Produced by Gary Drevitch
CASUAL RACISM HAS ITS DAY IN THE SUN
This is really apropos of nothing, but we have a forum, and we have
to call out the New York Sun and John McWhorter. Now, we love to kid
the Sun here, what with its weekly parenting column written by the daughter of
its major investor, and its Murderer's Row of looneytunes right-wing
contributors. But this may be the day the laughter died. Today the Sun
ran "Dying Languages,"
in which columnist McWhorter claims that it's not really so bad that
native languages are dying out at a faster rate than at any time in
human history, though he concedes that "[e]ach extinction means that a
fascinating way of putting words together is no longer alive. In, for
example, Inuktitut Eskimo . . . 'I should try not to become an alcoholic' is one word: Iminngernaveersaartunngortussaavunga."
Oh, really? Of all the languages in the world, and all the possible phrases that could be chosen as examples of those languages, all McWhorter could think of on deadline was how a Native American might say, "I should try not to become an alcoholic"? And his editors had no problem with this? What if McWhorter had chosen as his example the German phrase for "I should try not to become a genocidal dictator," or the Animere phrase for "I should try not to be shiftless"?
For all kinds of reasons, the Sun should know better.
Channel 13 in New York is replaying the Sesame Street special, "When Parents Are Deployed," starring Elmo and Cuba Gooding Jr., Sunday night at 6. The Times praised its "good intentions" the other day.
UPDATE: MANHATTAN GIFTED AND TALENTED APPLICATION PROCESS
Readers with children (like Tiny Girl) in the pool for 2007-08 gifted-and-talented kindergarten admissions should be receiving their packet from the Dept. of Ed. this week with their OLSAT test date, a sample test, and instructions for administering it at home. We'd been periodically checking the department's G&T site for weeks, looking for the long-promised test-prep materials, but obviously instead of posting the guides, the city has mailed them out. Oddly, the packet also includes a note warning parents that the test materials are confidential, and should not be shared with anyone. And we'll bow to the sanctity of the admissions process and not share any details of the packet here.
We will, however, offer this tip: Given what we've seen of our packet, one could conceivably help prepare one's child for OLSAT-style questions by encouraging them to play with Educational Insight's Teddy Early Learning Game.
NO COIN FOR YOU. NEXT!
The U.S. Mint is preparing to follow the success of its state quarters series with a series of dollar coins featuring the visage of each U.S. President. Sounds good to us - it's educational, and it might inspire some interest in history, or at least in coin collecting. Given Fellow's enthusiasm for the state quarters, we've even been looking forward to it. But apparently we're missing the bigger picture, as seen by righty columnist David Shribman in what is easily the wackiest piece we've read this month:
Putting all the presidents on a classroom calendar or on a metal ruler is one thing. Calendars last a year and metal rulers are lost in a month. Putting all the presidents on circulating coins is another thing altogether. It's a very bad idea. . . .
The truth of the matter is that all of our presidents do not deserve to be honored. . . . Buchanan and Harding do not deserve coins of their own. . . William Harrison was president for a month. He doesn't deserve a coin. William Taft was a good man and a good chief justice, but as a president he left few marks. No coin for him, either. . . .
Putting Arthur and Garfield on the same plane, or on the same coin, as some of their presidential predecessors is a moral equivalency that the American people, who say they love equality but who honor excellence, should not tolerate. This effort proves only one thing, about which we might not be particularly proud: In America, money is the great equalizer.
But the real problem with this notion is that placing every president on a dollar coin rewards attainment, not achievement. That is not a good lesson for our children, or for our country. . . .
And another thing: Rhode Island hasn't contributed anything of value to the union since it ratified the Constitution. And Hawaii? A glorified territorial possession, no more deserving of immortality than Guam. No state quarter for either of them!
FREELANCE DAD: NOW, MORE THAN EVER, A VERONICA
Archie Comic Publications Inc. of Mamaroneck, N.Y., which has been chronicling the romantic misadventures of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Jughead since 1941, will update its iconic characters' looks to try to generate some heat among the millions of teen readers who have never heard of them. Archie titles sold a million copies each during their 1940s heyday, according to this Wall Street Journal article, but now struggle in the low-five digits. Samantha Skey of teen marketer Alloy Media put it diplomatically: "There's not a lot of knowledge or awareness of 'Archie.'"
All we can say is, that's just because the fellas haven't seen Veronica's new look.
SCIENCE ON THE MARCH
From a Times op-ed on the scientific basis of children's belief in Santa Claus, run during the height of the holiday slow season:
Our experiment was designed to investigate how a young child, upon encountering a fantastical being like a unicorn in a storybook, decides whether it is real or imaginary. Adults often make the call based on context. If, for example, we encounter a weird and unfamiliar insect at a science museum, we are more likely to think it is something real than if we find it in a joke store.
To see if children could also use context in this way, we described “surnits” . . . to our study group. To some of the children, we put surnits in a fantastical context: “Ghosts try to catch surnits when they fly around at night.” To others, we characterized them in scientific terms: “Doctors use surnits to help them in the hospital.”
The 4- to 6-year-olds who heard the medical description were much more likely to think surnits were real than children who were told they had something to do with ghosts. The children demonstrated that they do not indiscriminately believe everything they’re told, but use some pretty high-level tools to distinguish between fantasy and reality.
In conclusion -- America's children: No more likely to believe in ghosts than the next guy.
CATCH THAT TRAIN CATCHES A GRAMMY NOM
Brooklyn's own Dan Zanes and Friends were nominated for Best Musical Album for Children for the outstanding "Catch That Train." Near as we can tell, it's Zanes' second children's Grammy nomination (along with a 2004 nod for "House Party"), and given the academy's well-known affection for guest star-laden albums, he'd seem to be a good bet to win it, given the contributions from the Kronos Quartet, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Nick Cave, Natalie Merchant, and the Children of Agape. Zanes' competition includes John Lithgow, Trout Fishing in America, and, utterly inexplicably, a Baby Einstein compilation (!?).
We'll be pulling for Zanes and Friends, in the hopes that Grammy
recognition might bring the original lineup together for at least one
evening of rapprochement. (Ominously, since the departures from the group of Barbara Brousal, Cynthia Hopkins, and Yoshi the bass player, Zanes has taken down the "Friends Bios" page of his Web site.)
THIS JUST IN: SMALL FELLOW LIKES SMALL FAIRIES
We've entered the era of real book reading here, as Fellow has been working his way through Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series (which we would recommend, and will in fact do so in depth in this space soon). At a recent visit to Barnes and Noble, Fellow spent almost all of a $20 gift card he got as a birthday gift on Magic Tree House volumes, but he also introduced Tiny Girl to another series, for somewhat less adept readers -- Daisy Meadows' Rainbow Magic, a seven-book epic based on this premise:
The seven Rainbow Fairies have been banished from Fairyland by the wicked Jack Frost. If they don't return soon, Fairyland is doomed to be colorless and gray.
Tiny thought this sounded like just the thing for her, so we agreed to buy her the first entry, Ruby the Red Fairy,
and encouraged Fellow to read it aloud to her -- which he did. Except
now he's totally into the story himself, and eager to read the rest of
the series to find out if human girls Rachel and Kirsty can "keep
[Ruby] safe and find the rest of her Rainbow sisters . . . before it's
too late." The stories venture into Fairyland itself, where the girls
are given the power to become fairies themselves -- because they
believe in magic -- and where they encounter Oberon and Titania, king
and queen of the fairies. . . Oh, man.
Hi, our name is Freelance Dad, and our son is totally into a book
series about little girl fairies. This is our first meeting. Umm, he's
really into baseball cards, too. . .
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Times article the other day, on the difficulties African-American families encounter while trying to hire a nanny, should be required reading about the state of the union:
This summer, Tomasina and Eric Boone of Brooklyn sought a nanny for their baby girl because their jobs — she is the advertising beauty director for Essence magazine, he is a lawyer at Milbank Tweed — require evening hours. After a Manhattan agency did not return Ms. Boone’s call, they searched on their own, and sat through one stomach-curdling interview after another.
One sitter, a Caribbean woman living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, asked about the “colored” people in the Boones’ neighborhood, Clinton Hill. A Russian sitter said enthusiastically that although she had never cared for a black child, she could in this case, because little Emerie Boone, now 7 months old, was light-skinned. All sitters expressed surprise that a black couple could afford a four-story brownstone.
FD.COM HQ: LEAPFROG FREE SINCE 2000
bought a Leap Frog, never really even considered it. We briefly had an
electronic book toy that read stories to the kids as they
(theoretically) read along. But it never felt right and we got rid of
it. Research that these toys don't deliver the benefits they claim is far from new, but some recent studies were rehashed in a Journal op-ed the other day, and it's always worth reinforcing:
A two-year, government-funded study by researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland found that electronic toys marketed for their supposed educational benefits, such as the LeapFrog LeapPad. . . and the Vtech V provided no obvious benefits to children. [R]esearcher Lydia Plowman [said] she believes parents are wasting their money on expensive educational electronics. At a Boston University conference on language development in November, researchers from Temple University's Infant Laboratory and the Erikson Institute in Chicago described the results of their research on electronic books. The Fisher-Price toy company, which contributed funding for the study, was not pleased. . . . [R]esearcher Julia Parish-Morris [said] "parents and children reading electronic books together are having a severely truncated experience."
On the other hand, that Teddy Early Learning Game
we mentioned earlier? It keeps the kids busy with interactive quizzes
for hours, relying only on the radical technology of. . . a single
On the other hand, that Teddy Early Learning Game we mentioned earlier? It keeps the kids busy with interactive quizzes for hours, relying only on the radical technology of. . . a single magnet.BUT THEN WE PEEKED AHEAD, AND YES, THE STORY DID HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. THANK GOD.
We read all we can about parenting for you, our readers, but we admit that we could barely make it through "One Spoonful at a Time," Harriet Brown's courageous and excruciatingly detailed story of her struggle to help her teenage daughter overcome anorexia, which ran in the Times magazine a few weeks back. We had to put it down at least three times and turn to year-end top-10 movie lists until our squeamishness passed and we could dive back in. On the list of things we don't wish for our daughter, or yours, anorexia remains at or near the top.
PICTURES ARE READY
A fresh set of photos of Small, Tiny, and Little are now up in the See the Kids section. As always, scroll to the bottom for the most recent.
China, the largest source of overseas children
adopted in the U.S., plans to bar would-be parents
who are obese, single or over 50, according to
notices posted on the Web sites of three leading
U.S. adoption agencies.
EAT WHAT YOU WANT. WE'LL MAKE MORE.
Slate's resident pediatrician, Sydney Spiesel, makes the case for letting kids eat what they choose, as opposed to forcing them to take broccoli every night at dinner. He bases his conclusions in part on a 1928 study in which two groups of orphans were offered a variety of foods, but never actually served them. Relying then only on their own choices, the kids put together a "a nutritionally perfect and complete diet." Spiesel acknowledges that such a result might be less likely today, given the power of treat marketing and the inherent unhealthiness of so many processed foods.
Still, [the study] suggests some feeding strategies that are likely to have a better outcome than either choosing everything that goes on your child's plate or giving in to every request for snacks and dessert. Provide kids with a choice of healthy foods, keeping less-healthy ingredients out of the house. As best you can, resist your impulses to try to control your child's diet.
We don't often digress here into our personal nuts-and-bolts parenting strategies, but over the past several months, whenever we've prepared meals for Small and Tiny ourselves, we've made sure to offer a choice, any choice, because it makes things go much more smoothly. Yes, this is parenting-books 101, but when they get a choice, they're more likely to clean the plate, and less likely to complain.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE (WELL, LESS)
As Semites exult in the news of scientific proof that circumcision cuts one's risk of HIV infection from heterosexual contact in half, Slate admirably takes up the then-obvious question: If I'm an uncut adult gentile looking to get a piece of that, how would I go about that? The answer is cringe-inducing from the get-go, naturally, even in its description of post-op care:
First, he should leave the doctor's office in tight-fitting underpants, to keep his surgical dressing firmly in place. (A few days later he'll want to switch to boxers, so as not to irritate the wound.) He should avoid riding a bicycle for at least five days, and he should refrain from all masturbation or sexual intercourse for four to six weeks.
He may have written the article standing up, but credit still goes to Daniel Engber for covering all his bases, even providing a link to Dr. Sears' discussion of the age-old question: Does my baby actually have an erection? (Spoiler alert" Yes, he does, and you may have to stop watching Dora.)
OH, THE PEOPLE YOU'LL MEET
The New York Sun recently spent some time with two families applying to Manhattan's gifted-and-talented kindergarten programs, albeit from distinctly different places. (Full disclosure: So is Tiny.) The point was to show that the department of ed is gradually improving the ways it helps families from different cultures navigate the system. First up: The Jordans, an upper-middle-class family with a mom who claims an uncanny ability to enter her name, address, and telephone number on admission forms:
"I've kind of been tracking this, and I'm also a social worker, so I'm used to navigating a big sprawling bureaucracy," Ms. Jordan said. "I definitely have an advantage."
Then there are Pallazhcos, Ecuadorian immigrants living on Dad's construction-worker salary who recently realized their son was very bright, then got help from his Head Start program in applying to the programs. And yet. . . they haven't mastered all the niceties of the process that come so easy to the Jordans:
Without realizing it, the Jordans and Pallazhcos recently crossed paths at an open house for the Anderson School. . . Ms. Pallazhco sat in the back row of the auditorium with her husband and [her two children], who squirmed in their seats and munched on cookies. . . . Ms. Jordan and her husband had come with a couple of friends from the neighborhood. Following instructions posted on the school's Web site, they didn't bring [their children].
Later, while touring Upper West Side G&T programs, Ms. Jordan is
shocked - shocked! - to discover the apparent segregation at public
schools with mostly white G&T classes alongside "gen-ed" rooms
filled with students of color. But would anyone on the tour be bold
enough to raise the awkward issue? Oh, yeah:
. . .one of the other parents on the tour, Cynthia Nixon, an actress on the HBO series "Sex and the City," asked first.
GOSH, HERE AT FD.COM HQ, WE'LL HIRE ANYONE. WELL, NOT THE IRISH
Gawker spotted this unusually frank posting on Craigslist the other day (since removed):
We're a Jewish family located in Manhattan, the SoHo section. We are looking for a caring and stimulating nanny to take care of our 6 month old, 3 1/2 year old, and 7 year old . . . . We do not consider ourselves as White people due to our history. We ask kindly that Whites and especially Germans not apply. References are a big must.
THIS WARNING WOULD PRESUMABLY APPLY TO DEPRESSED GERMAN NANNIES WHO CAN'T FIND WORK IN SOHO
Today's public-service note:
Pregnant women and those who plan to become pregnant should avoid taking the antidepressant Paxil if possible because of the risk of birth defects, [the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] said yesterday. . . . Two studies of pregnant women who were taking Paxil during their first trimester have shown that their babies have heart defects at a rate that is as much as twice the norm. . .
OTHER DISCOURAGED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS INCLUDE, "ARE YOU NOW, OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN, GERMAN?"
Coincidentally, the Journal just ran a piece about interviewing nanny candidates:
. . . there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Disrespectful or intrusive questions drive away good candidates. [Pat] Cascio, owner of Morningside Nannies, a Houston agency, says two well-qualified nannies turned down a mother after she asked them, "How often do you bathe?" and "Do you use birth control?"
Joseph Barbera, half of the prolific animation team Hanna-Barbera ("Tom and Jerry," "Flintstones," "Yogi Bear," et al), died this week at 95. We give the Barbera's studio props for "Huckleberry Hound" and for creating Wendy and Marvin, and then Zan and Jayna, for successive incarnations of the "Super Friends" series. OK, especially for creating Wendy. . .
As for the rest, aside from a few inspired creations, like Bam-Bam, little of it had
the wit of, say, Dudley Do-Right, whose producer, Chris Hayward, of Jay Ward Productions, also passed away this week, at 81, and who earns respect if only
for producing material so offensive to Canadian sensibilities that it was
briefly banned there. Hayward also worked on "Bullwinkle" and "Get Smart," and created the virtually unwatchable "Munsters." (Not that we didn't spend hours and hours watching it as a kid. . .)
NEW YORKER CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Indulge us, just this once: In this week's issue, a Danny Shanahan panel depicts two toddler boys, in diapers, sitting on the floor in front of a couch. One is holding a letter block; we can see X, A, and R on three sides. The other boy turns to him and says:
"I couldn't put it down."
STILL PLENTY OF TIME TO SHOOT UP THE KIDS
Well, it beats a shortage: After worrisome flu vaccine shortages in recent years, pharmaceutical companies may end this season with a surplus of several hundred thousand doses. This development is itself worrisome, however, as the glut will hurt vaccine-makers' profits, making them reluctant to overproduce again next year. So it may then be your patriotic duty to get your kid a flu shot now. And, no, it's not too late:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed Nov. 27 to Dec. 3, the week after Thanksgiving, the first ever National Influenza Vaccination Week, telling people that vaccination in December or January is still worthwhile because the flu itself often does not peak until February. . . . And why stop at January? The American Academy of Pediatrics is considering a recommendation that its members offer flu shots as late as May 1 each year. . .
HENRY AND MUDGE AND THE NAMES UP IN LIGHTS
The "Henry and Mudge" musical at the Lucille Lortel has been getting excellent reviews this season. (We just reread that sentence; still can't believe we wrote it.) The New York Sun calls the Theatreworks USA production "a surprisingly satisfying musical for young children" and "a finely-drawn study of Henry's relationships." OK, then. Small and Tiny have long enjoyed the Cynthia Rylant book series, but we haven't seen the show. If you want to give it a try, you have until January 20. (Theatreworks recommends the show for kids from Pre-K to Grade 3.)
THE PRINCIPAL, IN FACT, DOES SEE SOMETHING WRONG WITH A LITTLE BUMP AND GRIND
high-school principal in a Syracuse suburb, appalled by the "bumping,
grinding, shaking, arching, teasing, and flaunting" at his school's
dances, canceled one event altogether and banned "pornographic" dance
moves. His decisions have predictably outraged students who say the
administration is refusing to keep up with the times. This Times piece
does not go on to report that students have invited Kevin Bacon to
their next dance to show their parents once and for all why they've
gotta, gotta cut footloose.
THOUGHT-PROVOKING READ OF THE WEEK
Darshak Sanghavi, author of the excellent "A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician's Tour of the Body, wrote in Science Times a week ago about parents who ''intentionally choos[e] malfunctioning genes that produce disabilities like deafness or dwarfism" so that their children will be like themselves.
Their decisions are massively counterintuitive. On the other hand, there but for the grace of God, etc., etc. Sanghavi provides a fascinating introduction to a topic that's been percolating in fertility clinics and genetics journals for years.
IT'S OFFICIAL: WE'RE OLD
The evidence? We've started reading Metropolitan Diary, and one of the items even elicited a smile of recognition from us last week. To compensate, we plan to spend the weekend listening to Husker Du and Jonathan Richman albums. But this really is cute:
I was trying on clothes in Filene's, on Broadway and 79th Street, when I overheard the following conversation between a mother and child in the next cubicle. . . .
''You look great in that dress, Mom.''
''No, I'm not getting it. I don't look good in pink.''
''But I love it. You could just wear it when we're home alone.''
SAVOR THOSE QUIET MOMENTS. OR, ALTERNATELY, RUSH THROUGHT THEM AS FAST AS YOU CAN
Our latest addition to Hell in a Handbasket Watch:
Like many busy parents, [Adi Weber] turned to her stroller for bursts of exercise while her child napped. But she didn't know how far or fast she was going, or whether her workout measured up to the one she got at the gym. That is why she invented the Strollometer, a speedometer for strollers.
YOUR TEACHABLE MOMENT OF THE WEEK
If it holds up, Judge James Robertson's decision requiring the federal government to adapt its paper currency so that blind citizens can tell different bills apart, would be enormously impractical for the feds, not to mention the vending machine industry. It does, however, provide an easy citizenship lesson for the kids: Put a single, a fin, and a sawbuck on the table. Ask the child to tell them apart. Now ask them to do it with their eyes closed. Aha! And so Judge Robertson's order starts to make sense. This news, fundamentally interesting to kids because it deals with money, could spark an excellent conversation about the government's responsibility to accommodate differently-abled people.
OK, now back to making fun of rich parents.
MOM READS TO US, COOKS US DINNER, AND HELPS US WITH OUR HOMEWORK. BUT WHAT SHE REALLY WANTS TO DO IS DIRECT.
Or just pay someone else $4,000 to direct home videos for her:
In six weeks, a handsome beige box would arrive at the Mellodys' home on the Upper East Side. A laminated photograph of their children would be inset on the lid, and inside would be a professionally shot, laboriously edited home movie. A priceless keepsake -- one that happened to come with a price of $4,000. To Mr. Mellody, an investment specialist at Morgan Stanley, paying that kind of money for home movies was just one more step in the longstanding parental strategy of spending money to save time.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Times recently offered this roundup of holiday shopping guides for autistic children as well as kids with other major childhood disabilities. Worth a look.
HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR KIDS, FAT OR BRITTLE?
New York City faces a quandary: Since it began limiting its cafeteria milk choices to skim, 1%, and (not in all schools every day) chocolate skim a year ago, lunchtime milk consumption is down 10%. A coalition promoting greater milk choice for students, Advocates for School Milk Choice, challenged the Department of Ed to stand down and restore more milk choices, including chocolate- and strawberry-flavored froth five days a week, because, they argued, children who didn't like the milk choices were no longer getting enough calcium. But this week the department refused to go back, maintaining that preventing diabetes was their primary concern and that kids could get calcium from other sources if they were to going to insist on holding out for whole.
What should not be lost in this debate is the fact that a group of people went to the trouble of forming a coalition called Advocates for School Milk Choice. And for the record, we're with the city on this one.
FD.COM: NOW BRINGING YOU 10 MAN-YEARS OF PARENTING EXPERIENCE
Tiny has a birthday today, which gives us a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and change (the few months of Little Guy). Tiny woke up today anxious to talk about what it meant to be 4. Her first example? "Now I can't ride on top of the cart at the market because I'm 4, unless Mommy says it's OK if we go to the market just today because today I'm JUST 4."
SPORADIC ACTS OF KINDNESS
He gets some bad press, on this site and elsewhere (OK, just here), but don't underestimate Fellow:
The other day, Loving Mother brought home Tiny's birthday present (it's a full-grown American Girl doll - yeah, it's a safe bet that'll be the subject of a future post), snuck it into FD.com HQ, and told Fellow not to tell Tiny where it was. (He of course immediately told her, "Tiny, your present is in the office!")
However, later that night, as we discussed Tiny's birthday, he asked:
"When are we going to get her our present?"
"Mommy brought it home today, you know that."
"NO! OUR PRESENT! WE have to get her a present. I want to get her a dot-to-dot book, up to 25 . . . no—up to 50. She can do up to 50. And a Dora book. I thought about a Diego book, but I think she likes Dora better, so, yeah, go get her a Dora book at Barnes and Noble."
And after that, how could we not?
WE GUESS IT DEPENDS A LOT ON WHOSE 80% THE KIDS ARE GETTING
We were finding Weekend Journal's cover story the other day—on parents who create "Blackberry orphans"
by refusing to put their PDAs down at home, on vacation, or
anywhere—amusing enough until we came across this, which instantly
became our FD.com Quote of the Week:
One of BlackBerry's biggest defenders, Jim Balsillie, the chairman of Research In Motion, says children should ask themselves, "Would you rather have your parents 20% not there or 100% not there?"
NOTED: BARBARA BROUSAL SIGHTING
Well, it's just an unflattering pencil drawing in this week's New York magazine Jukebox feature, but Dan Zanes' slinky sidewoman has issued her first public statements since she gave birth and went on hiatus from the band. Barbara was one of three hipster grownups asked to review new music releases for kids and, well, who cares what the other two thought? They're not slinky.
Barbara gave a 9 out of 10 to Paul Westerberg's "Open Season" soundtrack:
". . . this one immediately brought back memories of drinking beer in the dorm room. It still sounds like Paul Westerberg—just his lyrics have changed."
And she gave the import "Colours Are Brighter: Songs from Children" a perfect 10. According to Barbara, this compilation, assembled by Belle and Sebastian as a benefit project for Save the Children (they also make nice ties) is:
" 'indie' in all the best ways—interesting and offbeat, and not at all condescending. 'Go Go Ninja Dinosaur' reminded me of something that would have been on a Cibo Matto record, and Jonathan Richman’s 'Our Dog Is Getting Older Now' sounds just like a Jonathan Richman song. I would edit a couple of songs out and play this a lot for my baby and me."
Cibo Matto? Hey, whatever. She's back.
OUR ANALYST'S RECOMENDATION: BUY IT. BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT.
Our estimable former colleague Tom Vinciguerra gets a free lifetime subscription to FD.com for calling our attention to the DVD release of "Star Trek: The Animated Series," the short-lived Filmation cartoon based on the original five-year mission, which featured scripts by the original writers and voiceovers by Shatner, Nimoy, & co.
As a young child, this series was the most sophisticated Saturday morning show we'd ever seen. It had a late Saturday morning air time and it was appointment viewing. Tom mentions in his Sunday Times piece that some "Trek" purists question whether the animated series "can be accepted as canon." ACCEPTED as canon?! It's essential!
We cannot think of a more super-cool way to introduce Fellow to the world of "Trek" than to sit down with him and enjoy these classic episodes--and, unless Loving Mother gets wind of it, that's the plan.
THIS SHOULD HELP YOU RESOLVE THAT INTERNAL DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER IT'S APPROPRIATE TO GIVE A HOLIDAY GIFT TO YOUR CHILD'S TEACHER
If he or she is anything like the average elementary-school teacher in the U.S., he or she spends about $539 of their own money per year purchasing supplies, prizes, and other materials for your kids, according to a new Scholastic survey.
DISCIPLINE TIPS YOU WON'T FIND IN NEXT MONTH'S PARENTS MAGAZINE #5
A South Carolina mom, frustrated by her 12-year-old's unrelenting mischief, had him arrested after he repeatedly broke into his great-grandmother's hiding place to play with the GameBoy which had been purchased for him as a surprise Christmas present. The mother said she hopes that police intervention will scare the boy straight before he gets charged with something more serious.
While many parents and parenting experts across the country have criticized the mother's actions, Fox News has offered her a nightly call-in talk show.
THERE ARE PLENTY WORSE THINGS YOU COULD DO - SAY, HAVING YOUR KID ARRESTED FOR SNEAKING INTO THE CLOSET TO PLAY WITH HIS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. . .
Some parents are going beyond fingerprinting and getting their youngsters swabbed for DNA
in case of a worst-case scenario. Interestingly, orthodontists are
being seen as the go-to medical professionals to help establish a
national database. FD asks, "Why not dentists? Or, for that matter,
HEY, DON'T KNOCK IT: NO WAY WE'LL EVER PART WITH OUR TOM BURGMEIER AUTOGRAPHED BALL
We anticipate that Fellow's rapidly snowballing baseball-card obsession will become a major subplot here in the weeks ahead. And we'll be making a case for the social and educational benefits of the hobby as we delve deeper into it.
For now, enjoy this lovely item from Slate, in which writer Bryan Curtis receives an autographed baseball card from former Phillies left-hander Don Carman, 15 years after his younger self wrote away for it. Naturally surprised, Curtis contacted Carman, who told him:
"My wife told me it was time to clean the garage. . . So, I started digging through the stuff and found a box behind my tools. I opened it up and saw it was a bunch of fan mail, 200 to 250 letters."
WE'VE WATCHED THE "YUMMY YUMMY" VIDEO ABOUT 100 TIMES, SO WE KNOW HOW HE FEELS
But lest anyone fear that Yellow Wiggle Greg Page's absence from the concert stage means the end of the Wiggles altogether, well, no such luck:
. . . Red Wiggle Murray Cook said he didn’t think too many kids would notice the change. “Children tend to center on one thing so if he’s wearing the yellow skivvy (shirt), he’s got black hair — he’s pretty much Greg,” he said.
THIS SEASON'S MUST-HAVE COMPUTER GAME FOR KIDS WHO WANT TO FEED THEIR ADORABLE ANIMAL FRIENDS TO LARGER ADORABLE ANIMALS
MSNBC praises the new XBox game, "Viva Pinata," which it describes as a "kid-appropriate" alternative to the high-violence offerings of the new Wii and PS3. As we began reading about how the game involved transforming a barren lot into a lush garden world, the better to attract adorable, sentient, papier-mache animals, we imagined our bloggy punchline: ". . . And then you smash them to bits with a big stick."
Turns out, we weren't far off. Read on, and remember, this is the "kid-appropriate" offering of the XBox season:
After a couple hours of play, you start spotting bigger piñata (deer, ponies, monkeys) on the outskirts of the garden, peeking in. . . The piñata get more adorable and desirable — such as a googly-eyed bear or unicorn. But the only way to collect these piñata is to uncover secret requirements, such as growing certain goodies or feeding them smaller piñata. Yep, you actually have to sacrifice piñata to attract some of the rarer species, and this introduces the element of choice and consequence to the game. Death is actually a first part of the circle of life in your garden, and truth be told, the cuteness of the piñata, what with their silly behavior, inspires a degree of emotional attachment that makes their demise palpable. (If you're playing with a child, have a box of tissues handy.)
The second part of the circle is birth, as you convince piñata to "romance" and create offspring. Just like attracting piñata, getting these animals in the mood requires meeting specific circumstances, and then shuffling them into a house where they perform a funny mating dance. (If you're playing with a child, have an explanation ready.) . . .
In a related item, in the ongoing debate over whether violent content in videogames can make teens more prone to violence themselves, a University of Indiana researcher may have found the holy grail in MRIs that showed clear changes in teen brains after just 30 minutes of first-person shooter play. Newsweek interviewed the lead researcher, the eminently coy Vincent Matthews:
Some people even blame school shootings on violent videogames. What do you think?
I’ve seen those same reports, too. Those are just anecdotal situations. There have been shootings, and at least in a couple instances, the people were involved in doing these violent games. One of the people had no practice shooting weapons but had practice in these videogames and had incredible accuracy. I’m not really an expert on how that sort of behavior transfers to the real world. That certainly is one of the concerns that some people have.
HE'S HAVING FUN WITH IT, BUT WE'RE WITHHOLDING JUDGMENT UNTIL WE SEE THE MRI RESULTS
Fellow recently discovered hotwheels.com,
which offers him a personalized home page and a variety of race-car
games that, while overly loud, are straightforward enough for him to
figure out on his own. As he moves past the Noggin/Nick Jr/PBS Kids
site, this seems to be working as a decent introduction to the world of
big-kid video games for him. We can't give it a full-throated
recommendation, as there's virtually no nutritional content, and at
least half the site is devoted to promotions and sales, but you could
YOU'RE A GOOD APOSTLE, CHARLIE BROWN!
other parents of a certain age, we immerse our kids with the media we
loved as kids, whether or not we should. Case in point: ABC's broadcast
of "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
earlier this week. We told Small and Tiny that if they completed all
their homework and ablutions by 8:00, they could watch it with us
before going to bed. Now, we've watched this special with them at least
four years running, and every time we're taken aback by Linus'
retelling of Luke 2:8-14 toward the end. (One version of the remarkable story of how this scene made it on air in the first place can be found here.)
But every year we come back and watch it again, crossing our fingers
that the kids won't ask us too much about this savior "Christ the Lord"
whom Linus spoke of (twice, as it happens).
And then, after we turned the TV off the other night, Fellow said,
"That was silly! Those guys believe in that STUPID guy that we DON'T believe in!"
"What do you mean, Fellow?"
"Santa Claus! We don't believe in him. . . Daddy, so does that mean he won't bring us any presents?"