Produced by Gary Drevitch
R.I.P., DIAPER GENIE. 2000-2005. YOU SERVED YOUR FAMILY WELL.
With Tiny Girl's rapid potty-training success, we sent our Diaper Genie to the recycling room last night. Thanks for everything, old friend. We're just sorry we never properly cleaned you. Really, really sorry ...
WE BLAME OUR MOTHER FOR OUR POOR SWIMMING ABILITY. SHE NEVER LET US GO IN THE WATER AFTER EATING, AND SINCE WE WERE ALWAYS EATING ...
Yesterday's Science Times lays to rest the myth of staying out of the water after eating a meal. However, the article does note that alcohol can have a profound effect on your risk of drowning.
SO, REMEMBER, EVA: NO COSMOPOLITANS FOR THE KIDS BEFORE THOSE SWIM CLASSES
Eva Moskowitz is chairwoman of the New York City Council's Education
Committee, which is a tremendous responsibility, as she tries to fund
schools, teachers, and programs, improve test scores, and raise the
level of instruction in all five boroughs. Which makes us wonder why
she wrote this surpassingly silly op-ed piece,
urging the city to find the funds to teach all city schoolchildren ...
to swim. She points to the tragic statistic that four New Yorkers have
drowned in the past month, and then bleats:
Ours is a city of islands, and yet hundreds of thousands of children and adults who grew up here do not know how to swim.
Yes, Eva, we live on islands, but this ain't exactly "Lost." We've
got bridges now, you know. In other news, 80 percent of your city's
schoolchildren can't pass a basic social-studies test. Many are
undernourished, others can't speak English, plenty can't read. Eyes on
the prize, Councilor.
THIS BABY PROBABLY SHOULDN'T GO IN THE WATER AT ALL
Milwaukee woman produces 13-pound, 12-ounce baby. Fonzie says, "Whoa!"
YES, IT'S ANOTHER "STAR ATHLETE WITH AILING CHILD SUFFERING FROM RARE DISEASE" STORY. DOESN'T MEAN IT'S NOT HEARTBREAKING.
He wanted so badly to explain why the man with the needle was hurting her. He knew he could not.
Instead, John Olerud blocked out his anguish and held down his daughter Jordan as she squirmed on a doctor's table, being prodded repeatedly. Jordan Olerud had already spent too much of her first three years in a hospital; she certainly didn't deserve this.
The doctor was trying to inject an IV, but Jordan's tiny veins wouldn't cooperate. He tried her wrists. Her feet. The inside of her elbows. Nothing. She was crying, writhing in pain. Olerud held her as, finally, the doctor planted the IV in the middle of Jordan's forehead.
IF YOU WERE HOPING TO MAKE A BIG SPLASH FOR YOUR COMPANY IN THE MEDIA THIS SEASON BY UNVEILING YOUR NEW $799 STROLLER, SORRY. THESE GUYS BEAT YOU BY A C-NOTE.
Say hello to the $899 Orbit Infant System. (Slogan: "You know it's got to be good: It's a SYSTEM.") To our untrained eyes, it looks like a shinier, heavier version of the Snap 'N Go, the most practical baby-carrier we've ever used ($50, not including infant car seat). In a New York Sun piece on the stroller the other day, the Orbit system's designer, Joseph Hei, said:
Most dads spend a lot more money and have nicer golf clubs, for instance, than they do necessary childhood products.
Yes, and the Orbit is nothing if not necessary. As currently configured - an infant car seat snapped onto a stroller - this thing will be "necessary" until your child hits 22 pounds. In other words, maybe 11 months. For $900. Help yourself.
A BILLION DOLLARS? MADRE DE DIOS!
She's bigger than Barney, and she's got Bob the Builder flagging down Thomas the Tank Engine and riding out of town. She's Dora the Explorer, and Slate's story of how the giant-eyed Latina clawed her way to the top of the kid media pile is well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand how companies make millions off all those cheap videos you keep buying.
CAN WE STATION ONE OUTSIDE OUR KITCHEN CABINET TO KEEP SMALL AND TINY FROM EATING ALL OF OUR CRACKERS?
A Japanese company introduces the "Guardrobo D1" robot security guard, to detect intruders, fires, and water leaks, and eventually to turn against its human builders and bring about the Age of the Machines.
JUAT AS LONG AS THEY NEVER TAKE AWAY THE MOUNTAIN DEW MACHINE OUTSIDE OF FD'S OLD HIGH SCHOOL GYM. THAT MACHINE NEVER HURT ANYONE.
Peter Applebome of the Times details the differences in separate campaigns to ban soda and junk food machines from public schools, in Connecticut (where it failed) and in New Jersey (where it succeeded). When Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed Connecticut's anti-junk food bill, she said, "The task of determining and meeting the health and dietary needs of children should first and foremost be undertaken by parents."
But Robert Zavoski, president of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, offers a powerful retort to Rell in re parental choice:
Zavoski ... said that allowing junk food to be sold in school doesn't give decision-making to parents - it takes it away. "If I wanted my daughter to drink Coke and Pepsi and eat junk food, I would buy it, but I don't," he said. "But, unfortunately, when I go to school and see junk in the vending machines, there's not a whole lot I can do about it."
THE BACKGROUND CHECK FOR THIS GIG WILL PROBABLY BE A LITTLE MORE INVOLVED THAN, SAY, THE ONE FOR STARRING IN "MR. & MRS. SMITH"
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Mattel and Clear Channel are seeking an actress to take the stage as Barbie for an 80-city musical tour to promote the toy brand (article not available online). It will be the first time the iconic doll will be portrayed by a human in a show. All actresses who can sing, dance, act, and have Barbie's 36-18-38 measurements, please contact Clear Channel right away.
HERE'S YOUR MONEY BACK. BY THE WAY, THE NEW BOSS WANTS YOU TO SPEND IT ON "THE 700 CLUB"
The House restored $100 million it had earlier planned to cut from the public broadcasting budget, which for now will save Oscar's can. But the troubles facing PBS are far from over:
Still on the table is the elimination of the $23-million Ready to Learn program, which helps finance programs such as Sesame Street.
We've all seen the blurb for Ready to Learn at the end of shows like Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Postcards from Buster, and others. But it's worth taking a look at the program's Web site to see the extent of its outreach programs.
In other news, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a new chief: Patricia S. Harrison, former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said of her appointment, "to turn PBS into a political mouthpiece is disgraceful and contrary to its years of distinguished public service." Not to mention, Harrison looks a little too much like Liddie Dole, which creeps us out . . .
1. YOU'RE BRILLIANT. 2. YOU'RE GORGEOUS. 3. YOU'RE SEXY. 4. YOU'RE INTOXICATING. 5. YOU'RE WITTY.
NOW CLOSE THE DAMN CABINET DOOR!!
In the "Work & Family" column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (article not available online), Sue Shellenbarger investigated the emotional toll of parental tension on even the youngest of children. "New research links the quality of parents' marriages to infant development," she reports. In other words, you can't fight in front of the kids:
Infants born to parents in marriages rated as troubled by the researchers cried and fussed more and were less engaged with their mothers and fathers, compared with infants born to happy couples .... Parents in unhappy marriages co-operated less in playing with their babies, and spoke less positively to them.
The Journal interviewed psychologist John Gottman of the University of Washington, who oversaw the new study, and has over the years studied hundreds of couples in his campus "Love Lab." (Gottman has come a long way since he tried to study coupling in the mid-70s in his "Love Van.") In an earlier study, actually, Gottman's research helped him determine the equation for a happy marriage:
... for a marriage to survive, a couple's interactions need to show a 5-to-1 ratio of positive exchanges, such as humor and affection, to negative ones, such as criticism.
COME FOR THE PHOTOS, STAY FOR THE JOKES
THIS COULD BE ONE OF THE GREAT BASEBALL PROMOTIONS EVER THOUGHT OF BY A SIX-YEAR-OLD
The Kansas City T-Bones and the Schaumburg Flyers of minor-league baseball's independent Northern League have agreed to dispense with the integrity of the game on July 16 and allow the first tw0 innings of their scheduled contest to be played via XBox by competing fans. The scores from the two innings of the fans' MVP Baseball 2005 game will stand and the players will finish up the game when they take the field for the third inning:
The idea for the promotion came from the 6-year-old niece of Bryan Williams, director of community relations for the T-Bones. “It was a fun way to get my niece involved in things I do every day,” Williams said ... “Everybody in the world is going to want to do this after us."
In other news, the six-year-old niece of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner thought it would be neat if the team's Oct. 2 season finale with the Red Sox was played with water balloons instead of the traditional baseballs -- so they're going to give that a try.
MAN, ARE WE GLAD WE DIDN'T GO TO A HIGH SCHOOL THAT HAD THIS POLICY
A number of Jewish day schools are barring students from bringing non-Jewish dates to their proms, according to the New York Jewish Week:
“The core argument on one side is that Jewish day schools should foster the value of Jews marrying other Jews and building Jewish families, and that value should [permeate] the culture of the school, including the prom,” [said Marc Kramer, the executive director of an umbrella group representing more than 90 Jewish community day schools in North America]. “The other argument — equally valid, but wildly different — is that … a policy saying students can only bring Jewish dates to the prom oversteps the boundaries of what a school should dictate.”
"Equally valid, but wildly different"? Funny, that's exactly what we thought of our Gentile prom date ...
WE HOPED AT LEAST "DO HONOR THY MOTHER AND FATHER" WOULD MAKE THE TOP 100
The cover of this month's Glamour magazine promotes the feature, "Top 100 Dos & Don'ts of all time," so we immediately turned to page 157, expecting to find a list including "DON'T kill," "DO look both ways before crossing the street," and more of history's greatest rules. Imagine our disappointment, then, when we discovered the article was all about "dental-floss bikinis, too-teeny shorts, see-through pants," and the like.
LINE UP NOW FOR THE EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL AT SIZZLER MIDDLE SCHOOL
Some middle-school students in Wappingers Falls, NY, will be taking an early lunch this fall - at 9:36 a.m. This news, however, will not preclude us from complaining about Small Fellow being forced to take lunch at 10:45 a.m. at his own public-school kindergarten this fall, an hour at which he normally is only interested in eating snot.
YOU DO NOT WANT TO MAKE THE MISTAKE OF TAKING THE KIDS TO THIS ONE
Sarah Michelle Gellar has signed to play the lead role in a new version of Alice in Wonderland - one with a refreshing, modern take on Lewis Carroll's classic:
It portrays Alice as a disturbed young woman consigned to a mental asylum following the death of her parents. She returns to Wonderland and encounters all the old characters, from the Mad Hatter to the Queen Of Hearts. But Wonderland is now a dark and threatening world and she must battle to escape alive, wiping out baddies with razor-sharp playing cards, exploding Jack-in-the-boxes and deadly croquet mallets .... Alice will be directed by Marcus Nispel, who was behind the recent remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
We would have loved to have sat in on that pitch meeting: "OK, for this project, think 'Buffy, the White Rabbit Slayer' or 'The Wonderland Razor-Sharp Playing Card Massacre.' It'll make $200 million domestic. Guaranteed."
HEY, WE THINK "CAILLOU" CAN BE INSIPID SOMETIMES, TOO, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE'D CUT OFF THE NETWORK'S FUNDING
By now, it shouldn't be news to any of you that PBS is under siege by conservatives, politically and financially, including a possible 25 percent cut in Congressional funding which would gut the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's ability to support shows like "Sesame Street" or to foster the development of new programming. (On the bright side, the cuts would virtually guarantee that we'd never have to endure "Colonial House II.")
Cuts would also take $78 million away from the fund that pays for children's programming and technical improvements. And, sure, the marketplace has changed, and, sure, there are plenty of other networks offering quality children's programming, but only PBS offers it relatively commercial-free and with the assurance that when Sesame Street ends, Access Hollywood will not follow.
ONE OF THE "STICKIEST" SITES ON THE WEB IS NOW OWNED BY THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU GREEN SLIME
Do your kids enjoy neopets.com? (We confess we've never heard of it, but apparently it has a total audience of 25 million, and regular users spend an average of 6 hours and 15 minutes on the site a month.) Well, this just in: It's been bought up by The Man, aka Sumner Redstone.
SHE'S FACING STIFF COMPETITION FROM A CHEAP ISRAELI KNOCKOFF, GAZA GUYS
Moving to fill the demands of parents who find today's dolls to be immodest, we bring you Gali Girls, developed by a Modern Orthodox mom from Teaneck, NJ. The dolls, which retail for $60 each, convey values "appropriate for young Jewish girls." That means modest dress, Star of David bracelets, Hebrew/English doll name certificates, and a Shabbat toy kit.
We might suggest that Gali Girls creator Aliza Stein borrow a page from American Girl's playbook and introduce dolls from different periods of Jewish history. For example: Chava the shtetl girl. She loves Fyetka the Russian soldier, but her Papa plans to sell her hand in marriage to Shlomo the blacksmith. Comes with cow, plow, and anvil. Also: Golde the prime minister. She'll lead her country to military victory, if she can ever get her sad-sack cousin from Milwaukee off the phone. Accessories include gray suit, tank, and photo of President Nixon.
Collect the whole set!
WILL YOUR CHILD BE THE REDEEMER?
The New York Sun reports today on a revamped bottle bill making its way through the New York state legislature. The bill would allow for collection of different kinds of containers, and would require bottlers to pay the state back deposits which go unredeemed (which makes sense since they're not supposed to add up to a bonus for the companies). The Sun article profiles a homeless man who collects bottles near Yankee Stadium, focusing on one of the major problems he faces: many supermarkets in the city have quietly stopped accepting bottles, in violation of the state law. This got us wondering: Do kids redeem bottles anymore? Growing up, FD made his comic-book money hauling the family's Coke bottles back to the Stop & Shop. But we don't think we've ever seen a city kid redeem it in a Manhattan market.
AND HOW WAS YOUR FATHER'S DAY?
At FD.com headquarters, the day began sweetly, with Small, Tiny, and Loving Mother emerging at 8:30, gifts in hand, to find us at our Mac. "Happy Freelance Father's Day!" they called.
Loving Mother had her traditional Father's Day gift - matching polo shirts to be worn all day by FD, Small, and Tiny, this year in "raspberry" (also known as "pink").
Later that morning, we purchased a plastic yellow baseball bat for Fellow (for $1.19! Including hard plastic ball! Is there a better toy bargain in the land?), and hit some balls in the playground, which was great fun, until he fell into a slump immediately after we agreed to end our game as soon as he got one more hit. A crowd of other parents gathered around us to watch his extended at-bat -- and our extended debate over when to call the game -- and they exploded in cheers when he finally scorched a hard grounder into the corner, enabling us to leave the scene.
Swimming, shopping, and train-track assembly followed, making for an altogether lovely day -- oh, yeah, except for TinyGirl staying awake until 12:45 a.m.
ATHLETES ARE NOT ROLE MODELS.
FATHERS ARE ROLE MODELS.
THEREFORE, ATHLETES WHO ARE FATHERS ARE ROLE MODELS?
In honor of Father's Day, we offer two athletes in the news for their unique but disparate approaches to parenting.
First, NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal, who tells us in the pages of this month's Esquire:
The other day, two of my children were fighting. I made them hold hands, and I tied them together with a sock. I said, "Now, I want you to go upstairs and come back, and when you do, you're going to say 'I love you' to each other." When they came back, they were laughing.
They don't call him "The Big Aristotle" for nothing.
And then there's Tebucky Jones, formerly of your Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and profiled in the current issue of ESPN the Magazine. Jones grew up tough on the mean streets of New Britain (don't kid yourself; there are mean streets everywhere). He and his wife had their kids while they were still teenagers, and the family struggled when the children were little. Then Jones became a first-round draft pick with a $2.65 million bonus. The kids went upper class and never looked back. But Daddy became increasingly concerned that the children were becoming "pudding pops," his term for going soft. (Hey, cut him some slack: New Britain slang ain't exactly Compton's.)
By the spring of 2004, he decided there was only one option. He piled his three kids into his Mercedes and drove them 10 minutes down the hill to his old Boys & Girls Club in New Britain. At the curb, he simply opened the car door and said, "Bye." And all the inner-city kids inside saw it. They saw three pampered kids duck out of a Mercedes and walk smack into their world.
Here comes the raw meat.
Long story short, the experiment was a success. Jones' two boys and a girl began talking smack, wearing do rags, and playing through injuries. As the nonjudgmental gang at ESPN put it, "It isn't by the book, but ... Jones could be the NFL Father of the Year for this."
WE HAVEN'T CLICKED ON THE LINK, AND DON'T YOU CLICK ON IT EITHER, SICKO
Recently, we Googled ourselves and found this link mixed in among the listings of Web sites illegally reprinting our published articles:
Tiny Girl pornrealityteen.com/info/Tiny-Girl - 15k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages
... International Full Register CBKC/FCI transfers to the AKC. Gary Drevitch Natalie puckers up, March 2003. A girl and her elephant, November 2003. ...
pornrealityteen.com/info/Tiny-Girl - 15k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages
THIS IS GOOD NEWS, BECAUSE WE DON'T WANT ANYONE TO FIND OUT THAT WE'VE GOT SPOT'S BEDTIME STORYBOOK HERE
The House takes a whack at the Patriot Act by limiting the government's ability to find out which books you've taken out of the library.
AND TOMORROW, YOU CAN FIND US AT CONEY ISLAND
A four-year-old Pennsylvania boy died this week after passing out on the Mission: Space ride at Disney World Florida. The intense ride had already caused several riders to be treated for chest pains. Cause of death will not be known for a while, but we hope it doesn't have anything to do with this.
WELL, THIS EXPLAINS THE LEVEL OF DISCOURSE ON "THE KING OF QUEENS"
Children don't learn as quickly, and remember less, if they live near airports, according to a European study:
The authors said they were unsure of the reasons for their finding, but they suggested that in learning to ignore the irrelevant noise of the airplanes, students may simultaneously have learned to tune out relevant speech.
FINALLY, JANE BRODY APPROVES OF SOMETHING IN OUR DIET
Freelance Dad has had a tall glass of milk every morning since he was a Small Fellow, and now Dame Jane Brody of the New York Times reports that our daily drink of calcium may very well have prevented us from becoming obese. . . OK, from becoming more obese.
Still, everyone should check out today's article. The studies it cites confirm what many people have suspected for a long time, and should be one more impetus for parents to do the right thing and give their kids a glass of 1% milk every day:
The evidence suggests that calcium, especially in dairy foods, can help people lose pounds, if they are on a reduced-calorie diet. There is also evidence that dairy foods can keep adolescents from gaining excessive weight and perhaps help adults control middle-age spread.
AND NOW, TODAY'S ENTRY IN THE CATEGORY OF QUESTIONS WE HOPE YOU NEVER HAVE TO FACE
Fascinating medical essay in the Times today about a 1970s-era debate over the treatment of infants with a rare and debilitating birth defect: Was it better to leave them untreated in the nursery to die, or to move aggressively to perform dozens of surgical procedures to keep them alive, even if the quality of life would not be ideal? Looking back 30 years, Dr. Barron Lerner finds the answer isn't that obvious.
IF DEEP BREATHS OF MORE THAN FOUR HOURS OCCUR, PLEASE SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY
Viagra may be able to help children with a rare and fatal lung disease. Does it amaze anyone else that scientists discovered a wonder drug that so successfully improved blood flow in the body, with apparent applications for a number of conditions, and the first thing they thought to do with it was help the old folks with the nookie?
FD.COM COMMENCEMENT SEASON QUOTE OF THE YEAR, CLASS OF 2005
Every year at graduation time, we read about some school somewhere denying a diploma to someone who violated the commencement ceremony dress code in some harmless way. This year's incident comes to us from suburban D.C., where a Native American student is still waiting to graduate after being caught wearing a bolo tie under his gown. They boy claims the tie represents his culture. Responding to the controversy, the school district's trained spokeswoman delivered this gem:
The bolo "was not considered by staff to be a tie," said Katie O'Malley-Simpson, a spokeswoman for Charles County schools. "We have many opportunities throughout the year to express cultural heritage. But we don't do that at graduation."
THE PROPOSED BAN ON SPANKING, PINCHING, AND HOT SAUCING WOULD ALSO JEOPARDIZE THE PREMIERE OF "MR. AND MRS. SMITH" IN BOSTON CINEMAS
The commonwealth of Massachusetts will soon take up a bill to ban parents from administering a variety of forms of corporal punishment, including the controversial practice of "hot saucing." The threat posed by the legislation has led former "Facts of Life" star Lisa Whelchel to cross Boston off her summer vacation list.
HEY, KIDS, RONALD SAYS GET UP OFF THAT COUCH AND COME SNOWBAORDING! AND WHEN YOU'RE DONE, WHY NOT ENJOY A BIG MAC AND A SHAKE?
In a move akin to Warren Beatty becoming a spokesman for abstinence, McDonald's spokesclown Ronald McDonald has taken on a new role - encouraging kids to get more exercise and enjoy a balanced diet. In new commercials, Ronald skateboards with his pal, Yao Ming, and snowboards down a fruit-covered mountain. (Ronald's morbidly obese pal, Grimace, whose bulk led to circulation problems which years ago turned his skin purple, is nowhere to be seen in the new ads, and could not be reached for comment.)
Nick Hahn, managing director of New York-based marketing consulting firm Vivaldi Partners, employed radical understatement in addressing the credibility gap the food chain's new campaign must overcome:
"In the case of McDonald's, I wouldn't say that what would immediately come to mind is exercise," Hahn said. "The question is ... what will allow them to move into that space and have consumers find that credible .... I think that it would be a challenge."
NOW IF ONLY HE'D STOP PRONOUNCING PAWNS AS "PONES"
Small Fellow has taken a liking to the grand game of chess, which we have added to the growing list of contests he does not like to lose. After Fellow's first season of classes, his teacher recommended that we pick up the book, Simple Checkmates, to help him recognize checkmates and to keep his mind sharp.
We have "Simple Checkmates" in hand now, and are happy to report that for any parent who (like us) hasn't played much chess in the last 15 or so years, but wants to help their child learn the game, this book will help you get your instincts back quickly.