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Month: July 2009

Rated PG for Parental Gaffe

It starts like this. You’re chatting with your kid when a familiar phrase pops into your head. A line of dialogue from a favorite movie of your youth. “Eat my shorts” from The Breakfast Club, perhaps, or “Son, you got a panty on your head” from Raising Arizona. Maybe you’re calling the family to the dinner table, Junior is unresponsive and you find yourself blurting, “Bueller? … Bueller? … Bueller? …”

Then you realize, with a cold blast of horror, that your child has no idea what you’re talking about. No frame of reference through which to recognize your superior cinematic literacy.

How can this be? (And this is where the faulty thinking begins.) No offspring of yours is going to go through life without studying the classics, without paying proper deference to the heroes of your adolescence, the big-screen giants whose vast wisdom and extraordinary wit shaped your psyche: Mel Brooks. Eddie Murphy. Long Duk Dong.

So you rent a movie, tell your kid, “You’re gonna LOVE this” and plop down on the couch for a family movie night. Which is exactly when the cursing begins. And the full-frontal nudity. And the powder-snorting, pole-dancing, cop-killing and flagrant cracking of jokes so racist they actually make your jaw clench.

People, what the (rated R for language) were you thinking?

Kids and Marijuana

It’s not easy keeping kids off ganja these days. The world, it seems, has gone to pot. President Obama admits to having “inhaled frequently” in his youth. Hollywood Dudes-of-the-Hour Seth Rogen and James Franco shared a joint (or an authentic-looking prop) onstage at the MTV Movie Awards last summer. Regular moms can get hash prescriptions for anxiety and pick up a dimebag from a clinic on their way to yoga.

Even when photos surfaced this year of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps taking a bong hit , the nation sort of shrugged with disinterest. Most of his endorsement deals failed to flinch. Last week, Subway launched a new TV commercial featuring Phelps (does he always look that stoned?) and the Sly Stone anthem “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” Can’t you just see Subway’s board meeting after the bong photo broke? “Fellas! We sell snack food! Tell me again why this is bad news?”

If a guy can suck skunkweed recreationally and still win 14 gold medals, what’s to dissuade teens from taking their first curious puff? In my experience, there’s only one way to keep your kids from becoming potheads.

You’ve got to become one yourself. That’s right. Light up for the sake of sobriety. Inhale in the name of clean living. Take a hit for the temperance team.

The Nip/Tuck Talk

Have you had this conversation at home? “Mom, the other kids are picking on me at school. They say I’m fat.”

“Oh, sweetheart. Kids can be cruel. The important thing to remember is that we love you. And we’re saving up for your lipo.”

No? Good.

Cosmetic surgery is certainly hot — as hot as ever. More than 12 million procedures were performed last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. And while teens accounted for more than 200,000 of those (oy, a column for another time), most parents still believe a good “beauty’s on the inside” talk trumps an adolescent collagen injection any day.

What’s good for the gosling, though, may not always fly for the goose. Having ridden the ole “love thyself” buggy about as far as it’ll go, lots of grown-ups opt for a nip or a tuck these days — then find themselves at a loss for how to explain it to their kids. How do you preach self-acceptance and practice self-alteration simultaneously?

Never Say Neverland

The email was curt, and cryptic. A New York Post writer wanted help on a story about the rumpus outside Michael Jackson’s Santa Ynez home. His follow-up phone call was equally cloak-and-dagger: “Drive to 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road and call us when you get there.”

It was the one place on this gargantuan planet that I least wanted to spend my day. I had planned several leisurely hours of writing interrupted only by 37 visits to Facebook and a long-awaited lunch with a girlfriend who makes me giggle.

But here’s the truly awful thing about being a reporter: When there’s something to report, you must report it. It’s in the job description. It IS the job description.

So I report:

I spent 10 minutes getting ready. One minute to pack water, snacks, notepads, extra pens, sunscreen, a phone charger, laptop, and maps of the backcountry in case the roads were blocked and I had to hike in (no, of course I wouldn’t really have done it, but one must go through the motions so she can say she “tried”). And the remaining nine minutes figuring out what to wear.

Real-Life TV

Your Life, Only Worse. I don’t like television that depicts normal people slogging through the challenges of daily existence. It doesn’t take me anywhere I fantasize about, doesn’t tap into that daydreamy place in my heavily subdued subconscious. For that, there’s American Idol, whose plucked-from-obscurity premise fuels my fervent secret desire to be a powerhouse chanteuse who can inject irresistible effervescence into doo-wop week, disco week, and everything in between. Many of us claim to hate the vast actorless landscape of “reality TV” even as we’re privately — religiously — watching one of its unscripted series. Weekly, we track the lofty goals, questionable choices, and predictable disappointments of strangers who would wallpaper the nation’s flat screens with their greatest flaws and failings.