Category Archives: Soapbox

So Sue ME. I Bought Baby Einstein Videos For My Kids.

How is it that I am late to this party?

Not a polite 5 minutes late.

Not a day late (and a few dollars short.)

But six years late.

Apparently, in 2009, Disney offered refunds to parents for the Baby Einstein videos because they didn’t turn your darling little angels into …..well, Einsteins.

baby_mozart_video_full

The consumer group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, took the children’s video giant to court crying “foul” to their claims that Baby Einstein videos are “educational.” In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that video watching by the under 2 set is actually damaging to their tiny little brains. So Disney removed the verbiage from the packaging. But that wasn’t enough. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood demanded that parents be fairly compensated for the trauma they had been put through, as their expectations fell, realizing that little Johnny and little Jane were (gasp!) still just average.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a Disney nut who tends to defend Disney at all cost. Claiming that these videos were “educational” based on anecdotal evidence and the fact that they played classical music in the background is wrong. And, I’ll admit it (only to you) that I, too, fell prey to purchasing not one, not two but about 5 of these little beauties.

But ultimately, who is at fault here?

Me.

In 2004, I bought the videos. Even though my pediatrician gave me the developmental handout telling me not to sit my baby in front of the television. Even though I knew that real life stimuli trumps passive TV watching every time. Even though, in my heart, I knew I should be the one entertaining my baby.

But I bought the videos anyway. And I plopped my then one-year-old in front of the TV so that I could nurse his little brother, age 2 months, in relative peace. Or both of them, so I could start dinner. Or fold laundry. Or pee.

I played the role of educated consumer and I traded the opinion of the experts for a few moments of sanity.

So sue ME.

If you completed at least a middle school education, you should know by now that there is “truth” in advertising but most times, it’s a twisted truth. My husband always cracks up when “health food” claims what they are selling is “all-natural.”

“Arsenic is all-natural,” he’ll scoff.

We, the parents, bought the $15 dollar DVDs. We, the parents, decided that they were acceptable entertainment. And we, the parents, are ultimately responsible for nurturing our child’s intellect in a way that will help it to reach its full potential.

Not television.

And certainly not Disney.

 

 

 

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Jane Cries A River For The Impoverished Music Industry

I watched an awards show. Finally. In it’s entirety.

The 2015 Grammy Awards.

2015-grammy-awards

Don’t get me wrong. I used to be an awards show junkie. I never missed. Even the shows announcing the nominees. I loved the entertainment industry. As a music major in college, I thought I would be a part of it one day.

But then, life happened. And kids. I discovered a whole new vocation I never thought in a million years I would enjoy so much. Motherhood. It’s been a blast. And the reason entertainment is my weakest category in Trivia Crack.

All in all, I felt it was a bit lack luster. Madonna tried to be shocking. Yawn. A legend crooned with a much, much, much younger up and comer. Creepy. Rock bands that should have retired long ago tried to show they still had it. Uh-uh.

Then, the Grammy’s put domestic violence and human trafficking into the forefront. Brooke Axtell, a survivor, spoke out against abuse against women. She gave a moving speech and Katy Perry followed up with a beautiful rendition of “By The Grace Of God.”

I thought, good for them. They should pick a cause every year to support.

And then, (you knew there was going to be an “and then” didn’t you?) ……..

And then………

Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow, used his time on stage to promote Creators Alliance, a new lobby group to represent those poor, under-appreciated and under-compensated music artists in Washington.

Wha………?

Oh, you mean like Steven Tyler, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Jennifer Hudson?

Yep. Those artists.

And I couldn’t help but remember when Metallica made (pardon my language but there really is no other word) asses of themselves in 2000, crying about Napster.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a poster child for plagiarism. I’m a rule follower from way back. I had a neighbor tease me once because I still use iTunes to buy my music. So sue me. I think stealing is wrong. Whether it’s milk, money or music. But when it comes to musicians, raking in millions from their craft, and they want to cry about the other thousands they may have lost? I have one thing to say. Take care of it privately. Quietly. Get your lawyers on it. Use your considerable wealth and position and power without telling me all about it.

Neil Portnow wanted to use his platform to gain support and inform the fans. Inform the fans? Seriously? He wanted to wag his bejeweled finger and remind Johnny that downloading songs for free is wrong and robs artists of fair compensation? Johnny doesn’t already know that? And fair compensation? Nobody is downloading some no-name artists music for free. And if they are, I can tell you the “no-name artist” is thrilled that someone is even listening to them.

I sat there. Trying to judge the reaction of the audience. The cameras panned the crowd and showed a few bobbing heads of agreement but there wasn’t some wild outpouring of support (Thank God.) I honestly don’t know how the audience felt. But if they agreed, it seems they had the common sense to keep their (greedy) feelings private.

I agree that people should be rewarded for their work. I agree that sharing music online without compensating the artist (and producers and writers and etc.) is stealing. I wouldn’t have stolen an album from a record store back in the day. I shouldn’t steal a song of the internet waves now. But talking to me, sweet little Jane, sitting in her living room on the weathered coach she can’t afford to replace, telling me that if this rampant internet stealing continues we’re going to have a world without music because artists won’t be able to make a living in the music industry anymore? Bullshit. (Oops. Excuse me again. But this topic pisses me off.)

Cry me a river. You want to talk about professions that aren’t fairly compensated for their craft? The ones who truly struggle to make a living? How about teachers? Police officers and firemen? Or social workers? Create a lobby group for them.

The Verge headline this morning said it best: Grammy Millionaires Unite To Lobby Washington For Better Pay.

Earlier in the evening, I mused how wonderful art would be if artists pursued their craft for the pure joy of creating it. Not for money. Not for glory. Not for fame. Real, true artists sharing their gifts.

Find me a gifted, talented, true artist that is also poverty-stricken and suffering and I’ll be happy to get behind your cause. But until then, Mr. Portnow, keep your wagging finger and your millions to yourselves.

 

 

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Since When Is A “B” Not Enough?

And not just a “B” but an 88.5.

For a 10 year old.

Are you kidding me?

Don’t get me wrong. I love this college-prep elementary school. I’m glad they have high standards. I’m glad they’re pushing my son to reach his full potential.

But when is enough, enough?

Or, more specifically, since when is a “B” not enough?

My son is bright. And imaginative. And active. (You can see where this is going, can ‘t you?) Some teachers love his exuberance, his joie de vivre. And he thrives in their classrooms. Other teachers? Not so much. They just don’t get him.

Not to be redundant but,  did I tell you he is bright? This isn’t just a delusional mom. I have perfect standardized test scores to back me up. As a result, he gets bored. Easily. But emotionally, he is right there with his peers. So, in the 5th grade, he stays. I’ve put my foot down and no one will convince me otherwise.

I received an email today asking for a conference. “He isn’t in trouble, by any means, I just don’t think he’s working up to his full potential.”

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I scan the grade sheet. The detailed rubric of his progress in this one class. Writing Class. A 93. An 88. Another 88. And an 85. For an average of 88.5.

So what’s the problem?

I don’t want my kid to be lazy. I want him to always give 110%. But he hates (gasp) to write. He doesn’t like to write fiction. He doesn’t like to write non-fiction. He won’t even like to write his own autobiography. Apparently, I didn’t pass down the writing gene to him. And that’s okay with me. Because….

He loves math. And science. And engineering. And taking things apart. And putting them back together. And Greek mythology. And history. And reading. He loves, loves, loves to read.

So, the writing will come. Someday. For right now, an 88.5 in his least favorite class, and his lowest grade in all subjects, is fine with me. In fact, a high B in a class he doesn’t enjoy is pretty impressive in my book. And because he is bright, I know he will glean from writing class what he needs and apply it when he needs to apply it.

C’mon. He has an 88 in writing mechanics. At age 10.

I’m not worried.

 

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Maddie Ziegler and Sia Chandelier Performance On Ellen: What Am I Missing Here?

I’m an unabashed fan of Ellen DeGeneres. She’s funny. She’s kind. She’s giving. I watch her show often (while folding laundry, of course. I’m nothing if not a great multi-tasker.)

But the other day, she had the artist Sia on her show to re-create her video for her hit song, Chandelier. And I was a bit…….stunned. First, let me say, I enjoy Sia’s music. Have a few of her songs on my iPod, as a matter of fact. I was looking forward to her performance.

Instead of being wowed (in a good way), I sat there, slack-jawed. I was uncomfortable. When they didn’t show any audience reaction, I figured the rest of the audience felt the same way.

Nope. As soon as the performance ended,  the audience erupted and the camera revealed a standing ovation.

Huh?

If you’re not familiar……

(1) Here are a few snippets of the lyrics to Chandelier: “I’m the one “for a good time call” ,” “1-2-3 drink, 1-2-3 drink, throw ’em back ’til I lose count,” and “Sun is up, I’m a mess, Gotta get out now, gotta run from this. Here comes the shame, here comes the shame.”

(2) Maddie Ziegler (from Dance Moms) is an 11-year old dancer.

(3) And her costume for the performance, a flesh toned bodysuit, looked like this:

sia-chandelier-article

I was troubled. I wrongly assumed others would be, too. And when I Googled “Maddie’s performance Sia Chandelier on Ellen” the adjectives in the articles that popped up were “amazing,” “haunting,” “emotional,” and “incredible.”

Call me a prude. Call me self-righteous. Call me old-fashioned.

I don’t care.

I have an issue with prepubescent girls dancing on television in skin-tight, flesh colored leotards, creating the illusion of nudity to songs that describe adult alcoholic beverage (over) drinking behavior.

So sue me.

 

 

 

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Watch Out! It’s The -Ly Police!

GrammarPoliceLogo

I am not a master grammarian. I’ve never claimed to be. I make mistakes just like the next guy. Incomplete sentences? I love ’em. But I do have a pet peeve.

-Ly.

My husband calls me “The -Ly Police.” (Grammatically incorrect but his point is understood.)

When the weather man says, “Dress warm,” I shout, “-LY!”

When the Kashi ad says, “Eat positive,” I shout, “-LY!”

When the news anchor says, “traffic is moving smooth and steady,” I shout, “-LY and -ILY!”

It’s annoying. I know.

I mean it.

Really, really annoying. (Oh. You were agreeing with my husband and I was…..oh, never mind.)

Remember when we were kids? – “Ain’t ain’t in the dictionary so ain’t ain’t a word!”

Well, guess what? Ain’t is in the dictionary. As well as a plethora of other grammatical mishaps.

grammar p2

The evolution of language is an interesting thing. And I’d love to think that there’s rhyme or reason to the decisions made. But after some cursory research, my humble opinion is, “No.” There is no rhyme or reason. None. Nada. There ain’t even  a  consensus.

What is it?

Laziness that becomes a pervasive bugaboo. Teens that twist us into thinking that their distinct vernacular is where it’s at. (Ending with a preposition. Yep. Now acceptable in some circles.) 

 And pretty soon, we’re all speaking that way. It’s impactful. It causes alot of controversy. It effects us all. And it makes me nauseous. But it’s a moot point. (Ahhh, I kill myself.) 

One thing I do know is that avoiding regrettable grammar is impossible.

So let this be a warning to all you media people out there. If the traffic reporter on the radio tells me to “Drive safe” or the weatherman wants me to “dress warm,” I’m going to be shouting “-LY!”

With every fiber of my being.

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Uh-Oh. Jane’s On Her Soapbox. Again.

We are a reactionary society.

And we have a very short attention span.

And we love ice cream. But I digress.

I have a love/hate relationship with the media. It’s where I get all my news. So, I am both dependent on media and love it for providing me with my news fix. It’s also where I get all my news. So, I am both dependent on media and hate it for distorting the facts.

But media is so sassy. Media says, “We only print what you want to read. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.”

Someone ought to put Media in a time out.

Sassy thing.

First it was Paula Deen and now it’s Duck Dynasty Phil.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. Racism is wrong. Homophobia is just plain stupid. But the last time I checked, we still have free speech in this country. If celebrities have bone-headed opinions, let ’em have ’em. They can say what they want. And then we, in turn, can stop buying their product if what they’ve said bothers us so much.

What annoys me to heaven and back is the way Media jumps on one phrase, taken out of context, and twists it into something that could be taken offensively. And then, gives us a huge teaser headline, tells 1/3 of the story and says, “the end.”

I’m left saying, “Whaaaaat?”

And so I research. And  I read 4 other articles about the same topic, only to discover that what Paula Deen allegedly did was years and years ago and what Duck Dynasty Phil said referred to his far-right, religious faith. Really? Was anyone truly surprised that he doesn’t feel homosexuals should marry?

Yes. Celebrities should be role models. But we can’t count on that. Just ask Charles Barkley.

And the media should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Period. Give us the facts. All of the facts and let us decide if we agree, disagree or can agree to disagree.

It’s that simple.

(Yes, I was cryptic when discussing what Duck Dynasty Phil said. I find his comments irrelevant and ridiculous. But if you’re so inclined, you can educate yourself here and here and here.)

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Going All Zen On Pinterest

What is worse than someone blowing up your phone with group text messages?

When someone blows up your Pinterest board.

Okay. Maybe not worse. Because my phone blows up with inane group text messages more than I’d like to count. But it’s a very, very, very close second.

And not the the Pinterest boards you’ve created. And not literally blown up, obviously. Because blowing things up is a crime. And I don’t follow criminals.

No, I’m talking about when someone you follow on Pinterest pins umpteen pins at once. And suddenly, your news feed is full of casserole recipes, wedding paraphernalia or kittens. I love Ellen, Paula Deen and others who shall remain nameless (because I’m sure you’re nice people but you live in the private sector and your lawyer may not have better things to do than sue me for slander.) But I do not want to scroll through 714 pictures of cute puppies or 349 recipes for casseroles or the 1,275 pictures of wedding venues, rings, dresses, flowers and cakes.

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Who has that kind of time? I pop onto Pinterest to learn interesting household tricks, find an inspired recipe or two, discover the latest bestseller recommendation or glean a clever fashion tip. Of the 50 or so pins I scan, I re-pin maybe three. For future reference. Or, as it pops up in your news feed, to share with all of you. And once in a great while, when researching a topic of interest to me, I’ll remember I even have a Pinterest account and I’ll pin it to a board I’ve already established to remember (or not) for later.

And that’s what I like to see in my Pinterest news feed. A smattering of pins, of various topics, for me to peruse at my leisure. Not muddle through 2,000 of your favorite pins. Really? 2000? When I see that, I realize you don’t really care about the kitten or the cookie. You just want to stay relevant.

And I’m not interested in your popularity.

********

Click.

Un-following you.

I need to clean up my feed.

Simplify.

Going all zen on Pinterest today.

Peace out.

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