Saturday, December 22

A Stupid Diet Book

- Before getting to the body of this post, I want to preface it with the note that everything contained in this post is my personal observation or opinion.  I'm not a doctor, a nurse, or anything remotely related to someone qualified to give medical advice.  Obviously this post should not be intended as medical advice or any kind of recommendation and you should see your health professional before embarking on a new weight-loss or fitness plan - you know the drill.  Finally, I did not read this book, this post is merely the opinions I formed about the book based on the information provided on the dust jacket and a brief internet search - as people tend to do. - 

So a couple days ago, Shawn and I went for a walk and popped into the bookstore just to look around.
The story should end there.
But as I started down the aisles, I noticed a and a front-faced display of a robin's-egg-blue book caught my line of sight.  It was The Petite Advantage Diet.  In my head, right there, I was like "Please tell me this is not what I think it is."
Oh, but it was.  Right there on the front cover it says in the gold star-blurb: "The Specialized Plan for Women 5'4" and Under."


Let me just  I'm in the book store, holding this book, my mouth hanging open because surely - surely - there has to be something I've missed.  People aren't that stupid, right?  I mean, I've worked in a book store, I read magazines, I have the internet - I've seen some pretty convoluted specialized diet plans.  But this takes the cake.  I tell myself there must be something more to this whole ridiculous idea.  Because who in their right mind would publish this book otherwise?

So I read the inside of the front flap.  And no, no, my first impression was exactly on the money. Seriously, go to the amazon page for this book (see link above) and click on the look inside/front flap part.  It's insane.
It's possibly the dumbest thing I've ever read.  And that's really saying something.
For those who don't want to use the link, it says basically that short girls have to eat less because they're smaller.  Our bodies are smaller and therefore we don't need as many calories.
Gee, really?
You mean someone who is on the smallish side probably doesn't need as many calories as someone who is tall and built?

friends animated GIF

Also, the front flap goes on to say that being short is actually a good thing, because you have a higher muscle-to-height ratio (okay. . .) and also a lower center of gravity - these two things mean you can work out more efficiently and have less likelihood of injuring yourself when doing so.

Okay, how many things can we say are wrong with this?
I know lots of women who are 5'4" and under.  Some are size 26.  Some are size 2.  Some have small, thin bones and limbs.  Some are built like tanks.  Some are soft and round, some are built like a ruler. As a woman, (BTW, this inane book was written by a man, in case anyone cares) - I find the generalizations made about shorter women insulting.

And what the hell?  I'm not super-smart scientist girl, but having a lower center of gravity sounds more like something that would be discussed in a "body shape/type" book, as opposed to one focusing on body height.  Seriously.  When I stand up straight on a good day, I'm 5'2".  I am very much an "apple" shape and an unfortunately generous portion of that is centered in my bra.  I have no notion of how anyone could assume I have a lower center of gravity than a taller person just because of my height.  Because I guarantee you, that's not the case.

So, I put this book down and ranted to Shawn about it, told him I am going to blog about this stupidity.  So I check online to find out what the basic guidelines are for this so-called "advantage diet."  And I came across this page that gives a very quick summary of some of the plan's key points.
I read this entire page and all I can think is: seriously?
That's the big "magic plan" for short girls?  Eat smart, get plenty of rest, avoid junk food, be sure to tone those muscles. . . .  Isn't that what -- you know -- everyone should be doing, regardless of their height/gender/shape/blood type/whatever?
Isn't that what just about every single other diet book ever (except for the seriously crazy ones, of course,) advise? Sure most books/plans vary on specifics, but basically a quick study in the diet and health section will tell you that most of the books have the same basic ideas and advice.

I'm not saying that losing weight is easy or simple or anything like that - if it was, we wouldn't have so many different diet books to choose from. Everyone is different and there are plenty of books and plans out there that have lots of good ideas to help people figure out what works best for their life and their body, and sometimes it's not the information that's new, but how it's perceived by the consumer.

What I am saying is that this guy (from what I have read) has little if anything new to add to the mix. It's the same old stuff shaken up and put into a pretty blue book with the tagline that if you're 5'4" or under, (as most women in America are) this book has the answers, because it's all about your height, you just never knew it!
The whole thing is just bollocks.

Monday, December 17

If Home Alone Was Made Now

Recently Shawn and I watched Home Alone and while it's still a modern holiday classic (yes, I'm aware of the oxymoron of "modern classic" - but what else are you going to call it?) - the dated-ness of this film is really showing more and more every year.
For instance: Kevin watches the VHS of "Angels With Filthy Souls" rather than a dvd or blue ray, and when he turns on the television first thing in the morning, he isn't bombarded with reality television or horrifying news stories.  At the end of the movie, a beautiful snow is falling on Christmas morning. In Chicago, in 2012, Christmas morning is more likely to be a dreary, bleak 34 degree day with fog and freezing rain rather than snow if the weather patterns stay true to the last handful of years. There are actually a million little changes that add up to making an entirely different film, but let's look at it if the movie was the same, just a little more "current."

Kevin: "Pack my suitcase?!  I'd better go find a youtube tutorial on that."

Buzz:  "Check it out.  I googled the South Bend Shovel Slayer and he was a man in his late sixties.  I'll bet it was Old Man Marley."

Kevin: "But you know about Fuller! He wets the bed.  He'll pee all over me."
Mom: "Don't be ridiculous.  You know he has plenty of Goodnites."

"Peter!  A plot device has made it so that every iPhone in the house has a dead battery so our alarms didn't go off!"

Uncle Frank:  "There is no way we're going to get from the suburbs to O'Hare in 45 minutes."

Every airline employee: "Are you people insane? It says right there on your information to be here at least two hours before the flight to go through security.  How did you even make it to O'Hare from the suburbs in 45 minutes in Chicago traffic? Yes, of course the plane left ages ago and you'll have to take a different flight, you obnoxious, entitled morons."

Alas, they finally discover that in all their haste, they managed to forget Kevin.  Uncle Frank has words of comfort:
"If it helps, I forgot my Kindle."

This scene is replaced with ten people standing around texting their neighbors back home.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago . . . 

Hmm.  Haven't I seen these guys on "World's Dumbest Criminals?"

"That'll be $35.27.  Debit or Credit?  Do you have a market rewards card? Do you want to sign up for one to save 2% on select purchases?"

Kate McCallister rushes home, terrified of what might've happened to her son, because he's not answering any of her Skype calls!
"What do you mean you have no WiFi?  Where the hell am I?"


Old Man Marley: "You should know that I went on the world wide web and used the google.  The South Bend Shovel Slayer was actually caught four years ago, so clearly I'm not him, okay?"

This scene stays exactly the same.  Because spiders.

Grr.  Just you wait, kid. When I write my tell-all book from prison, you're not going to look so hot, are ya? And when I get my own reality show, you're really going to be jealous!

 - All screen stills were taken by me from my own copy of this movie.-

Saturday, December 15

Mickey's Christmas Carol

The opening song gets me every time.

Scrooge McDuck in his element.

Warnings from Marley.

The Ghost of Christmas Past - appropriately, Jiminy Cricket, a.k.a, Conscience.

The Ghost of Christmas Present - more lighthearted, but also pretty snarky.

This part always scared me as a kid.

He's alive!

He can't go out in his pajamas! Ah, the cane.  That's better.

Happily ever after.

Originally released in 1983, this movie was a staple of my childhood.  Between my love of reading and my fascination with this 26 minute movie, my parents knew giving me this book would be a perfect Christmas gift.  (Which is was; I read this book to death.)
image source
This little movie is one of my absolute holiday favorites.  It's wonderful for kids and adults seem to like it, too.  An excellent choice to sit down and watch with a bowl of popcorn after a crazy day, or something nice and classic to have on for the kids or in the background while making dinner.  I really love this movie.  I hope you will enjoy it, too.

- All screen stills were taken by me from my own copy of this movie.-

Wednesday, December 12

What Christmas Isn't:

A few weeks ago, actually just a few days before Thanksgiving, Shawn and I went to Target to some groceries, but first we stopped to look at the Christmas stuff - because let's face it: I LOVE Christmas.  It's my most favorite time of year, generally speaking and often just wandering through the aisles, smelling the aroma of evergreen and cinnamon candles, seeing all the lights and trees and ornaments just puts me in a good mood.
I should point out that we don't spend a lot on holidays, and Christmas is no exception.  The shameful truth is this: I would spend more if I could.  (It's like when people say if they won the lottery, the first thing they'd do is donate half of it.  Some people would.  And I would donate A LOT.  But the really-real-very-first thing I would do is buy a new car. Then I'd set myself up in a lovely apartment and pre-pay the rent for a couple years. And THEN I would start the donation process. I'm not proud to admit this about myself, but it's true.)  Anyhow, the point is, I would spend more on Christmas if I had the means.  I would buy garlands to hang around the door, and I would string lights in all our windows.  I would invest in beautiful holiday throw pillows and perhaps a full set of the snowflake dishes I admire every single year. I would spend more time and money making my own holiday decor and trying new recipes (because contrary to popular belief, that shit ain't cheap or thrifty, yo).  I would donate more, I would actually have a holiday party or even two.


That is not our life.  Our life is one of scrimping, one of digging up change to make ends meet, one of frequent dinners of ramen noodles or soup, and most importantly, one of love and joy.  I recently heard on the radio that the "average" woman anticipates getting approximately $460 (I think that was the number? It might have been lower or higher by twenty bucks.) in gifts this year.  The "average" guy, who is evidently less materialistic, expects somewhere in the $300 range.  (I think it was $380, but don't quote me on that.)

To quote Sheila Broflovski:

I know I said I would spend more if I could afford more - but those numbers are insane! And those are the expectations of people?  (The article further went on to explain that a good guideline for giving to your spouse or S.O. was to simply calculate 1% of your annual income, and that's about right.)

Wh- wha - what?!

What the hell ever happened to just being grateful for what you were given?  I've seen so much of this from working in retail: the attitude that if you don't get me the right thing, you suck.  Dude, seriously?  When I was a kid - (God I sound old!) - our parents would ask us if there were any toys we particularly wanted, they would talk to us about gratitude, and they paid attention to what we really loved.  That is, they always knew that putting anything to do with words or books under the tree for little Becky or something to do with cars for my brother *Mick was going to be a safe bet. Because they knew what we liked and they talked to us.  But they didn't go over the top and the number one rule was: be grateful for what you got.  If you pitched a fit in my house as a kid, your presents got donated.  You didn't complain that the Barbie you got wasn't the right Barbie, you were grateful you got a frickin' Barbie and learned the importance of saying "Thank you."  We weren't treated the way Harry was by the Dursley's, but we certainly weren't given the Dudley treatment, either.

Christmas was special.  We knew gifts were coming, and that was something amazing.  It was an exciting holiday because we listened to music all day, ate tons of cookies, played in the snow, visited family, and our parents played with our toys with us.  It was all magic.  And to this day, some of the best gifts I've ever received have cost quite little and it was the heart behind them.  I honestly can't tell you what the "most expensive" or "biggest" gift or "biggest haul year" has ever been - but I do remember the things that have meant the most, I do remember the insane joy of opening up a Barbie Ferrari (which was the "big gift" that year.

So, back to the beginning:
Shawn and I are at Target and before we get our groceries, we are wandering through the holiday section, enjoying the patterns of gift paper and the trees and the displays of lights.  And there was of course, a woman there, with her approximately 4 year old daughter in the cart.  And the woman was walking through the aisles with the candy and the stocking stuffers (not the stocking stuffers I got as a kid, like pencils, a pad of holiday paper, crayons, a Barbie doll outfit, etc., but the more expensive ones that are marketed today).  So the woman picks up a dvd of some holiday movie running about $14.95 and waves it in front of her daughter.
"Autumn, do you want this in your Christmas stocking?"
Of course Autumn shouts "Yeah!"
And the mother throws it into the cart.
A few paces later, she picks up another fifteen dollar item and repeats this process.
During the time I spent at the end of the aisle admiring candles, the woman picked up no less than five items and asked her daughter "Do you want these in your stocking?" to each the girl replying "Yeah!" and them being thrown in the cart.
Okay, seriously?
The things wrong with this:
First and least painful:
Christmas is meant to be a SURPRISE for the kids.  It's one thing as an adult when your mother-in-law asks you what you want and you say "Okay, there is this one particular calendar I fell in love with at such-and-such a place, so that might be cool."  (True story.  I'll let you know if I get it.)
But as a kid, especially a young kid, half the magic of Christmas is the anticipation, the excitement, the wonder.
In the three minutes I spent admiring candles and making angry faces at this woman, she had just randomly and without even thinking about it dropped more on a 4 year old's stocking than many adults spend on other adults.  I'm not trying to be a jerk, but 4-year-olds need to unwrap pajamas, books, a stuffed animal, maybe some toys like dolls or action figures or lincoln logs that require actual imagination. They do not need dvd's. (Okay, maybe one of a cartoon or something.) But this is WHY children today have no imagination of their own; they've never played G.I. Joe and Barbie in the snow until it's well beyond dark.  They're too busy playing games on a smartphone.  (I once saw an article in a parenting magazine called "The best apps for toddlers" and my head nearly exploded.)
And this leads me to my third point:
There is no reason to spend that much money on a kid so young - at least not so blithely.  Already in this four-year-old-girl's eyes, there was no "Wow! I'm getting a dvd for Christmas! I am so lucky!"  It was already expectation and the sense that having lots of things thrown in the cart for her without second thought was standard practice.  This girl is going to grow up expecting her parents and then her spouse to spend not 1%, but 3 or 4% of their annual income on her Christmas presents.  My husband and I knew a woman whose 8-year-old son received an iPod Touch for his "big" gift - to update the iPod he already had, mind you.  And this kid runs around texting with his mom's smart phone and I have to marvel at this because: oh-my-freaking-God-that-shit-is-not-cheap!  I know it's everywhere, but really?  Really?  Does an eight year old need an iPod, let alone an iPod touch?  I was lucky to get my first "very own" stereo when I was eleven.  All-around, kids have no idea what things cost, they are handed everything on a silver platter, their lives have become so full of expectation that when they become adults, it's apparently normal to anticipate getting several hundred dollars worth of gifts for one holiday.  And while I love giving presents and yes, there is something super awesome about seeing a box wrapped in festive paper and - it's for me! - and unwrapping it to find out what's inside - yes, getting gifts is pretty fun, gifts are NOT the point of Christmas.  But that's what this girl was being taught. Kids seem to have no idea about the value of money, what it means to be told no, what gratitude is, and that you will not actually die if you don't have the newest version of whatever.

And more than anything, kids - and apparently a significant portion of adults - seem to have forgotten that whether you believe in/celebrate the birth of Christ or not, whether you tell your kids about Santa or not, whether you go all-out or have nothing to spare, Christmas is supposed to be a time of recognizing that there is still goodness in the world, trying to spread a little cheer, and mostly to be grateful for what we have and what we've been given.  In every way.

Sunday, December 9

Honorable Mention: Black Christmas

Switching gears on the holiday movie scene, this time around we're going to look at a Christmas-themed slasher flick, Black Christmas, a 2006 remake of the 1974 original. There are a lot of people who poo-poo this version and go on about the original classic being the only good one. To that I say: flooey. Nuance and subtlety and all that is is great. But this version is fun. Sometimes a horror movie can just be sorority girls running around getting killed in creative ways - fun.
Here's a brief look (no spoilers): 


"Merry Christmas from your friends and family at Clark Sanitarium."

"Tastes like chicken. Because it's chicken."

The scene of several violent deaths gets turned into a sorority house.
Seems about right.

Michelle Trachtenberg has just realized what her character did to Buffy.

Possibly the worst case of jaundice ever. 

Maybe don't eat sugar cookies while watching this movie.
You've been warned.

"Fuck you, Santa Claus."

An alternate title for this movie: Running For Your Life and Looking Good Doing It

Oh, snap. Katie Cassidy has met the Ghost of Casting Choices Yet to Come.

If you are a fan of the horror/slasher genre, I definitely recommend giving this a check-out. No, it's not going to exercise your brain, but hey, cuddle up on a cold, snowy night with a bowl of popcorn and take some time out from the Christmas craziness and enjoy a different version of Christmas crazy.

- All screen stills were taken by me from my own copy of this movie.-

Saturday, December 8

Garfield's Christmas Special

Continuing the collection of some of my favorite Christmas specials, we have Garfield's Christmas Special.

"Oh brother, here we go again." - Garfield.

Love this shot.


I don't know about your family, but for us, somehow Christmas does turn thirty-something year old adults in overgrown children.

Love Doc Boy's bunny pajamas.

It all comes together as Odie demonstrates the gift he made for Garfield.

This special is only about thirty minutes long or so, it's funny and sweet and definitely worth a viewing, especially if you haven't seen it in a long time.

- All screen stills were taken by me from my own copy of this movie.-