Re: Complainopuss.

1

Noser's first grade teacher is more than a little concerned along the same lines. Just silly. She was worried when he selected a journal that was a bit girly from the book fair. It is purple with a puppy and a couple of hearts on the front.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:04 AM
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Oh for god's sake.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:05 AM
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Do you email back and forth with your kids' teachers? We haven't yet, and it still feels intrusive, which is totally silly and just a holdover from childhood-lack-of-emails. But I get that it's the done thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:07 AM
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Yes, we do email her a bit. It is grating because she makes a fair number of grammar errors.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:09 AM
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We're on the verge of pulling our older kid out of pre-school. His teacher is such a cold fish, and he used to love school, but now the very first thing he says when he wakes up every day is "I don't want to go to school."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:28 AM
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Anyway, Heebster, that girl book/boy book thing is hella annoying. Who still thinks that way?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:29 AM
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I'm glad you emailed her about it

On the gendered-everything topic, I have a pile of new toddler clothes here by my desk waiting to go in the wash, some that I bought and some much girlier ones from my MIL. Zardoz just came over to them and fished the shirt with the skateboarding monster out of the pile. Atta girl!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:33 AM
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best retort I ever saw when confronted with statement that "x was for a boy" (this is not mine, I saw it somewhere, probably on some crazy feminist blog - note, I am a crazy femininist; note 2 - x was a child's toy, but this probably holds true for books as well.)

-- "Do you operate it with your penis?"

if the answer is no, then it is a perfectly good toy/game/book/etc. for a boy or a girl. If the answer is yes, then it is not appropriate for any child, regardless of gender.


Posted by: sam | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:35 AM
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I'm sure the line is in there to avoid complaints from parents whose kid ended up with a book intended for the opposite gender. I mostly wanted to make the point that they're not the only ones who can complain, so stop pandering to them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:36 AM
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I helpfully suggested:

The solution is either to request that all children bring in a gender-neutral book, or to tell kids that it's perfectly fine for them to read a book intended for the opposite gender.)

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:38 AM
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Yeah, it would make everything a lot easier if they requested non-gendered books. Then you don't effectively have two book swaps to manage.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:39 AM
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11 before seeing 10!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:40 AM
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Great minds think alike, so we rank them based on pwning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:43 AM
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This doesn't even make sense to me. What makes a kindergarten-age-appropriate book a 'boy' vs. a 'girl' book? I'm picturing something like, "Tommy's first nocturnal emission" or "Susie has a yeast infection."


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:56 AM
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If you were looking at them, you wouldn't be confused. You could sort them on color scheme alone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:58 AM
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But also, and I know I'm preaching to the completely converted choir here, an additionally lousy facet of this sort of bullshit is how much more tightly defined and limited 'girl book' is than 'boy book'. Anything that doesn't have pink sparkles on it is arguably a 'boy book', but if you have to bring in a 'girl book', you have to seek out the pink sparkles.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:02 AM
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15

That's probable, I'm kind of rusty, so I'm mainly remembering early reader books of my childhood. Things like Richard Scarry or the Frances books. Like, they could be 'gendered' if you're unimaginative and have really rigid gender roles, but most kids of either gender would enjoy reading them.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:02 AM
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Just figure out which books earn eighty-three cents on the dollar.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:04 AM
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And dry-cleaners charge triple for girl books, because the buttons are on the wrong side.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:06 AM
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Ungh. That's an annoying thing for a teacher to think, and an even more annoying thing for her to say.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:06 AM
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A gender neutral book is "Tommy has a yeast infection".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:07 AM
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Let's delve into gender role imbalance in Richard Scarry. I suspect assorted members of Judas Priest are likely to have opinions.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:08 AM
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Tommy the Baker.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:08 AM
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I recently sent my college roomate's younger son The Paper Bag Princess and she realized her two boys had 0 books with a female protagonist. Zero. (She was mortified and immediately dragged out her grrl power CDs to start indoctrination.) Of course girls can read books with boy protagonists because they're "universal" stories.

Good on you, Heebie, for being that humorless feminist parent.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:10 AM
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14: This is a girl book.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:22 AM
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22: Richard Scarry is so oppressively mid-century suburban conformist ("it's good for good people to have good roads so they can get to their detached houses and children can play in the yard"), it drives me crazy. It's not, like, poisonous or anything but it's kind of grating (and my kid love love loves Richard Scarry).

And now that you mention it, nearly all the professionals in "What Do People Do All Day?" are men. Most of the women are mommies. Boo.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:27 AM
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Did you email her the link to that story about the bug book?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:30 AM
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What's the bug book?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:30 AM
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This link

Or just tag her in it on Facebook. Do you have to be friends with your kids' teachers on Facebook? It's a brave new world.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:31 AM
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I don't have a link, but I saw it on FB -- Book titled "A Boys Book of Bugs", annoyed little girl writes to publishers saying, "Dudes, what? I can't be interested in bugs without a penis?", publishers reply "Whoops, we hadn't noticed it wasn't 1950, we're fixing it right now," little girl kicks back with a beer in the knowledge of a job well done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:33 AM
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Maybe it's a bit much for a five-year-old brain, but I think it's good practice to teach kids "give a gift you think the receiver might like, not a gift that you yourself would want." I have a vivid memory of the very first birthday present I ever chose for my father (probably at around five) being an Indiana Jones "choose your own adventure."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:33 AM
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Oo or send this book. It's a great book! I'm sure it will not stir up any trouble in a Texas kindergarten classroom.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:34 AM
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Richard Scarry is so oppressively mid-century suburban conformist

LALALALA. We only have I Am a Bunny, which I couldn't possibly love more, so I'm going to pretend none of those other books exist.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:34 AM
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I don't think 31 is too much for a 5-year-old, and it's an important thing to learn. But you can't really do that at a classroom gift exchange- you don't know who's getting the present you bring.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:38 AM
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31: Is that still sold? Asking for a friend.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:40 AM
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26, 33: Previous discussion on Scarry @ unfogged starting with this comment and then look for subsequent comments by Halford.

From the precipitating article:

Pigs in particular are substantially over-represented in subordinate jobs (those with low skill and no authority), where their overweight bodies and (judging from the plots of these books) congenital stupidity seems to "naturally" equip them for subservient jobs. Here, see this additional image from Scarry's book, showing construction work being performed by the above-mentioned swine.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:42 AM
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29: good for the publishers for changing their title, but did they have to phrase their response as "girls can like 'boy' things too"? So close to getting it, and yet still....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:43 AM
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"You are confronted by an aggressively menacing man twirling a large sword.

If you wish to fight him using your hands, bullwhip, and blunt objects from the surrounding marketplace, go to page 35.

If you wish to use your pistol, go to page 48."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:44 AM
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I guess the quotes may be intended as "things that are perceived as 'boy things'", but I still feel like they could have chosen a better phrasing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:44 AM
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37: That sentence popped for me too. Baby steps, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:47 AM
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Within limits, I worry less about the appropriateness of the book, and focus more on letting the kid know that even enjoyable books can suck in some ways. We were reading some book where all the women were mean, and I pointed out to him how different that was from his own life, where his mom, grandmothers, and teachers were so nice. And I was enormously gratified to hear that when someone else had read him Curious George, my kid had noted what a bad man the man in the yellow hat is, for taking George away from his family. He'll turn four soon, and we can start talking about how much Whitey sucks.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:49 AM
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Is the newly "discovered" lost Ayn Rand novel a boy book or a girl book?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:50 AM
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I wonder what the odds are that the only book the teacher has read in the last five years is 50 Shades of Grey. That's a girl book, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:50 AM
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where his mom, grandmothers, and teachers were so nice and his dad was so mean


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:51 AM
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We just had a terrible week of preschool, we potty trained over thanksgiving so it was the first week of using toilet at school. She's the first one in class to do it and one of the teachers was totally negative- she doesn't know how to pull her pants up and down on her own, I have to think of the other children so I can ask her every hour if she has to go, if she won't sit we can't make her, if she has too many accidents we have to put a diaper back on her. I'm pretty sure this is not the first training kid they've ever dealt with- I think the teacher thinks we forced her to do it too young so is undermining us. No accidents three of five days last week so I think teacher is coming around. I joked who are we training, the kid or the teacher.
Also found that training girls is a total pain compared to boys- they have to sit every time! Can't go on a tree at the park! Someone needs to find a solution for that situation.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:52 AM
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Potty training books and dolls are gendered, appropriately so.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:53 AM
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26 -- hey, asshole, they live in a fucking Swiss small town and walk and bike around all the time. Do you want your little shitheads to grow up like Europhiles or not? though I guess we should set the books on the SWPL bonfire because Bananas Gorilla drives the Bananamobile car instead of riding the Bananmobile bicycle to his startup. The professions are pretty gendered so that's true but it's still one of the more gender-neutral accessible things out there.

The Tom Bolling cartoon on updated "What do people do all day?" which I'm sure someone can link to is really good.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:53 AM
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and his dad was so mean

True dat.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:54 AM
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46: We used Only Girls Wipe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:56 AM
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33: I Am a Bunny is the first book that W really responded to; I love it too. It's entirely unlike the Busytown series, which is kind of great in that they're immersive and packed with whimsical detail but kind of awful in that they're non-narrative and effectively endless (I'm talking about the Treasury-style books; there's also Busytown-set story books which are mostly just awful. Narrative is not his strong suit). The one to get is Cars and Trucks and Things That Go but that's obviously FOR BOYS ONLY.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:56 AM
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47: I'm talking more about the ethos of how everybody's always building things and buying things for the betterment of all people, like, "Here's Tommy Cat laying drainage pipe so all the good children can have water," which is neither here nor there, ideologically, but feels very Eisenhower to me.

I forgot entirely about The Great Pie Mystery and so on, which W also adores. They're a bit threadbare, but much better than the "Officer Murphy blows his whistle in various places" series.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:01 AM
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Blume: Have you seen Animal Masquerade? Delightful. Bear Has a Story To Tell? Also delightful.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:04 AM
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51.1: I think that falls more under the category of teaching your wee savages to live in society, like the relentless emphasis on sharing, rather than a celebration of massive government infrastructure investment. Not that infrastructure is bad, just that there's a ton of emphasis on not being a selfish asshole to everybody around you for 2-5 year olds.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:08 AM
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My favorite series of books when I was about Hawaii's age was about a group of kids who were monsters (a vampire, a werewolf, some kind of Frankenstein's-monster-like twins, I think some kind of creature-from-the-black-lagoon sort of thing?) and from what I remember the group of protagonists were a mix of boys and girls, who went to a school with non-monster kids and got into adventures. I hadn't thought about those books in a long time, but I must have read them all ten or twenty times.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:14 AM
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But you can't really do that at a classroom gift exchange- you don't know who's getting the present you bring.

You have to take it to the next level: consider the recipient; consider the uncertainty of the recipient's identity. That naturally get's you to a gender-neutral choice, but is some seriously advanced imaginative empathy.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:21 AM
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51 - Yeah it's called building a fucking economy that works for everyone though I guess we should just let off-book Mexican slaves build our drainage pipes while our characters 'subvert the rules' on a foundation of their labor. Though I'll grant that the Busytown economy isn't as awesome as Babar's Celestville, whose monarchical, orderly, leisure-focused state socialism is the greatest.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:22 AM
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It's great to have you back, Ripper!


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:24 AM
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And not with the cryptoracist bullshit!


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:24 AM
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Also I loved the Cam Jansen books, which came up in some thread here before.

I feel like most of the children's books I read as a kid did a good job of having a mix of boy and girl protagonists until I got to fourth or fifth grade and started reading more fantasy sort of stuff. Although the Susan Cooper books were good on the gender politics front, weren't they? I can't really remember details clearly from things I read that long ago.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:25 AM
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That Glenn Tipton dude, though, what's up with him?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:25 AM
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Threads like these always make me feel weird, because SFAIR I didn't have any favorite books as a small child. In fact I don't even remember any children's books. (I guess maybe Curious George is the exception?) Although my mother claims I loved loved loved Dr. Seuss.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:29 AM
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Seriously? Another one. Do I have to google every new pseud?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:30 AM
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62 to 60. I had no idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:31 AM
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I've been confused by the Tipton and Ripper pseuds being used at the same time. I was wondering if they were expressing different aspects of his personality or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:37 AM
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Maybe I shouldn't mention this, but when I was in kindergarten I had my parents tell me the story of Hansel and Gretel every night. The reason was that I actually hated H&G and hoped that if the story was told often enough, at least one of those times the witch would eat them. My parents got it 180 degrees wrong and figured I had some weird fear of being eaten, so every time they would emphasize that H&G escaped safely from the evil witch, and I would be mildly pissed off. Anyways, I was a weird kid.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:37 AM
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For an open exchange like this, I think it's perfectly OK to say "choose a book that you would enjoy". But realistically, the parents have a lot of power in choosing the book, so instructions to choose a book for any 5 year old should do it.

I remember doing under the table trades. I got my first book that way. We exchanged whatever in 2nd grade, usually toys. One of my classmates was having a meltdown because she got a book instead of a toy. I got a doll, which was not at all my thing, so I quickly suggested a swap. It was an actual hardcover chapter book, aka a "real book". Perfect trade.


Posted by: Calypso | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:43 AM
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They're different aspects of the persona. Glenn Tipton is the genial conversationalist, Ripper Owens the police-obsessed troll, I may add in KK Downing and some random bassists and drummers for other topics. The idea is to comment less by creating more topic-focused personas who limit what they have to say, though they're hard to control and Owens was probably in Tipton territory or maybe even in unique new bassist-drummer territory in this thread.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:45 AM
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So...

(1) Comment under multiple pseuds simultaneously
(2) ???
(3) Profit! Comment less!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:56 AM
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I like the idea that in our time of greatest need, the various personas will combine, Voltron-like, into Judas Priest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:06 AM
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The idea is to comment less by creating more topic-focused personas who limit what they have to say

Good luck with that!

Seriously, the place wasn't same without you (that's a plural you).


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:15 AM
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Not to pile on 51, but given how epically shitty the neoliberal alternative has turned out to be, is "very Eisenhower" really that bad? I mean, try to imagine an alternate Busytown written by Ron Paul.

Speaking of Busytown, what gender was Lowly Worm anyway? Or was (s)he deconstructing the gender binary before it was cool?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:15 AM
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Clearly one of us needs to create a Scarry-style book where everyone is pursuing hobbies and studies, partying, sniffing drug bowls, or intervening in the development of less advanced animal societies.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:17 AM
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Eisenhower was great. My incorrect thoughts have been purged.

Oh, but wait, maybe the weird thing about Busytown is that it's so focused on work. Nobody ever, ever does anything that's not useful or productive, except children, who are allowed to play at being useful or productive, and sometimes parents are allowed to drive their children to the beach in a car they bought with money they earned by working and, in the process, pass by lots of people who are being useful or productive in lots of interesting ways. And also a major traffic accident involving jam and maple syrup.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:28 AM
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Lowly Worm is exclusively referred to with the pronoun "ze."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:29 AM
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Oh, but wait, maybe the weird thing about Busytown is that it's so focused on work.

Well, I mean, it *is* called "Busytown".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:30 AM
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They're not as efficient as the good people of Workville, just down the (freshly poured!) road.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:42 AM
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29, 30: That's especially bizarre given that the publishing company was originally called Abdo & Daughters.

I imagine it was some ham-handed attempt to have a line of books that librarians could instantly identify as being for "reluctant readers" (aka boys). Phooey on them.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:54 AM
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HG, what a drag, but I commend you for being far more constructive and polite than I would have been. I suspect I would have put together a list of books and asked oh wise one teacher to enlighten us as to the correct gender classification of Make Way For Ducklings, Maybelle the Cable Car, The Winter Bear, all of the Harry books, The Duchess Bakes a Cake, The Little House, The Quito Express, etc.

The joy of the Scarry books is the window open on the urban fabric, is there any kid not interested in what's under the pavement and how things got built and operate? Also the worm character who is quietly compelling. Virginia Lee Burton is also just fantastic on local government decision making, urban planning, etc.

The only sane criteria for choosing books,for someone who can't read is "if the chip falls in love with thus book could I tolerate rereading it 87 gazillion times?" This also applies to music and visual media, in spades.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:18 AM
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Virginia Lee Burton is also just fantastic on local government decision making, urban planning, etc.

You don't think Maybelle is maybe a bit heavy on the "and then there was a petition, and then the good citizens knocked on doors, and then there was a vote, and the government heard the voice of the people!" stuff? They're frickin' cable cars FFS (cf. SWPL).


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:23 AM
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78.3: Given who they're making the choice for, in this case, should the parents go with the "yes" or the "no" answer?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:33 AM
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Ummmm, it's a children's book about the initiative power, and we live in SF there are cable cars blocks from our apartment and our kids liked tiding them when he was little. Also Muni's overreliance on buses is an issue, but let's not talk about SF public trans or the commenter-of-many-pseuds may cone up with another one and get pointlessly and illinformedly aggressive and it really isn't that interesting.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:38 AM
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"if the chip falls in love with thus book could I tolerate rereading it 87 gazillion times?"

In the category of books about which you'd answer this question with a resounding NO, Arthur's Chicken Pox (acquired as part of a lot on eBay) may be disappeared soon.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:40 AM
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Do you email back and forth with your kids' teachers?

I did so for the first time this year, to get clarification on the policy for the swim unit in gym class and the penalties for sitting out.


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:41 AM
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Right, we need to stick to interesting topics like how sophisticated and French you are, what a wonderful parent you are, and how great your kid is, n'est-ce pas?


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:43 AM
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Ummmm, it's a children's book about the initiative power

Yes, exactly. It's really quite tedious.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:49 AM
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29: good for the publishers for changing their title, but did they have to phrase their response as "girls can like 'boy' things too"? So close to getting it, and yet still....

Has anybody linked to the awesome lego ad from the 70s yet?

My brother, who was born in 1970, definitely remembers kids toys (and clothing) being much less gendered when he was a kid. Obviously it's gotten much worse in the last decade or two, but that ad makes me think that the 70s may have been notable decade, for there being a sincere cultural thread that attempted to be "gender neutral."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 11:50 AM
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Yeah, why has the gendering of kids' toys (and books, and clothes, and parties, and everything) got so much worse since the 70's? The evil machinations of Disney?The endless rightward march of the Republican Party? I feel as though this was covered in some previous thread but I can't remember what the findings were.


Posted by: millicent friendly | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:14 PM
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72: Set on the GSV Busytown.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:21 PM
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87: profitability of market segmentation on the supply end, anxiety & backlash for demand?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:22 PM
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89 has it. In the 70s there were just Legos. Now there are ninja Legos and Star Wars Legos and princess Legos. There's a business logic there that's independent from enforcing the patriarchy.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:39 PM
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... the same business logic that has gifted us with Spongebob macaroni and birthday cake Oreos.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:42 PM
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. . . anxiety & backlash for demand?

I had that thought, but seeing the lego ad* made me think that some broader cultural explanation may be needed as well. First, I can't imagine that the 70's were a less anxious time, particularly pre-Paris Peace accords, or post-OPEC embargo (and, looking it up, there was only 9 months between the two).

Secondly, I find the "backlash" theory convincing, but I just wonder, a backlash doesn't occur in a vacuum -- what else was happening in the culture to amplify those messages.

(Incidentally, the opening credits to "Free To Be You And Me" are an impressive list of names.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:50 PM
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Why does nobody tell me the useful things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 12:50 PM
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86, 92: I was born in '69 and had the ungendered Legos & realistic, not-all-white dolls and came of age as SF&F was publishing non-tragic adventure heroines. But my parents were on the way left egalitarian side of the mainstream, and by the 1980s there was visible anxiety (if the genders are equal who raises the kids?) and backlash (everything is feminism's fault).

Cooking with garlic was equally lefty & shocking in 1960s St Louis, but I think that change stuck better. Clothesdrying machines & range vents are a help there, of course.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:09 PM
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95

I tried peeling garlic on the range hood but it didn't work as well as the flat of a knife.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:16 PM
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96

Legos have traditionally been hermaphroditic.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:17 PM
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97

96 to 93.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:18 PM
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98

I tried peeling garlic

If you use this garlic press, you don't even have to peel the garlic.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:25 PM
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94 - same here, only a bit earlier and in Toronto! Our house was a garlic-scented Barbie-free zone. So I may have an exaggerated impression of how much better things were then. But I don't remember feeling like a freak for preferring plastic Roman armour to ballerina gear, the way a kid would now -- there weren't 'princess parties' and crap like that.


Posted by: millicent friendly | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:26 PM
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100

Or, quite possibly, I just wasn't invited.


Posted by: millicent friendly | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:26 PM
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101

98: Have one. Sucks to clean.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:33 PM
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102

a business logic there that's independent from enforcing the patriarchy.

A market less predictably segmented by adherence to gender roles would be more expensive to target.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:44 PM
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103

This is basically just a longer version of 89, but here's my thesis: you can blame the relative values of manufacturing costs (declining) and the value of intellectual property (rising), if you'd like. The toy companies aren't manufacturers, they are rights holders. Making money in the toy business works as follows: you create and spend a bunch of money marketing something that is a brand that kids identify with and want. You can then create 1,000,000 versions of the concept that you own the rights to (made by slaves overseas), and just kick back and watch the profits roll in. And no one else can take your brand away from you. The big expenses are in design and marketing and brand preservation, not manufacturing.

This in turn leads to more gendered toys for at least two reasons. First, creating "boy" and "girl" versions of the same thing is an easy way to enact the "1,000,000 versions of the concept that you own the rights to" strategy. That's why almost all toy makers do it. Second, the marketers are convinced that it's easier to capture the all-important brand loyalty thing by heavily playing up gender issues to the max. They think that this is what kids go for. They may be right; e.g., Lego, which has invested heavily in really strong gender-identified things ("Space Strike Force Extreme Ninjago" or "Lego Friends") seems to be doing much better and have more obsessively loyal kid customers than does Playmobil, which is much less OTT about the gender of its toys (though it still does the "boy" and "girl" version thing).


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:49 PM
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The Flip-Pater tried to read Scott's Ivanhoe aloud to the Flip-Frater when the latter was about 7 years old. The project was abandoned by mutual consent after seven or eight evenings.

Conclusion: The works of Sir Walter Scott are girl books.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:49 PM
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85: fails the test for you!

The core lego in our house is the big bin of stuff from my stepdaughter's & stepson's time, it definitely includes some "sets" but sort of established a baseline of just building stuff. Every set we then added was subjected to enthusiastic off piste modification.

This is shaping up to be the first Christmas wish list with no toys on it. Bittersweet.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 1:51 PM
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So, 103, what you're basically saying is that pirating intellectual property is really a way of advancing the struggle against harmful gender roles?

I mean, anything that reduces the value of intellectual property will undercut the cause of their strategy, and that strategy is sharply directed at policing those rules. So, really, any decent feminist should commit to never paying for media again if they can possibly torrent it?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 2:08 PM
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The toy companies' IP value is mostly in trademark (to the extent is is in copyright, it is mostly in design, not media you can stream). So, really, if you want to strike a blow for feminism, you should commit to buying your kids knock-offs and generic versions and weird Chinese imitations of major toy brands.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 2:15 PM
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Or, quite possibly, I just wasn't invited.

Possibly because of the garlic.

Not directly related but kind of mind-boggling to me when I first encountered it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 2:41 PM
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Link in 108 also contains an amusingly terrible inference: "Most ball players are intensely superstitious. So are fishermen. Since he despises fishing, Joe DiMaggio despises superstitions."


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 2:44 PM
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a backlash doesn't occur in a vacuum -- what else was happening in the culture to amplify those messages

1) Globalization? Legos are now gender divided for the reason we have superhero movies...MNC, Legos are trying to sell in a somewhat more regressive international marketplace. China Japan MENA etc now have an important role in creating our local culture.

2) Neoliberalism - market segmentation happens bottom up as the precariat creates identities based on consumption. This needs a lot of work explaining. I have just opened Richard Sennett's Culture of the New Capitalism last third is on consumer capitalism.

You don't have to buy this, I don't really buy backlash, 80s feminist turn against Marxist feminism toward individualism ie, neoliberalism. Not to blame feminists, but the anti-feminists were also trying to turn vague preferences into culturalism, iow, establishing an marketable identity...same forces driving both.

Larger point was the death of masscult.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 2:47 PM
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103: My half-baked theory: the everything-is-gendered explosion is also a reaction to smaller family sizes. If you make it so that a boy can't play with his older sister's legoes, or wear her hand-me-downs, or read her books, then you can sell more.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 2:57 PM
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80s feminist turn against Marxist feminism toward individualism ie, neoliberalism i.e the opportunity to identify with a twelve-year-old girl.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 3:15 PM
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113

I'm so happy we're havng a kids' book thread. Also full of love for I Am a Bunny.

Just before reading the OP I followed a link to this article (via Everyone is Gay) and I'd just started to get my head around the idea of body parts, including reproductive organs, not necessarily being gendered, so reading about HP's teacher spun me around a bit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 3:28 PM
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Oh, me. 113.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 3:29 PM
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I don't figure you'll buy it.

Of course, since the right is just smarter, they beat us to it with Schafley and Bryant, but Faludi did very well for herself didn't she?

All of a sudden the enemy wasn't men or the patriarchy...but Republicans. And the mass movement or revolution with potential for direct disruptive action was turned into a faction of the Democratic Party, you know, the feminist party, the one the anti-feminist party would fight fairly fruitlessly in the Forever Culture War. Too busy getting votes and donations and choosing the lesser evil to hit the streets.

Etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 3:45 PM
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There is a tree at this park hung with a LOT of laminated pictures of dead pets. ????? Please let this be a peculiarity of this one park.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 4:11 PM
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Kill pets at other parks to test.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 4:18 PM
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Pet Reliquary didn't do as well as those cemetery movies.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 4:22 PM
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84: Though I have no recollection of this, the book I was obsessed with as a toy was called Jean-Marie in Gay Paree. My parents slipped it behind the bookcase so they could prove it was gone.

I email my kids' teachers, mostly about innocuous stuff (don't let her get in the bus line Thursay because I will pick her up from school, she snuck a ring to school and lost it so can you please help her look?) as well as bigger things as needed.

We do the gendered book exchange but the big thing is the book must cost 3 bucks or less, which can be hard to find. I've always bought gender-neutral books and send a few extra marked accordingly to cover for kids who can't afford to or othrewise couldn't participate. I have severally online friends livid about this, but it's not a fight I've persobally bothered with.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 4:52 PM
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||

WTF is this shit.

Yesterday that disaster that calls itself my new Yahoo News for Me has an upfront article on Is 8-Year-Old Kristina Pimenova the Most Beautiful Girl in the World? and the very next day I get Cindy Crawford's 13-year-old daughter?

Wait...article authors are Lauren Tuck and Molly Creeden

I am not the gendered target. What does this fascination mean?

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 4:58 PM
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Wow, bob, the evidence is really starting to pile up.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 5:14 PM
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Is Complainopuss a boy's book or a girl's book?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 5:19 PM
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123

Don't news sites send you articles based on your search history?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 5:23 PM
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123: I don't think so

I got

Win a tour of Greece and and Italy and $5k scholarship
Ranking the Bowls 1-38
The World's Most Lethal Rocket-Propelled Grenade

I have never in my life watched any College Football or been in those areas of the internet


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 5:58 PM
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One thing I love about the internet is that you can Google something like "Psycho killer, qu'est-ce que cest? Phở phở phở phở, phở phở phở phở phở far better," and discover that you aren't even close to the first person to have not only thought this but typed it somewhere.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 6:48 PM
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The odds are that at least one of us is David Byrne.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 6:58 PM
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Om the internet, no one even knows if your head is talking.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 7:02 PM
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Speaking of anthropomorphic animals and gender-neutral toys, did anyone else play with Fabuland? It was a lego product in the 80s which was only around for a few years and never made it to the US, and it was an idyllic European village with animals. The pieces were compatible with normal legos, but looked quite different (kind of Playmobil/lego hybrid), and they came in day-of-the-life sets. It was very Richard Scarry-meets-lego-meets-smalltown-European-socialism.

http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/Fabuland

Bob briefly mentions her, but Faludi's "Backlash" is quite convincing on the backlash against feminism in the late 80s/early 90s, which is in my experience is also when toys really started being aggressively gendered again.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 8:46 PM
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Speaking of children's books, Click Clack Moo is pretty great. Cows that type! Hens on strike! A very early introduction to collective action.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 9:23 PM
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My favorite playmobil set was the art colony, many opportunities for teaching the lapsed Unitarian heritage/commune heritage there.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 7-14 10:19 PM
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In Click Clack Moo I can't get past the impossibility of the cows just stopping their milk for a day. What do you mean no milk today? Aren't your udders going to get uncomfortably swollen?!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 4:20 AM
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131: Right? And heightened risk of bovine mastitis. It's got to be the work of outside agitators.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 7:02 AM
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125: You might as well put a sign up saying "Ban me".


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 7:13 AM
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54. Was that the series where every book there was a character who turned out to be a monster of some sort, always a nice one? Can't remember the name but my kids loved those.

122. Complainopuss is clearly an attempt to get some of the big bucks Grumpy Cat is raking in.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 7:14 AM
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134: Or the least threatening Bond villain ever.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 7:34 AM
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"No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to...send me an email."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 8:02 AM
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125: Yeah. The internet has saved me from many horrible jokes that other people have already made better.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 8:20 AM
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||

My dog is sitting in the next room, whimpering. He's been outside. He moves normally. He's not trying to bite or scratch himself. This is disconcerting.

|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 9:47 AM
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Could he be reacting to something you can't hear?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 9:49 AM
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Is the bus driver the dog's mother?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 9:53 AM
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He saw something nasty in the woodshed?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 11:08 AM
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Poor guy. They are so stoic.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 11:10 AM
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Are they? My dog is a total wimp.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 11:17 AM
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It seems to have stopped. It lasted much of the morning (although it wasn't constant), and he didn't seem agitated.

Mostly what's concerning me is that our previous dog had undiagnosed cancer that we only learned of when it (combined with a hypoglycemic episode stemming from diabetes that we did know about) killed her. I guess this one is due for a checkup anyway, but it's just so strange - no symptoms or unusual behavior of any sort, except this whimpering.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 11:30 AM
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Maybe he's been reading the news.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 11:38 AM
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Yeah, the news in my neighborhood just got even worse:

The Charlottesville Police Department is investigating the deaths of an Albemarle County teacher and her daughter as homicides. Charlottesville Police held at press conference Monday morning at City Hall.

Police now say Robin Christine Aldridge, 58, and her adopted daughter Mani Viktoria Aldridge, 17, were beaten to death before their bodies were found in a house fire on Rugby Avenue Friday. They lived in the house alone.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 11:43 AM
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The 'Kaarma's a bitch' trial has been riveting, several journalists are live-tweeting (#kaarmatrial) but I think I'll go watch a bit tomorrow. (I'm sorry I missed the lawn guy on Friday: he's spraying around the yard (after ringing the doorbell) a couple of days before the shooting, and is suddenly confronted by the shooter, naked, pointing a shotgun at him screaming what the fuck's he doing on the property. April in Montana isn't really the naked outdoor shooting season.)

I learned today that a prospective juror was stricken after recounting a conversation she had had with my wife and I: what's funny is that anyone who thinks we could influence her opinion about anything at all really doesn't know her.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 8-14 6:39 PM
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