Misc. Updates

Yesterday The Princess and I baked together for the first time.  It was fun.  She was into pouring all the ingredients into the bowl and mixing them together, but for me, it meant so much more to do this mother-daughter thing.  Nothing special, just brownies, which from what I have heard, turned out to be delicious.

The Princess Making Brownies

I haven’t talked about the diet for a while, but to give a quick update, I am doing great with the Jenny Craig.  I am more than half-way to my goal weight, having lost more than 18 pounds since I officially began the diet.  More importantly, I went back to the doctor yesterday, and all of my numbers have come down.  Since July, when I last saw him, I have lost 21 pounds.  My cholesterol has gone from 252 to 175, and my trigycerides, which were embarrassing — over 700 — are now 122.  It’s great to look in the mirror and feel better, but I have to tell you, when they gaveEdison in his play me the numbers yesterday, I teared up.  The numbers are the important thing.  Overall, I feel pretty great.

Edison was in a play this week, written by his music teacher and performed by everyone in the third grade at his school. He spent weeks singing and dancing around the house, and even though there were times when I really wished he would stop, there will be times in the future, when other pursuits have garnered his attention, when I will miss that singing.

I am finishing up a book I had to read for the book club called The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.  It’s one of those books I can’t wait to be done with.  The writing is just okay, nothing overly literary, and at times the narrative is cliche, or just doesn’t feel real, like the author is stretching a limited imagination.  It tells two stories in two separate narratives that the author is trying to somehow relate to one another.

One is a historical fiction about Brigham Young’s 19th wife, who divorces him and sets about on a crusade to end polygamy in the late-19th Century. That part of the book I really like.  It’s fairly well researched and feels authentic.  The other is a modern sort of murder mystery about a 19th wife in a cult-like sect that split of from the Mormons after 1890 who is accused of killing her husband.  Her estranged gay son returns to the small town and proceeds to investigate the case, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but you know, the mother’s innocent.

But I had some real problems with that part of the book.  First of all, the solving of the murder comes abruptly and totally from left field.  There’s no building of the clues, only a bit of meandering around them.  The explanation of the murder is less than a page, and the motive isn’t fully believable, especially given that the climax is the first we’ve heard of it.  Also, the confession comes after a totally contrived scene where the main character is captured and seems to be threatened, but again, it doesn’t feel as real as the author had been hoping to make it.

My biggest problem was with the main character, who as I mentioned, is gay. Why? Because I guess that would make the story more interesting? The author tells us that the guy spent a little time selling his bod, and on more than one occasion mentions that he was paid by a dude to let him put his “arm in a place where no arm should go.” Ew.  And then, about 2/3 through the book, he meets a guy who falls in love with him and wants him to stay, make a commitment after ONE NIGHT TOGETHER, and the author tries to kind of make a case that it’s hard for Jordan to do that because of how he was raised in the polygamist sect.  He can’t love, you see.  But I felt like — well, he did just meet the guy. Frankly, the love interest comes off more like a creepy stalker than a sincere life partner.  (I pictured him as Kenneth Parcells from 30 Rock, only you know, as a creepy stalker.  If they ever make a movie of this book, Jack McBrayer should totally play the character of Tom.)


But I keep turning those pages, because I do want to find out what happened to Ann Eliza Young, Bringham’s 19th wife.  I’m not sure I will find out, and I also worry that we’ll never find out what happened to the son she left behind when she left Utah, though the fact that she misses him is mentioned several times in the course of the story.  I have like ten pages to go.  Then, like Ann Eliza, I will be free (to read something else.)


p.s. — just searching on youtube, I found these clips.  Seriously, this is the funniest show on TV:



Family Hour

There’s an article in today’s New York Times about how last week’s episodes of 30 Rock and The Office pushed new boundaries of what is considered acceptable for “family hour” television. You can read the article here:


The basic premise of the article is that by revolving a storyline around a fictional show called “MILF Island”, 30 Rock pushed the boundaries of vulgarity for what has been traditionally considered “family hour” kennethtelevision.  The Office did the same when it portrayed characters cursing with the word bleeped out, though the implication of what was said was clear to the viewers.

Are they kidding me?  I didn’t even realize there was an hour of television still considered to have appropriate entertainment for all members of the family.  How can 8-9 p.m. be considered family hour, when you have FriendsSeinfeld and other mature-audience sitcoms running in syndication between 7 and 8 in half the local markets in the country?  I’ve even seen edited versions of Sex and the City during “family hour” on TBS.  Yes, it’s edited, but still, it’s a show about S-E-X in the city. When I was teaching middle school, more than half the kids watched Seinfeld. They would joke about “The Contest” and mastering their domains. Sure they didn’t fully understand what it all meant in many cases, but believe me, they were on their way.

But that got me thinking — What else is being shown during “Family Hour?”  Hmm, let’s see:

Sundays, NBC is showing old episodes of MONK these days, a show that originally aired Fridays on the USA Network at 10. Saturdays, NBC has LAW & ORDER: Criminal Intent.  Wasn’t that originally a 10 p.m. show? My guess, is that unless some thug on these shows has murdered a teletubby, there’s nothing resembling appropriate viewing for children in their contents. Other nights, they’ve got reality programming, including Deal or No Deal and The Biggest Loser. Don’t even get me started on what virtues the latter has to teach America’s youth. Barney

CBS has Big Bang Theory (Hmm, wonder what the joke is about there) and How I Met Your Mother on Monday nights between 8-9. Now I love How I Met Your Mom, but I must say that many weeks I think, this show is hilariously funny, but it should be on an hour later.  Not that I’m watching it with the kids, but if I didn’t have TIVO, I wouldn’t be able to. Tuesdays they’ve got NCIS (that show is still ON???) and Wednesdays — big honkin’ no to family-appropriate here — Big Brother 9. (Are you freaking kidding me? ???…seriously – ?)  And the list goes on: Thursdays: Survivor, Fridays: Ghost Whisperer (Hey, Kaitlin, why don’t you watch this show with Mom and Dad? You’ll enjoy it almost as much as the week’s worth of night terrors that will follow!) Saturdays: Cold Case, and Sundays, because it’s the Lord’s day: another helping of Big Brother 9: Satan’s Crib.

Honestly, not a one of those would I consider “family programming.”

Do I really need to even tell you what’s on FOX? Also, ABC’s not too bad, as they are, after all, owned by Disney.

Here’s the thing though: None of this bothers me.  The real issue is that no matter what your kids watch, you should know what it is they’re watching.  Ultimately it’s not up to the networks to offer programming for kids — and hey, most of them don’t even program cartoons on Saturday mornings any more.  It’s up to parents to be the gatekeepers of what’s appropriate for their kids.  If you’re a parent, and you don’t want them exposed to “MILF Island” or its ilk, there are hundreds of other choices.  Take them over to Animal Planet, or National Geographic, Noggin, or Cartoon Disney.  The possibilities are almost limitless…assuming, of course, you are not of limited economic means and therefore confined to network programming…but that’s for another post.