Archives for October 2012

Halloween (Observed)

Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year. That’s not such a big deal for the kids, because they start trick-or-treating before dark and are done only a little after their normal bedtimes, when the sugar crash takes them down harder than an old casino. But for the grown-ups, who for the sake of this argument I will include to mean people in their 20s and 30s, a mid-week Halloween presents some problems.

Principally: when does one throw a Halloween party? Or hit the bars in costume? Or wait in the bushes for a suitably sexy nurse/French maid/schoolmarm?  It seems to me that the answer is obvious, that the nearest weekend night that’s not after the actual holiday is the de facto stand-in non-schoolnight Halloween. Right? Isn’t that the way it’s always been?

And yet in recent years I have been noticing a steady erosion of this unspoken social contract, with people taking to the streets in costume on non-sanctioned surrogate Halloweens.

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You Didn’t Build That Binder Full Of Women

So funny I forgot to laugh

It’s kind of breathtaking when the entire Internet seizes on the same thing at the same moment, but that’s what happened Tuesday night during the second presidential debate, when “binders full of women” became a meme, a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, an Instagram, a tumblr, a Pinterest board, and a sought-after boutique gift item on Etsy about 45 seconds after the words came out of Mitt Romney’s mouth.

All day Wednesday and Thursday, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were jam-packed with Photoshopped pictures and links to reviews of binders on Amazon and all manner of commentary on the phrase, be it graphic, literal, or metaphorical. It is kind of amazing how quickly something can catch onto the popular imagination in the digital age.

I was watching the debate on a 20-minute DVR delay, and at some point early on I took a peek at Twitter to see what all the funny people I follow were saying about the candidates’ performances. They were all (ALL) talking about Binders Full of Women. I found this puzzling, because I had not yet reached that moment in the debate, but when I got there, I was still puzzled. What, exactly, is so fascinating about this, this… I don’t even know what to call it. Slip of the tongue? Misstatement? I feel like “odd formulation” is the best way to put it.

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Ben Affleck Suffers From Drew Barrymore Disease

I’m yelling, but I’m smiling!

There’s a new movie hitting theaters this week that sounds like it could be pretty good: Argo, the stranger-than-fiction story of a CIA agent who gets six hostages out of 1979 Iran by posing as a film producer scouting desert locations, and passing off the hostages as his crew. Even better, it stars John Goodman (never not great), Alan Arkin (criminally underrated despite a lifetime-achievement Oscar disguised as a Best Supporting trophy for Little Miss Sunshine), and Bryan Cranston (the Swiss Army knife of American actors). Best of all, it’s from the director of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck.

I loved Gone Baby Gone — it was a surprisingly assured debut that got a career-best performance from its lead (Casey Affleck) and emphasized its Boston setting in part by casting local barflies in key walk-ons. The Town I liked a little less. Even though Jeremy Renner found the perfect follow-up to The Hurt Locker as a borderline psycho bank robber, the Boston setting and Boston accents felt a little reheated from Gone Baby Gone, I never bought the romantic subplot, and Affleck cast a leading man who nearly capsized the whole enterprise, and who I fear will do the same thing to Argo: Ben Affleck.

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The Worst Bathtub Accident of All Time

I read somewhere that 90% of all accident-related injuries occur in the home, and that 90% of those occur in the bathroom. I can’t remember where I read these statistics, and I don’t much feel like Googling them now, but I can tell you from personal experience that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, especially if you have small kids.

Even though my son is a rough and rowdy five years old, well past the age where I have to worry that the weight of his head will capsize him headfirst to drown in seven inches of off-white soapy water, I still feel a little uneasy about leaving him alone in the bathtub.

That’s because his mischief meter, already usually hovering around a 7, invariably pegs the needle the moment his feet hit the water. No matter how scary I try to make my voice, no matter how implicitly I threaten severe violence (because explicitly threatening it would be bad parenting) if I see one more drop of water on the floor, the thrill of splashing, sloshing, pouring, spitting, flicking, and kicking us more than he can resist.

You know that move where you slide back and forth from one end of the tub to the other, and the water starts to move with you, but then you push off the other end of the tub so you’re going one way and the water’s going the other, so there’s a big collision/wave-break/splash in the middle? We all did it. Well, he does it too and I now understand why my mother couldn’t quit smoking cigarettes till I was in high school.

It’s one thing to find a big, wet mess that someone else made and know that it will take at least two clean towels (an embarrassingly precious commodity in our house) to clean it up. It’s another to know that at least half that mess is in an incredibly hard-to-reach spot under the bathroom sink cabinet and between the cabinet and the bathtub. But nothing boils the blood like knowing that said mess was created in direct contravention of your own explicit orders.

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