Some Thoughts on Being a Bad Parent

I think that it's safe to say that from the moment that Henry was born (If not earlier), Elisabeth and I were hyper-aware that we would be putting him into daycare from a very young age.  This awareness definitely affected our relationship with him, our expectations of him and shaped how we've raised him so far.

It's also fairly safe to say that the transition to daycare (Which Elisabeth covered here and here) was much harder on her than I due largely - and obviously - to the fact that she's spent the last seven months with Henry while I went back to work after three weeks and have long ago adjusted to seeing him first thing in the morning and second to last thing at night.

What I wasn't prepared for was how much Henry would flourish at daycare.  After only a few days he was so much more animated, talkative and genuinely happier.  By being around other kids, most of whom were older than him, he really seemed up to the challenge of Getting On With It and very quickly has started to grow in faster and far more interesting ways, finding much more joy in the world.

It's easy to do so when you go from being an only child to suddenly having nine friends.  It also helps when you've got four adults caring for you and having the energy (read: salary, I'm being honest here) but also drive to work with kids (In keeping with being honest, I sure as hell couldn't hack it) in energetic and creative ways.  It also helps to have a whole school at your disposal along with a wide range of toys which have been collected over years.

There have been the obvious revelations (He loves music) to the less than obvious (He likes to share) that we would never have known had he not have had this kind of interaction.  He has also dealt with the transition really well with the sole exception being his insistence to do a poo just before leaving.

I for one have found that I actually spend more quality time with him (About an hour every morning getting him ready, plus the twenty minute walk to the daycare) and it feels that Elisabeth is still able to connect with him one-on-one between picking him up and by the time I get home.

It's still early days yet but we've started to settle into a routine that feels quite comfortable and has resulted in a much happier child.  One that is suddenly pushing himself to explore new movements and sounds, to be able to deal with change and to socialize with all sorts of people.  I'm happy with the choice we've made and thus far it seems unlikely that he will grow up vote conservative or to torture animals which, as we all know, are one and the same.


Baked Gnocchi

The laziest meal:

  1. Gently fry some chopped garlic in lots of olive oil.
  2. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a pack of chopped spinach. Bring to a boil and then simmer to reduce.  Season.
  3. Empty two packs of gnocchi (about a kilo) into a pyrex dish.
  4. Pour the sauce on top then grate mozzarella on top
  5. Bake at 350 until it's done.


Sometimes Wishes DO Come True

Cloverfield is unbridled 9/11 wish fulfillment.   It is eighty-five minutes of terrorist attack ejaculation.

In summary:  A group of American Apparel models (New Yorkers) are suddenly attacked by Godzilla (Al Qaeda)  and the Statue of Liberty (World Trade Centre) is destroyed.

However this time, instead of a fringe group loosely connected to a limited geographic-specific minority based on another continent, led my an extremist among extremists, financed by covert forces of its enemy and with limited power, reach and ability to live; the bad guy in Cloverfield is site-specific, non-philosophical (Other than in its dedication to kill all things New york, ergo, American, ergo lovers of Freedom, ergo, Christians) and tangible.

Cloverfield is everything that America wishes the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were.  It recreates a world where black people are looters (With the occasional sympathetic soldier-man) and the only other minority in Manhattan are honkeys who know more than the people in power.  Whose asinine decisions based on gut instinct, self righteousness and moral crapitude outweigh balanced and rational thought.  It is racist and jingoistic in the worst ways and helps remind and re-enforce the trauma of an event which is a weekly occurrence in other parts of the world.  However, since they're not white, they don't really matter.  Much like the Arabs, Hispanics and other minorities which are killed with glee in Cloverfield while the lives of a few shallow rich white people are given the gravitas of a nation.

Thank God everyones dies in the end.  (Spoiler!)  They all deserve it.  It's just a pity this plays further into the hands of idiots who misunderstand their ethnic and cultural majority to be a minority and believe racists who tell them bullshit.

For such a short movie this feels long and while it has some good special effects it makes believe that the strongest military power in the world in Just Not Good Enough.  While I'm a fan of right-wing movies, I'm not a fan of propaganda and this is the worst kind.

The trailer sums it up: Kinda boring then kinda exciting then kind of even more exciting though if you think about it, kind of dumb and wait a minute, why is the Statue of Liberty's head so small?  And if that doesn't bother you or take you out of the moment or make you think your watching bullshit sold as gold, then bon appetite!


On Gary Ezzo and Babywise

There are a couple of things that have made me want to write about Mr. Gary Ezzo.  The first is is derived from Matt on Survivor: Redemption Island.  Matt will likely go down as the worst player in Survivor history.  He seems to be a likeable enough guy, is certainly intelligent (Pre-med student) but his religious convictions and insistence in putting his fate into the hands of a higher power lead him from stupidity to stupidity.  He is a perfect example of what happens to good people when they abandon logic and common sense in favour of the freedom to not think as encouraged by extremest forms of religion.

The second came as a result of Ken Gallinger's most recent ethics column in The Star.  The relevant section being:

Where the notion of sacrifice goes bad — very, very bad — in Christianity is when people start to believe that Jesus died to mollify an angry God, a deity so vicious “he” would wipe out every sinner on earth unless his anger was sated by the death of an innocent victim. This idea, such as it is, was introduced by the church long after Jesus died. It was then refined until it became a sharp and dangerous instrument for inducing gratitude, then obedience, from the faithful. It’s an idea that would have horrified Jesus, as it should horrify us. Such a god, so hopelessly out of control that he requires the death of one child before he can deal with the wrongdoings of the rest, would be worthy not of worship, but of utter contempt and loathing.
This is not just a matter of obscure religious belief. Its ethical dimensions are obvious. Ordinary people wonder how religious leaders who name themselves “father” could abuse young children. Such abuses are easier to understand against a religious background in which the “Heavenly Father” allows his own son to be abused just to mollify his own raging passions.

And so we come to Gary Ezzo and his Babywise technique.

In a nutshell - and I will keep things to a nutshell, there is plenty of information readily available on him - Mr. Ezzo was complimented on how well behaved his kids were in church.  This led him to create the Babywise publishing empire.  Babywise, as a method to raise your baby is very similar to that of the Baby Whisperer.  The main difference, however, is that instead of getting to know your baby's signals & cues and respond to it's individual needs, you actively avoid learning its signals and cues and make it respond to your own personal needs.  This is generally done through starvation and abandonment.

You see, Gary Ezzo feels that children need to be raised the Christian way.  And by Christian, he means his way.  Looking beyond the fact that such 'fringe' groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics site him as putting babies not just at short term risk of malnutrition, failure to thrive and develop emotionally. Looking beyond the documented long term risks on mental and emotional instability, this is a man who has views so extreme that he has been excommunicated from three extremist evangelical denominations.

In all fairness, I don't know much about the processes involved in excommunication but I'm fairly sure it's quite a difficult feat to accomplish.  People rape babies and don't get excommunicated, yet Gary Ezzo has managed to achieve this three times.

The baffling thing about all this is that when a person is freely (Well, not so free - his parenting starter packs will set you back over a hundred bucks) giving advice (And by advice, I mean abuse), one would look to their own family as an example of how well this persons techniques work.  The Ezzo's personal webpage , which they claim has nothing to do whatsoever with Babywise (In spite of their name being so closely linked with their program.  This is like McDonalds asserting that their webpage has no marketing link whatsoever to the Big Mac.), shows plenty of photos of the Ezzo's posing with lots of people who look like they're family, the only problem is they're not.  Babywises' website, ezzotruth (Hint #1 that someone might be selling snake oil: Their website's domain name is on the defensive from the get-go.) reassures us the Ezzo's are married and there is mention that two of his daughters are married and all together the Ezzos have something like eight grandchildren.  What isn't mentioned is that the Ezzo's have three daughters and are estranged from all of them and their husbands (One of whom embezzled a half million dollars from Babywise).  One is left wondering just how effective a program this is and why the Ezzo's are lying to people.

I'm not going to go on.  This website has loads of resources including a timeline on the controversies surrounding Babywise and an index of articles supporting its stance.  I'll let the Amazon reviews speak for themselves.

I've also realized I've not gotten into the so-called Christian message behind Babywise.  In essence, it is about denying a baby's needs and instincts as these are sinful.  It's an outdated daddy-knows-best mindset filled with nostalgia for an age that never existed.  The theology behind it is totalitarian and it's message and methodology has been closely linked to the grooming practises that cults use to indoctrinate others.  It is what happens when normally good people cease thinking for themselves and allow a perverse and twisted interpretation of love to justify hurting children.


The End of the Trilogy of Terror

This should have been typed up on Saturday following my 3-day marathon of faux-grindhouse features.  After dealing with a fake grindhouse followed by a non-starter, I at last got around to The Real Deal.  I got around to:

The Dead Pit.

This was Tiger Blood:  Something low budget and objectively terrible.  After an epic pre-credit/ credit sequence that somehow took place in the late 60's but looked exactly like a late 80's GWAR video, I was subjected to...

90 minutes of boredom!  This was the perfect grindhouse film: full of great ideas, over the top acting, a plot that made no sense other than to serve the 4 or 5 really cool ideas the filmmakers had while sitting around in their moms basement stoned one night.

In a nutshell, this is about an insane asylum that has, in its basement... The Dead Pit where this crazy psychiatrist (Oxymoron, I know) experiments on people and then throws them into it.  He's killed in the first five minutes.

Flash forward 20 years to a woman with amnesia being admitted to the hospital for no reason what so ever.  She makes friends with a nurse who thinks it's okay to flirt with the patients, a sexy mad bomber who's not really crazy and you know this because he talks in a British accent and buh-buh-buh-Billy from One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest.  After being in the asylum for less than a minute she freaks out, causes an earthquake and brings the mad psychiatrist (Yes, yes, an oxymoron, I know) back to life along with all the bodies in... The Dead Pit.

For the next 45 minutes, nothing makes sense and people talk about stuff until there's been enough filler to make this a feature length movie.  Then the zombies break out, the most obvious of plot twists occurs and the climax happens in supermarionation and then there's another twist that makes the entire film redundant due to it's lack of sense!

This might sound amazing but it's really not.  I can't recommend... The Dead Pit even though I really, really, really want to.  It's that weird kind of so bad it's kinda good but really quite bad kinda movie.  The creator went on to produce the seminal sci-fi extravaganzas Lawnmower Man and Virtuosity so consider yourself warned.

This is the trailer.  Remember that like all true grindhouse films, this looks and sounds much cooler than it really is:



The other night Elisabeth and I had a conversation we've had a few time before, centring on how it seems that new parents seem to be under the impression that raising children is something no ones ever done before.  While I think I'm a bit more forgiving than Elisabeth on the subject, I do think that it's interesting that a lot of attention seems to be given to the idea that this is the first generation of kids growing up with unprecedented access to technology and information; less attention is paid to the fact that this is also the first generation of parents raising kids with this kind of access too.

If you compound this with the dichotomous fact - I feel fairly certain I can use the word 'fact' here - that our generation will be the first to have a lower standard of living than our parents (And that more than likely the following generations are going to have, if not increasingly lower standards, radically different realities.), it seems that all this weird arrogance that new parents have may be related to a darker zeitgeist that has yet to be acknowledged.

This sort of ties into my thoughts about finishing Jonathan Franzen's newest novel, Freedom.  In all honesty, I don't mind if he only publishes one novel a decade if those novels are able to weave together such insightful and venomous deconstructions of the spirit of the age (I refuse to use 'zeitgeist' again out of fear of appearing too pretentious) into family dramas which explore the damage that history does to a person.

I'm embarrassed that I let the book sit on my shelf as long as I did before finally giving it a shot.  I'm also not too sure what the sales are like (I suppose we'll have to wait for the paperback to come out to find out) but am fairly sure that they would be tripled had the setting taken place somewhere exotic like India.  People would be able to talk about the culture, how barbaric things are, how his descriptions make you wish you were there, and how foreign yet relatable the characters were.  Instead he writes about the American mid-west with the kind of you-are-there exactitude of Rohinton Mystery that I think would make a lot of readers uncomfortable at how close to home (and below the belt) Franzen comes.  I'm going to totally rip off CBC radio and say "If you're only going to read two books this year, this should be one of them."