Monday, April 30, 2012

What's Worse Than a Jar Jar Binks Doll?

A lollipop/toy based on Jar Jar Binks' tongue!

You'll recall when I complained about Jar Jar Binks action figures still being sold in 2012. (Haven't we learned from our mistakes, people?) Well, this product (above) seems infinitely worse.
Here's how they describe it on the Gizmodo site:
This sucker commemorates that hi-larious scene in The Phantom Menace where Liam Neeson's character catches Jar Jar's darting tongue during dinner.

But instead of going the Stretch Armstrong route and making a novelty toy you can twist and stretch around, this horrific piece of candy encourages kids—and die-hard grown up collectors—to literally suck on Jar Jar's tongue. Oh to have been a fly on the wall during that product pitch.
I really don't remember that scene (is it a joke?). But then, I've pretty much blocked that entire movie from my consciousness.

Alternate headline: This Really Sucks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Island Prisons Revisited: Rikers Island

Back in 2010, I compiled a list of the greatest island prisons ever depicted on screen — from Shutter Island to the Erehwon penitentiary in "Face/Off."

At the time I noted that Rikers Island (situated in between the Bronx and Queens) wasn't picturesque enough to be featured in many movies, as you can see from the photo here.

The various "Law & Order" shows often have scenes at the prison, which holds offenders awaiting trial. But they never show the outside of the facility.

So I was excited to see the ABC drama "Revenge" feature Rikers Island, complete with an attractive establishing shot. (I snapped this of the TV using a phone, so forgive the poor quality.)

It actually looks kind of cool. It's still no Alcatraz, of course, but cool.

According to "Revenge," Rikers also has a woefully unsecured shower facility. Watch out, guys!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wonders of New York City

Our temporary apartment boasts views of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings and most of the Midtown skyline, putting the splendor of this great metropolis on display.

The kids were pretty impressed by this. Until they realized that HOLY CRAP, THE OTTOMANS OPEN UP AND WE CAN CLIMB INSIDE.

For them, this is the highlight of the move to New York so far.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Well, We're Here

We have arrived in Manhattan, where we'll be living in temporary housing for the next month.

Elliot already styles himself a bit of an expert on New York. He knows, for instance, that the population is "about a hundred people" and that this is called the Statue of Liberty.

Thanks, Mr. Know-It-All!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Leaving Our Hearts in San Francisco

Well, loyal readers, it's with a heavy heart that I announce we're moving to New York.

I know what you're thinking: New York City? They don't even know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like.

But I'm been offered an exciting assignment — and as much as we adore the Bay Area (and hope to be back someday) — it was something we couldn't pass up.

I'll continue to offer my perspectives on being a dad, just from the other side of the country.

Meanwhile, I hope someone will continue to document stop-sign graffiti in my absence. (I've already done some cursory checks and it's seemingly nonexistent in the Big Apple.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

'Turn My Headphones Up'

As a frozen-in-time fan of '90s hip-hop, I was thrilled to watch the resurrection of 2Pac in hologram form. How eerie to see a 25-year-old Pac performing with a now 40-year-old Snoop Dogg (the two men were once the same age).

I would have been even more excited to see him perform "Hit 'Em Up" or "Life Goes On," but one can't be too choosy about the set list for deceased rappers.

Another recent treat: Slate's history of rappers saying "Turn My Headphones Up" at the beginning of songs.

From the piece:
At the beginning of his new track “Theraflu,” Kanye West asks “Can my headphones go louder?” It’s a familiar request. In fact, it’s so familiar that you’d think that sound engineers would have learned to keep rappers’ headphones loud already. There are whole Facebook groups dedicated to Eminem’s famous “I have no snare in my headphones” complaint in “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (snare volume seems to be a recurring frustration for Mr. Mathers), and Dave Chappelle wrote a brilliant sketch exclusively about the phenomenon. 
The fact that these requests persist years after Chappelle’s Show proves that the “turn my headphones up” (TMHU) is much more than an isolated or thoughtless phenomenon. Some TMHU demands arise from necessity: Rapping, after all, requires a strong sense of rhythm and a firm grasp on the beat, and not being able to hear the snare in your headphones could be the difference between a hit recording and another failed take.

One of my favorite instances (not cited by Slate) is on "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," where Ma$e says to Puff Daddy (pre-P. Diddy), "Yo, turn me up in the headphones." Puff Daddy obliges.

I've always been a fan of rappers' technical complaints in general. Nothing beats when Fat Joe says, "Put the f---in' mic on" at the beginning of "What's Luv?" (Question: If the mic wasn't on, how did it record him saying that?)

But this trend jumped the shark when light-rock songstress Colbie Caillat started one of her biggest hits by asking her producer, "Will you count me in?" (True, she wasn't complaining about her headphones, but it seemed to be in the same vein.)

Oh, Colbie. You're so gangsta.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I like that people entering Berkeley's Sproul Plaza (the birthplace of the Free Speech movement) are greeted by "dismount" signs painted on the ground.

It's meant as a warning to bicyclists, though I wonder if it would help tone down today's rhetoric if it applied to high horses too.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Elliot the Photobomber

Our 3-year-old will happily ruin family photos...

...and even pictures for a Craigslist ad selling the car.

Nothing is safe.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Amateur Move

Someone painted "Stop Driving" on the sidewalk of Blake Street.

The sidewalk?

It seems safe to assume that someone walking down the sidewalk isn't currently driving (though you never know). Anyway, GET WITH THE PROGRAM.

Meanwhile, stop-sign vandals have spread to Belmont (as documented by BuboBlog correspondent Bill).

Their message: "Stop & Appreciate."

As always, I deduct points for using a sticker.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

At Last, a Urinal for Toddlers

Given our 3-year-old's affinity for urinals, I'm strongly tempted to purchase this product (featured on the Chronicle's Mommy Files blog).

It doesn't require plumbing — you just put water in the top and it flows down. Still, I'm not exactly sure where we'd fit it.

Monday, April 09, 2012

'Arthur' vs. 'Family Guy'

The list of bad children's books includes "Arthur's Nose," a story about an aardvark who comes to terms with his long schnoz.

Cracked's writers didn't complain about the book itself — their issue is that the character's look has changed so radically in subsequent years that now he hardly has any nose at all. That undermines the point of the original story.

Courtesy of

I actually have my own complaint about "Arthur." Elliot began watching the PBS series a few months ago, and I couldn't help but notice some striking similarities with another cartoon.

It features a baby and a red-collared dog who are best friends. The infant is perfectly eloquent, but only the dog can understand the baby — none of the other characters can. Also: One of them has an English accent.

What the deuce?

Even more striking: The "Arthur" show added these characters in 1999 — the same year "Family Guy" debuted.

You have to wonder if "Arthur's" producers weren't trying to broaden their demographic to include stoned college kids.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Disturbing Children's Books has a piece this week on six children's books that teach "horrible lessons." (I myself have delved into this territory before. Here's my take on "The Princess and the Pea" and "The Frog Prince.)

I was excited to see the first book they mention is "Love You Forever," a mainstay in our household.

My mother gave this book to Elliot, and he frequently requests it for bedtime reading. It's a bizarre tale about a mother who sneaks into her son's room each night and rocks him to sleep. When he becomes an adult and moves away, she STILL creeps into his room and rocks him to sleep. WTF?

I actually think the main problem with this book is the illustration style. It's done in a very earnest manner. To pull off a book like this, you'd need something a little quirkier.

Or maybe it's just the Canadian otherness that's offputting: The author lives in Ontario, and that's where he got his start as a writer.

(However, according to Wikipedia, he's an American-born former cocaine addict who is bipolar and once studied to become a Jesuit priest. That probably explains a lot.)

We don't have the other books that Cracked includes in its list, so I can't really evaluate those. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like this one: "Because Your Daddy Loves You."

It depicts a dad who goes to extreme lengths to please his daughter.

An excerpt:
"When you ask for a piggyback ride to bed, your daddy could say, "Come on, old lazybones, get up those stairs!" But he doesn't. He swings you onto his back and marches up and up the stairs and drops you gently on your bed and kisses you goodnight."

Um, that kid needs to climb those stairs her damn self. (By the way, I call Elliot "lazybones" on a daily basis.)

In a funny coincidence, there's another list making the rounds this week: "Terrifying French Children's Books."

That list cites a number of seemingly inappropriate tales. This one (below) is about "a huge lady who sucks children out of their upper story windows with her umbrella then spirits them away under her skirts."

Another is about a duck dying and then dancing with Death.

French people have different attitudes about what to show children, I guess.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the person who gave Elliot "Love You Forever" is French herself (my mom).

You don't want kids to get too complacent.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Muni Rethinks Stroller Policy

Remember back when Kelly and I were new parents? We foolishly brought our stroller onto a Muni Metro car, where we were told that the stroller violated "federal law."

It turns out that the no-stroller rule was just a Muni policy, not a federal regulation (though that didn't stop me from writing a Biggie-inspired "Federal Agents Mad 'Cause I'm Flagrant" headline).

Now San Francisco supervisors are discussing whether the anti-stroller policies are chasing families out of the city. (It sounds like they're more concerned about Muni buses than the Metro, though.)

From the Chronicle's City Insider column:
It may seem like a small thing, but Muni’s rigid policy about baby strollers has been a longtime gripe among parents of young children. Currently, it’s up to the bus driver’s discretion about whether to allow a stroller on board at all. (Imagine the outcry if that was the policy for wheelchairs.) If it is allowed, the baby must be removed and the stroller must be folded up. The policy also specifically prohibits parents with strollers from using wheelchair lifts and “special ramped platforms” for boarding a Muni bus. 
Oh, and if a parent does manage to climb on board clutching a folded up stroller in one hand and a baby in the other, he or she is given no priority for the seats at the front. So basically, the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round all over town – with no baby strollers on them at all. 
[Supervisors David Chiu and Sean Elsbernd] are “urging” Muni to consider permitting unfolded strollers on board as long as they’re not blocking the aisle, the wheels are locked and babies are strapped in. They also want parents with strollers to be allowed to use wheelchair lifts to board buses and to receive secondary priority for the prime seats after seniors and disabled people.
Elliot and I rode Muni buses everyday when we lived in San Francisco, but I have mixed feelings about this idea. First of all, bringing a stroller onto a bus is a hassle for pretty much everyone (you, your fellow riders, the bus driver). You're better off carrying your child in a Baby Bjorn or a sling.

As for getting priority on buses, I was apparently perceived as such a barely competent dad that people went to extreme lengths to clear a space for me. I never had an issue getting a seat. In fact, I had to fight people off to let me stand.

So if you run into trouble, dads, just act like a bumbling nincompoop.

Sorry, I have no advice for moms.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Hey Baby, Let's Go Talk to Some Animals

I love the subtitle to this book: "Hey, baby! Look at these animals on the farm!"

But only because I imagine it in Mark Wahlberg's voice.

 Maybe he can do the audio version.