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Kickin’ it old skool for back-to-skool

24 Aug
(Word up to Katie Dersnah Mitchell, who probably got caught smokin’ in the girls’ room and making out under the bleachers, for our latest escapade.)

Nothing says back-to-school quite like Wal-Mart commercials that make you feel less guilty for shopping there or trite Meg Ryan quotes from a certain movie I may or may not LOVE. Kids today don’t appreciate the allure of a Trapper Keeper (plain or with the picture of puppies on the front?) or buying a compass year after year only to finally use it in 10th grade. They’ve probably already established schoolyard hierarchy in SchoolVille and who needs black ‘n’white marbled composition books when you’ve got an iPad? Hopefully I am just jaded (duh) and back-to-school is just as vomit-inducing as when I was a kid. (Reasons include: forgetting to do summer reading until night before, not having Guess? jeans, wondering if your “Dukes of Hazzard” lunchbox makes you look too butch, bad perm, worried about stranger danger, etc.) Luckily we’ve found a book to help you through the worries and flurries of back-to-school angst for those entering their high school years. And since we all know no one in high school actually reads media for high schoolers, the following book was probably read by incredibly earnest, bespeckled 11-year-old girls already worried about growing breasts in time for prom (give it up, girls and resign yourself to refilling the punch bowl.) We present (for anyone starting a new venture, really) “Hi There, High School!” (sing it Barbra style, you queen.)

"Uh yeah, high school, could you not talk so loudly? Or kiss me good-bye when you drop me off? Or even drop me off in front of EVERYONE?"

Yeah, you read it right. The author of this book is GAY HEAD. GAY HEAD. This book is written by a GAY HEAD!  I wonder if her husband is named “Richard”?

Because "blueprint to the hell that is the next four years of your life" wasn't upbeat enough.

The author clearly went to school in a thorazine-induced haze. Does ANYONE outside of Patty Simcox polish the school sign like it’s Hugh Jackman’s gleaming abdomen? It’s like a guide to being the most annoying nerd ever, and not in the cool, watches “Star Trek” way. A reeeeal good way to make a good first impression is to ask some senior what the school insignia means. I’d love to see that episode of “Gossip Girl.” And I love the guilt-inducing “If you’re really proud of your school, you’ll learn its customs and traditions.” And if you really love America, you’ll learn English upon arrival and not try to build scary kooky cult centers near our sacred grounds.  Word.

 Actually, high school is much worse than the outside world, but with a better benefits package. Yep, math is essential for figuring out which countries full of starving people dying of diahrrea are communist threats and must be bombed into holy hell. It is also essential for figuring out how much money your pension is losing because your company invested in Enron.
We also see why current references age your book quicker than a baby on a soap opera.
Clearly, the same goes for slang, unless if I am mistaken and the kids are still sayin’ stuff like “save the “cat sessions” for the soda shop later. If you get the gong…” If fact, I am pretty sure the author stone-cold stole this from that new Clay Aiken song I hear is all the rage.


 I think “Traffigoon” sticks out most here, even amongst messages of not being an individualist. Challenge: get your kid to start using this word. I am imagining the kid who makes it their duty to follow instructions to the letter and probably whines, “you guys, you are not following proper fire drill protocol and you are creating a very dangerous situation for the rest of us.” I think you can hear that voice, right? He’s the one making millions of dollars years later. Or he’s selling comic books.

Etiquette for People Raised in Closets. And doesn’t Jell-O sound so much more romantic when it’s called “gelatine”? C’est comme “nouilles et fromage en casserole.”

And by the way licking and lapping are GREAT ways to get a date for prom when you’re only a freshman (no matter your gender.)

 And do you re-ully think high schoolers talk like hillbillies out of a Wayans Brothers’ movie? No wonder they hate us all. And I am totally confused by the “Both girls would look bee-utiful in Technicolor!” remark. Does that mean the olden days really were in black and white?

“Sit in a comfortable, perpendicular position and pay attention.” I like the specificity of these directions (um, yeah, that is more of an obtuse position) and how they are clearly preparing kids to follow directions like sheep. It’s soooo getting kids ready to be adults in the Reagan era. Where’s the guide for rich kids who DON’T have to follow the rules and get to steal people’s money and snort blow off of strippers’ g-strings? Is it next to “Ketchup: Nature’s Vegetable”?

Dude, this book so explains why the 1980s were full of tainted Tylenol and New Coke.



1. When did cheerleading become a “job”?

2. Why is this book so damn preachy? (Guess: because it’s intended audience is 11 and still listens to their parents.)

3. Will this book actually help anyone accomplish anything other than a constipation-inducing need to follow rules to the letter? And then later become a CPA.

4. Notice everything here is referred to as a “job.” Which reminds me of that quote from Samantha on “Sex and the City,” “..there’s a reason why they call it a JOB.” And also says fun things are not worth doing unless they are somehow comodified. My dad would freakin’ LOVE this book.

This is why I had eight lockers in high school. And one was dedicated to clothes for when the Vice Principal inevitably had to ask me to change.

This last paragraph is just so fraught with hand-wringing and dabbing one’s eyes with hankies. Any time you can use the phrase “carelessness” with teens, you will get so far with them. Add language like “the school plant and its equipment” and you’ve got a recipe for a hip, with-it message sure to inspire good citizenship and keep the hippies away.

I further appreciate the explanation of what private vs. public property is. Because you can handle complex stuff like this now that you’re in high school, yo.

We’ve got 10 more pages to go and miles before we sleep, so write a note on a paper napkin and slip it into your kids’ lunches before cocktail hour! In other words, to be continued.


Dumb ass post for a dumb ass book

20 May

Special thanks go out to Ms. Katie Dersnah Mitchell (Mrs. Mitchell, if you’re nasty) who sent a few special books our way. As we go through them, trying to pick out the worst parts (which in these cases is like picking out the worst Lindsay Lohan or Britney buh-gina flasher moment), here’s a little something to keep you warm at night. And to keep me from calling DFS on my neighbors whose kid seems to cry a non-stop wail morning-night.  At this point, I think it might be a Greek widow up there instead of a kid crying because his mom has a new boyfriend and no college degree.

This book is so stupid, the cover illustrator gave up trying to do a half-way decent job.

I wish she would just choke on that stupid lei she is wearing for no reason while surfing so that we can end it here.

Okay, is the portrayal of her little brown friend in the background racist or just plain lazy? I am known for my startlingly accurate stick figures and let me tell you, I could draw drunk circles around Arnold Spilka. I wonder if he has Schpilkas in his ganektagazoink? And the title, “Penny in Hawaii”? It’s like they’re not even trying. Sadly, Penny doesn’t die from getting leied while surfing. Instead, she and her readers are made to learn all about Hawaii, its wonderful cultures and traditions, history and so forth in social studies lessons disguised as a really bad, stilted, and forced story. I HATE when a book tricks you like that. It’s worse than discovering your JDate means cocaine orgy when he tells you you’re going to a “white party.*”

Well, as long as we’re here, we might as well learning something about Hawaii’s rich culture.

I Googled this luau description and the author totally ripped it from Wikipedia!

Oh Penny,  Larry will show you want three-finger poi really means later! Like Mother said, if it’s thick, it only takes TWO fingers. She should know!

I like how Mother and Larry speak like paragraphs from a fifth-grade social studies textbook. They segue from making boring lectures to coming up with insults kindergarteners would find gay and retarded.

Larry was right about Penny being a dumbass, she didn't even realize she was at a luau about 15 pages earlier. White people.

“You’ll like that I know.” ??? Really? Is this how kids in Hawaii speak? No wonder we want to colonize the hell out of it. Not just because we could charge $10 for a drink to retirees from Iowa and Witchita brides on their honeymoons. But mainly because apparently all children speak in long, pedantic sentences about the traditions and history of their culture to well-meaning white people. It’s like they were ready for tourism! Plus, they don’t want to hang out with you after the lecture. They go home and make leis with their grandmas. Good natives know and keep their places!

Where are the frat brothers puking up early morning Jaeger shots on the stomachs of passed-out Tri Delts?

Oh Aunt Gerri, who gives a crap about some ritual that used to have significance when you can expound on monkeypod? I wonder if malihini haole has the same insider meaning as goy does? “Oh sure, it just means ‘white newcomer’.”

The thing is, there are over 200 pages of this drivel!

*True story. Ask my sister.

What they knew and when

12 May

As a statistically-significant friend pointed out, this week’s unfortunate victim* should have seen it coming. The ominously-named “The Eskimos Knew” conjures up images of native people smugly stockpiling weapons and canned goods while waiting for the zombies/nuclear war/Apocalypse/next Bush president than the educational romp through the lives of  cold climate dwellers. It’s a weird book, for so many reasons, not least of all that it was illustrated by the delightful Ezra Jack Keats before he hit it big with another book about snow.

So, check this out while I eat another expensive cookie from Whole Foods.

...that nothing flatters quite like fluffy hoods and wrap-around shades.

Okay, so we are looking a tad cranky and Blade Runnerish here. But I’m digging the totally mod cover page. Still, the title makes one feel as if SOMETHING is looming behind those innocent pointed hoods.

So, basically sushi but without the pretentious Los Angeles a-hole sitting next to you loudly talking about the time he ate real sushi in Tokyo?

So, I had to Google “Eskimo stereotypes” to get riled up and prepare for this one.  It’s not that this book is totally bad even though these sexually-ambigious people look like the Five Chinese Brothers doing sick things, it’s just weird.

So basically, this sounds like the equivilent of third-graders making fun of each other on the playground and someone getting stuck with “Pee-Pee Pants” or “Vomit Boy” or “Glenn Beck” as their nickname until high school.


I need to take a cold shower. No pun intended.

Wow, I think they ripped this straight from D.H. Lawrence.

Did YOU know that penchants for kinky sex are an Eskimo stereotype? Me neither, but that is totally bitchin’… in a really hurtful way that affects how people see them as individuals. I mean, dang, my people got money-grubbers, frigid, big noses and penis-cutting.
(Read this paragraph slowly to your lover with the smooth sounds of Barry White in the background and see if you don’t get a surprise nine months later…or an itch and redness a few days later depending on your lover.)

Why is this whole book written in what appears to be blank verse?

 I just want to point out that you are supposed to ask your mother for help here. And that the language is so stilted that I cannot make a joke about it without offending so many people that I will let you make your own inappropriate analogy…

I wrote this about my soul. Oh, no wait, my soul is black like the hallows of hell.

I prefer to think of this as the authors’ attempt to hash out their unhappy (in my mind) marriage by using food as a metaphor for feelings.  So it’s like their love is frozen in order to keep it from spoiling totally but sometimes they let themselves thaw out (like maybe when they write “What the Africans Knew” next) in the warmth of home, here represented by an igloo (which is both shelter, but one constructed of cold materials). And their hearts are the cold storerooms of emotion. Then Eskimos metaphorically eat their emotions, which loses me there. And makes me think of that Damien Rice song about Eskimos, which then makes me wonder if these people hate him for stereotyping Eskimos through sexy music. Hmmm, Damien Rice…

"Mommy, look at the bloody, cruel and unnecessary exploitation of animals! Let's go protest the diamond trade at Tiffany's next!"**

You and Mother will do this after Mother’s three-martini lunch. And if the furrier offers to show you how he sews skins together, leave, call the police immediately and check into the Plaza until he’s in full custody. They already know Mother there because of her “meetings” with her and Father’s “accountant.”

(**I really hope this is what my hypothetical daughter and I do someday after we go to a cheap Korean place for mani/pedis.)

Do you *have* to look menacing when chewing on animal skins, do ya think?

 Hey, stop spreading the stereotype that Eskimo women have strong teeth! What about the ones with gum disease or tartar? How do you think it makes them…oh sorry, got distracted thinking of little leather boots for dogs!
I will totally make my kids do this to make shoes for the family. And they’d better be damn cute, too. (Not the kids, the shoes. G-d don’t make no ugly.)

This is what life would have been like if they got to keep the money from drilling.

“Wheeeeee! We’re all so free and happy thanks to Sarah Palin!”

*Special thanks to Melody Murray for sending us this book.  We will give her a rose-scented sponge bath and feed her honey-soaked figs to say thanks at a later date and time.


In which we join FHA for the free food

27 Mar

In high school I was our (one and only) homecoming queen. See, our basketball team finally qualified for varsity and we got invited to this invitational where they crowned a queen. So our vice principal (“pal” because he is your friend) came up to me and was all, “yeah, so I know this totally goes against your values and all, but you have to be our homecoming queen and go buy a real dress instead of some Guatemalan shift and wear it to this event and sit in a wicker chair on a platform.” So anyway, when they introduced all of us Laura Ashley-clad girls (to the strains of “One Moment in Time”) the announcer kept saying these chicks belonged to something called FHA. My activities went something like this, “Elizabeth Zitron, Shakespeare monologue competition, Rainforest Alliance, protesting fur stores, wearing vegan combat boots, visiting the lesbian bookstore every Saturday.” My mom and I totally could not figure out what the hell this FHA thing was. Finally someone less Jewish than us explained, “Future HOMEMAKERS of America.” For real? For real, yo.

In my teens I was self-righteously disdainful of FHA, now I realize it would have been a great way to learn actual skills like cooking, sewing and financial management that would serve me well in my DIY thirties. Plus, you would get to eat the stuff you made! But at the time, I did not realize that “Sister of the Bride” was actually quite the feminist manifesto.  Oh, and I went to JEWISH DAY SCHOOL. So let’s finish our foray into the world of Jane who at five has decided she wants to be a homemaker. Dream big.

"Jesus, Jane, that Tom is such a tool. I doubt he's financially soluable either."

Seriously, Jane, if you are going to be a homemaker you need to find a better catch than Tom.  Brutha looks like he still gets dropped on the head regularly. Have Mommy take you to the country club and see what’s being offered there before you settle for someone who’s greatest accomplishment is shoving food into his mouth on the first try. Like my mother always said, “get a big diamond, you never know when you might need to hawk it someday.” (She totally hates that I continue to requote it, well, maybe she should have thought of that when she said it to me in college.)

I just like that they use the word "gay" to describe her place because I doubt it's that fabulous.

I love how Mother tries to convince Jane she’s doing far more with her life. Although I secretly agree with her on this point! Honestly, I don’t care what the children think about it (and not just because here they are scary plastic baby dolls), my house is MY castle. They had so better keep their grubby paws off of the Versace couch and my Hermes throw blanket. If they think I’m Mean Mommy now just wait until they run into me and make me spill my pre-“Bold and the Beautiful” martini on the Lagerfeld-designed rug.

"Oh, Jane, here comes the mailman. Mommy'll be back in a half hour, darling."

Notice the youngest of Jane’s scary plastic baby dolls is MISSING and the dog is begging not to be sent the way of the backyard cats.  It’s all so Brangalina. Or maybe it’s more Jennifer Aniston as Jane is a single woman living all alone with nothing but pretend babies and the semblance of a life.

You just keep telling yourself that, Jane. Remember this moment for rehab group therapy.

Oh, so you are going to be a myriad of underpaid, underappreciated jobs? Sweet, Jane!

Bad Job Economy Special! Part Deux

16 Mar

Darling Reader: are you still hungover from our most recent post? Now you know how Mischa Barton feels every day: drunk, no job prospects, a wardrobe five years of out date and declined credit cards at Whole Foods. See, that’s why I just bring a big purse to Whole Paycheck; why bother with embarrassing myself in the checkout lane? (Just don’t put more than one bottle of wine in your faux Hermes Kelly bag, the clinking is a giveaway.) Let’s remind ourselves we have more important things to take care of and continue on our journey to employment.

Damnit, Jane, what can you do besides down three martinis before "The Young and the Restless"?

So when we last saw Jane she was crossing that river of blood in her backyard to her “playhouse.” Her “mom” decides to come visit and I guess dispel housewifely wisdom to her daughter. I wonder if she is using “Wifey” to teach her daughter the facts of homemaker life?

Jane is modeling some good behavior for you job-seekers out there. She confidently lists her skills and qualifications. But she probably should learn to be a better liar. Just say you can cook, stupid! It’s like Excel, you can pick it up on the job. Just tell the person in the cube next to you that you totally forgot how to make the columns add up and could they remind you? That’s what your big smile and short skirt are for, Jane!

"Oh, take a load off. It's five o'clock SOMEWHERE!"

This is how Jane “plays.” No wonder she has to sacrifice cats and slap her scary plastic baby dolls around (oh, spoiler! Snap!) to entertain herself. Why is she starting this at five when she a whole life of drudgery to look forward to? C’mon, Jane, go play doctor with that dumb-looking kid next door. You could convince him to be the patient easily. Just bribe him with some plastic fruit from your mom’s living room display. You will have high school and hanging out in the backseats of cars, college and “experimenting” with your roommate to look forward to.  At least wait until after you get knocked up at prom before you start sweeping in your spare time.

"Then you just need to learn that how to cook them part!"

This is Jane’s mom’s idea of helpful advice. Ignore this. If you are going to be a good homemaker you just need to know one thing: how to dial for take-out. While Jane’s mom rants like she’s Michael Pollan or something, let’s move on…

"Which one of you took Mommy's special medicine?"

Oh, man, you know it’s bad when it looks like Carrie visited after the prom at your house.

See how Jane practices going bat crazy and Crazy Mean Drunk Mommy on her dolls of the perpetual smile? They look adoringly at her with their glazed plastic eyes and smiles sure to keep driving her further into The Problem With No Name insanity. Learning to lose your temper and scare the crap out of your kids before locking yourself in the bathroom with a bottle of bottom-shelf gin is a skill perfected with practice. Just make sure you don’t actually DO anything that will make the neighbors call the authorities. A good rant, some threats and throwing store-brand cereal on the floor should do the trick.

Take a shot everytime Mother says "a good homemaker."

Jane is clearly pretty amateur at this. “They get their feet wet.” What kind of hissy fit is that, Jane? Not the kind that earns you top-dollar (in the form of a bigger allowance from Daddy for all the crap you put up with all day from HIS children while he has fun going to work and has a pretty young, childless secretary.) First, Jane has some pretty unrealistic expectations for molded plastic. Second, …I can’t remember second. This book and it’s preachy, prissy tone is making me lose more brain cells than Paris Hilton each time she goes to the bathroom.  Dang, Jane’s play life sure is exciting, y’all.

And to think, there’s still a few more pages left. It better be five o’clock somewhere.

Bad Job Economy Special: Career Advice!

13 Mar

Phew, sorry I’ve been all gone and stuff. It’s this new job sucking all of my precious energy usually reserved for mocking celebrity gossip, ugly shoes and books. And all of those Ikea runs that keep me drunk on rad Swedish DIY design and keep me from focusing on what really matters: you, My Darling Reader. Well, since I have a job, I thought I would do some community service and start offering career advice via the vehicle of the Unintentionally Funny Book.

Did that degree from DeVry not make you serious about success? Can’t find a job since your devoted to stiletto shoes for pets failed? Or perhaps you are a few tantalizing months away from graduation, at which point you will realize you wish you could stay in school and avoid the crappy job market we’ve inherited from people who thought Enron deserved the space to screw people’s lives up royally. Ahem. Well, get your sorry butt off of the couch, give the hand to Judge Judy and get inspired! You know, to get a job, because they are so easy to get.

It's never too early to start dreaming

Okay, not to get gross, but it seriously looks like she is feeding him poo pancakes that she has made on a dirty old piece of wood. And dumb kid that he is, he looks superpsyched to try them.
So maybe instead of actually going out and getting a job, it’s time to redefine what you already do? Maybe you don’t just sit on the couch all day in your dirty sweatpants because you are a total loser, maybe you are a secret homemaker! And look at that attractive floral arrangement shoved in a watering can that you made! Let’s see what advice this awesome book from the 1960s for girls has to say about YOUR life. Because we need to stay relevant here.

This is so much fun! Until you realize you don't get actually paid.

We could lament about how this book is part of a series that ran from the 1950s until well into the 1990s called “I want to be.” Some high-falutin’ city book-learn’ child psychologists and edukators created this series with the idea that kids could practice reading simple words while thinking 20 years into the future about what they want to be. Because reading shouldn’t be fun. It should be vapid and mind-numbing, much like most of the books in the series (find “I want to be a telephone operator” if you can and prepare to have your mind BLOWN.) Anyway, we could totally harp on this book for it’s mere existence, especially during the early 1960s when Betty Friedan was paving the way for bra burning. Instead, I think we should look at how it affects you. Because you’re what really matters here to me.

Damn ungrateful dog and scary plastic baby dolls who don't appreciate how hard you work for them

(FYI: The problems and stress caused by scary plastic baby dolls becomes a recurring theme.)

So perpetually-delighted and immobile baby dolls are good to practice your growing skill set of yelling, feeling unappreciated, cleaning up a never-ending mess and secret afternoon drinking on. They smile through it all and baby doll therapists aren’t due to make it on the scene until 2020, I believe. The dog is another story. He can turn on you and tell Daddy all about Edward Scissorhands and Tw0 O’Clock Tequila Shots in a second if you don’t stay sharp. See, being a homemaker is just as much about what they don’t see as much as it is about what they do see. It’s kinda like being a spy. Or the director of community theatre.

Jane walks across the river of blood in her backyard to her "play house" in a shack in the far corner of the yard. Cats playfully frolic, unawares of their real purpose.

Besides having plenty of cats around for midnight sacrifices, a good homemaker has a trained dog to drag her lifeless baby around. And that placid smile does not come from meth! That self-satisfied grin is pure vodka martini/Ritalin/Viagra Momtail.  So don’t feel bad about stealing your aging father’s drugs when you can muster up the strength to let your successful brother drag you to that nice place full of active people where your dad watches Fox News and reruns of “Little House on the Prairie” all day. Being unnaturally, prescription-strength happy is all part of the job. See, it’s like you’re working already!

Better stop there and let what you’ve learned so far sink in. Practice some of the skills demonstrated here for a few days when we continue to present “I want to be a homemaker.” Until then, I’ve got a secret rendezvous with Johnny Walker, Neil Diamond and some candlelight.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

22 Jan

And just why shouldn’t you look a gift horse in the mouth? Is it because horses have much stronger teeth that you would expect and tend to bite? Perhaps it’s the stench that eating dirty hay would create in their mouth and I doubt they rinse with Listermint daily. Or maybe it’s just really good advice not to look into the mouths of creatures that can take you out in a minute (this from a woman who once spent time underneath an 1,800 pound horse, but that’s a story for another time and it’s not in a Catherine the Great way either.) Also, did your mall have a store called “The Gift Horse” when you were growing up in the ’80s and liked to go to the mall and pretend you were in the movie “Valley Girl”? I got a pair of unicorn earrings and Michael Jackson poster there, both of which I am sure you can buy at Urban Outfitters right now (along with ugly shoes, ugly fake glasses, ugly sweaters, ugly pants and other ugly hipster sundries.) So why all of the gift talk? Well, Ogden Nash’s daughter and her husband want to tell you all about how great getting a gift is, in case you didn’t know already. I have a feeling they wrote this book, along with their others (“Who is at the door?”, “Where did Tuffy hide?”) from their well-heeled, very modern Upper East Side apartment all done up in white and green geometric patterns in between being fabulous at parties thrown by dowagers, drinking martinis and thanking their live-in maid for making streudel for tea with Mrs. Astor.  But, I digress in my seething jealous imagining of their Town and Country life…

Our heroine peers out from the greener side of the grass.

Probably your great-grandmother’s pearls, monogrammed stationery, a cashmere sweater and a stallion.

Because when you're this wealthy, the cops bring YOU gifts.


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