Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Gift Guidance

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I generally think the libertarian economists are right in their scorn for the concept of present-giving, at least present-giving to people you don't know at all.

Maybe the kid would enjoy a donation in his name to Heifer International.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:13 AM
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This is compensatory cuteness for the last Ask The Mineshaft, right? The one that was too juicy and scandalous to even leave up?


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:17 AM
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As we all know, the customary gift for people who you do not know anything about is a bottle of wine. And the customary gift for children from an aged relative is a savings bond. So I'm sure the kid's parents would be super-happy to see that you'd opened an account for him here, maybe even starting him off with a couple bottles of Animal On Label Shiraz.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:23 AM
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Floor or wooden puzzles. Look for things by Melissa and Doug, they have interesting stuff. Compilation books are nice- we got a large book with all the original Curious George stories, and another with 12 different classic books (Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, etc.) Remember, according to freakonomics, the success of the kid depends less on whether they read books and more on whether they own books.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:25 AM
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Tens and twenties.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:27 AM
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I wish someone had gotten me this book when I was 8.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:27 AM
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For young children, I am very fond of high-quality, durable toy gifts that don't have batteries and don't make obnoxious noises. With all of the recent news about lead and toxins in toys, the site I've been patronizing is RosieHippo.

If you're not around young people a lot and don't know which toy is good for which age, they have a helpful menu of "first year," "toddler" etc. categories.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:29 AM
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6, you need to team that up with the Eroticon.

Which can be bought online how, by the way? (in English translation)


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:30 AM
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Get your cousin something awesome like a blowgun.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:34 AM
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Sometimes, especially with classics, the kid ends up getting 4 copies of the same book. Even though books are a wonderful gift.

I often go with art supplies. Pretty much every kid loves them, and they are helpfully labeled by age appropriateness.

I am also a little sister whose big brother is the one with children of various ages, so I greatly enjoy giving baby castanets, finger paints, and other noise & messsmakers; this year I found a xylophone for bath time that floats and sticks to the bathroom tiles. Fun though nothing to match the screaming siren of a fireman's helmet that my grandma gave me at age two (which lasted about 5 minutes before being disappeared by my parents, but it was still great).

The Audobon Society makes excellent stuffed birds that are relatively correct and identifiable by species. The larger ones come embedded with actual bird calls - like a hooting owl - that are fun to give, especially if you are tired of the unrelenting cuteness and artificial processedness of experience that little kids are supposed to be purdah-ed inside in our society.


Posted by: mrmf | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:35 AM
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re: 10

Yeah, noisy things are cool. I gave my brother a didgeridoo when he was about 8.

Art supplies are great, too. We gave my 7 year old niece clothes for her birthday and I'm buying her a series of books for christmas.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:38 AM
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The "(Imitation Leather)" in that book really puts it over the top.

I've got no suggestion for the 2 year-old other than my constant Tintin advocacy (although you should check to be sure that a parent on hand can do a good Captain Haddock before investing too heavily).

But I've got a question of my own. My sister's 25 and has just bought a house in Houston with her boyfriend. They need housewarming stuff but not, apparently, kitchen stuff. Ideally it'd be something that can be transported on the plane back to Houston. Can anyone save me from handing over a Bed Bath & Beyond Gift card?


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:39 AM
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I think that Melissa and Doug stuff is made in China, which will make some parents anxious. Alas! I was about to buy a cute grasping toy from them and then had second thoughts.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:40 AM
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Tintin is surely too old for a 2 year old?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:40 AM
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Get a toy that makes a lot of noise whenever it is turned on and even more noise when the child plays with it. Parents love that.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:43 AM
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For the 8 year old, looks for Webkinz, little beanie-baby type stuffed animals that have a code number on the tag for the Webkins site.


Posted by: Shamhat | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:43 AM
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Inspiration! I suddenly remembered seeing an ad for this last night. It's got bright colors AND teaches a marketable skill. Also, you'd be taking advantage of a bona fide microtrend (or so I hear).


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:44 AM
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15 Even better, something that will randomly turn itself on in the middle of the night, until it gets smashed to pieces and thrown in the trash.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:45 AM
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14: Well, that's possible. I'm speaking as a dissolute, childless twentysomething, and all kids pretty much look alike to me. But my dad started reading Cigars of the Pharaohs to me early enough that I can't really remember it. A kid's gotta learn about opium smuggling sometime.


Posted by: Tom | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:46 AM
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Art supplies are terrific.

Books are strange -- I find that what I buy the child depends on the parent. If the parent is likely to be expansive and generous in their definition of the right age, willing to be theatrical in their read-aloud style I'm quite happy to buy books that are far too "old" for the child. Eloise for a one-year-old, for example.

If the parent isn't good at making adjustments (reading only part of the story, skipping over scary parts, pausing to explain tricky vocabulary, willing to skate over some parts that are over the child's head in order to share the magic of the story), or if the parent is likely to be completely uninvolved in the child's reading experience, I buy much closer to the recommended age. Board books for babies, easy readers (e.g. One Fish Two Fish, Go Dog Go) for 5-7 year olds, first chapter books for 7-9 year- -olds, etc.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:46 AM
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The best stuffed toy ever is a Giant Microbe.

http://www.giantmicrobes.com/


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:48 AM
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For a 2-year-old nephew? Good-sized plastic front-loader or bulldozer. You can't have too many of 'em.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:49 AM
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We got this for a 6 year old boy, and it seems awesome. I think it could do for an 8 year old.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:50 AM
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Wooden blocks, but they're surprisingly expensive.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:52 AM
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Book suggestions:

The books in the Olivia series are beautiful and can be appreciated both by kids who need their parents to read to them and kids who can read themselves.

The fancy nancy books are also great fun.

My kids have been digging deep into this Seuss collection recently, but it actually bugs the fuck out of me, because all the stories have been reformatted to fit the larger page size, and this generally either means moving words and pictures around to fit two pages worth of art on one page, or blowing up the art larger than it was supposed to be.

That's not as annoying, though, as the Dr. Suess board books, which actually have to remove large amounts of verse to fit on the smaller page.

Don't even get me started on the book based on the movie based on the book The Cat in the Hat


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:53 AM
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Since we're blegging: my old man turns 60 in a couple of weeks. I usually get him a book for his bday, but feel I should get him something more. Any recommendations?

And Tom, does your sister need a good tool kit for all those around-the-house repairs she'll be doing?


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:53 AM
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The Giant Kapok Tree. Shag.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:53 AM
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27 -- Not a response to 26.

Kapok.

Shag.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:57 AM
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Thanks for the 8YO boy suggestions. There isn't actually an 8YO boy that I'm buying gifts for this year -- I was using that as an example. Sorry, folks but thanks!

(Bad blogger for not making that clear!)


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:57 AM
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But there really is a 2 YO.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:58 AM
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|| Um, I guess I am divorced now. Neat.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:58 AM
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oudemia got this for Caroline and the loveslovesloves it. She calls it her pillow and carries it everywhere.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:58 AM
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Buying obnoxious noise-making toys for children is one of the few joys of child-rearing closed off to actual parents.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 8:59 AM
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27/28 is a response to 30.

31 -- Congratulations!


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:00 AM
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But there really is a 2 YO.

Giant Microbe. Imagine the glorious silence when you announce you gave a 2 year old herpes.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:01 AM
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You mean he's signed the separation agreement?

There's still prove-up.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:01 AM
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31: Glad to hear it, Di. Next up: the FFMO mix!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:05 AM
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36: Nope, I mean I just got home from the prove-up. I have solemnly sworn, on the record, that we are never going to work it out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:08 AM
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I usually ask a friend who has a toddler because they not only have about six million recommendations, they also know what toys actually work, what's been recalled, and (in some cases) have theories about child development that can be entertaining.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:08 AM
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Thank you guys! The 2YO question is mine.

Yay Di! A good divorce is a speedy divorce.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:08 AM
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31: congratulations! feel okay?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:09 AM
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Yay Di!

You probably aren't having a reception or a party in real life, so we should have an imaginary one here.

Have some cake!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:11 AM
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Click, Clack, Moo!. It's never too early to teach kids the value of the labor movement.


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:12 AM
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2 year old book suggestions:
Frog and Toad
Hand Hand Fingers Thumb

Of course, with my two year old, the gift he wants is anything that could plausibly be wielded as a weapon.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:12 AM
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40: "Speedy" would be quite a stretch. But free at last, thank God Almighty...

41: Very surreal, actually. Still not 100% convinced I didn't just dream that.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:12 AM
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32: Aw. That's nice. We gave one of CA's nephews a different one and I think he was afraid of it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:13 AM
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Oh yeah -- the toolkit is a good idea if your sister doesn't have one. Also, does she have a power screwdriver/drill combo thingie? I got one for graduation (thanks, dad!) and never would have bought it for myself but have used it so many times. It's especially awesome since I bought a bit that works for IKEA furniture. It's not something that makes you think "yay! fun!" but if they're setting up a new house, they might have a lot of things to put together.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:14 AM
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42: Yum, thanks for the cake. But, hell yeah I'm having a party in real life. Not until after he moves, because that would be sort of tacky otherwise, but oh yes, there will be a party.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:15 AM
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Melissa and Doug makes high quality toddler toys at reasonable cost. No cheap plastic, electric noisemakers, or flashing lights. Basically, they are the anti-Fisher Price.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:15 AM
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I second the recommendations for Frog and Toad and Click Clack Moo!

Click Clack Moo may be the most subversive children's book on the market.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:15 AM
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47: IKEA really is a great place to start when shopping for little kids.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:16 AM
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does she have a power screwdriver/drill combo thingie?

DRILL BRA!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:16 AM
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48: I'm sorry, but I am finding the idea of your having a party while he's there, maybe asked to stay in a different room, maybe asked to run out for some more champagne, somewhat hilarious.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:16 AM
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Congrats, Di! 53 is cracking me up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:19 AM
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38: In that case congratulations!


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:20 AM
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51: I didn't know they sold little kids at Ikea now.

I just got some giant microbes for Joey and Caroline. I gave them the common cold, but I also gave them some white blood cells to fight off the cold.

And I got some ecoli because they look cool. I don't know who we'll give that to.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:20 AM
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I have been assigned to buy a present for a 1-year-old in the office pool of presents-for-kids-with-fucked-up-lives.

I figure whatever I get, the kid won't be too pissed off.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:22 AM
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I second wooden blocks, art supplies, and the creation of imaginary cake for di! let's imagine that I'm making poppyseed angel food cake with pink grapefruit curd, shall we? no, pomegranate curd. full of healthful anti-oxidants (and egg yolks and unsalted butter)!!! it's divorcelicious. actually, this is making me want to make pavlova with pomegranate this weekend for guests.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:25 AM
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I didn't know they sold little kids at Ikea now.

Well, there's some assembly required, of course, but decent and inexpensive. It's IKEA after all.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:25 AM
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58: Alameida, I am swooning!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:26 AM
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12: I've got no suggestion for the 2 year-old other than my constant Tintin advocacy (although you should check to be sure that a parent on hand can do a good Captain Haddock before investing too heavily).

For a two-year-old, I wouldn't have thought of it myself, but Tintin could be a decent gift to be read aloud, I guess. They aren't as saccharine as Barney or Winnie the Pooh, but it's not like they're really explicitly violent either.

For an eight-year-old, though, I wouldn't recommend Tintin, unless you're prepared to avoid the ones with the really egregious stereotypes and pre-PC language. (That's probably at least a quarter of them. I don't suppose more recent editions of the books have updated that stuff, have they?) You never know if the eight-year-old might call the Korean kid in fourth grade a "yellow person." After all, it's what the sherpa called himself in "Tintin in Tibet," so isn't it the word you're supposed to use???


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:28 AM
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61: Never mind Tintin au Congo.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:31 AM
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60: does this mean I'll be getting a photoshopped graphic novel about our friendship soon?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:31 AM
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I always haunted by the following question: How do kids feel about recieving charity presents? Are they thrilled by the kindness of strangers? Are they enraged by the pity-factor? Are they indifferent, 'hey, toys!'? Are they indifferent at the time and then angered later?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:33 AM
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57: even if he is pissed off I'm sure you can take him.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:35 AM
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Wasn't it revealed a few weeks ago on this very blog that what all the kids wanted when they were growing up was a Stretch Armstrong?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:36 AM
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63: More likely a photoshopped cookbook or something. Tell me about that cake again...?

21/56: I just ordered an E. Coli for a friend who recently won a food-borne illness case. Thanks for the tip!

(I probably should have kept the cake and E.Coli comments separate... )


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:36 AM
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good night everybody! I've been up late trying to find the perfect rehab for that special someone (not me). this one in belize looks good but she's holding out for one in SE Asia somewhere. eric clapton's got one in antigua that's well thought off, but he's there a lot, and being confronted with impromptu acoustic eric clapton at dinnertime would undoubtedly drive her back into the sweet arms of lovely lady H so...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:41 AM
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62: Oh, sure, there were many that could be more problematic than "Tintin in Tibet." I just mention that one from experience.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:41 AM
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68, it sounds to me like if she's considering places like that, she's probably in the top 0.01% of incomes and could potentially live a normal life while maintaining a heroin habit.


Posted by: Hustle Misterioso | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:44 AM
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Oh, this post is totally coming down.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:44 AM
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Oh, this post is totally coming down with the flu.
Oh, this post is totally coming downtown tonight.
Oh, this post is totally coming down in a dirty way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:46 AM
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well, that's maybe what the friends who called her three nights in a row when she couldn't sleep at 2am TO SAY THEY'LL BRING CLEAN WORKS AND DOPE TO HER HOUSE FOR FREE think. talk about some mother-fucking frenemies.

woah, and eric clapton doing an acoustic version of layla just came up on iTunes. like, crazy, man.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:47 AM
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oh, this post is totally going down.
oh, this post is totally getting well.
oh, this post is totally on the nod.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:48 AM
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Well, I guess we'll be going down together! I mean, getting off together! I mean, oh dear! Anyone for penis?


Posted by: Hustle Misterioso | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:49 AM
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wouldn't that be nice?

I actually love that song, it's the stupidest, goofiest psychedelic bullshit that the hip, now people of today ever came up with.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:53 AM
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I always haunted by the following question: How do kids feel about recieving charity presents? Are they thrilled by the kindness of strangers? Are they enraged by the pity-factor? Are they indifferent, 'hey, toys!'? Are they indifferent at the time and then angered later?

My experience with my own daughter is that presents from surprise (unfamiliar) givers are welcomed - they really are acquisitive little things, and surprises are among the best things in their lives. Once you get up to a 6-yr-old, you'd probably start to see mixed feelings, but I would guess feelings that are allayed by a good quality gift: ie, a lame gift will evince feelings of unlovedness, while an awesome gift will overwhelm ambivalent feelings.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 9:55 AM
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73: Fuck. Frenemies like that are no help at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:01 AM
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Totally. It's like they're not quite your friend, but they're not quite your enemy. Enemends, or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:03 AM
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The kinds of presents suggested in this thread, except for the wine investment firm, are the kind that a kid would probably enjoy out of sheer acquisitiveness/surprise, as described in 77.

But nowadays a majority of toys are in fact of the type that kids might be completely uninterested in, and forget about immediately. Even if they actually thought they wanted the toys, and especially if it is a random action figure. The Mark Ark Leiman blog, of all places, recently had an impassioned anti-Lego-playset screed.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:03 AM
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I probably should have kept the cake and E.Coli comments separate...

I think beefcake is a perfectly acceptable divorce present for yourself. (Congrats!)


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:07 AM
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He's totally right about the new Legos. Back in my day we didn't have no curved pieces and instructions, we made our lego planes up hill both ways in the snow.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:11 AM
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Which can be bought online how, by the way? (in English translation)

Alibris, bookfinder, etc, are your friends.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:12 AM
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The post linked in 80 is interesting and more than a little true. But I think it is a bit too literal about the point of Legos ("something about compression unit building materials"), and also underestimates the playability of, say, a Lego spaceship. The pieces were a lot less specialized then, but I played with Lego spaceships as a kid, very actively engaged with flying them around and so on. Best part was that they could be "damaged" by removing pieces - made for more realistic play than spaceship toys.

I think that "directive" toys can have a role, but they need to be a subset of a kid's toy collection.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:13 AM
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1. Legos are the best toy ever.

2. The lego company has seen the error in its ways when it comes to the complicated kits where you are only supposed to build thing, like the Eiffel Tower or some piece of branded content. A while back they sent out a press release (which I can't find) which said that they would focus on their core product "little plastic bricks"

3. Legos are the best toy ever.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:13 AM
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I third the Click Clack Moo recommendation. It's been one of my favorite gifts for young friends for a few years now, especially if their parents tend towards glibertarianism. Frog Belly Rat Bone is another new classic, and for more ideas, visit your friendly local children's librarian.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:14 AM
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One of the more enjoyable hours of the last year was helping my six-year old nephew build his new LEGO Star Wars AT-ST Imperial Walker. Even in their modern special-piece decadence, LEGO kits still rock the party.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:16 AM
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2 Year old? Fucking Brio, no question. Clean works are way inappropriate. It just encourages them.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:17 AM
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they really are acquisitive little things

Looking at flamingos at the zoo, the first thing my five year old niece asked was "How much do they cost?"

Through December, One Laptop Per Child is offering to give a laptop to a child of your choice in return for a donation. If I had an extra 400 bucks, I'd take them up on it.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:18 AM
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84 and 85 are exactly right. Legos rock. "Generic" sets that let your kid come up with their own desing are awesome. "Directive" sets the help growing kids learn to follow detailed instructions, also very useful. In either case, any non-electronic toy that can keep my kid's attention for more than 20 minutes is a small miracle. Legos are at least a medium sized miracle!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:18 AM
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Target sells reasonably priced basic toys now, wooden blocks and dominoes included, both excellent for 2+ builders. Store stock is haphazard, but they'll ship.
Pricier, and takes a bit of space, but easel chalkboard + chalk was a hit at that age for mine. The spray-on chalkboard works pretty well, so converting a smooth-faced easel is a cinch. Or you can just put a chalkboard surface on the parents' fridge when no-one is watching.

The Didgeridoo is a cool idea for an older kid.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:20 AM
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Sheep in a Jeep! On a hill that's steep!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:23 AM
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Oh, and gifts to charity in my 6-year-old name? Thanks, rich Marin grandparents, I'm glad you get to feel even better about yourselves; you've given me an abiding contempt for charity.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:24 AM
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Jeep in heap! Sheep weep!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:27 AM
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Jeep 4 sale cheap!

Man, I loved that book. I must have been around two when I got it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:31 AM
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I found the post 80 linked to really condescending. Legos may be allocated towards building an exact replica of the Taj Mahal, but in the hands of a 8 year old they sure as hell are not going to end up that way. I grew up in the era of space/pirate/modern legos, and me and my best friend devised an elaborate game of chess that involved both the risk board, a chess board, and pieces made of legos reconfigurable depending upon the dice roll. I don't think we ever finished a game, but it was fun.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:32 AM
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93: I have to agree. It's like getting socks, but even less comprehensible to the kid.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:33 AM
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The lego company has seen the error in its ways when it comes to the complicated kits where you are only supposed to build thing, like the Eiffel Tower or some piece of branded content. A while back they sent out a press release (which I can't find) which said that they would focus on their core product "little plastic bricks"

Awesome.

In an art/vintage store a couple weeks ago, saw both an old-school Lego set (ca. 1968 fire station, I would guess) plus "American Bricks," a similar but much inferior product that was really all about masonry construction - the bricks didn't snap together, so you had to stack carefully (there were Lego-style pegs on top, just no snap). The roofs were cardboard pressed with a shingle pattern.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:34 AM
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96 - that was my take on it, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:36 AM
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an elaborate game of chess that involved both the risk board, a chess board, and pieces made of legos reconfigurable depending upon the dice roll.

Sounds super-cool.

I agree that Legos are always repurposable by imaginative kids, but I wonder about sets like Star Wars - an awful lot of kids will just build what's on the box and leave them be. It's the branding that weirds me out.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:36 AM
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96: I didn't read the link, but the problem with the `play sets' is that they are objectively no better (and probably worse) for random usage than the old sets of square bricks, and way more expensive for what you get.

It's an outgrowth of all the general mediated-play stuff which is really annoying. Of course kids are imaginative enough to blow it off and do other things, but what sort of idiots think they need to be directed that way?

Oh never mind, I know exactly what sort of idiots --- they work in marketing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:37 AM
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It's like getting socks

It's worse than getting socks. It's like not getting socks because they were given to somebody you don't even know.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:38 AM
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Oh the charity-in-their-name is stupid, but the bond-for-college is likely to be appreciated by the parents, and the kid likely won't miss it. There's sort of a tricky middle ground - a bond from a work colleague is weird, one from a grandparent is a bit distant (unless accompanied by a minor toy, as well), but from a great-uncle or something, perfect. College costs are way scary.

One response to the original post I haven't heard - don't get stuffed animals. The kid already has 87, and doesn't need another. That rule has many exceptions (exotic stuffed animal from expat uncle, the Audobon birds are pretty cool), but is pretty safe if you don't have any reason to think your choice will be special.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:40 AM
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I was never that into Legos, but Playmobil was awesome.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:41 AM
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On the Lego front - a nice feature is that Duplo (the bigger pieced 2-6 year old product) interops with Lego. So I'd say Duplo for the 2 yr old - it has a nice growth curve. A good source is to buy big mixed groups from a place like eBay - my kids loved the adventure of not knowing exactly what you were going to get.

Don't know if they still make them, but the Duplo train stuff was great as well. And in our house the tracks were more often repurposed for things like marble races etc. than for the trains themselves.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:44 AM
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Hooray for DiKotomy!

well, that's maybe what the friends who called her three nights in a row when she couldn't sleep at 2am TO SAY THEY'LL BRING CLEAN WORKS AND DOPE TO HER HOUSE FOR FREE

Jesus.

This sounds weird, but besides books, my 15 month old's two favourite possessions are a tinyl real broom and string mop. They were given to him as gifts, and I've noticed other little kids seem drawn to them as well.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:46 AM
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but what sort of idiots think they need to be directed that way?

It hardly makes the kids idiots, it's just a slightly different toy/experience than you are expecting. Seriously, getting an 8-year-old to sit down, carefully study a plan, and then spend several days working step by step through the instructions is a big thing. She's excited because the spaceship turned out just like it did on the box! I'm excited because, yay attention span! And it will serve her well in another 10 years or so when she goes off to college, gets her first apartment, and has to figure out how to put together her IKEA furniture.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:46 AM
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s/b tiny


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:47 AM
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The Audobon stuffed bird line has been expanded to include animals whose call is not traditionally considered pleasant to hear, such as crows and the California condor. I like them a lot.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:48 AM
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106: I don't think it's weird at all -- at that age (and for a good several years), imitating grown-up activities is really important to/for kids.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:50 AM
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One more practical comment: if it's possible to learn anything particular to the child, anything in their general field of interest will be appreciated. IOW, if they like to cook, there's a million food-related toys; horses, trains, whatever. That can inform books, too. Odds are relatively slim that you'll duplicate as long as you avoid the super-obvious, and the kid is more likely to be engaged by a random object related to an existing interest than a purely random object. We have a number of orphan toys that simply don't get noticed because she doesn't care about, say, finger puppets.

I think Witt's book advice in 40 is pretty good. If the kid is precocious, there's virtually no limit to suitable reading (as long as there's some pictures). My daughter would sit through a 20+ minute reading of a 100 pp. Totoro picture book at age 2, and now, at 3, will sit through both Alice books. Point being that age-appropriate books are a lowest common denominator situation - don't be afraid to buy too old.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:50 AM
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Di has a good point. But there is a tradeoff in terms of imaginative play. The Harry Potter Special Lego Edition Hogwarts Express train is probably only going to Hogwarts, not to the moon or to visit grandma. For a while it was hard to find the regular bricks.

Probably not universal. But I worry that branding shapes the kids' play too much. shivbunny's youngest brother is 11, and we had a weird experience last summer playing outside (at least) with sticks for swords, but the point of playing was to try to "level up."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:50 AM
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Sorry, Witt's comment at 20.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:51 AM
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112: I like to think of the branded stuff as a sneaky way to lure them into the Lego world. They build Hogwarts because Harry Potter is so cool! And then suddenly they realize that Legos are so cool! YMMV, of course.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 10:56 AM
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Hey, that Totoro reference reminded me that several of you recommended a Japanese children's film collection as an alternative to Disney/Pixar. I thought I bookmarked it for holiday shopping purposes, but I'm coming up empty handed. Per googling, it wasn't Totoro. Help?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:00 AM
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107/112: Di, I wasn't suggesting it makes the kids idiots. The company had a financial stake in trying to sell you special sets, but they lost track of the fact that the best thing about lego, and what made in enduring, was that it wasn't specialized.

I was more bemoaning the ultra-specialization I see these days when trying to buy toys for nieces/nephews (don't get me started on the obnoxious pink wall effect).

As you say, there is nothing wrong with a toy that requires following instructions (e.g. models, which is what the lego sets were becoming), the problem was with the lego people trying to get rid of general sets in favour on *only* specialized ones. And it's not like there was a shortage of specialized, even single purpose toys, out there. Why throw away the best thing about lego?

Unless I dig pretty hard (I admit to being a very occasional toy buyer, so maybe I just don't know where to look), it's hard to find good toys. It seems nearly everything is highly branded, badly made, obnoxiously gendered, and has a TV tie in. There is a real shortage of shelf space devoted to anything like the lego/mechano/whatever or other more general toys --- it all seems to be toys that come with a universe you're supposed to play with them in.

I know kids are smart enough to work outside that, but why even try it? Seems like all the reasons are marketing and product placement, none of the reasons are positive for the kids.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:01 AM
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Kiki's Delivery Service? Nausicaa? Spirited Away?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:03 AM
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Seriously, getting an 8-year-old to sit down, carefully study a plan, and then spend several days working step by step through the instructions is a big thing.

Yeah. My nephew isn't big on patience or manual dexterity, for that matter, so it was a real joy watching him patiently tackle the big building project. I fully expected to have to take over at some point, but as it turns out, all I did was find the pieces and sanity check each step. I don't know that a vanilla space model would have motivated him as strongly as a Star! Wars! Action! Kit!, so I'm now rethinking my antipathy towards branded LEGO kits.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:04 AM
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Toy strollers are like the best two year old present ever, and if he's a boy, odds are no one's given him one yet. The playground at that age was combative, because only the girls had strollers, but everyone wanted them.

In the 5-10 range, Webkinz are very popular, but I kind of disapprove (oh, not enough to keep my kids away from them). It's a stuffed animal with a password to a website with games and so on, where you get to earn 'money' to buy things to take care of the online avatar of your stuffed animals. The website's kind of bogus, but the kids do adore it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:05 AM
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And boy howdy, I do covet the Ultimate Collector's LEGO Millenium Falcon. I'm so ashamed.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:06 AM
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116: Sorry if I misread you. Rory's on a Lego kick as of late, so, you know. Try Ikea for little kid toys, seriously. Alot of that realistic household stuff (brooms, mops, dishes, flatware...) in the form of actual household stuff only smaller rather than plastic crap. Simple wooden dollhouses. Tons of art stuff (the blackboard easel was very reasonable!). If I can find the catalog with my nieces wishlist, it was a seller with lots of good, simple stuff. Hearthsong or something like that?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:07 AM
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Mollie Katzen's cook books for kids.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:08 AM
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Nausica/Spirited Away! Thanks rfts, it sucks being too old to remember where to wrote stuff down so you wouldn't forget...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:09 AM
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do they still sell contrux? those were awesome. Like legos, except the things you made were bigger looking. they did teach me that grey/blue are goodguy colours, and green/purple are alien colours.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:09 AM
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The website's kind of bogus, but the kids do adore it.

Ha! I can actually get totally sucked in to playing Webkinz games. To the point I have to remember to give the computer back to Rory because, technically, she's the child.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:12 AM
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Yeah, it's the 'earn money to buy stuff' aspect of it that strikes me as bogus. I'm not sure why -- actually earning money to buy actual stuff isn't bogus. This is one of those prejudices I can't figure out my basis for enough to actually say no to the kids, so they wallow in Webkinz. (I actually haven't tried the games myself -- my sense of them is from looking over the kids' shoulders.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:20 AM
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The 'Joyful Child' and 'Child of the World' catalogs from Michael Olaf sound like what Di was describing &mdash good, simple stuff, chosen to fit in with Montessori education. Be the gift-giver who doesn't inflict yet more brightly-colored plastic on a household.

Congrats, Di.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:25 AM
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127: Thank you, Jesus. (Not the first time I've said that today!)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:27 AM
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126: You are such a grown-up, LB. How did your thing go?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:28 AM
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Also: for older kids, NASA/JPL have free spacecraft models &mdash just print out the pdfs, cut and assemble. So cool!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:32 AM
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129: You don't actually know me very well. I'm emotionally about ten. (Playing chess with Newt and Sally this weekend, I realized that we were going to run into trouble soon. I'm kind of a terrible player, so while they're just learning, they're going to be as good as I am soon. And that's going to bother the heck out of me. I am not mature.)

The interview went well, I think. But who can tell?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:34 AM
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Goddamn Webkinz: my second cousin wouldn't shut up about that crap over Thanksgiving. Kept shoving a stuffed penguin in my face.

She and her little brother are Secret Agents, or something, and talk about how they're entitled to report other players for "being inappropriate." Such a good little girl!


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:39 AM
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131: Hope they liked it. Interviews are frustrating that way --- I think you could probably tell a terrible one as it happened, but it's impossible to tell much else.

The most frustrating thing is feeling you interviewed really well, being told this was actually true --- but then finding out internal politics is the only reason they were actually interviewing, and the job wasn't really open.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:39 AM
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131: You might be able to maintain an unfair advantage for a while by memorizing some stock openings, if you care enough about it to go to the trouble. I've been told (by better players than myself) that it's not a good idea to focus too heavily on memorization when first learning chess -- if Newt and Sally are serious, they should be learning opening theory rather than specific openings. But if you know the first few moves to some of the old standards, that can help for a while until they figure out the appropriate response (or crack the books themselves).


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:40 AM
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134: I should probably do that in case either of them gets interested in getting good -- I'm genuinely terrible, to the point that playing with me, once they get past the 'being absolutely certain how the horsey moves' stage, which is where both of them are now -- would probably be detrimental.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:44 AM
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Chess? Teaching your kids chess is going to be your proof of immaturity? Meanwhile, I just keep racking up the Kinzcash in Goober's Lab!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:44 AM
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Just don't call it a horsey!!!

I never learned either opening theory or specific openings, and that's why I'm not a very good chess player today!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:46 AM
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And don't call the rook a castle!!!!!!!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:46 AM
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I was once playing chess with a younger cousin (I think he was 11 or 12 at the time) and won twice without really trying to. This made him pretty upset, so on the next game I put forth even less effort and he won. I'm not even good at chess, for reasons similar to ben's, but I had a lot more experience with it than he did.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:49 AM
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I'm currently engaged in a passive-aggressive office war with some unknown co-worker over this hideous motion-sensitive singing Xmas tree near the main office door.

I keep switching it off, and the other person keeps switching it back on.

God, how I hate Christmas.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:51 AM
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Cut the power cord.

You may want to unplug it first.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:53 AM
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Maybe it's battery-operated. Remove the batteries.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:53 AM
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140: You liberals really are out to destroy Christmas!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:53 AM
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I'm currently engaged in a passive-aggressive office war with some unknown co-worker over this hideous motion-sensitive singing Xmas tree near the main office door.

Oh god. Noooo. This is the kind of thing that leads me to growl, "Merry Fuckwad."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:53 AM
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For a two year old (or most pre-schoolers) I'd suggest music with a beat. I gave my 2yo niece a collection from Alligator records. She loved the R&B.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:55 AM
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Generally, the best way to learn is playing with someone who's better than you are -- not overwhelmingly so, but good enough that they win more often than you do.

I (almost) never beat my father until I started playing regularly with my high school's chess club. Then, I improved until I beat him more often than not. Which was kind of fun, and he was a good sport about it. When I stopped competing, though, we gradually went back to an equilibrium of about 50-50.

Clearly, LB should find someone better to play with, so that she can maintain a comfortable distance above Newt and Sally.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 11:58 AM
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When are you teaching them bridge, LB?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:00 PM
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146: A cheap computer program will kick the ass of all but very good players, these days, and not play in a style that is too unnatural.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:00 PM
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A friend and I used to play what we called "open chess" in which we openly discussed each move we were considering and the pros and cons thereof. That was helpful, and I wish I'd kept it up.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:01 PM
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148: Good point. Personally, I've never been able to muster the same level of concentration against a computer opponent as I can against a human opponent, so it's not helpful for me. But I think many (most?) people don't have that issue.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:03 PM
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147: We're stalled on three-handed euchre for now. The problem is getting Buck to sit in so we've got four for spades, after which bridge should be a trivial next step.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:08 PM
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Alan Turing and his boyfriend used to play a game called "round the house chess." When one player is deciding how to move, the other player goes outside and runs a lap around the house. The first player has to decide on his move by the time the second player gets back.

I always thought this would be a great game for older children, exercising body and mind, and all that.

I dunno if it would work for apartment dwelling Manhattanites like LB, though.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:12 PM
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Didn't dsquared mention some combination of chess and boxing as a pastime to be avoided? The implication was that he'd engaged in it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:15 PM
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Actually, we're six flights up. Run down the stairs and back up would work nicely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:16 PM
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But back to the post -- for random cheap stuff for anyone, but kids especially, I love this place: American Science and Surplus.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:19 PM
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Chessboxing.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:21 PM
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Didn't dsquared mention some combination of chess and boxing as a pastime to be avoided? The implication was that he'd engaged in it.

Actually, he was just referring to his time in the Wu-Tang Clan during their early years in NYC, when he went by D-Banka and mostly provided comic relief in the same style as the recently-hot Flava Flav (the man could rhyme anything with "cunt", the one transferable skill from those early days).

Then the Clan ran into ODB, and D-Banka was kicked to the curb without even a 40 oz of comfort. It's a sensitive subject even today.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:22 PM
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the man could rhyme anything with "cunt"

One of the few British rappers to spend a lot of time dwelling on baseball. And short people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:27 PM
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158--
odd that 'short people' could cue either 'runt' or 'stunt' (the verb).
or candid camera, old broadway couples, fancy tube-cakes, or the force of a blow.
i'll punt.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:41 PM
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I wish I'd learned chess properly. I am a terrible player with a small talent for beating people who are better, mostly because since I don't have a strategy beyond two or three moves ahead, they can't predict where I'm going. But I suspect I would have been good at it had I played as a kid more than the two months there was a library club.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:46 PM
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159 is pretty exhaustive, everything beyond it I could think of was misspelled Latin or German.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:47 PM
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I played a little chess as a kid, but I didn't really start to understand it until my friends in high school got really into it and started playing it all the time during class. I picked up a little bit of strategy (which I have since forgotten) by playing those games, but I still wasn't very good.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:48 PM
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Teo, Cala and I could start the Mineshaft Sorta-Good Chess Society.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:49 PM
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161--
oh come now. that's not very sharp of you: you've forgotten marijuana cigarettes, and the thrill of chasing foxes on horseback.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:49 PM
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162: Beyond a pretty basic competence, you're screwed if you don't study book openings and a bit of endgame theory, 'cause everyone you're playing will have. Which will ruin the game for you if you find all that boring, ime.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:50 PM
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164: not to mention railroad siding operations, small boats, your side in the mirror, etc..


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:53 PM
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Beyond a pretty basic competence, you're screwed if you don't study book openings and a bit of endgame theory, 'cause everyone you're playing will have.

Yeah, this is why I almost always lost when I would play my friends. I was okay with openings, but could never figure out how to deal with endgames.

This is making me want to study some chess strategy; I do like to play, and it would be nice to be a little better at it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:53 PM
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Chasing foxes I'll grant you, marijuana cigarettes are outside my argot, if you're talking a true rhyme.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:53 PM
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168: it's the same as removing the edge of a knife, so pretty close.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:54 PM
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My mistake was running through the alphabet, not considering two-consonant sounds.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:55 PM
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169: At least I guessed as much.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:55 PM
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Also, a skilled MC should be able to turn an unaccented syllable into a rhyming syllable, opening up possibilities for lots more words (current, president, vigilant).


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:56 PM
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I am so terrible at chess (and barely remember how the pieces move) that enjoyment is a horizon several miles away.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:58 PM
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168--
not part of my active vocabulary, but i believe that what people of my generation called a "joint" is now called a "blunt".
(that's why it was not very sharp of you to miss it).

166-
yes, small boats i already had, but thank your for reminding me about drainage tubes for cranial swelling. and i'm even more embarrassed to have forgotten the ostensibly respectable facades of criminal enterprises, merely because they are spelled with a different vowel.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:58 PM
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I was okay with openings, but could never figure out how to deal with endgames.

Similarly, you seem to go on a lot of dates, but never close the deal.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 12:59 PM
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174--
in fact, this whole thing constitutes an offensive attack on my dignity, now that i think about 'o' cases.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:00 PM
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Similarly, you seem to go on a lot of dates, but never close the deal.

Every aspect of my life runs in parallel.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:02 PM
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Don't forget those moments when several characters leave a stage at once!


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:03 PM
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i believe that what people of my generation called a "joint" is now called a "blunt".

My recollection is that a "blunt" is a specific kind of joint, made by unrolling a cigar (preferred brand: Phillies Blunts, hence the name) and rolling the joint in the cigar wrapper. But I never partook myself, so I'm not the best source here.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:04 PM
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And the Simpsons character whose first name is Nelson.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:05 PM
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178--
do theater people pronounce that so as to rhyme?
the latinists i used to hang out with gave that a 'u' sound that would be more like 'cook' or 'wood'.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:05 PM
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179--
you're over thirty years closer to well-informed than i am.
i'll take your word for it.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:06 PM
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what people of my generation called a "joint" is now called a "blunt".
(that's why it was not very sharp of you to miss it).

I think I'm of your generation; I'm a "Truman." I've heard it, but never used it.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:06 PM
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Isn't the accent on the word discussed in 178 and 181 in the wrong place?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:06 PM
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but i believe that what people of my generation called a "joint" is now called a "blunt".

Teo speaks the truth in 179.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:07 PM
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183--
right; we're rough contemporaries.
to be honest, i've never even heard it, only read it.
don't get around much any more.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:08 PM
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187

181. Merriam-Webster's gives it both ways; the first pronunciation is the one that rhymes. (This may work, though I can't hear it on my work computer.)


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:09 PM
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188

don't get around much any more.

Tupacalypse doesn't stop for hoes much anymore, either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:10 PM
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189

184. The accent's being on the first syllable wouldn't preclude the rhyme.


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:11 PM
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190

Hasn't "blunt" basically come to mean rolling your dope with tobacco?

184: S/b 2d syllable, no?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:11 PM
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191

Now that a distinction in construction of the smoke has been noted, what's the reason? Cooler burn, as between a cigar and cigarette?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:12 PM
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192

Teo speaks the truth in 179.

Validation! Yay!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:12 PM
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193

it's awfully different without you, heebie.

also, with you.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:12 PM
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194

184: S/b 2d syllable, no?

That is what I was thinking—that counts as "the wrong place" to my ear.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:13 PM
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195

Tupacalypse doesn't stop for hoes much anymore, either.

But Hulkamania continues to run wild.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:15 PM
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196

194--
so that, for the purposes of rhyming, it would be no more apposite than e.g. "emergent", "defendant", any old terminal schwa.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:15 PM
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197

No, it's first syllable

primarystressek-semacron-(secondarystress)schwant


Posted by: hermit greg | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:15 PM
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191: You get an additional kick with the tobacco + the weed. Cigar smoke isn't usually inhaled as deeply as marijuana smoke, so, when you do, it packs a whole buzz of its own. Although, to my mind, a cigar buzz is really only a buzz in the nasty headache kind of way.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:16 PM
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199

it's awfully different without you, heebie.

Yay! Was I gone?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:19 PM
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197--
i'm trying to imagine d^2 getting a couplet with that and the original from 157.
many boffo scenarios, but few satisfying rhymes.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:20 PM
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199--
well, you weren't there for the first few decades of my life, anyhow.

http://www.theguitarguy.com/dontgeta.htm


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:22 PM
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202

spliff is a more generic term.

common to roll hash in tobacco to avoid needing a pipe. Same thing with pot that's not dried out enough, it won't maintain a burn easily. Other than than, no functional reason unless you're trying to cut some strong stuff, or stretch in amongst more people.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:25 PM
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203

Cigar smoke isn't usually inhaled as deeply as marijuana smoke, so, when you do, it packs a whole buzz of its own

I always attributed that to cylinder diameter as much as composition. I've smoked cigars, but hardly ever cigarettes.

I think of myself as the most reflexively square person here, so the questions come naturally.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:26 PM
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204

well, you weren't there for the first few decades of my life, anyhow.

I kept calling your name. But no one answered.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:29 PM
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205

reflexively square

"gleaming the cube" sounds a lot cooler.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:29 PM
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206

This might be of interest for the somewhat competent chess group

http://www.chesstactics.org/


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:36 PM
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204--
that's pretty talented for a pre-born sort of person. did your parents know about this? i mean, before they met and everything?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:37 PM
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208

145 reminded me of this Musini toy Rory had. It had a couple of motion sensitive settings -- one, the tempo of the music adjusts based on the kid's jumping around, another is like a game where you have to jump when you hear the guitar/piano/harsichord. I forget what the other setting was. Fun! (For the kids, I mean. I liked it only as much as a perfectly mature adult reasonably should.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:40 PM
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209

Speaking of kid stuff, how awesome is this?

GLOOP!
Flower Being Pulled Out Of Small Island
MAD #83, Dec 1963, Page 27

GLUG GLUG GLUG GLUG
Island Sinking Into Ocean
MAD #83, Dec 1963, Page 27


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:45 PM
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210

Did the rhyme team cover the humble infantryman?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:49 PM
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211

SPLOYDOING
Man[']s Guts Popping Out Like Jack In The Box

STROINGGOINK
Olive Oyl Falling Down A Sidewalk Grating And Being Saved By Her Nose


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:51 PM
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212

Get little kids these--they're awesome. Kind of like really smooth pastels. Great color. Maybe a package of construction paper, too.

Get big kids either some kind of science kit or one of these craft kits. Or one of the Klutz book/kits. Sadly, a lot of the craft kits are marketed as hyper girly, which will bother boys who aren't as cool as mine.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:55 PM
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213

ECCH YAACH BARF GAHORK
Andy Capp Drinking Water By Mistake


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:56 PM
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214

GLIT GLIT GLIT
Man Dropping Razor Blades Into Mouth
GLIT GLIT GLIT GLIT
Olive Oyl Eating Spinach

These are a little too close for comfort.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:58 PM
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215

210--
now you've done 't.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 1:59 PM
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214: How right you are. I was enjoying browsing chronologically, which reveals that after Olive eats the spinach, her breasts pop out (BLEEP). But then I miss out on these strange similarities.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 2:03 PM
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217

which reveals that after Olive eats the spinach, her breasts pop out (BLEEP).

I'd really like to hear someone's breasts actually make this noise.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 2:09 PM
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I second the recommendation in 212. Kultz Press was my Yale COllege and my Harvard. Juggling for the Complete Klutz came first, Country And Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless was next, and it's a miracle I didn't get beat up in 8th grade for wandering around school talking through the sock puppet that came with Ventriloquism for the Complete Dummy.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 2:14 PM
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Regarding the original question about gifts for the two-year-old: I second Di's suggestion about the chalkboard/easel.

Another option is something from the Radio Flyer company. Their classic red wagons are good for a combination of creative and physical play, and they are available in all sizes. The rolling pony is a great toy for a 2-year-old, but it will be outgrown sooner than a wagon.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 3:04 PM
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219: I can vouch for the fact that if you get the classic red wagon with the removable sides it makes a serviceable dolly for moving in and out of dorms and apartments up to 20 years later.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 3:34 PM
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221

Just get the kid an Xbox or something.


Posted by: Wil | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 3:53 PM
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222

I wanted a wagon FOREVER and my parents were too damn cheap to buy me one.

I really love the giant microbes, but I'm a little nervous about choosing some for my nephews that won't make their parents (both biologists!) roll their eyes. The white blood cell + something not too fatal combination would seem to lend itself to stories...

Congratulations on the divorce, Di.

On the savings bond and charity thing, my crotchety grandad from the Yukon used to get us stock certificates in mining ventures he thought looked interesting. Most of the time, the certificates were very pretty and the mines were absolute crap. A valuable lesson about economics, I'd say. (One Albertan venture is doing pretty well today, but I think my Grandad knew at the time that it was a better stock, and actually meant it to be a real investment, unlike that gold mine that used to cut us 6-cent checks Canadian, back when the Canadian dollar was 0.60 USD.)

I got the Click Clack Moo for one nephew; I hope he likes it well enough.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 4:06 PM
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We got a wagon from the Radio Flyer company that was made *very* cheaply and fell apart in 6 months. I think their standards have gone down dramatically since the good old days, and they are just coasting on nostalgia and name recognition.

OTOH, I still hear people saying they got new ones that were very good, so perhaps not all their products have gone down hill.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 4:12 PM
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224

Olive

Which Fleischer brother was the misogynist? I've always suspected bachelor loose cannon Dave rather than married Max.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 4:19 PM
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re: 224

LW, you'll have read Čapek's Dášeňka, I assume? I've often wondered if there's a good English translation.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 4:21 PM
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226

Try searching for Dashenka, I can't say if the translation is good. Tales from Two Pockets is another pleasant light Čapek, very short detective stories.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 4:35 PM
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227

I have a copy in Czech. I'll look under the English title for the translation, thanks.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 5:01 PM
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228

B, if you're here, what's the first link in 212?

The area around your previous job town is buried in snow, in case that thought makes the beach even more pleasant.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 5:22 PM
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Oh! Book recommendations for kids! Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks. Hands down. Great, great, poetry, really fun, fabulous illustrations, great to read out loud to little kids and great for older kids to read to themselves. See also Mr. Brown's other books, which omg I realize I am behind! Must buy most recent titles! Ahhhh!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 6:33 PM
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228: The first link is to something called "silky crayons"--I got PK some last year, and this year I'm sending some to my niece. They're sort of like a crayon, but sort of like a pastel, and if you use a wet paintbrush on 'em they're sort of like watercolors. Absolutely fabulous, highly saturated colors.

And yes, it is nice to know that it's snowy thereabouts. HA HA. Though today it was a little cool, and by the time I left PK's school at about 4 pm, I was wishing I'd brought a cardigan to go over my cheap cotton blouse.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 6:40 PM
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Yeah, silky crayons are wondeful. Art supplies in general are a great idea for little kids. Last year one of my sisters (the artsy one) gave my son a wonderful gift: a plastic bin filled with arts and crafts supplies: coloured paper, crayons, glue sticks, glitter, stickers, modelling clay, kids' scissors, felt squares, etc. etc. A big hit, and he's still using some of the materials.

I second the suggestion to not bother with stuffed animals (unless it's something specific that you happen to know that child really wants). Babies and toddlers get so many of these, and most of them do not become much-loved companions.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 6:54 PM
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Oops, I meant, apparently, that the first link was supposed to have been to silky crayons. My bad.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-10-07 6:57 PM
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God, I love Lego. We have loads of it. My son recently spent 11 hours (in one day) building a Technic combine harvester that my dad bought him for his birthday. Since then I've learnt more about combine harvesters than I ever wished to know, and we own a "Farmers Weekly" magazine. Lego's actually been great for his creative powers - he's the kind of kid who would rather follow instructions than have to make something up, but now he's far more comfortable with just putting bricks together and seeing what happens than he was a year or two ago.

2 year olds - can't remember. Brio trainset. Brio building system. Duplo. A buggy (stroller) is definitely a good one - one of the few items in this house that we had to have duplicates of because they just couldn't share. And then I ended up with 3 of them walking to the park with their buggies - the two older girls with dolls or animals in theirs, E with a ball in his. The Ikea mini-domestic stuff mentioned above is excellent too.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12-11-07 8:43 AM
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