The other night we were trying to change gears to bedtime mode, and my associate told our daughter it was time to brush her teeth.  These are not direct quotes, but the exchange went something like this:

Him: Time to go brush your teeth.

Her: Not brush my teeth.

Him: Brush your teeth (in a sort of sing-song voice).

Her: Not brush my teeth (in total sing-song voice).

And then there was a pause after her voice lifted that last line into song, and as I washed dishes and listened to them I thought “Oh my god, this is it.  This is when the music starts and my life actually has a musical number.  Finally!”  But all she did was blow into her kazoo, say something toddler-ornery, and run away from her dad.

So, so close.

Back during my record store days we received a variety of promotional materials to be used in displays or to be given out with purchases. One of my favorites was a plastic rat on its hind legs. I don’t remember what band it was for – Megadeth, maybe?

Behind the counter we’d come up with different ways to display it, but the best was when the rat would ride on the spinning record player. At one point it sat on a tiny sled (for a Fourplay Christmas album promotion) while it spun. Sometimes the rat wore a sandwich board placard.

Eventually, we were saddened when the rat hung itself. It swung from the racks behind it (I think the sandwich board was used as a suicide note). The next day, the rat was back on the record player, spinning around with a tissue draped over it as a ghost costume.

That visual always, always makes me laugh. You’ll just have to picture it since I don’t have a photo of it. Pre-mobile phone camera days are the worst.

Not what the rat looked like.

Not what the rat looked like.

It’s not the end of the year if I don’t have a best of list, right? In no order and not including life events (becoming an aunt, duh):

Best things:

  • Microtel in Jonestown, NY
  • Stella’s in Richmond —  I dream of pastichio
  • The scene from“Louis” when he performs the Who song in the car in front of his unfazed children (Season 2, episode 5, “Country Drive”)
  • The reaping scene in “The Hunger Games”
  • Marisa Wompler’s “Comedy Bang Bang” podcast appearances and on her own Christmas special
  • Going to the houses of people who already have small children
  • This recipe (creamy lemon pasta with spinach and greens
  • My daughter yelling “COME ON, MAN” when I wouldn’t let her put on her favorite shirt which has a skateboarding hot dog on it
  • Amy Poehler’s performance this year on “Parks and Recreation,” especially the Halloween episode
  • Jens Lekman
  • C&M Galley Kitchen – It’s going to be the only restaurant we go to from now on when we’re not in the mood for something specific.  It’s so close, it’s reasonably priced, it’s kid-friendly, and I once had an apple juice/bourbon cocktail there that was very good.
  • NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts — Two or three songs performed by almost every musical act that I like
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – We went for the first time to see the butterfly exhibit and never left we have gone many times since then. I had no idea that the children’s garden existed. Definitely worth the membership fee.
  • Renting a cabin in James River State Park in September
James River State Park. COME ON!

James River State Park. COME ON!

Worst things:

  • Virginia General Assembly vs. women — Sadly, there will surely be a 2013 edition and then a special gubernatorial election edition, but we are ready.  By “we” I mean the people on Facebook who tell me where to go and quietly chant things.
  • My last dining experience at Don’t Look Back — Seriously, the worst.   Although the waiter was nice enough, by the time I had to point out the 6th thing that was wrong I thought I was maybe secretly being taped for a reality show about pushing mild-mannered people to the edge.
  • Contraband — A movie.  A very dumb movie
  • The end of “Everyday Food” in print form
  • Rainbow Fish —  It’s like 4 pages long, one page is the fish asking a starfish why no one likes him and the answer is “I don’t know, ask the octopus.” WHY EVEN BOTHER WRITING/DRAWING THE STARFISH PAGE? Was the book just accidentally written during a lesson on how to draw starfishes?
More like RainBORE Fish

More like RainBORE Fish

Not sure:

  • Our daughter going from shouting “you butt” when she’s mad at us to “you bad boy,” because although “you bad boy” is very funny it’s still her basically swearing at us. However, she has many times said quietly to herself “you bad boy, Charlie Gown” and it’s adorable to hear.

So, the good outweighs the bad. I win this time, year!

I have mentioned before that I am not much of a reader anymore. When I was a kid I read all the time, but after I finished college the number of books I read decreased (I know this because I tracked it for years). Now I probably read about ten books a year, but I’m trying to get reading back into my daily routine like it was before. This inspired my “summer of reading.” I probably haven’t read any more than I usually would, but I think I’m not going to read less this year for once, and for a little while this summer I did put a book in my hands when I normally would have cruised on the internet.   And if 1,000 reads of a children’s books equals one novel, then I have read this adorable novel about a talking pig named Olivia.

I thought I would be a more dedicated reader if time was against me, so I checked out books from the library (I hadn’t been to my neighborhood’s location since we moved into our house, although I still have at least one book out from there from when I was in elementary school).  On my first visit, I checked out “Maus” by Art Spiegelman and “Living History” by Hillary Clinton.  I read Maus during lunch breaks, but it probably only took up a tear-soaked hour overall. I checked out Hillz’s book week after week.  What’s the point of due dates if I can just keep the book for infinity?  She is a long-winded writer (she has to have at least one sentence of bio for every person she mentions, and she knows thousands of people and they all became close friends, and subsequently, most of them died before the book was over).  I read the first half of the million-page book and then skimmed the second half, but I have to say that I love her.  We are idiots for not choosing her as our president, and I will do whatever I can for Hillz 2016.  I will argue anyone who has anything illogically negative to say about her.  Bring it.


Other books I read:

“Man Made” by Joel Stein. I like info-packed memoirs.  It’s pretty funny, a little too jokey sometimes, though.  I really liked the LAFD and turkey-hunting sections (turkeys are great source material; also the best subject in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”).

“Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel. Not as enjoyable as “Fun Home,” but still really liked it (also I have learned to stop calling these graphic novels since they are memoirs). It’s all about her mom this time (Fun Home is about her dad), and has given me well-drawn instructions on what not to do as a mother.

I started to read “Flowers in the Attic,” but I can’t get over the prose to get very far (like with “Twilight”). Instead I’m reading “What is the What?,” which is an engrossing/devastating novel about a Sudanese refugee. I’m reading it in ten-minute installments on my lunch break. Because of the subjects (war/watching everyone die) it’s hard to enthusiastically pick up and not a good before bed read unless you like to sob to sleep, but it’s written so well that I’m sure I’ll finish it soon.  After that I want to read something classic like “Wuthering Heights” (please put your book recommendations on hold; if you want me to read something bad enough, just give me the book).

I have really enjoyed the classic kid’s books, most of which I don’t remember reading as a child. I read a lot as a young kid, though, and my parents gave me a book subscription when I was young and a book was mailed to me every month. My child reads (and has torn up) some books that we owned as kids.   When a children’s book is good it’s so good, but when it’s bad it’s so hard to read (RAINBOW FISH). I have contemplated throwing some away because she finds where we hide the ones we don’t like and then focuses on those to be read the most (the condition is never good enough to give it away). When  she rips the pages of a book I don’t like it takes me a really long time to say something to her about it.

She has some books that made me laugh out loud the first time I read them (the first Olivia and Runaway Bunny).  I also really like to read Dr. Seuss books out loud. It’s fun.

Everyone is expecting me to finish this with “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”  WELL YOU DON’T.

My 18-month-old daughter loves “Bubble Guppies,” which is a show on Nick Jr. about fish who do stuff and sing about it.  The division of singing labor among the guppies makes it seem a lot like “Glee” (there are two who sing the most, and they compartmentalize the other four), but overall the show is more realistic than “Glee.”  The Guppies cover topics from hailing taxis to the sun being hot.  I don’t have to teach her anything because some merkids have it covered.  Win win!

Jupiter is gassy, Venus is bright

She started to watch this at her sitter’s house, and for a couple of months has been saying “Gubble buppies,” (she says it correctly now), and we thought it was so cute to see how excited she got about it.  It’s still cute, but when one of us is at a computer, she thinks that this means it’s time to watch “Bubble Guppies,” and will demand to watch it, but mostly just demands this from me.  When we’re not on our computers she likes to try prying mine open while saying  “gup, guppies.”  One morning last week I let her watch “Sun, Beautiful Sun,” and I stepped away from the table (we kept our computers on the dining room table, don’t judge me).  I heard the song rewind, and saw her reach over and hit the keypad perfectly to restart the song.  She did it more than once.  This means that my baby is an AV genius, and also, that my computer is covered in peanut butter.

And, dammit, if I don’t have a dozen of their songs stuck in my head most of the time.   They’re so catchy, and I hope that the pop harmonies guarantee that she will love Fountains of Wayne.  This one is my favorite (and that’s why I let her watch it the most):

But on a serious parenting note (and also to explain why the tenses are weird in this post — I wrote most of this last week when I was still pro “LET’S WATCH IT ALL THE TIME” along with her), in order from causing her to associate watching videos with eating, and to cut down on the Bubble Guppy-denial fussiness, I have moved my computer and don’t check it when she’s around.   Unless I want to watch this:

I have had a busy year (by “busy,” I mean that I have a child now, and although she spends half of the day sleeping, I can still use that as an excuse for not getting anything done).  Because of this, my “best of” lists are not so much rankings of the quality of the numerous films, albums, and books I have enjoyed, but just a listing of the books and movies I did read/see, in order of when it happened (that is how “MacGruber” makes a list, although I also really liked it).  I think I caught up on last year’s Oscar films by summertime, though, so I’m not that far behind.

Here are things that happened this year that I did happen to catch:

Movie: Super 8 — I liked it.  You have to set a movie like this in the 80s, because with cell phones everything is less dramatic.  “WHAT WAS THAT?”  “HOLD ON, LET ME TAKE AND PIC AND THEN TWEET IT FOR AN ANSWER.  AN ALIEN.”

Book: Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” — Also really liked it.  We listened to the audiobook during a very long car trip, which was probably more fun than reading it since the SNL skits were played in their entirety.   I really appreciated her theory that she stopped lactating because she ran out of episodes of “Entourage” to watch while pumping.

I have been reading Don Delillo’s “White Noise” for an embarrassingly long time (like, I think I started to read it before he finished writing it).  I don’t know why.  I really enjoy it, and would underline half of the lines if it were my book, but when it’s reading time I would much rather refresh my Twitter feed than read a book.  I’m a dum dum.  I did read through the Hunger Games series as quickly as possible, though, so I can finish books.  Also I read “the Help” and loved it, but I think the movie looks bad.  I enjoyed reading all of the criticism about it, though.

Music: Bombay Bicycle Club, “A Different Kind of Fix”: I actually bought two albums this year, the other was Mumford & Sons, which I wasn’t super into.  Beady Eye was bought for me, and I liked it.  But I heard this song on WNRN and loved it, and bought it immediately, and even if I bought a bunch of other CDs this would still be my favorite.  It reminds me of the first Stone Roses’ album at times, and a bunch of other things that I like.

I actually heard a lot of new music this year, mainly because  my roommate is that person who still buys albums.  Mostly I spent my year listening to Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” the first Fleet Foxes’ album, and Belle & Sebastian’s “Write About Love” a thousand times each.  I have my fingers on the pulse of yesteryear.

TV —  Oh, “Friday Night Lights.” It’s one of those shows that I watched because I kept hearing how much everyone loved it, and since that’s how I watched “the Wire,” I figured that everyone wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction.  Good job, everyone!  We blew through it.  It had already ended by the time I watched it, but it can still count as this year since it ended this year.  I loved so many of the characters (the plots weren’t always that great).  I definitely am ready to handle a teenage daughter, thanks to Tami.  And Baby, if you’re reading this, I WILL slap you if you hang out with a lifeguard who is too old for you and also has a girlfriend.  Texas Forever.

I also watch Jason Katims’ other show “Parenthood,” and while I also like that, the storytelling isn’t that good and I feel like it’s a retelling of FNL storylines in a different reality.  Also I hate Sarah Braverman.  She is Tyra from FNL all grown up, making bad choices and waiting for someone else to fix it for her.

I watched the Emmy’s alone this year (as opposed to the other years when I had big Emmy-watching parties?), and I enjoyed it so much.  I cried when Kyle Chandler won for playing Coach Taylor on FNL, shot off guns when “Downton Abbey” won all its awards, and live-tweeted and Facebooked all my emotions (I did not send most of them) because I was so emotional about it.  So I realized then that I love TV.  I used to be into the Oscars, but unless Will Forte is up for something, I will have not seen any of those movies until next summer.  I keep up with TV in real time and it is my soul mate.

Which means that the top best thing to happen in 2011 (not related to real things in my life) is that “How I Met Your Mother” is on Netflix Instant (runner up is “Community” on HuluPlus, finally).  I love HIMYM so, so much.  It’s a show that rewards its audience.  While I get exhausted watching shows that have more than 13 episodes a seasonsand last longer than 3 years, the current season has been really good and I’ve also enjoyed rewatching last season, which I thought was the worst one yet.

While I’m on the subject of the things I’m usually on the subject of, I get riled up about things that make no sense or seem to be looked over on shows like HIMYM and FNL that are so good at developing characters.  My associate says that these things are done for story and they’re just TV shows, but I feel like they’re big holes in the reality of a fake world and someone on the show should have noticed.  What I mean to say is, what the hell happened to Riggins’ Rigs, and why would the entire gang fly to Ted’s hometown to go to the wedding of his high school best friend that they weren’t friends with?

Other: Who Charted is my favorite podcast.   Do yourself a favor and listen to Bob Odenkirk’s episode.  NOW.  I also like WTF a lot.  I don’t give myself a lot of podcast time, so I tend to just keep up with those.

Also, this:

I found this video after listening to the new solo Noel Gallagher (zzz).  This looks & sounds like something that would be manufactured by someone who was trying to get my attention because it’s the exact formula for a song I would like.  I half expected a very important message with ransom instructions or the video from “the Ring” to follow.  Because people hate me and know that my weakness is Brit Pop.




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