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Monday, December 23, 2013

product may stay: hearts for hearts dolls

Hearts For Hearts Girls
Okay okay okay, I know that it's the 23rd of December and you already have all your presents bought, and most of you probably don't have daughters in the play-with-dolls phase of their lives, but this is still important information.  Last year when I was Christmas shopping I found the most beautiful doll for Willa, from a company called Hearts for Hearts (parent company Playmates Toys, also home to such products as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).  Here is their website.  But anyway, they have a line of dolls, each with her own story of how she is making the world a better place (we got Consuelo, who is from Mexico), and a dollar of the purchase price is contributed to a child-focused charity in that doll's region.  I don't know how much of an effect any of that would make, but it beats the heck out of nothing.  I like that there's at least some effort being made to teach little girls that they can be instruments of change.  I also like that it's at a price point I can stomach.  I would be sick if Willa were to mess up an American Girl doll, because that's a substantial investment.  But I can buy three of these for the price of one American Girl.  They are about 14 inches tall, they have nice hair that you can brush and style, though it is not quite as thick as an American Girl, and they do not have a huge line of expensive accessories, but they are very well made, and I think they're an incredible value for the money. Willa plays with Consuelo all the time and a year later she still looks great.  If you do want to buy one, Amazon is not your friend right now, because for some reason their prices have skyrocketed (on Lego as well, which makes me thankful I did my shopping so long ago).  Target is the place for you--I saw Shola there a couple of weeks ago.  If I could, I would buy every single one of these dolls.  I've already bought two more because I can't resist (Lauryce and Shola).  Do it, you guys.  Product absolutely may stay. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

ascending krampus

So, we're agreed that Elf on the Shelf is, like, the dumbest thing ever, right?  I employ "Elf on the Shelf" as a shortcut in describing a certain kind of person or family culture I don't like, and my kids know what I mean.  A couple of weeks ago the kids were being so bad about getting up on time, and as a joke I shouted down the stairs that the Elf on the Shelf was so disappointed in them.  We all had a good laugh and it helped them get out of their grumpy lazy funk.

Well, I've been thinking about something . . . have you heard of Krampus?  He's sort of the anti-St. Nicholas, because he finds naughty children and stuffs them into his basket and takes them away.  He is often depicted pulling ears and licking heads of terrified children, who, to be honest, probably shouldn't have been so naughty in the first place.  And here's my theory:  the Elf on the Shelf is like a Krampus Trojan horse.  Krampus has had a difficult time breaking into our cock-eyed optimistic/entitled American culture, and Elf on the Shelf is his way to ease us into suffering actual, painful repercussions for our misdeeds.  Give him a few years and I bet the Elf on the Shelf has horns, hooves, and a ridiculously long tongue.  No more empty threats, no more coal in our stockings, now it's into the basket and away with Krampus!  I welcome this development--St. Nicholas has been so emasculated for so long; he doesn't even have any real power anymore.  We need somebody who can put some teeth behind the warnings.  You'd better watch out, indeed.
Oh my gosh, I didn't even notice until now--he has one animal leg and one human leg!  That is messed up.  Krampus, you crazy cat.  Boy, if anybody doubted that our Christmas celebrations are really just a Pagan tradition that was hijacked and given a churchy veneer by the Christians, look no further than our old pal Krampus. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

we've not yet lost all our graces

I'm glad that there are people out there who are gagging just as hard as I am about R. Kelly's recent resurgence into popularity.  I saw his album cover the other day, and who could have foreseen that a sex predator would have such a tacky, sexist album cover?  Mysterious.

Have you ever watched the "Just the Tips" videos?  I watched the "Swants" one last night and laugh-cried just a little bit . . . okay, I just watched it again, and it might be the sleep deprivation talking but I laugh-cried again, so maybe you should check it out.

Yesterday when I was doing my Costco shopping trip/worship service there was a guy demo-ing Vitamixes, and I ganked one of the samples--he had put raw spinach in it, the dumb dummy, but also a lime so: forgiven--and the guy asked me if I knew anybody with a Vitamix.  I got a little bit confused and told him my sister-in-law has one (she actually has a Blendtec; it's Tipsy who has the Vitamix, but oh well), and he said "Well, you can't let your sister-in-law win this one!"  Look, guy, first of all, I've apparently given you the wrong impression that I'm welcoming a deeper level of intimacy in this conversation by telling you about my family's appliances, and second, I don't like the intra-familial class warfare you're trying to incite here.  My sister-in-law and I are just fine, and if she has more disposable income than I do that's just fine, too.  I will not be baited like this, and encouraged to spend money I don't have on your fancy blending machine.  I have a blender already, and it is sufficient for my needs.  Although, a larger jar for the blender I have would not be amiss, if you're listening, Bosch people.  (They are not listening.  If they were they would have deep-sixed the indescribably hideous new design and gone back to the classic Bosch shape.)

I mean seriously.  What a monstrosity.  And what about that huge lip on the bowl so that when you put it in the dishwasher it collects a repulsive soup of food, detergent, and water?  My mother-in-law has this new design because her old one got broken somehow, and I pity her every day.  Call me shallow, but that design is ugly enough to keep me from buying a Bosch, no matter how durable it is.  I'm so glad I bought mine fifteen years ago. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

I got all pig iron

I have been given an assignment by my guitar instructor to go out and listen to a bunch of different styles of guitar music and then rank them from most to least favorite.  He doesn't have classic country as an option, though--the artists he lists in the country category are Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks.  Barf, pass.  I don't like modern country music.  The exaggerated accents and provincialism seem so much better when seen through the haze of numerous intervening decades.  Whither Johnny Cash, is what I'm saying.  Maybe I want to learn to play "Rock Island Line," is that so wrong?

You guys, the school has taken away the volunteer parents' laminating privileges.  Evidently there was an incident and now we aren't trusted with the laminator anymore, even though I heard from a trusted source that it was actually a teacher who had the accident!  Ooh, intrigue!  All I know is that when I laminated some Christmas trees for Willa's teacher I was the powningest powner who ever powned.

Ugh, last night I melted one of my wrap dresses on the gas fireplace in the parlor, and I am so peeved about it.  I was just backing up next to the glass and thought, "I should not stand so close or I'll melt my dress," and then I smelled the burning.  Stupid polyester fabrics.  It was a great dress, too, and I got it for a steal.  I just really love wrap dresses, and now I'm one down and it was my best one!  Sniff. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

and his name that sat on him was death

I read the book Salt, Sugar, Fat this summer, and in it the author talks about something called a "bliss point" in manufactured food--the point at which those three elements are in perfect proportion to each other--any more and the food would be sickening, any less and it wouldn't be quite as compelling and addictive.  Ladies and gentlemen, this song is, I think, a perfect example of my specific bliss point in pop music:

Slow build: check
Thumping bass and drums: check
Pleasing chord progression: check
A cappella/minimalist middle section: check
Huge chorus following a cappella section: check
Power singing/yelling: check
Black choir: check

I could go on, but this song is basically a chocolate-covered potato chip.  I am powerless against it.  And the metaphor extends, because the song is ultimately not that satisfying or nourishing, and I'm sure I will eventually tire of it.  But for now I'm listening to it on almost constant repeat.

It has a similar energizing effect to "All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers.  Did I ever tell you that I cried the first few times I watched the Nike commercial that uses that song?  CRIED.  In a Nike commercial.  So gross of me.  But, in my defense:

The animals?  The running?  The falling down?  (We won't talk about the complicated stories of some of the athletes.)  When people are running I can't help myself.  I have cried in every single one of my sisters' races, and I can't even adequately explain why.  It's like listening to Mariah Carey set her voice free--I am a sucker for effort and mastery and the unconquerable human spirit and so on.  For a cynic I am very tender-hearted.

Now I want to compile a list of all the perfect songs, nourishing and otherwise.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

claim your space--cesar would agree

There's a lady in our town who has the absolute worst posture.  She's barely older than I am and bends over so far she looks like she has a dowager's hump, and my interactions with her have led me to believe that she is self-conscious of her height.  She's probably around 5'11", and her personality is very . . . subdued, and I think she's subconsciously trying to make herself smaller.  Like she wants to be an extra instead of a lead.  That's fine--the world has plenty of leads.  But her bad posture makes her seem weak and insecure, which I don't love.  Not all tall women want to stride around like the magnificent genetically blessed gazelles that they are, but I hate when people don't own their space.  It's so submissive, in a way which is anathema to me.  I want to run my fingernails down her spine and bark "STAND UP STRAIGHT!" at her. I had a friend whose dad used to do that--he was former military and had had a grenade blow up in his face and supposedly the doctors left a piece of cotton in his head when they operated on him, so he was a little bit kooky.  Not sure how much of that story is true, but he was definitely into correct posture. 

I used to slump really badly when I had little babies.  Babies are the worst for posture because you're always cradling and nursing and rocking and you tend to protectively curl yourself around them like a cheesy ceramic figurine until the habit has turned you into a hunchback. 

John is a slumper, too--not as pronounced as the neighbor lady, but he has a very laid-back personality, and I think he is sensitive to how huge he seems to people.  I guess it's nice to not want to scare people, but he can do that by having calm, assertive energy and still standing up straight.  It works on dogs, it should work on people. 

So stand up straight, everyone.  You look like schmucks. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

and here's what I'm doing with it!

Yesterday our Sunday school lesson was about the government, and how it's important for us to be good citizens and be involved in our government to protect our rights and those of others, and as the conversation progressed of course there were people complaining, but thankfully nobody referred to the president as the Antichrist (which has happened in the past).  However, one man did bring up how "all these minorities" keep agitating for changes to be made, even though the general population doesn't feel that way, and as a result our rights are threatened.  He referenced the kerfuffle over the Washington Redskins, and said that when a group of Navajos went to the national capitol to be recognized for the role their language played in sending encrypted messages during WWII, "they were all wearing Redskins jackets!"  Pause for effect, look around the class for recognition of his insight.  Essentially invoking the "but I have black friends!" racism defense--some Native Americans are okay with the name, ergo no Native Americans get to complain about it.  There are a number of things that bother me about this reasoning, one of which is that naming your sports team a racial slur is not really a right.  I mean, I guess it's part of free speech, but free speech in the form of protests is also going to come into play here.  You have the right to say and do what you want, but not the right to escape the consequences of your tacky behavior.  And your opinion about the offensiveness or lack thereof of the name is worth a lot less than the opinion of the group of people in reference to whom the slur was created.  Secondly, as people in Utah tend to forget fairly constantly, MORMONS ARE MINORITIES.  The reason we're able to worship the way we want to is because of the protections granted to us by the unique form of government that we have in America, which, when properly implemented, allows the needs of both the many and the few to be addressed.  The sheer hypocrisy of it. . . it's like on Seinfeld when George gets that toupee and is mad that Kramer set him up with a bald woman, and Elaine shouts at him "YOU'RE BALD!"  That's what I'm going to start saying anytime people start whining about loud minorities. Thirdly, shut up, middle class white male, about the oppression you are dealing with by someone having to rename a sports team that's not even from your state.  I mean, could there be a gripe with less merit than this? 

Anyhoo, I raised my hand to voice opposition, and we continued our discussion with no harm done, which in itself is a miracle.  As our friend Brian said during one of his comments, this is an area that's difficult for a lot of grownups to discuss without causing a lot of argument and hurt feelings.  We all conflate truth with opinion a little too much. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

I'm betting it all on a good run of bad luck

I'm totally a musician now!  I was already, because piano, but now I am within just a few short years of being a two-instrument musician!  I can almost taste the honorary doctorate from Juilliard now . . .

I changed my mind about a hundred times about what guitar I was going to buy, but always underneath it all was the one I saw in the first store I visited, and looking deep into my soul I knew that I would always think about that guitar and what might have been.  So I bought it and I am in love with it but not in a weird or gross way and I will answer questions about it if anybody is interested.  Here is a picture: 

I've always hated Guitar Center, because whenever I've been there in the past it's because John has some boring piece of sound equipment that's having something boring done to it boringly and I want to die--like when I was little and my mom used to take me to the fabric store, BARF.  But the salesman was the nicest fellow and he sat down and taught me about guitars for about an hour.  My fingers are sad and sore, but I can sort of play an easy version of "Amazing Grace" very clumsily!  Onward and upward, possums. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

when along came a semi with a high and canvas-covered load

I'm asking for a guitar for Christmas, because I've gone long enough without knowing how to play one.  I took a class in college, but it was at 7:30 AM, so . . .

So I am now tasked with finding my own Christmas present, because I want to make sure it's the right one.  It's sort of like adopting--if not a child, then maybe a puppy or something.  You can't just be picking up any old thing and thinking it's going to be fine.  But I know nothing about guitars, so the learning/winnowing process is very difficult.  I have spent almost as much money on gas driving around to music stores and pawn shops as I am going to end up spending on the guitar itself. 

Do any of you guys play the guitar?  Do you have a favorite brand or model or style?  I'm wanting a steel-string acoustic. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

how lovely are your pickles

Sometimes I wonder if people purposely wait until they're in a steady relationship before they publicly announce that they're gay because the intense media scrutiny of your sex life while you're not even dating would be demoralizing.  Like the entire world becomes your prying aunt who worries that you're too bossy to keep a man. 

I'm so happy that this song got made before George Jones died.  It's perfection. 

I need more pie weights for the times when I'm blind baking more than one crust, and unfortunately the King's in Tremonton has decided to raise its game in the marble department, so they only have those fancy theme-colored ones that are $3 a pack for about fifteen marbles.  Boo!  Where are the cheap ones with the nondescript swirls inside?  Maybe the dollar store can be my friend. 

If any of you have a good idea for John for Christmas, let me know.  He's impossible.