Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairiest of them all?

What’s with Nickelodeon’s new line of fairies, Winx? These fairies are even trashier looking than the Disney Tinkerbell ones! Their French-maid length skirts barely cover their high, tight hineys, and they’re wearing knee socks over their knees. Unlike the Tinkerbell fairies of the garden variety, these are like trampy hooker fairies. I would not be at all surprised if it were revealed that one of these fairies had made a sex tape. They make the cartoons of my youth seem so tame in comparison. I mean, Winx make Josie of Josie and the Pussycats look like Meryl Streep in Doubt.

And of course, The Princess knows all about this new show and has been anxiously awaiting its debut.  I need that noise like I need another kid.

I’ll tell you what — the way this summer’s been going, I’m about this close to becoming a screen-free household. But then, where would we be really? The 19th century? What good will that do them?

And sure, I can turn off this show, and forbid it in the household. I can tell her no when she sees the merchandise and wants it. But, I’m just so tired of the fight. We say we want to raise our girls to be strong and independent like boys, but then these are the images they get from the media? (This and Dora, taking them to ice cream fountains and candy mountains, feeding chocolate chip cookies to bugs, etc. Hey girls, would you rather be anorexic or diabetic? It’s one or the other!) There’s just no way around it, not in the twenty-first century.

Seriously though, I cannot tell you how many times my five-year-old daughter has asked me if she “looks fat” in this or that article of clothing. She has already begun to compare her body to others, and that is so unfair for her. Can we at least not make them care about body image until their teens?

Why trampy fairies, though? Why?


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A little skin

The Huffington Post Entertainment page never fails to crack me up. There are always headlines like “Megan Fox poses for Playboy” or “Kim Kardashian Poses Nude”. I’m surprised the page is so misogynistic given that the Post’s publisher is a woman, but these pseudo-celebrities with their efforts to gain attention through titillation rather than talent often remind me of a line Rosie O’Donnell says to Madonna in A League of Their Own: You think there are men who haven’t seen your bosoms?

Philadelphia’s role in WWII

A few weeks ago I wrote about my uncle Tom and his job at the Sun Shipyard outside of Philadelphia. Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer featured an article about the city’s role in WWII, noting the contributions of that facility.

An interesting note is that the place is now the site of a Harrah’s casino. I think I know what Uncle Tom would think of that…

The Bigger Picture

So Universal Studios has decided not to convert the latest installment of the Harry Potter franchise in 3-D, which is good news no matter where you stand on 3-D. What passes for 3-D content is often more gimmick than substance, and in most cases, it doesn’t add much more to the film than increased ticket prices, especially in those instances where the 3-D conversion was done after the movie was filmed. Avatar (which was shot in 3-D) was fine, but didn’t the 3-D images kind of distract us from the primarily cheesy dialogue in the movie? Do we really need 3-D TV? Do we really need EVERYTHING to be in 3-D? Does the public really care? Are the effects really worth it?

The whole story reminded me of growing up with my  uncle Tom. Uncle Tom was actually my great-uncle, my mom’s uncle, and my grandmother’s youngest brother. He’d been a go-between in my grandparents’ courtship, running letters between them on a daily basis. He was a bachelor his entire life. After his mother died, he and my great-grandfather moved in with my grandmother, the family’s only daughter. Even though she had her own family, she took them in, and another brother or two came along with the deal as well, although they eventually got married, moved out and had their own families.

This was a time we often forget or discount as old-fashioned, a time when men had certain roles and women had others. He was the kind of man who wouldn’t have been able to fend for himself. Not that he wasn’t a strong man, because he was. He was a god to us kids. But he never would have been able to cook for himself, or iron his own shirts. Maybe he would have learned how, if he had needed to, but he didn’t need to because he could rely on his sister. It was a time when families stuck close together. Afterall, they were first generation Americans. Where were else was he going to go after their mother died?

He worked outside of Philadelphia at the Sun Shipyard as a welder. He worked long hours and came home filthy every day at 5 o’clock, where the dinner my grandmother had cooked was waiting for him on the table. He always had black under his nails, and he had these big, meaty thumbs. He once told us that he had “worked on the bomb”, or I would guess part of its outer shell, which I suppose could have been possible. The whole operation was compartmentalized and so secret. He said they “didn’t know what they had been working on” until after August 6, 1945.

Me in the middle with Uncle Tom on the left and my cousin on the right. 1965

Uncle Tom had three domains. His primary one was a garage he rented in the alley across the street from my grandparents’ house. It was filled with all kinds of things that we always thought of as “real man” related, fishing poles, styrofoam coolers, auto parts, sports equipment, tools and things he would just find and collect. Truth be told, we kids were not allowed to venture far into the garage (tetanus being the primary danger there, I’m sure), but he would take us over to collect the items for our afternoons of play. Sometimes we would play softball, or he’d take us fishing at the state park. We’d go crabbing in the Chesapeake, searching for fossils along its bed (and we’d find some!), or more often, we would just take long walks in the park, which in those days was almost as dense as a forest. And he would point to the surrounding neighborhoods and say, “You see all this? When I was a kid, it was all trees, as far as the eye could see.”

He would open that garage door and the smell would hit us. I can still remember it, though I couldn’t say what it was exactly, nor have I smelled anything like it since. A mixture of motor oil with a pinch of gasoline and a whole lot of fishing residue baking inside the walls of those coolers while enclosed in the hot garage; to us kids, that smell was heaven. That smell meant fun.

His other domains included his bedroom, the threshold of which we rarely crossed. The room was immaculate. The bed was always made with military smoothness, and though it smelled like an old man, it looked relatively untouched, not a doily out of its place. He would sleep late on the weekends, which often drove us crazy waiting for him to come play with us when we visited. My grandmother had this fox stole that looked like several foxes, each biting the tail of the one in front of it. We used to like to leave it outside his door when he was sleeping so that he would step on it when he got up. I can still hear him yelling, “Get those crazy cats out of my way!” putting us in hysterics.

Uncle Tom’s other, and most sacred domain, was the basement where he shaved in the morning looking at his reflection in a small mirror over the utility tub, and changed every evening into the freshly pressed shirts that my grandmother would leave down there for him near her ironing board. We used to have long talks with Uncle Tom in that back room there. He’d be shining his shoes or doing some other man-task while we sat on a hard box full of dark brown Balantine empties (“The champagne of beers!”).

The finished part of the basement was where he kept his chair and his TV, which was always black and white, even though color TVs were readily available in those days. I asked him one time why he didn’t have a color TV, and he responded that it “hurt” his eyes.

That line has always stuck with me, not because I really believe that his eyes hurt, but I do think there was something to what he said. I think that watching TV in black and white helped him and his generation to distinguish the difference between reality and TV, a line that we in the 21st century see getting more and more unclear every day. We live in a society that is currently obsessed, almost terminally distracted by “Reality Television.” I personally find this ironic, because while most Americans watch some form of reality television, almost an equal number, if not more eschew what is ACTUAL reality television, network news. Networks over the last two decades have put less and less money into producing news programs and more and more into the cheap form of “reality TV” and it’s been wildly profitable for them.

But what’s crazy is that it’s not reality. It’s orchestrated and staged for the greatest possible effect. Read any of these blogs about behind the scenes of Kate Plus 8 or any of those shows, and you know that the producers put these characters (and that’s what they are — CHARACTERS) into situations that will produce the best footage, and then they weave that footage in such a way that viewers see the version of reality that is the most sensational.

In addition, we’ve created a society where almost everyone expects to have the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol promised, and once some get it, they cling tenaciously and become such train wrecks that some of us can’t look away. (See: Spencer/Heidi Pratt, John and Kate and the like.) Some of these nobodies who are instantly propelled to arbitrary fame just refuse to go away. But what’s even more disturbing is that so many Americans think they could have a shot at it as well. In the early days, and even into the 70’s and 80’s you needed actual talent to be famous. Now it’s just a competition to see who can be the lowest of the lowest common denominator.

Every kid is a star. Parents talk about their kids’ talents like everyone’s a prodigy. If one girl kicks another in a soccer game, the parents consider suing for what might be a lost career, or a potential scholarship. Couples have multiples, five kids, six kids, one family’s even considering having a 20th child just to stay in the limelight. Doesn’t matter that their 19th child was born prematurely, spewed from a womb too tired to keep it going for another couple of months. Doesn’t matter what effect it will have on the child’s health or quality of life. It’s all about the fame.

And the media celebrates it. The Daily Show talked recently about how the media is like Doug, the dog, in Up, who is easily distracted by squirrels. Their point rang true for me. The media are too easily distracted, and because we are a media-centric society, we follow the lead.

3-D may be part of the never-ending push for reality in entertainment, but is it necessary? Is it like color, or hi-def, or is it just a gimmick? In a world where you don’t have to do anything special to be famous, where “reality TV” personalities are considered “talent” how much further do we really need to go?

I don’t want to sound old-fashioned or anything, but personally, 3-D hurts my eyes.

Note to CNN

Please. please stop with the Michael Jackson. Please stop. Let the man rest in peace. Why don’t you report some real news for a change?

American Idiot

Seriously, I don’t care, but check out this cover:


Adam Lambert Rolling Stone


What are they trying to say with this pose? Hey World, check out what a poser I am? Oooh, he’s so wild. He’s lying on pillows, his shirt’s open (as are his legs) and it all looks so consciously styled and calculatingly arranged. (Oh, and have you heard – imagine I am whispering here as if it’s shocking – psst, he’s gay.)

I don’t know why, but this cover really annoys me, from the rhinestone butterfly at his crotch to the stupid black puffy shirt. And that belt — don’t get me started on that silly belt, except to tell you that if I see cheap copies of that freaking thing on sale next time I’m in Claire’s Boutique, I will burn that place to the ground.

 I mean seriously. Why the snake? Why?





Bush: the Rolling Stone Interview

So, George Bush is on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine for the current issue, which features an article it touts as “BUSH Apologizes: The Farewell Interview We Wish He’d Give by Matt Taibbi.”

You know, Rolling Stone, I admire what you want in terms of honesty from this most dishonest of administrations, but you waste your ink with trivial and frankly juvenile fancies by proposing that Bush accuses Condolezza Rice of farting in the Oval Office, or that Colin Powell would mimic Donald Rumsfeld to his face. I can’t get through the whole article, but then, you probably didn’t write it for me. I’m guessing your target market, males 15-25 who treat MTVs Jackass as gospel, probably think it’s hilarious.

Overall though, the article proves what I figured out more than a decade ago: Rolling Stone is in no way any kind of vehicle for serious journalism.



Happy sixth birthday, Clooney! My special guy with super-long eyelashes and heart-shaped nostrils. You make my world a brighter place.  You are my super-nova.





Scuttlebutt as News

At the gym yesterday, I caught several minutes of CNN, and the pundits and anchors were all in a tizzy about Vice-President-Elect Biden’s visit to Afghanistan and the Middle East.  They implied and debated about how his visit was a stab in the back to future Secretary of State Clinton, that Biden might somehow undercut her in the region.



Why would that be?  Why would we assume that members of an administration, a team if you will, could not work in tandem? What does CNN and the pundits think Biden should do?  Sit around picking drapes for the oval office? They all seem shocked and even a bit against the idea that Biden will work in a co-capacity with the president, as if a team-oriented vice president is somehow more abhorrent than the shadow one we’ve had for the last eight years.

Why is the media so stupid?


This was actually a joke by the Daily Show, but not so far from the truth of CNN’s usual content that Manfrengensen and I found ourselves wondering if it was real. Cooper afterall, is one of the many anchors who will do a whole show in high-water pants just to prove the severity of the weather.



This guy’s goofy, but he’s stressing my point aptly:


McCain Has a “Senior Moment” on Meet the Press


Incidentally, yesterday one of those Secretaries of State, Lawrence Eagelberger said of Palin, “of course” she’s not ready to be president, adding “I devoutly hope that [she] would never be tested.”

Meanwhile, McCain claims that Palin has been a “uniting force” for the Republican party.  Where’s that dream world, and why can’t I ever visit that kind of utopia?  I once saw this documentary on Ronald Reagan.  It said that he was the child of alcoholics, and went on to point out that those kind of people tend to invent their own realities as a coping mechanism.  Thus they believe their own lies.  I’ve thought of that line often these past few months.  I just wonder if that kind of upbringing is what’s behind the selling of these lies.

Speaking of “senior moments,” yesterday McCain called Joe the Plumber a “true American hero.”  WHAT???  Is he a firefighter?  A soldier?  A police officer?  No.  He snakes the drains of Ohio.  He happened to ask Obama a question that has given McCain a rallying cry, even if it is a whopper of a lie.  And now, Joe the Plumber is in talks to become Joe the Country Singer…no wait, wait, he’s Joe the Book Author…no wait, wait, he’s Joe Might-Run-For-Congress…no, make that Joe Just-Hired-Eddie-Money’s-Publicist.  Actually, he’s plain old Joe Who’s-Milking-These-Fifteen-Minutes-For-All-They’re-Worth.  And that truly is the American Dream of the 21st-Century.

If Joe the Plumber is an American hero, then this country really is going down the toilet in a swirling stew of turd.

On last night’s Countdown, Keith Oldbermann referred to McCain’s campaign staff as a “clown college.”  YES!  Who are these bozos?  Who’s telling McCain to keep pushing Joe the Plumber?  Why aren’t they encouraging crowds at their rallies to vote early like Obama is? Where is the loyalty?  That staff has more leaks than a cheap diaper.  Who releases an “internal poll” six days before the election?  It’s mind-boggling.  Ideals aside — the ultra-poor running of McCain’s entire campaign is reason enough not to deserve the presidency.  They are as clueless as the current president.

And another thing that really bothers me:  McCain never talks about the economy, or the middle class, or education.  His message is exclusively about the other guy.  But I want to know, Senator McCain, what are you really going to do for the country?  Which direction do you want to take us, and how exactly are we going to get there?


On a completely unrelated note: This is the 100th post on this blog.