Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Excuse Me, Is Your Refrigerator Running?

I have always paid attention to song lyrics and, with some rap-based exceptions, am fairly adept at both deciphering and retaining them.

As an aside, it's practically criminal how the brain can hold on to some information like phone numbers and lyrics and completely void itself of useful stuff. I often wish my entire education had been set to music just so I could have a shot at remembering something actually relevant to my daily life and the questions my kids ask me-- as opposed to the year in which the Battle of Hastings was fought (1066).

My mindless focusing (oxymoron alert!) on the words I'm singing must feed into my enjoyment of those misheard lyrics roundups. You know what I'm talking about... "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" (Purple Haze); "I'm not talking 'bout the linens" (I'd Really Love to See You Tonight); "the cross-eyed bear that you gave to me" (You Oughta Know); and, of course, "Hold me closer Tony Danza...." (Tiny Dancer). I'm sure there are websites devoted to them. (Just checked. Yup.)

We may have a new entry.

Our family's song of the summer is Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." Notwithstanding what I said about being good with words, I have practically no idea what they are saying during most of the song. The verse is sung through some kind of megaphone that distorts the sound, but then it breaks into a very catchy chorus that I love but which is still somewhat hard to decipher. Turns out that the words were being purposefully manipulated as a way of censoring them (the chorus references guns and bullets).

A second aside: The upshot of all of Tipper Gore's fist shaking all those years ago is that they garble "gun" and "bullet," meanwhile I have to keep my hand on the dial to navigate away from Rihanna singing about how she likes the smell of sex in the air and sweet little Bruno Mars' plans for after he does his p90x? It's like radio morality and censorship are in direct contradiction with what is deemed okay by the ratings boards/standards and practices for movies and tv. Can you all meet in the middle somewhere please?

On Sirius we can hear the song as written and it clearly says (in part) "all the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run faster than my bullet." Except my son hears-- and sings-- it a little differently: "better run, better run, faster than my oven."

He insists it makes perfect sense.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Notes from a Small Island

We just got back from our annual trip home to England and the jet-lag hasn't been too bad this time, even for the kids. We had a really great two weeks; perfect weather, Wimbledon (on the telly), a day trip to London to go on the Eye, watch the changing of the guards and see where Prince William and K-Middy got married. Minx got well into pate on toast and all three kids discovered the joys of a local sweet shop where everything was in jars and had to be weighed on an old brass scale, straight out of Harry Potter.

We explored the tunnels underneath the cliffs of Dover where the Dunkirk rescue was masterminded and took a miniature train down the coast for a fish and chips dinner. We went to a quintessential English fair with a coconut stall (if you can hit the coconut with a ball, you get the coconut!!!). My eldest, Lefty, who's been pitching for her softball team all summer, winged the ball so hard it not only took out the coconut but also the stall behind and landed somewhere in the forest beyond. Coconut all round!

It was lovely to spend time with my family most of whom I only get to see once a year. Once, my brother scared the crap out of the children by racing out into the garden (where they were quietly playing cards) wearing a gorilla costume. He later tried it on me when I was hanging out the washing but it backfired when I swung the whirligig at him in panic and knocked him on his back. My brother-in-law also spent hours with the kids, playing games, blowing up a soccer ball too much so that it exploded and left a hexagonal welt on Lefty's stomach, and teaching them English slang. Worst thing to call someone? Frenchman. In fact, when we arrived back home to 99 degree heat, Lefty declared it to be "scorchio". Uncle P would be proud.

We also got to spend time with one of our nieces who got on famously with Minx and spend most of the days either asking for ice cream or telling people to sit in the corner. On her last day, she called me a bony-bum which I've never been called before and for which she will always be my favourite niece. My mum and sister provided a rather gentler form of entertainment in the shape of books, stickers, crayons, cooking projects and issues of Heat magazine.

It's good to be home, but I do miss them all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Re-gift Re-gaffe

The end of the school year is like Christmas, if only in the sense that you practically bleed money thanking everyone from the bus driver to the assistant assistant t-ball coach.

This year I found myself running out the door for the last baseball game with no thank you gift for my son's very kind, very dedicated coach. What to do? No time. Panic!

I scanned my re-gift shelf. Electronic weather center? Nah. Dangerous Book for Cats? Spiderman umbrella? A possibility. Wait, no.

Then I remembered that in the fall my husband coached our son's soccer team with Coach X. Coach X received a Starbucks card from one of the players as thanks and graciously mailed it to my husband. My husband, intent on somehow slipping it back to Coach X, left the card in its envelope in our junk drawer.

Problem solved! Shamelessly, I put the old card in a new envelope with a note from our son and... gave it to Coach S.

Who then thanked us profusely. Over and over. In person. And by email. And with a handwritten note to our son. And then I realized that my great solution had one not so tiny flaw: I have no idea how much money was on that Starbucks card.

It's entirely possible that whoever gifted Coach X was a generous soul and that we, in turn, came off that way. It is also possible that the card was a token $5 thank you and Coach S. didn't realize it until after the parade of thanks. D'oh!

The most torturous part is that I will never know.