Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top 15 Video Countdown

Okay, so not to get your hopes up...if you don't have kids, be forewarned that these are all from Sesame Street. That said, there is plenty of crowd pleasing stuff to go around even for the grown-ups. And I know, because I have seen each of these about 800 times. And to be honest, this post is less about sharing the current favorites in our house, and more about maintaining some modicum of sanity by collecting all these links in one place so that I don't have to keep doing random searches on YouTube while my tiny monster claws at the screen and screams "froggie froggie froggie!"


15.) Shake Shake That Mango Tree - who doesn't like a song about mangoes?

14.)  Monster Went and Ate My Red 2 with Elvis Costello and Elmo - this pops up randomly on my daughter's radar.

13.) Deciduous with Ken Jeong - am I the only one who thinks it's weird that "deciduous" was the word of the day? With that metric, it seems "deluge" should have been the word of the day instead of "soggy" on the big flood episode this week. Just sayin'.

12.) Girl Who's Gonna Change the World - the number one video for the past few months. Ah, toddler preferences, how fickle you are - although a month is pretty much an eternity in two year old time. My favorite part is the crazy gavel dance at the end of the judge scene. I have mixed feelings about the song's message (subject of future blog post, most likely) but there's plenty of time to become cynical and "Girl Who's Gonna Slack and Settle" probably doesn't have quite the right inspirational quality to it the video's producers were aiming for.

11.) I Love My Hair - this is just edging out the Girl Who's Gonna Change the World video. Curious to see what happens next week as the two duke it out. In any event, the girl in the video? Winning!

10.) Cling with Jude Law - okay, this isn't a music video, but it does have Jude Law, which is notable since he is the first non-person of color (or maybe I should say first person of non-color? any color) in which my daughter has shown any sustained interest (see: Will.i.am, Bruno Mars, India Arie, Elmo, Cookie Monster, our Indonesian sushi chef in NJ).

9.) Don't Give Up with Bruno Mars - I'm pretty sure we have yet to finish this video, but we watch the beginning a lot because my daughter loves Bruno Mars. If you get to the end, leave a comment and let me know if anything interesting happens.

8.) What I Am with Will.i.am - this is my current favorite. I'm pretty sure my daughter watches it mostly to get my attention because I will always stop and sing it with her. Is it just me, or does it seem likely that Will.i.am got totally baked for this? Also, Bert and Ernie's hair is awesome.

7.) Hot n Cold with Katy Perry and Elmo - is this the dress that got Katy Perry in all the "hot" water with Sesame Street? I guess that my daughter did immediately point at the screen and say "boobies" but as many astute commentators noted, Elmo was totally naked and no one seems to have an issue with that.

6.) ABC Song with Tilly and The Wall - tap dancing, tutus, and mismatched socks? What toddler obsession doesn't this video have? (Okay, nose-picking and poop, but I think that's probably all for the better.)

5.) Somebody Come Play with Me - a little melancholy, but retro cool.

4.) 1, 2, 3, 4 with Feist - a previous number one, but still a big hit.

3.) The Number 20 Song - I find myself singing this all the time. Well, only the refrain. The rest of the song is too fast for my brain to process, although there is some stuff about a bike and baseball. I think. And maybe a bed.

2.) A, B, C with India Arie and Elmo - an oldie, but still a goodie. Apparently Elmo has learned a bit better pronunciation since this first aired. It sounds like he's saying "Livia" or "Lydia" instead of "India." Confusing. But catchy.

1.) African Alphabet with Kermit the Frog and Ladysmith Black Mambazo - I love this one, too. And I love the fact that my whirlwind of a girl actually wants to listen to a calm, chill song. I woke up with this running through my head today and I actually didn't mind.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Well, It Had to Happen Sometime

My daughter just told her first lie. Not the kind of "maybe she doesn't understand what I'm asking" toddler falsehood, but the type of devious, pass-the-buck, "I am totally not telling you the truth" out-and-out big kid fib. I should probably be a bit concerned about where this could lead, however, for the moment I am too busy being delighted, because she used her first blatant brush with mendacity to blame a fart on her father.

We were sitting in bed, reading books, when she passed gas. Now, for those of you who don't spend a lot of time around small children, toddler farts are pretty funny because they are not scaled to size. In other words, totally adult-sounding farts issue forth from cute baby buttcheeks that look like they were made by the same folks who design cupcakes and clouds, and the disconnect is fairly hilarious.

So she ripped this huge fart, and when I asked her "Did you toot?" - again, for those of you who don't spend much time around young children, most conversations with them involves various permutations of stating, questioning, and re-stating the obvious - instead of grinning and nodding and throwing her arms up in a victory gesture like a gymnast who has just completed a very difficult vault, which is her usual response to passing gas, she looked at me with an inscrutable expression and immediately said "no" in the sort of cool, collected tone one might associate with psychopaths or serial killers.

I hadn't been expecting this, since usually she tells the truth about everything - even things that make her look bad or that she knows she shouldn't do - like eating crayons or biting her friends. "No?" I asked her. "Well, then who tooted?" Without missing a beat, she squealed, "Daddy!" When I pointed out that Daddy wasn't at home and asked again who tooted, she yelled "Mommy!" I'm pretty sure if I had kept at it, she would have blithely blamed everyone from her best friend "Bubba" to her stuffed pig "Piggles" to the mailman "Meh Meh." 

We are a gaseous bunch, my family, and we usually own up to our toots. But still, this is the kind of buck passing brilliance that makes me momentarily proud to be her mother. At least she didn't think to blame me first. And I have about a decade or so, I hope, to worry about whether or not this is a skill to be worried about.

So for the moment all I can say is well played, my little liar. Well played. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's Annoying Me Now: Full-of-it Food-Forward

I think the biggest linguistic dingleberry chafing the backside of my tolerance in 2011 was "bespoke." (My apologies to more sensitive readers who may be offended by this metaphor. "Thorn in my side" doesn't quite capture my degree of irritation.) In 2010, it was "foodie." This year, I suspect it will be any term involving the suffix "-forward," as in "fruit-forward," "flavor-forward," and "fashion-forward." (Flash-forward, fast-forward and best foot-forward are all okay.)

It may be the fact that I don't really understand what these terms mean, but I strongly suspect that it is more because they seem precious and unnecessary and don't really seem to mean much of anything in particular, or at least nothing that could not be equally well conveyed in more direct terms. I do not refer to people I don't like as "douche-forward," or an oak tree as "acorn-forward," or my daughter's hair as "curl-forward."

I get the feeling that people who use trendy terms unselfconsciously are also the kind of people who write (or believe) articles decrying brie or chardonnay or spinach artichoke dip as current hostess faux pas, not to mention hopelessly passé. Who threw out the cucumber garnish for the gazpacho shooters and appointed these people the appetizer police? I'm no expert entertainer, and I'm definitely not a very good cook either, but I have eaten a twelve course dinner at the French Laundry, which has to count for something. I've been reading about food trends, and ordering them in restaurants, for over a decade now, and the fact is, I like brie (especially baked with chutney) and chardonnay (buttery, oak-y, and classic) and spinach artichoke dip. You know why? Because they are good.

You don't have to agree with me - there is no accounting for taste - but one woman's Riunite (or Riesling) is another's Gruner Veltliner, and this year's quinoa cakes with fava bean foam will be next year's...wait...is quinoa passé yet? how about fava beans? or foam? I think foam is definitely passé.

My point is: food is good. Eat it. You don't have to stop deconstructing it or reconstructing it or reinventing it, but it would be more polite if certain folks could stop being so ridiculously self-righteous about it. Whether you're more into molecular gastronomy or the McDonald's drive-thru, it's all the same to me. They happily co-exist in my world and I'm not interested in your eye-rolling and expert assements of what is currently passing for awful. Or offal. Heh heh. That's a foodie in-joke!

Of course, I am also the kind of person who drinks instant coffee without complaint and eats caviar with a pink plastic ice cream sample spoon. Clearly, there is no hope for me, trapped as I am in the twenty-seventh circle of culinary hell, suspended indefinitely somewhere between louche and gauche.

But while I'm hanging out there, here are a few more things I am tired of hearing about: "saloumi,""enoteca," "osteria," "house made," and menus with clunky one word declarative titles for dishes like "Salmon" or "Beets" or "Marshmellow" that then go on to list all the additional locally sourced ingredients. I am all for local, I am all for organic, I am all for "ingredient-forward" cooking. But I am done with menus that read like Rachel Zoe stylized shorthand for food. (How maj! That garnish is everything! Need some sunnies!) And don't get me started on house made ketchup. I love funky fresh condiments, but have yet to taste a Heinz alternative that even comes close to the original. If you are going to get all real and retro comfort-style about your restaurant, go all the way and don't skimp on the classics.

Look, I said it before and I will say it again: I'm no expert and I'm no great cook. I'm not proud of that fact. I wish I were better. I wish I cared more. But there's little incentive. My husband is a fabulous cook, my daughter boobytraps whatever random inspiration strikes with inconvenient naps, tantrums, and poops. But I do like to eat - and drink - and I've done a lot of it in places both high and low. You don't have to be a "foodie" to appreciate good food. In fact, you may be able to appreciate it more if you're not so caught up in what you are supposed to be liking right now - or worrying so publicly about where it came from, or whether it's in season, or what other people think about serving it.

It's not like it matters so much at the moment; we haven't been doing much entertaining. I'd like to blame this on the fact that we keep moving around and haven't yet re-made a strong enough circle of friends to throw parties, but it's probably because we are jerks and people don't like us. But maybe - just maybe - it's because we refuse to throw the baked brie out with the bespoke cocktails. Then again, it's my house. I'll serve spinach artichoke dip if I want to. Next thing you know I'll be passing around wine coolers and  spritzers.

How very "fizz-forward" of me.