Saturday, November 29, 2008

Career Opportunities, Part 2

And speaking of my children and their future careers, I think, at the tender age of 2, Molly's revealed to us her true calling:

Diner waitress.

I'm being unkind, you say, locking her into a life collecting tips and slinging hash before she hits preschool? I'd have said that, too. But that was before yesterday.

Yesterday, my mom gave Molly a little play kitchen for her birthday. We opened it up and this is what happened.

I think there'd definitely be a job for her at Mel's Diner. She strikes just the right note of annoyed exasperation as she explains that she's "makin' coffee," and especially as she tells the inconsiderate customers to "Hold on!" Flo, eat your heart out.

Career Opportunities, Part 1

Everyone seems to agree that the election of Barack Obama has had historic implications. Perhaps none more earth-shaking than on my son's future career ambitions. Sammy, as those of you who know Sammy know, used to want to be an actor. Not just an actor, though. He's enough of a New York snob that he wanted to be a Broadway star--no frou frou Hollywood career for him. His plan for the past year or two has been: college at NYU, a job on a soap to get him kick started until his Broadway career takes off. No sweat, easy-peasy.

Well, leave it to the seismic shift of the 2008 election to change all that. Sam was, to put it mildly, OBSESSED with the election. And by November 4th, he had a new career goal. Not president; that's too much stress and pressure. But Senator. These days, Sam worries not about which soap he should audition for, but which state he should run for Senate from--should it be New York, which he loves loves loves? or Wisconsin, where he feels he'll have a better shot? But New York's a more liberal state... Hmm. It's a conundrum.

Still, the path to senator is not a lock, by any means (not like NYU => Days of Our Lives => Broadway or anything). So what's a 10-year-old boy who spends way too much time worrying about the future to do when planning his career path? Then, Barack started announcing his cabinet and it all became clear. The key? Rahm Emanuel.

Because before Rahm Emanuel was a semi-fascist representative from Illinois, he was, of course, a ballet dancer. And then it hit us: he's not the only famous ballet dancer/politico. I'm speaking, of course, about Ron Reagan Jr., former twinkletoes, current radio host on Air America.

So Sam's journey to Washington is now clear: He needs to change his name to something starting with an "R"-"Rodolfo"? "Romulus"? And he needs to become a professional ballet dancer. Although if you believe Ron Reagan, he can just flop around the stage at Sarah Lawrence and he's all good. Easy-peasy.

Now if only he knew ballet...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's an outrage.

Ok. The fix is in. I don't know how to explain it, but I'm not happy about it. Let me start at the beginning.

In an episode of "Elmo's World" on Sesame Street, Elmo's goldfish, Dorothy, casts her fishy mind back to the day Elmo was born. Here is the scene, with Elmo's parents, George and Gladys:

This seems about right. George is clearly Elmo's bio dad. They look exactly alike. Gladys and George are happy, excited about their new baby. God knows why they chose to name him Elmo, but whatev.

Fast forward to our favorite episode of Sesame Street, the one with the elephant stuck in the bathtub. There's a song segment called "Elmo's Riding," that features Elmo learning to ride his bike with his "Daddy." A man who is clearly not George in any way shape or form. In fact, this is Elmo's new "Daddy":

I know, right? He looks nothing like Elmo. Look at the face shape. And the nose. According to the Muppet Wiki, his name is "Louie," and this Arlo Guthrie-looking, folk-song-singing, hemp-wearing dilletante has entirely elbowed George out of the picture. We figure that Louie must be Elmo's stepdad. And that's fine. Maybe George and Gladys broke up when Elmo was small, so Louie's the only Dad Elmo's really ever known. Maybe George is a crappy absentee father who doesn't pay his child support. Maybe George died, which would be really sad, and you'd think there'd be some acknowledgement of it. Maybe Gladys is just a tramp. Who knows? But I bet there's not even a picture of George on the mantle at the Monster house. And that's not OK.

I'm not implying that Louie is a bad dad, although he does seem a little shady to me and he has a weird Willie Nelson-esque accent and a creepy goatee and apparently way too much time on his hands. God knows that I'm not saying he's not Elmo's "real" dad, if he's the one loving and raising Elmo. But the Muppet Wiki claims that the reason for the George bait-and-switch is that Dorothy the Goldfish "imagined" what Elmo's birth-day and his parents looked like. Imagined!?!?!?!? Since when do goldfish possess that kind of imagination? And why on earth would Dorothy "imagine" them names like "Gladys" and "George"? If this is the case, then Elmo's mom probably looks like Mama Cass or Suze Orman or someone equally improbable. Muppet Wiki, you have really failed.

It seems to me that George's parental rights are being denied here, and if I were him, I'd quit paying my child support, too. I'm just saying.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Bear, Please!

Parent teacher conferences are barely over. Matt's out of town til Sunday. Sam's running all over town with choir and rehearsals for "A Christmas Carol." He gets to play the spooky kid "Want" who sits on the grave at the end of the play :-) I have a mountain of planning to do and lamination to cut out. And a million things to return to Old Navy. So weekends are not so much, well, anything but running around.

But that's not why I'm blogging today. Today I'm blogging about Bear. Not just any bear. Bear. See, Molly has had the great good fortune or misfortune (depending on your perspective) of landing in a TV obsessed family. We watch a lot of television. And so does Molly. Our DVR is filled with old "Daily Shows" and "Mad Men" and "Sesame Streets." Something for everyone. But Molly is a discriminating television viewer. She won't watch just anything. But the things she loves, she LOOOOOOOVES. And she wants to watch them again and again.

It started with "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." She calls both shows "Obama," and she's generally perfectly happy to sit through them. Because she's got a finely-honed satirical comic sense.

But lately, things have gotten more stratified. We have hours of "Sesame Street" on the DVR. But recently, we discovered an episode where Oscar the Grouch is the anchor of GNN--"Grouch News Network"--and he goes around Sesame Street looking for the yuckiest, grouchiest news. Specifically, he discovers that Horatio the Elephant is stuck in Maria's bathtub. Molly has watched this episode so many times--hell, we've all watched it so many times that we can reenact it--but Molly's watched it so many times, that as soon as we pull up to the house after we pick her up from daycare her first words are "More Oscar Pleeeease." We have tried other episodes of "Sesame Street," but nothing is acceptable. Even the episode where Gilbert Gottfried is "Denny the Distractor" and his job is to distract Telly, who was trying to recite the alphabet as a contestant on Guy Smiley's game show.

But it doesn't stop there. A couple of weeks ago, we watched an old episode of "Teletubbies," featuring a little Punch-and-Judy-type Italian handpuppet who runs around a house and sings, badly from the windows in an operatic voice. Molly calls him "Bear." She loves "Bear." She thinks "Bear" is the best, most entertaining singer she's ever heard. She would watch and re-watch "Bear" for hours, if we let her. "Bear" even caused a major blowout between Emma and Sam, because Sam got really sick of "Bear" and he accused Emma of goading him by continuing to play "Bear" for Molly. When Molly watches "Bear," and he's done singing she cheers "Yay, 'Bear'!" Or she says "Oh, 'Bear,'" with a kind of affectionate mock-exasperation, like "what have you gotten yourself into now, 'Bear'?"

But really, I can't even do "Bear" justice in a description. You really, truly, have to see him for yourself:

You can see the appeal.

It's mutated from there, of course. Now Molly's really gotten into all the opening theme songs for the shows the rest of us watch. She likes the part of "The Simpsons" where Homer says "'Doh!" so she says "More 'Dope'" and we watch that over and over. Sam and Emma like to yell "Gone!" at eliminated contestants in the opening credits of reality shows so now we watch "More 'Gone'" at the start of "America's Next Top Model." She discovered the theme music for "Mad Men" where the guy's falling, and so now we have to watch "More Song." The other night we had to watch "More Opening" to see the title credits of "The Office" 3 or 4 times. It's a wonder we get to watch anything at all. :-) Perhaps that's her diabolical plan.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Well, I think it's funny.

Molly has a little toy, one of those popper things where there are like six pop-up doors and each one opens with a different switch or button or key or whatever. And out of each door pops a Sesame Street character. And Molly LOVES LOVES LOVES Sesame Street. So she tongue-kisses all the characters when they pop out. Which is pretty funny to watch. Ernie comes out of one door, and Bert comes out of a different one. But she calls them both "Bernie." Which makes sense, I suppose, but I still find it really amusing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Heard It Here First

Sam has been obsessively analyzing and re-analyzing the electoral map for the last month now. Here are his latest electoral college projections.

Obama: 299

McCain: 149

With 79 electoral votes too close to call.

As I write this, only 2 states have been called: Kentucky for McCain and Vermont for Obama. Sam's got Virginia. Nevada, and Colorado going Obama. He's got Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Kansas, and Indiana as toss-ups, too close to call.

Let's see how Sammy's projections hold up as the night goes on. Here at the Cibula house we have the champagne and the root beer floats ready.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


It's late and I need to plan for school tomorrow, but I thought it important to get these Halloween pictures up for anyone at all who's reading this.

Emma did in fact dress up at Sarah Palin. We followed the costume suggestions of and bought a pair of magnifier glasses at Target. Only problem was that they left everything blurry for my 20/20-visioned daughter, so she had to wear them down her nose as we walked house to house.

I got worried that Molly's tutu would leave her too cold as we walked around, so I got a last-minute costume at Old Navy and Molly went as FiFi the Pink French Poodle. We inaugurated it a few days before Halloween with a trip to Whole Foods, but people there thought she was dressed up like a pig. Nevertheless, it was stunning. Polar fleece, so she was toasty all night long, and sickeningly cute. Molly LOOOVED it and didn't want to take it off. The costume won't fit her next year, so I'm trying to figure out other excuses for Molly to wear a big puffy French poodle outfit. Maybe Christmas?

Sam did, in fact, go as the Global Banking Crisis. He wore a pair of pants with a big hole in the knee, holey socks (which no one could see, but they helped him get in character) and a too-small t-shirt, with his new Bat Mitzvah-purchased sportcoat over the whole thing. He had me draw 5 o'clock shadow on his face. So people thought he was a hobo. But he was so much better. And if you were paying attention, he was carrying a red folder marked "MY STOCK PORTFOLIO" that said inside: "AIG: 22%, Lehman Brothers: 40%, Merrill Lynch, 38%."

All in all, a very successful costume night. We went out trick-or-treating with my high school friend Ellen's family, who were visiting from Paris and her sister, Laura's family, visiting from D.C. Ellen's daughters were a vampire witch and a black cat, and they wore their costumes til Sunday, which was pretty fabulous. Laura's son was Blue (of Blues Clues). Molly thought the whole concept was fantastic--the idea that you could stand on people's doorsteps and they would put bowls of candy out for you was pretty glorious. Laura's son, who's 3, was ready to move in with some of the neighbors--after all, free candy!

Of course, the night wouldn't be complete if I didn't feel guilty about something. We had to start trick-or-treating late because Emma and Sammy had piano lessons. So even though it was a PERFECT night to be out (the best weather we've had in, like, ever, here in Madison, home of the chilly, rainy, sleety Halloween) the candy yield was pretty small. So yes, I'm feeling guilty that my kids didn't get ENOUGH candy, despite the fact that the candy they got, was plentiful enough to make them sick and put them into sugar comas. And yes, I realize that I'm crazy. Thanks for asking.

Gov. Palin and the Banking Crisis. Note the pageant stance. Sam is dejected because, well, what's to be happy about when you're the banking crisis?

Emma's paper sash reads "Miss Wasilla." She had to practice the wink.

Molly at her preschool for the Halloween parade.

In character, on the floor.

Seriously, who wouldn't be stylin' in a suit like that?