Archive for the ms. malaprop Category

egregious ’80’s: time for requests

Posted in ms. malaprop, music on October 19, 2009 by wrekehavoc

we interrupt this guilty pleasure monday for a general announcement. you may not like it. you have been warned…

november is coming around; and those of you who have been with me for all these years know what THAT means…

nablopomo!

yes, national blog posting month. every year for the past few years, i have been making a concerted effort to blog every single day in the month of november. i tend to pick a theme (or few) and beat it to death attract people who probably ought to get better hobbies rather than arguing with me over the idea that the song playground in my mind has redeeming qualities start lively discussions. it’s a lot of fun, and i make a lot of new bloggy friends this way, many of whom i am quite good friends with now. (and no, i am not being stalked. yet. i think.)  in november 2007, i took on several leitmotifs: best and worst children’s books ever (it was a bonding moment when i discovered that i am not the only person who loathes the giving tree) as well as great grownups music for kids.

last year, i took on the now-legendary blatantly bad ’70s music. and make no mistake about it: people out there do respond to this delightful tiptoe through some truly awful music.  oh, the agony of the earworms! oh, the pain of hearing people defend why wildfire is just the most. amazing. song. evah. oh, the magic of songs like  i’ve been to paradise, but i’ve never been to me! yes, i had to do penance for that monthus terribulus by providing an entire month of guilty pleasure mondays that were good 1970s songs. songs like bad blood by neil sedaka and elton john.

you’re welcome.

it was so much fun to crucify some of the worst in ’70s music that i thought, hell, why not go after the eighties? that’s my primary era, and there’s so much crap there — some wildly obvious. so i’m making a list and checking it twice. and in november, hold onto your izods and your jheri curls, cos i’m going to attempt to corral some of the most awful offenders on your then-radio dial. (or MTV station, back when Music Video Television actually played videos.)

so please: share your requests in the comments section below or on my contact page. (not on my facebook page, please, as i will lose your stuff in a matter of days when the comments go south.)

the request line is open.

(and, as always, guilty pleasure monday gets suspended in november so you can get all the earworms i can squeeze into a month. bad ones, that is.)

blog action day: like the weather

Posted in CVID, FAMILY, health, ms. malaprop, political animal on October 15, 2009 by wrekehavoc

every year, i participate in blog action day.  i like to tilt at windmills as much as the next grrl, and they always pick topics about which i tend to care.

this year, the topic: climate change.

as a mom and as a somewhat crunchy being, i tend to worry about polar bears and glaciers and all sorts of seemingly unnatural alterations to our present time-space continuum. i often wonder when the day will come when kansas develops coastal waterfront property. i ponder whether my kids — and, G-d-willing, their kids — will inherit a world that continues to turn and continues to exist as we know it. and, being one whose own health is a somewhat fragile topic, i also do imagine the potential health issues that happen when climates go awry.

greater heatwaves hit people, especially those poor folks who don’t have air conditioning or who choose (insert tongue firmly in cheek as that word is said) to live al fresco.  (well, that’s what my conservative friends tell me. homelessness, apparently, is a life choice. and apparently, climate change is a complete farce. next, they’ll be telling me that i should trust in big business and the free market. but i digress. per usual.) and when it gets very, very hot, all sorts of diseases can become even more of a problem before. for example, mosquitoes would dig climate change, if they had brains bigger than an atom, because it increases their ability to find a date and dinner, which of course can lead to all sorts of happiness for mosquitoes but also a whole world of trouble for us two-legged buffet tables.

and when it’s cold, well, in short, people freeze to death.

i suspect there are potential long-term problems in the offing. agriculture can suffer, which could mean people could go hungry, people might have to move.  while in the midwest recently, i saw a news segment about a farm that had a bumper crop of pumpkins thanks to the hotter, wetter summer. however, every other crop of theirs — tomatoes, etc — went straight to hell thanks to rot. i’m not especially a fan of pumpkin pie, and i don’t want to face a future where i have to eat any sort of squash in order to maintain my existence.

see, one can only eat so much zucchini before one contemplates something drastic.

now some people think that global warming is a crock of shit.  but i find that a lot of the commentary on global warming tends to be from people who cherrypick their data. i will freely admit that as someone who doesn’t study the topic 24/7, i try to comprehend the information that bombards me. but i cannot understand people who shut down the discussion. i have plenty of friends who think the whole idea of global warming is bunk, and they pull my tail at all turns (and they will likely pull it in the comments section as well. go for it, kids.) even if you believe global warming is bunk, can you not fathom the idea that perhaps looking toward some better practices could only improve health on the planet? is it so wrong to try to develop and use new technologies to use fewer amounts of non-renewable natural resources and possibly, just possibly, make the air cleaner and easier to breathe? is it wrong to try and work on agricultural solutions that don’t employ so damn many chemicals, some of which are polluting not only the earth but ourselves, thanks to the toxicity of these antibiotics and other supposedly-safe substances on our systems?

i get very tired of the naysayers who don’t want to explore solutions and who only want to piss on the progress parade.

so all right. who knows whether the ice age is coming. who knows whether we’ll all evaporate into vapor. who knows whether animals as we know it will die out.  we could all be drinking beer with jimi hendrix in heaven tomorrow for all we know. but i believe that  it is our responsibility as people on the planet to encourage anything to help us all live healthier lives, and that includes voting on policies that encourage safer and environmentally-friendly industrial practices. who knows: there may be an economic stimulus in there somewhere that will help us get out of this global financial rut we’re in as well.

it could be a win-win on the health front: our health, and the health of our world.

san francisco (be sure to wear flowers in your hair) : part two

Posted in BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, miracles of science, ms. malaprop on October 13, 2009 by wrekehavoc

i know, i know. i left you in suspense since part one.

you’d be surprised how nice airline people and TSA folks can be. on that friday morning at an undogly hour, when the lady at the northwest counter started to help me check my bag [note to self: you needn’t have bothered. people took bags the size of wisconsin on the plane.], she asked me a simple question: are you okay?

in what may end up being my finest impression of mary tyler moore, i sobbed: noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

that lady came over the counter and gave me a hug. when she found out that this was my first solo trip since having kids, she said girl, my son needed a break from me when he was three months old. you need to get out. this will be good for you! so i got my bag checked and a mini-psych session. who knew!

i then dragged my tear-stained, hadn’t-slept-since-tuesday-night-face through the TSA area. i have been lectured endlessly that the humorless people of TSA are not to be trifled with. no jokes, no conversation, nada. in short: do not taunt happy funball. i’m a friendly sorta chick, but lucky for me, i was one stripe short of a flag. i dragged myself through. Mr. TSA Guy stopped me. oh shit, i thought. my very existence will get me flagged for something i have not done. time for the instant replay of everything i have done wrong this week: i’ve put some whites in with darks in the laundry. i’ve ignored a few emails. i probably dropped the f-bomb in front of the kids while swerving my way through DC traffic…

then, a deep voice: are you ok, miss?

a loaded question from a TSA person, right? at least, it was to a sleep-deprived, unhappy flier like me. but somewhere, the answer came:

i miss my kids.

TSA Guy smiled at me. i understand, miss. i smiled back and walked on through. SWEET! score one for crazy mothers everywhere. i did all i had to do, removed various articles of clothing, bought coffee, and got on the plane.

sadly, i couldn’t get a direct flight from DCA to SFO, so i had the pleasure of a three-hour layover in scenic minneapolis. i was pretty freaking happy to have that layover, though, as the plane ride from DCA to the twin cities was nightmarishly turbulent, so much so that the air hosts tried to start beverage service twice and twice failed. i’m not a happy flier to begin with; to ride a plane that feels like it’s a trampoline fest? priceless. (if i ever find that kind tax lawyer who talked to me through the entire experience, i will definitely see that he gets knighted.)

so spending three hours in the minneapolis airport was a godsend to a person desperate to be on the ground. i walked up and down and all around. i bought a powerball ticket, as BS and i have decided that people who win powerball usually live in places which can probably be bought, lock, stock, and barrel, by the dollars garnered by said winning ticket. [read: the deep south, the rural midwest. maybe minneapolis isn’t rural, but it isn’t far from rural places. (yeah, i know, i know. it’s not like the people’s republic of arlington is that far away from rural places…or rural places that are dotted with mcmansions, anyway.)] i got a hand massage — only my right for some reason — in the body shop by a lady who clearly thought i needed a break.  i watched endless CNN coverage of the selection of the olympic city. (as an aside, i was taken aback by the coverage, as the commentator was actually upset — UPSET — when chicago was first dinged off the list. walter cronkite shedding a tear at the news of JFK’s death? definitely defensible. this guy getting actually red-faced over chicago? SERIOUSLY? did this guy spend any time in J-school?)

after starting and finishing war and peace, it was time to board the second plane du jour.

a bigger plane. yay. a lovely older couple flying to SF en route to china beside me. fine. a little late departure? no problem. we’re up, then we’re down.

and i had finally arrived.

guilty pleasure monday: all for leyna (billy joel)

Posted in guilty pleasure monday!, ms. malaprop, music on August 24, 2009 by wrekehavoc

apparently not inspired by her.

whenever i think of billy joel’s song all for leyna, i think of two things.  the first and foremost memory is of the summer of JAP Camp. one summer, my mom and dad thought i would enjoy a sleepaway camp experience. my mom’s friend would work at camp as the art teacher while her son went to camp; as misery loves company, my mom’s friend suggested that my mom work at camp so that i might have fun in the jewish alps, too.

so in the summer of 1980, off we triapsed to camp lokanda. i was situated in a large bunkhouse (with carpet!) with a gaggle of some of the Jappiest girls LawnGuyland could offer. we had electronics (well, what passed for them in 1980; now i suspect the place is riddled with DSs, iphones, ipods, and so on.). we had neon pink fingernail polish. we had bloomies on tushes. we had girls who did not want to do anything remotely athletic for fear of breaking a nail.

in short, we had some of the nastiest bitches i have encountered before or since.

these girls were horrible. they were catty; they were demeaning; they were demanding. and i, of course, was the child of hired help, so i was the lowest of the low (strike one). i was also from new jersey. (strike two.) in an effort to stay the hell away from them, i decided to take advantage of what the camp had to offer. because i wasn’t afraid of boys seeing me without full makeup (which i didn’t wear at the time) or perfect hair (which i never would achieve in my lifetime), i was willing to wake up at the veryvery early hour of 6 am in order to learn to waterski. i hung with the boys when i could to play softball or soccer or anything remotely athletic. some of the boys were ridiculous princes as well, but there were a few who were worthwhile.

and hell, all the foreign counselors liked me. they invited me to hang out with them after lights out.

anyway, the fact that i had made friends with the boys (strike three) (HELLO? i have two older brothers and a lot of my friends, especially at that point in my life, were boys) combined with the fact that my mommy and daddy were not wealthy scions of the Five Towns pretty much sealed my fate.

however, peace would come whenever this one girl in my room would break out her tape recorder and play the billy joel glass houses album. they would all shut up or sing. they wouldn’t pick on me. it was nirvana.

i will love billy joel forever, if only for that.

deus ex machina came when my mother and i had to leave camp early because she had this pesky lump. the next month, we would realize it was cancerous, and a whole different part of my life would start. but at the time, before i know what really was happening, i was just happy beyond belief to get the hell out of there.

the second memory is a bit shorter and slightly bittersweet. an old boyfriend (who shall remain nameless) told me once about this girl named stephanie. she was apparently just the very coolest girl on the planet. or maybe she put out. i don’t remember. anyway, i had to endure him and his desperate talk about this girl: she gave him a night, that’s all it was. what would it take for him to stop kidding himself, wasting his — and my– time?

obviously, that one didn’t work out.

but to this day, whenever i hear this song, i always sing it as all for stephanie.

p.s. he didn’t end up with her, either.

guilty pleasure monday: if you were here (thompson twins)

Posted in BC (beloved child the elder), FAMILY, Friends, guilty pleasure monday!, ms. malaprop, music on July 20, 2009 by wrekehavoc

because jake ryan is a bohunk.

my dear friend from college, suzanne has been visiting this weekend. we had fun on saturday when we took BC to the mall to just shop and cruise around, much like we did in our younger days. BC really loved hitting the mall with us older ladies; she gave great feedback as i was trying things on. for example:

mom, that dress looks like the one i tried on when we visited colonial williamsburg.

and

mom, this dress is all wrong for you. it makes your butt look bigger.

and

mom, you need to wear your pants lower, like i do.

yep. in one hop, skip, and jump, we will be landing in that scaryland known as puberty.

(i’ve seen the future. i can’t afford it.)

one of the funniest things suz, BC, and i realized was that the merchants at the mall were all piping in 80’s music. we heard yaz, we heard depeche mode (or that peshy thing, as my mom used to call them). hell, even BC looked up at me, puzzled, when she was spraying her tenth bottle of whatever at bath and body works — mom, they’re playing lips like sugar!?

yes, virginia, i am now the targeted demographic.

now that i’m a targeted demographic, i am feeling just a tad bit maudlin. i am looking back. and little screams 80s more than the collected works of john hughes. in fact, i really still wish i could host a john hughes film festival — at least, of the three or four flicks of his that i can stand to see multiple times.

one of them, of course, is the classic sixteen candles. molly ringwald was hughes’ muse (heh — say hughes’ muse ten times fast!), and this movie is probably the very best of the entire bunch. no movie captures the awkward teen years better than this — or at least, funnier than this one. the writing is top-notch.

and my favorite part, of course, is the end, when jake ryan is helping samantha baker blow out her birthday candles. i’m not entirely sure why hughes chose if you were here for that moment; the lyrics don’t exactly work. but musically, when you hear the swells behind this innocent scene, it just hits you in the gut.

and you can no longer hear this song without getting a little wistful. which is where i am at the moment.

wistful for a time when i was a different sort of demographic.

american girl

Posted in FAMILY, ms. malaprop, political animal on July 8, 2009 by wrekehavoc

oy gevult! there’s a new american girl.

and she’s a nice jewish goil, to boot.

at least the book illustrations make her look a little jewish. or italian.

at least the book illustrations make her look a little jewish. or italian.

recently, an american girl catalog made it’s way into my mailbox. for those of you who do not have a girl between the ages of 7-10 in your home, let me school you.

american girl is the wildly-successful doll/book franchise now owned by mattel. they sell you a doll from a specific period in american history for about $100. then, you’re free to buy the ultra-expensive accessories as well as books that tell the story of said doll. if you’re REALLY insane fanatical up for spoiling your child beyond the realm of what is okay excited by the series, you can take your child to have a special tea at one of the american girl doll stores, located in a few major US cities. to the tune of several hundred dollars. (that must be one hell of a cup of tea.) for the record, we’ve never bought any of the dolls, but we have read plenty of the books thanks to our local public library. we couldn’t get through the hispanic girl’s saga, but we especially enjoyed spunky kit kittredge‘s tale as well as that of the revolutionary war era doll, felicity merriman.

while rebecca rubin, the newest addition to the american girl family is not actually the first jewish girl doll offered (there was once, for a split second, a jewish girl doll offered as part of some sort of calendar doll thingy about 20 years ago), she is the first here-to-stay jewish girl doll, with a full backstory and tons of expensive props.  (i can’t wait to hear about little cornfed midwestern girls begging their moms and dads (and santa) to bring them rebecca’s sideboard and sabbath set, complete with challah and candlesticks. does it come complete with brachot (blessings/prayers for the non-tribal set)?)

anyway, in truth, i have a warm spot in my heart for this little doll and for this effort already. rebecca lives in new york city in 1914, the child of jewish immigrants from russia. i haven’t read the stories (yet), but i suspect they involve the pull jewish immigrants of the time felt between staying true to their cultural roots while immersing themselves in their new american identities.  my grandmothers, also NYC dwellers back in that day, would have either been a trifle bit older or a trifle bit younger than rebecca, so i can smile to myself a bit, thinking about what their lives must have been like back then.

i know their families worked their tails off, that’s for sure.

i wonder, in fact, whether there’s any mention of things such as the horrible working conditions these immigrants (and their italian, polish, irish, and other internationally-born brethren) endured back then — i suspect a mention of the triangle shirtwaist factory fire would be something i would want to talk about with my kids. if there is, i’m sure it’s like a whisper that won’t be noticed except by parents like me, who will pounce on it as a teachable moment.

anyway.

mattel took several years to get this one right. and while the actual face of the doll is exactly like every other american girl doll (let’s all join hands and sing we are the world. we all look alike, you know! seriously, don’t you think people would have shrieked if they gave the jewish girl a beak to remember? so i guess i understand that move.), there’s something kind of wonderful to finally be recognized, even in this small way, as american. my ancestors wanted so much to be accepted as american. they were sometimes greeted with signs like this:

image015

even when it seemed that jews were a bit more accepted in american society, there are still holdouts, people who think we can’t be americans if we also have a warm spot in our hearts for israel. i still remember when i, a high school rising senior, was being interviewed as a candidate for new jersey girls’ state. the craggy-faced american legion men asked me a question that infuriates me to this day:

if america went to war with israel, whose side would you be on?

no one asked any of the other interviewees whether they would side with america or ireland, or america or italy, or america or england.  people seem to think that you can’t be an american and a jew, which is an idea that is unfathomable to me.

my grandparents and their parents worked incredibly hard to experience the american dream. they had their struggles, and then, my parents probably had their own challenges growing up jewish in america. jews are not the only people who struggle here; but because it is our ethnicity as well as our religious and cultural background, it has been harder to gain acceptance. you can be irish or italian or polish, but you can still share a sausage and a smile. for us, it’s a little more of a difficult proposition. not insurmountable, though.

i am an american jew. being jewish infuses everything there is about my americanism. and being american pervades  every aspect of my judaism.

and when i see mattel bringing forth an american girl doll like rebecca rubin, i know that the struggles of my ancestors to be american have not been in vain.

somewhere, my grandmas are kvelling*.

*Kvell: (Yiddish) to take great pride and pleasure; a peculiarly Jewish joy most often associated with the accomplishments of one’s family members

guilty pleasure monday: homosapien (pete shelley)

Posted in guilty pleasure monday!, ms. malaprop, music, political animal on June 22, 2009 by wrekehavoc

oh, naughty pete shelley. call a song homosapien and think you can pull a fast one, huh? no. one. fools. the. BBC!

i often wonder who at the Beeb is responsible for banning music. what his/her day must be like:

hmmm, let’s ban this one because of its political overtones. let’s ban this one because it sounds like an advertisement. let’s ban this one because he drops the f-bomb.

being the modern-day bowdler must be wildly rewarding.

[i laugh, especially since the aforementioned example dinged for political overtones (thanks to the falklands conflict) was eventually covered by aussie kiddy group the wiggles:]

(i’m a mom. that’s how i know.)

so pete shelley, esteemed founder of hugely influential punk band the buzzcocks, pretty much trips through the BBC’s wires with this little dance gem. was this your coming out song, pete? i imagine it was, though there was certainly an element of sexual intrigue in lots of the buzzcock classics: ever fallen in love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve) took on a whole new meaning after i first contemplated shelley’s world.

so i often wonder: did the Beeb ban homosapien because of it’s overt sexual references — or did it ban homosapien because of it’s overt references to gay sex?

who cares. banning a song almost guarantees that people will clamor to hear it. and gay, straight, or otherwise gendered, anyone can dance to this song.

(and some can copy it, too — tell me this doesn’t remind you of shelley’s song!)