Kids don’t come with instruction manuals — until now.

October 31, 2008

I don’t have kids. It’s not that I don’t like them. I don’t get people who claim not to like kids. Kids aren’t something you can like or dislike, like lima beans or Bon Jovi. Lima beans will always be lima beans. But kids are only temporarily kids. If you don’t like them, it really means you don’t like people who won’t be quiet and leave you alone. Which is perfectly fine and understandable, but in that case the real truth is that you’re grouchy and irritable, and don’t like to be bothered.

Why no kids for me yet? I’ve been lucky, I guess. I didn’t always take the precautions necessary to guarantee I wouldn’t have them. I think I’m prepared for kids now, but I still don’t have any. There are some civil formalities my mating partner and I feel we should see through before actively pursuing our own brood. But we’re pretty sure that once we get that business hashed out, we’re going to try to produce at least one person of our own.

But then again, I waffle. I know people who have kids, and I see them struggle mightily (or, worse, not struggle at all) to make them behave as I see fit. Of course, as a non-parent, I’m not qualified to share my opinion on the dos and don’ts of child-rearing. But I have to admit that when in the presence of these families I often find myself thinking, “I could parent that kid way better than that.”

Of course, I’m probably wrong. That’s why, even though my partner in two-backed-beast-making and I have in the past year enthusiastically discussed how cool it would be to procreate, I’m still just not sold on the idea.

There might be hope, though. Tonight, while watching one of my favorite cable news shows, I saw a commercial for a program that promises to make parenting easy.

Does your kid talk back? This program will solve it, “no matter how nasty your child gets.” Is your child prone to public outbursts? The program promises a “surefire” way to fix that. Is arguing with the ‘rents your kid’s favorite pastime? This will nip that in the bud, “even if your teenage son is 6’2″  and you’re 5’4″.”

I’m taller than 5’4″, but not by a whole heck of a lot. It’s nice to know if I have a kid who gets big enough to beat me up in a fistfight, a program exists that will help me avoid that.

If you’ve seen the commercials, you know I’m talking about The Total Transformation Program. It was created by James Lehman, a formerly defiant, drug-abusing teenager himself. He knows what he’s talking about, because he’s been there.

A little web research on the program reveals almost exclusively glowing reviews by satisfied parents. Knowing that such a failsafe plan to whip my problem child (should I have one) into shape is pretty comforting. Now I guess I just need some bow-chicka-bow-booooow music to get this party started.


Sheena Easton and Judd Hirsch invade my brain.

October 29, 2008

Every so often, I’d say about three or four times a week, a relic from popular culture rises from the detritus of my mind and becomes, without warning, something I am thinking about. For example, the other day, while walking my dog, I found myself haunted by the melody of “Strut” by Sheena Easton. Then, a couple of days later, I woke up thinking of Judd Hirsch.

What type of neurological sequences lead to these events? I have no idea. Do I find it disturbing that my subconscious is a wasteland of trite pop culture leftovers? A little. But when you grow up on a steady diet of cable TV and pop radio, you can’t very well expect a few semesters of reading Shakespeare and Whitman in college to override years of  “Who’s The Boss” and “Charles In Charge” episodes. (What was with the trend of sitcoms about male housekeepers and/or babysitters in the ’80s anyway?  Was the reversal of gender roles really such a bizarre idea back then? )

The point is, I’m afraid I may find myself on my deathbed suddenly wondering who played Vinnie in “Doogie Howser MD.” But then again, by then, whatever wireless device we’ll be using to answer those kinds of questions will likely be hardwired into our circuitry. I may even be able to drift off to eternal sleep while watching the 24-minute pilot where Doogie kisses his first girl and loses his first patient — all in the same week.

“Gossip Girl” opponents don’t know how good they have it.

August 5, 2008

To the sanctimonious folks who have so stridently come out against the new “Gossip Girl” ad campaign (and who have unwittingly contributed so generously to its success): Hey, at least it ain’t this:

The ineluctable allure of Joan Holloway

July 24, 2008

Chuck D. taught me a long time ago not to believe it. Yet I’ve recently bought into the “Mad Men” hype. But I have an explanation. Five of them.

1. Zippy DVD packaging.

2. The look.

With excellent set design, costumes and art direction, “Mad Men” is a marvel to watch, even with the sound turned down.

3. The “The Sopranos” connection

I whiffed on “The Sopranos.” I kept telling myself I would get around to watching it. I never did. And I refuse to watch any series on DVD that exceeds four seasons (You barely made the cut, “The Wire.”) I’m not going to make the same mistake with “Mad Men”, which was created by “The Sopranos” writer and producer Matthew Weiner.

4. Professional curiosity.

I’m a copywriter at an advertising agency. Although “Mad Men” is set in the Paleolithic Period as far as the advertising business is concerned, it’s interesting (and in some ways, even instructive for newcomers to the business) to see how the writers depict the industry. Of course, the depiction will often be oversimplified, and will exploit stereotypes for the sake of comedy and drama. But this is a prime-time TV drama, not a documentary.

5. Joan Holloway.

Even in the absence of the aforementioned reasons, “Mad Men” would still require my rapt, undivided attention thanks to the presence of Christina Hendricks, whose Rubenesque form — already awesomely appealing in ordinary 21st century clothes — is a first-round, first-minute knockout in the hip-hugging, chest-accentuating clothes of 1960.

Enough said.