Why So Blue?

After I stopped laughing, I thought, “No, illiteracy is serious.”  Because, as one parent so accurately stated on Urbanbaby.com, “It’s all fun and games until you realize your second-grader can’t read.”  So true.  You pay $32k a year for school, you expect something more than really super self-esteem.  Reading, for example, is kind of important.

My friend sent me the NY Post article about the Blue Man Group’s progressive charter school for rich illiterate kids.  For more hilarity on this, see The Gateway Pundit’s take.  Don’t get me wrong, children failing to meet even the minimum NYC public school standards is just sad.  One mom put it this way, you have to try hard to be worse than public schools.  But it doesn’t matter anyway, it’s not like Blue School students can read this, and I doubt they taught “irony” during reflection time.  It’s just such an abysmal commentary on the progressive ideal of childhood education.  Which is why The Sunshine Academy comes to mind.  I’d like to think these parents were slightly more aware than Lindsay and Tobias Funke, but maeby not.

Here’s the NYT’s description of the school: “From the beginning, the founders wanted to incorporate scientific research about childhood development into the classroom. Having rapidly grown to more than 200 students in preschool through third grade, the school has become a kind of national laboratory for integrating cognitive neuroscience and cutting-edge educational theory into curriculum, professional development and school design.”

Contrast that with Thomas Jefferson’s ideas about education.  That there is “a direct correlation between literacy, citizenship and successful self-government,” and, “With literacy came knowledge and discernment and with these came the means of safeguarding self-government and independence.” Because, “He saw literacy as a liberating and transforming force the equalizer for the masses and the essential mechanism necessary for human liberation.”

Yeah, I can see why no one pays any attention to Jefferson’s stupid ideas about education.  It’s way more fun to go to a school that has no books, or structure, or start time.  Also, science.  Progressive thinking is always right because they have scientifical facts supporting their ideas.  The problem then must be in the failure to communicate clearly to the children, that they really should be reading at this point, because expensive science says they should.  It’s not the school, it’s the stupid kids.

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Moving Advice, List No. 2: The Big Ugly Purge

Before you move, always, always get rid of stuff.  This is Moving 101 Basics.  Deciding how to get rid of stuff can be tricky, because most people assume, incorrectly, that they will “need” the elephantine sized industrial juicer at some point in the future.  You will not.  Just…. shhhhh…. let it go.  I’ve heard all the objections to getting rid of junk, mostly my own.  Remember, clutter is the mind killer, and purging is weakness leaving your house.  The following are parts of the purging process that although not readily apparent at first, will result in a big happy purge in the end.

1.  Cry, because even though you’re getting rid of stuff you’ve completely wiped from memory, and just rediscovered 10 seconds ago, it’s incredibly important and meaningful to you.

2.  Plan ahead for trash, keep, and give away.  Just so you know, the trash pile should be huge, the keep pile should fit in a shoebox.

3. Fight with spouse over what goes in every pile.  This is when you discover there are multiple meanings for trash.

4. Drink.

5. Cry over your kids baby pictures that remind you of all the horrible things you did as a parent.

6. Limit the amount of time you spend “reminiscing” over old stuff you find to about 20 seconds.  Seriously, this is not the time to reflect on life choices, just pick a pile.

7. They won’t pack your food.  All the meats in the back of your freezer can be combined with the 73 cans, and counting, of Cream of Mushroom soup you accidentally keep buying, thrown in a casserole dish, topped with tater tots and called a meal.  It will feed 400 church members for Wednesday night Pot Luck.  It should make up for the time you got drunk at the church picnic.

8.  Tell your kids that Toy Story is a lie and their toys will not be abused by day care children in the Caterpillar room.  Remind them that if they took care of their toys, you wouldn’t have to give them away.

9.  Buy your kids ice cream because you made them cry.

10. Spend incredible amounts of focused energy trying to figure out a way to NOT have to do anymore work, that won’t cost money.

11.  You can see the floor now, you begin to have hope there may be an alternative end to this process that doesn’t include prozac and a polo mallet. (h/t Manhattan Murder Mystery)

12.  With the end in sight, you now start to care way, way less about everything you touch.  It is during this phase that you need to be cautious you don’t accidentally throw out stuff you actually do want.  Like, a letter written by your great grandmother to your grandfather during WWII.  That, you keep.  Or the deed to your house.

13.  Don’t stop, you’re almost done.  This is where the big mistake of, “I’ll finish in the morning,” bites you in the BLEEP.  You won’t finish in the morning.  You won’t go back in that room for seven more days.  You have to push through until the bitter, bitter end.  Until it’s exactly the way you want it for the packers.  Now, I personally, quit towards the end, promise I’ll finish up, and never go back for seven days.  So if you’re like me, it’s important to have someone who will finish the job, working with you.  A closer.  That’s usually your spouse who is a Type A personality with compulsive tendencies.  They are GOLD in a move.  Exploit them.

An Open Letter to My Kids about Prometheus

To my wonderful children,

If you are reading this, it means that Ridley Scott has bludgeoned mommy’s hopes and dreams for a prequel to Alien that didn’t suck, like a Russian clubbing a harp seal, and I am dead, metaphorically.  You see, mommy didn’t want to believe, when she first heard that Scott was making a prequel.  She was convinced Sir Scott was going to BLEEP it up, somehow.  Exactly like he did with Robin Hood.  Which should have been a freakin’ awesome movie!  I mean, how do you ruin, cinematic gold, Russell Crowe as Robin Hood?  Give it an agenda, that’s how.  Which is exactly what Scott did.  He made Prince John not so bad, and King Richard, a jerk, because, crusades.  ALL WRONG.  I digress.

I  was suspicious, and highly skeptical that this was going to be just god awful.  I was right to be cautious.  Remember that, make smart choices first so when you look back, your life isn’t a mountain of poo filled mistakes.  Learn from mommy.  So I’m plodding along not getting sucked into the hype about the movie.  Very comfortable with my position, that it’s all going to be gut rot in the end.  Then it happened, as the opening night came closer, I changed my game, I watched Scott’s interview about the movie. Biggest mistake ever.  It gave me hope, stupid awful horrible hope.  That somehow, this movie might not be so bad after all.  NEVER change your game plan.  People who say, be flexible, learn to adapt, are dumb and wrong.  Always stick to your plan because you’re smarter than everyone else so your plan is just fine the way it is.

I will now go through my Prometheus stages of grieving in painstaking detail:

Stage #1: Tolerance

The movie opens in Scotland, where some smart people with evil corporate money are spending it looking for pretty pictures in caves.  They are called scientists.  It’s nice scenery, so far so good.  Then they find this picture with a guy pointing to five circles, they get all excited because it’s like all the others.  Girl scientist concludes it MUST be an invitation to come visit.  Clearly that’s what this ancient refrigerator art must mean.  Now we are on a ship, because, invitation.  Girl scientist is dreaming about her dad who says God exists because he chooses to believe.  Which is about as clever as saying leprechauns exist because we believe they do.  I’m annoyed at this point.  But, I tell myself, to accept and tolerate the story line.  So it’s not what I would write, that doesn’t make it bad.  Yes it does, but that’s a different rant.

Stage #2: Pissed Off

It took no time at all to get to this stage of my grief.  The movie took a complete nose dive shortly after landing on LV-422 (or something) and finding evidence of the Engineers.  Who as it turns out, made us, and they’re complete jerks.  So yeah, we were made by oversized man-babies.  Who rip heads off people who try to talk to them.  Does every single android in the Alien franchise have to be ripped apart by the end of the film?  Ash, Bishop, and now David.  As if it was somehow less morally offensive to shred an android.  But these things, they are trifles compared to what really stunk about the film.  I angry wrote my thoughts.

               1.  It didn’t have to be Alien, but it also didn’t have to be Alien 3.  I knew Scott wasn’t going to make another Alien, you can’t improve on perfection anyway.  But, I was hoping he would use at least some of the same directorial nuances. Like, don’t show us the entire alien because it looks goofy.  That was why you (Scott) cut him out in the first place, and it was cinematic brilliance.  Or if you are going to show us a bunch of alien stuff, make it not look like slimy rubber.  I don’t know, turn the lights down or something.  Remember this?

                                                                                                                  (source: www.otherlandtoys.co.uk)

And that was in 1982.  I know, you’d think we’d evolved beyond this.  Although, John Carpenter’s The Thing was pretty cool, it was still obviously rubber.  I     could suspend disbelief in 1982, because I was 8, but not in 2012, because I’m 38, and I’ve seen Jar Jar Binx.

                      2.  Leave God out of it, unless of course, you’re doing a movie about God.  But otherwise, it’s obnoxious for the viewer.  No one likes to be told how to think about what’s going on.  We, and by we I mean, I, want to use my own experiences and beliefs to piece together the moral elements, if any, in the story. I was completely robbed of that opportunity when the screenplay hijacked religion and made it some relative concept that was no more meaningful than color worship (See below), and then shoved it into the storyline.

And it never works.  Movies that try to be thoughtful about the existence of God without acknowledging the power of God, fall flat.  Although, someone in the film does raise the question, who created the engineers?  Which could then lead one to consider there may have been a divine Creator somewhere down the line, but it never gets any play in the movie beyond subtext.  Of course, then again, I could be wrong, and I just made up that point because I’m super desparate to find  the upside.  Where is the win in this movie???

                             3.  Corporations are not inherently bad.  How tiring and played out is this idea that Corporation are responsible for all the bad stuff, always?  NOT the alien life form that bleeds acid and is pure hostility, or the uber-humans that hate their creation and want to destroy them.  No, it’s the company that sucks rocks.

                              4.  No woman, I don’t care who she is, can haul a**, run and jump around an alien planet 3 minutes after having a cesarean.  I don’t even need to expand on that thought, because it can’t happen.  As an added bonus on the theme of female superpowers, here’s Helen Redding.

The morale of mommy’s Prometheus experience is simple, don’t care this much about a movie.  I do because I am past being helped.  But for you, my children, there is still time to learn how to read a book.  We have them in the house.  I have spent years discussing at length every aspect of Scott’s original Alien. Why? Because the movie is unique, and it leaves more questions than answers, and I like hearing the sound of my own opinions.

Moving Advice, List No. 1: Remain Calm and Panic Simultaneously

As I prepare to move for the 19th time in my life, I have discovered some things about the process which will be instructive, should you ever find yourself having to move as well.  The following is a list of helpful hints about the initial stages of the moving process; things you will need to do in advance of packing day, or P-Day.  This is gonna teach, so pay attention.

1. Cry, you are moving and this sucks.

2. Drink.

3. Tell every person you know, every time you see them, you’re moving, nothing feels better than ridiculous amounts of unwarranted sympathy from everyone around you.

4. Pray that God may have pity on you and strike you dead, or make you independently wealthy by striking dead an elderly relative who leaves you a killer inheritance.  Don’t judge me.

5. Go through your house and curse all the crap you’ve accumlutated throughout the years.

6. Manically throw stuff away in a fit of rage.

7. Yell at your kids.

8. While in a puddle of tears, apologize to your kids for yelling.

9. Buy your kids ice cream because you’re a jerk and money will solve this problem.

10. Go through your house taking note of all the things you’ve let go to crap over the years, loose door hinges, ripped screens, burned floor boards, closet doors you completely forgot fell off two years ago, etc.

11.  Kick yourself for saying stupid BLEEP like, “I’ll fix this when we move,” because you’re an idiot.

12. Drink.

13. Decide you’ve had too much and put everything off until the week before the packers come.

14. Cry, because you put everything off until the week before the packers come.

15. Remember all the things you forgot you had to do. Such as, informing the school your kids won’t be there next year, two days before schools out.  They love it.  All of your medical and dental records.  Go get those because they’re kind of important.

16.  Decide that you’re going to push through this because there is no alternative.

17. Cry, because there is no alternative.

18. Get up and push through again.

19. Start packing stuff up like a mad person because you think it will somehow make things less awful on P-Day. It won’t, by the way.

20. Take comfort in knowing that as bad as things are right now, they are going to get much worse.