Wednesday, February 27, 2008


One man's joke may be blasphemy to another, as Ruchira's post today reminded me. I recall this little incident at the library.

The lady at the checkout desk was friendly and cordial, as always. I always love to banter lightly with her, feeling a modicum of comfort in her clipped British accent that reminded me somewhat of the BBC-copied English of the Doordarshan newscasters in the early '90s.
The person ahead of me had just walked off in a huff, when she discovered that I had gotten my hands on Khaled Hosseini's latest "A Thousand Splendid Suns" a split second earlier off the shelf. This was before my brain could react in time to urge me to offer her the book instead, and I looked at the librarian in puzzlement.
"Why was she in such a hurry? I could have easily given her the book if she wanted to read it first."
"I don't know, dearie. Well, she'll wait till it gets back now, I guess."
I placed my books on the counter.
"Did you like the earlier one, I remember seeing you check it out."
"Oh, yes, I liked it very much. Now the movie's out too. Have you seen it?"
"Yes, I did, and wasn't there a huge controversy over the child actors in it", shaking her head in disapproval.
"That was bad", I said, "but quite understandable if the Afghan government decided to ban the film from screening for fear that it would offend the people in its depictions. I recall a similar ban over the screening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in India, over the depiction of the 'Indian' characters in it"
"If you ask me, I think that all this has gone far too much..." She seemed rather belligerent here." It's all just in good fun; people take this far too seriously."
"Why, I suppose so. Though I'm sure that each culture has their holy cows. If someone was to come up with something lampooning the Queen and the Royal family similar to what we see in episodes of Blackadder, I'm sure that it wouldn't seem very funny to the British. "
The frosting glare turned to ice at this comment.
"I'm sorry , dear. I just don't want to talk about this any more."

Which just made my point.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Election Fever: We all scream for Ice Cream!

M's stump speech (rehearsed meticulously, reading out of the corner of her eye, as she remembered to face her audience):

Everyone must eat ice-cream because its tasty. I will let everybody come in peace. People should eat good foods and they should be good. You should make me the president and everyday you must say the pledge of alliegence(sic).

Not long after, she brought up a 'ballot' : "Will you vote for me or S?" she asked, pencil hovering at the ready to mark my response.
"I need to listen to S's speech before I decide who I'm voting for."

S promptly came up with his counter manifesto:

If I were president, I would make computer playing time mandetory. (for 2 hrs per day) I would ban and order a boycott of Eddy's and Kirkland Ice Cream! I would make scientists look for a way to make junkfood healthy and veggies hard to grow.

Happy voting and dessert time!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stuffed Animal Tales

"I'm naming this monkey Caramel, because of the color of his skin."

I squinted at the brand new plush monkey M waved proudly at me. Her ever-indulgent father had purchased it from her from a mall kiosk when I had taken a brief trip to the restroom. S was performing in a concert near the food court, part of the annual fundraising efforts for the strings group that he belonged to.

"Very nice", I said."Are you sure you want another stuffed animal toy?" Especially, considering that M's bed is getting a bit overcrowded with the likes of Cuddles the bear, Fluffy bear, Beary, Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Kitty and Lemee the lioness. Plus Maya bear, Shammy rabbit, Christmas Bear and Sugarheart Gorilla, all jammed into the drawer under her bed. Not to mention other animals named for food such as Mango the orange dog with the yellow belly.
(Man on the airplane: "What's your doggie's name? Is it Rover?"
M: "No, it's Mango, because she looks like one."
Man : "!!!" )

"I want a monkey, I don't have any monkeys," she wheedled with all the pathos a little kid can muster, along with the certainty that this was a battle already won.

I kept glancing at the monkey intermittently through the afternoon, and in the car, couldn't keep the comment on the tip of my tongue to myself any longer.
" You might call it Caramel, but I'm going to call it Geedubya!". True enough, it bears an uncanny resemblance to no else than the primate of the White House and here's the proof! (Click on the photo for a closer look)

Impressed by my observation, M declared "His name may be Caramel, but his nickname is going to be President George!"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Day

I opened my email today, sighing at the 'Closing Delays and Alerts' that popped up- another 2 hour delay would have my kids running around the house later than usual, while I struggled to get through a phone call without shrieks interrupting.

"_______ School District: CLOSED Tuesday"

Thoughts of rescheduling my call for after the two hours vanished. Maybe I could persuade the kids to go outside and sled down our front yard or build snow forts or have a snow fight...

At 7:15, the whole landscape was still lit up with a pale blue glow. That didn't seem to deter the cardinal, chickadees and juncos performing a feeding ballet on my deck. They scattered in a flurry as I drew the curtains of our picture window, and I wondered for the umpteenth time why our real estate agent had suggested that we could replace the outdated 70's looking sliding window with a more fashionable French window, something that we have no plans to do.

No lights in the neighboring houses- all children are still abed, taking in extra sleep time instead of rushing into the morning bustle and buses. M is still snuggled up with her lost-and-found Lavender Bear, found sitting sadly on the long-unused treadmill in the basement, hidden behind the put-up track. S is high up in his eyrie, dreams of today's certainly-postponed PSSA tests haunting him. Let them sleep.

The blue glow has faded to grey. The sky is very cloudy this morning, a far cry from the clear contrailed colors of yesterday morning. Everything is covered with about 2 inches of snow, white except for the tracery of fallen branches below the pin oak and stark silhouettes of the trees all around. My tiny but reliable "February fair maid" snowdrops still lift their head out defiantly through the snow, daring the nearby daffodils and hyacinths to take away from their moment of glory, deceived as those have been by the recent warm spells into poking out from their winter's rest.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hanny Montany and other assorted crazes

'Ticketmaster online tickets all sold out within minutes of opening!"

"Tickets to concert scalped for thousands!"

"Screaming 9 year olds give rapturous reception to Miley Cyrus's Hannah Montana show"

"Kid fakes essay on dad's death in Iraq to win tickets to Hannah Montana show"

What is all this hoopla about? An apparently insanely popular show based on the wholesome talents of young Miley Cyrus, daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus and star of a Disney serial about a 14-year old kid leading a double life as a pop star('Hannah Montana') and a normal school-going teen. Yikes, she even has her own line of Hannah Montana clothes and birthday party plates, toothpaste and toothbrushes and lipgloss aren't far behind, I suppose.

Being the mother of a teen boy and a 7 year old girl, I decided to ask them whether they knew who Hannah Montana was, and why the craze.
S (age 14): She's on that Disney show, but we never watch it.I don't know why the little kids are crazy about her.
M (age 7): I don't know. All my classmates are crazy about her. I don't care. And I hate High School Musical. But I Spongebob Squarepants.

The funny thing about all these media-driven crazes is that my kids have remained surprisingly immune to them. Or maybe it is an inherited immunity- I'm not crazy about them, ergo my kids don't pick up on them as the 'IT thing' to be crazy about.

The media exposure starts early, even in utero. S squirms with embarrassment when I point out that he used to throw tantrums if he wasn't allowed to watch Jurassic Park 3 times in a row as a toddler .I remember distinctly having felt queasy, 4 months pregnant, when the then-newfangled surround sound kicked in at the theater where we went to see it- I suspect that it might explain his mysterious affinity for it.

After the Jurassic Park craze, there was the Star Wars podracer craze, with my enterprising son leading his whole preschool class population of boys in vying with each other to make outlandish Lego podracers, culminating in the grand finale of crashing them against each other. The last podracer left standing without loss of blocks was adjudged the winner.

Now as a teen, his current craze is model airplanes and making movies - promising titles such as "King Kong Destroys the Wooden block city", "Worm Wars" (claymation worms battling it out) and such epic masterpieces as would have James Cameron and Steven Spielberg quaking in their shoes.

Now M is going through her 'teddy bear collection' phase. She never sees a teddy bear, but she has to add it to her already large menagerie populating her bed. She chooses a different companion to snuggle with each night.

Of late, she has been weeping copious tears over the mysterious disappearance of Lavender Bear, oldest and most disreputable looking of all. Lavender Bear was once a cute cream beanie bear, filled with lavender, brown satin ribbon around the neck, picked out of a Joann Fabrics clearance bin a year before M was born. She sat unnamed in various locations, till she finally made it to the top of the dryer as a strange accessory. When M was old enough to toddle, she caught sight of her and insisted on having her to play with, morphing over the years into the companion of all imagined and real adventures.
Lavender Bear, if you're reading this somewhere, please come back home to your loving family. We miss you beyond words.
(Lavender Bear, height 8", dirty cream color, wearing a blue and white dress, right eye missing, floss on nose coming apart)
I'll take Teddy Bear and Airplane crazes any day over the Hannah Montana or other 'more popular' fads. Unique and quirky as they are, these are vastly more entertaining than just following the crowd to the nearest Hannah Montana concert or movie!