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The Frog and I

October 16, 2010

I don’t think I would be guilty of understatement if I said that the Frog and I don’t see eye to eye. She’s been living with us for more than six years now, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s already overstayed her welcome by a good five and a half years. I’ve even tried offloading her onto the owners of the old Fin ‘N Fur pet store on Morris Avenue, but as soon as they saw what I was carrying, they closed up shop.

Granted, indulging my kids’ passion for the animal kingdom is part of my job as a mom. We have a dog, and we even had an adorable hamster who, like all good houseguests, had the good sense to depart to the Big Hamster Wheel In The Sky after a year and a half. But as She Who Is In Charge of Pet Maintenance, Hygiene and Training, my general philosophy is that the grumpier the pet is or the harder it is to take care of, the shorter their stay in my household should be.

Originally, the Frog-That-Won’t-Die came to our home in an attempt to introduce my daughter to—Creationists, please cover your ears—the Miracle of Evolution. At the time, it was a tiny, adorable tadpole: it floated merrily around a fist-sized tank, twirling it’s little tail over it’s head and consuming the tadpole food that cost more than a pound of Colombian coffee and could only be purchased from the company that sent us the tadpole. Sure enough, after consuming a fair amount of the very expensive tadpole food, she absorbed her tail, grew legs and arms, and proceeded to take over my life in what I consider to be a fairly aggressive manner for a frog.

The literature that came with the tadpole says that the resulting Frog is supposed to grow no bigger than a half dollar and is generally thought to be fairly short-lived. Not a bad deal, I thought, considering that you also get a lesson in biology for good measure.

I see now that the company was lying to me. At the point where the Frog grew to the length of a whole dollar bill, bit me on a regular basis when I tried to clean the tank and looked like it might just outlive me, I called their customer service department and politely inquired as to whether they had perhaps gotten their information wrong.

“Did you put the frog in a larger tank?” the bored customer service rep asked.

“Well, yes,” I admitted. “She looked so cramped in the ‘Tadpole Box-O’-Fun’. It’s barely larger than a postage stamp.”

Never put the frog in a larger tank,” the rep droned, sounding strangely like she was reading from a script.  I began to wonder how many times a day she read this warning to the unsuspecting parents who only wanted to share some educational bonding time with their kids. “Your adorable aquatic pet will increase in size in direct proportion to the size of its home.  Also, do not feed it after midnight.”

“Speaking of feeding, how much is she supposed to eat?  She seems very… hearty.”

“Your adorable, educational, aquatic friend can eat up to an ounce of Friendly Frog granules each day,” the rep went on. “You can even teach it tricks to perform for its food.”

“Let me tell you about tricks,” I said, starting to get a little annoyed. “This frog is in the habit of grabbing the little plastic granule spoon out of my hand, swimming to the bottom of the tank and trying to mate with it. My kids may be scarred for life.”

“Do not allow your kids to be scarred for life…” she said, as the sound of a nail file scratched in the background.

I hung up and resigned myself to the fact that I might have to make provisions for the Frog in my will.

Anybody want a Frog?

(Reprinted with permission from The Springfield Patch, 2010)

The More You Know: Criminal Edition

October 11, 2010

If you are enjoying your freedom, do not go up to a police officer and ask him to check whether you have any outstanding arrest warrants.

You’re welcome.

That's Nothing…

October 4, 2010

… We have over 400 of them.

Brazil Votes Clown Into Congress

That’s Nothing…

October 4, 2010

… We have over 400 of them.

Brazil Votes Clown Into Congress

Those Wacky Japanese People: Fetish Edition

September 28, 2010

The Japanese have worked hard in the past to surpass us as a world power, and while I personally don’t have a problem with being colonized by the country that brought us both Godzilla AND sake, I’m seriously concerned that their lack of success is making them crack under the strain.

Things haven’t been going well for them lately, and instead of thinking about how to get themselves back into play as an economic force to be reckoned with, they seem to be spending a lot of time exploring their feminine side. It’s understandable. It certainly beats trying to bolster the yen, which, from what I hear, is largely a thankless job anyway. But there is a fine line between healthy curiosity and just plain weird, and now they’ve sailed over that line in a pair of hot air balloons.

A while back I told you about a machine that had been invented in Japan that was supposed to teach men what it felt like to get a period. I have to say I was pretty disappointed. Instead of developing a machine that could be seen as a decent representation of one of the Miracles of Nature, as it was called in my middle school health class, this machine essentially pees down the man’s leg, forcing him to lurch around like a large, mutant, faux-menstrual Betsy Wetsy.  Sure, some of us can relate to that large and mutant feeling at that time of the month, but my point here is that there is a HELL OF A LOT THEY LEFT OUT.

You’d think they’d be satisfied with that, wouldn’t you, but they’re not. After convincing themselves that a woman’s menstrual cycle was a damp yet relatively painless cakewalk, they’ve moved on up, so to speak, to wondering what it would feel like to be the owner of a pair of breasts.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Daiso Inflatables:

I can’t embed the video, but it’s certainly interesting, so here’s the link: http://vimeo.com/1601461

You’re welcome.

Where's My Can Of Home Fries?

September 26, 2010

Proof that the Universe loves us and wants us to be happy, or an evil experiment to determine that we don’t actually need real food to survive?

Discuss.

Bacon. Flavored. Pancakes. In a can. (Courtesy of Gizmodo.com)

Where’s My Can Of Home Fries?

September 26, 2010

Proof that the Universe loves us and wants us to be happy, or an evil experiment to determine that we don’t actually need real food to survive?

Discuss.

Bacon. Flavored. Pancakes. In a can. (Courtesy of Gizmodo.com)

Well, At Least They're Giving Us A Head's Up Now

September 22, 2010

Well, At Least They’re Giving Us A Head’s Up Now

September 22, 2010

Back-To-School Night Blues

September 20, 2010

Now that our kids are safely ensconced in their classes, let’s all take a moment to thank the courageous Springfield teaching professionals who risk life, limb and sanity every day in order to give our children an education. These people welcome our children into their lives, open their eyes to different ways of thinking and, most importantly, give us adults roughly six, child-free hours each day in which we can have a coherent thought.  I work from home, so for my money, that alone is worth my property tax bill.

And don’t think for a second that the kids aren’t benefitting.  On the very first day my son, D., came home with this important Life Lesson:

“My Comm. Arts teacher read us a story today.”

“That’s wonderful. What was the gist of the story?”

“Always be nice.”

“Was that it? Nothing else?”

He thought for a second. “Always be nice or you’ll get Detention.”

So don’t tell me the kids aren’t learning.

The only thing I have a complaint about is the exercise in masochism called Back-To-School Night. Every year like clockwork, I get an e-mail from D.’s school, cheerfully informing me that his school would be happy to introduce me to his teachers and show me all of the exciting adventures he has as he makes his way through his day at school.

“All you need is a copy of your son and/or daughter’s schedule, and we will do the rest.  What fun you will have, as you breeze through your child’s classes and chat with his and/or her teachers!” the e-mail cheerfully informs me.

On the surface, Back-To-School Night is a cheerful, P.T.A.-pastry-filled event that is supposed to give us parents a thrilling glimpse into the daily lives of our little students. In reality, I suspect that the teachers use Back-To-School Night as a way to have fun with us. What they don’t tell you is that the schedules are abbreviated to about one nanosecond of their normal length, the classrooms are at different ends of the school, the crowds of confused parents in the hallways requires more agile parents to surf the hallways like a mosh pit, the teachers, just for fun, have decided to all trade classrooms for the night, and all of the bathrooms are closed.  I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that this might be a form of retribution for the fact that they have suffered a stunning loss in funding over the past few years and are apparently at the point where they are selling their plasma to buy classroom supplies. With everything they’ve gone through, I frankly wouldn’t blame them if they set booby traps. It’s not a profession for the faint-of-heart, and if it makes them feel better to play this annual prank on us, well, I say go for it. We’re ready.

I can always tell which parents are at Back-To-School Night for the first time, because they are the ones who show up with just a copy of their child’s schedule and hopeful plans to meet every single one of the adults their child interacts with during the day, including the janitorial staff.

But the first rule of Back-To-School Night, as they say, is that we don’t talk about Back-To-School Night. The second rule is that we bring the proper survival equipment, like a reliable GPS system for locating the classrooms which appear to be numbered randomly; comfortable running shoes for getting to each class on time; high-protein snacks for endurance; and the Xanax-tipped blow darts for slowing down the occasional reluctant teacher who might be edging his and/or her way toward the door.

The veteran Back-To-School Night parents among us know that the first-timers haven’t got a chance, but we’re not going to help them out. Let them learn like we did: in the mosh pits of Back-To-School Night.

(Reprinted with permission from my column, “Next Exit” on springfield.patch.com, ©2010)

Will This Be On The Final Exam?

September 18, 2010

As part of a high school social studies class on world belief systems, students were taken to a synagogue, a gospel music performance, a mosque and a Hindu temple.

See if you can guess which part of the curriculum everyone seems to have had a problem with.

Alberta, Canada: Our New BFF

September 12, 2010

Dear Alberta,

Hey, how are you?  Did you have a good summer?  Ours was pretty hot, what with the global warming thing. Not that we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, but how come it only seems to hit us down here in North America? Ha ha.  Sorry, you guys are still part of good old N. A. too, right?

Listen, we know it’s been a while since we’ve been in touch, but we wanted to thank you for the clever Times Square ads.  We couldn’t have been more surprised to hear from you, frankly, and then you totally punk us by dropping those signs in the middle of New York City.  Beauty, eh?  Do you guys still say that?

Our BFFs

So… oil in Canada!  Maybe we weren’t exactly paying attention, because we’re pretty sure you mentioned it once or twice in the past, but way to go!

We know we’ve been really busy lately and have been hanging a lot with the Middle East, but just between you and us they’ve gotten way too uppity for our tastes recently.  Oh, and can you say TWO-FACED?!  We have put just about everything we had into that friendship, and what have they done for us?  Do they ever pick up a cheque?  We spend and we spend on them and everytime we think things are going well, their psycho brothers come along and blow something up and guess who has to clean up the mess?  Man, it gets our toques in a twist.  Hosers.

Anyway, we just wanted to say hi and let you all know that anytime you wanted to take off for some beers and back bacon with us, we’re totally there.  Please.

Your BFF,

The United States of America

Pass Me Some of That There Jumbo Shrimp

September 6, 2010

Sitting down?  Good.  Maintain a steady grip on your armrests, because this one might hurt your brain.

An Italian economist interviewed by CNBC Europe says we now appear to be entering what he calls a “Growth Recession.”  Yes, I thought of George Carlin’s oxymorons routine, too.

Why Jane Gassner Rocks My Socks Off

August 27, 2010

New and very funny interview with Jane Gassner of Mid-Life Bloggers, over yonder.  Jane is a stitch and I had a lot of fun with her on this one.  She made it easy, which was a blessing for someone who is not completely comfortable with the interview process yet, much like this one I did about a year ago.

Thanks Jane!

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

August 22, 2010

Ever since I can remember, I’ve thought of our country as one, big, mostly happy family. Stay with me on this; it’s not as delusional as it might seem.

Like all families, there is always one relative who gets caught doing something naughty.  And instead of admitting fault and taking his time-out like a man, this relative decides to take the passive-aggressive way out and stockpile potentially dangerous, radioactive elements in the hope that implying that they were capable of nuclear devastation would be enough to make us say, “Ha ha! No, really, we forgive you.  Now please put the bomb down.”

What, that’s never happened in your family?

Maybe that’s why I wasn’t surprised when Goldman Sachs, they of the ginormous securities fraud case, announced recently that they were thinking about paring back on their securities trading business and buying up all of the uranium CEO Lloyd Blankfein could get his hands on.  Who amongst us hasn’t secretly resented the familial criticism that rears its ugly head every time the SEC accuses us of constructing bogus investments and taking money from hedge funds in order to allow them to influence the portfolio selection process?

Really?  Still no?  OK, maybe it’s just my family.

According to what I’ve read, Mr. Blankfein seems like a nice man who just happens to find himself with his back up against the wall.  A tad hostile, perhaps, but who can really blame him?  It’s not like he’s not working for the greater good.  The information coming from his Constellation Energy Group says that the sudden interest in uranium is due purely to help promote a continued reliance on nuclear energy.  In fact, I think we should thank him for his selfless efforts.

Here he is:

Photo courtesy of the AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Now, doesn’t he look like someone OMG IT’S ERNST BLOFELD! Run! Run for your lives!

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

August 22, 2010

Ever since I can remember, I’ve thought of our country as one, big, mostly happy family. Stay with me on this; it’s not as delusional as it might seem.

Like all families, there is always one relative who gets caught doing something naughty.  And instead of admitting fault and taking his time-out like a man, this relative decides to take the passive-aggressive way out and stockpile potentially dangerous, radioactive elements in the hope that implying that they were capable of nuclear devastation would be enough to make us say, “Ha ha! No, really, we forgive you.  Now please put the bomb down.”

What, that’s never happened in your family?

Maybe that’s why I wasn’t surprised when Goldman Sachs, they of the ginormous securities fraud case, announced recently that they were thinking about paring back on their securities trading business and buying up all of the uranium CEO Lloyd Blankfein could get his hands on.  Who amongst us hasn’t secretly resented the familial criticism that rears its ugly head every time the SEC accuses us of constructing bogus investments and taking money from hedge funds in order to allow them to influence the portfolio selection process?

Really?  Still no?  OK, maybe it’s just my family.

According to what I’ve read, Mr. Blankfein seems like a nice man who just happens to find himself with his back up against the wall.  A tad hostile, perhaps, but who can really blame him?  It’s not like he’s not working for the greater good.  The information coming from his Constellation Energy Group says that the sudden interest in uranium is due purely to help promote a continued reliance on nuclear energy.  In fact, I think we should thank him for his selfless efforts.

Here he is:

Photo courtesy of the AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Now, doesn’t he look like someone OMG IT’S ERNST BLOFELD! Run! Run for your lives!

The Year of the Dog: My Guest Turn on Motherhood Later

August 20, 2010

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute a piece on parenting to the wonderful Motherhood Later blog.  Thanks to Robin Gorman Newman, the goddess behind the blog, and also to Amy Reynaldo, for being my guru of the interwebs.

The Year of the Dog: My Guest Turn on Motherhood Later

August 20, 2010

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute a piece on parenting to the wonderful Motherhood Later blog.  Thanks to Robin Gorman Newman, the goddess behind the blog, and also to Amy Reynaldo, for being my guru of the interwebs.

Paging Dr. Obvious

August 13, 2010

Apparently, it is all in our heads, but like for real. Like we’ve been saying all along. And when those new neural pathways and “abnormalities” finally kick in, they are going to be so sorry they doubted us. Oh, are they going to be sorry.

This Will Make Uranus Sore For Sure

August 12, 2010

For the inner 12 year old in all of us:

Planet Sex.