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Archive for June, 2008

quote of the day

On the world ending in 2012:

“You know, maybe it’s really not that bad that the Netherlands will be destroyed,” Petra Faile said. “I don’t like it here anymore. Take immigration, for example. They keep letting people in. And then we have to build more houses, which makes the Netherlands even heavier. The country will sink even lower, which will make the flooding worse.”

Say what?

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fast times at gloucester high

My latest article, this one on the pact with pack of pregnant teens, is up at Pajamas Media.

It’s not glamorous teen celebrities and their lifestyle who are to blame for the ‘pregnancy pact.’ The problem lays much, much closer to home.

Feel free to leave a comment over at PJM, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Madison Square Garden LP may lose ownership of the New York Rangers as a result of its antitrust lawsuit against the National Hockey League, according to a proposed disciplinary letter filed in U.S. District Court.

The antitrust? The Rangers did not want their website to be part of the NHL’s conglomeration of team websites.

Official NHL press release:

The National Hockey League today filed a counterclaim against Madison Square Garden, L.P. (“MSG”) seeking a declaration from the Court authorizing the Board of Governors to proceed with disciplinary proceedings against the ownership of the Rangers for material breaches of the team’s contractual commitments to the League and the other 29 Member Clubs, as well as for compensatory damages stemming from those breaches…

To backtrack a bit, last year MSG filed a suit against the NHL, basically saying they were monopolizing NHL teams by taking control of their websites, thereby limiting each team’s individual marketing potential.

The NHL wanted the Rangers’ website to adhere to the league’s common technology platform, but MSG argued that such control violated antitrust laws

The judge in that case ruled that the NHL had a right to take control of the websites.

And now, the NHL is threatening to take ownership of the team away from MSG if they DON’T CONFORM TO THE WEBSITE TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM.

Seriously. Chastise them. Fine them if you want. But this, this is just going overboard. It’s like the collective ego of the NHL brass took Viagra overnight and woke up with a raging hard-on that could only be cured by buttfucking one of its most popular teams.

Too bad they are going to end up fucking themselves in the ass with this one. As Bettman and the NHL try oh so hard to find the popularity and audience of the other major league sports, they do more and more to make sure that it will never happen. This is not what is known as a good PR move. Then again, Bettman was never known for those.

Bettman noted that the NHL constitution also prohibits league members from resisting or trying to prevent termination in the league through the courts.

So, basically – they will keep you bound and gagged, and you have no recourse outside of trying to negotiate with the very people who reamed you.

I hate Gary Bettman.

Ah, I see I’m not the only one to make a penis reference in regards to this matter. I don’t know what that means, but I like it.

Of course, Fire Bettman chimes in on this.

Update: I’m reading a ton of blog posts about this – those of you who are actually happy about this because it could mean getting rid of the Dolans, be careful what you wish for. Really, think about it. The Dolans own MSG. Do you really think if it came down to the unlikely scenario of Bettman actually going through with this thread, that the Rangers would still exist as you know them, that the Dolans would let a team they no longer own play in MSG? No, this will be a complete and utter disaster for the Rangers and their fans. As much as you might dislike the Dolans, this is the time to hope to the gods that things fall in their favor.

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new PJM article

Adults serving alcohol to minors at parties, and the laws regarding such. And my disdain for parents who think it’s ok to get kids drunk.

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nostalgia, part 2

my girl's all out of focus (365-224 and QOTSA #15)

Yes, there’s a reason I took an unfocused photo of my daughter’s yearbook photo page.

I was listening to “You Would Know” by Queens of the Stone Age today and kept thinking about the line “my girl’s all out of focus” and I had this idea. Mainly, because she is figuratively, for me, out of focus. It’s like I’m not sure what I see when I look at her. Is she an adult? Is she still a kid? I am having a hell of a time dealing with her impending graduation. In so many ways I still want her to be a little kid, and in so many ways I’m so proud of her the young woman she’s become. And there are times she wants me to treat her like and adult and times she just wants to crawl into my lap and be that little kid again. So, yes. My girl’s all out of focus.

And I’m getting verklempt.

I have another one of those old, long, rambling essay things for you. I’m digging them out of the woodwork now and I’m all stuck in a pit of nostalgia today. I have a feeling I will be like this for a bit.

It’s a long one, with an addendum at the end. If you read it all the way through, I thank you.

It was written on June 4, 2004, when Natalie was 14. Unbelievable how much she has changed in this four years

——–

I dragged Natalie to Wal-Mart with me yesterday to pick up some odds and ends. We stopped briefly in the electronics department to see if they carried the thingie that I need to transfer my photos from camera to computer, as the one I own is packed away somewhere in a box that must be buried under boxes we intended to not open for years.

They didn’t have what I was looking for, but they did have three giant bins filled with DVDs! Three for Five Dollars! While Supplies Last! Of course, we had to look. I know I will never, ever find anything I want in these bin sales, but I look anyway, always hoping that one day the corporate heads at Conglomerate Central will decide that their store should no longer carry any Gary Oldman movies and I’ll be able to complete my collection cheap.

No such luck. There were some Tony Danza movies, a couple of Part IVs to movies that should have never had a Part I and kids videos that were all meant to cash in on the Barney craze way back when but never had quite the impact that the grown man dressed up in the polka dotted lion suit hoped for.

As I gave up hope of finding anything interesting (and after explaining to Natalie that Monkeybone was not worth even $1.75), I was smacked in the face by nostalgia.

Baby Songs. Oh, not a good thing to see while I’m suffering through a raging battle with PMS. No, not the kind of PMS where I want to tear someone’s heart out, but the complete opposite, the kind that makes me cry at the mere site of orphaned kittens or little babies or an old couple holding hands.

When Natalie was wee tiny, someone bought us a few of the Baby Songs tapes. I scoffed, as I was not going to be one of those parents who stuck their kid in front of a television. In fact, I vowed that Natalie would not even know what a television was until she was older. Perfect Parenting 100 begins with the mantra Kill Your Television.

We listened to music instead. Natalie was strangely soothed by The Traveling Wilburys. I have a video somewhere of Natalie in her little bouncy seat, having one of her patented screaming fits. When she had these outbursts, she was inconsolable. She didn’t want to be held. Didn’t want to be fed. Nothing could calm her down. But in this particular video (and why we were taping her screaming, I have no idea), she’s at fever pitch; arms flailing, feet flying, head spinning 360 degrees with pea soup flying out of her mouth and suddenly she stops. Just dead stops. She cocks her head like a cat listening for the devil. And you hear it.

Been beat up and battered ’round
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found
Handle me with care

The tears stop, her face lights up. I zoom in close with the camera and I swear she is smiling. Smiling! and thus began the beginning of the end of my infatuation with that Wilburys song. After five days of using it to stop the crying jags, I never wanted to hear it again.

So Natalie’s savage mood swings were soothed by music, and this bode well for one very tired mommy. I was able to put her in the swing or the bouncy seat, switch on the stereo and everyone was happy. Mommy could do some cleaning or read the paper and Natalie would bounce and swing and make little baby attempts at singing, which some people call cooing, but when your child is obviously some kind of genius, it is singing, damn it.

Then the stereo broke. Just stopped working, just like that. Now what? The crying jags came back. The red face and balled up fists were like powerful magic, turning me into a stressed out, frenzied mother who wanted nothing more than to not be a mother whenever Nat was struck by these moods. Music, had to have music.

There was the television. Staring at me, just daring me to turn it on. But…but what about my Perfect Parenting score? What would the other women in my Perfect Mother’s Group think? Won’t my baby immediately turn into an idiot if I put her in front of the tv?

Well, it was just music, after all. I just needed music. So I hesitantly put on MTV. The crying coming from the monster baby in the swing stopped. The cooing/singing started. Yes! This had to be worth the points I would get taken off my Perfect Parent license. I took Natalie out of the swing and put her on my lap, right in front of the tv. I was losing control over my ability to perfect parent! Maybe I was going to become the idiot, not my baby.

It didn’t matter because the MTV fascination lasted as quick as the Prince video we were watching. They segued from Prince into Guns N Roses and, let me tell you, there has never in fourteen years of Natalie’s life been anything that frightened her more than Axl Rose. It wasn’t just an aberration that Welcome to the Jungle was making her cry that day. It turned out that no matter what, whether it was on the tv or a radio, GnR never failed to pitch Natalie into a crying frenzy. [Then there was the video for Live’s I, Alone, which caused Natalie (at a much later age) to have a recurring nightmare about Ed Kowalczyk eating her for dinner.]
(
It was at one of my weekly Perfect Parenting Mother’s Group meetings (some of you know exactly what I’m talking about)that I broke down and confessed I was a bad parent who tried to use television to make my child stop crying. The other mothers took turns chastising me and using a cat-o-nine tails on my back while I had to repeat over and over again that I was a bad mommy and would never, ever turn on a television again. Points were taken away. Tears were shed. This was worse than the day I confessed that I wasn’t signing Natalie up for Gymboree. Or the day the other mommies noticed that my child was not wearing Baby Gap clothing.

After the de-scoring ceremony, I left the mommy group feeling dejected and horrible about my parentings skills. As I walked to my car (points off for having a Mustang and not a mini-van) a small, meek woman approached me. She was wearing a trench coat and dark sunglasses and furtively glancing around.

I have to make this quick, she said. I’ve been banished from the mommy group for letting my kids watch television and for not having soy milk available in my home. She then reached into her deep pockets, pulled out a video tape, and whispered two words into my ear: Baby Songs. She confessed that she had been letting her twins watch the tapes since they were old enough to see straight. She related the story of the day one of the lead mommies came to her house for a surprise visit and saw the twins propped up in front of the television, all smiles and giggles, watching a video. She tried to defend herself by showing the ruling mommy how happy the twins were, but the mommy just said they were the smiles of idiots, not happy babies. She immediately turned off her tv, and offered the lead mommy a snack, but the lack of soy milk did her in. Banishment followed immediately.

The trenchcoated woman explained the importance of the Baby Songs tapes. How they soothed her children, but were educational, too. How the tapes gave her time to unwind, read the paper, have coffee, do a load of dishes without having to hold or entertain the kids.

I gave in. I took the tape from her and to anyone looking on from the shadows, we must have appeared to be two desperate housewives making a crack deal to alleviate the boredom of our lives. She offered the crack. I took it and ran.

It was nothing short of a miracle, this tape. The second the music cued up, Natalie did her little hand-waving, foot-wiggling act. She smiled. She giggled. I think she may have applauded.

I was able to make dinner peacefully. I dusted and vacuumed. I read a chapter of a book. All the while, Natalie cooed and sang and never once approached the danger zone of the whimpers that would lead to a full on tantrum.

Yet, I felt guilty. The tv was on! How terrible! So I fought with myself.
She’s happy, you’re happy.
No, no, she’s not happy, she’s just smiling an idiot’s smile!
Look how much you got done.
But what good is a nice dinner when your child is losing IQ points?
These songs are so cute!
The Mommies are going to take away your membership card!

I had this image of the Lead Mommy looking very much like Angelica Huston in The Witches. Would I be able to hide my dirty deeds at the next meeting or would she just know, just by looking at me, that I was a hideous creature, a mother who dared to let her child watch television and wear K-Mart clothing?

Then Natalie clapped. Really, truly clapped. With delight. I sat down in front of the tv and put Nat on my lap, rewound the Baby Songs tape and started from the beginning. We watched the whole thing together, me laughing and her singing and clapping. Angelica Huston be damned, my kid was happy. She was not crying or turning red with kiddie rage.

The next week I went to my Perfect Parent meeting as usual. When it came time to sit in our circle and take turns airing our parenting gripes in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental manner, I quietly took my place on the floor. After listening to a few women bitch very non judgmentally about other (non Perfect Parenting) mothers who don’t enroll their babies in vocabulary enhancement classes, it was my turn. I stood up – even though standing up was considered a threatening, aggressive move -and told the other perfect, wonderful mommies that my child was enjoying watching television and furthermore, I was enjoying the fact that she was enjoying it. And, even furthermore, I was going to purchase even more videotapes and oh, by the way, I don’t add tofu to my daughter’s baby food, I think Baby Gap clothes are ugly and overpriced and (looking straight at the Lead Mommy at this point) I have it on good authority that you buy store brand diapers! Well, you can imagine the gasps and squeals. I fled the room, ran to the car (cradling Natalie under my arm like a football, which is a big no-no in the Perfect Parenting world) and took off in my non-conformist Mustang, tires screeching, radio blaring some Satan’s spawn rock song.

Man, that was one long tangent. Let’s get back to Wal-Mart, yesterday.

So we stand there still digging through videos and I start thinking about the Perfect Parenting mommies and wondering how I’ve fared since I left the group that purported to have my child’s best interests at heart. Did I raise her right? Did she turn into a good young adult? Would she pass inspection from the Lead Mommy? What would her scores in self-esteem and individuality look like if her life were a scorecard?

We’re approached by a loud group of giggly girls that turn out to be Nat’s friends from school. One of the girls is a friend of a friend, one of those clique cross-over girls. She stares Natalie up and down while Nat chats with one of the other girls. Natalie notices this.

What? Do I have a booger on my face or something?
Uhh..no. I’m just like..uh…I hate those pants you wear.
Well, it’s a good thing I don’t dress to please you, isn’t it?

Yea, I’ve done alright.

The girls left and I grabbed three of the Baby Songs DVDs and showed them to Natalie. Remember these, I asked? And my fourteen year old starts singing, in the middle of Wal-Mart. Mommy comes back, she always comes back, she always comes back to get me. My mommy comes back, she always comes back, she never would forget me.

She remembered. Surely, not from her infant days when I propped her in front of the television; more likely from my second round with the tapes when DJ was a baby. But listening to her sing those words all these years later made my eyes fill with tears. Natalie glared at me. You are not going to cry, mom. Pause. Are you?

I look at her and think of her as a baby, a toddler, a Daisy Girl Scout. It really wasn’t that long ago. She’s still sort of a kid, right? I’m getting all teary for nothing. I still have years of her childhood left to savor. I go on and on like this for a few minutes, staring at the Baby Songs videos, looking at her, trying to not to break into a PMS crying fit.

Natalie breaks my reverie.

Oh, Mom. Forgot to tell you. I got my high school schedule today.

Damn straight I cried. I’m crying now, still.

————-

So that was four years ago. High school is done. She got her college schedule. And all those years of childhood I had left to savor are gone and I wonder if I savored them enough. I have guilt, guilt that I could not possibly begin to explain to you, things that I have never forgiven myself for, wasted time that should have been savored.

But I will enjoy these two years I have left with her while she’s at community college, before she leaves me for a faraway campus, before she leaves me for a career and what comes after. I don’t want to let go of her, but I know I have to. Part of me keeps saying, I have to keep a hold on her, she can’t make it out there on her own, and Todd gently reminds me that she most certainly can make it on her own and I need to let her go and do that. I’m trying.

I miss that little girl. But I will savor the young lady I have now.

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nostalgia, part I

Rediscovering all the old stuff I wrote on archive.org has made me nostalgic. I’m going to repeat some of my favorite stuff here, the stuff that I thought didn’t exist online anymore. While there are a lot of things I never want to read again, there are some things I thought worth saving. I’m going to be putting them here, being that no one but two or three people are reading anyhow.

suffering from a bout of nostalgia

The picture is of my friend’s son Corey, and DJ on the right. I think they were six here. They are 15 now.

I wrote this particular piece on July 12, 2001.

I didn’t set out to become an expert on anything but my own children. But that’s what happens. By accident, by fate, by the meandering path that is parenthood, we become experts at things we thought we had no business knowing. They are not always things we want to be well-versed in. But they are things we are forced to know and research and become familiar with to the point of it becoming a part of your vocabulary, your being, your life.

I myself became an expert at a few things. I learned how to negotiate the maze that is special education. I learned how to deflect criticism and pointless accusations and needless test results. I learned how to yell, how to beg, how to stand up for everything you believe to be true and how to disprove everything you know is not. I learned the correct vernacular, the phrases and coined terms, the euphemisms that the people who think they know your child better than you use to make you think that they are so much wiser than you. I learned how to rant and rave with dignity still intact and I learned that there is no better teacher and no better healer for your child than yourself. I learned that support groups and meetings and therapist, while they all have wonderful intentions, are not replacements for real knowledge and actoin. I became an expert, so much so that other parents in the same predicament would call me late at night and ask for advice. And honestly, I was only passing on advice that was handed down to me by other parents who unwittingly became experts in the same field.

I became an expert at ear infections. How to tell when your child has one, even if he isn’t running a fever, how to predict when one was coming, how to stave off a night of ear splitting crying, how to keep your child comfortable and relatively happy even though the inside of his ears were swollen and red and filled with fluid. I learned that Tylenol just doesn’t work for some kids and antibiotics may prove useless. I learned that your child banging his head on the wall night after night was a sign of pain and that when a chatty child suddenly stops talking it’s a very bad sign. I learned how to calm a child by strapping him into his carseat at 3 am and driving around the neighborhood singing Tom Chapin songs. I learned how to get a child to sleep sitting up, in a stroller, while you push said stroller around your kitchen table endlessly. I learned that doctors don’t always know what’s best and don’t always know what’s right and when your child’s doctor makes you feel incompetent and stupid, that it is time to find a new one. I learned that ear infections may really be the underlying symptom to something else and I learned, in a very hard fashion, how to stop yourself from fainting when your 18 month old son is getting a spinal tap, and that if you do not stop crying and carrying on, the kind nurse will take you from the room and make you sit somewhere far away where you can’t hear your son screaming in agony and fright. I learned about allergies and milk allergies in particular and I learned that sometimes the best teacher you have is the library and a pediatrician who doesn’t think you are stupid or incompetent.

I became an expert at things that weren’t so heartbreaking. I learned how to use a broom handle to teach a kid to ride a two-wheeler. I learned the number for poison control by heart. I was an expert on which Burger King had ball pits and which McDonalds had the outdoor playgrounds and I was the one who taught the other mothers why you never ever let your child go in one of those pretty colorful play tunnels that only a child can fit in when you are planning on leaving the Chuck E. Cheese in about ten minutes. I was an expert at the songs on Barney and the names of all the Power Rangers and I could imitate Darkwing Duck like nobody else. I knew the name of every train on Thomas the Tank Engine. I learned how to get down on a floor and play like a kid. I learned every Raffi song ever written and I also learned that kids will listen to your music if you just give them a chance, but Guns n Roses will make any 2 year old cry. I learned that every parenting book gives different views and different opinions on all matters of child raising and you will make yourself crazy if you try to follow them all.

I became an expert on the revolutionary war and Thomas Edison and Tazmanian devils by default. I learned the difference between Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist and why “Nsync rulz and BSB droolz.” I learned how to negotiate fights between adolescent girls without making it seem like parental interference. I learned all over again the rules of basketball. I learned how to get to a baseball game in one place and a basketball game in another and make it look like I was there for most of both games. I learned how to call a truce, how to back down from a battle that wasn’t worth it and how to get crayon off a newly painted wall. I learned that a summer night at the beach with a picnic, watching the sunset is worth more to your child than a day at an amusement park.

These are not things I thought I would need to know or want to know. They just happened. You are thrust in front of you a mission to learn something, and you learn it because someone needs you to. Not because you want to, not because it’s interesting, although it usually is. You become an expert by default, and you take all that you have learned and pass it on to the next unsuspecting parent who needs it. Call me when your kid develops a small red rash on his leg. I know exactly what it is.

Yes, there will be more of these. I’m nothing if not self indulgent.

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Just in case you were thinking about sending a limo to pick your child up from the last day of school, be aware that your school district may not like the idea.

Yes, that says limo.

I know, most sane people would never think of doing such a thing. But apparently, the parents of sixth grade snow flakes in Lake Grove, Illinois see nothing wrong with spending a stupid amount of money to prove that their children are more special than yours.

I might not have cared so much about this story save for this quote by the school superintendent:

“There are a few parents in our district that like to do things that we consider novel,” he said. “This is a community of parents who really value education and really value those kind of milestones.”

Horseshit. You show you value education with a ride in a limo? What he really means is these people value showing off their money and spoiling their children to the point where they think they are superior to everyone else. Seriously. A fucking limo? It’s sixth grade, people. What are you going to do for high school graduation, rent some people to carry him off on a golden throne?

These are the kind of people you see My Super Spoiled Sweet 16 That Daddy Took Out A Second Mortgage To Afford So I Wouldn’t Cry.

I hate you all.

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