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Monthly Archives: September 2011

This weekend, the Albany Art Museum opens a new exhibition titled Kid Stuff: Great Toys from Our Childhood.  I have this exhibit all sorts of built up in my head. I imagine it as some sort of Toys R Us time machine, where people can walk in and get their Lite Brite on. Although the description says there are plenty of hands-on exhibits, I doubt we will get to play with toys the way I want to. My excitement for the exhibit got me thinking about my favorite childhood toys. Being born smack-dab in the middle of the ‘80s (holler, 1985ers!), I think I really got the Hannah Montana (best of both worlds – get it?!) when it came to growing up in the 80s and 90s. So, here is my list of the best toys of my generation.
 
1.  Talking Teddy Ruxpin: The talking Teddy Ruxpin was both amazing and scary. Before pushing “play” on the little cassette tape deck in his back, he was a cuddly teddy bear. Then push the button and he is transformed into something you may find on a Saturday afternoon if you turn on the sci-fi channel. Teddy’s plastic mouth moves up and down, as his eyeballs slowly go side to side as he tells you a tale about one of his great adventures! (Why his eyes scan the horizon is unknown to me. Teddy did come about during the time of Fraggle Rock and the likes, so maybe pushing “play” gets him going on a bad acid trip? Does he think we really ARE searching for the treasure of Grundo?)

2.  Gak: Is it silly putty? No. Play-doh? Nope. It is slimy, slippery goodness that, until 1992, you could only play with if you were lucky enough to go on Double Dare. What did you do with Gak? Well, other than get yelled at because you got it smooshed all in the carpets … I’m not really sure. Squished it and made fart noises? And there were so many versions! Glow in the dark, smelly gak, magnetic gak … and floam. Remember floam? It was like gak, but bubbley and soft and microbeady (so descriptive!)?

Disclaimer: Not MY actual Staci.

3.  Cabbage Patch Dolls: Is the Cabbage Patch Doll the best doll in the history of toys? Of course. It kicks that pretentious American Girl’s butt! Those chubby cheeks! Yarn for hair! The concept was simple, yet children went insane for them! I remember the Christmas morning when I got my red-headed Anastasia (Whom I quickly renamed to Staci – with an “i” – by mailing out her name change form and receiving an official birth certificate in the mail, naming me as her sole guardian.)  Staci was joined by her Cabbage Patch Kids Surprise Newborn brother, David (named after MY baby brother. So original), the following Christmas. Staci and David are currently patiently residing in my parent’s basement, wrapped up tight and waiting for the day that I force them upon my own, human children.

4.  Tamagotchi: The Tamagotchi was not a child’s game. Only a tween could be trusted to take on such responsibility. Hatch the egg. Name it. Play with it. Put it to sleep. Check it’s happiness. Check it’s hunger. It was too much! TOO MUCH! Long before Angry Birds and iPhones, children were spending their recess playing catch with their digital pets. (I bought my Tamagotchi for $5 from a girl on the bus, the day before spring break. She got a new one and her 12 year old self just didn’t have the time to take care of both. Her hectic lifestyle was my gain!)

5.  Pound Puppies: I grew up in a time where toys were simple. The Pound Puppy was just a stuffed dog with floppy ears and big eyes. Like Cabbage Patch dolls, all Pound Puppies were different. Cooler, the bloodhound, was obviously the best (Pound puppies – let’s start pounding!). Honorable mention here goes to a similar toy, Puppy Surprise (how many puppies are there inside?!)

 There are approximately 100 more toys I want to talk about, so I’d also like to give honorable mention to Easy Bake Oven, Glo-Worms, Super Nintendo, Popples, Rainbow Brite, Wuzzles, Care Bears and Micro Machines. What else can you think of?

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No she didn’t. Maybe. I can neither verify nor deny that Demi told Ashton “Two fingas in the air!” (aka “Peace out. You get it?!) Actually, I can neither verify or deny that Demi and Ashton are ending their six year marriage due to his wandering eye.  But, if it is in The New York Post, it must be true, right?

Also, at 33 years old and six years of marriage, do we still need to be calling Ashton her “boy toy”? I don’t think so. I’m going to go on ahead right now and say we can let that one go.  Just like Demi let HIM go because she was sick of all his harlots.  (Good word, harlot. I’m bringing it back.)

To read The Post’s full article, go here .

 


Awards shows are my jam (I’m not really sure where that term comes from, but I’m into it today and want to try to incorporate it into my daily vernacular. I would like to meet the jelly enthusiast who coined the term.) The Emmys are my very favorite.  I like that they are typically tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at the whole institution of awards shows.  Example – When somebody gets called on stage to accept an award, the voice-over announcer will usually say something like “This is Julie Bowen’s second Emmy nomination and first win. She was previously nominated for ‘Ed’”. One of the many reasons I love the Emmys is for their offbeat epithets. The announcer said something along the lines of “This is Julie’s first win. Julie has a degree in Italian Renaissance Art if this acting thing doesn’t work out.”

Since being a fan of something immediately makes you an authority, I’d like to present you the winners and losers (in my book) of last night.

Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen

Winner:

Modern Family.  After sweeping up the first 4 Emmys of the night, host Jane Lynch came back from commercial break welcoming the audience to “The Modern Family Awards”.  Deservingly so.  When I find people out there who have never watched Modern Family, I harp and nag them for days, begging, demanding that they watch an episode.  The writing is quick and smart, yet relatable.  When the entire (adult) cast is nominated in supporting roles that certainly says something about the talent you have.  Julie Bowen’s straight-man schtick to Ty Burrell’s physical comedy is one of the funniest combinations in television. If you’ve never watched, I dare you to turn it on and then come back here and tell me why you don’t like it (and I’ll tell you how wrong you are).

 Loser:

Glee.  I’ve watched every episode of Glee since the pilot, so I can’t be accused of jumping on and off the bandwagon as public opinion changes.  Naysayers rip the show apart for its lack of character building or plot line formation.  The thing is, Glee is about song and dance first, plot line second.  Do the actors look like 25 year olds playing 16? Yes. Did the powers-that-be do that on purpose? Yes. And fans are in on the joke. With that being said, my problem last season was the random selection of which characters would have “meaningful stories” and how those stories were built.  There was a whole, cheeky episode about how Rachel wants to get a nose job. And, in the next breath, a “serious” episode about bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment.  Chris Colfer is no doubt excellent in his role as Kurt Hummel, a teenager dealing with the aftermath and confusion of coming out of the closet.  In one moment, Colfer wears Kurt’s teenage vulnerability on his Alexander McQueen sleeve and, in the next, is brave and assertive, standing up for himself and those who are afraid to speak up.  Should he have won the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy? No.  Nothing Colfer did was funny last season, as the writers at Glee tried to turn every scene with Kurt into a contender for a Best Picture Oscar.  I’m not saying drama has no place in comedy. I just wish the writers and producers at Glee would be a bit more consistent.

Winners*

Kate Winslet. In my book, she can do no wrong. Not only did she literally win an Emmy for her work in Mildred’s Place, but she definitely won as one of the best dressed, looking phenomenal in a red Elie Saab gown. I want to be her friend.

Jane Krakowski: Um did she or did she not just have a baby? Because she was ROCKING her (J. Mendel Mica) form-fitting silver gown. I love love loved the brooch. And, while she was a bit bronzed, that deep yet sophisticated neckline made up for it.

Emily Blunt: She also donned an Elie Saab gown, but this one was midnight blue, with all sorts of tulle and a plunging neckline. She was also wearing one of my very favorite accessories – John Krasinski on her arm. He is swoon-worthy.

Losers*

Gwen Paltrow:  Really? You’re going to bare your mid-drift on the red carpet? I get that you have a fabulous, jealousy-inducing body.  I know that you like to go for that hippieish, au-natural feel, but do something with your hair. The whole thing bugged me.

Christina Hendricks:  I know several people put her on the best dressed list.  Here is my problem – You’re “curvy”. We get it, Christina. You’ve got some nice boobies.  Must they always be on display? The bejeweled dress itself was fantastic.  Her hair? Perfect. But next time, do something shocking and DON’T have viewers wondering if and when you are going to have a nip-slip.

Jayma Mays: Remember the Cupcake Dolls from the 90s?  If so, then “Sugar” was obviously the look Jayma was going for. Blech.

 

Julianna Margulies: A lamp shade? A futuristic domenatrix outfit? Glad plug-in? What the heck is she wearing?

*My knowledge of fashion goes little beyond “pretty” and “not pretty’.

Winner:

Jane Lynch: She did what she could with the opening act which was presented to her.  And whenever she improvised (her joke about Modern Family and saying that she wanted to say something about Katie Holmes but her husband scared her), she was very funny.

Loser:

Jane Lynch:  That opening act! Oy! Yes, Neil Patrick Harris was hilarious with his song and dance when he opened and hosted the show in ’09.  And Lynch is on Glee, which is all about the song and dance (see previous).  Was it necessary for her to bring a little Broadway sass to the show? Probably not.  Was it the obvious choice for an opening? Yes.

 Overall, I thought it was a solid show.  The acceptance speeches were all kept pretty short, most of them pretty funny, or at least worthy of a smirk or two. The ladies were pretty, the fellas handsome. Also, I took some questionable allergy medicine about an hour into the show.  So, that probably helped me enjoy it.

Did you watch? What did you think? Best dressed? Worst?


Dearest Kesha (I refuse to use a dollar sign for your ‘S’.)

Yes, its true that I dislike you. I think you lack any real talent, and are trying to ride the “eccentric” girl coat tails of Gaga and Katy Perry. However, after recently scrutinizing the lyrics to your song ‘Tick Tock”, I am concerned that your blasé attitude towards your mental health and safety has put you at risk.

Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy
(I’m going to stop you right there. Why would a 20-something white girl wake up feeling like a black, male, 40-something music mogal?)

Grab my glasses, I’m out the door. I’m gonna hit this city
(I hope you are on your way to your psychiatrist appointment, because waking up as another person is known as dissociative identity disorder, and that’s nothing to joke around with. I’m also going to go out on an edge and assume you are grabbing sunglasses. Based on the rest of this song, you have real problems with alcohol which, no doubt, leads to never ending hang-overs.)
Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack (I’m sure 3 out of 4 dentists agree there are better ways you can go about cleaning your teeth. At least mix in some floride.)

‘Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back (Freshman year of college, we watched a video that told us we should always alert someone to where we’ll be for the evening. Safety purposes.)

I’m talking pedicure on our toes, toes.
Trying on all our clothes, clothes.
Boys blowing up our phones, phones.
(There you go, talking about yourself in the plural form, which again reinforces my previous notion that you have a psychological condition.)
Drop-topping, playing our favorite CDs

(Don’t be foolish, Kesh. Nobody plays cds anymore. Unless THIS personality is straight up outta the 90s. I hope she’s wearing a baby-doll dress. Those were da bomb diggity.)
Pulling up to the parties
Trying to get a little bit tipsy

(Considering you brushed your teeth with a bottle of Jack, I really do not think you’re in any position to be driving right now.)

Don’t stop, make it pop
DJ, blow my speakers up
Tonight, I’mma fight

‘Til we see the sunlight

(Fact: Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and can make a person more aggressive.  Suppressing anger and not addressing your psychological issues may turn you into a mean drunk.  And nobody likes that guy at a party.)
Tick tock on the clock
But the party don’t stop, no

Ain’t got a care in world, but got plenty of beer

(Should you be mixing alcohol with all of the medications you are obviously on due to your D.I.D?)
Ain’t got no money in my pocket, but I’m already here

(You’ve spent it all on pedicures and alcohol. Now how are you going to get home? Hopefully, you remembered to save a few bucks for a cab.)
And now, the dudes are lining up cause they hear we got swagger
But we kick ’em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger

(Ahh, I was wondering when your “daddy issues” would surface. It is unnerving to me that a twenty year old girl would want to hang out with a 70 year old man.  You should call Percy from The Green Mile. I hear he likes ‘em young.)

I’m talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk

(I hope you are not mixing coke with alcohol.)
Boys tryin’ to touch my junk, junk

(Did you give them permission? Otherwise, this is considered sexual assault. Stick up for yourself, K!)
Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk

(Phew.)

Now, now we go until they kick us out, out

(Again, how are you getting home?)
Or the police shut us down, down

(Oh, so they’re driving you? Excellent.)
Police shut us down, down
Po-po shut us

Don’t stop, make it pop.
DJ, blow my speakers up.

(I don’t think you’re at your place of residence, so you don’t own said speakers.  Since you ‘ain’t got no money’ in your pocket, I would re-think the purposeful destruction of someone else’s property.)
Tonight, I’mma fight
‘Til we see the sunlight
Tick tock on the clock
But the party don’t stop, no

DJ, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

With my hands up
You got me now
You got that sound
Yeah, you got me

Now, the party don’t start ’til I walk in

 

Sweetie, the party has been going on all night.  You arrived ages ago. It concerns me that you don’t remember what seemingly happened hours before.  Maybe you should call your mother, your doctor or another trusted adult so they can get you the help you need.  And – let’s cross our fingers – hopefully, when you work through all your issues, you’ll realize that you’re not quite the lyrical genius you hoped you were and, more importantly, that you really have no business singing and pandering to an audience of pre-teen girls.

Sincerely yours,

Heather Wheeler


All families are like a small group of indigenous people.  They have their own special way to make pasta sauce (use Dom’s yellow can as your base) and pie crust (pre-made, naturally. If you focus on the filling, nobody will notice the crust anyways).  They have their own slang (See: pig con-scious [pig kon-shuhs] noun: 1) a person who hogs all the food, consciously), which has evolved over years.

You look like a deranged Easter Bunny.

Most families also have deeply rooted holiday traditions.  For my family, it is watching, and quoting, A Christmas Story (which isn’t necessarily something designated solely for the Christmas season) as often and feverishly as possible.

 “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

“I want an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle!”

“Oh, fudge.”

 Please. That’s child’s play. Rookies quote those lines.  As my brother, sister and I are now all in our 20s, we dig deeper into the script, pulling out obscure references that the average movie watcher wouldn’t usually recognize. Do you know the name of the Lone Ranger’s nephew’s horse? How about Farkus’s crummy, little toadie?  Didn’t think so.

This afternoon, I saw a picture of meatloaf, which immediately led to me saying “Meatloaf, beefloaf, double smeatloaf. I HATE meatloaf.” Oh, Randy.

While I’m not one to rush winter our way, I admit that my anticipation for Christmas is probably on-par with that of a five year old.  If summer has to leave us, and fall will never be one of those people who drops by for a visit and stays indefinitely, then bring it on December.  I’m getting anxious to watch Randy lay there like a slug – his only defense.


If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Or am I thinking of “You can’t please everyone, so please yourself?” “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” (I know that last one isn’t right, but I’d like to take a moment to say I don’t care for that phrase. Who do you know living in a glass house? If I lived in a glass house, I definitely would not allow rocks inside. Or out. In fact, I think most everything in and around a glass home should be squishy or fluffy. Safety reasons.)

I’d like to believe most people are inherently good, and that they live their life with the hopes of making others happy.  Many are quick to bend – change plans, edit opinions – in order to please someone else.  But I think its imperative to remember who you are, deep in your core, and to be unwilling to sacrifice that.  Don’t lose sight of what matters most to you, because someone else’s vision is clouding it. Or worse – because someone demands it of you.

There are some people in this world who simply want a black, when all you have to offer is white.  And then, when you find your 64 box of Crayolas (all of them in their original order, obviously), and graciously offer your black, that’s not good enough either. (Excuse the weird, almost confusing crayon reference. I was coloring over the weekend, and forgot how awesome that can be.)

Maybe you shouldn’t offer anyone your black crayon. Maybe to borrow, but definitely not for keeps.  Black is a pretty essential part to any crayon masterpiece.  It is typically the base, the outline, of which all of the other colors work around.  And you definitely shouldn’t offer your black to someone who takes it, breaks it in half and then throws it back at you, because they didn’t even want it in the first place. And also, they don’t say thank you.  Some people just believe they were entitled to that all along.

It is hard to accept when you can’t make someone happy.  Its even harder to accept letting go.  But you’ve got all of these crayons, in so many different colors.  Share them with someone who appreciates them (and, hopefully, returns them to their rightful place in the box).

Who else loves this gem of a Christmas movie? "If the idiot won't ask you, ask the idiot."