Thursday, February 16, 2012

Storytellers – The Secret Life of Father

When my husband’s family sits down and tells tales about growing up, it sounds like they are summing up old Leave it to Beaver episodes. They most they ever got up to were hijinks – even shenanigans would be stretching it. The one story that involves even a touch of violence involves my own husband (his sister, and an aborted Christmas shopping trip), and even that was pretty tame.

When my family sits down to tell stories, they involve mistaken identities, secret lives, ghosts, UFOs, belly dancers, and stalkers.

This brings me around to this past Sunday. My parents, the husband, the two monsters and I all attended a birthday party for some extended family. During lunch, while the kids played indoor kickball I decided it was a perfect time to ask my dad some delicate and probing questions about his past. It seemed like as good a time as any, really. (Some things must remain private, even on this blog but, to those of you who like soup – the answer is yes – and three.) However, during this inquiry, some startling revelations come to the foreground.

First and most intriguing – my father may actually be my uncle.

While this may appear to be a tale ripped straight out of a crappy daytime talk show, it is actually much more innocent than it seems. It’s not like my mom cheated on my dad with my uncle. It’s just that she might have actually been shagging my uncle all along. See – that’s much less disturbing. I know you are picturing a family moment that must have been fraught with tension and high drama. This is obviously quite the revelation. Instead, I actually had to call my husband over because I couldn’t stop laughing and I needed someone else to listen to the insanity.

You see, when my father and his identical twin brother were born, my grandmother could not tell them apart. For months, she kept their baby bracelets on as their only means of identification. One day, during a doctor visit, he removed them. From that day forward, no one ever had any idea which one was which. Eventually, one name stuck to one boy and one name stuck to another, but it’s really only a 50/50 chance that the right twin wound up with the right name. Considering that they could (and did) have passed for each other well into middle age, I have no doubt that as infants, it would have required CSI-level of forensics to differentiate between them. My poor, slightly addled grandmother never stood a chance.

Then I found out that my dad was actually a long rifleman for the SWAT team.

This one was not a surprise to my husband. Not because my dad took him outside while we were courting and had a talk with him while he cleaned his guns, which would have been funny but completely out of character, but because we have a picture of my dad standing in full gear holding said gun. Before you think I’m a complete idiot, his vest didn’t say SWAT, I can’t tell a toy gun from a real one, let alone the type and caliber like my husband can (he once worked for a major gun maker) and the word SWAT was never once mentioned in my home. Not once. Not ever. I always thought that picture was sort of the cop equivalent of a school yearbook picture – you know, they put you in all the gear just for the photo. My parents believed he should leave his job at work and so it was never, ever discussed. Imagine how much more entertaining dinner would have been if he had told us true stories about his day! Instead, all I ever heard was that he spent his day washing trucks. While this was true to some degree, the “trucks” in questions were all crash/fire rescue vehicles at a major international airport – and he probably was just cleaning the blood and soot off the tires.

The final revelation about my father related directly to me. The house I grew up in was an old Cape Cod, with the master bedroom downstairs and two, small bedrooms up in the dormered attic. I had one, my sister the other. When I was 12, I abandoned my bedroom, kept my clothes in laundry baskets in the basement, and slept exclusively on the couch in the family room. To this day, I have no memory of what led me to flee my own room. So, during the birthday party, I asked my parents. My mother remembered that I told them I saw a demon with red eyes. When I asked what led them to believe such a strange story, my father, a tad sheepishly replied,

“That’s because I accidentally let it in.”


Well of course, that explains everything.

You see, one night, my father heard someone open the gate outside the house, re-latch it, walk up to the front door, and knock. My dad, thinking someone was at the door, opened it. No one was there. But after that night, I started to report lots of strange activity on the second floor of the house. As I had spent my entire youth seeing shit that would make straight hair curl (and they had always believed me), he soon realized this particular problem was his fault and they let me sleep on the couch. However, we did move out by the time I was 13.

It was, in my family, a logical answer to a logical question. My mother’s only follow-up comment is that she keeps hoping to see the house on Ghost Hunters one day.

So, that was the conversation I had with my father; mistaken identity, secret lives, and demons. And this was just during lunch! The chat I had with my mother about UFOs, stalkers, and belly dancing waited at least until we had cake. You my friends, will just have to wait for the next blog.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Product Testing

This morning, my friend sent out a link to a product so ridiculous, she had to share it. The two of us on the receiving end of the e-mail were incredulous. The three of us then spent the morning trading e-mails back and forth about the absolute lunacy of this particular product. My friends, I will now share the product with you. Warning: this blog is NOT for the faint of heart, the squeamish, or those with penises.

Behold. I bring you the Diva Cup.

It is a menstrual cup. Nothing more, nothing less than an actual cup that you insert into your delicate bits that you then dump, wash, and reinsert every 12 hours. An actual cup!

Let’s get the ball rolling by discussing the name. I hate the word diva. It has been warped and manipulated and tortured out of meaning entirely. A diva used to be a woman who had enjoyed great success, specifically in opera. Now it has become just another code word for bitch. Calling the product a Diva Cup is just saying that women are bitchy when they have their periods, so why not go full out and call the product a Bitch Bucket? At that would be cheeky and while still offensive, it would at least be subversive enough to appeal to a different audience. A Diva Cup is just insulting.

Next, we’ll move on to the packing itself. The box looks like a princess cup, something you would put out for your five-year old at night to rinse with after she brushes her teeth. In no way, shape, or form, does it look like something a woman old enough to have a broken hymen would use. Feminine hygiene products don’t need to be whimsical. We know what we are using them for – the removal of blood. Fairies don’t need to fly out of my vagina when I remove a tampon so can we start using grown-up colors and fonts, please?

Moving on to the actual cup – I certainly hope the box makes it look bigger. Otherwise, I might just add another verse onto Toby Keith’s song about Red Solo Cups. Do you need to be dilated to a certain centimeter before use? The website helpfully offers two different sizes. Model 1 is for women under 30 who have never delivered vaginally or via cesarean. Model 2 is for those over 30 who have. My guess is that both cups are exactly the same size. Michelle Duggar may need a pitcher, but I’m guessing the average woman has an average vagina. It’s why tampons don’t really come in sizes bigger than the width of one finger to the next.

Now let’s discuss cleanliness. According to the website, if you accidentally drop the cup in the toilet, or in any way expose it to unsanitary conditions, you must dispose of it immediately. Not to put too fine a point on it, but isn’t it by its very nature designed for unsanitary conditions? You are also supposed to boil it after every menstrual cycle. How many do you think melt long before anyone remembers that they were on the stove? In the FAQ section, I did love the question about allergies, specifically pertaining to whether the cup is free of tree nuts. Now, having some pretty severe allergies among friends and family, I understand having to ask certain questions. However, what exactly would a tree nut and a menstrual cup have in common? What type of factory would produce both on the same piece of equipment?

The marketing materials discuss how fresh the cup will make you feel and how liberating it will be not to be chained to a bathroom. Perhaps they were wearing their tampons incorrectly because I feel pretty footloose and fancy free when I use one. Besides, almost every woman I know has to pee more often than every 12 hours anyway (some seem to have to go every 12 minutes), so hitting the potty every couple of hours isn’t really that much of a hardship. In fact, it’s pretty much a necessity, even if you just want a few minutes to lock the door and try to play Angry Birds without someone looking over your shoulder.

My girlfriends and I have decided to skip the Diva Cup. While it is getting rave reviews on and seems to have a pretty healthy following, it isn’t my cup of tea. I prefer to drink mine out of something that didn’t get stuck up my hoo-ha.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What's in Yer Wallet?

This year, I actually had a vested interest in the Super Bowl. I’m a Patriot’s fan, my husband roots against the Giants as a general rule, so we were looking forward to the game. Never have I prayed the Hail Mary so loudly. I guess Gisele’s letter to family asking for them to pray for “her Tommy” didn’t work after all. Ah well. It wasn’t a bad game, but I was pretty underwhelmed by the commercials. I did preview some beforehand (mostly those that showed up on Twitter or Facebook) and jotted down my thoughts during the game. To keep myself honest, I have not checked any media outlets to gather their view. Besides, I was too busy reloading David Beckham for H&M. Onto the show!


The Bark Side: Volkswagon Teaser: I watched this commercial at night, in bed right before I charged my phone for the night. I laughed so hard I woke up my husband. Twice. I love it. I love the subtle costuming of the dogs, the AT-AT zooming in at the end, and the fact that you really have to pay attention at first to catch that it is the Imperial March. It doesn’t sell anything. In fact, the only thing the ad says is that Volkswagon paid a lot of money for the rights to Star Wars and wants to make sure it uses them, but it makes me giggle every time I play it.

The Dog Strikes Back: Volkswagon: The dog is cute. The dog working out to get slim enough to chase the hot car is cute. If they had cut the commercial where it fades into the Mos Eisley Cantina at the line, “The dog was funnier than the Vader kid,” and left it there, it would have been a great nod to last year’s commercial, allowed Volkswagon to use its rights to Star Wars stuff once again, and been just a bit subtle. The true geeks would be able to name the character and the rest of the world would at least recognize the setting (minus the TV screens, though with all the extra crap Lucas has thrown into those movies, he might have added them above the bar by now.) But no, they had to bring in Vader and we all know that Vader wouldn’t be caught dead in such a wretched hive of scum and villainy. It is way too low-brow for him.

Acura –Seinfeld/Leno: I have two problems with this ad. First, what does Seinfeld get out of this? Money? Doesn’t he have enough? Creative satisfaction? Bullshit. You want to be creatively fulfilled and make money – go on tour! Otherwise, stay off my TV. Second, why are two mega-rich celebrities, both known for being class car collectors fighting over a measly Acura?

Ferris – Honda CRV: Bueller? Bueller? I still send that exact text message to my husband when I don’t get a response quickly enough. However, where was Cameron? Just like we all noticed that a CR-V is not a Ferrari 250, we all noticed Alan Ruck was missing from the commercial. Somehow, I don’t think that is what the agency had in mind.


Audi – So Long Vampires: Can I drive that car to Forks? I have some vamps I’d like to dust. I would also love to see Buffy drive that car. In fact, next year, I’d love to see Buffy in that commercial.

Chevy – Apocalypse: I liked all the nods to past apocalyptic movies, even the obvious nod to the everlasting Twinkie. Self-reverential is always funny; that’s why the Best Buy ad was funny. Letting the audience connect the dots is always better than force-feeding them the information.

Budweiser – Prohibition: I don’t think that’s exactly how the bootleggers and mobsters remember the end of their careers. Somehow, I don’t think Nucky was cheering in the streets.

Teleflora: Yeah, if we all looked like that, our husbands wouldn’t forget about Valentine’s Day. When I asked my husband if he knew the name of the model, he could only come up with “the future ex Mrs. Insert Last Name” line. If they had played that back-to-back with the H&M ad, Neilson ratings would have gone through the roof.

The Voice: Dear NBC, Thank you for no longer trying to “introduce” Katherine McPhee. Considering her stint on American Idol was a full decade ago, I was getting really tired of screaming at my television every time that particular title card appeared. Also, please stop telling me that I have never seen anything like it before. I have, it’s called Glee. I’m just hoping your show will pay attention to plot, characterization, and tone. That would make it new!

Fiat - Abarth – You may never forget the first time you see it, but it’s because you’ll think it’s a Beetle.

Coke – Polar Bears: The concept was cute, but the animation fell flat. The Coca-Cola Company has a lot of money. They couldn’t hire better talent?

Metlife - Cartoons – Look, if you are going to pay for the rights for dozens of cartoons, don’t just briefly flash them on the screen. It doesn’t make financial sense. I’d rather my life insurance company uses those funds to pay better premiums. Stick to Snoopy, at least I know you are getting a bulk rate for him.


The Dictator - Ugh. That is what I say to Sasha Baron Cohen. When the best you can do is a Kardashian joke, the best I can say about it is “ugh.”

Avengers – Bring. It. On. Written and directed by Joss Whedon. Starring, well, everyone. Yeah. I'm flying my geek flag high for that one.

G.I. Joe – What happened to the career of Bruce Willis? He used to be A-list. Now, he’s stuck doing sequels to crappy action movies and sharing second billing with the Rock. While I realize he has done plenty of Die Hard movies, at least he starred in all of them. He wasn’t even in the first G.I. Joe movie! Not only that, but in G.I. Joe: Now With Even More Explosions top billing goes to Channing Tatum, a man far better known for his abs than his acting. How the mighty have fallen.

The rest of the bunch: Battleship looks awful, just loud and obnoxious. John Carter of Mars spent more time highlighting the Disney logo than the plot, always a bad sign. The Lorax trailer showed a host of characters, but not one of them looked like the Niffler, odd since he is one of TWO characters mentioned in the book. And where were the rest of the movies? Where was The Hunger Games trailer? You know, one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year? There were not a whole lot of summer tentpole movies highlighted this Super Bowl. The commercials that were shown, well, none of those made me want to do anything but fast-forward. Not good, marketing geniuses, not good.


If we are going to drag out Madonna doing all her old hits, then can’t we just get Lady Gaga to sing her new ones? Watching Madonna “Vogue-ing” to a Roman Gladiator theme, then switching to a cheerleader routine (still in toga) while those poor backup dancers had to physically push and pull her through the cartwheels was painful to watch. (Did anyone else notice Cupid randomly flitting about? No? Just me? Ok, carry on.) In fact, her whole routine, with its terrible lip-synching, ridiculous costuming, and her odd facial contortions was remarkably similar to watching the talent portion of a toddler glitz pageant. Then of course, she had to bring out the gospel choir. Is there anything more overused than a gospel choir (besides CeeLo Green)? I’m going to ignore M.IA. and Nicki Minaj. I think it’s just better that way.


Yes, I ignored some commercials entirely, such as Doritos, and Bud Light, and about a dozen car companies (Does anyone actually buy a car during the Super Bowl?) but that is mostly because I thought they were so boring, they didn’t even register. It was yet another year where Oscar winner Adrien Brody makes a commercial, but doesn’t make a movie. Dude, get a better agent. I was sad for Elton John as well. He is the King of Pop. He should never be dethroned for an Aretha wannabe and a mere soft drink. Clint Eastwood for Detroit scared me. John Stamos shilling Greek yogurt amused me. At least he’s Greek. However, I could watch David Beckham for H&M on repeat. No, my husband won’t look like him if I buy those trunks, but damn, I might buy them anyway, just in case. Now that’s successful advertising!