Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today's Delicate Little Flowers

That venerable workhorse of kid's television, Sesame Street, has been released on DVD. For all of us who spent hours watching endless reruns of Bert and Ernie, Snuffalupagus, Big Bird, and the rest in the pre-Elmo age of Sesame Street, this is a fun trip down memory lane.

But the DVDs come with a stern warning that they are for adults wanting to relive their childhood joy, not for children -- the original show is now considered 'inappropriate for current preschoolers'. Huh? "For Grown-ups only".

Apparently, Oscar is too depressed and grouchy to expose delicate little children to, and Cookie Monster promotes obesity and dangerous eating habits (sometimes he ate the plate!) and Big Bird was delusional -- he was the only one to see Snuffleupagus for years. Adults befriended children (stranger danger!) and that odd relationship between Bert and Ernie is too difficult to explain to young ones nowadays. Those early episodes could damage the tender little flowers that are modern preschoolers, according to the uber-protective bunch responsible for Sesame Street today.

How many people here -- from 1969 on -- who watched this every single day ever actually emulated Cookie Monster? How many of us tried to eat the furniture? How many of us were plunged into depression because Oscar was crabby? Go ahead, raise your hands. I'm sure as many as tried to strap ourselves to rockets and cross the grand canyon or dropped anvils on our sister's heads like Wiley Coyote. It seems a few parents out there aren't too clear on the concept of television fantasy vs real-world behavior. I don't remember any kids having those problems (well, I supposed a few thought a kitchen-towel cap could let them fly like Superman)

The Guardian in the UK has expressed this very well -- with a sort of bemused horror that Sesame Street is now a dangerous influence.
It's not the psychedelic nature of the programme in its 70s incarnation that worries, but the behaviour it might encourage. Children dancing in the street! Grown men reading storybooks to kids - for no apparent reason!
Does anyone else think that this is utterly ridiculous? I never realized that children today need to be so carefuly swaddled. When, exactly, will they be exposed to anything that is not Perfect and Sanitized? Are parents no longer capable of talking with their kids about things that are different?

I'm really boggled by the desire (which seems to be peculiarly rooted here in the US) to keep children from learning about or integrating into the normal, ordinary world -- where there are conflicts, difficult situations, chores, consequences, and, well, a ton of people who don't have sunshine streaming out their...well, you know. It's as if everyone believes that a child exposed to a negative "model" will instantly and completely absorb that message to the exclusion of any other. That certainly explains the wrap-em-in-cotton-wool mentality that makes the current producer of Sesame Street say that they probably couldn't even have a character like Oscar the Grouch anymore. That just might be the most depressing thing I've heard in a long time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm back!

Ok, I've been missing for almost three weeks. Sorry about that. Family crisis, holidays, you know the drill.

But this came through in the TT forum today and I just had to post. A quote from Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president:
"Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration," - Mitt Romney
Well, by that logic, Mitt: based on the percentage of Mormons in the US, it then seems obvious that one should not be president.

What an ass.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More Tingo!

Remember The Meaning of Tingo -- that wonderful book that introduced the word uittwaian into the lingo of Chez Phouka? The author has come out with a second volumne -- Tojours Tingo. It's not available here the US yet, as far as I can see. But it's on the list!

You can take a quick quiz at the Guardian site to see how well you can figure out some of the new words.

Monday, November 05, 2007

National Cinnamon Bun Day

I just learned from my mother-in-law that Sweden celebrated National Cinnamon Bun Day on October 4. "This new tradition is just eight years old, and has become a major celebration in the country". No wonder, according to Wikipedia, Cinnamon Rolls were invented in Sweden. I married into the right family, I tell you!

I found a lovely (and possibly authentic) cinnamon bun recipe here. And This Day in History blog claims that riots broke out in 1999 when cinnamon prices rose. Not sure if I believe that one.

You'll be pleased to know that Clemson University includes it on their calendar (although I wasn't able to find the University of MN calendar, so I don't know if that bastion of Scandinavian-ness includes it!). We do have an American National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day (9/16), but we haven't adopted this fabulous holiday (which is celebrated in Finland and Switzerland, too.

Bursting into Song

From a poster on one of the lists I frequent, comes a lovely song about the will-there-or-won't-there-be-layoffs in her office:

To the tune of My Favorite Things

Rumors run rampant and paranoid feelings
Financial cut backs and underhand dealings.
Then go the bennies and overtime pay
I don’t think that I’ll still be here come May.

Dumb stupid books about cheese that is moving
Phoney emails that say things are improving.
“Trust us” they say, “We won’t lead you astray.”
Think I’ll look later for my resume.

Managers drinking and admins are grieving.
IT got word and by droves they are leaving.
Hoping we’ll last past the next holiday.
Somehow I think it won’t happen that way

Gotta show them
In my own way
I am not their clown.
I’ll grab my Swingline and on that last day
I’ll come and I’ll burn it down!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

It's too early to be discouraged, but I really don' t like my Nano novel right now. It's just not going anywhere.

I'm reminded of a quote by Flannery O'Connor:
"I am often asked if I think the university discourages writers; I think it doesn't discourage nearly enough of them."