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Kid Cool.

joecool

Since his 6th birthday, W. has been increasingly interested in being cool. The first time it really leapt out at me, he was working hard on developing cool handwriting – I can remember doing that so clearly, although I think I was a good bit older.

One day recently he accidentally put together a fashion statement that had other kids following him around like he was a rock star; it took a week before I noticed he had been swapping it for the clothes that were laid out for him and wearing it every day. A shopping trip for a few more acceptably iconic t-shirts headed off a major hygiene dilemma. (This outfit consisted of – in case your child could use more adulation – black jeans with gray pinstripes, a white long-sleeved shirt with a black skull print, a black t-shirt with a white image of lightning, and – I think this is the key – a gold Mardi Gras necklace he got from his grandma.)

And then there’s the pop culture – in books, he’s fully a creature of his peers, tearing through Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket. With music, he’s so totally my baby; we got him his own stereo and I’ve been burning him a bunch of mix CDs, and if I have an album on I haven’t listened to in ten years, the tracks he requests copies of are invariably the same tracks I put on my own mix CDs back in the day.

I see several possible explanations for this:

  • As I’ve suspected for years, my musical taste is objectively correct.
  • I have extremely immature taste.
  • I should be an A&R person for music for children.
  • W. should be an A&R person for music for middle-aged women.
  • W. is extremely mature for his age.

This mix-CD thing is fantastic, as he’ll say stuff like, “Can I invite A. over to listen to the new Kinks album in my room?” like he was from the ’70s.

As far as TV goes, he can tell you every detail of every episode of my favorite show, Pushing Daisies. After all these mind-melds, I started to get a little overconfident.

This weekend, I decided he was ready for Mystery Science Theater 3000. This did not go as smoothly as expected – as my collection is confined to elderly VHS cassettes, I was trying to find something on Netflix streaming that would be appropriate – and sufficiently high-energy to hold a 6-year-old’s interest. The lack of episode numbers, along with my lack of a functional brain, made this a bumpy ride, and after starting and stopping a few Season 1 offerings, he got bored. I told him the secret was to find a Joel episode from one of ┬áthe middle seasons, but we never made it that far.

The next day he brought it up in passing, and I said maybe we’d try again some other time – I knew people with 8-year-olds who liked it but maybe 6 was a little young.

WELL. Suddenly this all became VERY interesting to him.

His best friend was due for a playdate at 4. Around 3, he disappeared into his room with the iPad and closed the door.

Ten minutes later, he poked his head around the door. “When A. comes, can you tell him I’m in my room watching Mystery Science Theater?”

“Sure, honey.”

Ten more minutes. “Is A. here yet?”

“Not until 4, honey.”

“When he gets here, will you tell him I’m in my room watching Mystery Science Theater?”

“I will, but – don’t you want to go meet him at the door?”

“Just tell him I’m in my room watch-”

“OK, I’ve got it.”

(Note: THE FOLLOWING CONVERSATION ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I’m not proud.)

Ten minutes pass. He comes out. “Mommy? I think the Mike episodes are better.”

“WHAT!?”

“I like the Mike episodes better.”

“What do you mean, BETTER?”

“The robots are funnier and the movies are more colored.”

“That’s not even true! You’ve hardly seen – how many have you seen?”

“I’ve seen a couple.”

“You’ve seen like half an hour! You don’t have the information to make that kind of judgment!”

(Aaaaand then I heard myself talking and gained the perspective needed not to get into a Joel vs. Mike debate with a first-grader.) (Which, yes, I recognize I already did.)

I think our relationship will recover from this. I don’t have any strong opinions about Star Trek or about which Darren was better on Bewitched.

Tangled up in “ew.”

One entire week I’ve spent tweaking a long, detailed entry about how I really hated “Julie & Julia.” A WEEK. I finally realized that I wasn’t having trouble editing it because it was a terrible piece of writing; rather, it was because I just revived this puppy and do I really want to kick things off brutalizing something I disliked that most people seem to love? I do not. We’re not about the hate here, people.

(I will say THIS about THAT: Had I read the first two lines of Roger Ebert’s review before going out that day, I would have known immediately to spend my movie money elsewhere. Those lines were, more or less, “Have you ever wanted to spend a 3-day bus ride sitting next to Julia Child? Just asking.”)

So I’m going to talk about things I love. I love Project Runway! And it’s back, in a new expanded format. Last week’s All-Stars competition was fun to watch up until the judging, which was insane and wrong, but I’m over it now. Then there’s the series proper, which I’m optimistic about this season – so far I’m rooting for Louise Black, because she made this:

…and, well, I’m considering a Lotto habit that would, if successful, allow me to hire her as my personal stylist. I do recognize that the creation of clothes that I want to wear is not always a path to the top on PR (I still have flashbacks of the judges quizzing Chris March on who exactly would want to wear human hair as I tried to figure out what I had to do to get my hands on that dress [it was strips of hair extensions, it wasn't even gross, but I felt a little Cruella about it]). So I’m trying not to get too attached. But whatever happens, we’ll still have Tim Gunn to root for all season long.

If you also are seriously into PR but you haven’t visited Lifetime’s site for the show, you must go there – unlike its sad old broken Bravo counterpart, it has tons of extra content that’s really worth watching.

What else do I love? I love the new album by The Duckworth Lewis Method, a collaboration between The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh that is all about – well – cricket. I was frightened by that initially; my favorite sport is, after all, avoiding anything to do with sports. But then I heard the first single and was utterly powerless under its spell.

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If you can’t watch right now, I’ll say if you like early Kinks, the Zombies, XTC or cricket, this is the CD for you.

In local news, I am still obsessed with the lunch I had today at Mani’s Bakery. I got a sandwich called “The Regular” on rosemary bread and it might have been the pinnacle of the sandwich-based narrative of my life. And then there was the caramelized apple cake! We were alarmed by the $9/slice price, but then we saw a slab go past and realized it practically demanded to be shared; huge and overwhelming, yes, but quite delicate in flavor. Mani’s is a health-conscious bakery and cafe that tends toward the whole-grain and fruit-sweetened, so if you’re not that kind of eater it may not be up your alley. If you’re on the fence, this tip may help: When deciding between fruit-sweetened desserts, you’ll rarely go wrong picking one that’s supposed to taste like apples anyway.

I’m going to count this as a clearing-out-bad-karma entry. Back soon!

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.

Noggin!

I would like to register a complaint about children’s television. I believe it is a complaint that nobody has ever made about children’s television. It is about cable network Noggin. Noggin: would you please, for the love of all things fluffy, do some damn merchandising already?

All of W.’s favorite shows, with the possible exception of Sesame Street, are on Noggin. When we had our very own apartment, with our very own cable service, their total lack of merch was mildly annoying; I’d think, “Why is there not a Jack’s Big Music Show CD?” (I realize there are Laurie Berkner CDs; my kid’s not so much into the Berkner.) Or while making a list of birthday or Christmas gifts, I’d think he’d really love pretty much anything Oobi-related, too bad no such thing exists. Then I’d move on to checking toy trucks for small, dangerous parts.

Living in a Holiday Inn with a very limited version of Dish TV, we have no Noggin. My kid hadn’t seen Oobi in months when, last week, he decided that he is Oobi, I am Uma, his father is Grampu, and his Grandma L. is, naturally, Oobi’s hip black friend Keiko. We’ve been the Oobi family pretty much constantly since.

Did you know that, as far as I’ve been able to tell from poking around on the net, there are no DVDs of Noggin shows? No downloadable episodes? They don’t even have many shorts on the website, and 90% of the ones they do have are from network mascots Moose and Zee. (90% of the ones that weren’t Moose and Zee? Laurie Berkner!)

They do have some games to play online that are kind of related to the shows, which is nice. I’ll give them that one.

There have been many things about parenthood that have been vastly different from my expectations. This one might top them all. I really never thought I’d be bemoaning the lack of licensed-character merchandise for children.