Friday, May 19, 2006

Defending Britney

I don't care for Britney Spears. It's no big secret that I think she's just a pretty girl who had a smidge -- a very small smidge -- of performing talent who got seen by the right people at the right time and had the appropriately pushy stage mother to convince her that she wanted the fame, too. And the package was sold to the preteens of the nation and lo and behold we had ourselves a superstar. We can hardly complain, I think, when we're the ones who buy into the crap -- even if we just purchased the cds and posters for our children. We could have just said "No" and moved on, told our kids to listen to U2 instead, but instead we encouraged them to feed on the frenzy that was Britney. So Britney is what we all made her.

Indeed, there are a great many of my female contemporaries who even went through a bit of a phase circa 2002 when it was a kinf of subversive pleasure to listen to Britney Spears and watch Crossroads and sing along to "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" (you know it's on my iPod!) and follow her relationship with Justin Timberlake (another guilty pleasure) in the tabloids. And even the song "Toxic" was always more popular among young adults and gay men than it was with the preteen and teen crowds (in fact I've never actually met a high schooler who will admit to liking Britney).

And it shouldn't have come as a big surprise that Britney eventually turned 20, and then 21, and was therefore no longer a teen pop star but basically, officially, a woman. So I have to wonder -- why is it that the rest of us get to start acting like women somewhere around the age of 21, maybe 22, when we graduate from college, but Britney was demonized for it? Sure, she looked a bit sluttier than most of us, but have you ever been to a night club on a Saturday night? Her entire life was a night club -- surely she was entitled to dress like a ho now and again.

One has to assume that the life of a superstar is pretty fucked up. Body guards around all the time, people doing your hair, your clothes, your schedule, everything -- you just go along with the flow of it all and try to say and do all the things you know you're supposed to say and do. It's nothing like real life, where we go to work, drive our own car through rush hour traffic, sit around and watch tv or maybe go out with friends once or twice a week, eventually meet someone and maybe get married, and then start a family. And through it all, no one wants to take pictures of us except our family, and no one wants to interview us and get our opinion on random world events or on other people or whatever. No one makes money off of us in this way, so we don't get bombarded as we exit the local 7-11 following a Super Big Gulp run, and no one follows us into Foley's so they can detail our clothing purchases for next week's issue of Star magazine. No one chases us down a highway as we're driving our children to school or soccer or wherever it is we drive them, telephoto lenses hanging out the windows trying to get shots of us and our spawn. It's jacked up.

So it's not hard to understand why Britney latched on to the first man to feed her a line about wanting to spend his life with her and have a family with her. I'd be willing to place money on Britney wanting to be a better mother than her own, not pushing her kids into show business -- even if it's just a subconscious wish. Yeah, Kevin Federline's a loser with a shitty track record, and Brit's let herself go. I suspect it's our displeasure with our own meager existences that make us so judgemental about her taste in husbands and her bad hair days and puffy complexion -- we can't have our icons looking just like us.

Which brings me to Britney's parenting skills. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they are as good as any other first time parent. Who among us didn't have an incident with our infant in which we either dropped it or hurt it in some way, totally unintentionally? In Daniel's first two weeks of life, I practically cut off one of his fingers trying to trim his insane fingernails (I do exaggerate, but there was a lot of blood involved); and I also bashed him in the top of his head with my elbow when I had laid him on the bed next to me after a feeding. On another occasion, when he was about 6 months old, I made an unfortunate shoe choice -- platform slide on clogs -- and as I carried Daniel out to the car in the garage that morning, I lost my footing going down the little staircase and totally bit it, with him in my arms. Luckily I had the presence of mind to turn myself as I fell so that I didn't fall on top of him, and I held onto him for dear life so he wouldn't crash to the floor. But yes, I stumbled and fell, dead sober, with him in my arms.

My own parents had an incident with a restaurant high chair in which my younger sister slid down and nearly got choked by the seatbelt. My own best friend had her young infant roll herself off the top of a king size bed when she'd turned her back for a couple of minutes. And I can count on one hand the number of parents I know (including me) who bother to take the time to have their car seats properly and safely installed, let alone keep their infants riding rear-facing until they're a full year old. I know I was tempted to turn Daniel around when he passed the 20 pound mark at 8 months old because the larger car seat just fit in the car better forward-facing -- the only thing that stopped me was the fact that my own parents are trained car seat installers who would never have allowed such a thing.

I would hazard a guess that a first time parent's nerves are magnified a hundred-fold when her every move is scrutinized by paparazzi and an insatiable American public. If it were me, the whole thing would make me clumsier, even panicky. I would probably freak out if being chased with my kid in my arms and jump into my car for a quick getaway without taking the time to get the kid into a seat.

Frankly, I would just start to stay home so no one could watch.

Anyway, the point is -- I think everyone should probably worry about their own damn parenting skills and their own damn marriages, and spend a little less time getting up in Britney's grill.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Public Apology re: Jack Johnson

(I thought I better post this where the most people can see it. )

Stacey, Nate, Melissa, Kim, and whomever else: You were right, and I was wrong. Jack Johnson is totally cool, and his music is really good. Not just the Curious George soundtrack, but all of his music. The Curious George soundtrack is definitely the best cd to come out so far in 2006 (2006 has been a crap year for music... but that's a whole 'nother post!). And I just realized this morning while driving to work and listening to KBCO that if you listen to Jack Johnson at the correct volume, there is some truly amazing guitar work going on. Ihave converted. I am now a Jack Johnson fan.

I love Jack Johnson.

Thank you. That is all.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

You know you think he's cute - don't fight it!

The charm, the winning smile...

...The Face... you know the one I mean...

...and the mischievous streak. You know you think he's adorable. It's okay to tell people.
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Zoo Day

Some of us go to the zoo to look at the wild life living in peace, not bothering anyone. Daniel goes to stomp on ants.

This is either Koda or Nuka, one of the two polar bear brothers who were wrenched away from their poor mother last week and shipped out to some zoo in Philadelphia. Philly will never love Koda and Nuka as much as we do, but Philly will have fun trying. I've never seen animals in the zoo frolic as much and as often as these two do. With the possible exception of the mandrill family that live over in Primate Panorama, but they are difficult to photograph...

If anyone ever wonders why Miss Beff (aka Beth) is number one on Daniel's list of favorite people, this picture of the two of them goofing off at the zoo speaks a thousand words.

The Pooker and me. I know you dig my hat. I know you want one. Suffer!
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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Golf Lesson

Uncle Nate has the patience of a saint...

Bailey had to get in on the act too! (Oh -- Bailey is Uncle Nate and Auntie Stacey's dog, by the way!)
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More Easter!

Daniel and me at the Easter egg hunt.

At my church on Easter Sunday, we do this thing called the Flowering of the Cross. They started this back in like 1977; we started going there in 1979; so they've been doing it as long as I can remember. What happens is that all the children are asked to bring flowers to church on Easter, and then during the service, they come forward and place their flowers in the cross, and when it's all covered in flowers, it's hoisted up over the altar. It's always very beautiful, whatever one's thoughts on religion, God, Christ, or otherwise may be. It reminds me every year that this is really what life -- and Easter -- is all about -- this unbroken circle in which we resurrect ourselves over and over by passing down traditions to our children, who will pass them down to theirs, and so on. It's an amazing feeling to look into the faces of the children watching the cross go up and see how fascinated they are by its beauty -- toddlers and preschoolers and kids and tweens and teenagers, and all the adults who love them, taking a moment to literally stop and smell the flowers, to stop and share a simple moment of beauty that if we're lucky, we can carry in our hearts during darker days to remind us that it's not always going to hurt.

See the two older kids behind Daniel? They used to be in my two-year-old class in the Sunday school. Seems like it really wasn't that long ago, but they're like, 11, now!
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Chickens! Eggs! Easter! Fun!

Every spring at Daniel's school, they incubate some chicken eggs and see how many chickens hatch. This year, they got nine. Here's Daniel with some of the baby chicks -- I realize that they're hard to see but if you look into the cage just to the right of his hand at the bottom of the photo, there's a little yellow and brown chick right there. The kids love it; it's so exciting to see how the chicks hatch right from the eggs. This always happens right around the week of Easter.
In the photo above, you can sort of see a little black fluffball right in the middle of the picture, inside the incubator next to a broken eggshell. He had just hatched one afternoon when I picked Daniel up at school. He turned out to be the biggest chick of the nine that hatched. Once the chicks are old enough, they are donated to the Urban Farm, where they have an egg dairy. The kids get to go visit them on the farm in a couple of weeks.

Daniel never likes to goof off! Here he is waiting for the church Easter egg hunt to begin. On the Saturday before Easter, our church has a Resurrection Celebration including an egg hunt. There are crafts, games, eggs to dye, all kinds of fun things to do. Daniel wasn't having any of it -- he was there to hunt eggs, and only hunt eggs. We did convince him to dye a couple of eggs, but that was it -- otherwise, it was all about the egg hunt. It was actually pretty funny, the singlemindedness of it all.
A whole bucketful!
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