PJ Lifestyle

PJM Lifestyle

Ultimate Classic Rock Got It All Wrong: Here’s a True Ranking of the Beatles’ Albums from Worst to First

Saturday, June 20th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

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The folks over at Ultimate Classic Rock published their ranking of the Beatles’ albums a couple of weeks ago. God bless them, they tried, but they got it all wrong. So I’m here to set them straight with my ranking. Enjoy!

13. Yellow Submarine (1969)

#13 on UCR‘s list

Yellow Submarine is really only half a Beatles album — the other side is George Martin’s score for the lackluster animated film. Even the half that belongs to the Fab Four contains only four original songs joined by two tunes that appeared earlier. The Yellow Submarine soundtrack really only has value to hardcore Beatles fans.

12. Beatles for Sale (1964)

#12 on UCR‘s list

You can tell on Beatles for Sale that the demands of Beatlemania had taken their toll on John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The weary, somber faces on the cover and the tunes produced on the quick within demonstrate how weary the Fab Four must been at that time. Even though a subpar Beatles album beats most any other artist any day, Beatles For Sale is a noticeable drop from “A Hard Day’s Night,” which preceded this album by a mere 21 weeks.

11. Please Please Me (1963)

#10 on UCR‘s list

Here is the beginning of the Fab Four in all their sweaty, frenetic glory. Soulful, immediate, and exciting, Please Please Me shows the promise of so many great things to come. It’s easy to see how Great Britain — and the rest of the world soon after — would succumb to the charms of the lads from Liverpool.

10. Let It Be (1970)

#8 on UCR‘s list

It’s obvious without even seeing the movie that the Beatles had fractured beyond repair. Graceful moments like the title cut and “The Long and Winding Road,” the band’s final two number one hits, and other magical songs like “Across the Universe” and “Two of Us” fall in between odd tracks, creating a record that’s uneven as a whole. At least closing the album with “Get Back” allows the Beatles to leave on a high note.

9. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

#9 on UCR‘s list

For the Beatles’ 1967 television special Magical Mystery Tour, the band released the soundtrack in an unusual format in the UK — a double-EP consisting of two seven-inch records with three songs each. The U.S. release appeared on an LP with five singles that hadn’t appeared on an album previously added. The TV special songs range from the infamous, inscrutable “I am the Walrus” to the elegant, nostalgic “Your Mother Should Know,” and the addition of the singles prevents the soundtrack songs from being too uneven. Magical Mystery Tour is a pleasant little collection.

8. With the Beatles (1963)

#11 on UCR‘s list

This album is a perfect snapshot of Beatlemania. With the Beatles captures the R&B drenched, ready-for-live-performance vibe of the Fab Four’s early work. The soul covers blend in well with the spirited originals. I dare you: try not to tap your foot or clap your hands. And if you close your eyes, you can almost hear the teenage girls screaming.

7. Help! (1965)

#6 on UCR‘s list

The Fab Four’s second film soundtrack serves as a nice bridge from their lighter-weight early days to the deeper, more experimental stuff to come. Only the first seven cuts appeared in the movie Help!, but the other songs — including the two cover tunes — fit nicely with the soundtrack songs. The Beatles rock nicely on hits like the title track and “Ticket to Ride,” while leaving space for more delicate, acoustic moments like the Simon & Garfunkel-esque “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and the eternally beautiful “Yesterday.” It’s a fine effort for a band at a turning point in its career.

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Kickstarter and the Second Wind of the Paper-and-Pen Role-Playing Game Industry

Friday, June 19th, 2015 - by Moe Lane

kickstarter_rpg_dice_6-17-15-2

Before we get started: normally, articles like this one will attempt to either be clever by over-writing some paen to the roleplaying game “experience,” or else kind of weaken their major argument by trying to evangelize for paper-and-pen role-playing games, or RPGs.  Let’s just skip past both, all right?  If you’re already into RPGs, you already know that it’s a great time to pick up old and new titles; and if you’re not into them, this article will make no particular difference in your decision about whether or not to pick up this particular hobby. So let’s just go into why the RPG industry is, if not a mega-entertainment behemoth, at least no longer slowly strangling to death.

Shockingly — hopefully, this is not actually shocking — it’s because of technology.  More accurately, it’s because of improvements in communication technology.  The most obvious examples? …Well, it’s much easier to both create, and buy/sell, digital content. Not to play the In my day game, but In My Day (the 1990s, essentially) PDFs were clunky and annoying, while PayPal was still waiting for eBay to swoop in and acquire it.  Imagine, if you will, trying to run a digital business without either tool.  No? Well, neither could most of the existing RPG companies. But things are more flexible now, particularly when you consider the rise and market penetration of tablets.

As for physical RPG material… well, there’s crowdfunding.  I’m going to discuss Kickstarter in this context because Kickstarter is currently the dominant player in the crowdfunding industry — and yes, it’s an industry.  Also, Kickstarter is where the most controversy is.

Oh, yes, there’s controversy involved. For those who are still not aware of Kickstarter: it’s a professional fundraising company.  You submit a project, and if it gets approved you have a fixed amount of time to solicit funds. Kickstarter handles all of the technical details of the fundraising itself: if you make your target goal, Kickstarter collects the money and gives it to you (minus its cut). If you don’t, nobody gets anything — but there’s no fee for using the service then, either.  As the company notes, it’s all or nothing.

All of this makes Kickstarter extremely attractive to artists and creators… and celebrities and businesses. As you can see from those two links, people can get incredibly upset over the idea that the service can and is used in a manner that is quote-unquote “inappropriate” (what is actually “appropriate” is not defined, or more accurately, defined differently by everyone involved). There’s also a definite amount of zero-sum thinking, but you get used to that in any endeavor involving people of a certain kind of political ideology.

The counter-argument from businesses? (I don’t really care about celebrity-backed projects, one way or the other.) Simple: funding projects via Kickstarter works. To use just gaming examples: a successful Kickstarter can bring a dead game back to life (Atlas GamesFeng Shui reboot or Chaosium’s Horror on the Orient Express campaign) or guarantee that a new title will run (Arc Dream’s Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man adventure or Monte Cook GamesNumenera game world) or even significantly improve an already-existing project (Steve Jackson Games’ new edition Ogre or Pelgrane Press’s Dracula Dossier supplement). These companies range from brick-and-mortar facilities to folks working out of their houses and rented storage; either way, generating the money beforehand helps give them the ability to stay in business.

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Why Abigail Adams Should Be on the Next $10 Bill

Friday, June 19th, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The feds may not know it yet, but the U.S. Treasury is looking for Abigail Adams.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced Wednesday that in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, the next $10 bill (currently featuring Alexander Hamilton, whose replacement The Federalist ambivalently mourns in this pair of articles) will feature a woman whose image captures the theme of democracy.

To date, only four women’s faces have adorned U.S. currency: Martha Washington, Pocahontas, Susan B. Anthony, and Sacagawea. Other candidates previously floated and currently in the running are Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Friedan, and Margaret Sanger.

But when it comes to representing American democracy on 1.9 billion paper bills, whose image can top Portia’s? (That, in case you missed it, is how Abigail signed many of her letters to John: as the patient wife of the statesman Brutus, whom Shakespeare called the “noblest Roman of them all.”)

It is widely known, although not widely enough, that Abigail was John’s most trusted policy advisor throughout his career. More significantly, Adams’s fellow statesmen knew it, too. Jefferson, for instance, sought her counsel by post and in person.

Abigail lamented with irritation that women were cut out of politics and governing.

She believed blacks equal to whites and was troubled that Jefferson could so eloquently and correctly hold forth on man’s equality while owning slaves.

She grounded her husband, who tended toward philosophical flourishes when pith was needed.

She critiqued much of his writing in draft form, and backed and guided him politically as early as …

  • his defense of the British soldiers accused following the Boston Massacre of 1770;

  • his vital participation in the Continental Congress (for until he persuaded them, the other delegates were reticent to engage while Massachusetts was absorbing most of the Crown’s rage through the Coercive Acts, including a blockade of Boston Harbor);

  • his thankless diplomacy in Holland, France, and England;

  • his authorship of the Massachusetts Constitution (a close model for the U.S.’s);

  • the nation’s first vice presidency (as Abigail insisted that anything less would be beneath him, just as he was preparing to retire from public service); and

  • the nation’s second presidency (which, also thanklessly, saved America from certain destruction from both Britain and Napoleonic France).

Abigail Adams was fiercely independently minded, at times sharply disagreeing with her husband, but usually agreeing with him—largely because it was him who was agreeing with her. She raised five children, weathered tragedy, and earned triumph.

Portia may very well be the first authentically American heroine. Surely that is worth at least a 10-spot.

 

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Stanford Breeds Psychos

Friday, June 19th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

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Both famous and infamous, a 1971 Stanford University experiment recreated the conditions of prison life with volunteers role-playing both inmates and guards. Shockingly, but perhaps not unsurprisingly, when the guards were allowed to brutalize the prisoners things pretty much spun out of control. After six days they had to shut the whole thing down before somebody got hurt.

The movie, released this summer, presents a dramatization of events at the mock prison. But this is far from the first film about the grisly academic affair. There have been a number of documentaries including one by the university.

Nor was Stanford’s prison experiment the first time serious science went pyscho. The “obedience experiments” by Yale scientist Stanley Milgram were even more infamous. The tests, which began in 1961, measured whether subjects could be induced to give a lethal electrical shock to innocent people just because an authority figure said it was alright.

Eventually, even the Ivory Tower figured out conducting human experiments that intentionally inflicted turmoil and anguish might be a bit shady. Research institutions adopted institutional review boards to determine whether research was ethical—before the experiment started.

Given that we know what happens when these things go haywire, it is doubly shocking that modern abuses, such as were inflicted at Abu Ghraib, are ever allowed to happen. How could the Army be so dumb as not to recognize the potential for a toxic environment and not provide more stringent oversight?

Such lessons are worth remembering. When we act inhuman to humans, inhumanity often results.

There is a reason the U.S. Senate just voted to ban torture, even though torture is already against the law. Senators want to again make the statement that no matter how brutal our enemies are, we don’t defeat them by joining them.

Conversely, don’t expect those who act inhumanely to act human just because we treat them nice. So, it is also not surprising that Congress just held a hearing lambasting the administration for its anti-ISIS strategy. Obama’s secretary of State may have thought it’s a good idea to emphasize with our enemies.  Most realists think that’s a dead-end idea. They would prefer we defeat our enemies rather than coddle them. We can act humanely and also be mean and win wars.

In the end, this film about the Stanford experiment reminds us that humans act human.

Let’s confine the horror of inhumanity to stomach-churning films like Hostel, and then let’s just skip those movies.

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15 Things You Can Do to Raise Healthy Kids

Friday, June 19th, 2015 - by Arlene Becker Zarmi
Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

Multiple studies show a positive correlation between parental body image and diet and those of their children. Parents are one of the main influences on whether a child will have a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Children are masters of mimicry — “monkey see, monkey do” is absolutely the rule with kids and parents. So if parents eat well and make sure that exercise is an important part of their lives, their children will most likely follow their example.

It’s so important that you live your life the way you want your children to live theirs. You can’t eat junk food or excessive sweets, or be a couch potato, and then expect your kids to be fit and healthy. It’s the saddest thing when we see young children who are chubby. In almost every case their parents, or at least one of them, are grossly overweight as well. Heaviness seems to be the norm in some families. It is up to you, the parents, to see to it that both you and your children are not overweight.

Here are 15 Ways You Can Be a Healthy Parent With Healthy Kids:

15. Start before your child is even born. Exercising during pregnancy is a great way to keep yourself in shape and feel good. The kind of exercise, and how much exercise you should do, changes throughout pregnancy. Talk with your doctor to decide what is safe for you. And of course, eat well.

 

14. Exercise when they are toddlers. Tri-wheeled strollers are made for running and as they start to comprehend that mommy or daddy — or both — is running, your children will think this is the norm.

 

13. Start your family exercise program as soon as possible. Exercise for children takes many forms, including playing outdoors, going on family walks, riding bikes, or swimming. The most important thing is to get children to move so they are used to it. The more familiar and comfortable they are with it, the more likely they will be to continue to stay active throughout their lives.

 

12. Plan activities that are fun for your children. Family walks, bike rides, pool days, and obstacle courses are all great activities.

 

11. Participate in family sports. Several sports can include family participation for young children, like soccer and tennis, which are sports that many children, as young as three, can participate in to some level. Golf is another sport that many young children can play that teaches important physical skills, like hand/eye coordination.

 

10. Curtail usage of the internet and computer games, which foster inactivity.

 

9. Inclement weather days, especially in our northern states, can be a challenge to fitness. Anything that gets your child to move, on days when going outside isn’t an option, is good. Sit-up competitions and wrestling are great ways to keep kids active inside. Join a health club with a swimming pool that allows all ages to use it if you live in a climate with severe winters.

 

8. Also plan fun outdoor activities. In winter try healthy activities like downhill and cross country skiing or ice skating. The more your children move at an early age, the more aware of their bodies they will be and the more comfortable they will be doing more physically challenging activities. Even those who live in warm climates like sunny California can take their kids skiing or ice skating.

 

So now you feel you’ve got family fitness figured out and under control. The next thing to address is your family’s eating habits.

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First Set Photos from All-Female Ghostbusters

Friday, June 19th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Production is underway on the long-awaited reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise. Bridesmaids director Paul Feig heads the project, bringing along his alumni performers Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones round out the cast.

Collider got their hands on an unofficial plot synopsis:

Wiig and McCarthy play a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real. Flash forward a few years and Wiig lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia U. Which is pretty sweet, until her book resurfaces and she is laughed out of academia.

Wiig reunites with McCarthy and the other two proton pack-packing phantom wranglers, and she gets some sweet revenge when ghosts invade Manhattan and she and her team have to save the world.

Here are the first photos from the set:

 

The new Ghostbusters is expected to hit theaters a year from now.

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From ‘Red Eye’ to Red Face

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 - by David Forsmark

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I doubt that I have the ear of Fox News execs, but we did agree on one thing: Tom Shillue was the best choice to replace Greg Gutfeld on “Red Eye.”

However, had I known that Fox was going to put such meager resources behind “The Greg Gutfeld Show,” I would have recommended they stick with rotating guest hosts—and save Greg’s old seat for him.

In short (sorry Greg, I couldn’t resist) “The Greg Gutfeld Show” looks like a locally produced major market political talk show.  The set is no better than that of the Detroit Fox station, Channel 2’s “Let it Rip.”  (Whose title I’m sure would provoke merciless juvenile comments from any “Red Eye” panel.)

In fact, the bland set isn’t even as distinctive as “Red Eye’s.”  Come on, people!  This is prime time Sunday night television.  This is the night with the most viewers and where other networks park their signature shows.  You are looking to attract eyeballs, not repel them.

But Greg is still Greg—funny, sharp and on point, even if the one sight gag, the Liberal Panel (a talking wall), is kind of a rip off of Conan O’Brien’s Bill Clinton picture with the moving lips digitally imposed.

Which brings us to another problem. Conan did that when he was on in the wee hours of the morning.  What works with late night week night viewers does not translate to Sunday prime time.

And sometimes hosts are better suited to the later hours.  Even though he lasted a lonnng time at 11:30 p.m., David Letterman was at his best back in the 12:30 a.m. days.  The limitations of the earlier slot demanded that he lose the edge (though I will entertain arguments that it wasn’t the time change, but the change in Dave from identifying as a Hoosier to identifying as a New Yorker that was the problem.)

But I’m not willing to consign Greg Gutfeld to the dustbin of late late late night just yet.  He is a capable O’Reilly guest host (about the only time I watch a complete hour of “The Factor”) and, of course, he is the numero uno personality on “The Five,” which is a cable ratings smash hit.

While the show is brisk and witty, the energy level is really low.  Whether it’s the host’s fault or the production designs and concepts is yet to be proven.  So, here are 5 suggestions for Fox to raise the energy level and make “The Greg Gutfeld Show” a worthy competitor to Bill Maher and Jon Stewart.

1. Get a Studio Audience

The number one thing a comedian needs is an audience off which to play.  A guest or two chuckling is not enough.  Having an audience react to the guests would also bring their energy level up.

Even if booing liberals infiltrated, or Code Pink showed up and had to be dragged out by security, it would be SOMETHING, something to make the show feel immediate.

Heck, even Stossel gets a studio audience for his substance-heavy shows on libertarian economics and government boondoggles.  It’s far more essential for a comedic show to have this feedback.

2. Book Guests Outside of the Fox Stable

The first show featured Tucker Carlson, not exactly Mr. Energy.  And while Mary Katharine Hamm and Jonah Goldberg got more into the spirit of things—THEY ARE ON FOX NEWS ALL DAY LONG.

One of the attractions of early “Red Eye” was comedians and musicians one did not usually associate with a Fox News panel.  With a Sunday night show, it should be possible to expand that.

Also, get liberal guests, not just the “Panel.”  Keep the gag if you want, but give Greg someone to argue with, and not Juan Williams, Bob Beckel (if he ever comes back) or others from the collection of Straw Man Fox News Liberals.  Get interesting—and famous– people.

3. Make the Studio Look Like 2015, Not 1975

There’s really not much more to say here, and I’m no interior designer, but Tom Snyder would have thought this set looked old.

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Dan Aykroyd Praises All-Female Ghostbusters Reboot

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In case you missed it, Bridesmaids director Paul Feig will be rebooting the Ghostbusters franchise with an all female cast. The film will star Bridesmaids alum Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, alongside Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

Original Ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd recently sat down with Spinoff Online to discuss the project. He had high praise:

Yeah, it’s going to be hot! The new one’s going to be big! The interplay, and with each of them, their individual voices are so well defined. They’re just such different characters, and there’s a friction. There’s a dynamic there. I’m not going to spoil it for people, but it’s going to be big, big!

There’s more to the story than a single film though. Reports have indicated another Ghostbusters film will be developed, produced by and starting Channing Tatum. Those reports hinted that the Tatum project may not be connected to the Feig project, and may take place in different cinematic universes.

Asked about that by Spinoff, Aykroyd failed to clarify:

The thing is, you’ve got creators all around Hollywood who saw the thing at the original time and are going, ‘Wow, I think I’ve got a take on that. I think I could do something under that umbrella.” And so we’ve had brilliant creators walk in, from Paul Feig to many others. And we loved the concepts they’re coming up with. And this one with the four girls is going to be massive. Oh, man, it’s funny. It’s intelligent. It hits the right notes, and I’m really excited about it.

So how many of these takes are going to be realized, and how do they connect with each other? For now, we don’t know.

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Jon Bernthal on Joining Netflix’s Daredevil as the Punisher

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Marvel’s handling of their cinematic universe has set a standard for the film industry. Shared cinematic universes have become the goal for every conceivable franchise, from Ghostbusters to Transformers, Star Wars, even Robin Hood.

Marvel’s cinematic universe has carried over into television, first with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter on ABC, and most recently with the well-received Daredevil on Netflix. Using television as a medium for lesser known characters is a strategy that has so far been successful.

Joining the cast in the second season of Daredevil will be Jon Bernthal. Perhaps best known as Shane in The Walking Dead, he was recently seen in the Brad Pitt war film Fury.

Bernthal spoke with ABC News about playing Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher:

“Oh man, it’s just a huge honor to play the part and that’s all I can say about that,” Bernthal told ABC News. “I’m very thrilled and we haven’t started yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Fan reaction has been as enthusiastic. Bernthal brings an intensity and obsession to his characters which fits the violent vigilante perfectly.

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This Man Believes He’s an Actual Leopard

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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Just like Rachel Dolezal and Bruce Caitlyn Jenner, right?

In this case, it wouldn’t be difficult to disabuse Stephen of his distorted self-image. Simply drop him off in the African savannah and allow him to attend a short re-education camp with some real leopards, which can run 30 mph and have been observed taking down elands weighing 2000 lbs. He’ll be quickly reminded of his human frailties.

Of course, I jest.

But I do think this bizarre video demonstrates that our society has not had anything close to a rational discussion about where the lines between self-identification and reality should be drawn.

While we should acknowledge that some individuals do struggle with things like gender confusions and we should show them compassion, does that mean we should all be forced to accept and celebrate any and every self-identity presented to us, contra physical reality? Should it be based purely on physical characteristics like chromosomes or genitalia (or the presence of a leopard tail)? Or should it be merely based on self-perception? How do transracial, transabled, transweight, or transspecies individuals fit into those definitions? And who should be forced to accept which reality? Should the government be the enforcer of these self-perceptions?

The slippery slope of the sexual and moral revolution has turned our once great nation into a parody of tabloid headlines — and we’ve just begun to see the tip of the iceberg. A civil society cannot be organized around a series of blurred lines. At some point it just declines into an amalgamous milieu of postmodern chaos.

 

 

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9 Reasons You Deserve to Wear a Bikini This Summer

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 - by Megan Fox
Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

Ah, bathing suit shopping season is here! I can hear the groans of moms all over America agonizing over dimply thighs, loose belly skin, and stretch marks. I hear it all the time from friends: “I could never wear a bikini,” or “No one needs to see that,” and it makes me sad. It’s true that our string bikini days may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean we who have borne future generations and wear the scars in so many ways must be relegated to the tankini “mom suit” section at Target. I happen to know that no matter what size mom you are, your body works hard for you every day and it certainly doesn’t deserve an ugly bathing suit for the few fleeting times you get to relax by a pool.

The bikini is a wonderful thing. It is a sun-celebrating piece of freedom that reminds us of the summers of childhood, when we didn’t worry about what other people might think as they drove by and saw us running topless through sprinklers with total joy. (Yes, the children did that in our neighborhood when we were too lazy to get suits on. Underwear seemed good enough.) Somewhere along the way, we became embarrassed of our bodies and it crippled our ability to find the simple joy in sun worshiping.

I know you. You stand in front of the mirror in your old lady suit and agonize over the cellulite and stretch marks. You hate the way it looks and you just know that everyone at the pool is going to judge you and laugh at you because you don’t look like a 20-year-old hard body. So you grab your cover up and avoid taking it off, even when you’re so hot you’re melting. You won’t even join your kids when they want you to play in the water with them. This has to stop. Here are the best reasons you should buy (and wear) a bikini this summer.

9. Fat looks better tan.

You heard me. You know it’s true. Wear your sunscreen, but get that belly out there. Whichever part of your body you hate the most, you will hate a little less when it’s brown. If you’re naturally brown you already have a leg up on all of us pigmentally challenged girls. Brown is better. (Please avoid cancer and orange spray tans.)

8. You are way smaller than you think you are.

I don’t care if you’re a size 22, you are smaller than you think you are. There was a TV show called “How to Look Good Naked,” where the host would take a woman and show her twelve or so women lined up from smallest size to largest size in order. The host would ask the woman to place herself where she thought she belonged in the line. Without fail, every woman who appeared on that show put herself five to six sizes larger than she actually was. That’s a huge psychological discrepancy! Your biggest critic is you.

7. No one cares.

You think people at the beach or pool are all waiting for you to show up so they can critique your suit, your stretch marks, your belly fat, your arms, your knees and every other thing you hate about you. They’re not. They’re all worried that you are judging them for the same things. Absolutely no one is looking at you and thinking about you. Everyone is self-focused (unfortunately) and probably web surfing, so there’s really no reason to worry.

6. Today’s body looks better than tomorrow’s body.

Every day you are getting older. I learned this lesson the hard way. I spent the first half of my adult life in constant agony over my body and my imagined “fat.” After giving birth to my third baby and many pounds and sizes later, I looked back at my 20-year-old rockin’ bod and felt sick. I thought that was fat? I was clearly out of my mind. I was a size 6 soaking wet. Now I’m almost 40 and very aware that 20 years from now I will look back at photos from now and say, “I thought that was fat?” or “Look at how smooth my skin was.” So enjoy now. Because now won’t last forever and you look great right now.

5. Bathroom breaks.

Have you tried to go to the bathroom in a wet one piece? Impossible.

4. Tankinis are cold.

The tankini was a good idea and most moms I know love them. But I can’t get into it. Every one I try is too loose on top and slaps wet against my skin in a cold, uncomfortable way. When I’m playing in the sun I don’t want to be cold.

3. High-waisted bikinis are back.

The answer to the baby belly is finally here (again). The 1950′s high-waisted bikini bottoms are back and they are adorable. I wore mine to the pool the other day and a skinny teenager came over to ooh and ahh over my suit. That’s right. An 18-year-old with washboard abs had to know where I got it. I can’t say it didn’t make my day. Old Hollywood is back and that’s good news for those of us with mom curves. Go check out the bikinis at my favorite website SwimSuitsForAll.

2. It is what it is.

You are who you are. We’re all on a diet. We’re all trying to get more fit, exercise more, and lose weight. And that’s great. Good for us. But don’t live for tomorrow. Don’t deny yourself happiness today because you might be thinner later and then you can be happy. You’re a hard working mother and a role model for those kids. They’re watching you and they know if you are embarrassed of yourself or if you love you. They will emulate you. It is especially important for moms of girls to show them that different body shapes are worthy and okay because they are constantly bombarded by unrealistic images of airbrushed women. The crazed feminists and I agree on this one thing. Women have to stop shaming themselves and one another for not looking like chicks in magazines. It is so important to impart that being healthy does not mean a girl must be a size 4 and that girls of all sizes can exercise and eat well and wear attractive bathing suits! Teach them that! For moms of boys, it is also important to show them that all different kinds of women are attractive, not just the ones they see on TV. Most likely those boys are going to marry girls whose bodies will change after childbirth. Being surrounded by unafraid women of all sizes is good for boys.

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Is 40 Too Old To Be a First-Time Mom?

Thursday, June 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

I can’t think of one friend who willingly had kids in their twenties. They say the average age of a first-time mom is 26. Take a look around an OB’s waiting room and you’ll see why: the two prime demographics are either unwed mothers in their late teens/early 20s, or women nearing 40. Caught in the middle, my Gen-X/millennial crossover crowd is busy hearing their biological clocks tick. While we’re happy we didn’t dive into parenthood right after college, we don’t want to make the mistake of pushing babies off until they’re a near-impossibility either.

The fear of waiting too long to have children bears more consequence than the potential stresses of IVF. According to “Katrina Alcorn, author of the bestselling Maxed out: American Moms on the brink, … women who delayed having kids ‘to try to get a foothold in their careers or to get some financial stability’ are being pushed beyond their limits as they struggle with work-life balance and the the additional burdens that mid-life brings.”

When my mother had me at nearly 37 she was considered an anomaly. Today, she’d be 9 times more likely to be the norm. While they didn’t have to wrestle with the stresses of simultaneously caring for elderly parents and children the way Gen-X does today, my parents did face their challenges. Cultivating the energy to keep up with a young child is a task that gets harder with age. While it was nice to have a 12 -year break between college tuitions, they also had to raise the equivalent of two “only children” instead of siblings closer in age who could keep each other busy. The challenges of late-in-life parenting also have longterm consequences. Today’s 40-something crowd will, like my parents, wait nearly 20 years longer than most to become grandparents. If they’re still around.

The grand irony in the decision to wait until near 40 to have a child is in the finances, or lack thereof. Most couples, whether they are careerists or simply budget conscious, held off on having children because of the expense. Now, thanks to the Grand Recession, the burden of elder care, and the cost of childcare outpacing salary increments, all their hard work saving has pretty much been for naught. Like most in our generation whose early careers were greatly impacted by the economic crash in ’08, my husband and I had endless conversations about how we were going to manage to afford kids, let alone the stay-at-home lifestyle I wanted in order to raise them. In the end we always came to the same conclusion: We could easily scare ourselves out of having kids. What was better, pragmatism or pessimism? Fear or fearlessness?

40 isn’t too old to be a first-time parent. But why wait that long?

 

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The Dangerous Messages US Weekly Sent to Women This Week

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - by Bethany Mandel

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Gossip rags aren’t generally known for sending positive messages to women who read them. Despite the fact that magazines like US Weekly are marketed to women, they often send messages quite toxic to their readers and to society in general. This week’s issue is no different, and as a regular reader I can say, especially egregious.

The first clue that this issue would be infuriating came with its cover, which identified the victims of a sex crime and described the abuse they were subject to by their brother as “creepy.” Jill and Jessa Duggar, two of their brother Josh’s victims, were shown on the cover instead of their brother. The victims of a sex crime were thus identified as “creepy” — not the perpetrator. There is an incredible stigma regarding sexual abuse, especially when it involves incest. Imagine how many young girls might see this cover on newsstands this week and internalize the message that any abuse they might be suffering at the hands of their male relative makes them “creepy.” In a perfect world — one where the Duggar family never publicly identified the victims — the saga the Duggars are currently embroiled in would lead to a healthy and productive national conversation on incest. Instead, liberal media outlets can barely contain their glee covering the incident.

Psychiatric Times describes the psychological impact of incest on victims,

Incomprehension, shame, loyalty conflicts, fear of retaliation, and the misperception that the child is to blame for what took place make revelation difficult. In fact, only about 30% of victims, mostly older children and adolescents, reveal their situations. In 43%, the revelation is accidental. The remainder are revealed by eyewitnesses and are inferred from vague or ambiguous comments.

By furthering the perception that the victims, not the perpetrator, is “creepy” US Weekly has stigmatized the victims of incest, scaring untold numbers of them from considering coming forward.

Holly Madison, former Playboy centerfold and girlfriend of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner is the magazine’s cover girl in the same issue. In the story on her upcoming book, Madison describes the “hell” that was life living inside the Playboy mansion as Hefner’s girlfriend. In this strange alternate universe Madison is somehow portrayed as a victim, despite choosing her living arrangements of her own free will, and profiting off of them to the tune of $1,000 a week — just for clothing.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse with toxic messages involving abuse, a story on page 1 on reality stars Shannon and David Beador of Real Housewives of Orange County doesn’t disappoint. In the story Shannon explains why she blames herself for her husband’s wandering eye,

The pair, wed for 14 years, fought about everything from sex to time spent together. “If I had been an amazing wife,” she said, “he wouldn’t have gone elsewhere.”

Feelings of guilt aren’t unique among women who have been cheated on, but the perpetuation of the idea that a cheated-on wife is to blame for a husband straying is incredibly unhealthy for women everywhere. With this kind of statement, US should have included another side, preferably from David expressing remorse and an explanation that he alone was responsible for his actions.

Throughout this entire issue of a magazine written for and marketed to women, the victims of sexual abuse and adultery were blamed, instead of the real perpetrators: the men at fault. The only woman given any sympathy is, strangely, a former Playboy bunny.

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New Oculus Rift “Touch Controllers” Make Virtual Reality More Real

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

You may have heard of the Oculus Rift, perhaps the most talked about virtual reality platform in recent years. A commercial version of the device is due to hit the market next year.

Those who have had access to development versions of the hardware have reported issues with motion sickness. Part of the disorientation emerges from seeing a 360-degree three-dimensional world and interacting with it via a traditional gamepad. The body expects to interact with what it sees in a way that it is used to.

Oculus will address that with its “touch controllers,” also coming next year. IGN tech editor Alaina Yee writes of her experience testing the devices:

My demo took place in the Toybox test environment that Oculus mentioned last week at its pre-E3 press conference—the one Oculus uses internally to fine-tune the controls for the Touch. The scene I was dropped into was fairly barebones: a very nondescript workshop with a variety of objects scattered over a workbench. I spent the first few minutes acclimating to the Touch’s controls; though the controllers feel pretty good to hold, with most of the input placements right where I’d want them, I didn’t take to them right away. The middle-finger trigger felt odd at first. I had to get used to the position of it relative to where my actual middle finger is.

After I’d adjusted to that, though, I just had to learn how to use the middle-finger trigger to pick up and hold things like blocks, Zippo lighters, slingshots, and guns. (Squeeze once to grab something; keep it depressed to hold onto the item; release to drop it.) Though it was a pretty basic mechanic, my brain still refused to accept the scheme at first, since I was looking at fingers opening and closing. I had to practice several times before I began equating the virtual fingers with pushing down on a button.

Read Yee’s complete account at IGN. Check out the entire Oculus Rift conference from this year’s E3 below.

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Golden State Warriors MVP Andre Iguodala: ‘God Has a Way for You — a Purpose for You’

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

 

After the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, Warriors star Andre Iguodala was awarded the MVP trophy. During the postgame interview he was asked about his approach to the game.

“First of all, God is great. God is great,” Iguodala said.

Then he thanked some people who don’t often get recognition around the league. “I want to thank all the chaplains across the NBA for helping us out every single night,” he said. “This is awesome. We talked about about staying strong — stay with it. We modeled the whole playoffs, stay with it. They kept fighting. This is unreal. Unreal.”

In another post game interview Iguodala was asked, “In what way did your sacrifice of coming off the bench embody the sacrifice of this entire group?”

“We got a team full of believers. We all go to chapel before every game. We all believe and we all say God has a way for you — a purpose for you. This is my purpose.”

 

Also see Warriors star Stephen Curry talking about his Christian faith:

 

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Cyber-Hack Shows Baseball Worse than Beijing

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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You thought the Chinese are bad actors online?   Now comes news the FBI are investigating the St. Louis Cardinals for hacking into the computer system of the Houston Astros.  If the allegations are proved true, this is a big deal.  Hacking is not just another case of baseball hijinks. It is serious criminal activity.

Bad baseball behavior online is yet more proof that that game is no longer about the boys of summer. It is about big business, a business that is increasingly disconnected from what once was noble about the game.

From the lack of sound security at the stadium to polluting our popular culture there is mounting evidence that professional baseball is less and less a positive influence in American life.

In many ways this is worse than the Chinese hack of OPM. The attack from Beijing is the kind of espionage activity we ought to expect from a foreign power. That’s what great powers do. They spy on one another. Live with it.

On the other hand, American companies maliciously spying on other companies are no different from bankers robbing other banks.

Cyber-crime is a crime.  There ought to be little tolerance for it, particularly from companies that fly the American flag over their stadium and play the national anthem before every game.

If baseball wants to be America’s game, it needs to start acting more American.

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Rachel Dolezal Case Provokes Questions: What Is Race? Does It Matter?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Among reaction to the Rachel Dolezal story, many have attempted to draw a distinction between her attempt to pass herself off as black and Caitlyn Jenner’s attempt to pass himself off as female. I argued Tuesday that no such distinction exists, that both Dolezal and Jenner have denied objective reality. If what Dolezal has done is fraud, as some have claimed, then what Jenner has done is also fraud.

Indeed, Jenner actually holds a weaker objective claim to womanhood than Dolezal does to blackness. As I wrote Tuesday, race is merely a social contrivance. That prompted this from a reader:

To claim “Race is merely a social contrivance” means you’re 1) being facetious 2) drunk the kool aid 3) fear your PC masters or 4) are ignorant. Please clarify.

What’s to clarify? Race is subjective.

I’m both the product of and a partner in interracial marriage. What race am I? What race are my children?

My wife claims status as a Native American and has even received tribal assistance for her education. Her skin is lily white. But she’s something like 1/16 Native. What race is she? Where’s the line? Who draws it? On what basis?

We can examine a man and tell you definitively that he is such. No such clear standard delineates race. Therefore Dolezal’s claim has greater objective standing than Jenner’s.

You might counter by observing that racial differences have genetic markers. This is true. However, these genetic differences do not distinguish one race from another in the same fashion that we distinguish gender. I could describe myself as black, bi-racial, mulatto, etc. Each term is subjective. I’m not completely black. I’m not a mix of two “pure” races. But I’m most definitely and wholly a man.

These observations support the conclusion that race is a social contrivance, our way of categorizing each other for various purposes. The legitimate uses of race include things like medical heredity and physical descriptions. But such distinctions occur within races as much as between them. Not all white people look alike or have the same medical issues. Heredity is heredity. In this way, race only matters to the extent it serves as a shorthand for communicating a broad set of descriptive facts. In an age where racial groups intermingle, which they always have to one degree or another, old descriptors apply less and less.

The problem with many in our society is that they’ve placed the racial cart before the utilitarian horse, pretending as though race matters beyond communication of objective fact. That’s the mindset that informs Rachel Dolezal’s transracialism. She thinks being black matters. Those most offended by her actions are offended because they agree with her. Being “truly black” matters to them. Of course, that notion should be as offensive as any notion of being “truly white.”

Also read: 

Rachel Dolezal: No Surprise Here | Rule of Law 

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Are They Kids or Employees? Are We Parents, or Just the Boss?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The other day I came across a “Consequence Chart” when surfing parenting Tweets. It’s a simple list detailing consequences for various actions taken and it’s meant to hang in a common area of the home as a contractual reminder of punishments for childhood crimes like “using unacceptable words” and “disrespect.” It reminded me of the many corporate flowcharts I viewed during my 9-5 working days in HR. Thinking of those made me impulsively shudder. The last thing I want is for my kids to feel like they’re going into the office every day.

Which is probably also why I have quickly developed a near-seething hatred for “apps that teach your kids time management skills” like the one featured in Paranoia — er, I mean Parents magazine. Why does your 6 year old need a device when all you have to do is say, “It’s time to…”? Since when does a kid that young need to learn how to manage their time independently? Since kindergartens have become “skill-and-drill” factories in which free, imaginative play is sacrificed for the sake of academic excellence. After all, time management is a skill working mommies and daddies both have to excel at, so why shouldn’t junior, too?

In fact, working parents already acculturated to the corporate lifestyle crave parenting styles that provide a businesslike structure in the home. Along with contractual charts and educational apps, there is the infamous calendar containing a schedule loaded with color-coded blocks for before and after-care, playdates, homework time, extracurricular activities and social events. Parents used to having to overbook in order to achieve in a corporate environment have no problem pushing their kids into a high-paced bevy of activities in order to “keep up” with their peers and get smarter, faster. Some parents are so desperate to give their kids every “experience” on the book that they’re crowdsourcing funds to pay for it.

The question becomes, when did parents cease to be parents and begin being bosses of their own children? When is the last time you felt comfortable having a heart-to-heart about your bad day with your boss? The answer is, never. And if you’re the boss of your child, they’re not going to be comfortable expressing themselves to you, either. Being managed doesn’t equate to being happy. Nor, in fact, does it equate to being successful later in life. In fact, the primary accomplishment of corporate parenting is to bring more stress into the home, not less, for kids and parents alike.

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5 Dinosaur Movies Better than ‘Jurassic World’

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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Jurassic World is setting world records for the biggest box office movie opening ever.  One reviewer called it “big dumb fun.”  No wonder audiences are flocking to the film like interns to free donuts. Good creature-features have always been a healthy cash cow for filmmakers. Before Chris Pratt took on the role of dinosaur whisperer, the silver screen had its share of unforgettable movies about the monsters from our lost world. Here are five films that are worth a look.

#5. Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). Maybe The Lost World  (1925) was the first full-length big production of a SciFi dinosaur movie. But it wasn’t by a long shot the first big reptile on the silver screen. Animation pioneer Winsor McCay made this short in 1914. This is the great-grandfather of Hollywood’s fascination with the Mesozoic Era. This first deserves to be on the list of the very best.

#4. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). No master monster-movie list would be complete if it didn’t include a film by the special effects genius Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen. Ray created his dinosaurs using animated stop-motion models. The strange “beast” released from the frozen Arctic that makes its way to Coney Island is one of his most marvelous creations. This film inspired countless other monster movies. This black and white movie is a not-to-be-missed classic.

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9 Ways Your Marriage Changes When a Baby Is on the Way

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Everything about our life together changed the minute we learned we were pregnant. The obvious changes were welcome ones. Loads of much-needed gifts, the rearranging of rooms, the changing of jobs so I could be the work-from-home mom I always wanted to be. Those weren’t the issue. It was all the seemingly mundane unexpected changes that seemed to carve us into being parents instead of just husband and wife.

9. The Sleepless Nights Start Now.

Around 5:45 one morning my husband dragged himself out of bed and got dressed for work. “Did you need to go in early?” I mumbled, half incoherent after yet another night of on-again, off-again, my-leg-is-numb-again sleep. No, he didn’t. He just couldn’t sleep, either. We were less than four weeks out from our due date and he’s busting a move at work to get things done in anticipation of his upcoming “vacation.” Because this is what you spend your vacation time on when you get pregnant: The baby that’s due any day.

8. Mommy-to-Be Builds Her First Nest in Bed.

Besides, 2 feet of bed space to move around in didn’t exactly bode him a good night’s sleep, either. It was easier to get up and go to work than to wrestle with the pillow fortress that had become my pregnant body’s nest during these last, huge months. We called it practice for dealing with a newborn’s sleep schedule.

7. You’ve Gone from Budget-Conscious to Budget-Paranoid.

Conversations about possible vacation locales now ended with, “It’ll be great to take the baby there when they get older.” Suddenly money was not meant to be wasted on fun. Food shopping becomes an adventure in coupon clipping. By month 5 we decided to avoid browsing the baby aisle, since price comparing diapers left us both in a bit of a panic.

6. Friends Are a Distant Memory.

We began seeing less and less of our friends. It started out with having to somehow get out of a dinner party invite thanks to my all-day-sickness. We weren’t ready to make the big announcement, so I had to claim a virus. Later on, rejections came in the form of, “I’m sorry, but my feet won’t allow me to stand on them for more than 10 minutes at a time,” or “I don’t think my body will fit into your apartment for that massive reunion.”

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Transracial Rachel Dolezal, Transsexual Caitlyn Jenner, and the Denial of Objective Reality

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

We new media professionals surf a choppy sea of social whim. Whatever people talk about, we write about. It’s supply and demand. That said, there are certain stories which I resist chiming in on no matter how big they get, stories which I find either distasteful or ludicrous.

The story of Rachel Dolezal stands as an example. The drama surrounding her masquerade as a black woman strikes me as tabloid garbage, warranting a sidebar mention at best, and then only for laughs.

Unfortunately, my attempt to avoid the story has run up against this piece at Reason, in which editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie attempts to draw a distinction between Dolezal’s transracialism (yes, spell check, that’s a word now) and Caitlyn Jenner’s transsexualism. He writes:

To say that Jenner’s very public coming out disturbed social conservatives is an understatement. Between the ritual unwillingness to use female pronouns in relation to Jenner to exhortations that she is clearly deranged, it’s fairer to say that cons lost their shit. “A surgically damaged man appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, and the applause is mandatory,” opined National Review‘s David French. ”If we’re not going to defend as a [Republican] party basic principles of male and female, that life is sacred because it comes from God, then you’re going to lose the vast majority of people who’ve joined that party,” howled Iowa talk-radio host Steve Deace.

Gillespie cited Outside the Beltway’s Doug Mataconis, who wrote:

[It's just] another attempt by social conservatives to demean transgender people, a phenomenon that has been quite prevalent on that side of the political spectrum over the past two weeks. Even taking the arguments at face value, though, they don’t add up….

Rachel Dolezal didn’t “choose her race,” she committed fraud by lying about her background. She can choose to adopt whatever culture she wishes, but that’s not what happened here. She lied about her background, not just to the public but apparently also on job applications. That’s fraud. The people who are trying to use this case to draw analogies to, or mostly just to make stupid, snarly comments about, the issues raised last week by the Caitlyn Jenner story, are just being obnoxious jerks.

Obnoxious jerks, or adherents to objective reality?

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Should You Demand Fresh Blood for Your Next Transfusion?

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 - by Theodore Dalrymple
Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

As everyone knows, fresh human blood rejuvenated Dracula no end: stored blood simply would not do for him.

Blood has long been a fluid endowed with mystic significance. Only comparatively recently in human history have people donated it to strangers with anything like a good grace. I once worked in a remote country, much given to drunkenness, where people would only give blood to their relatives, though fortunately they lived in large families. A man there once had an accident requiring rapid and repeated transfusion. His family had all been at a party. After transfusion, he himself was drunk.

It has long been thought that the longer human blood had been stored in blood banks, the less good its quality. There were two papers in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine that tested this hypothesis, which (within limits, of course) turned out to be false, as so many hypotheses do. I think most people would instinctively feel, because it stands to reason, that fresh blood is best; we agree with Dracula.

Normally, blood is taken from donors, treated chemically and tested for viruses and refrigerated. In practice it is not kept more than six weeks, though this period is to an extent arbitrary and by convention. In the first trial, conducted in Canada, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Belgium, critically ill patients in need of blood transfusions were allocated randomly to receive either blood that was less than a week old or blood that was three weeks old.

One short passage in the paper was slightly troubling from the point of view of medical ethics: “At sites where deferred consent was permitted, written informed consent was obtained from the patient or surrogate decision maker as soon as possible after enrollment.” This appears to mean, unless I have misunderstood, that consent was retrospective, in other words that the patients were asked “Do you consent to having been experimented upon?” Even where such consent was not given, refusal was all but pointless, for they were then asked whether, nevertheless, they consented to the use of the data gathered in their case.

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4 Stages of Play All Parents of Boys Will Understand

Monday, June 15th, 2015 - by Stephen Green
Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

It’s summer vacation and I’m a work-at-home dad in charge of two boys, ages Nine and Nearly Five.  They’re good kids, provided you remember — and develop the patience for — the Four Stages of Play.

They are:

• Every idea becomes a game

• Every game becomes a contest

• Every contest becomes a bloodsport

• Every bloodsport ends in bloodshed

The only exception to these Four Stages is when boys spend too long in close proximity to one another, and skip directly from Stage One to Stage Four.

In Stage One, I use the word “idea” loosely — looser than a noose tied of loose yarn draped loosely around the neck of a loose goose.  A small boy gets an “idea” when a random synapse fires under the stimulation of a third bowl of Cookie Crisp, and consists only of the words, “Let’s do that!”

“That” being something you told them not to do is a direct function of how many times you’ve told them not to do that.  The other possibility — really the only other possibility — is that they come up with something so bizarre that you, as a grown adult-type person, could never have imagined to forbid it in advance.  But we’ll get to Trampoline Lego in a moment.

The other boy(s), whose synapses are also under the influence of various sucrose-based breakfast foods, and who have also been told repeatedly that doing “that” would be a bad idea, immediately and invariably agree that “that” would be an excellent idea.

“That” is how Trampoline Lego was invented, and if you think bare feet are the best way to find missing Lego pieces in the living room, just wait until you’ve tried the lawnmower.  I’m not particularly upset about the Lego brick lodged at Lawnmower Blade Speed into the stucco exterior of Casa Verde for the simple reason that it isn’t lodged into one of the dogs.

This brings us to Stage Two, or as I now think of it: How High Can We Make the Legos Bounce?

In their little boy minds, I’m certain they pictured something like one of those bouncy ball rooms, except on a trampoline.  But instead of soft, round bouncy balls, they had pointy, stabby Lego bricks.  So instead of paddling their way through soft, round bouncy balls, they were flying through the air with pointy, stabby Lego bricks — and seeing who could go the highest with the mostest.  Nine was going for height, I was told, but Nearly Five was going for numbers.

The International Olympic Committee has yet to devise universally accepted rules for judging Trampoline Lego, so naturally an argument ensued over who had indeed gone the highest with the mostest.  Other arguments involved the merits of hang time versus height, and whether Duplo bricks were “too immature” for Trampoline Lego.

I should add that there were no arguments over the merits of Trampoline Lego itself.

There was also no discussion about what might happen when an airborne little boy, surrounded by airborne pointy, stabby Lego and/or Duplo bricks, inevitably becomes un-airborne.

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Anatomy of a Knock-Knock Joke, or How to Raise Funny Kids Without Even Trying

Monday, June 15th, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton

Image via Tanu842011/Wikimedia

Knock knock.

Who’s there.

Mr. Piggy Pants.

Great. Mr. Piggy Pants who.

Mr. Piggy Pants went to … the funniest place … and everyone came with him. Haaa.

Mmm. Uhuh. Quick, change the sub—

Knock knock. I said knock knock.

OOOOkay, let me explain something. Here is how knock-knock jokes work….

That’s a cross-section of yesterday morning’s pre-coffee minivan conversation on our way to Grammy’s, conducted with an unsafe number of glances in the rearview mirror. As dad to a family of too many explanations and too few old-fashioned look over there propaganda decoys, I frequently commit myself to explaining things I don’t understand—particularly things that bother me but which I am reluctant to abolish without being able to articulate why. Unfortunately, articulation usually involves reasoning with my children, who interpret this as an invitation to debate, deliberate, distinguish, etc. In other words, they argue—not because I’m afraid to pull rank, which I frequently do, but because I’m in the middle of something, kids, and wouldn’t it be a shame if my parenting got in the way of my pontificating.

Before I go further, I should address why a grown man who claims to hate knock-knock jokes is spending more time thinking about them than most adults should. The answer is that I couldn’t care less about understanding knock-knocks, but I do want to understand my kids, particularly my five-year-old, who recently started tilting at windmills in his quest for everybody (somebody? isn’t there anybody?) to regard him as hilarious.

So here is what I said:

To make a good knock-knock, start with the answer you want to end with, then split it up between the knocker and the door opener in a way others won’t expect.

Lord knows why that didn’t impress my children, whose combined age is seven. Their owl eyes just hung there in my mirror. So I gave an example:

Knock knock. (Me)

Who’s there? (Jonah, genuinely curious)

G.

G who?? Hey, I have one. Knock knock.

What? No. I’m trying to explain something to you. Plus I’m in the middle of a joke.

Oh. You can finish.

Thanks. G.I. Joe. (Man, I hate this.)

Haaaa. That was a really good one, Dad.

Well. OK. Do you know what a G.I. Joe is?

Of course, it’s a good guy.

Good enough.

Yep. Actually that joke isn’t funny.

He’s right, despite my having followed the rules. You may say I did it wrong, that I needed a cleverer word combination—say, “Al” and “Coholic”—to keep the element of surprise, but I disagree. If the thought of a man named Al Coholic is funny, its humor is inherent and needs no knock-knock framework—doorframe—whatever. The knock-knock is nothing but a shell for the already funny; it contributes nothing (except frustration). It adds no value, and in fact conducts an even less funny Q & A session than someone asking you point blank, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if there were a guy named Al Coholic?” I don’t know, would it? Probably not any funnier than if he had a buddy named G.I. Joe. But frame this within a knock-knock, and you’ll only drain off what little laughing power these names may pack.

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