May, 2009

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Why Danny Gokey is not the American Idol, by Wesley, age 4.

Wes doesn’t usually watch prime time TV because it’s right at his bedtime. The past few weeks, though, I’ve let him watch American Idol. Regulars will not be surprised to hear that he instantly had an understanding of the goings-on that, I believe, would qualify him to replace almost any of the judges. To “pitchy,” “artistry,” “magical,” and “indulgent,” add Wesley’s judging criterion: Rock Star.

We started out with the fabulous Adam Lambert’s Whole Lotta Love. Wes refused to give an assessment of Adam’s standing in the competition, as he was positive Adam was not a contestant but had just come in with his bandmate Slash [that night's mentor]. Rock star +++.

Next was whiskey-voiced teen Allison Iraheta wailing on some Janis Joplin. “Mommy, she’s a rock star too!”

Third, we have mellow laid-back cute boy Kris Allen singing Revolution. Wes watched this one much longer before opining. “I think he’s just pretending to be a rock star.”

This is when I began to suspect he was a genius.

(We missed the smarmy and unmusical Danny Gokey’s evisceration of Aerosmith somehow, but did see Adam & Allison duet on “Slow Ride,” an event that has caused Wes to take up writing preschool fan fiction. He calls them Adison. Just like crazy internet people with the smushing together of names. Don’t go feeling all justified, crazy internet people, he’s FOUR.)

This week, he finally got the Gokey experience. During “You Are So Beautiful,” he turned to me and said, “I think he could be a rock star.”

What? Could my kid not be a genius after all? Doesn’t he have any comprehension of pitch or phrasing or breath control? (By “he” I meant Wes, but one might ask the same about Gokey.) How can he like this? You’re almost in kindergarten, dude, step it up!

But out loud I said:

“He could?”

Wes nodded sagely. Did that eye-roll/head-loll he does when about to state the obvious.

“Yes. He just has to learn to sing like a rock star.”

Oh, is that it? Just the singing that’s the problem? Genius status regranted.

Also, I’m totally letting him watch all my shows with me from now on.

The best thing that ever happened to me while I was at work with a migraine.

I used to work at Hear Music in Santa Monica, before it was a record label or owned by Starbucks or any of that. I loved that job, as I always love every job I have that’s just above minimum wage. Why can’t there be a record store that pays employees $60k a year? But I digress.

This was also in the era in which I used to get debilitating visual migraines (turned out it was an allergy to – wait for it – my allergy shots), and one day I got one that was so severe I had to call R. to come pick me up and curl into a ball behind the desk to wait for him. After a few minutes, one of my coworkers stopped in front of me, looked at me for a second, and said in a determined fashion, “I’m gonna cheer you up.”

She went to the back of the store and returned with a CD, which she shielded from my view as she put it on.

Surely the opening strains of Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual” would have perked me up all by themselves. That’s what they’re there for.

But here’s the amazing bonus thing: Throughout the store, everyone – a few coworkers, customers shopping solo and completely immersed in the CD bins – burst into this little hip-out-to-the-side groovy mini-dance at the same time. Nobody but us ever knew it, because they weren’t looking at each other.

It was the closest I’ve ever been to living in a music video.

If you ever have the chance to attempt to recreate this societal phenomenon, I surely recommend it.

Tackling the big issues.

This weekend was one for (theoretically) tough questions from the small child. My Facebook peeps may have read one of these already, but not the second one.

“Mommy, marriage is one girl & one guy, right?”

(Why does my 4-year-old know Republican talking points?) “Well… most of the time.”

“Right, or it can be two guys.”

“Or two girls, right. You marry the person you love the most and want as your partner for life.”

“Oh! OK!” (Leaves room to blow bubbles.)

Memo to Prop 8 people: It’s really not that freaking complicated.

The other conversation that began yesterday started out being pretty predictable.

“Mommy, what does ‘black person’ mean?”

“You know [list some people he knows]? They’re black people.”

“What? They’re brown!”

“I know, that’s just a word people use for some reason. Like, they call people who look like us white, and we’re not actually the color white, are we?”

“No, we’re kind of pink.”

Today, we were watching Wow Wow Wubbzy and the Wubb Girls made an appearance.

“Mommy, what kind of people are they?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they’re blue. So they’re blue… no wait. I can’t think of the word, but it’s a color that’s close to blue.”

“Green? Turquoise? Aqua?”

“Yes! You got it, Mommy – aquamarine. They’re aquamarine folks. Because they’re blue.”

My first thought: “‘Aquamarine folks’? That rules!”

Second thought: Can’t wait to hear about how he’s assigning slightly inaccurate skin colors to all his friends at school.

Sometimes you think a conversation’s about to get seriously weird…

This evening, Wes and I were talking about one of his school friends, who had told Wes he couldn’t have a certain TV character as a favorite because she was a girl. Wes was pretty clear without my having to offer counsel that that was dumb and you could like anyone you want, but wanted an explanation as to why someone would say that. “He’s a 4-year-old misogynist” seemed harsh, so I stalled for time.

“Isn’t he friends with girls at your school?”

“Yeah! We play with girls every day! We pretend we’re monsters and chase the girls around. Then when we catch them we say [regretful voice] ‘Oh, I put your sister in the lover.’”

“You say WHAT?”

“I put your sister in the lover.”

“In the…”




[World's longest "uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..."]

“Mommy! The stuff that comes out of volcanoes!”

“OH! That… actually makes sense.”

We never got back to the original question, but I think it’s best that I don’t attempt to speak with authority on any subject for at least 48 hours.

Goblin King, cont’d

Scott tried to link to this in the comments on the last section, but apparently you can’t put links in my comments, probably because of something I did wrong in a past life. But it’s really funny, so I’m linking it here instead.

I’ve seen this movie a couple times, but was so distracted by David Bowie, and also by all the David Bowie, that I never really noticed parts of it are not very good. And the last time I saw it was like a month ago. So kudos to you, David Bowie, for giving new meaning to carrying a movie.

In which it’s more fun to assume a child is responding to your whole sentence rather than just one part.

david-bowie-138“Who’s this singing?”

“This is David Bowie. You know David Bowie, right? Oh – maybe you only know him as the Goblin King.”

“Is his goblin castle underneath us right now?”

“Well, he doesn’t really – uh – David Bowie is an actor, so sometimes he makes his hair all big and goes underground to live with goblins, and other times he’s a musician who makes his own records in a studio.”

“Like Uncle Jon?”

“EXACTLY like Uncle Jon.”