Top Reads of the Week
Published on June 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Music: Brian McElhiney on Roger Waters' performance of "The Wall," Sara Foss on The Beach Boys and J.K. Eisen on KISS and "The Family Guy"

Parenting: J LeBlanc on raising a bilingual child

School: Sara Foss on the horrors of riding the bus

Phobias: Sara Foss on her fear of getting busted

A Dissenting Opinion on "The Wall"
Published on June 29, 2012 by guest author: Brian McElhiney

Part of the problem with writing concert reviews on deadline all the time is that I often find myself scrambling to write something, anything, the first thing that comes to mind, about the show I am reviewing. There’s no time to collect my thoughts and really reflect on what I have just seen and listened to.

Roger Waters’ performance of Pink Floyd’s opus “The Wall” at the Times Union Center on June 28 is a perfect example. My opinion of the show didn’t really form fully until about an hour after the final song, as I was driving home. And it seems to me, at least judging from reactions I’ve been reading on Facebook and conversations I’ve had with friends who were at the show, that my opinion is in the minority.

Visually, the show is overwhelming. The huge Wall, the floating pig with glowing eyes, the fireworks, the airplanes, the huge projections — it was a total feast for the eyes. But amidst all the eye candy, one important element — actually, the single most important element — felt sorely neglected. Strip away all the bells and whistles and flying pigs, and the performance just didn’t do anything for me.


Lessons in Parenting
Raising a Bilingual Child
Published on June 28, 2012 by guest author: J LeBlanc

It wasn’t until after my son was born that I committed to attempting to raise him bilingual in French and English. Not being a native speaker myself, and being the only one in the household who would be able to speak French to him, I was naturally a little nervous about the responsibility. However I knew quite well that research has indicated time and again that when it comes to learning a foreign language, the earlier you start, the better. In fact, one study determined that children learn all the sounds they need to produce in a particular language by the age of one.

There were lots of questions to debate: When would I speak to him in French? How much of the time? What happens when we are out in public? When relatives are around? The one thing I was sure of was that I was not going to sacrifice ever communicating to him in my native language by speaking only French to him.

Before I devised a plan, when my son was a few weeks old, I did a nominal amount of research about raising a bilingual child. It seems that most households fall into one of two categories. Some households have one parent speak exclusively in one language to the child and the other exclusively in another language. This works well, I would imagine, in households where each parent has a different native language. In other households, the parents speak one language at home and another in public. Neither of these options really fit our situation, so I decided that I would speak French to my son during the day, while my husband was at work, and English to him in the evenings and on weekends.


A KISS for the Family Guy
Published on June 26, 2012 by guest author: J.K. Eisen

Regular viewers of Family Guy know that the Griffin family has crossed paths with the rock band KISS, with hilarious results.

These episodes have provided for some interesting revelations, such as the discovery that Lois Griffin, the matriarch of the Griffin clan, once dated KISS bassist Gene Simmons. She even earned the nickname “Loose Lois” in the process.

In another episode, viewers watched Peter Griffin struggle to see that made-for-TV holiday movie classic – KISS Saves Santa.

So, it makes perfect sense that KISS would join forces with Family Guy to produce a line of merchandise ranging from bobble heads to clothing. This recent announcement by the band certainly isn’t their first merchandising deal. They’re legendary for their marketing prowess. They have licensed everything from KISS coffins to condoms. And, of course, there are the KISS comic books, action figures and T-shirts.


Watching "Hysteria"
Published on June 26, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new movie "Hysteria," an entertaining, "based on fact" account of the invention of the vibrator.

Here's an excerpt:

"I’m going to grade 'Hysteria' on a curve. It’s far from perfect, and its preachiness does wear thin. But it’s got a great premise, a sly sense of humor and a genuine interest in the little-known history it documents. I’d say this movie is probably a B- or C+, but I’m rounding up to a solid B.

'Hysteria' presents a highly fictionalized account of the invention of the vibrator, which was once considered a medical device, used to treat women suffering from female hysteria, a once-common diagnosis for a wide range of symptoms, including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, a lack of sexual desire, insomnia, irritability and a tendency to cause trouble. The film revolves around an earnest young doctor named Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) who keeps getting fired because he insists on cleaning patients’ wounds and won’t stop talking about germs, which his older colleagues regard as a bunch of nonsense. Then he meets an older doctor who will employ him — Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), who treats women for hysteria. When Granville says he doesn’t know anything about hysteria, Dr. Dalrymple gravely informs him that half the women in London are afflicted with it."

Click here to read the whole thing.

To learn more about the strange history of the vibrator, check out historian Erik Loomis' essay from March.

The Beach Boys, in Concert
Published on June 25, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the Beach Boys' Saturday night concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which was absolutely delightful.

Here's an excerpt:

"When I was a kid, my best friend Jennifer’s mother informed me that you could like the Beatles or the Beach Boys, but you couldn’t like them both. I nodded solemnly, decided that the Beatles were the superior band, and never gave the Beach Boys a second thought. Until my mid-20s, when I came to my senses, bought 'Pet Sounds' and became fascinated with Brian Wilson, the band’s reclusive, troubled and ultimately brilliant leader.

So when I heard that the surviving members of the Beach Boys, including Brian, were embarking on a 73-date, 50th anniversary tour, I was interested. The fact that Brian is still alive and making music is something of a minor miracle, as is the fact that the Beach Boys are willing to get up on stage and perform together. Wilson had not toured with the Beach Boys in 46 years, and his relationship with founding members Mike Love and Al Jardine had long been strained. A recent Rolling Stone article, titled 'The Fragile Beach Boys Reunion,' touched upon this history, and contains numerous quotes from people fretting over Brian. 'There’s no doubt the talent’s there,' Love told reporter C. Taylor Crothers. 'I wonder about his health. He’s overweight and out of shape, and he doesn’t seem to pay much attention. ... It’s tough, when you’ve seen the Brian Wilson you grew up with and the Brian Wilson that’s going to be onstage nowadays.'

The Beach Boys stopped at Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Would the band sound good? Or would I spend the whole performance shaking my head, lamenting their decline?"

Click here to read the whole thing.

Also, here's a link to Tony Are's November post about the release of The Smile Sessions Box Set, containing everything the Beach Boys recorded for the album "Smile," which was never released.

Turtle Season
Published on June 25, 2012 by Sara Foss

I love turtles!

And in her column Greenpoint over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley has written about how turtles are crossing roads to lay eggs this time of year, and how we can help make sure they don't get crushed by cars.

Here's an excerpt:

"A few months back, in a pond by the rutted dirt road leading to Crane Mountain, several painted turtles sat sunning themselves on a log. I pointed them out to my animal-loving son, but was surprised to hear one of my hiking buddies pipe up instead.

'Ooh! I love turtles!' she exclaimed, and this was notable because she is more typically the sort of person who broadcasts her complaints than her delights.

But then, seeing turtles is always a treat, and after our hike we stopped again on the road, to watch them drop off the log and swim around, their pointy noses poking up through the water.

This time of year I see a lot of turtles, mostly as roadkill — a crushed snapping turtle on the side of Blue Barns Road, a big box turtle up on 9N. June is egg-laying time for a lot of turtles, and that also means it’s road-crossing time. And many of them don’t make it.

Some turtles hang out near roads because they like the look and feel of the shoulders. They like sand or gravel — it’s easy to dig through — to lay their eggs. But roads are dangerous, and turtles are slow."

Click here to read more.

A Fear of Getting Busted
Published on June 25, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about my fear of getting arrested for crimes I didn't commit, for crimes I didn't even realize were crimes, and for crimes that aren't crimes now, but are likely to becomes crimes in the future. 

Here's an excerpt:

"I’ve always feared being accused of a crime I didn’t commit.

And I don’t think I’m the only person with this fear.

There’s an entire subgenre of films devoted to this fear — thrillers such as 'North by Northwest,' about an innocent man who, mistaken for someone else, is pursued across the U.S., and 'The Fugitive,' about a surgeon wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. And the list of convictions overturned as a result of DNA testing continues to grow.

Deep down, I know my fear is ridiculous.

I’m a law-abiding citizen, for the most part. My greatest crime is speeding, although I did drive around for nearly a decade without a front license plate. I don’t steal, and when a cashier accidentally gave me an extra $10 in change the other night, I gave it back. I pay my taxes, and I make sure that my car is inspected each year and that the registration is up to date."

Click here to read the whole thing.


Bad News For the East Coast
Published on June 24, 2012 by Sara Foss

I really like the East Coast.

That's why I was sad to read this article about how the sea level on a stretch of the Atlantic Coast that includes Boston, New York City and Norfolk, Va., is rising up to four times faster than the global average. Obviously, this increases the flooding risk for a pretty densely packed area of the country, and puts a lot of people and animals, not to mention areas of historic value and cultural significance, in jeopardy.

But who cares about climate change?

Writing Tips
Published on June 24, 2012 by Sara Foss

From Kurt Vonnegut!


The Horrible School Bus
Published on June 24, 2012 by Sara Foss

Like any halfway sane human being, I feel sorry for Karen Klein, the Rochester-area bus monitor forced to endure horrible taunts from cruel middle school boys. People across the country have responded to Klein's story with outrage, but school buses have always been horrible places - big, wheeled circles of hell. There's a reason one of the covers for the Judy Blume book "Blubber," about an overweight girl bullied by her classmates, depicts a distraught child standing in the middle of a school bus, while her fellow students laugh and point fingers at her.

I was fortunate to avoid riding a bus to school for most of my childhood, as we lived close enough to my elementary and middle schools that I could walk. But then we moved to a new town, and I had to take a bus. This news was almost as awful as being told we were moving; not only would I have to attend a school where I didn't know anybody, I would also have to take the school bus. It was one indignity too many. I imagined getting on the first day, and being bullied before I even got to my new school, where I would no doubt be bullied even more.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on June 22, 2012 by Sara Foss

Hassles: Tatiana Zarnowski on finding a tenant for her apartment, and Sara Foss on the worst time of day - idiot hour

Work: Anonymous on drinking and working with kids

Parenting: J LeBlanc on babywearing

Animals: Sara Foss lists her favorites

Movies: Sara Foss on "Monsieur Lazhar"

Lessons in Parenting
Published on June 21, 2012 by guest author: J LeBlanc

Attachment parenting has been getting a lot of press lately: Time Magazine recently profiled Dr. Bill Sears, identifying him as “guru” of the attachment parenting set; The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik was interviewed a couple of months ago about her parenting style, which includes long-term co-sleeping and breastfeeding, two of the major tenets of attachment parenting. The third major component, as identified by Time, is babywearing, and of the three, it is the one that really didn’t live up to the hype for me.

Babywearing has ended up being only an occasional thing for me.  I thought it sounded great at first - a way to keep baby nearby and still have my hands free to do the occasional chore. However, the biggest hurdle to my babywearing, especially immediately postpartum, is that I just didn’t want to do it.


Favorite Athletes
Published on June 21, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of my favorite athletes, as well as the process by which they fall in and out of favor.

Click here to read it.

Drinking And Work
Published on June 20, 2012 by guest author: Anonymous

I pose a question to you: Is it acceptable to have a drink on a work break when you are at a training?

I generally work with kids during the week. On a particular Saturday I spent my morning in a room with 200 other adults at a training about working with kids. There were no kids present at the training. At my daycare we are required to clock 30 hours at trainings or classes. At my lunch break I left with some friends from work, had a drink and went back to the training for three more hours. I was not the only person who had a drink. I saw people from other daycares partaking in a drink.

Fast forward three months later, when the next six-hour-long training is taking place and I am being brought into my boss' office to talk about how it is not acceptable to drink on a lunch break even though I won’t be taking care of children after. I was told that I would be on work time, even though work was not paying for my lunch - I was.


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