Candy Conquerors

Candy Conquerors

Candy Conquerors

Halloween is around the corner and I am so excited. Halloween is my Christmas. That’s right, it’s my favorite holiday. The non-stop horror movies on tv, the kids in costumes, the candy, it’s always a good time.

We are even willing to overlook the ubiquity of movie character costumes because the cuteness of tiny kids wearing fake muscles trumps our annoyance.

And yet, how much would you be willing to pay for cuteness? $20? $50? How about $150? When I received the new Chasing Fireflies catalog my daughter automatically took it and started campaigning for her favorite one. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this store, I’ll let them explain what they do:

We created Chasing Fireflies to yes, celebrate childhood but also to celebrate parenthood. do you remember the first time you ever rode a bike? swam across the pool? chased fireflies? it’s even more special the second time around when you share your child’s firsts.

So, they essentially sell the concept of living vicariously through your children in the form of expensive kids costumes. My daughter chose a dark angel costume, which was pretty but way overpriced for a one day candy grab. Chasing Fireflies is obviously for those who can afford to blow $100 plus on a kids costume. That is not the case in my household. So I let her know that she would not be getting it.

As Halloween came closer she shot down my costume suggestions. even going as far as declaring that she would just be nothing. I reminded her that people don’t like to give candy to kids who don’t put in the minimum effort of changing their clothes. Eventually, she pulled some pieces together from both of our closets, I ordered some cheap wings from Amazon and she had her own dark angel outfit. Does it look like the Chasing Fireflies one? No. But hopefully she had more fun putting it together herself.



Plus, while this costume is refreshingly non-skimpy, there is something very slinky and adult about it. The mom version is almost identical. The website sells it with “She’s an angel 364 days of the year . . . shouldn’t her devilish side get to come out once?” This is eerily similar to the “Good Girls Go Bad, for a Day” title of a recent NY Times article about the obvious, and well-noted trend towards strip-club like Halloween outfits for women.

Dr. Nelson, a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, said the trend toward overtly sexualized costumes actually begins with little girls. “Heroic figures for women or considered icons of femininity are very much anchored in the femme fatale imagery…” Dr. Nelson found that even costumes for little girls were gendered. Boys got to be computers while the girls were cupcakes. Today, there are bride costumes for little girls but one is hard pressed to find groom costumes for little boys. Additionally, Dr. Nelson said, the girls’ costumes are designed in ways that create the semblance of a bust where there is none. “Once they’re older women it’s just a continuation of that same gender trend,”

It’s a disturbing theory. If true, then parents can find relief in a new trend starting this year: gender-neutral outfits. Target and Disney have removed the gender categories for their costumes. More options sounds like a great idea, not all girls want to be princesses.

At the very least, it looks like those former “boy” costumes can better withstand the inevitable candy stains.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

This town ain’t big enough for all these superheroes

This town ain’t big enough for all these superheroes

large_oAVEECLiXA1PvQU7thuppOFbJHdDid Halle Berry ruin the potential of a solo movie for a black female superhero? Catwoman was really, really bad. If you don’t believe me maybe you will recall that Halle won a coveted Razzie for her work in the film. Now in my opinion the blame for the film being terrible doesn’t lie solely at Halle’s feet. The screenwriter got a Razzie for this hot mess too. Even the fine Benjamin Bratt couldn’t save this film with his hotness. After the mess that was Catwoman there has not been another black female portraying a superhero that carries a film on the big screen.


jx0OR29While my hopes are not super high that this will happen soon, there is a glimmer of hope when looking at new developments on the small screen. Vixen, an animated show with a black female superheroine, made its debut in August 2015. Now this is a small step but I hope that one day we will get to see this character on the big screen.

Girl vs. Woman

I didn’t know this but apparently in the female superhero universe there is a debate that is going on. It is one that examines the intersection of female superheroes and feminism. The newest entry into the debate is whether it should be Supergirl or Superwoman? In the new television show, Supergirl, the title character is played by Glee’s Melissa Benoist, who works at a newspaper when she takes the cape off. She laments that the paper that she works for has dubbed the new mystery superheroine the less than flattering moniker “Supergirl”. Her boss, played by Calista Flockhart, quickly shuts her down.  The following is an excerpt of dialogue from the show:

“What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl. And your boss. And powerful. And rich. And hot. And smart. So if you perceive ‘Supergirl’ as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem, you?”

I am not sure that I find her argument as convincing. It comes off as a bit trite, but nice try Ally McBeal.

Do any superheroines have super sex?

supergirlOne problem with using “girl” instead of “woman” is that it implies that she is too young or innocent to have sex. Do any superheroines have super sex? If you’re not a rich playboy or a hot villain in the superhero universe then you’ve probably been lacking in the nookie department. Why are superheroines so sexually sterile? I would think that going out to save the world everyday is a pretty good reason to make sure I was having wild crazy sex and often, it’s good stress relief.

KoHG5eaFinally, Marvel has a new superheroine that addresses this problem. On November 20th, Netflix will be debuting the new series Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Audience members at New York’s Comic-Con were recently treated to a surprise screening of the episode. In the episode audience members were introduced to Jessica’s world, which includes a healthy sexual appetite, and an apparent loving of doggie style. I can’t wait to see this show, now if I only had Netflix. What makes my heart grow a little bit is the knowledge that the superhero universe is expanding and evolving; I am excited to see what ways it will morph and grow in coming years.


Bizee Bit

Bizee Bit

When my mother gave me her cast off fitbit something automatically changed in me. I had a tool that would help me in my quest to get in shape. The fitbit would be my companion, the thing that I needed to finally keep me motivated in the very long quest to lose the elusive 15 pounds (okay, really 20 pounds) that I have put on over the years.

Starting with a sprint

From the first moment I strapped my fitbit on my arm I was hooked. Making sure that I hit my 10,000 steps a day. Tracking to see how many miles that my steps equated to, getting my silly badges of honor. The other added benefit is that I could join the fitbit journey with “friends”, (my friends were an assortment of acquaintances that agreed to join me from Facebook).

Cutting corners: How to cheat at fitbit

I am not a hyper competitive person but for some reason the fitbit brought out some of my competitive nature. I would look at my step totals compared to friends and feel pangs of pride when I saw my name on the top of the list or pangs of envy when someone else was there. I became addicted to my fitbit and the rush of winning. I would start to believe that my fitbit was lying to me when I didn’t rack up enough steps.

After a long workout, you break down and cry because your forgot to wear your tracker. What’s the use of exercising if you don’t get any credit for it?

For those of us with the non-waterproof type—feeling a bit frustrated in the shower and while getting ready in the morning. ‘Cause that’s a lot of steps…

– A couple of our favorite signs that you are addicted to your fitbit

One night I forgot to sync my fitbit because I had it too far away from my computer and cell phone. I woke up the next day to an alarming step total of 50,000 steps. I received like ten badges; by the end of the day I had like 60,000 steps for the day and had blown away the competition in step totals. I even had a friend congratulate me on how hard I must be working out. I felt bad because I was cheating the system but also good because I was winning, even if it was unfair.

The cooldown phase

A few months ago I took off my fitbit. I have yet to put it back on. I got tired of wearing it. I got tired of being beholden to its power. I got tired of comparing myself to what others were doing. You know what happened? I changed my diet, started working out and getting fit without it. I am now currently healthier than I have been in a long time.

Lifetime Lifelines

Lifetime Lifelines

When Monette told me that there were rumors that Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig were making a Lifetime movie, I laughed. I thought there is no way that stars that big would make a Lifetime movie. Lifetime is usually the home of B, C, D to Z-list talent. You know, folks like Tori Spelling, Yasmine Bleeth, and Traci Lords. People like Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, who are A-list comedians who manage to work on the big and small screen alike, don’t end up on Lifetime at the height of their careers. It’s just not going to happen.

This past Saturday, June 22nd, the magic happened. “A Deadly Adoption” starring Will and Kristen made its debut on the Lifetime Channel. I did not get a chance to see the movie due to my attendance at a rather rainy Hozier concert but I heard the movie is as bat shit crazy as you would expect it to be. Here are some of the craziest moments from the movie:

Since it’s inception in 1984, the Lifetime channel has been cranking out schlocky fare that often masquerades as entertainment for female empowerment. I remember when I was younger and I watched a few Lifetime movies I quickly labeled the channel “the Female Victimization Network”. The formula was always female in distress meets potential savior, savior turns psycho, female in distress must find a way to defeat savior/psycho. My all-time favorite film that meets fits this Lifetime archetype is Mother May I Sleep With Danger? starring Tori Spelling and Ivan Sergei.

What could be worse than discovering that your dreamy guy is a certifiable nightmare?

Being alone, apparently.

Mother, May I Go To Bed By Myself & Sleep Alone For The Rest Of My Life? is not a sexy title, but it sounds more frightening than those generic thrillers at your local cineplex.

Crazy Cat Lady or a Perverted Misanthrope?

Sara Maitland, author of How to Be Alone (The School of Life) told the Sydney Morning Herald, “Look at the language we use. ‘Loner’ used to mean ‘heroic adventurer’ – the Lone Ranger for instance – now it means ‘dangerous weirdo’ and very probably ‘sexual predator’ … Office culture favours the team and the open plan office. Not having a partner is seen as a tragedy.” Kate Bolick, author of troll-baiting article All the Single Ladies adds “What are our ideas about single people? Perverted misanthropes, crazy cat ladies, dating-obsessed shoe shoppers, etc.—all of them some form of terribly lonely.”

Despite the fact that the single adult population has climbed from 33% in 1950 to 50% in 2010, and seems likely to climb higher, single people (women especially) are frequently asked to defend their “abnormal” status. They may even go out of their way to stress that being alone is their choice, not their circumstance. Are they being overly anxious and neurotic? Or do they suspect that people can’t tell the difference between being alone and being lonely?

Alone, Lonely, or Lovelorn (Yeah, they’re not interchangeable)

“Admitting you are lonely is like holding a big L up on your forehead,” says University of Chicago social neuroscientist and author John T. Cacioppo.

Loneliness can be twice as deadly as obesity, and I think we all know how Americans feel about being fat.

Can being alone evoke loneliness? Absolutely. But it’s not an inevitable slide. Feeling lonely is akin to thinking “I don’t matter”, and that can happen no matter how many people are around. We can find a lot of joy in solitude, especially when we’re expected to be on the grid constantly, and thus without excuses for delayed replies to texts and emails. Also consider that making “being alone” a core problem also makes “being part of a couple” seem like an easy solution to too many individual issues.

So, if I’d rather spend the weekend by myself, please DO NOT BE ALARMED.

But if you know I’m zoning out to a Tori Spelling performance on Lifetime (or anything really), then you absolutely have permission to break down my door.


The Spank Heard Round the World

The Spank heard round the world

Last week’s events in Baltimore really hit close to home for me. Why? Because I live in Baltimore, born and raised, left for a little while only to return when life beat my ass a little. Monette is also from Baltimore County, now residing in sunny California. So the violent death of Freddie Gray, and the protest followed by the eruption of riots is something that has resonated strongly with us.

Hero Mom?

A pivotal moment in last week’s events came when teens came together and proceeded to throw rocks at cops. Television crews got an eye-full when Toya Graham beat her son to get him to stop participating in fighting against the police. The video went viral and she was later hailed as a “hero mom” by the media and invited to do the talk show circuit.

Picture of “hero mom”, battered and perturbed son, with Anderson Cooper.

After the clip made its way around the 24 hour media circus, there were two clear factions that arose: those that see her as a good mom who is looking out for her son, and those that see her as a bad mom who is keeping her son from being on the right side of history. I had a talk with my mother about this and she saw the woman as a hero, I did not agree. Bastardizing the Who, the kids aren’t alright especially in places like Baltimore. Who are we to stop them from fighting against an oppressive system?

A total 180

While fighting oppression is one thing, sheer hypocrisy is another: The media hailing Toya Graham a hero is laughable. By all accounts, she is everything that they mock and hate, a single mother with six children, no job, living off the government. If at any other time had she smacked her son around and the act had been caught on camera, she would have been promptly arrested and Child Protective Services (CPS) would have snatched the other five away from her with a quickness.




‘Merican Girl Dolls

Stale Cake: 'Merican Girl Dolls comic

‘Merican Girl Dolls


I recently had the (dis)pleasure of accompanying my daughter to a birthday party at the American Girl doll store. While I know this trip was paradise for my daughter, it was like the 9th circle of Dante’s Inferno for me.

Tons of little girls and parents crowded the store. Most of the girls were bringing dolls they already owned, taking them to get their hair done. The American Girl Doll salon charges you an obscene price to do a very limited set of styles on your dolls. Then after roaming the store for about an hour, trying desperately to keep the girls together and getting hustled out of $88 (for two items!) it was finally time for dinner. We were treated to the creepy visage of the American Girl dolls sitting at the table with us, each served in her own coaster and tea cup. Dinner itself was okay, you are obviously not going to give the doll food.

‘Merican Girl Dolls and their diversity problem

As I walked around the store with my daughter and her friends, it was not hard to see that there is a lack of diversity amongst the dolls. I only have to think back to when I bought one for my daughter and I had to choose between the scant options when creating an African American doll. I could not find a black doll that mimicked my daughters skin and hair, so I ended up getting her one that honestly look nothing like her.

One time a man in the store asked me for help in searching for an American Girl doll for his niece. The niece already had Addy, a black American Girl doll, so we looked for Cécile, the other black one. After a fruitless search for Cécile, we sought help. Here is what the store clerk told us.

Store Clerk: “Oh Cécile, sorry, we discontinued her. We got rid of all the ethnic best friend dolls and diversity matters very little to us. Have a great sunshiny day!”

OK, so the clerk didn’t really say this, but this it what it felt like she was saying. It is easy to imagine the clerk being bitter after hearing this writer’s story about her job at FAO Schwartz as a toy demonstrator adopting Lee Middleton baby dolls.

Ethnic Best Friends

And yes, much like the sassy black friend trope, these ethnic dolls were only available when paired with their white best friends.

From ABC News: “Cécile and Marie-Grace, an African-American and a Caucasian, respectively, and described as having formed “an unlikely bond in their hometown of New Orleans” in the 1800s, were presented as a pair. The Asian-American, Ivy, was the sidekick to Julie, a blond-haired doll from the 1970s. The also-retired Ruthie, a dark-haired doll, was the sidekick to the blond Kit Kittredge, both from the Great Depression-era.”

Needless to say I was a bit bummed and so was the gentleman who ended up purchasing Kaya, the Native American Doll. In addition to Cécile there is no longer an Asian doll. There was only one Asian doll on the historical doll roster, even less than the two Black dolls. We weren’t the only ones disappointed about these dolls being wiped from the roster. To read more about the controversy surrounding the discontinuation decision click here:–abc-news-topstories.html.

American Girl Dolls reasoned that they got rid of these ethnic best friend dolls to clear the way for a new line this fall. Let’s hope they have better luck with creating a non-offensive Asian doll than the doll makers in this SNL bit:

Just one more game

Stale Cake: Just One More Game comic

Just one more Game

Gamification or bust!?!

I used to play online games. You know the silly ones that you get those insufferable Facebook invites to play. At first it was fun, a simple diversion. Then it became a problem. My game of choice was Mafia Wars. It was a relatively simple game where you would collect properties, put hits on people and do jobs to gain money and position. I used to love this game. I would login, think “Just one more game” and play everyday (because if you didn’t you would lose your fake momentum). I knew I had hit rock bottom when I began waking up in the middle of the night thinking of logging on to the game to make sure no one had put a hit on me, or had tried to take my territories. I was obsessed. One day it hit me. I was waking up in the middle of the night to protect fake money when my real money wasn’t always straight, this was a problem.

My solution was to quit cold turkey. When I realized that my online game life was interfering with my real live I knew it was time to turn away and get my life together. I am happy to report that since that day I have never looked back. I stopped playing mafia wars and to this day when I get game request I pretend that I don’t see them and turn off related notifications.

But I was lucky. I hadn’t spent real money on virtual mafia outfits a la “Kim Karsashian: Hollywood” – a free game that pulls in $700,000 a day.

In fact, I was truly lucky. Every so often you come across a story that shows the ultimate darkness that game addiction can cause. This article details the second death of a young (we’ll say 30-something is young) online gamer this year.

While I do think that death is the ultimate price of online game addiction, there have been other horror stories that have shaped my thoughts that too much online gaming can definitely be a bad thing. As a parent I was horrified when I heard the story of parents that neglected their living, breathing, biological child in favor or raising their virtual child.

It’s horrifying because you wonder how this type of disconnect happens. What makes someone value a virtual life over a real, living, breathing one?

I am not sure that we will ever stop hearing about stories in which people are consumed by their online personas and lives. I just hope that once in a while everyone remembers to unplug.

Mummification Spanx

Mummification Spanx

Leave a good looking corpse behind?

There is a saying that extols the benefits of dying young because it leaves behind a quality corpse. Why is it so hard to just age gracefully in our society? Why are we so often bombarded with messages that tell us that it is not okay to get old and our youth and beauty have to be maintained at all cost? Have you ever looked in a fashion magazine? You’ll find articles, ads, and pictorials about how to stay young, to not age, to fight aging, like it’s something that you can fight. Just by the virtue of living and breathing air everyday prompts the body to age. So why fight something that we all must do? Wouldn’t it be healthier to embrace it?

Waist not, Want not.

In a fight to stop the battle of the bulge some women are going to absurd lengths to stay or at least appear thinner. It seems that some people have decided that it makes sense to reach back to torture devices of a bygone era to feed this illusion. There has been a resurgence in using corsets to slim down, now being called waist training. This article talks a little bit about celebrities that are choosing waist training and some of its alleged benefits.

As a form of acceptance or as part of a trend, some women are really embracing the idea of going gray. For years it has been a given that as we age and our hair goes gray that we should reach for the dye bottle to cover our locs and keep the illusion of our youthful looks (this is a trend that I have embraced). However, I have been seeing articles and more about women that are embracing gray hair, sometimes even dying it gray.

(An aside: is it grey or gray hair? Why is this spelled two different ways? Does anyone know? This feels a little like the dress debacle of a few days back.)

Just Like my Mummy

If you are obsessed with the idea of making sure you are fabulous in the after-life you may want to take a page from the ancient Egyptians who specialized in leaving behind a well-maintained corpse. If grey/gray hair can come back in style so can mummification. If you are thinking about mummification, here are the steps to achieve the look:

Steps for Mummification:

This is the step-by-step process* of how mummification took place:

  1. Pull brain out of nose using a hook
  2. Make a cut on the left side of the body near the tummy
  3. Remove all internal organs
  4. Let the internal organs dry
  5. Place the lungs, intestines, stomach and liver inside canopic jars
  6. Place the heart back inside the body
  7. Rinse inside of body with wine and spices
  8. Cover the corpse with natron (salt) for 70 days
  9. After 40 days stuff the body with linen or sand to give it a more human shape
  10. After the 70 days wrap the body from head to toe in bandages
  11. Place in a sarcophagus (a type of box like a coffin)

More information on mummification

Customer Diss-Service

Stale Cake: Customer Diss-Service comic

Customer Diss-Service

Why do they call it customer service?

If anything, if they were being totally truthful shouldn’t it really be called customer diss-service? So many companies will tell you that their mission is to serve the customer. The customer is the way and the light and they will do whatever it takes to make their customers happy, right? If that is the case, why are so many companies claiming to “love their customers” so damn bad at customer service?

Talking to more people on one phone call then you talk to all week

Customer service in person can be fraught with its own issues but it seems that dealing with issues over the phone is overwhelming and a shared bad experience for many. When you call you are usually asked to give secure information, first by punching it into your phone’s keypad. So after you have done all this why do you usually you have to say everything that you punched in to a person all over again? To add insult to injury, if the first person you speak to cannot resolve your issue, you will fall down a seemingly never ending rabbit hole of customer service reps asking for the same information while your frustration builds. I am surprised that you don’t hear more stories of people finding the address of call centers and trying to take them out with rocket launchers. Probably because it’s not that easy as most companies cobble together various domestic and international customer service agents to give you a confusing, frustrating and inept customer service experience.

Ten Commandment of Customer Service

The following are the Ten Commandments of customer service: (taken and abridged from

  1. Know who is boss.
  2. Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying.
  3. Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don’t buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems.
  4. Make customers feel important and appreciated.
  5. Help customers understand your systems.
  6. Appreciate the power of “Yes”. Always look for ways to help your customers.
  7. Know how to apologize.
  8. Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition.
  9. Get regular feedback. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve.
  10. Treat employees well. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation.

I have yet to find one company that abides by these fully, have you?

The Best at the Worst

Comcast, or as it was recently named “The Worst Company In America”, is legend in it’s horrid customer service practices.

Comcast recently stepped up their rudeness when service reps decided it would be a good thing to rename their customers. One customer received his bill addressed to Asshole Brown and more recently Mary Bauer was renamed by Comcast as “Super Bitch” on her monthly statement.


Stale Cake: Customer Diss-Service comic


Pain Don’t Hurt

Stale Cake: Pain Don't Hurt

Pain don’t hurt

Health in the time of Internet?

Recently, I had a bit of a health scare. As I become more brittle in my old age I find that I have the ability to hurt myself doing the most simple, mundane tasks. Now, just bending down to pick something up can be an adventure, I am not always sure I will be able to get back up.

A few weeks ago I was doing something that I normally do, walking. I stepped down and felt a twinge in my knee. I thought nothing of it and continued on my way. A week later my knee had swollen to the size of a grapefruit and I could barely stand on it without pain. After stealthily applying the PRICE method I took to the internet to see what could be wrong with my knee. After looking at medical websites I concluded that I had:

  • torn my ACL
  • torn my PCL
  • broken my femur
  • acquired knee gangrene
  • developed rickets

Needless to say I was freaking out. I thought I was going to have to get surgery on my knee. Finally, I went to the doctor to find out that I had dislocated my kneecap. While this is painful it apparently is not uncommon, especially in women because of how our legs and knees can be aligned. I was prescribed some anti-inflammatories, four weeks of PT (which I had to skip – thanks High Deductible Health Plan!), a knee brace; and sent on my merry way.

Having the internet is a nifty tool, but with so much information to process sometimes we can use that information to our detriment. In addition to sites like WebMD that can help you self-diagnose what ails you, the question becomes: Even though we can doctor ourselves, should we?

Calling all hypochondriacs!

Need a sick-day excuse? Here are a couple of surefire ways to get the WebMD Symptom Checker to tell you to go to the hospital:

  • your [insert body part here – stop it, you perv!] is throbbing
  • you make wheezing sounds when you cough

We are not hypochondriacs, so we have not entered every possible symptom to try to get this alert box. Have a new one? Let us know and we’ll add it here!

Pain don’t hurt

  • torn my meniscus

Yes, it does, Patrick Swayze. It surely does! Note: This is Monette’s least favorite movie quote of all time! It’s easy to see why.