On Raising a Parrot.

In our pre-kid days, Chris and I had the peculiar hobby of reading Screen It reviews before, during, or even instead of watching movies. Geared toward parents, the site gives an intensely detailed yet discreet laundry list of every profanity or slightly negative word in the movie, detailed descriptions of all violence, drug use, or frightening scenes, and any sexual references all the way down to “There was a slight amount of cleavage showing on the lady in the far left background of the scene.”

Juvenile though it was, we especially loved the detailed explanations of how a word was used. For instance, it’d say “14 scatological terms, used literally three times, once with ‘head’, twice with ‘piece of’, and once with ‘you little’.”

Although we sometimes did make movie-watching decisions based on these reviews, we often found them more entertaining than the movie itself.

Since that time, Screen It has become a paid service, but other free sites like Kids in Mind have taken their place. Our kids aren’t really off the Disney/Pixar/Veggie Tales track yet, so we still don’t have a good use for this service, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

Like, for instance, who is looking up “The Wolf of Wall Street” to see if it’s appropriate for children? And if they are, do all deem it inappropriate when they see* “Over 414 F words and its derivatives…82 scatological terms, 53 anatomical terms…name-calling (midget, scum, nitwits, degenerates, depraved, lazy, idiot, sweetheart)”? Or are some parents like, “Oh, well there’s under 500 F words, so I guess I can take the kids to see it!”

* I left out at least half of the Profanity listing of Wolf of Wall Street in the interest of not taking your entire day to read this post.

One service that Screen It offers is a listing of all imitative behavior, which would include any phrases or actions that they thought kids might mimic. For some reason, I always pondered these greatly. Like, would a kid really jump out of a fiery car just because they saw it on a movie? And if they did, wouldn’t that be a good thing? I mean the car’s on fire and all. And if I took my kid to see Maleficent and the worst thing they came away with was repeating the phrase “How Quaint!”, am I really going to care?

I looked forward to the day when I could see for myself if Imitative Behaviors really do get imitated.

But alas. Ali has never been an repeating type of kid. She’s a deep thinker, an independent thinker, and never seems to pick up other people’s behaviors.

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So we had to have another kid.

Noah did not disappoint. He can pick up on anything anytime and repeat it with the perfect inflection and gusto.

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Enter The Lego Movie – clearly a must-watch for our family.

As we have now seen The Lego Movie more times than the F word comes up in The Wolf of Wall Street, Noah has grafted many new phrases into his dictionary, such as “Darny darn darn!”, “Honey, Where are my paaaaaants?”, and “What the heck!”

But my favorite phrase…perhaps my all-time favorite imitable behavior of all time…is this Lego Movie Jewel.

Imitative behavior is every bit as awesome as I’d always imagined it. And then some.


Disclaimer: Before you ask, no representation is made that the contents of this video in any way reflects the speaker or the blogger’s feelings toward any recent blog topics.

People of Wal-Mart: The Live Show.

Wal-Mart.

I’d rather dance through a hunting reserve in a deer costume than go to Wal-Mart. Ever.

There’s just something about the atmosphere there that immediately stresses me out – I’m pretty sure God removed His presence from all Wal-Marts many years ago after one too many scary human sightings.

No matter how little I appreciate Target’s underwhelming sales events, they are Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana and Wal-Mart is Miley Cyrus on stage with Robin Thicke.

Target is Lindsay Lohan in the Parent Trap and Wal-Mart is a conglomeration of every horrific iteration of Lindsay Lohan since.

Target is Instagram and Wal-Mart is Reddit.

Target is Anthony Bourdain and Wal-Mart is Adam Richman with Guy Fieri’s hair.

You get the point.

But it was my husband’s birthday.

And I love my husband. I love my husband so much that I was willing to put aside my from-scratch baking ideals and make him his favorite boxed cake.

Chris Birthday Cake

(And let the kids decorate it to death.)

I love my husband so much that I was willing to go the one and only place that still carries his favorite cake mix, Butter Pecan.

Yes. That place is Miley/Lohan/Reddit/Richman/Fieri-Mart.

I steeled my resolve, prayed blessings over my children, and managed to not have a wreck in the parking lot that is eternally a scene out of Independence Day right after the Aliens start shooting up the world.

I forced Noah to sit in the cart like an infant because I needed to minimize my distractions to make it through the American Ninja Warrior challenge to come. I could hear the commentators in my head.

Let’s see if Rachel can turn sideways quickly enough to avoid the lady in the electric shopping cart who can clearly walk but chooses not to do so. She did it – without even glaring when the Scooter tried to cut her off at the last minute!

Oh! She needs to duck! There are cans falling off the shelf due to an over-forceful stock boy.

Can she keep her three year old properly contained in the cart? No she cannot. But then again, who could?

Will she step on the fit-pitching child in the middle of the aisle? Rachel will get 100 points deducted if she does, and 500 points deducted if she rolls over him with the shopping cart, no matter how much he deserves it.

It’s time for Rachel to scour every tub of frosting looking for cream cheese – You can see her wheels turning, wondering WHAT CRAZY PERSON CAME IN HERE AND BOUGHT EVERY SINGLE TUB OF EVERY SINGLE BRAND OF CREAM CHEESE FROSTING?!?!

We got our cake mix, found the last elusive tubs of Cream Cheese Frosting, I allowed the children to shop for birthday presents to give their Daddy (Legos – obviously), and we made it up to the row of registers with minimal point deductions.

30 registers….5 with lights on.

The second round of competition began at picking the register least likely to turn on their blinky light for a price check…or worse.

We picked the last one in the row. Only one lady in line, and she only had four items.

What could go wrong??

That’s when I noticed that she was more blinding than The Star in the East.

I looked up to find the source of her light.

She was wearing a silver-sequined fedora – the kind you’d buy at Party City for a Tacky New Year’s Eve get-together. Her fishnet hose had such giant spaces between the fish nets that a school of Tuna could escape without breaking a scale. She was wearing peep toe shimmering heels, a cock-eyed black skirt with a separate silver sequined skirt hanging out from underneath, and a black business suit jacket…with more silver sequins poking out around the collar.

At first I thought she was also wearing a parole ankle monitor over her fishnets, but then I realized she just had the two biggest anklets ever created, but both still slightly smaller than ten out of twelve of the rings she was somehow managing to keep steady around her fingers.

When I got close enough to see what was going on, I realized she was singing. Softly at first, swaying back and forth minimally. The song swelled and her hips began gyrating.

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

I don’t think that’s what He meant when He said “If you ask anything in my Name…”

The cashier just watched, with a level, bored, I’ve-seen-this-type-of-routine-every-day-I’ve-worked-here expression on her face.

“Ma’am. They’re $1.97. I’m sorry.”

I looked down and saw the item in question: a box of Candy Crush Gummy Snacks.

The song resumed, this time on the second verse.

They were a dollar last week and they were a dollar before that.

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

You will need to adjust that price down to a dollar.

There was other bartering going on as well, one item in question being a neon pink sequined headband that had a clearance tag for fifty cents. Apparently the disappointment in the gummy snack price made her decide that this, too, was an outrage, so she threw the fuchsia headband onto the back of the conveyor belt.

I felt it was best, as she clearly had a silver sequin theme working for her.

“I need to talk to a manager or something. These gummies should be a dollar – they’ve always been a dollar and in the name of JESUS you ain’t gonna take my money!”

“I can’t adjust a price. Why don’t you pay for everything else you want, then you can go talk to a manager.”

She pulled from her pocket a large medicine bottle with the label ripped off. Through the amber plastic, I could see wadded up money and what looked like a couple of fake fingernails that had worked their way loose.

She sang under her breath as she pulled out the bills.

Apparently, Miss Sequins was also a magician, because as the clerk was bagging up her purchases, she found the pink headband in the bag.

“Ma’am. You didn’t pay for this. You said you didn’t want it. Do you want to buy it?”

“Uhhh! YES…I’ll buy it. How much is it?”

“Fifty-five cents with tax.”

“Fine! Just a minute.”

Out came the pill box again, where she pulled out a single bill from betwixt the fingernails.

(At this point I was just glad I didn’t spot any actual fingers in that bottle.)

She danced off with her bag in one hand and the gummies in the other. I assumed those gummies would magically move to the bag and she’d be walking out in no time.

The cashier and I made eye contact. She shrugged her shoulders and said “The characters you get in here…”

I laughed sympathetically and prayed that my children wouldn’t do anything to send this poor soul over the edge.

While she rung up my purchases, my eyes wandered down a few registers where Sequins had found herself a manager. Her dance was even more animated and her song had the passion of Adele after being stood up for a date.

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

In the name of Jesus you ain’t gonna take my money!

As I finished checking out, Sequins was stomping away, shimmering in the florescent Wal-Mart bulbs. She had her money and the manager was holding the gummies, watching her leave with fearful fascination.

So in the end, her song worked.

A Call for Felinism.

A guest post, by Fred the Cat.

The time has come for a revolution.

We live in America – the land of the free, the land of equal opportunity, the land of respect.

But cats, my friends, are not getting these basic rights.

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Cats are humiliated on YouTube.

Villainized by Disney.

Ignored by Government.

Scoffed in Memes.

And, in general, are kept down by The Dog.

Don’t believe me?

Nashville has FIVE municipally supported dog parks.

Atlanta has dog water bowls and canine-specific-spigots all throughout midtown. In Piedmont Park, they have a special Dog Trail and park set aside just for these pampered creatures.

Sure, you say. Atlanta and Nashville are big cities. Big cities have benefits.

But no. It’s becoming rampant Birmingham, too.

We have dog parks, doggie day cares, doggie spas, and even mobile dog grooming services. Do cats get these amenities? Never.

But the true hammer dropped on The Feline Community when my owner’s favorite nature reserve, Red Mountain Park, posted this sign near the entrance.

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Small Dogs, Large Dogs, and Special Needs Dogs, all with their own parks. SIX ACRES of space. Just for dogs.

WHERE, pray tell, do Special Needs Cats get to play? HOW will they ever have the opportunity to socialize with others like them? WHO will make them feel normal?

My humans, this should not be so.

Sadly, the problem isn’t just in America – cats are being discriminated against internationally. Japan even has a Luxury Dog Retirement Home, providing them access to a gym, swimming pool, and round-the-clock veterinary care for around $1,000 a month.

Humans don’t live at this retirement home, to be clear – only dogs.

And certainly not cats.

I have discussed these grievances and sought the opinion of other neighborhood felines, particularly a wise ginger named Maggie who likes to refer to herself in the third person, as cats often do.

Maggie

Here’s what she had to add to this movement’s creed.

“Maggie agrees with Fred. While she is happy to remain ensconced in her palace, she fully supports the rights of all cats to seek companionship and recreation in community. As long as it’s not in her back yard.

Maggie Backyard
Dogs are wonderful companions, to be sure, but they don’t foster the same sense of independence in an owner that a cat does by being selectively attentive. Owners must learn to stand on their own, to have self-confidence, instead of the complete codependence of a human-dog friendship. Cats also don’t require their humans to venture into the elements, unless it is to buy more food or litter.

Perhaps this is the crux of the matter.

Maggie Wise
Cats CREATE the spaces they need; they don’t have to wait for humans to designate them. As doers instead of followers, they can turn any space into a party, from the public park to the Mario Brothers-like sewer system. While recognition of a cat’s need for community would be nice, we don’t esteem the human opinion enough to truly need this kind of external validation.”

Maggie makes good points.

But nevertheless I weep daily at the injustice.

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AND SO SHOULD YOU.

You say you care about freedom. You salute your flag as if it means something. You get teary-eyed during the national anthem.

Yet freedom doesn’t ring for felines. Who could bring a kitten into this world with a clear conscience?

The time is now. The place is here. Let’s join together and make the world a better place.

We must stand!

We must fight!

We must claw our way to equality!

We must be The Whiskers of Change!

We must join together, paw in paw, as Felinists.