Brony

My Little Pony

In case you don’t follow closely, I’m the dad of two girls that are (at the time of this post) five years old. I alluded to this in a previous post but we watch a lot of children’s shows, for better or worse and one of our favorites around the house is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I am here to confess to you that I actually enjoy watching this show with my girls, and have been for quite some time. There’s a term for guys like me. Brony is used all over the internet and it’s either a term or derision or a badge of honor depending on who’s using it. Brony seems to be a natural phenomenon within the context of the New Sincerity movement that has grown tired of irony and cynicism that pervades most of our lives.

I can’t deny, the show is a treat to watch with my daughters. There’s a lot of subtle humor in the episodes and nods to a previous generation, those of us who grew up on Chuck Jones humor that might cringe a little bit with every dynamite explosion. (Though much like in Bugs Bunny world, there are an inexplicable glut of anvils and such around in precarious places in Equestria.) There are send ups to Benny Hill’s “Yakety Sax” scenes, I Love Lucy, The Big Lebowski and more. I love that they added John de Lancie to voice a character very similar to Star Trek – The Next Generation’s Q. I also love that he became so interested in the fanbase that he helped produce a film about them. I’ve yet to see the film, but I’m interested in seeing it.

I also love that the characters are well rounded, though occasionally flawed, role models for girls. Everything is not about boys, looking pretty, and being popular. Instead, the characters model characteristics like loyalty, studiousness, responsibility, kindness, toughness (and yes, being pretty if you’re Rarity) which little girls need to learn before entering the cruel, cruel world of school. I love that the characters live in a dangerous world, but that they can overcome the challenges together. I feel like my girls are at a stage now where they need to learn that life is full of difficult tasks, but I’m not ready to drop them in the deep end of the pool just yet.

I also love that the show gives me something to connect with my girls. We love Phineas and Ferb and My Little Pony gives us another show to memorably quote. (We quote a lot of movies/TV shows around our house… it’s something Adriene and I have always done, so it’s no surprise the girls are learning that trait, too.) It’s a perfectly normal thing on a car trip for me to ask “Who wants a flugelhorn?” and get response from the back seat, “I want a flugelhorn!” I ask again, “Who ELSE wants a flugelhorn?” and hear in stereo, ” I WANT A FLUGELHORN!!!”

We have been through several stages of life raising twins and I have to say that the stage we’re at now is by far my favorite. I love that we seem to be finally getting past the difficulties of communication of toddlerhood and the instant resistance to rules and order. I love that they can understand jokes and humor and laugh at our absurdities and they make me laugh on almost a daily basis. This is a sweet age that we are at now and I know it is going to be all too short before they start caring more about what boys and other girls think too much. In the meantime, I have no problem watching a cartoon show about Ponies with my girls if it means we spend more time together.

Ranking Childrens’ Shows

Now that I’ve got about 4 years of experience watching childrens’ shows, I feel like I’m in a position where I can authoritatively rank them in order of watchableness as an adult. I’d love to say that we don’t watch television in this house and that we spend all our time doing arts and crafts and healthy exercise with family activities in the yard and all that, but I’m going to abandon any of that pretentious lying. Sometimes daddy just needs the girls to sit still for a little while because he is tired a lot.

A couple of caveats first. I have two girls, so unfortunately I don’t get to watch superhero shows like Spiderman, Batman, etc., I can’t tell you if they are any good or not. Also, I couldn’t find a place for Sesame Street on this list. It’s a classic and it defies ranking. All that being said, here are my rankings of childrens’ TV shows:

I WOULD DEFINITELY WATCH THIS EVEN IF I DIDN’T HAVE KIDS
1.) Phineas and Ferb

I MIGHT WATCH THIS, OKAY I WOULD PROBABLY WATCH THIS EVEN IF I DIDN’T HAVE KIDS
2.) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

I HAVE CHUCKLED BEFORE WHILE WATCHING THIS WITH MY CHILDREN
3.) Pound Puppies
4.) Word Girl
5.) Martha Speaks

SWEET AND WISTFUL AS LONG AS YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODE 100 TIMES
6.) Little Einsteins
7.) Backyardigans
8.) Super Why!
9.) Sofia The First
10.) Doc McStuffins
11.) Octonauts

KINDA REPETITIVE
12.) Fresh Beat Band
13.) Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
14.) Jake and The Neverland Pirates
15.) Dinosaur Train

NAILS ON THE CHALKBOARD
16.) Curious George
17.) Dora The Explorer
18.) Go Diego Go!
19.) Max and Ruby
20.) Calliou

Feel free to argue your case if you think the rankings should be different, even if you are probably wrong.

Pitchers and Catchers Report

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I don’t know why I still follow baseball. After the nonsense of an infield fly rule called in the outfield of a nonsense one-game wild card playoff, I was so over baseball last year. Yet. Yes, yet, every winter I get suckered back in. Even before winter is finished, those words “Pitchers and catchers report” get my attention and I’m back again.

I grew up on baseball. My father took me to my first football game, but when I went to my grandparents, the Braves were always on. It didn’t matter which set of grandparents, at either house the TV was always on TBS in the evening when I visited. At home, I had a transistor radio and at night I tuned it to WSB and Pete, Skip, and Ernie would talk me to sleep as a child. I learned to score games and even today I’ll buy a program and a pencil at a game so I can fill it out. I didn’t play organized baseball as a child because I played soccer, but when I was a little older I played church league softball. However, in our cul-de-sac all of the kids would play baseball with a wiffleball bat and a tennis ball. We were Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, Claudell Washington, Gene Garber, or Phil Nekro. It didn’t matter if the Braves were terrible (and they were) they were our team.

Something funny happened in high school. Our terrible team suddenly, and very suddenly became very good. I was on the phone with a friend when Sid Slid and we screamed at each other. We were so excited as a city that we threw a parade for losing the World Series. Then came the strike and when the Braves did win the World Series, I was 600 miles away and still mad about the strike. That’s ok though because leading three games to none the next year, I was going to get my chance to celebrate a World Series at home and Jim Leyritz ruined all that. That’s when the cynicism set in from year after year of playoff exits. After that, football became more fun at Georgia Tech and I rediscovered soccer.

Still, I can’t shake baseball and the Braves (and if we’re going include teams that underachieve in the post-season, let’s throw in Georgia Tech baseball, too.) No sport has the optimism right in time to match the weather every spring. No other sport drags through the long, slow summer with such a laconic pace. No other sport brings me face-to-face with such constant failure where one hit out of four at bats is a decent day. No other sport ushers in the bitter cold of winter with the bitter cold disappointment in the post-season. We’ve taken the girls to college and minor-league baseball, but this year it’s time to go to Turner Field. I’ll set aside my pessimism, just like I do every spring, and bring back the soundtrack to my summer evenings again.

Welcome Autumn

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I had a draft post written up early in August about how August is my least favorite month of the year and how this year I was going to make the best of it and force myself to enjoy the month. You know what? August was terrible. Good riddance.

The popular opinion among many of friends is that this summer can’t end fast enough and everyone seems eager to move on to fall. I don’t know if I’d say it’s been the worst summer ever for me. I mean, I didn’t get swine flu and I didn’t work 60 hours a week every week of the summer. However, it was a very up-and-down summer between the last Cornerstone Festival possibly ever, a fun but tiring trip to Walt Disney World, and saying goodbye to our cat. That’s a lot of highs and lows and it’s made me difficult to function so if you haven’t heard much from me lately that’s probably why.

Then this weekend, we took the girls to the first football game of the year. The weather even cooperated, it genuinely felt like fall. The girls alternated between “This is awesome!” and “I want to go home!” for most of the game, but I think they had a good time. I didn’t see very much of the game while keeping them occupied but it was fun (and I am glad that they are staying with babysitters for the rest of the season.) I know we are a week and a half away from the official start of autumn but it’s like even nature can’t wait to get this started. Bring it on, I say. I’ve got my coffee ready, I’m already overdosing in football, and soon it will be apple-picking and pumpkin-carving time. I’m ready for autumn.

Lizzie

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“My wife wanted a cat and I didn’t, so we got a cat.” – Jason Windsor

We thought it would be funny to name our cats after royalty, so naturally our first cat would be Queen Elizabeth. So wore the moniker well. She roamed around the house like she owned it. We took her maybe a little bit too soon from her mother and because of that, we were mom and dad. When I was a child, my parents had a cat and that one was standoffish, but not Lizzie. Lizzie was always in the same room as you, sometimes on top of you. When she wanted attention, she was going to get it one way or another. As a kitten, she was wild, running around our apartment jumping from couch to couch, feet never touching the floor. She calmed down a little bit in her mature age and started taking to the top of the couch, surveying her kingdom from up on high.

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I was a little concerned when the girls were born how the cat would take having children in the house. How would she deal with getting less attention and then as the children grew, getting pulled, punched, and swatted by toddlers? It turns out she was a champ. That cat wanted to be right in the action, cuddling with mom when she cuddled with the girls. She occasionally nipped at the girls if they stuck a hand in the wrong place, but she was patient with them. Grace grew to pet the cat often while Erin was a little bit more indifferent, but every now and then she would sneak into the girls bedroom at night and take residence on or under one of their beds.

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During the last month, her health began to decline and by last week she stopped eating. We had feared the end was near and now it’s upon us. I thought we might get a couple more years, but we have been blessed with a good cat. It’s not losing a family member, (goodness knows we’ve experienced that recently enough, I’d be fine with not going through that again for a little while.) but there’s still a profound sense of loss and defeat weighing on me know. Upon losing his dog, Over the Rhine songwriter Linford Detwieler wrote “There are some who would argue that a dog’s life is insignificant. But God so often chooses to use insignificant things in significant ways. In the grand scheme, we’re all insignificant until love shows up. She was a spark for us, and life is a bit dim right now without her.”

Thank you for all the love, Queen Elisabeth. You were a beloved part of our family we will miss dearly.

Between Bare Trees- The Choir
I’m gonna bring a smile to your face
Ten thousand ways
Yes and I will embrace
New seasons
And if tomorrow the sky is gray
Well that’s okay
Even the flowers fade
For good reason
This planet turns so fast
Everything burns
Ashes to ash
But for now you are mine
And I feel so alive

Rivers of love and peace
Flowing over you and me
Slivers of silver-blue between bare trees

That old kitty is a source of stress
I must confess
I’m gonna cry nonetheless
Yes I will
If the veterinarian says
It’s for the best
I’ll find her a place to rest
On the hill
This planet turns so fast
Everything burns
Ashes to ash
But for now you are mine
And I feel so alive

Rivers of love and peace
Flowing over you and me
Slivers of silver-blue between bare trees
Rivers of light and truth
Flowing over me and you
Slivers of silver-blue between bare trees…

A couple articles for me to read and grieve…
Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist (of Over the Rhine) and their last days with their dog, Willow

Bill Simmons’ wonderful article about the last days with his dog, Dooze