Monday, August 23, 2010

Life lessons from The Suite Life

If you've ever watched the Disney Channel shows The Suite Life of Zack & Cody or its successor, The Suite Life on Deck, none of what follows will come as a surprise. The series have been a big success for Disney and its teen stars, and the shows' reliance on tired stereotypes hasn't gotten in the way of making money. Here are a few things Suite Life's young viewers have learned over the years:
  • It's not at all creepy for 12- to 14-year-old boys to hit on older girls and young women. Why, it's completely understandable!
  • Black men make great butts of jokes—especially if they work in the service industry and have to wear rather silly uniforms.
  • Corollary: A Latino man is also a rich source of humor if he works in the service industry and must wear a silly uniform. Bonus: Accents are funny!
  • Single women of a certain age sure are pathetic creatures, what with not having snagged a man yet. Their dire straits are all-consuming and they lack other interests. (Single men of a certain age can just keep on keeping on, though.)
  • A country girl from the farm may be sweet, but she's bound to be incredibly dorky and fixated on farm animals.
  • People in other countries are weird. There's not much to be learned from them because they're either exotic or eminently mockable (mostly the latter). Bonus: Accents are funny!
  • Color-blind casting is great, because you can hire an Asian-American actress to play a Paris Hilton type. And her Asianness need never be mentioned. She probably doesn't even know she's Asian. She dates white boys, which is fortunate because the show has already met its Asian quota and cannot cast any others.
  • All teenagers are heterosexual. And also virgins, but no one will discuss that.
  • Kids who blow off schoolwork are much cooler than smart kids who want to learn.
  • Parents are largely beside the point. They're best kept thousands of miles away.
  • If an 8- to 10-year-old prince visits, he'll expect to marry an older teenage girl, whose wishes are irrelevant. She'll likely need a boy to intercede at the last minute to save her from marriage to a prepubescent child.
(Yes, I know it's been ages since I posted anything, but I felt the world needed to know this. My fondest hope is that Suite Life's writers or producers will read this, have an epiphany, and retool the show so that it's not so unremittingly stupid.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

The old "smelly washer" problem

A couple years ago, I wrote about my problem with a stinky washing machine. I tried that product but it only helped a little and I wasn't inclined to keep buying their proprietary powder.

I started using borax (the stuff in the 20 Mule Team box in the laundry aisle) every time I did a load of towels, but the towels never regained their fresh, clean smell.

And now! I've switched to powdered laundry detergent, which is messy and cumbersome compared to liquid detergent. But would you believe I left a load of washed towels closed up in the washer overnight and they were totally fine. Went straight into the dryer; came out smelling like Tide rather than mildew and washer stink. Even when the towels have been used for a few days, they remain fresh and Tidey. In contrast, when I've left a liquid-detergent washer load in the machine for several hours with the lid down, the clothes have demanded a rewashing.

So if you've been vexed by a high-maintenance laundry machine that kicks your butt for forgetting to move clothes out of the washer immediately, and the pesky odor makes you doubt yourself, try using a powder laundry detergent instead.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Calling all Flea fans

Hey! Have you always enjoyed Flea's "One Good Thing" blog? (For my money, she's one of the best writers on the internet, and I keep getting on her to assemble her stuff into book form because it's that good.) The old blog's coming down in a few days and the new one's up and running at a new location. Click over and bookmark it, or set up an RSS feed like I did so you'll never miss a tasty bite of Flea.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Must reading about "real Americans"

Read m. leblanc's Bitch Ph.D. post, "Talkin' 'Bout Real."

She explains why we should, in fact, embrace "identity politics." Why it's pernicious to play the "us and them" game in determining who fits the category of "real Americans" and who doesn't.

The impetus is recent talk about Sarah Palin, Ross Douthat's NYT column about "the democratic ideal" that seems to be "even mediocre white folks can excel," and Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination.

It's really a brilliant essay, and I urge you to read it. Go. Now.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

My byline in the New York Times!

A friend and I co-created today's crossword in the New York Times. W00t!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cool Things

(Not the weather. The weather is quite warm now.)

Cool Thing the First

In Salon Broadsheet, Lynn Harris has written a short essay about legislation that proposes to mandate insurers who cover obstetrical services to also cover IVF and other treatments for infertility. There are some compelling arguments that women/couples with insurance coverage for IVF would be less likely to use turbo-charged injectables and thus less likely to conceive multiples.

Harris includes a parenthetical note linking to an old "Why don't you just adopt?" post of mine:

(Let's get this out of the way: Many people who go down the IVF road get the question, "Why don't you just adopt?" Many of them would like to respond, "Why don't you?")

It's kinda fun to hear new voices chiming in on this topic in the comments lounge. Now, how many of Broadsheet's readers will be keen on reading more...and then discover that I've slacked off on blogging here? Ah, well. These things happen.

Cool Thing the Second

My first New York Times crossword puzzle will be published on Sunday, July 5! I absolutely took the easy way out and made the crossword with a friend who's more savvy about constructing crosswords. I know many people tend to blow off the Sunday paper on a holiday weekend, but getting a puzzle in the Times remains the pinnacle even with a smaller audience. The theme is...not about adoption or fertility treatment. That's the only spoiler I'm giving out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poems about me

My Mother's Day gift from Ben was a book of poems he wrote about me. The kids worked on these all week at school, and these poem books—bound with fat yarn—are impossibly cute.

Here's one, called "My Best Mom: A True Exaggeration Poem"

My mom is the best.
She gets A's on every test.
She can do crosswords at light speed.
And lead the Navy in their deed.
Me and dad love you more than the fanciest cars.
But we should all live on mom's planet Mars.