The Perfect Baby Blog

Sasha Baron Cohen: Hey, sorry, your manipulatively marketed movie bombed

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

I was talking to a California teacher the other day about the way her kids casually call each other “gay,” as the universal synonym for “uncool.” As she put it, they sincerely have no clue.

ASS: Cohen fails to fool stupid people.

ASS: Cohen fails to fool enough bigots.

Understandably, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the American public’s ability to appreciate the satire that supposedly excuses Sasha Baron Cohen’s Bruno. Its (relentless) marketers clearly hoped that their “expose” of homophobia might conveniently be mistaken for “look how funny fags are” flick a la Adam Sandler’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

The joke is on Bruno‘s promotional team, and Cohen himself. The movie made “only” 30 million this weekend, “shockingly low” according to the Los Angeles Times, which noted that its earnings collapsed from Friday to Saturday; all signs point, limply, to terrible word-of-mouth, possibly fueled by Twitter.

A couple theories. 1) It’s a lousy movie, whatever the majority of critics say; 2) For all the producers’ attempts to blur the satire factor for the bigot market, homophobes didn’t want to be seen at a “gay” movie.

Maybe the folks at Universal should have asked their kids.

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Admirably imperfect mom of the week: Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

It’d hard to be funny when you’re hanging out with tiny people who see no compelling reason to avoid gaping pits, ravenous dingoes, speeding Camaros, and large houses made of gingerbread. The parenting experience more typically facilitates freaking out, not the writing of a bestselling humor book.

VISION QUEST: Stefanie's book

VISION QUEST: Stefanie's book

So when someone like the truly hilarious Stefanie Wilder-Taylor* can turn parenthood into two such volumes, Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay and Naptime is the New Happy Hour, the conventional wisdom is: Keep churning out similar books whose titles allude to boozing—like Kindergarten Rhymes with Scotch-on-the-Rocksergarten—and try to cash in.

Stefanie didn’t take that route. Instead she wrote It’s Not Me, It’s You, a casually outrageous memoir of her wild-child, pre-marriage 20s and 30s. It basically challenges her fans to deal with her rougher edges and get past the notion that moms aren’t allowed to have a racy back-story or scandalous thoughts. Stefanie recounts distinctly un-maternal tales: her erstwhile fascination with strippers’ breasts, her unwitting misadventures with crack cocaine, and her bittersweet attempt to reunite with her estranged dad, a brilliant stand-up comic who’d devolved into a brilliant pothead.

It’s a brave, funny book. Comedy depends on honesty—for something to be funny, the truth must be in there, somewhere. But while comics like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin were recklessly candid, and Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin push the confessional edge, most “mommy humorists” are honest only up to a certain, decorous, wholesome, ultimately boring point.

I particularly liked
the chapter about Stefanie’s attempts to be a Big Sister, and the loathsome, lonely child with whom she’s paired. It’s funny, sad, compassionate, infuriating, did I mention funny, and very, very real.

*Full disclosure: Stefanie “blurbed” The Perfect Baby Handbook, and has given me great advice. And, irrelevantly, is pretty hot. And, no, that’s not her on the cover of her book.

Related Posts:
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Why insanely costly private schools could (but don’t) charge even more

Thursday, July 9th, 2009


FUNNY HA-HA: Fieldstone grads

In the middle of the most recessive recession in decades, you’d think attendance at private schools might dip a bit. Nope, reports the Economist in a semi-horrifying story that makes you want to drown someone. In fact, even more parents are scrambling for the right to pay surreal, bankruptcy-inducing amounts:

Compared with last year, applications are up 14%,” says Mark Stanek, the principal of Ethical Culture Fieldston, a private school in New York. All through the application season he and his board of governors had been on tenterhooks, waiting to see if financial turmoil would cut the number of parents prepared to pay $32,000-34,000 a year to educate a child…

How unnerving for the board of governors! Those tenterhooks can really hurt. Overall, the Economist finds “little sign of a meltdown in private schooling” in America, while finding a nice smattering of signs that such schools will raise fees by 2-to-4 percent this fall. Two theories: 1) Parents fear the recession will further shit-ify public schools; 2) They assume that application rates at the snoot-schools (which are really selling college-placement guarantees) will be down, increasing their kid’s chances.

After amassing
proof that these institutions could get away with charging way more (in much the same way that Rosemary’s Baby‘s heroine amasses evidence that her husband’s in league with Satan), the report offers a nice reality check:

So why aren’t fees even higher? [The likely explanation] is that schools’ quality would decline if they simply sold places to the highest bidders. Part of what they offer is the chance to learn with clever classmates, and if fees were too high the pool of brainy potential pupils would become too shallow.

Whew! That was close.

Related Stories:
Wow, that’s one overpriced “rocking sheep”!
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The fate of Paris Michael Jackson—according to the world’s meanest astrologer

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

So I just discovered that Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, was born on April 3. The good news: So was I; it’s a really nice birthday. The bad news: Someday, Paris is going to read about herself in The Secret Language of Birthdays, this infamously rude, famously “accurate,” best-selling astrology book—and find out that she’s “demanding, self-centered, and naive.”


PARIS: Star-crossed

April 3, according to author Gary Goldschneider, a Dutch stargazer and Yale-educated psychoanalyst, is “The Day of the Fulcrum.” If we take his word for it, Paris is fun-loving and good natured, but also “manages to be at the center of things,” and likes to order her environment and control those around her. Consequently, she detests being ignored!

Also, he specifies, as an April 3 creature, Michael Jackson’s daughter will get fat and develop crippling headaches.

Lucky Paris! Your future as an obese, migraine-afflicted, control freak who likes to be mobbed by the paparazzi awaits you.

It could be worse. This cruelly irresistible book claims that babies born on October 4th are incorrigible, headstrong, and foolhardy while July 22nd infants (“The Day of Occupational Fluctuations”) are unlucky and stressed-out.

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Michael Jackson doll—as seen in hands of his bereaved son!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009


BENDABLE LIMBS: Blanket and doll

Trust it to a website called “Droolicious—Modern Design for Modern Parents” to find a product to drool over in the middle of Michael Jackson’s memorial.

The site’s post titled “What Was Blanket Holding?” dispenses with eulogistic ponderings and zeros in on the revelation that Jackson’s youngest son, Blanket, was gripping a “1995 Official Triumph International Michael Jackson doll” that “you can pick up” for between $260 to $1500, depending on whether you’d like it to sing.

No one at Droolicious seems to find it at all curious, notable, or (I dunno) heart-rending that this child is holding a plastic, miniature version of his plastic, full-sized dead father—something that’s never really been seen before. John F. Kennedy, Jr., for instance, didn’t have a JFK doll to help him mourn.

It’s as if Barbie’s daughter is attending Barbie’s Dream Funeral. A version of which, I just found out, was recorded for this 2007 YouTube video. Given Barbie’s parallels with MJ—both emaciated pop icons, born in the late 50s, given to makeovers and blank expressions—this clip disturbed me. I actually gasped at 00:28.

Goodbye, Barbie/Michael.

Related Posts:
Michael Jackson bleached his son’s hair—both cruelly and cheesily
Michael Jackson’s death as a “learning moment”
How Michael Jackson disguised his kids—a brief history