid has to kill him. Talk about issues.

“The Cowboys”

John Wayne needs help. John Wayne can’t find cowboys. John Wayne gets kids instead of cowboys. John Wayne teaches kids to be cowboys (and by extension, men). John Wayne dies. YES, DIES. (Brutally, too, in a totally unheroic way.) How can John Wayne die? If John Wayne can die, anyone can die? To a generation raised on The Duke, this was more traumatic than walking in on your parents having sex. The only thing that made John Wayne’s death okay was the fact that the kids avenged him by killing the outlaw who killed him. But unfortunately for today’s kids, John Wayne isn’t an icon, he’s just an old guy from old movies they don’t show on Nick, so the scene where the kids take turns putting bullets into his killer is kind of extreme.

“West Side Story”

Gangs, turf wars, racial tension (the Sharks are Puerto Rican), a girl who’s almost raped… all set to music. When you watch this with your kids, explaining why the hero dies in the end will be the least of your concerns.

“Brian’s Song”

Even though we now know that it’s okay for kids to see their fathers cry, it can be confusing for kids if they also see their mom standing in the doorway rolling her eyes at the sight of dad crying over something as dated and melodramatic as this.

“Heidi”

In the Shirley Temple version of the classic book, a mountain girl with an unbreakable spirit gets shuffled between various sets of cranky grown-ups, eventually winning them over but nearly dying in the process. It’s kind of like the ultimate DCFS nightmare, only everybody ends up happy and not in jail or Family Court.

“The Wizard of Oz”

Flying monkeys were creepy then, they’re creepy now.

“Journey to The Center of The Earth”

“You can’t lead a dangerous expedition to the center of the earth,” says scientist James Mason to Arlene Dahl. “You’re just a woman – and as everyone knows, women are frail, weak and stupid enough to wear frilly bloomers on a trip down into an extinct volcano.” Add to that Pat Boone singing, lots of irresponsible spelunking, a pet duck that gets eaten by the bad guy (who is then killed by the duck’s owner in an act of justifiable homicide) and a giant lizard at the end that tries to eat everyone, and you’ve got a movie that irritates women, gives boys bad ideas (“We should see if that sewer down on the corner leads to the center of the earth!”) and causes nightmares.

“Charlotte’s Web”

Oh, look… it’s a cute little spider that can read and write! And what’s this? She uses her talents to save a pig from being slaughtered? How noble and touching! But then she dies, because that’s the natural order of things and God-forbid we spare kids that (unfortunate) truth.

“Grease”

Good girl moves to town. Good girl falls in with “wrong” crowd. Good girl takes up smoking and learns to dress like a 1950s slut. Good girl becomes bad girl and gets the boy of her dreams, becomes insanely popular, lives happily ever after. Now that’s a message you want to send to you kids, right?

“Boy’s Town”

An entire town full of priests and young boys? Wasn’t there a lawsuit about this? Haven’t there been a lot of lawsuits about this? As innocent and uplifting as this movie was at the time, it takes on an entirely different subtext now.

“Pollyanna”

This movie should be avoided if there’s any chance any of your kids will watch it and then try to be like Hayley Mills, because that would be really, really annoying.

“Captains Courageous”

Boy falls off boat. Boat doesn’t stop. Abandonment issues follow.

“Mary Poppins”

PARENT: Wanna watch Mary Poppins?
KID: Sure, what’s it about?
PARENT: It’s about a governess who –
KID: What’s a “governess?”
PARENT: A governess is like a nanny, only… er… uh… well, I guess a governess is a nanny – only this one has magical powers.
KID: You mean like Nanny McPhee?
PARENT: No, not like Nanny McPhee. Or maybe a little like Nanny McPhee. Only Mary Poppins is beautiful and Nanny McPhee is… not.
KID: You know, you shouldn’t judge people by the way they look.
PARENT: I wasn’t judging.
KID: It sounds like you were judging.
PARENT: I wasn’t.
KID: She can’t help the way she looks.
PARENT: I know that.
KID: Why are you getting upset?
PARENT: Do you want to watch the movie or not?
KID: Not if you’re gonna get mad at me.

“Willy Wonka”

Gene Wilder is great, but as responsible parents, do we really want to give our kids the message that if they do what they’re told they’ll be rewarded, and if they act spoiled, have no self-control, are too demanding, too self-centered, etc. something bad will happen to them?

On second thought, maybe this is a movie all kids should see.

WHAT HGTV TEACHES YOU ABOUT HOME

  • The most popular styles in America aren’t “Modern,” “Georgian,” “Mediterranean” or “Neoclassical,” they’re “It may not go with anything else but it’s really comfortable” and “We can’t throw it away because it was Grandma’s.”
  • More often than not, people who are certain their friends and family love their unique sense of style find out the exact opposite is true when cameras are rolling, and that their style makes others want to vomit.
  • Women are to closets what men are to garages.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house that they can’t get rid of, even though it’s ugly and doesn’t fit in, because it was a gift.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house that they can’t get rid of, even though it’s ugly and doesn’t fit in, because they like it.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house that they can’t get rid of, even though it’s ugly and doesn’t fit in, because their spouse likes it, in which case they just pretend it doesn’t exist.
  • Or they get divorced.
  • Everybody has at least one thing in their house they just don’t fix (even though it probably wouldn’t take that much time or money). And the longer it goes unfixed, the more they get used to it. To the point where they don’t think it’s at all strange, for example, that the only way to get to the backyard is by climbing out through the kitchen window because the key broke off in the lock years ago and jammed the backdoor.
  • Anyone who knows exactly what’s in their hall closet is more organized than 99% of the country.
  • Or they’re moving and it’s empty.
  • Most people are shocked to learn their HVAC unit has a filter that needs to be cleaned and/or replaced every year or so, and that this filter is really the only thing keeping the air clean.
  • Even anal, persnickety neat-freaks have a junk drawer.
  • Nobody thinks their home remodeling project will take twice as long and costs 50% more than the original estimate, even though every remodeling project that’s ever been done has taken twice as long and cost 50% more than the original estimate.
  • Nobody thinks it’s their fault, either.
  • Everybody has unrealistic expectations about how much house they’ll get for their money — this was true before the housing bust, and it’s still true now, mostly because as much as prices have dropped, they still haven’t dropped to the point where a $2.5 million mansion costs under $179,000.*
  • Even somebody moving from a yurt to a 3500 sq. ft. 5 bedroom house would find one of the bedrooms “too small.”
  • When it comes to complaining about doing laundry, distance doesn’t matter: it’s just as inconvenient to go “all the way to the laundromat” as it is to go “all the way downstairs.”
  • It’s not just easier to move than to clean out the garage/basement/attic, it’s less stressful.
  • Just because somebody has a gourmet kitchen they never use doesn’t mean they don’t need a gourmet outdoor kitchen they won’t use, too.
  • On any given home improvement project, there will be a tense moment between spouses, partners or various members of the interior design staff, but the ones on TV never result in divorce or a lawsuit, and by the time the project is completed everyone involved is the best of friends.
  • This doesn’t happen in real life.
  • Anybody can make a room look bad, but only a professional interior designer will charge you $125 an hour to do it.
  • If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, why isn’t everything at the flea market more expensive?
  • If you have two ugly ceramic plates or bowls or figurines that you don’t know what to do with (and for some reason can’t get rid of), and you stick them on a shelf somewhere you think nobody will see them, everybody will see them, and worse, they will assume you collect them and start giving you more of them as gifts.
  • The secret to a happy marriage is to have the exact same sense of style as your spouse. Otherwise, the furniture you’re fighting over in the store is the very same furniture you’ll be fighting over in divorce court a few years later.
  • If the Health Department had jurisdiction over homes, every kitchen in the country would be shut down and the owners would be fined thousands of dollars for unsafe food handling, improper storage, improper preparation and varying degrees of infestation — and yet, when we drop something on the floor of the restaurant, we leave it; when we drop something on the floor at home, if it’s been there less than three-seconds we dust it off and eat it.

*Not yet, anyway.