Dear Children’s Clothing Manufacturers, Department Store Buyers, and all of the Apparently Completely Sex-Crazed Corporate Idiots involved in the making of child apparel,
I’m the mother of an almost eight-year-old female child, and I desperately need your help.
My child is innocent. She does not yet understand why God makes boys and girls. Soon enough, I suppose, we’ll have to talk about where babies come from, menstrual cycles, and all the other stuff that comes with being a woman, but not now.
For now, her primary concerns are what flavor Capri Sun to have with her snack and where her library book might have gotten off to. And that is how it should be.
So, I need your help in understanding why the selection of clothing for her age is so—for lack of a better phrase—hootchie mama?
For the most part, I’m pretty good at keeping up with the current Internet meme(s). Yo dog, Hey girl, I don’t always…but when I do, and what not. And here’s a little secret: If I don’t know what they are referring to (e.g.: I took an arrow in the knee), I do what any 40-something trying to stay hip would do. I Google it.
And, I don’t usually comment on these things because a) they’re generally ephemeral and b) who really gives a crap?
But I saw mention of a recent one today on a friend’s Facebook page, got subsequently swept up in the link-following, and the article reading and the comments-following-the-articles reading, and here we are.
Today, Sunday, March 18, 2012, I have seen what is quite possibly the stupidest thing on the Internet. More stupid than that Asian kid from American Idol whose name escapes me—See? Ephemeral—singing She Bangs. More stupid than the girl who quit her job using dry-erase boards. More stupid than the last page of the Internet. Even more stupid than the wedding shot my niece photo-shopped so she’s the bride and Tim Tebow is the groom. (Relatives. What can you do?)
And what, you may ask, is the thing that is quite possibly the stupidest thing on the Internet?
After a lengthy wait for Olive Garden to open in Grand Forks, the lines were long in February. The novelty is slowly wearing off, but the steady following attests the warm welcome.
My first visit to Olive Garden was during midafternoon, so I could be sure to get in. After a late breakfast, I figured a late lunch would be fashionable.
The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.
My booth was near the kitchen, and I watched the waiters in white shirts, ties, black trousers and aprons adorned with gold-colored towels. They were busy at midday, punching in orders and carrying out bread and pasta.
It had been a few years since I ate at the older Olive Garden in Fargo, so I studied the two manageable menus offering appetizers, soups and salads, grilled sandwiches, pizza, classic dishes, chicken and seafood and filled pastas.
At length, I asked my server what she would recommend. She suggested chicken Alfredo, and I went with that. Instead of the raspberry lemonade she suggested, I drank water.
She first brought me the familiar Olive Garden salad bowl with crisp greens, peppers, onion rings and yes — several black olives. Along with it came a plate with two long, warm breadsticks.
The chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous. My server was ready with Parmesan cheese.
As I ate, I noticed the vases and planters with permanent flower displays on the ledges. There are several dining areas with arched doorways. And there is a fireplace that adds warmth to the decor.
Olive Garden has an attractive bar area to the right of the entryway. The restaurant has a full liquor license and a wine list offering a wide selection to complement Italian meals. Nonalcoholic beverages include coolers, specialty coffees and hot teas.
On a hot summer day, I will try the raspberry lemonade that was recommended.
There’s a homemade soup, salad and breadstick lunch available until 4 p.m. daily for $6.95.
An olive branch on menu items signified low-fat entrees. There is a Garden Fare Nutrition Guide available for customers seeking gluten-free food. And for those with food allergies, Olive Garden has an Allergen Information Guide.
All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks. It attracts visitors from out of town as well as people who live here.
Olive Garden is part of the Darden chain of restaurants that also operates Red Lobster. There are about 700 restaurants, including four Olive Gardens in North Dakota’s major cities.
Olive Garden has gained a following since 1982 with its ample portions and relaxed ambience. It’s known for its classic lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo and chicken Parmigiana.
The stupid thing is not the article itself, but the ridiculous amount of attention it has garnered.
A brief summary of events for those who may not know about this (if that’s even possible considering the viral-ness (Yes, I made that up) of it.)
Little old lady writes review of newly opened Olive Garden for her small-town newspaper.
The entire Internet caves in on itself.
This lady has been on The Today Show. She turned down Leno.
I’m not kidding.
Have we now reached such a nadir in our search for the amusing that we have taken something truly ordinary and uninteresting in almost every imaginable way and made it an overnight Net sensation?
Apparently, people find it hilarious that a someone would review a chain restaurant.
And, apparently, people everywhere, regardless of national origin, are outraged because they say this little old lady touts Olive Garden as the flagship of Italian cuisine.
First off, having both lived in and read a newspaper from a small town, let me assure you there is nothing in this lady’s article to warrant the attention it has received. It is neither hilarious nor inflammatory.
It’s certainly not funny. Quaint, perhaps. But not humorous. AT. ALL. It is glaringly obvious that the people who find amusement in a pretty standard article for a small-town publication are starved for entertainment. If we’re going to poke fun at items in a small-town newspaper, why not comment on the hilarity of the weekly IGA ad? Look, chicken’s on sale.Heh heh heh. Or the 0.9% financing at Billy Bob’s Ford. Bwahahahahaha. Or, hey, let’s yuck it up over the yard sale at the Baptist church. Seriously, stoppit. I’ma pee myself.
And second, LEARN.TO.READ., for Pete’s sake.
Nowhere in the entire article does this lady say Olive Garden is the best restaurant ever. She says it is the largest and most beautifulin her town, both of which may very well be true. I’ve lived places where Hardee’s is the biggest and best-looking place to eat. It happens.
Nor does she at any point comment on the taste of the food. Just the temperature and the quantity. The rest of her observations are about the aesthetics of the restaurant itself: how the wait staff is dressed, the flowers on the table, and the entryway décor.
She goes on to list the prices of her own selected entrée along with the price of a typical lunch special.
How on earth did this thing not only go viral, but also become a meme?
The only truly remarkable thing I found while reading her article was a limited amount of bias. Sure, she uses a couple of adjectives like large and beautiful, but I certainly didn’t get the feeling she was gushing about how fabulous it was. And her recount of the menu offerings, prices, background and general operation of the restaurant are relatively factual. Her reporting, was—compared to the left- and right-winged crap we’re fed now—fairly objective.
Maybe that’s the real reason it got so much attention. It whipped everyone into an overblown frenzy because it has elements of actual journalism.
Even though I’m not really a normal person, and also tend to hate things embraced by the masses, I do have some mainstream interests that might surprise you.
I know, it’s hard to believe. It’s hard to believe because it’s a lie. Knitting? Me? Seriously? Any pursuit involving pointed things that could be driven through the eyeball of another human in a fit of rage does not belong on a list of Lynne’s leisure activities. (See also: crochet, needlepoint, fencing).
Actually, I make scrapbooks. I say I make scrapbooks because I absolutely REFUSE to use scrapbook as a verb. One does not scrapbook any more than one barbecues. Blashphemous.
I don’t know if any of you also make scrapbooks. If you do, and you are incredibly fond of using $5 copper embellishments of sayings such as Wishing on a Star or A Moment in Time you should probably stop reading.
Last weekend, as I was putting away the Christmas (Shut up) décor, I decided to also clean out my crafting cabinets. Yes, I have crafting cabinets. Four of them. I have one (double doors) exclusively for supplies used in the course of making scrapbooks. Don’t hate.
Anyway, during this process, I discovered some unfinished scrapbooks I started for my daughter when she was a little younger. Okay, a lot younger. Okay, two. Shut up.
And I decided it was time to drag them out of the cabinet and get them up-to-date. I now face an arduous task, considering I left off in 2006. This means I have to chronicle potty training, preshool and associated graduation, pre-ballet and associate recital, three more years of ballet and associated recitals, kindergarten and associated graduation, other random school or church related perfomances, five years of field trips, birthdays, separate grandparent Christmases, learning to swim, two beach vacations, and six lost teeth.
So, I’m going through my existing supplies, and realize I’m going to need a few more things, namely specialty papers and adhesive. Since I’m at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s at least once a week, I already know what they have, so I decided to see what I might find on the Internet.
And I’m not even talking about the overwhelming array of available products. Oh, no. I’m talking about the galleries of customer-submitted pages available for viewing.
My scrapbooks are best described as photo albums with cardstock. I’m a minimalist in terms of what I put on a page, because, to me, the photograph(s) should be the focal point. I’m not against embellishments, per se, but I prefer a bit of relevant clip art or a self-made cut-out to ribbons, old typewriter buttons, and random pieces of lace. One, because all that extra crap distracts from the photograph and two, because you can’t close a scrapbook that full of flotsam. Or, if you can manage to close it using extenders and what not, it’s eight inches thick.
In my wanderings, I found some pages that were just too good not to share. And by good, I mean dreadful. (All photos courtesy of scrapbook.com)
Let’s begin by giving you an idea of how my scrapbook pages usually look.
This one is a little fussy, but pretty close to the way I prefer to layout my pages.
Several photos, some captions, an embellishment or two…
Apparently, the woman who made this page and I are the only two people on earth who embrace this philosophy.
Oh, look, it’s 2012. Time for the obligatory year-in-review post, full of pithy sentiment, crafted to make you stop and think, and put forth in an effort to change the world, one person at a time. Continue reading →
Christmas came and went before I had time to write about any more of my good deeds. I did, however, perform (and continue to perform) many selfless acts over this holiday season. I just find very few of them worthy of an entire post. Instead, I’ll summarize. Continue reading →
If I don’t get my kind-acting behind in gear, Christmas is going to be here and my blog gimmick will expire I won’t have had time to do all my good deeds.
I had an opportunity for a third one, but I cannot—in good conscience—count it. But it did make me realize something about myself, so I’m going to share it anyway.
Sometimes, my helpful acts are performed more for my own benefit than that of the recipient.
Let me rephrase.
Sometimes, I help people just to get rid of them.
I know it’s wrong. I know that’s not a Christian attitude. But it is what it is.
I had a sociology professor at GSU who asserted people help others for the sole purpose of removing a negative stimulus from his or her own environment.
At the time I thought he was sadly cynical, but this latest encounter made me realize perhaps he’s right.
I had taken Mama shopping for Christmas miscellanies (good deed #2) and had pulled up to the front curb of Kmart so she didn’t have to walk to the car. We were loading the trunk when a man walked up to me. Continue reading →
I’ve decided to perform 25 acts of kindness between now and Christmas.
Turns out it’s not that easy. I don’t go to Hobby Lobby every day and I don’t venture out in public much unless I’m going to work. And at the hospital where I work, I’m civil and kind to everyone because not only am I’m a professional and a grown up, but I also embrace our service excellence philosophy. And most of the people where I work behave the same way.
We’re always being courteous one to the other re: opening doors, holding the elevator, greeting each other in the hallway, etc.
So, as I said, it’s difficult—for me—to find a good deed that needs doing. Or, rather, a good deed that’s worth writing about.
So, rather than list all the trash I’ve picked up off the hospital floor, or the times I let people merge into traffic, I’m going to tell you about a good deed I haven’t done.
As you may recall, my mother suffered an aneurism back in the spring. We traveled a long road of recovery and now she’s able to live by herself again. She can walk with a cane, drive, cook for herself, and keep her house tidy. But she gets tired more easily, and she’s not as confident out in the world as she used to be. She can go to church, the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, the grocery store, and WalMart, but that’s the extent of her venturing.
Thanksgiving morning, she was lamenting that she would not have presents under her Christmas tree this year for members of our family because she just wasn’t able to get out in the crowds and shop.
Despite hearing several times from each of us that she was our gift this year, she was not biting. She just continued to say heart-wrenching things like:
Evah since y’all were born, I’ve had presents under the tree fah you.
I can’t stand the thought of an emptah tree.
Mama is a consummate seamstress, so I suggested she sew something for each of us.
My mother can be quite difficult when it suits her purpose.
I don’t know…table napkins, tablecloth, tote bags…
She said this with the same level of disgust as if I’d suggested she place a red-and-green wrapped dog turd under the tree.
My sister suggested Mama do her shopping at WalMart during a weekday morning when it was less likely to be crowded.
WALMART?!?!?! What on earth can I get y’all at WALMART*?
Jenny: Bath stuff! I’m obsessed with my bath. Salts, foam, bubbles, powder, lotion, any of that.
Me: Scarves, gloves…a tote bag.
She gave me the same look I give MayAnne when I’m about to declare war on her rear end. Apparently, Mama has a deep-seated hatred of tote bags.
When my brothers arrived for dinner, and commented on how pretty her tree looked, it started again.
I guess while y’all ah gettin’ ready fah Christmas, I’ll just sit heah and squall.
My mother can be quite dramatic when it suits her purpose.
She launched into a story about her own parents.
One ye-ah, Mama and Daddy agreed not to get each othah Christmas presents and just do fah Jerri and me. Come Christmas morning, we opened our gifts and afterward Mama fled into the bedroom in teahs! Daddy said he’d NEVAH do that again.
Jenny offered a rebuttal.
Well, O’Henry, every idea we suggest to help you gets shot down. What do you want us to do?
I don’t knooooooooooow.
But I know. I know my Mama’s brain like I know my own. Basically, because it’s the same brain. If I had a dollar for every time Warren has called me Anne as a result of my thinking (and I put them with the dollars from every time I’ve called him Charlie as a result of his actions) I could retire.
I know the only thing that’s going to satisfy her is to take her shopping.
Never mind that all of this could be avoided if she would LEARN TO USE THE !$@#^@)$%Y$#@^!% INTERNET. That’s a whole other post.
And never mind that I have relatives who LIVE IN THE SAME TOWN who would take her if she would ASK. But she would never do that. Asking would undermine the use of her Irish guilt super powers.
So, in an effort to nip this ridiculousness in the bud before she started reciting Annie and Willie’s Prayer, I formulated a plan.
I got on the phone and swapped my work schedule around a bit. So, this Sunday, after having worked a full 12 hours, I will drive to Columbus, get up Monday morning and take Mama Christmas shopping.
And Christmas day, when I open whatever trinket she picked out for me, I will know I made my Mama happy.
So, I’m leaving Hobby Lobby after having purchased every red-and-white striped and/or peppermint themed Christmas decoration ever made. I wheel my milk-crate-blue cart full of purchases to my car, empty its contents into my trunk, and begin a conversation with myself re: the long walk back to the store entrance to return said cart.
I’ll just leave it out here. That’s what they get for not having cart corrals. And, while we’re at it, 1979 called, and they want their cash registers back.
You will NOT leave that cart out here so it can dent up someone’s car. Lazy. Walk your fat butt back up there and put it where it belongs.
Hmm. That lady across the row from me only has one item left to unload. I think I’ll ask her if I can take her cart, too.
Hi. Can I take your cart back for you?
Wha-? No. I mean, you don’t have to do that.
I know I don’t have to. I want to.
Well, I…just a…
Come on, it’s Christmas.
That’s…well..it’s…very nice of you. Thank you.
I slid her cart together with mine and rolled them over the bumpy asphalt to the store entrance, all the while thinking even though it felt pretty good to do this nice thing, the lady was so taken aback by it that it made me sad. Have we really reached the point where a selfless act is such a rarity as to cause shock in the recipient? Are we truly that…pathetic at being considerate?
The hippie, hippie hug-a-trees worry about our physical environment. The yappy, yappy* pundits worry about the political climate.
Yet no one seems to be concerned with preserving basic civility.
So, in an effort to reduce my own jerk footprint, I’ve decided to perform 25 acts of kindness between now and Christmas.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll start some viral kindness thingy and the world will improve fantastically and I’ll become famous as that chick with the blog only three people actually read who started the anti-jerkface movement all because of a shopping cart at Hobby Lobby.
If there is anybody still out there after all this time, let me take a moment to thank you for your faithful loyalty. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to play catch-up.
The last three months have been…well…kind of sh***y. Many things have happened in my family that might send a normal person to an institution. I, however, was crazy as an outhouse rat to begin with, so I am able to persevere. I mean, you can’t go somewhere you already are.
Most of the time I have ill feelings toward my crazy, but these last few months have shown me what a blessing it is to be able to detach from reality at will.
Let’s start with my mother. In late March, she fell and hit the back of her head, which resulted in a brain bleed. She was in ICU for 12 days, two more days in a regular hospital room, three weeks in one rehab facility, and two more weeks in another.
During Mama’s hospitalization, my brother-in-law had his third heart attack. Fortunately, my sister has a good friend who is an interventional cardiologist. He was able to save my brother-in-law’s life by removing a blood clot the size of a fifty-cent piece from the blocked artery.
My siblings and I were, of course, deeply affected by Mama’s illness, and my sister had the added stress of caring for a man who was, quite possibly, the most non-compliant patient in the history of cardiac medicine.
Then several of my sister’s chickens—chickens she has wanted to own her entire adult life and was just this year able to procure—were eaten by wild (or domestic…I’m looking at you,Walter.) dogs.
Her cat subsequently left the safety of the family farm, journeyed to the highway, and was hit by a car and left for dead by the side of the road. After several hours in surgery, the vet was able to save the cat.
On the Monday Mama moved into the second rehab facility, his ailing ticker not sufficient to keep pace with his boisterous spirit, my sister’s husband died.
That Friday, my sister’s convalescent cat (who was being cared for by the sisters-in-law while she was in Columbus with Mama) somehow escaped the house and was, of all things, bitten by a rattlesnake.
No, I’m not kidding. You can’t make this stuff up.
So, I’ve spent the better portion of the last five months in hospitals—don’t forget that’s also where I work—other healthcare facilities, my mother’s home, and the funeral home. My own home? Not so much. And while I’ve had plenty to write about, and thought after thought tumbling around in this questionably functional brain, I’ve not had time to share any of it.
That morning started out like any other. I got up, got the child ready for school, had my coffee, beat the computer at two games of Scrabble, did so-so at Boggle, ate a bowl of Lucky Charms, and went to check my Facebook.
I needy a snappy status, so I decided to use the first thing that popped into my widdle head. It is a well-established fact I am a brazen lunatic, so it wasn’t surprising this was my thought:
I’m going to paint an 11.
Then I wondered if there were videos on YouTube of this particular Sesame Street segment. Turns out there are.
One video turned into two, and pretty soon, I’d relived my entire televised childhood in two-minute clips.
I found some great stuff. Some of you may not remember any of it, considering you weren’t born yet, and, well, I hate it for you. Being a kid in the 70s was pretty dang cool, and my miniature bicentennial souvenir flag and I will not entertain arguments to the contrary.
Back then we didn’t have moronic reality shows, Ritalin® was called belts, and no one shopped for TV furniture because the TV was furniture.
Of course nearly everyone has his or her own memory of Sesame Street. Even the fetuses I work with who have, by the way, never heard of Alan Alda (I mean, honestly, get your nose out of The Real World: Sheboygan and watch a M*A*S*H rerun for Pete’s sake.) know who Big Bird is. But it would be remiss not to point out some of the differences between SS then and SS now. And I won’t go so far as to say SS sucks now, because it does not, will not, cannot. In fact, I really hope eons from now (unless the Rapture comes) kids are still sitting around with their little chins sticky from Froot Loop milk, watching Big Bird annoy Gordon. I will, however, assert SS in the 70s was better for three reasons:
a) Elmo wasn’t on it
b) Elmo wasn’t on it
c) Elmo wasn’t on it
I mean, honestly. Is it really necessary for him to take up half the show singing the word weather to the tune of Jingle Bells?
In my day (*adjusts teeth*) Kermit was a regular. His bit was a news segment about the goings on in a particular fairy tale.
Is that not the most terrifying personified egg you’ve ever seen? I love that thing. I wonder if I could make one? They have those giant lawn eggs (don’t get me started) at Hobby Lobby and I could get some fabric and a Sharpie and…
Wait. Where was I?
Sesame Street is well known for its diversity, and the 70s were not different in this respect. Though I’m reasonably certain people might find this little guy offensive nowadays, back then he was pretty hip, in a blacksploitation kind of way.
Also, prior to 1985, Mr. Snuffleupagus was invisible to everyone but Big Bird. Hijinks ensued.
THE ELECTRIC COMPANY
This show is also still on, and these days it is absolute…
But OUR Electric Company was awesome, with cast regulars like Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, and Bill Cosby.
A regular segment on the show featured the superhero, Letterman.Letterman would foil the villainous Spell Binder (of obvious Middle Eastern descent, which as sure as I’m sitting here typing on my hippie Mac offends someone, somewhere.) by changing a letter in a word to make a different, less imposing word.
Another featured a private detective who “decoded” nonsensical messages. The best part? His name was Fargo North, Decoder. I mean, how clever is that? Now it’s just a bunch of kids running around rapping and dancing to hip hop. *shakes cane*
It also had SPIDERMAN, hello?!?!?
Perhaps a little less well known, 3-2-1 Contact! focused on simple chemistry, biology, and physical science, covering such concepts as surface area, ignition, and volume. Sometimes, on Friday, we got to watch it at school.
The best part of 3-2-1 Contact! however, was the recurrent segment The Bloodhound Gang, where a trio of kids solved mysteries by applying their scientific knowledge. If you’ve got the crime, they’ve got the time.
The chick has since popped up in commercials and cameos (Law & Order, duh.) Law & Order is the new Love Boat. Guest stars of questionable celebrity status, milling about on the Lido deck a.k.a Manhattan. And there’s almost always a bartender.
THE CLYDE FROG SHOW
Way before Southpark‘s Eric Cartman had a stuffed doll named after this poorly rendered frog puppet, Clyde had his own show which focused on self-esteem and feelings and not jumping on the bed and junk.
Too bad I didn’t see that show before I ended up with three stitches in my right eyebrow and got blood on Clara’s bedspread.
Sadly, I could not find a video clip, but here’s a still of Clyde:
Yeah, I know, total Kermit rip-off. There are only so many ways to depict frogs via puppetry, I guess.
DAVY AND GOLIATH
Yay, Lutherans! Who else could create such a fantastic conglomeration of morals and ethics and stop-motion animation? And the stupid owner/smart pet dynamic never goes out of style. (See also: Timmy & Lassie, Sandy & Flipper, Wallace & Gromit.) D&G wasn’t shown on PBS, but early Sunday mornings on a regular channel.
D&G ho-ed themselves out for Mountain Dew in 2001. But since the proceeds were used to make a D&G holiday special, I suppose I can let it slide. Just this once.
Zoom (That’s Zoom, Z double-O M, Box 355 Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4) was a show cast entirely with kids, written by kids. Each episode was filled with clips of the cast participating in various activities, designed to encourage children to take an active interest in science, nature, exercise, whatever. In Season 4, I enjoyed my first celebrity girl-crush (see also: Mariska Hargitay) when Tishy Flaherty joined the cast. I was convinced we looked like each other. I was all Tishy this and Tishy that, and HAD to be in front of the TV at 5:00 p.m.
Rugby shirts for everyone!!!!
And afterward, I would hope against hope another Zoom! would air, but at 6, this show for senior citizens came on called Over Easy. It was a constant source of irritation to me. My bedtime wasn’t until 9, so I felt the shows I enjoyed most should continue until then. Stupid Hugh Downs.
Sometimes I miss the 70s. What shows do you remember?
*This post was brought to you by the letter “L” and the number 75.