I occasionally wonder how globalization would impact the Smurfs.
To their credit, they organized their society around an enlightened despot who encouraged diversification within the proletariat and judiciously diffused internal strife by encouraging everyone to smurf unto others as you would have them smurf unto you. In addition, the presence of a powerful external threat to unite them contributed to their stability, as did their obvious shared genetics ancestry. This model can lead to powerful economic dynamism were they to choose to export their good and services to other nations, such as the Snorks or Biskitts.
Of course, we can only speculate. Smurf society collapsed into obscurity, crippled by FCC regulations mandating "educational" programming, driving local affiliates to cut back on their Smurf-related correspondents and in favor of the Bayside High School journalism class. It's entirely possible that the Smurfs could have overcome the obvious gender inequalities to dominate the mushroom region of the forest and be a world leader in "blue" technologies.
Which brings me, belatedly, to my point. I cannot see how today's aspirants to animated economic leadership have the resources, organization, or focus to survive. I've done a preliminary analysis of some of the more prominent ones described in my child's literature or in the helpful documentaries found on Noggin, and my findings are not promising:
Ponyville: Ponyville has been perplexing me since I first discovered it during one of Serendipity's butterfly hunts. A verdant land, it has all the obvious hallmarks of a pre-industrial society. It's easy to romanticize such halcyon places, with their babbling brooks and rainbow berry bushes. But in reality such places are rarely as magical as they seem.
The economy of Ponyville appears to lack any form of formal currency. Pony's are often seen at the Cotton Candy Cafe or Twist 'n Style Petal Parlour gossiping and sharing mutual admiration at how great their friendships are, yet the services provided are never paid for. In fact, emotional support seems to be the only form of currency accepted by these Pony's. This begs the question of how these goods and services are manufactured and maintained, as to my knowledge emotional support is less effective than comprehensive health care and competitive wages to an organized labor force.
My suspicion is that this is actually a feudal society in which serfs are kept conveniently out of site while the matriarchal aristocracy spends its days attending extravagant pony parties at Celebration Castle. This is further upheld by recent news reports that Wysteria named every pony in Ponyville a princess, further strengthening their control of the nations major institutions, presumably at the expense of the masses. One can only hope that such bald abuse of power does not lead to future civilian unrest...or worse.
Dora's Forest: The forest where Dora's parent let her play--unsupervised, with a monkey--seems to have some surprising advantages. Thanks to a healthy investment in infrastructure, roads are well laid-out and easy to read on a map, although they have a reputation for poor signage at forks in the road or when approaching hazards such as Crocodile Lake or King Crab's sandcastle. The economy is stable enough to permit specialization of it's multilingual workforce in anything from transportation to gardening. Natural resources are plentiful, and the recent unveiling of a "robot house" has showcased it's adoption of new technologies. But things are not always what they seem.
A more thorough analysis of Dora's forest quickly exposes the sort of instability which plagued Tarzan and led to the eventual economic decline of Bedrock once the Great Gazoo arrived. The lack of an effective security force has resulted into a number of unique magical objects routinely falling into the wrong hands. The resulting collateral damage--including the environmental cleanup of the mermaid kingdom and the re-population of the Snowy Forest--cost several million golden coins, severely curtailing the Coney Island ice cream budget. The titular head of the government's opposition party has been accused of theft and corruption, yet remains a powerful voice in daily life. And the proximity to an environmentally-protected rain forest is a bureaucratic headache for construction companies and pharmaceutical firms wishing to capitalize on the abundant resources within.
It remains to be seen whether Dora's Forest can overcome these obstacles, let alone maintain the high standard of living enjoyed by its citizens. A government spokesman, reached at his office under a bridge, admitted that he needs help to "solve my riddle."
Disneyworld: In a recent coup, a cabal of princesses took control of government offices and local media outlets and promptly instituted a jewelry- and fairy-based economy. This experiment has many of the characteristics of Lenin's GOELRO plan, but as was the case in 1920 it is likely that a more totalitarian regime would be necessary to ensure it's execution. As history has taught us, it is far more likely that political dissidents will either flee to the neighboring, more independent Pixar-dominated territories or find themselves in gulags.
Maisy's Town: Several economists have suggested that Maisy Mouse and her elbowless cohorts are on the cusp of the same sort of economic revolution experienced in South Korea during the 1990's. However, I see tremendous flaws in such arguments. Numerous examples of incompetence abound, including frequent job-swapping between unskilled workers (e.g. traffic problems caused by Charlie's misuse of a crane, medical malpractice caused when Maisy and Tallulah bumped into each other while treating Panda). The complete absence of perspective or hard lines in any of their products or services gives them limited value, as does their over-dependence on primary colors. Even Cyril, the cabinet minister who has shown to be talented in both plate-spinning and maraca-shaking, has shown a proclivity to scare himself in the mirror when wearing his lion mask. Without a new regime, there is little chance that anything more than the occasional batch of cookies will ever be exported.
Of course, any analysis and prediction will be limited by the data available, and future developments may have an unexpected positive impact on the nations described above. Few economists foresaw the rise of the Looney Tunes empire, driven largely by the willingness of its population to take any job available, from bull-fighter to opera conductor to astronaut, to propel forward their aggressive economic agenda.
Such examples are more often the exception than the rule, however. For every economic success story, there are five more which ended tragically.
March 05, 2009 in It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), Trinkets and Trash | Permalink | Comments (11)
Contestants get to witness some of Cheeky's behavior and have to guess whether it's "cute" or "annoying." This may seem pretty straightforward, but I assure you it's not. It's completely contextual, which is where the challenge is. Let me give you some examples.
You get the basic idea. It's the type of game parents would probably be REALLY good at, and the payoff wouldn't have to be that big. Personally, you don't need to offer $1 million to get me on the show...I'd take a weekend night of babysitting.
So I'm sitting in Union Square today, eating a tasty salad from Chipotle and soaking up yet another glorious summer day, when...
My tongue darts across a molar in the back of my mouth and feels a sharp rim around what appears to be a crater in my tooth, as if someone had taken a melon-baller to it and scooped out a spoonful of enamel. Sure enough I feel around my mouth and pull out a lump of white bone, formerly used to grind nachos to tasty pulp but now swimming around with black beans and lettuce in the back of my throat.
What the hell?
OK, so MAYBE it's just a coincidence that the pain I'd been feeling on the side of my mouth when I bit down for the last couple weeks was suddenly gone. And MAYBE it's just a coincidence that I was carrying around a dentist's phone number in my pocket, which I'd been putting off calling because visiting the dentist is right up there with live organ transplants as one of my favorite things to do.
But still, did it have to break off? Was that really necessary?
Guess what...I made that call to the dentist. I'm heading in tomorrow morning. I hope he doesn't tell me my diet is to blame...
First off, I need to thank the lovely Weirdgirl, who nominated me for the prestigious and totally-without-compensation Excellent Blog Award. I've been a fan of her site and sense of humor for years, and, as Al Gore and Peter O'Toole can tell you (through clenched teeth) it's an honor just to be nominated. Supposedly I'm obliged to pass this award along to ten other people (which means that at some point everyone will be nominated) but I'm going to wait on doing so until I actually have time to read more than ten blogs.
However, the bulk of today's blog will be a response to my friend Sparky at Dirt & Noise. Like a bad penny or Cher, the "seven things" meme keeps coming back, and this time it was Sparky who
is cruelly punishing me tagged me.
Normally, I would use my kung fu to deflect or my spam filter to ignore the request, as I've done seven memes about a dozen times. In my experience, only seals, sins, and samurais are good in sevens. However, Sparky is one of my oldest, dearest friends (and pretty funny, too...you should visit her blog and say "Hi") and I can't simply blow this off like I would my taxes. But since this is my blog, I'm going to slightly modify the rules.
Instead of the standard "seven things you about me," I'm going to offer up "seven things that Sparky knows about me but you don't." And, as an added bonus, ONE of these is NOT TRUE. See if you can guess which one.
I'm sure there are other, even more embarrassing things that Sparky could share about me, but she knows better than to share them as I have an equal (if not greater) amount of dirt on her.
If you're still trying to guess which one of the above is not true, check the comments.
Before becoming a parent, nothing scared me more than the "activities." Not diapers, not sleepless nights, not Upromise accounts...nothing. Kids in crowds, chaotically running and screaming like spring breakers at Senor Frog's have as much appeal to me as sawing a linoleum knife between my toes. I swore I would do everything in my power to avoid such events.
Two and a half years in and I have much the same opinion. But that didn't stop us from buying Sesame Street Live tickets.
What the hell else were we gonna do on a cold Sunday morning?
Cheeky's love affair with Ernie and Elmo ain't what it used to be, but since I'd rather walk through the gates of hell than see Dora live Sesame Street seemed like a relatively benign way to kill a couple hours.
Madison Square Garden--thrilled to be hosting anything but a Knicks game--was the venue. We took our seats in a surprisingly empty section (a temporary thing, as dozens of harried parents arrived soon after it started) and I sipped my $4.50 Diet Coke (price gouging: alive and well). As the lights dimmed Bert and Ernie took the stage to begin the sort of witty banter that appeals to six year olds and the mentally challenged. I knew it was going to be a long couple hours.
Mind you, the whole thing wasn't bad. The kids were relatively well-behaved, and the story, which revolved around Super Grover's lack of sleep and personal hygiene, did an admirable job of keeping Baby Bear off the stage. But I couldn't help think that the cast would be frantically calling their agents after the show. ("I said Susan Stroman, not Susan & Gordon!") The music sounded like it came from a cheap boombox behind the curtains, and the periodic appearance of a random woman named Kay (you know, 'cause 'K' was the letter of the day) was an odd, undersized counterpoint to the rainbow of monsters on stage. By intermission (!!!) my mind had slipped into a fugue in which the characters had blurred into psychedelic fractal screensaver.
If Cheeky weren't jumping up and down on my legs I'd have slept for an hour.
We walked away a little spent, carrying one of 75,000 Elmo balloons and a heart-warming message about ....um...what was it? Friendship? Getting enough exercise? Talking cheese? I can't remember. Cheeky had a good time, and although we felt like we'd lost an hour of our lives it was a small price to pay to see her happy. Besides, it could have been much, much worse.
Not long after our triumphant return from Antigua Oodgie and I decided the bulbous, squishy parts of our bodies have to go. Months of feasting, carousing, and general abuse of our bodies have finally caught up with us--although you could argue that they caught up to us in our late 20s and we've been ignoring it since. Our weapon of choice? The South Beach diet.
For the eight of you not familiar with this diet, it in no way whatsoever resembles the actual South Beach. The implied decadence of the name is immediately countered by the word "diet" after it, which means that no matter how easy the diet may be you'll still feel like a POW two hours into it.
We're freakin' starving!
I have noticed a few bad habits I'd picked up over the years as a result of this
suicidal challenging decision. Apparently my brain is hard-wired to grab a bag of chips 20 seconds after I walk in the door, and the battered chicken fingers which make up 63% of Cheeky's diet look more and more succulent every day. I've been trusting my young, fit body to absorb my indiscretions, forgetting that neither adjective applies to me anymore. Now I'm picking the croutons out of my Caesar salad (oh, the irony of it all...)
Far and away the most traumatic change, though, is the strict prohibition of beer. We all know that it sometimes occasionally has been known to in some people to possibly maybe contribute to weight gain. OK, I get it. But seriously....none whatsoever? The timing of this could not be worse. The biggest national holiday of the year and they expect me to sip mineral water? I 100% guarantee that there's a loophole somewhere that I can exploit!
...as long as I'm OK with the consequences.
Any one else have any diet war stories they'd like to share?
I would remiss in not wishing a belated Happy Birthday to Oodgie, who turned thirt....ack.....ack.....can't.....breathe....*cough cough*
OK, she turned older on Friday. We went to Fuerzabruta to celebrate (German for "People on pulleys are COMING TO KILL YOU") and had an evening of adult conversation, a rarity at Casa de Cheeky. Cheeky got her flowers, which are strangely adorned with kumquats (note to self: the next time you tell the florist to use "whatever is seasonal and pretty" be more specific) and I promised her she could leave the house for two days without Cheeky for a battery recharge. It's the best I could come up with...she's harder to buy for than Gandhi.
On to matters of greater import...
One of the disadvantages of asking my audience for posting advice is that they are such a rare, exotic breed as to be classified as an endangered species. I did, however, get a few requests, and I supplemented then from other sources, so rather than lament my fantasy football season or my work schedule let me offer instead these answers to your probing questions:
What is the most embarrassing concert you ever attended? -- Sarah
Embarrassing? I don't make it to concerts often enough to consider any of them truly "embarrassing." However, the summer the Monsters of Rock came through town I asked my parents to go. They said no, but they did take me to see Harry Belafonte as a birthday gift. Same thing, right?
Briefs, boxers, commando or thong? -- Whit
None of the above. I prefer something more cozy.
Why is the sky blue? -- local 12 year old
Because if it were green, we wouldn't know where to stop mowing
What is your favorite Beatles song and why? -- Landismom
Holy cow...how do you pick? I've always liked "Blackbird" and "Eleanor Rigby," and "The Inner Light" is totally underappreciated. If I had to pick one it would be "Norwegian Wood," but I could rattle off 20 others that on any given week could knock it out of its perch. Talk to me again next week.
Why do you want to work at our company? -- Prospective employer
Well, sir, I've done a lot of research, and I'm impressed with the innovative work your company is doing, and how it's positioning itself as an agent of growth in the industry. Furthermore, I like what the company stands for, and how it constantly strives to be an advocate for its customers. I certainly believe that my background and skills can enhance what your organization is trying to accomplish, but it's just as important to me that I believe in what I'm doing, and being a part of your organization looks like an ideal place to meet that need.
Sushi or kosher deli? -- Arwen
Whichever is closest when I'm hungry. Laziness determines 98% of my choices in life.
What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? -- Bridgekeeper
Do you mean an African or European swallow?
What's the best/worst smells of parenthood? -- Keersten
Ugh, tough one. The "odorless" Diaper Genie we had for a while made Cheeky's room smell like a monkey cage, but I think the winner is the B.O. of our new babysitter, who hasn't bathed since her 6th birthday. As far as the best smell, that's the suddenly resurgent scent of mac 'n' cheese in our home, a splendiforous delight absent in my home since junior year. (FYI, I guarantee that anything that ends with "'n' cheese" is gonna smell good)
How would you compare the process by which the Spanish Empire was built between 1450 and 1800 with that of the empire-building process of the Ottoman empire? -- Mr. Mizoguchi, my AP History Professor
The Spanish Empire was at the forefront of global exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. It's conquests of the newly discovered territories of the Western Hemisphere (legitimized by Papal ascent via the Treaty of Tordesillas) and the plundered gold of the conquered Native American civilizations there funded the development of an experienced navy. Meanwhile their fiercely political marriage policies established dynastic ties over the Holy Roman Empire, the Low Countries, and much of the Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire, by contrast employed an aggressive policy of using padded, upholstered seating to woo trading partners and to defeat enemies in southeast Europe and Persia. With their enemies significantly reclined, they were able establish a lasting dominance in the Near East for many centuries.
I'm sure Cheeky's looking forward to me helping with her homework someday. Got any more questions? Send them my way!