Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

Wait, we’ve had this controversy before April 30, 2009

Filed under: Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies,News to Ponder,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 1:42 pm

I was just listening to MSNBC out of corner of my ear, and I heard that there is some sort of Barbie controversy brewing. Apparently, people are upset that Barbie suddenly has tattoos.

To which I responded:

“Wait, this has happened already. What the hell?”

My mom: “No it hasn’t.”

Me (increasingly insistent): “Yes, it has. In 1999. Butterfly Tattoo Barbie.”

My mom: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Me: “I have one. You got it for me. I took it to the beach for my ninth birthday.”

My mom: “I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten you that.”

Me: “Yes you did. You clipped an article out of the paper for me about the controversy after you bought the doll and told me to save it because the doll would be valuable someday.”

My mom: ” Nah.”

As evidence, I procured my Butterfly Art Barbie (I have since learned that this is the official name) from the naked

Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie today

Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie, who turns 11 this year

shoebox orgy in my closet where she currently resides with her other Mattel brethren and politely thrust her and her butterfly belly tat in my mother’s face.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a gift?”

Yes. I really really wanted one. Everybody did.”

My parents bought me the Butterfly Art Barbie, which, may I point out, was sold with temporary tattoos, so that you can “have fun decorating Barbie and you with cool washable decorations!” We snapped one up right after they were released in 1998, before a panicky Mattel pulled them off shelves faster than you can say “lead-lined toys from China.”

Oh, how short the memory of the 24-hour news channels!

I named the Barbie Jess (I named all my Barbies – if I’d called them all Barbie it would have been too confusing for them) and took her with me to the beach on my ninth birthday. I wanted to emulate her, sure. I thought she was great, with her plastic feet and alluring beach-hobo lifestyle. And yet I am devoid of tattoos? How is this possible?

The truth of the matter is that Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie did not make me want a tattoo, she made me desperately want crinkly hair, a style which is

a) hard for my hair to achieve, and

b) looks awful on me.

But I kept trying for years.

Anyway, people need to calm down. If your child is looking to Barbie as her primary role model, maybe you should let

Observe Butterfly Art Barbie's huge honkin' butterfly tattoo

Observe Butterfly Art Barbie's huge honkin' butterfly tattoo

her read, or watch television, or leave the house. In a world in which Michelle Obama is the First Lady, Sandra Day O’Connor is appearing on talk shows, and Tina Fey exists, are girls today hard up for flesh-and-blood role models? Oh, and how about you? The kid’s mom?

Also, why are we suddenly more concerned about young girls in this country getting tattoos than about young girls in this country becoming anorexic? I think we need to worry a little more about Barbie’s impact on body image than Barbie’s impact on images on the body.


I Watched PBS Alot as a Kid March 19, 2009

Filed under: Funnies,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 5:58 pm

Hello, it is I, Rick Steves, your next best thing to a plane ticket. Actually, I’m even better, because your plane ticket cannot speak to you in a comforting midwestern  accent, nor can it wear huge 80s aviator glasses and plaid shirts.

Welcome! To Best of Travels in Europe: FRANCE. Please indulge in this montage of French monuments set to 80s pop.

Well, hello, again, it is still me, Rick Steves. Do not fear, I am not the sort of man who would abandon you in a foreign country, and certainly not on a subway.

I am in a CAFE, a sort of French resturant where one can order caff-ay ole-ay and bag-ettes. It is often a fun activity to sit in a cafe and be stared at by disgruntled French people.

Oh! I did not mean to confuse you with all those French words all at once. Perhaps I had better explain. I will be using lots of French phrases in this videocassette. But since you are probably too unintelligent to speak French, I will pronounce the words incorrectly in both French AND English, utilizing a special vernacular of my own devising, known only as “Frangalis.”

This sullen, excessively bearded man is my companion, Francois. He will accompany me in restaurant scenes throughout the videocassette. Francois does not respond to any of my questions in French, English, or Frangalis, so I can only assume that he is a feral man-bear.

Another thing that can be a fun activity is riding LE METRO. It is the most advanced subway system in the world – you feed your tickets through a machine that can COUNT them! Fancy that!

Sometimes, as a way to earn money, starving children will dance or sing or play instruments or rap or rob people on LE METRO. If you bring a camera crew along, the other passengers will clap and pretend to tip them. And that’s the magic and hospitality of the French people.

But we certainly can’t spend the whole day underground! We’d miss one of my other favorite activities – standing on rooftops and scanning the skyline for attractions I will never actually visit.

Look, there’s NOTRE DAME! We will not visit NOTRE DAME, for it is overrated and often crowded. And when YOU are an experienced international traveler such as I, Rick Steves, you, too, will come to consider everything overrated and abhor virtually all human contact.

I think instead we should go to Napoleon’s tomb and attempt to look somber.

Well, that was fun! But we are off to even more exciting locales. Here we are in France’s largest department store. It is so large that there is a restaurant in it, and one of my favorite things to do here in FRANCE is sit in the department store restaurant and knock back a few cold ones.

Something I like to do when I come to FRANCE is rent an apartment and buy groceries and do my own laundry and interact will REAL French people. I LOVE Parisians! They are so jolly – sometimes they will pretend that they do not speak English until more than halfway through a conversation! Then they laugh gaily, for this is a delightful game in FRANCE.

Did you know that I, Rick Steves, support marjuana legalization? I’ll bet that you did not! I bet you now think that I smoke the stuff myself. Well, you would be WRONG.


Head-Cleaning Day Again January 24, 2008

Filed under: Calvin,College Stuff,Funnies,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 11:36 pm

The only thoughts I think these days are half-formed fragments of days, randomly retained moments, flashing images that, when pieced all together, look like a turn-of-the-century movie made by a crazy man perpetually high on opium and determined that his film make no sense, even to him.

I thought I’d share this delightful feeling with all of you in the form of another head-cleaning day, mini-stories that struck me as interesting but go nowhere; trunk songs taken out, aired, and thrown into a highly inappropriate revue.

It may not be a well-thought-out blog, but it’s better than no blog at all.

It seems rather cruel to me to make people in a basic math class discern and type the last 4 digits of their student ID number into computer before you’ll even pretend to teach them anything.

More Math
And when I say “pretend to teach,” I mean it, although I’m not sure how much they’re even pretending any more. The whole class is conducted through computers, and the “teacher” is there merely to check your homework, which she does merely to make sure you aren’t cheating (we’ve been informed that if we are so much as seen holding an electronic device while class is in session, she will assume it is a calculator and throw us out). “Show your work, show your work! Squawk!” (this last bit is where she turns into a giant primordial bird of some sort and eats us all).

I’ve been behind on homework assignments two or three times now, and every single time it’s been because she forgot to tell me what, specifically, I was supposed to do. At least she has the grace to look mildly chagrined when I come in and it isn’t done and I’m obviously blissfully unaware it’s due.

I know I am a words person and not a numbers person because when the computer explains that Juan was stacking sweaters by color in the stock room, I wonder several things:

  • I wonder where Juan works.
  • I wonder why he isn’t out front, attending to customers. Is he not allowed? Did he once bite someone or tell a woman she looked fat in her jeans, or what?
  • Why is he stacking the sweaters by color? Why sweaters? Why by color and not size? Is he gay? What’s going on here?
  • I wonder why Juan is so interested in using the associative properties of multiplication to count the stacks of sweaters. Presumably they’ve already been inventoried.
  • I do not wonder what great truth Juan uncovered about the associative properties of multiplication after all his stacking and color coding, because they didn’t bother to make me connect to Juan or care about him as a person. I do not identify with his strife.

Oh, I could write a whole literary review on these travesties they call “math questions.” Don’t even get me started on Lindsay, who works in a sporting goods store and apparently has nothing better to think about than how many tennis balls she’s sold today and how many of them were green and how many of them were yellow.

A Woman Outside a Cigarette Shop
There’s a cigarette store next to the Chinese restaurant where I eat on Thursdays, and today I noticed a pregnant woman standing in front of the store, peering into the windows. As I walked by, she glowered at me, as though it were my fault she has an extremely high probability of birth defects.

Your Brain
There’s a part of your brain where all your short-term memory is stored, and apparently mine is damaged, because I don’t remember any of the names of the parts of the brain that we learned about in psychology today.

Heath Ledger

He has died, and as such I will have to accept the fact that, no, he is never going to come to his senses and marry me.

Wife Swap
Last night at Calvin’s house, I watched “Wife Swap” one of our Wednesday night timewasters. One of the families in question was a freewheeling brood of magicians who devoted almost all their time to their beloved craft (their son was the youngest professionally ranked magician in the world) and the other a family with two OCD parents who made the kids do something like five hours of chores a day and never played with them or let them go outside alone.

I’m now beginning to wonder if I may have hallucinated the whole thing.

Calvin’s Second-Oldest Sister

She can write. I mean, really, seriously, write, in a way that makes me jealous. Granted, she’s something like ten years older than me, so she’s got that advantage. And she’s actually been through our local University’s kick-ass creative writing program, as opposed to me, pining for it and mooning over its course requirements webpage. (You have to take 3 semester hours each in British Literature Pre-1800 and British Literature Post-1800. Have to? Really? That doesn’t sound like a ‘have to’. You won’t let me take it instead of math?)

Be that as it may, she’s one of those writers you run into every so often and just go, “Well, damn.” One of those people who make a voice wake up in the back of your head as you read, a voice which says, “Now, this is good writing.” This is a person who just wrote a self-reflective note on facebook that sounded like it should have been in some sort of collection of essays somewhere, or at the very least published as a ‘my view’ column in Newsweek. And she wasn’t even trying. I want to be that good. My English Guru (the man who taught my first-ever college English class and who seems to think I’m amazing, and as such is my sort-of-mentor) once wrote a line about Kerouac’s On The Road that really spoke to me, something about how the book reads like an improvised jazz solo, blurted out in fevered brilliance and relatively free of subsequent editing (for the record, I added the part about the fevered brilliance).

If writing is improvisational jazz, I’m that kid in Drumline who could play anything just from hearing it once and write genius drum solos but who still had a lot to learn about pesky things like rhythm and notes and teamwork. And Calvin’s sister is Satchmo.

A Poem
I’ve actually had my English Guru on the brain today – I ran into him in a hallway in the English building, and we had a nice brief chat, and then I got on the bus and saw someone who looked like him – but who I realized pretty quickly was more or less a homeless person. And I was compelled to write a poem about it.

I Thought I Saw You on the Bus Today

I thought I saw you on the bus today

Well, it was sort of you


A little sad


A little homeless


A little schizophrenic


But shaggy


But careworn


But not in a sweatervest and checkers


In a knit cap pulled low over your brow

Which was not thoughtful

But furrowed over your eyes

No longer kind

But empty.


The New Semester January 10, 2008

Filed under: College Stuff,Edumucation,Funnies,Literary Stuff,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 5:03 pm

Tuition: $1,007.50

Books: $350.00

Pencils: $1.99

Taking a class from someone who once wrote a novel about a secret lost city where all the natives practice tantric sexual Buddhism? Priceless.


Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody November 21, 2007

Filed under: Funnies,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 4:49 pm

This is an real conversation which Kikki and I actually had Monday.

Kikki: Since I’m the first person in my family to be born in America, we don’t really do thanksgiving. We just sort of use it as yet another excuse to get together and drink wine.
Me: What do you think an American thanksgiving is?
Kikki: Well. You have pilgrims. It’s different.

Have a safe and happy drunken pilgrim day.


Head-Cleaning Day October 26, 2007

Filed under: College Stuff,Funnies,Random Drivel,Random Moments of Poignancy — Meredith @ 3:59 pm

Every so often, one just builds up a surplus of ideas about a number of things, and, odds are, none of those things will come together to form an ideally structured, clearly defined post. So I proudly introduce Head-Cleaning Day, a day for airing all my half-formed thoughts (which are coincidentally the only thoughts I seem to have these days, having used up all of my intelligence on Andrew Jackson, Socio-Economics, Greek Philosophers, and the Elements of Non-Verbal Communication).

Do you remember J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan?

“It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it quite interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers.”

Such is head-cleaning day.


The Good News: the Mormons love the PenguinDust, if only because my wildly inadequate summation of their religion gives them a chuckle. The bad news: they think I’m a dude.

Jane Austen

I despise Jane Austen with the red-hot burning passion of a thousand fiery suns. She is trite and unoriginal, her prose is unnecessarily flowery, and her plots sound as though she plagiarized them from a dimestore romance novel. No, actually, I’ll take that a step farther – I think Jane Austen’s books were the original dimestore romance novels, and I’m about as impressed with their literary weight as that of The Cobra and the Concubine.

She begins each sentence as though pursuing a prize in obfuscation. Take as example page 1, paragraph 2, of Pride and Predjudice:

However little known the feelings or view of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

Really now.

Maybe this just isn’t my cup of tea, maybe there are unplumbed depths I’m missing, but I like my art accessible. The other night I saw a movie called P.S., a random little sleeper with Topher Grace and Laura Linney. Laura, alone and unhappy, works in Columbia’s art school admission department, which is how she meets Topher, who, in an eerie coincidence, shares a name with, looks, sounds, and behaves exactly like Laura’s dead highschool boyfriend. Spoiler alert: no time travel.

Along with a stupid amount of emotional baggage, Laura has been hanging on to an “abstract” painting that the boyfriend painted for her a million years ago, purportedly of a mother and child. At the emotional peak of the movie, Topher gestures to it wildly and says, “Yeah, and you know what? That isn’t a mother and child! That is a kid who kicked over a bucket of paint on a canvas.”

This is how I feel about Jane Austen. That isn’t real art. That’s the pretense of art.

I anticipate that this position will generate a lot of ill will. I find that Jane Austen is inexplicably beloved by many, almost to a level of cult obsession, not unlike the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which, despite its undeniable status as a masterpiece, I could never slog through.

“Spirit” Day

If you’ve never conceptualized an Afro-Caribbean pop version of the Beatles’ ’“Norwegian Wood” played by a third-rate local band on a makeshift stage in the middle of a disused soccer field, I urge you, do not try – for it is highly unpleasant.

Recently we had was what used to be known as “Student-Faculty” (Stu-Fac) Day at my community college. I’m not entirely sure why it is no longer known as Stu-Fac day, all I know is that I saw posters for “Spirit Day,” and was informed that it is essentially the same thing.

“Spirit Day” was hosted on the intramural fields, and featured the college-level equivalences of the bouncy castle, namely an inflatable free-throw basketball unit and inflatable boxing ring (Which was, like all boxing rings, inexplicably square).

There were also representative tables from all of the college’s various clubs, including the College Democrats and the College Republicans, who mirror normal Democrats and Republicans in the sense that the Democrats are stupid and the Republicans are pathetic.

I ask you, just look at these unretouched photographs of actual, no-lie posters made and spread around campus by the College Republicans.




I’m sorry, but these are absolutely terrible signs. I mean, Jesus, that second one can’t even fit the word “Republicans” on one line.

But that’s beside the point.

As I stood in the line for cotton candy in the blistering heat listening to the almost inexcusable music, I began to wonder what cotton candy actually is. It looks like the insulation my attic.

Are we Gods or Sacrifices?

So, today, I saw a an anthill with a giant dead palmetto bug on top of it (which, here in Florida, is code for “huge dead gross cockroach”). The ants were scurrying around it, and I thought of all those movies where the heroes wind up in the middle ages, or some primitive village, and the locals see their clothes and hygiene or whatever and regard them as Gods. Was this the Ants’ God? (more…)


A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day May 14, 2007

Filed under: Literary Stuff,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 10:48 pm

So there’s this children’s book by Judith Viorst.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I haven’t thought about it in years, but today I’m ready to match Alexander grievance for grievance.

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth, and now there’s gum in my hair. And when I got out of bed this morning, I tripped on the skateboard, and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running. And I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day………..I think I’ll move to Australia.

I woke up at about 10:30 this morning, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Today, I planned for Calvin to come over and go swimming with me and the little bro. In theory, we’d have lunch at the pool, he’d hang out into the evening. Calvin was planning to teach little bro how to play Magic, which he describes as “a game for literalists”. It was supposed to be a really good day, so I was more than a little pissed when it turned out to be the exact opposite. I got called into work at the last minute, and in the middle of the day. “This isn’t FAIR!” I wailed. My mom shrugged in a “life isn’t fair,” sort of way.

I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. At school Mrs. Dickens liked Paul’s picture of the sailboat better than my picture of the invisible castle. At singing time she said I sang too loud. At counting time she said I left out 16. Who needs 16?

I realized that we were out of hot glue sticks at work, and that hot glue sticks were vital to the last-minute absolutely could not wait until after vacation work I was doing (note the sarcasm dripping from my fingers). I called the Walgreen’s across the street from work. Apparently Walgreen’s doesn’t sell hot glue sticks. So I tried Target, who assured me that they had exactly what I was looking for in the Home Improvement section. Figuring we’d kill two birds with one stone, mom and I headed to Target (coincidentally in the opposite direction from work) planning to get some picture frames as well. Finding neither glue sticks nor helpful employees in the Home Improvement section, I stormed defeated into the Garden section, where I’d earlier seen a cluster of loitering, red-vested kids working summer jobs. I made eye contact with one, and, as evidence of both my rapidly advancing age and continuing monogamous relationship, instead of thinking, “Ooh, cute boy,” I thought,”Gee, what a nice young man.” The Nice Young Man directed me to the arts and crafts aisle. Unfortunately, the glue sticks there were miniature. I was forced to buy two packages and a miniature glue gun.

I could tell it was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. There were two cupcakes in Phillip Parker’s lunch bag and Albert got a Hershey Bar with Almonds, and Paul’s mother gave him a piece of jelly roll that had little coconut sprinkles on the top. Guess whose mother forgot to put in dessert?

There were lots of rednecks and their screaming children in Target.

It was a Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very bad day. That’s what it was because after school my mom took us all to the dentist, and Dr. Fields found a cavity just in me. “Come back next week and I’ll fix it,” said Dr. Fields. “Next week,” I said, “I’m going to Australia.”

At work, I had to empty all the trashcans, even though I didn’t know where they all were. And my boss asked me to sweep the hallway. And then when I was finished she wanted to know if I’d swept the backroom. And when I was finished with that my boss wanted to know if I’d swept the office. And so it went with all the rooms in the building. You’d think at some point I would have wised up and just swept everything preemptively. You would be wrong. (more…)