Archive for September, 2007


September 28, 2007

Bruce launched his upcoming tour on the Today Show this a.m. I put on my Jersey Shore sweatshirt in honor of my favorite Jersey guy and watched as much as I could around the morning rush. Loved the songs, but this was my favorite moment:

An anchorman (don’t ask me which one, my eyes were on Bruce) commented on Springsteen’s busy family life and suggested that since family is so demanding, with issues like dealing with homework and teaching a kid to drive, perhaps it’s challenging for Bruce to change gears and turn on his inner rocker. Bruce gives the guy a “what are you nuts?” kind of look and answers, simply, “Noooo.”

Camera cuts to rocker wife Patty who is shaking her head wryly. Duh, I can hear her thinking, it’s not the rock star stuff that’s hard, you idiot, it’s the dealing with homework and driving that’s hard part! (Perhaps she’s also thinking that getting Bruce to deal with homework and driving is hard, couldn’t quite tell whether she was giving “the look” to the anchor or Bruce.)

Anyway, this Jersey Girl is going to join Bruce and Patty and tap into her inner rocker when the Magic tour comes to Oakland end of next month. Will I see any of you there?

Kid Nation, about 20 great minutes

September 20, 2007

(in a one-hour show)

I watched Kid Nation last night, the reality show in which 40 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 have to build a world. Since I have three kids pretty much spanning that age range, I was hot to see this show (putting aside all issues about whether or not this was child abuse, exploitation, whatever).

The first fifteen minutes were fascinating. The kids met their preselected four kid leaders; one leader immediately emerged as seriously annoying. The animals escaped, and an older kid whipped out a rope and lassoed them neatly. This ain’t chasing chickens on Survivor.

They dragged the wagons to the town, found a complete mess, prompting one kid to complain about the “disarray”. My kids hooted—where did they get kids with this kind of casual vocabulary. First item on the agenda, dinner, a disastrous attempt to make macaroni and cheese. (Oh, you’re supposed to boil the water before you put

the pasta in and not put in more pasta than water?) The kids were
disorganized, all talking at once, arguing, in each other’s faces. One
angelic looking teen stood up and made a plea for peace. It sounded
hokey to those of us watching TV, but that kid must have serious
charisma, because he blew the kids away, they responded to his call for
order and were ready to follow him anywhere. This kid clearly has a
future in government or as a cult leader.

So far, the show was fascinating. The kids curled up for the night
in scratchy wool blankets, they were hungry. An older girl made rounds
comforting younger kids; the unprepared leadership questioned their
choices, an 8-year-old, a very wise 8-year-old, said, “I don’t think
I’m old enough for this.”

And then Kid Nation became Survivor Jr. The adult host appeared and
handed out colored buffs bandanas. They kids chose teams, and
reorganized their sleeping arrangements to bunk with teammates. They
competed in a ridiculous water-pumping game for status and for a luxury
challenge. (Interesting moment—a choice between 7 portapotties (they
only had one for 40 kids at this point, and it was getting gross) and a
TV. A few kids argued for the TV, but sanity prevailed.)

The youngest group of kids came in third in the challenge, meaning
their “status” was that of cooks, and they had to cook the meals. (The
others were the leaders, who apparently don’t do anything, the
merchants, who run a root-beer-bar and candy store, and the laborers,
who don’t seem to do anything either. This is where they whole concept
of building a town got seriously ridiculous; there was no grocery
store, just a candy store.) My daughter worried that the kids were
going to starve, but the breakfasts they served looked pretty good, and
the biscuits got better every time. Oddly, all we ever saw was
breakfast; methinks that after the first pasta debacle, lunches and
dinners were catered.

Another incongruity, as the kids went to bed one night, the scratch wool blankets had turned into luxury sleeping bags.

The last few minutes, surprisingly enough, though way too game show
in approach, actually showed that kids are less corruptible than
adults. The four leaders had to give a gold star, worth $20,000, to the
kid they deemed most worthy. For a while, it looked like Mister
Charisma would be a shoe in. Before the star decision, the adult host
asked for complaints about the council, and a girl named Sophie
complained that the cooking team was leaving a huge mess. (Given they
seemed to be the only ones working, I didn’t begrudge them that, but
Sophie did seem to be the only one worried about cleaning up.) In spite
of the fact that she voted to kick out the council (a minority vote),
the council gave her the star, because she had worked the hardest. I
doubt adults in this situation would have done the same. I discussed
this with my kids, as well as the choice of the 8-year-old to opt out
and go home. I said that he was smart, he knew that he wasn’t big
enough to take care of himself and he was in a situation where there
was no one really to take care of him, so leaving was a good thing, not
a cop out.

Final call? In spite of the questions of whether or not the entire
show is appropriate, the random concept-busting moments of intervention
(the sleeping bags, the food situation as I surmise it), and the
annoying game show aspect of the whole thing, there were enough
fascinating real moments that I’ll be back next week.

Flying in honor of Sept. 11

September 11, 2007

I took an airplane flight today. Thought nothing about the date when I’d booked the flight ages ago, a quick overnight for a meeting tomorrow morning. But today, shoving the newspapers in my carryon as the taxi arrived, I realized that perhaps it’s an odd day to fly.

A column in the paper (can’t recall now which one, was carrying four) reassured me that it’s OK to fly today, indeed, one should fly, should take back the skies. That it’s the honorable thing to do. (For the writer, it has become a tradition, not the least because of the availability of cheap seat on this day.)

And it turns out, it IS a great day to fly. No lines—not anywhere, not at security, not at check-in, not at Starbucks, not on the runway. Lots of room on the half-full flight, to spread out, to stash luggage. Less rushed than any other day of the year, the flight attendants are cheerful, the passengers grateful. One even brought a box of chocolates for the crew, and the pilot announced that they were delicious, and thank you. (OK, it did cross my paranoid mind that perhaps the pilot shouldn’t have been eating gifts from strangers. Or maybe the passenger was a regular, not a stranger.) The skies were clear, the flight smooth as could be, and a few smattering of applause greeted the landing. A lovely day to fly.

My husband, the dolphin

September 6, 2007

My DH forwarded me this article from the New York Times—“What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage.” And he commented that the concept, that is, applying exotic animal training techniques to one’s spouse, would likely work on him. For example, when the animal exhibits a behavior you don’t like,  briefly stop whatever you’re doing and then go back to it without looking at the animal, you’re pointedly ignoring the behavior. Meanwhile, lavishly praise small steps on the way to behaviors you do want.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’d read this a while back, took the advice to heart, and it’s been working on him just fine.

I guess now he knows.