‘Tis the season to be snarky

Public-service announcement: Given that you’re all probably writhing in disappointment that I didn’t catalogue Little House’s hilariously blatant anachronisms in full below, I point out that others have gotten there first, and funnie. Here’s the most excellently ranty essay I’ve read on the subject yet.

Albeit it leaves out the one I especially liked: at the blind school, Mary presents her visiting parents with a (quite obviously modern) layer cake she made all by her little self — "I know it’s lopsided, but then my cakes were always lopsided!" D’awwwwww… um, wait. Just how much sugar, butter and white flour was available to a dirt-poor family on the 1880’s prairie, anyhow? Mary was sixteen when she went to the blind school.
I always figured that for what it cost to subsidise his daughter’s baking career Pa could easily have afforded that addition he never put on his two-room shanty. Carrie & Grace probably cursed those cakes with their dying breaths.

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Otherwise, it’s Sunday, kinda cloudy, and I got nothin’. Except maybe relief that Hallowe’en is over for another year… another sweet, blissful year of not having to watch the neighborhood struggle with fake cobwebs.
Seriously. We are unclear on exactly why this particular decor choice bugs us more than, say, the plastic skeletons with cheery-boutonniere-wearing-tarantulas in their eye sockets; we only know that it does. It may be the sheer laziness of the thing. "Hey, Bob, we just string this-here stuff onto the hedge and whoooo! Looks spooky!"

No. No it does NOT. It looks like you voluntarily decorated your house in huge wads of dryer lint. Dryer lint is not spooky. STOP DOING THAT.

We also feel the need to point out the seasonal nastiness over on ‘realistic’ comic strip For Better or For Worse. We do not currently celebrate the holiday chez Shoe, of course, but this particular strip we see more as perpetrating crimes against childhood generally. Also we just like ragging on FBoFW whenever possible.

Honestly. ‘Honey, I’d like to throw the rest of that candy away now’? On the morning after Hallowe’en? The hell? Not only is Elly confiscating the candy pile before the poor kid’s even got through the good stuff (which, to a kid being confronted with that choice, is all of it, homemade popcorn included), she’s forcing him to admit it’s ‘the right thing to do’?!

Pre-enrollment as Witnesses, great ceremony attended the post-Hallowe’en candy sort chez Shoe — Shoemom even gave us tips on how to rank the pieces, albeit not necessarily helpful ones. ("You’re not gonna eat those brown molasses kisses? We had those when I was a kid! Those are the best ones!")
At any rate, once sorting and trading was over, the brown kisses were handed over to Shoemom en masse after one sample — leading to Dark Suspicions of her motives — and the rest was left to us. If we gorged ourselves right away, we only had ourselves to blame for the consequences; but interestingly enough, we more often saved them. I think we were overwhelmed by the responsibility of it all. Having all the candy you want, to a little kid, is Serious Business.

As is nicely illustrated by little Mikey’s content in the last panel, having learned that in order to keep his goodies he must not only whoof them down like hyenas on the veldt, but lie, cheat and steal to and from trusting family members. "Survival of the fittest… and besides, it’s fun!"

All of which is the longform version of: Elly may have taken off her pointy hat and nose warts, but she’s still in costume.

Harlan Ellison, eat your heart out… on second thought, nevermind.

In case you’re wondering why Shoemom and sis haven’t been gracing these pages much lately, despite allegedly living with me, fear not. It’s only that Shoesis has lately acquired Season Seven of Little House on the Prairie, and the two of them are currently eye-deep in the amber waves of schmaltz.

We all watched this show as kids. Some of my fondest preteen memories involve the weekly episode, a big bowl of popcorn, and permission to stay up to 9pm, to watch TV in my parents’ queen-sized bed, oh, bliss!
Then, after awhile you would start noticing that life on the prairie was possibly getting kinda sucky… but that was OK, it was historical and stuff. Then, you’d catch yourself keeping a running tally of Rotten Things That Somehow Kept Happening to Mary… but you’d still be able to convince yourself that Grace wasn’t really using her baby to beat out the window during the fire at the blind school. Barely. This is the strange power that Michael Landon held over TV viewers, and it is awfully hard to explain to the young’uns today.

"A frontier dude with a perm?" they snort. "Striding around his prairie Hell, sobbing like a Robert Bly wet dream?" You do not hear the rest, because they are too busy racing to TWoP to record their delight. You are frankly kinda glad to be rid of the little whippersnippers.

But there finally came the ep where Albert’s teenage girlfriend got raped by the guy in the clown mask, and you were faced with one of those defining road-forks of childhood: to continue believing that the prairie dude with the perm had all the answers — in which case you were rewarded with an ep in which he literally called down fire from heaven to heal his dying son on a mountain altar — or to have your sentimentality circuits shorted permanently. Picking interestedly at the scar optional, but funny.

That I am not even allowed in there now, watching a couple more sniffly orphans see their parents killed in yet another wagon wreck, should be a pretty good indication of which camp I ended up in.

Still… occasional apparent psychotic breaks aside, there remains something endearing about the Landon mythos. Even the most fraught eps were wholesome, in that they were so completely innocent of any desire to hurt. I don’t think there’s ever been a media figure so totally unable to tell where drama ended and camp began; the sheer sincerity of it all loops back around on itself, meets the man’s undeniable charisma, and becomes something almost hypnotically entertaining.

Frankly, I enjoyed this iteration of the Seventies Sensitive Male a whole lot more than Alan Alda’s brittle, knowing version. Both were almost hysterically out of place, both operated off a deeply flawed sense of mission, both evolved series so inner-directed that they resembled therapy sessions… but Landon’s was about the flaws, and Alda’s the fastidious shame of having them. Obviously (one series lasted nine years, the other eleven) both models resonated with large segments of the public; I guess it’s another of those polarizing things.

…When I figure out what it all means, I’ll let you know.

Son of kitteh picspam III: Enter the dragon

…or, more accurately, enter our adult cat, Dolly, with whom kitteh has established a relationship not unlike the one in that Looney Tune with the big bulldog and the eager little mutt. Complete with happy bounces across the living room: "We’re pals, ain’t we, Dolly? Yup, you and me, right?"

Meanwhile of course, Dolly is throwing me pleading looks like "Do you really hate me this much?" I am not thinking there is much maternal instinct there. She finally snapped the other night and raised a threatening paw… which Jasmine promptly charged like it was the best toy she’d seen in weeks. Next thing you know they’re in a full-on game of Whack-a-Groupie. It was hilarious.

However. If there is one great leveller in the feline world, one language they all understand, it is: sleep. Big kittehs, bitty kittehs, get them dozy enough and it’s warm fuzzies all around – literally. I don’t wish to get into cliches here, but it does strike me that a bit of Sleep-Eze mixed into the water supply of, say, Syria would not hurt international tensions any.

Cozy cuteness under here…

More kitteh picspam!

Look, yes, I know I should be writing on more adventurous topics. I really should. Like for instance, that time I wrote about filling in for my supervisor, and got my first taste of management, and how that was pretty cool? Yeah, well, my buyer has been travelling in New York all this week. Also the department planner is in Europe somewhere. Probablygorging on good beer and schnitzel right now, the fink.

Anyway, this left yours truly alone to hold down the fort…rather in the manner of Custer at Little Big Horn. Really. Vague delightful visions of cool efficiency and calm authority vaporised the first damn day. Which, incidentally, was Tuesday, thanks to the stat holiday.

So there I was, alone on the Dark Side of responsibility. Past weeks of being friendly and helpful when I had the time to be all came home to roost. Everything was a problem. Nothing had a simple solution, nobody could intuit anything; they all needed me to find it out and spell it to them in turn, generally using words of very few syllables, if the drift is clear.
I churned out Monday’s late reports and created SKUs and sorted routing issues for new vendors and sourced contacts for other new vendors’ packaging questions and tried to figure out why the report numbers didn’t match for other vendors and returned samples and tracked down missing samples and fended off another new vendor’s anxious questions about when their contract would be finalised…

…and it goes without saying that all of this needed to be attended to RIGHT THEN AND THERE or the world would naturally come to an end. It’s funny in hindsight, how your priorities get screwed up in retail admin. People are dying, wars are raging, Lindsay Lohan still has a career, but you delay one lousy day off approving a PO for sparkly tops and it’s like, Atlas wobbles.

All of this, mind, while battling a raging case of PMS. Oh, and a course of Louisa May Alcott. Why I thought rereading the Marches’ saga would be a good idea at this point I do not know. Hanging around actual Transcendentalists must’ve been just an incredibly annoying experience, back in the day. "Now, now, Shoe; impatience is your greatest fault, of which I’ve made a helpful list. No, don’t thank me; too many young women have gone astray through want of a helpful word to guide them through a proper understanding of their duty…"
 

Yea-ahh. By Thursday, I had just about got caught up to the point where I could actually consider starting any of the projects I’d planned. By end of day today, my stomach was knotting every time I even thought about checking my email. I ended up hiding in an upstairs lounge, playing Gem Drop. It was pitiful.

So, this weekend? Is all about the R&R. I refuse to even consider the possiblity of serious thought until Monday. And this is where having a smart, sweet, curious, just overall incredibly cool new kitten comes in just incredibly handy.

Soothing kitteh-ness coming right up…

The cuteness! It…is kinda soft & nice, actually.

So the official Cutest Kitteh Evar came home last night as scheduled. (Just as a minor parenthetical coolness, her first home was on Degrassi Street. Which yes, is a real little residential enclave tucked away down near the lakeshore, in Riverview neighborhood. OK, it’s actually spelled DeGrassi in RL, but still. Neat, no?)

I haven’t been able to catalogue too many details as yet, because while being a model kitteh in most respects Jasmine is still very skittish about being approached by people who are manifestly not her mommy, no matter how many times they try to tell tell her so. So our relationship thus far has consisted of kitteh playing and exploring, and me watching totally fascinated from a respectful distance.

But I knew the moment I put her down in my room that this was my destined pet and no other. Because a short while later I came back and found her curled up on the bottom shelf of my bookcase – not on the shelf, but up on the books themselves. Having first scritched and nuzzled a bit, making herself perfectly comfortable:

Rampant adorableness under the cut…

When the going gets rough/just shop with somebody tough

It’s been an interesting week for rampant consumerism, here @ Shoe Central:

I got a new cell phone! *cuddles phone*. It’s a Blackberry Pearl flip (I have this thing about exposed keyboards; given the chaos that is my purse, there’s a real chance of accidentally dialling Uzbekistan in there). The back part is pink, since that was the only colour they had, but the flip is black, so my self-respect is OK.

Almost as much fun as discovering how far cell technology has advanced in three years – and gosh, hasn’t it been a lot – has been watching Shoemom discover the same thing. Took her three full days to get past the welcome screen. First thing she found after that was: the camera. Somehow it’s never the things you think they’ll be excited about, is it?

"Hey, over here! Cheeeeeese!" [clik!] "Oh, shoot, hit the button too soon."

"MOM! This is – is that my butt?!"

"…yeah, sorry. Where did you say the delete button was again?"

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I got new SQUARE-RIMMED glasses! *loves glasses* They are PURPLE! There is PERSONALITY! There is even a discreet bit of SPARKLY! I am just so incredibly thrilled to have finally joined the new facial fashion millennium! Can you tell?!

In other face-related news: MAC cosmetics. Demo in our office atrium. VERY flattering salespeople. Thus I am now staring across the dresser at a Look in a Box; everything I need to create ‘Sweet Tease’ on this heretofore totally naked mug. Wondering how on earth I’m going to learn to apply mascara well enough to justify $80. Currently, I am tossing around ideas involving something I once read about 19th-century women and permanent cosmetic tattoos.

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–The itteh bitteh kitteh comes home on Saturday night. As alert readers may recall, Kitteh was going to be called Jemima, but the mental images re: offensively anachronistic pancake pitchwomen proved finally too weird. So kitteh is now, once and forever: Jasmine. *squeezes Jasmine and calls her…oh, never mind*

Anyway, this is going under Consumerism, Rampant, because frankly the pet industry – as represented on the Net at least – is really harshing my mellow here. All I wanted was some quick advice on settling a kitten in a new home, and suddenly it’s like I’m Madonna and they’re the entire Malawian government. I can understand protective outrage to an extent, but the blanket assumption that every wannabe pet owner is an irresponsible twit who’s never before taken care of another living creature…yeah, a bit much.

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So anyway. The garbage strike is (almost) over – it would be over now, except Shoemom wisely restrained me from going down to City Hall upon notice of delay and holding the union leaders’ heads in a used litter tray until they sobbed for mercy – the weather is heating up, the new stuff is new…here it is August, and summer’s just starting.

“And her voice is what keeps me here…”

It occurs to me that I’ve never actually explained how Shoemom and I came to live together. The whole ‘living with your parents’ stigma isn’t as much for daughters as it is sons (and I am appropriately grateful that I’ll never see myself in a Will Ferrell character). But it it probably does still leave some readers wondering.

The short version is that when Shoedad left he stranded her with no other option. Certainly no financial ones.

It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to make money, you understand; it was his ability to keep it that was decidedly erratic. His lavish generosity was legendary – partly out of a natural gregariousness, and partly from a desperate need to ensure that people liked him in return. When things were good his family shared in the largesse; when they weren’t, his friends were still taken care of in full, and we took the brunt of his frustration and failure. This had the effect of throwing my parents’ marriage a bit…off, at the best of times.

This, as Shoemom explains it, is what women did back then: they got married. And it was Shoedad who finally walked out, twenty-odd years and three daughters later, when – to summarise a long and fraught story you really don’t want to hear – the same Christianity he had introduced Shoemom to meant he might himself have to face up to his own consequences. Save occasional mutterings about ‘we really need to talk…’ he dropped completely out of our lives fifteen years ago, leaving Shoemom to completely rebuild hers.

By God, she has. With the help of her family and her own strong faith, she relearned step by step how to be a person in her own right. It’s been a tricky business for her daughters – who are also our father’s daughters, after all – balancing our need of our mother, while at the same time reassuring her that it was totally, absolutely OK to say no to us, that her own wants had priority, her ideas and tastes were deserving of respect. An awful lot to ask, both of naturally self-centred young adults and the mom who’d spent her life catering to us in ways we were only dimly beginning to understand.

But we all managed to rise above in the end. She saw my one sister married, moved in with the other and worked for nearly a decade with her cleaning homes. She took an increasingly active role in her congregations, making friends, learning to understand and accept her role in the past…swallowing hurt at the sight of happy couples.

As my respect for her courage – and understanding of her reasons – grew, a friendship sprang up between us, over and above what we owed each other. Thus when five years ago Shoesis decided to move out, just as I was looking for a room-mate to help cover my move back to the city, the saga of My Mother, My Best Friend, and Could We Please Figure Out How That Works Before We Kill Each Other was launched.

Soppy tribute commences under the cut…

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