Friday 21 December 2012

Mommy Rotten's Christmas Special Drinking Game!

One of the things that used to make me feel super Christmas-y as a kid was figuring out which Christmas specials would be airing on TV when.  Those nights being allowed to stay up a little later than usual, eating my mother's shortbread cookies and making Christmas crafts while we watched was what really put me in the Christmas spirit.

But modern technology went ahead and ruined all of that.

Because now, instead of working our schedules around some moderate TV programming, we can have an entire library's worth of Christmas specials at our fingertips by popping in a DVD or whatever modern convenience you prefer.  Which means that, if we want to, we can have Christmas shit playing non-stop, all day long, as if we were the Hallmark channel.  Oh, and I guess there's also the fucking Hallmark channel.

I don't know about you guys but that is exactly what happens in our house.  I have so much to do at this time of year and sometimes the only thing that gets the kids off my back about Christmas is letting them watch "Frosty the Snowman" for the umpteenth time.

These shows are played un-endingly for the entire month of December and I can tell you, a year isn't long enough to make me stop being sick of them (even the good ones!).  "A Christmas Story" is probably my favourite, but I don't think I can bear to watch it one more time.

That sucks.

Well, when life hands you lemons...add vodka.

Instead of bemoaning the fact that I can never enjoy a Christmas movie again I have decided to cope with them, and the whole damned holiday, by making a fun drinking game!  So get your favourite Holiday mixer because here are the rules to...

Mommy Rotten's Christmas Special Drinking Game

 Are you watching yet another Christmas special?  I'm sorry.  Have yourself a drink.

2.  Is the title of that movie also the title of a Christmas song?  (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, White Christmas, The Christmas Shoes).  Take a drink.  Take two if the plot of the movie is based on the lyrics.  Then drink every time they sing it or play it as background music.  In fact....

3.  Every time someone sings a Christmas song during the special, take a drink.

4.  If the story is about a character who doesn't quite fit in (a "misfit" if you will), take a drink (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, Olive the Other Reindeer, Santa Claus: The Movie). Take two drinks if this causes the character to leave the North Pole for some hilarious fish-out-of-water adventures (Elf).

5.  Take a drink if Santa petulantly threatens to quit Christmas because people don't love him or Christmas enough (The Year Without a Santa Claus, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, It Nearly Wasn't Christmas, Once upon a Christmas).  Celebrate with another drink when the collective ass-kissing of the world brings him back.

6.  Take a drink if the main character "saves Christmas".  (Ernest Saves Christmas, Elmo Saves Christmas, A Flinstone Christmas, The Bears Who Saved Christmas).

7.  Take a drink if the main character is having a crisis over the possible non-existence of Santa (Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, A Very Goofy Christmas, The Polar Express).  Take two drinks if the crisis is resolved by getting stuff from Santa (Miracle on 34th Street).

8.  Take a drink if the main character learns the "true meaning of Christmas".  (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, One Magic Christmas).

9.  Take a drink if one or more of the characters are treated like insufferable assholes if they fail in any way to profess their undying love for Christmas (A Christmas Carol, Christmas With the Kranks, Christmas with a Capital "C").  Drink again when they learn the "true meaning of Christmas" and change their Christmas-hating ways.

10.  Take a drink if the main character is given supernatural aid via ghosts, elves, angels, etc. (It's a Wonderful Life, Santa Claus: The Movie, Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July).  Take two drinks if this supernatural aid leads to them learn the "true meaning of Christmas" (A Christmas Carol, One Magic Christmas).  Take three drinks if the supernatural aid punches the main character in the face (Scrooged).

11.  Take a drink if Santa dies/wants to retire and the job of being Santa must go to someone else (Ernest Saves Christmas, The Santa Clause, Call Me Claus, Santa Claus: The Movie, Mr. St. Nick).

12.  Take a drink if young children travel to the North Pole sans parental consent or adequate adult supervision.  Talking snowmen, angels, elves, magical train conductors or Santa Claus do not count as "adequate adult supervision".  (Frosty the Snowman, The Polar Express, One Magic Christmas)

13.  Take a drink if the Christmas special involves heavy subject matter like poverty, death or homelessness (A Christmas Carol, Scrooged, The Christmas Shoes) .  Take two drinks if these subjects are unsatisfyingly resolved with "Christmas Magic". (Prancer, Santa Claus: The Movie, One Magic Christmas, Jack Frost).  Take a lot more drinks when you end up having to explain all that shit to your kid.

14.  Take two drinks if the Christmas special takes place in a time/universe where the existence of Jesus Christ or Santa Claus is impossible.  (A Flinstones Christmas, He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special, Christmas Who?, The Star Wars Holiday Special)

15.  Take a double shot to counter the PTSD from watching any Christmas specials where the main character is forced to relive Christmas over and over again (Christmas Do-Over, Christmas Every Day, Stuck On Christmas).  Celebrate with another shot when it's finally over because they learned the "true meaning of Christmas".

16.  Chug down your whole drink if the Christmas special promises to ruin your childhood.  (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Story 2, Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure)

17.  Drink the whole damned bottle if you're watching The Christmas Shoes.  Seriously.  It's the worst.

Monday 17 December 2012

A Scarf Too Far: Chronicling Celebrity Abuse of Man Scarves

When I was a little girl my Great Gran MacCrappy used to say "Allas weeeeearrr a grrreet mufflerr in th'winterrr.  Et maks all th'difrrrrrrence"  which, roughly translated means "Scarves are wicked cozy!"  And every winter of my childhood she bought me a great big colourful "muffler" which I loved.

Scarves are probably my favourite winter accessory.  Every time I see someone wearing their scarf I think of them as a practical and sensible individual.  The best part of the scarf in winter wear (unlike many winter coats) is that you don't have to sacrifice style for warmth.  In fact lately the scarf seems to be the fashion accessory for style-minded male celebrities.

So much so that they have now officially taken it too far.  I don't exactly know all the rules of fashion, but I'm pretty sure that these dudes are bordering on scarf-abuse.  It will totally kill your boner for these otherwise totally hot, Freebie List-worthy, beautiful, beautiful men.

David Beckham.  No apparent environmental reason for the scarf?  Check.  Sufficiently serious scowl indicating a deeply brooding personality beneath his pretty-boy looks?  Check.  Sleeves rolled up to further demonstrate that this scarf is not in any way utilitarian but is instead making a bold fashion statement?  Check.

Yeah, I'm sorry but I just can't take seriously a man who takes himself so damned seriously.

Colin Farrell.  Granted, there seems to be a clear environmental resaon for the scarf but the open coat says "Hey!  Did you notice my scarf yet?  Because I'm totally wearing a scarf and it is so badass I no longer even need to do up my fucking coat.  Because I'm a badass, scarf-wearing mothertfucker."

I'm not at all surprised to see him abusing the scarf.  It is just another sign of his inherent douchey-ness, as evidenced by his affinity for v-necks.  (Man, I love ripping on douchebags!)

Speaking of douchebags....

Here is John Mayer sporting the "scarf is the new tie" look.

John "I became a musician so I could bang hot chicks" Mayer combines pretension with douchey-ness in mind boggling ways.

First, he's just gross looking.  He is the sole exception on this list when it comes to any claims on manly beauty.  I think he looks like he's constantly recovering from a bender.  And yet he is indeeds banging hot chicks to the point that, according his now infamous Playboy interview "turning (him) down is the new sleeping with (him)".

Second, he esteems his music far more than "Your Body is Wonderland" will ever deserve.  He may be a great guitar player but a great song writer he is not.  Anyway, guy loves scarves so much he's selling scarves with his name on them.

Jake Gyllenhaal.  Has he been in any good movies since "Brokeback Mountain"?  I haven't noticed.  But his facial expression here and this indoor scarf seem to be saying that he no longer needs to be in good movies because he was in "Brokeback Mountain".

"Look at this scarf!  I'm Donnie Fucking Darko!"

Brad Pitt.  Here's Brad on the red carpet at a film festival screening of "Changeling" wearing a scarf-as-tie.  Which is a refreshing change from the scarf-as-scarf he wore to the "Changeling" photocall and this summer scarf he wore at the Cannes Film Festival.  As in the South of France, Cannes.

Because who doesn't need a scarf in the Mediterranean?

Daniel Craig.  Apparently starring in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and being the most badass version of Bond to date has led Daniel Craig to believe that he could pull this off.

He can't.

Ewan MacGregor.  No apparent environmental reason for the scarf?  Check.  Sufficiently serious scowl indicating a deeply brooding personality beneath his pretty-boy looks?  Check.  Sleeves rolled up to further demonstrate that his scarf is not in any way utilitarian but is instead making a bold fashion statement?  Check.


I like Ewan MacGregor.  In Ewan's case the scarf seems to be his only problem.

But it's enough.  Dude wears a LOT of scarves.

Speaking of dudes who wear a LOT of scarves....

 Johnny Depp.  When did Johnny Depp stop being a respected actor and start auditioning for the role of Steven Tyler's mic stand?

At least Ewan Macgregor et al. wear their scarves one at a time.  Johnny has a scarf for his pocket.

Read that again: He has a scarf.  For his pocket.

Doesn't he live in LA or the Bahamas or something?

Is this a pirate thing?

By all rights my list should have ended with me crowning Johnny Depp "King of the Man Scarves".  But then I saw this:

Just look at this fucking scarf!
Lenny, I know you're a rock star and all but Christ!  Buy a coat, dude!

Friday 14 December 2012

How to Make the Best Fucking Shortbread Cookies You Ever Had

This post has been inspired by my friend Jill Smo at Yeah. Good Times. who wrote this awesome post about her gravy recipe.  It truly does look like the best fucking gravy I ever had and I intend to try my hand at it.  Who knows?  Maybe this will start a trend with other bloggers and we can collaborate on a "Best Fucking Recipes" cook book.

I think everyone has a specific something that reminds them of Christmas like no other.  Perhaps the smell of pine, the glitter of tinsel or the sense of a panic attack looming on the horizon.  For me it's shortbread cookies.

My earliest memories of Christmas involve pilfering buttery little scraps of shortbread dough from the bowl, helping my mother poke the tines of a fork into the cookies and then my mother weeping over a plate of elaborately decorated, angel-shaped shortbreads, each of which were missing their heads because I thought no one would notice if I only took one bite.

Needless to say she was done with cookie decorating from that day on.  Which is fine because shortbread needs no frills.  It is best when it is simple.

When I was old enough to be a real help in the kitchen my mother painstakingly taught me the secrets of the shortbread: that beautiful buttery delight whose texture reminds me of walking in freshly fallen snow.  If that doesn't make any sense to you then you haven't eaten my mother's shortbread.  Because I can think of no better way to describe the experience of biting down on these tender, melt in your mouth treats.

Have I sufficiently impressed upon you the superiority of this delicious biscuit?  Are your mouths watering yet in anticipation?  Are you ready to make some fucking shortbread, or what?  All right!  Here's how to make...

The Best Fucking Shortbread Cookies You Ever Had

The first thing you should know is that there isn't really a secret recipe.  In fact the recipe itself doesn't exactly matter.  You can get a very decent recipe on the back of a box of Canada corn starch.

Why doesn't it matter?  Because any standard recipe you are given is always going to require some tweaking.  According to Wikipedia traditional shortbread is "one part white sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour".  This is too much fucking sugar.  Also, if you don't know what you're doing, three parts flour is likely too much flour.  If you're looking for an already tweaked, fool proof and kitchen tested recipe, here's mine:

1/2 pound butter
*a scant 1/2 cup of icing/caster sugar*
1/2 cup corn starch/rice flour
2 - 2 1/2 cups flour

So, a little science:  sugar + butter + heat = hard candy.  Ever notice how the crispier cookies like ginger snaps and ginger bread have a shit-ton of sugar in them?  It's the sugar that gives them that hardness and that is what we don't want.

I try to use as little sugar as I can possibly get away with by using this method: start with 1/3 cup of sugar.  Cream it with the butter and then taste.  Keep adding sugar by the tablespoon until the mixture is only just sweet.  It's always somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup.  It's also important to use a superfine sugar because it will incorporate into the butter more easily preventing accidental over-sweetening.

When handling the butter it is important never to touch it with your hands (Ne touche pas!), which is something we learned from the French-Canadian side of our family.  My mother used to slap our hands away from the dough when she caught us touching it, trying to steal a morsel.  She explained that once butter melts it's never quite the same again.  You've separated the water and milk fats and such and they won't interact properly with the other ingredients, resulting in a tough cookie.

So I use either an electric mixer or food processor to cream the butter and sugar.  After that I mix the rest of the ingredients by hand.  Mechanical mixers are too efficient at incorporating flour and too much flour also = a tough cookie.

Flour absorbs moisture differently depending on the humidity in the air which means that the amount of flour you need for your cookie might vary.  Add a minimum of 2 cups and then add whatever extra flour is necessary to get a good consistency for rolling your dough.  Shortbread dough is great for rolling and cutting into shapes.

But we're not going to do that.

Because doing that requires working the dough and touching it with your hands (Slap!  Ne touche pas!) and the more you work a dough the more likely you are to develop gluten and that = a tough cookie.

Instead we're going to press that dough into a prepared square or round pan (depending on the shape you like your cookies to be) with a spatula.  Then we are going to plunge our hands into a bowl of ice water for a couple of minutes.  Then and only then, we will use our now ice-cold, corpse-like hands to make the dough firm and even (about 3/4" - 1" thick).

Take a floured butter knife and score the pan into bars or wedges (depending on the shape of your pan), and then poke the floured tines of a fork about 1/4 of the way into the dough.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator while the oven preheats to about 300 degrees.

Shortbread cookies are baked for a long time at a low temperature because you want them to be almost white when they come out so they kind of look like snow, too.  Delicious, buttery snow (aghaghagh...drooling).  They'll probably need about 30 minutes but it's a good idea to start checking them after the 20-minute mark.  They're ready when they are just starting to turn golden at the edges.

Take them out and let them cool.

In fact let them get very cold.

These cookies are delicious any time but I prefer to eat them after they have spent some time in the fridge.  It just seems to add to that snowy texture I was talking about.

As long as you remember the rules about sugar, butter and flour you can try many variations on this recipe with good results.  One year my mother and I experimented with four different recipes for shortbread.  We discovered she prefers to use rice flour for its slightly crispier texture instead of the corn starch I like to use.

You can add a little vanilla or ground up nuts or you can dip the final product in chocolate but for me I like my shortbread just plain and simple.

With a big ole glass of Bailey's, of course.

Friday 7 December 2012

Surviving the Hell That is Christmas: A Guide

As we head into the dreaded Holiday Season I can feel my anxiety ramping up.  It's going to be a rough ride.  It always is.  As I may have mentioned a few times before I am not fond of Christmas.  This is a holiday that usually leaves me crying on the floor.

But not this year.

Not this year.

This year I've got a plan.  Now that I'm a seasoned veteran of Christmas I should be able to anticipate most, if not all, of the insanity.  And so, in the spirit of giving I will share my wisdom with you.  In guide form.  May it serve you well.

1. Delay For as Long as Possible.

This really should be a no-brainer.  Why in the hell do we need Christmas to last so long?  I'm good with limiting my Christmas to the month of December, preferably to just about a week before the event, if not later.  In my house as soon as my kids get a whiff of Christmas they basically lose all sense of self-control and start making me fantasize about taking a little vacation in the psych ward.  We don't even say the word "Christmas" in our house (I call it the "C-word".  My kids will be so confused.) until we have no choice but to give in to the collective pressures of TV, school and the world in general.

2. Start as Soon As Possible.

This year I got smart and started planning Christmas 2012 shortly after Christmas 2011 ended.  Because that's the best time to buy Christmas stuff for half-price, which sometimes includes stocking stuffers and gift sets.  This wasn't easy because after Christmas is when I have pretty much no money left, so I also collected up my Christmas shopping throughout the year.  I'd been meaning to do this for years and now that I finally have I can say that my anxiety about Christmas shopping has been significantly reduced.  Like 75% less than normal.

3.  Stock Up.

In the effort to loosen up my available cash situation prior to Christmas, I also took advantage of the cheap and plentiful food available in the fall and stocked up.  My grocery store had a sale on whole chickens for $5 each.  I bought ten.  They had bacon on sale for $3/lb so I bought six.  For awhile we ate a lot of potato or french onion soup because I could buy 10lb bags for $2.  I bought huge sacks of flour and rice.  I froze all kinds of vegetables.  Every square inch of freezer space and pantry is occupied.

At this point I pretty much have enough food to get us through a small apocalypse.  (You know, one that doesn't involve nuclear destruction or mass-extinction causing asteroids.)  Which means aside from milk, eggs and fresh veggies I shouldn't have to spend much money on groceries.

4.  Stop Giving a Fuck.

Seriously.  Stop it.  In a normal Universe this would be a simple one day celebration.  Just because the whole rest of the world decided to go batshit insane for Christmas does not mean that you have to.  And the less you Give a Fuck about Christmas the less you will Give a Fuck when something threatens to ruin it.  So you broke the handmade Santa figurine that your mother made?  Clean it up and get over it.  So the store didn't have that toy your kid specifically asked for?  Get them something else, they have too much stuff anyway.  So your kids woke up early on Christmas morning and opened all their presents without you?  Ummm....

5. Stock Up on Booze.

I will purposely go through the month of November without drinking so I can save my booze money and low tolerance of alcohol for the Christmas Season.  There is some shit you just can't shrug off.  I have found that going through the Holidays in a mild alcoholic fog is the best way to Not Give a Fuck while experiencing ongoing and generalized shit like:

  • constant fighting between your kids
  • constant whining from your kids
  • constant shitty Christmas music (Christmas shoes, Jingle Bell Rock, Anything Mariah Carey)
  • constant shitty Christmas movies (Christmas Shoes, Jingle All the Way, Anything Tim Allen)
  • constant questions about Christmas ("Is it Christmas yet?  How 'bout now?")
  • constant questions about Santa Claus ("How does that fat bastard fit down our chimney?")
  • extended family

In a pinch, alcohol also helps you to not Give a Fuck when experiencing some of the more surprising and acute sources of possible rage stroke.  Like when your kids knock over the Christmas tree during a sword fight and break several antique ornaments in the process, or when one of them has not only eaten all the chocolates in his advent calendar but all the chocolates in his brother's as well.  (Helpful Hint: chocolate advent calendars are more trouble than they're worth.  Don't buy.)

Be careful not to overdo it with the drinking because Christmas with a hangover is something to be avoided at all costs.

6.  Make a List.  Then Burn That List.

Sit down and make a list of all the activities and fun stuff you'd like to do for Christmas.  Be sure to put all the things you can think of that would make your Christmas especially special.  Did you make sure you didn't leave anything out?  Good.

Now throw it on the fire.

Seriously, look at the size of your fucking list!  That is a lot of awesome fun shit that I can personally guarantee will be nowhere near as fun and awesome as you think it is going to be.  It is Christmas and your kids are pretty much determined to ruin every fun family experience you can dream up.  The level of experienced devastation will be directly related to how much you care about  just wanting to spend some quality family time together it's Christmas, damnit!

Stick to the stuff you absolutely have to do and if you have any time left over, do whatever is easiest.  My kids actually have more fun baking prefab Pillsbury cookies than the ones from scratch. They are just as happy with Rice Krispie treats as they would be with Gingerbread houses.  And the fewer crafts they make the fewer fights they have over glitter glue and scissors.  You don't have to feel guilty.  A magical fat man and flying reindeer are going to show up in the middle of the night and leave toys and candy.  Your kids are already having fun! 

7.  Themed Gifts

Another source of Holiday stress is shopping for that perfect gift for all the people on your list.  I get so worked up with wondering what will they like, do they already have it, will it fit, can it be returned for each individual that it takes several weeks to recover from the PTSD.  So I finally decided to get lazy and do themed gifts.  If you pick a good enough theme you can eliminate most of these questions without even having to worry about looking lazy.  Last year everybody got blankets.

This year I think I'm going with soap, booze or a combination of the two.  (Surprise, family members who read my blog!).  Themed gifts also has the benefit of limiting your time spent shopping.  If you do it right you should be able to get it all done with one stop.

8.  Shit All Over Christmas.

Finally the best thing I have always had going to cope with Christmas is to just shit all over it.  Don't get me wrong: there is plenty to love about the Holiday.  Maybe when my kids are grown up and moved out I can come to love it again, but in the meantime I just need to take the piss out of Christmas because it's kicking my ass.  I'm not out to ruin Christmas for everybody or declare war on it.  I don't hate people for loving it (there's much to love) and I don't go around "Bah! Humbug!"-ing everyone I meet.

But here, in my blog and on my facebook page, I have found a nice safe space where I can let off a little steam by flipping the bird at Christmas.

Friday 9 November 2012

Curse of the Turkey: How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Dinner

My first turkey: a whole other story.
American Thanksgiving is coming soon and I'm sure you're all brushing up on your turkey know-how.  And since we Canadians have already celebrated our Thanksgiving I thought I would be neighbourly and share with you how I cooked my turkey this year.

But before you continue reading you should be warned:

My family is turkey-cursed.

Every time anyone in my family tries to cook a turkey there is some minor disaster that threatens to ruin the turkey dinner but then, miraculously, doesn't.  In fact the women in my family are well-known for cooking perfect turkeys.

It's become something of a legend, really.  I like to think that Great Gran MacCrappy pissed off some Evil Turkey Demon with her succulent turkeys and he cursed her so that she, and her daughters, and her daughters' daughters would have to endure great pain, suffering and anxiety when cooking our delicious turkeys.

For example, there was the time the oven rack had been put in the oven backwards and when my mother went to check, somewhat carelessly, on the turkey it came sliding right out.  And without thinking Mummy idiotically heroically saved Thanksgiving by catching the piping hot bird with her bare hands! as the pan went crashing to the floor.  ("It's delicious!" she declared, hands in ice water, as my aunt spoon-fed her.)

Or the time Great Gran MacCrappy turned the oven down way too low ("Ye hufftae cuik th'brrrrrrd rrreeeeel slew") without telling my mother and halfway through the cook time it was still raw.  And even though dinner was served many, many hours later than expected it was well worth the wait.

Or the time it was my aunt's turn to cook the turkey and she was so worried about making it absolutely perfect (stuffing, basting, putting those little turkey frill thingies on the legs) that she forgot to cook anything else.  Turkey may have been the only thing served that night but at least it was absolutely perfect.

So now that I'm about to tell you how I cook a turkey dinner, believe me when I say to proceed with extreme caution lest you draw the attention of the Evil Turkey Demon.  Some scary, evil shit may go down but at the end of it you will have a perfect turkey.

Thanksgiving Menu:  Roast turkey and gravy, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, lemon garlic carrots, crescent rolls and guacamole dip as a starter.

About three days before Thanksgiving get the frozen turkey you bought because it was only $1.29/lb. (and fresh, free-range turkeys are too damned expensive) out of the freezer.  I picked a small bird.  If you're serving a large number of people it is better to cook two small birds than one very big one.  Usually I would like to take the trouble to brine the turkey but because I bought this cheap-ass frozen bird kind of at the last minute there isn't going to be any time for that.

To safely thaw a turkey it is best to thaw it in the fridge.  They say that you need to allow 24 hours for every five pounds.  Ours was a twelve pound turkey so, naturally, three days later it is still frozen solid in the middle.

Place the turkey in the sink and run cold water into it to finish the thawing process.  In the meantime get out your stuffing.  I'm not going to get into a fancy recipe here.  Just throw some loose sausage meat, chopped onions and celery into a pan and fry it.  Let it cool and then toss it in with your stale bread, some mashed potato, a little chicken stock and a mess of herbs.  This year I chopped up some sage and thyme I had in the garden and that was good.  Usually I go with powdered sage and that's good, too.  Really just throw whatever you like in there. (*Note*:  This is pretty much how I cook everything.)

When the turkey is finally thawed, pat it dry and loosely stuff the cavity.  Trussing it is probably a good idea but I didn't bother and it didn't hurt the bird at all.  You can do other fancy things like stuff butter and herbs under the skin but it's a pain in the ass.  I just smeared some butter on the outside and sprinkled whatever seasoning on top.  After that put about a 1/2 inch to an inch of stock in the bottom, cover the turkey in foil and then bake at 325F for 3-4 hours (depending on the size of your bird) removing the foil for the last hour to brown the skin.

Unless, of course, your oven is a decrepit POS like mine.

In which case you will set the oven to about 275F (because the temperature guage is broken) and then pound on the top of the oven with your fist, a la Arthur Fonzarelli, until the element turns on.  Be careful how you close the oven door or you will have to do this all over again.

While the bird is cooking prep your potatoes and carrots.  I won't get into details about mashed potatoes because we don't do anything special.  Boil 'em.  Add milk and butter.  Mash 'em.  The end.  If I have a secret it's that I get my husband to mash the potatoes.  For some reason they actually taste better when he does it.

I usually cook the carrots while the turkey is resting, just before carving.  Steam, then simmer for a while in butter, garlic and parsley and squeeze a lemon on top.  My kids are guaranteed to eat carrots prepared this way.

So far so good, right?  No disasters happening here, right?  Not even a partially frozen turkey or POS oven has fucked anything up yet, right?  Good.  Now that we have developed a false sense of security let's move on to our starter.

This year's starter is guacamole and chips.  Why?  Because avocados were cheap, my kids are willing to eat guacamole and also, I fucking love guacamole!!!

You will need:

5 ripe avocados (we are making a shit load of guac here people)
3 plum tomatoes
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 lime
1-2 jalapeno peppers
salt and pepper

Toss everything but the avocados, spices and lime in a food processor and make a chunky salsa.  Then add avocados and spices.  Then get a citrus reamer to squeeze out some lime juice.  Now, while you're doing this be sure to accidentally get a few drops of lime juice in your eye.

Run screaming into the bathroom and flush your eye out with water.

Surprise!  There was more than a little jalapeno juice in there, too!

Run around the house for a while shouting, "It burns!  It burns!"  Splash more water in your eye even though this defies all logic.  The increasing intensity and spreading of the burning sensation should eradicate any lingering doubts you may have entertained re. the jalapeno juice.

Pray for death.

Whatever you do don't seek medical attention.  Go on twitter instead.

Once the burning finally subsides Jenn at Something Clever 2.0 will tweet back something useful (MILK!) but by then you will have stopped being desperate enough to try it.  Your eye will now be puffy, red and streaming tears.  Cover your eye and remember to finish blending the guacamole.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Suddenly remember that you forgot all about the turkey which now has only 20 minutes left to cook and you haven't yet taken off the foil.  When you check, it has roughly the same complexion as Conan O'Brien.  Remove the foil and hope like hell it has enough time to brown properly and look more appetizing than an Irish late night talk show host.

But when it's done it's golden brown and moist because of that accidental extra self-basting time.

While the turkey rests, cook your carrots and gravy and get the kids to make some Pillsbury crescent rolls because you can no longer read the instructions.  Bake at least 50 degrees cooler than what your kid says is on the label and with any luck they will be buttery golden on top and burned black on the bottom.

Well, at least the turkey is perfect.

Also some valuable lessons learned through each disaster.  Check your oven rack before putting in the turkey.  Have a peek at the temperature from time to time.  It's better to have vegetables than little paper hats on your turkey legs and NEVER make guacamole when there are Evil Turkey Demons lurking.

Have a Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Top Ten WTF? Slutty Halloween Costumes

I love this song for its commentary on predictable Halloween costumes and, more specifically, the predictability of the slutty Halloween costume which is "something you'll definitely see."

Now, I'm not here to cast any judgment on women and their choice of dress and how that might reflect on their perceived sexual behaviour.  As far as I'm concerned the "It's Halloween so it's okay" rule stands.  You're an adult so do what you like.  I rocked a few slutty costumes myself back in the day and it was fun.  Mind you, back then when we wanted to look slutty for Halloween we chose costumes that naturally lent themselves to sluttiness: sexy nurse, sexy french maid, sexy kitty.  Hooker.  Once I dressed up as "Crack Whore Barbie" and it was hilarious.

But these days there are literally no limits for Halloween costume sluttery.  None.  Whatsoever.  It's like, OMG!  Why are they making everything slutty!?!  So today, after much laborious research, I present to you the Top Ten in WTF? Slutty Halloween Costumes.

10) Slutty Sesame Street.

You would think that googly-eyed monsters covered in fur and feathers would be the last thing in the world to lend itself to sluttiness.  You would be wrong!  You've got slutty Cookie Monster, slutty Big Bird, slutty Bert and Ernie.....there's even a slutty Oscar the Grouch.  Because nothing says "sexy" like dressing up as a cantankerous, homeless monster who lives in a garbage can.  Hot!!!

9) Slutty Mrs. Potato Head.

If Slutty Sesame Street wasn't disturbing enough for you, you could always dress up as the slutty version of your favourite childhood toy.  Introducing Slutty Mrs. Potato Head.  The only thing this costume leaves to the imagination is trying to imagine where she stores all those Potato Head accessories.  Brought to you by Playskool.

8) Slutty Chewbacca.

If you're a fangirl looking to get the attention of that fanboy you've been crushing on, don't get lost in the crowd of slutty Princess Leias.  Make yoruself stand out.  Nothing screams "Sexy!" quite like a wookie.  And if your fanboy disagrees you can always threaten to tear his arms off.  Seriously, the only thing that could surprise me right now would be a "Jabba the Slutt" costume.

7) Slutty Big Mac.

And slutty Big Mac is only the tip of the iceberg.  You can be any slutty food you want.  I've seen slutty corn, a slutty hotdog, and slutty condiments.  There are so many possibilities.  I just picked slutty Big Mac because it was my favourite.

It's like I'm reading "The Very Slutty Caterpillar"
6) Slutty Willy Wonka.

Seriously there's a slutty Willy Wonka.  Can you imagine the jokes?  I imagine they would sound just like Kate Winslet talking dirty.

5) Slutty Leatherface.

Did you like the slutty Freddy Kreuger from the video?  I did.  So why not slut up any of your favourite horror movie killers?  Why not slutty Leatherface?  Just say it out loud to hear how ridiculous this is.  Slutty Leatherface.  There's also a slutty Jason Voorhees, slutty Hannibal Lecter and slutty Michael Myers.

4) Slutty SpongeBob SquarePants

If you asked me to name the least sexy cartoon I know it would have to SpongeBob.  He''s literally square shaped, has buck teeth and the sponge holes in his body just look like problem skin to me.  But the good people at (who, BTW are the brilliant minds behind most, if not all, of the costumes made here) said "SpongeBob SquarePants?  Challenge accepted."

3) Slutty George Washington.

For the slutty American History enthusiast we have the slutty George Washington.  Soon we'll be able to honour all the founding fathers on Halloween, slut-style.

2) Slutty Shrek.

If you asked me to name the least sexy cartoon I would name SpongeBob because I momentarily forgot about Shrek.  Shrek: the ogre who lives in the swamp and drinks eyeball highballs.  Shrek: the ogre who reeks from every pore and orifice.  Shrek: the ogre whose catch phrase is "Better out than in!"  Couldn't we at least have gone with slutty Fiona?  No?  Alrighty then.

And finally, for the number one WTF? Slutty Halloween Costume we have:

1) Slutty Osama Bin Laden.

Okay, this isn't an actual Halloween costume.  But judging by the slutty costumes I've already listed here it's only a matter of time.

Personally I think Halloween is the best time to dress up "slutty".  It's the only time that a woman can dress provocatively and not have her morality questioned too much and it can be fun.  Funny even.

But for me now that I'm 36 and have two kids, I'm kind of past these kinds of costumes.

I think I'll move on to slutty dog costumes.

For more slutty dog costumes go here.

(I've teased Yandy here a lot but they are actually a terrific website for lingerie shopping.  I might just get myself  a little costume to wear for my husband.)

(I got the Slutty Osama Bin Laden here.)

Friday 19 October 2012

Annoying Shit About my Husband (That I have Come to Appreciate)

My hubby left this week to go on the yearly Rotten Man-Gathering: every fall the men in the Rotten family all travel up north to go duck hunting.  I can't imagine how anyone would call driving four hours so they can get up every day at WTF o'clock and freeze their asses off in a canoe/hiding in the woods a "vacation", but whatever.  They seem to love it.  I understand there is a lot of beer involved.

Anyway I'm kind of missing my man at the moment, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about how much he frickin' annoys me.

1) He's painfully, brutally honest.  I remember when we were first living together and I was trying to woo him with my amazing culinary skills.  I don't talk about it too much but I'm awesome in the kitchen.  I put a lot of thought and care into preparing a meal so you can imagine how pissed I got when, after tasting my wonderful creation, he quite bluntly declared "I don't like this."

Well, gee don't sugarcoat it or anything.  Tell me what you really think!

This was a real blow to my ego.  It is impossible for someone with taste buds to not like my cooking.  (Impossible, I say!)  But then I began to notice that he was plainly truthful about everything.  It's not like he was going around being overly critical or mean, but if I asked him what he thought about something he would go right ahead and tell me without holding back.

And then one day I realized this was not necessarily a bad thing.

Because here was a man who is so committed to being honest that he would never lie, not even to spare my feelings.  Throughout our 12 years together he has always been brutally honest with me and I have never once caught him lying.  In fact I've learned that he considers lying to be beneath his manly dignity.  And to me, that's pretty fucking cool.

I like flattery as much as the next girl but when it comes to my life partner I'll take an honest brute over a smooth liar any day of the week.

2) He's a hoarder.  This he gets this from his mother.  The shit she has held on to over the years never ceases to amaze me.  One time I found Frick playing with some home made paper money that she had made when she was a little girl.  That's right.  My mother in-law managed to hang on to paper coins and paper bills that her childish hands had awkwardly drawn and cut out sometime in the late 1950's.  Who does that?

Mother Rotten, that's who.

I'm the complete opposite.  I ruthlessly rid myself of any extraneous stuff.  If I haven't used it in the last year and it doesn't have any significant sentimental or monetary value then out it goes to the local thrift store.  As Great Gran MacCrappy used to say:

"Effen ye arrrrn't  yoooozing it, sum othurrrr perr soul c'd mak yoos uff't.  Nae sense in huvvin't gaitherrr dust!"

(Which, roughly translated means, "There are poor people who would love to have this.  Why hang on to it if you don't really need it?")

But my husband seems to be emotionally attached to every wire, thread and bit of plastic that enters this house.  On top of that he is constantly bringing home crap from his clients who were trying to throw their crap away.  Old cell phones, obsolete computers, broken monitors and one time, an old Atari set complete with a box of Atari game cartridges (which might be cool if we played with it, but instead it sits in a box taking up space).

I've tried many times to sit him down in our basement and help me sort the valuable crap (like the Atari stuff, I guess) from the actual crappy crap but it's impossible.  He sees value in all the crap.  I have to wait until he's not home to get rid of the crap.  In fact I'm in the process of taking advantage of this hunting trip right now, getting rid of all kinds of crap.

But the thing is sometimes the crap turns out to be useful.  There have been numerous occasions where my husband has been able to fish out some crucially necessary item, and I've had to grudgingly acknowledge that it was a good thing he kept it instead of getting rid of it like any sane person would do.

Also, thanks to Mother Rotten, I got to have the rather heartwarming experience of dressing my sons in the same baby clothes their father wore and letting them play with the same toys their father used to play with.  I've learned to hang on to more things than I used to before I met my husband, and maybe someday my grandchildren will be wearing some of my children's clothes and playing with some of my children's toys.

3)  He's a slob.  This one continues to be challenging.  Messiness and disorder trigger my anxiety making me highly irritable so I don't always handle this well.  It is true that he works very long hours.  It is true that he's too busy supporting his family to consider cleaning.  But it is also true that he is a straight up slob.

To be fair he does the best he can.  After years of seeing me throw tantrums He finally cleans up whenever he remembers to think about it and lately he has been in the habit of washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  It's been lovely being able to make my morning coffee in a clean kitchen instead of having to wash a load of dishes for this to be even possible (something I've been missing since he's gone hunting).  So I'm trying to cut the guy some slack.

I try to see the messes he makes as evidence of his commitment to providing for his family.  He works very hard so I can stay home and be with our children and help them with speech therapy/ADHD counselling/school advocacy etc.

Also, There's something to be said for living with a well-meaning slob.  Would I want him to be the complete opposite?  He could be the kind of neat freak who doesn't want anything to be touched because it has to always be show-room perfect.  I think I'd rather have the kind of anxiety generated by living in some mess than the kind that is generated from the nit-picking disapproval of my husband.

I guess the thing I appreciate most about all of this annoying shit is that it's really the worst stuff about him.  He's a well-meaning slob who hoards junk and tells the truth too much and, when you put it in perspective, that's pretty fucking awesome.

Because we could be like this happy couple:

Thursday 18 October 2012

Themed Thursday: Ramping Up for Halloween with Horror101

It's Themed Thursday yet again and this week we tackle the topic of Halloween!

I've been having a Halloween extravaganza this month over on my facebook page and some of you have been asking me about when it's okay to let your kids watch scary movies.

Short answer: whenever the hell you want.

Hey it's your kid and you know them best.  If you think they're ready then they're ready.  I'm not one of those people who think that a little scary movie is going to a) scar my kid for life or b) turn him into a serial killer and that's because a) kids love the thrill of a good scare and are more resilient than we give them credit for and b) if your kid has that serial killer gene then not watching horror movies won't make a difference anyway.  In fact you should probably consider letting him watch "Dexter".

For Frick we decided last year, at age ten, was probably alright.

It's definitely my opinion that horror movies can be fun but you have to be careful about how you do it.  You can't just go barreling in with a Rob Zombie production.  You have to ease them in gently.  Test the waters, see how they react.

So in this post I will be providing some advice on how to handle initiating your child into the spooky world of horror.  This is Horror101.

Careful movie selection is key.  Choosing an appropriate movie is the single most important step in beginning Horror101. There are three criteria I look for when choosing a horror movie for my pre-teen son:

1) Humour.  If a movie can provide a good laugh to relieve the tension from a good fright then your chances of having to deal with night terrors are greatly decreased.

Shaun of the Dead

You can't go wrong with a good Rom-Zom-Com.

Army of Darkness

Hearing your child shout "This is my boomstick!" while running around playing with his friends is just so deeply rewarding.


Who wouldn't want a pet zombie?

2)  Older Movies.  There is a wealth of older movies that are just incredibly dated in terms of special effects.  The impact of the horror is lessened by how unrealistic it looks compared to modern standards.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Everyone loves a pie fight, even the undead.



This could easily have been directed by Tim Burton.  Even the soundtrack is reminiscent of Danny Elfman.

The Gate

Kids these days are too sophisticated to be frightened by a little stop motion animation.

3) Ghost Stories.  As much as I love horror, I actually have a weak stomach for slasher flicks.  There are a few I can tolerate but even those I have political opinions on (re: victims being largely female, topless and promiscuous and that sending entirely the wrong message about women etc. etc.)  I generally prefer ghosty-stories for their ability to deliver the fright with a minimum of blood and gore.  This can make these horror movies ideal for Horror101.

The Haunting (1963)

This classic was actually the first horror movie I ever saw and it still holds up today even though all it uses are camera tricks and sound effects.

The Sixth Sense

Can I tell how much fun it is to watch your kid watch this movie?  Mind.  Blown.



This was the movie that sparked my obsession with seances.  I even had my own Ouija board made by the mystical Parker Brothers.

Always preview any scary movie you watch with your kids.  Once you've made your selection it's a good idea to make sure it doesn't contain any nasty little surprises.  The last thing you need is to suddenly traumatize your kid with a scene you forgot/didn't know about.  

Periodically take their fright temperature.  After a scary part I like to ask Frick whether or not it's too much for him.  This is more to reassure myself than it is for him, honestly.  I offer to turn the movie off and put on something funny but he just laughs at me and begs for more.

Nothing gets me in the mood for Halloween more than horror movies.  As a child, my favourite part about Halloween (aside from the actual trick-or-treating of course) was being allowed to stay up, gorging on candy and watching a scary movie.  Naturally I was looking forward to my own children enjoying that experience.  It will be even better when Frack is old enough and we can make it a tradition for the whole family.  But right now, Frick and I are pretty happy that this is our own special thing.

And now for the other Themed Thursday bloggers (drum-roll please...)

Thursday 11 October 2012

Themed Thursday: The Evolution of My Dream Job

Welcome to Themed Thursday: the awesome little blog hop all the cool bloggers are talking about.  At least let's hope so.  This week's theme is My Dream Job.

I've dreamed of a lot of jobs.

When I was five I wanted to be a Movie Star, like Miss Piggy.  At least that's what I told the school librarian at the time.  I wasn't serious about it.  I just thought Miss Piggy was very beautiful and I felt like I wasn't (kids teased me because I looked like a boy) so what I really meant to say was that I wanted to be beautiful like Miss Piggy.  Not much of a career, that.

When I was eleven I wanted to be an Actor's Actor like Meryl Streep or John Malkovich.  Because she was worried about my extreme introversion, Mummy Dearest forced me to take acting lessons.  I didn't want to, but after my very first stage performance I was bit with the bug: I wanted to act.  I wasn't bad either.  I always landed parts in anything I tried out for and I took it very seriously.  Everything I did for the next five years was to further my acting career: improv, dance lessons, singing lessons...I was a triple threat!  Not really.

When I was sixteen I wanted to be a Rock Star.  I asked for (and got) a bass guitar for my sweet 16 when my parents fully expected me to ask for a car and for the next four years I lived, breathed, and ate music.  I joined the school jazz band, created my own band for the school talent show so kids who wanted to sing would have back up musicians, and then played regular gigs with two bands.

I practiced constantly, spent entire weekends jamming at drummer's houses and lugged my bass guitar with me just about everywhere.  I took a great deal of pride in my blistered fingers and short, non-manicured fingernails.  Real musicians can't have pretty hands.  (Maybe some can?  I don't know about pianists.  Do pianists have pretty hands?)

When I was twenty-one I wanted to be a Political Scientist.  More specifically I wanted to work in PR.  More specifically than that I really wanted to be a Spin Doctor like DeNiro in "Wag the Dog".  I loved statistics and philosophy and I was obsessed with the way the government and the media manipulated public opinion.  Of course I would use my powers for good.  I liked the idea of working in campaign management to help get good people into office.  I would never want to run for office myself.  Too much public scrutiny.  Besides, behind the scenes was where the action was at!

When I was twenty three I dropped out of University to go study Television Production at the local college.  It seemed to be a natural progression from politics and public manipulation.  Then I fell in love with technology and production and wanted to be a Technical Director.

For those not in the know, a Technical Director is someone who sits in the TV control room or truck operating the switcher and also oversees the technical crew, equipment, and mapping of a production.  In Canada, where most of our TV jobs are in hockey or the News that means you are doing this on air, live.  It might not sound that fun but trust me, actually doing it was very exciting.  It even made me enjoy hockey.

But then I got knocked up in my last year of college and trying to start a career in television with a new baby is just about impossible.  Depending on the job you land, most starting salaries are a pittance (sometimes minimum wage depending on the job).  There's no way they're going to hire a kid green out of college to direct hockey games.  The days are 13 hours long plus a commute and daycare is expensive.  Also you generally can't afford to take time off.  It's mostly contract work so you have to keep working to keep working.  Many of my teachers in college were teaching because they had to get out of the game just to see their families.  I had to choose between my career and the kind of Mom I wanted to be.

So then I didn't know what the hell I wanted to do.

I'm an excellent cook.  My family keeps telling me I should start up a business selling my weird preserves (onion jam and hot pepper jelly) and homemade breads.  But this is labour intensive and I couldn't see a way to make a decent profit.  Other than that I'm not particularly crafty.  I know people who make money with their crafting.  I have this very clever friend whose business, Clone Hardware, is jewelry made out of techno junk .  Super cute stuff.  I have a necklace myself.  I love art but I've never been as artsy as her.  What possible talent do I have that could make me money?

And then I discovered my current dream job by accident.

It happened about four years ago when I returned from a family reunion and wrote a rant about pantyhose.  I had never in my life considered myself anything like a writer.  Oh, I tried many times as a teenager.  I had a collection of cringe-worthy poems and unfinished short stories.  I was keenly aware of how much they sucked.  But people responded positively to my rant.

About a month later I wrote another rant about eternally adolescent men who like to string women along but never intend to commit because they're always on the lookout for the next one.  This one was even more popular.  I was discovering something about myself: I wax eloquent when I'm pissed off.

Once I got a taste of that I couldn't stop.  I wrote articles in my facebook notes every week talking about everything; relationships, politics, religion, you name it.  It began to seem more appropriate for me to get a blog rather than harass my facebook friends into reading my notes.  Also many people were encouraging me to write but these are my friends and family and are therefore obligated to lie to me.  I wanted to know what perfect strangers would think.

And that's how Mommy Rotten was born.

So now my dream job is to write comedy for television.  I even have the college diploma that declares me qualified for the job.  Ultimately I would like Mommy Rotten to become a sitcom about a woman who blogs because she's not brave enough to say the things she thinks in real life.  I think it would be good.  I'm already adapting my blog posts into episode scripts.

Do you hear that TV executives and producers?  I want to write for you.  I even have a script with an elevator pitch just waiting for you.  Why aren't you hiring me already?

And now allow me to share with you the Dream Jobs of:

Something Clever 2.0
Aspiring to the Middle
Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine
I Like Beer and Babies
Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom
the next step
a calibama state of mind
Shit I Don't Tell Most People
Mom With Her Running Shoes On
Who Woulda Thought
The Insomniac's Dream

Happy reading!

Thursday 4 October 2012

Themed Thursday: Playgrounds Suck Now
I've joined up with some other bloggers to do this thing called Themed Thursdays where we write about a particular theme and then link up with each other.  Any of my fellow bloggy friends who are interested by all means let us know.  This week's theme is playgrounds.

One of my fondest memories as a child was getting to go to the park with Mummy Dearest and my brothers so we could climb all over the play equipment.

These things were awesome.

You had ginormous swings that made you feel like you could launch yourself to the moon if you got enough momentum.  There were the long rickety teeter-totters that you could almost break your tailbone on if the kid on the other end of it happened to be an asshole.  There were jungle gyms that could have been mistaken for unfinished apartment buildings they were so tall.  There was the kid-powered merry-go-round that taught valuable lessons in centrifugal force.
The play structure itself seemed to be made out of rejected factory parts: metal pipes, chains, rubber tires, rope, plastic tubes, rusty nails, aluminum siding (okay, I made those last two up).  You probably could have used one of these things to provide basic training at a boot camp.  And every play-structure either sat on sand or had a sandbox nearby great for digging and discovering parasites and freshly buried cat turds.

The good old days.
Obviously, I get the need to update the playgrounds of my childhood.  Some of these things were actually dangerous/unsanitary.  But the unfortunate side effect of making the playgrounds safer is that they also got a lot suckier, too.

Oh, they're fine for your average pre-schooler to have a pretty good time but for ages five and up the playground is kinda boring.  There are no good hiding spots, the plastic tubes and slides are shorter, and forget about anything like jungle gyms, teeter-totters or merry-go-rounds.  What you have now are low to the ground, wide, stable catwalks that you can walk on to get from one short slide to the next with a central gazebo type thingy great for standing on.


The only remnants of the playgrounds of yore (if you're lucky) are shorter versions of the parts that I always considered to be stupid and are largely ignored by modern kids, too: the fireman pole and those ladder shaped monkey bars that no kid ever has the upper body strength to maneuver.  If you want to swing, get in line.  There are fewer of those, too.

I remember spending a lot of time and energy trying to dissuade Frick when he was younger from climbing up the now much shorter slides instead of sliding down them because of the potential for head-on collisions.  Now I realize that he was only trying to make this incredibly un-challenging playground more fun.

For a 10 year old, this is not a fun time.
Because if you don't climb up the slide there is nothing left to climb.  (Do those stupid short climbing walls that can only fit one child at a time count?  Not in my books.  Also, their ridiculously shallow toe-holds seem to make them more dangerous than old-school monkey bars, not less.)

Last year the suckiness of modern playgrounds really hit home.  There is a seven year age difference between Frick and Frack.  So while the sucky playground is still fun for 4 year old Frack it is downright unwelcomiong to 11 year old Frick.

I've noticed that when Frick and his friends try to have fun on the play-structure the parents of the younger children seem to resent them even being there.  They feel that the older kids are setting a bad example in their attempting to climb the structure in a way that was clearly not intended by its design (ie. fun).  They are much more likely to be yelled at to "Slow down and look out for the little ones!" than, say, the 6 and 7 year olds who are running just as recklessly.  One time I overheard a parent say to another something to the effect them being "too old" to play there and "Why don't they go somewhere else?"

So, adding to the suckiness of the playground is now a bunch of sucky parents acting like my kid's idea of enjoyment is making their toddler fall down (it isn't).  I don't ever remember seeing an adult on the play structures of my childhood but today kids can't run around on one without bumping into over-zealous parents.

Parents who seems to resent their desire to run because it's fun and because it's the last bastion of exercise on these pitiful, prefab, Fisher-Price monstrosities.  Parents who seem to think that the public parks were only designed for very small children and who seem to forget that the older kids have just as much a right to play there, too.  And why shouldn't they think the playground was only designed for very small children?   It was!

What are we doing when we participate in this way to dissuade older children from fun at the park?  Where else do we expect them to go?  What is there for a 10-13 year old child to do if they don't have the park?  Get into trouble, that's what.

For example, in our neighbourhood we have The Hobo Hole.

Our local park is on the edge of a protected wooded area that boasts all kinds of great hiking trails.  I think it's great for Frick and his friends to explore this area except that there's this Hobo Hole.  They told me it's a small campsite hidden in the bushes where, presumably, a hobo lives.  I think I have to draw the line at the possibility of these kids running into a homeless and possible mentally deranged man-of-the-woods.

This is what we're left with here, people.  We've made playgrounds so sucky that kids are contemplating hanging out with hobos in the woods where I seriously doubt they'll be regaled with tales of ridin' the rails as they eat beans out of a can.  Still, that's what passes as a thrilling challenge to children who really ought to be finding their fun at the parks but instead find themselves to be bored or unwelcome.

Surely there has to be some middle ground between safety and fun.  A middle playground perhaps?

(For some truly awesome playgrounds check out Our Favorite Dangerous Playgrounds)

And now without further ado, here are the other Themed Thursday bloggers.  I'm very curious to see what their take on playgrounds are:

Something Clever 2.0.
Aspiring to the Middle
Cloudy With a Chance of Wine
I Like Beer and Babies
Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom
a calibama state of mind
The Next Step

If I've left anyone out I apologize.  Just let me know and I will rectify that immediately.