Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dear Ms. Kerry Vincent: It's Not You. (It's Not Me, Either.)

I find it impossible to believe that my post below has in any way hurt your feelings.

I find it even more impossible to believe that you've read it.

Regardless: I'm a bit taken aback by the fury the post has wrought, especially because the character you play on television IS that of a stern judge who many contestants DO seem to fear. Your role IS to be mean. And, your hairstyle is befitting your character: it IS tight and tidy and old-fashioned. It is NOT flattering, nor is it meant to be.

I have not said these things to be cruel. I have issued no attacks on you personally. I am not petitioning Food Network to stop you and your evil ways. I just don't, um, get it?

I don't happen to enjoy the "mean judge" character (or her hairstyle), nor do I understand its necessity. But there are obviously many aspects of the entire competition I don't understand. This is also not cruel to state, ESPECIALLY since my judgment is that of someone who wears pink Crocs and watches Mr. T infomercials.

So, to all the angry fans who are like, "WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?" I restate: I'm someone who wears pink Crocs and watches Mr. T infomercials.

Now, it is quite obvious from the folks who have commented below that YOU are nothing like your "mean judge" character in real life. You are kind and giving and thoughtful and you do great charity work and you smile all the time. All of this is wonderful to hear.

But my post has nothing to do with who you are in real life. (I don't know who Mr. T is in real life, either. I sincerely doubt he actually likes the FlavorWave THAT much.) And anyway, the WONDERFUL person you are off-air doesn't change who you portray on on-air. Nor does it change how I feel about who you portray on television.

Right? I mean, please tell me that you know the difference between my poking fun at the show and your character on the show and my making any personal attacks on you. Which I absolutely did not do.

(You must know that my suggestion about showing up for work drunk and topless was intended as a compliment. Hello? DREAM JOB.)

Meanwhile, I feel I should point out that your fans do NOT seem to understand the difference between you on tv, you in real life, or what on earth this blog is about. Not only have your fans taken personal offense to my characterization of your television persona -- even though it's accurate -- they have also personally attacked me. They've accused me of being unaware of "the real you" without having taken a moment to read about who I am or what I blog about. I've not made a single personal statement about your character, but I have been called an asshole, stupid, ignorant...there was even the one guy who wrote, "I hope her husband reads this and comes looking for you!"

So, here's the thing.

If your friends and fans want the world to see you as the kind, generous, charitable, fun-loving, sweet, and beautiful woman you are, then I would recommend you cease portraying the opposite on television.

Barring that, I would recommend that they learn to understand the difference between your on-air persona (mean, hairband) and off-air persona (not mean, nice hair) AND recognize those of us who are capable of making that distinction.

Further, if you wanted to petition The Food Network to do a show about "Kerry At Home" I would be happy to lead the charge. I'd TOTALLY watch a show about what Kerry Vincent does when she lets her hair down.

As it were.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Ugliest Hair On Television

Updated at 10 p.m. on 3/26/11:

WAIT! If you have just arrived here for the sole purpose of yelling at me and telling me how horrible I am and how wretched my post is, please read this first:
  1. This is a HUMOROUS blog. I spend about 99% of the time making fun of people who are ME. That is because I confidently embrace self-deprecating humor, which I occasionally spread to other folks who are probably also totally capable of handling it, a la Ms. Vincent and her hairband.
  2. ANY post that uses Jerseylicious and Mr. T Infomercials as a source of reference does not deserve your anger. It is misplaced.
  3. That would be like prefacing a post about a celebrity's fashion failings by showing you pictures of my bright pink Crocs. I have absolutely NO BUSINESS writing about fashion. OR reality television. That is the whole point.
  4. Still, cakes shouldn't be plugged in.
  5. I am not a cake hater. I WORSHIP cake. And not only do I not hate cake, I don't hate people who make cakes, or people who judge people who make cakes. I KNOW I do not have amazing cake-making skills and I do find them impressive and creative and artful. I don't get why you would make a cake into Marge Simpson, and I don't get why you have to have an artificially stern judge be all mean about frosting, but that's not the same as hating.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let's move away, now, from the controversial parenting topic of pancakes to the topic of fugly, fugly hair.

I don't like to be outright snarky on my blog, but sometimes? Sometimes I have no other choice. This particular matter has bothered me for some time, and bad hair is only about half of it.

Naturally, I'm talking about The Food Network Challenge and its terrifying judge with her terrifying hair.

She has never smiled like this on television.

I do not understand.

Now, let me put this in the right context. Not only do I generally LOVE reality cooking competition shows, I fully embrace a lot of pop culture stuff I can neither explain nor justify. Case in point: My outright obsession with Jerseylicious.

See also:

Jersey Shore...

Britney Spears...

glitter nailpolish...

and infomercials...

(especially those starring Mr. T).

But the Food Network Challenges that revolve around competitive cake-making absolutely baffle me. I just don't get it, not even a little bit.

 Is that a CHISEL?

Maybe the other shows have spoiled me, but shouldn't a competition about cake be about whose cake tastes the best? And okay, sure. If you want to add a category for whose cake looks the best, i.e., the most appetizing and pretty, go ahead. I get that. That makes sense.

And sometimes, that's what the Food Network Challenge involves. 


But a competition about whose cake looks the most like a Disney character? Or which cake is the most functional? That's not what a cake is supposed to be. A cake doesn't need to spin or smoke or move in any way. It''s CAKE.

Please don't misunderstand me: I think the cake-sculpture people on these shows are amazingly talented and creative and I couldn't do what they do in a hundred years. But why CAKE? Why not take your amazing sculpting abilities and make things that aren't frosted?

I mean, if pressed, I get the whole Ace of Cakes thing some of the time. I get making grand cakes for grand occasions. Sure.

But a cake competition where how the cake tastes is barely a consideration just makes no sense to me at all. I don't want to have to plug in a cake. You know?

[for some reason I seem unable to find photographic evidence of a mechanical or plug-in cake;
it's as if they KNOW and are embarrassed...]


The first time I discovered this world of competitive mechanical cake-making existed, I stared squinting at the screen for quite a while. "I DON'T GET THIS AT ALL" I announced probably 700 times.

And then we met the judges. And that's when my bafflement shifted to full-on WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE TELEVISION? mode.

Because while these poor, exhausted, stressed-out competitors (are they bakers? pastry chefs? artists? sculptors?) are up against the most nonsensical odds for a cash prize of $10,000...

...the judges are mean. Or at least, this one judge is mean.

Her name is Kerry Vincent. And it seems like it's her entire schtick to be stern and angry and condescending and judgey-judge, and that makes even less sense to me than the competition itself.

Lady. You may have tremendous credentials, but you are judging the depth of frosting on a SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS CAKE. I'm pretty sure this means you're allowed to show up at your job drunk and topless.

Stern is ridiculous.

And but back to my original original point.

Her hair. What is going on with her combed-down, sprayed-into-submission, headband-from-1987 hair? I mean, yeah: I recognize that her look has become her trademark -- she is the stern judge with the over-tight headband -- but that doesn't make her popular, or marketable, or appealing in any way. It makes her the scary-for-no-reason judge with no fashion sense, who has a weird job on a weird show.

Nope. I don't get it.

Do you?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

On Chocolate-Chip Pancakes And Eve's Eating Disorders

As with every other parenting path, when it comes to "food," there's no one way that's right. Of THAT? I'm sure. But that's about the only thing.

So the question is: After spending a lifetime trying to figure out my own Relationship With Food (and even that phrase makes me roll my eyes), how do I best prepare Eve to not even have to think about hers?
Eve is holding the pancake to her ear, answering it like a phone.
Answering your food is not a classifiable eating disorder.

Someone commented on one of my recent posts thusly:
I don't want to make you feel bad and I'm sorry if this is an unwanted comment...But at some point this year I saw a picture of Eve eating chocolate chip pancakes at home. Are you okay with passing that same sweet tooth along to her? I am an overweight mama, too, and I'm trying to avoid sugar with my 14-month old, because I don't want him to want something I know isn't good for him. In a few years, I'll have to deal with McDonalds and birthday cakes (which he'll have, I know) but while he's a baby, I'm keeping him on whole foods. My 2 cents. Sorry to be a pain.

While I know that this remark was kindly meant, it upsets me for precisely the same reason the trip to the nutritionist upset me.

As a totally different commenter wrote:
I think that your (understandable) reaction to this nutritionist and her "song and dance" could also come from a lifetime of dealing with all of the stress, worry and unfounded guilt that comes with struggling with maintaining a healthy weight. After all, isn't that struggle what actually started this blog? And, aren't you still mightily fighting the good fight with regard to your weight? I would have totally been hurting having to hear this ridiculous oversimplified approach as though you did not grasp the concept of healthy diet/eating--when in fact, you've spent a lifetime learning all there is to learn about this topic. I am sorry this happened, and wish you the best of health!

The second commenter is right, of course. I think about everything I ever put into my mouth. Always have, always will. To be clear: When I went hog-wild with the sugar this pregnancy, it wasn't with ignorance or thoughtlessness. It was with deeply considered abandon. I CAN DO THIS IF I WANT TO, I'd tell myself before tearing off the head of another unsuspecting Sour Patch Kid or 193.

It's no different with Eve. I think deeply about anything and everything she eats.

Eve also appears to be in deep thought about her breakfast.
That it's smeared across her face is clearly of no consequence.

I was raised with very mixed messages about food. My mom did her ever-loving best to try to make sugary foods seem unimpressive and uninteresting, to complete failure. All that did was make me feel like eating "bad" stuff was "bad."

And while yes, she tried to get us to eat vegetables -- oh, how she tired -- I wanted nothing to do with them. (In my defense? There is nothing good about green beans from a can.)

ALL of this preamble is to say: there are two things I'm working on with Eve.

1. I don't want my daughter to fear food.
I don't want her mixing up fear or guilt or a sense of "wrong" with eating, whatever the food may be. Food Shame surfaces in all kinds of eating disorders, from the most mild to most severe. Usually along the lines of It's bad but I want it anyway, which means *I* must be bad.... Or some variation thereof.

My personal version of Food Shame is almost comical. I don't like being told what to do or how to feel, so it's almost as if I approach eating a good, big, rich meal like a cowgirl with a chip on my shoulder: Go ahead, TRY to make me feel bad about eating you! And then when I don't feel bad, it's like I've overcome something. I don't hate myself, I don't hate the way I feel. I win!

(And while no, I don't relish being overweight in any way, getting motivated to lose weight is hard when eating whatever I want is actually emotionally rewarding.)

I want to do my best to avoid assigning "bad" and "guilt" feelings to food.

To be clear, though, I do NOT want to try to neutralize food having any emotional value. I know some parents who try very hard to make food a non-issue altogether. I get that, I just don't live it and don't want to pretend to. I love eating, I think food is a wonderful, enjoyable part of life.

It's not the enemy.

Who said this was bad???

2. I want Eve to be exposed to as much healthy food as possible.
Like most of the kids I knew, I was raised on very basic, very bland, very processed foods. I loved McDonald's and I loved Skippy Peanut Butter & Welch's Grape Jelly sandwiches on white Wonder Bread. We ate casseroles. We ate meat and potatoes. We believed that Fruit Roll-Ups and Kudos granola bars were healthy snacks. We gagged at being fed vegetables. We ate all kinds of meals borne of the freezer aisle.

I was a teenager before I tried salsa.

I didn't know how limited my palate was. I didn't know how limited my exposure was. And I mostly didn't care. Food was a pit of emotional confusion and losing weight meant eating even less of it. I didn't want to learn how to cook it. Why would I?

But then a few things happened. America started growing more sophisticated. At the same time I was becoming an adult, the Food Network came into being, grocery stores changed, "foodies" were appearing everywhere...and I moved to San Francisco and started dating a vegetarian.

My entire food world changed.

True story: When I arrived in California, I couldn't identify fresh garlic in a grocery store. I didn't know what it looked like.

Nearly 10 years later, I'm still learning. I've greatly expanded my palate and preferences, but I'm still missing some basics and sometimes even basic recipes will trip me up. My knife skills are laughable. But I make good food, when I get the urge to try.

This means, though, that I find it critically important to get Eve to try everything. She doesn't have to like it, but she should know what fresh, whole, delicious foods taste like. She gets tons of fresh fruit and veggies and meats and cheeses and beans. She loves Indian food and Thai curries. She happily eats pesto and hominy and salmon and grapefruit. (She does not like eggs.)

She also loves french fries -- although given a choice, she prefers sweet potato fries dusted in chili powder to the regular kind.

And yes, I get it. I know there is basically no reason for me to give a toddler french fries, especially if she's happy eating non-fried foods in the same setting. Except in my head, there is: I consider it a total win if she gets that the fried foods exist and are tasty, but they're really just a component of a meal that has many other delicious (and healthy) things to offer.

That's a skill I still haven't mastered.

* * * * * * * * * *

A few weeks ago, on a whim, Ish and I decided to grab brunch after running some errands with Eve. We stopped in at a local place. Their special children's menu item that day was chocolate-chip pancakes, and I ordered them hastily.

At that brunch, Eve ate bits of raisins, melon, oranges, ham, cottage cheese, potatoes, toast, water, juice, and milk in addition to the pancake. I don't know what food she liked the best, but I know what food was the messiest and most fun to eat.

So to answer the original commenter: I didn't order the pancakes because I want to pass on my eating habits to my daughter. I ordered them because I don't.

Will you stop blogging now so I can eat in peace?

    Sunday, March 06, 2011

    Devastated. Emotional.

    Disqus did not *delete* all of my comments, it simply did not import them. The comments still live on Blogger. I am reinstalling now. And yes, in the meantime I have backed everything up

    GIANT thank-you to Lindsay, whose name is now in the running for our son because I owe him at least that much, right?.

    Much appreciation to Disqus as well, both for not actually deleting my comments and for replying to my crazy-lady Tweets on a Sunday.

    After six years of writing this blog, I decided not to move to WordPress. I figured that I know and love Blogger and all its simplicity.

    One thing I wanted to improve, however, is the commenting function. I just want to be able to thread comments!

    So I decided to install the Discus comment system. All it takes is a quick widget install.

    I thought I was so smart.

    I followed the prompts. There was a checkbox. It asked if I want to import existing comments into Discus. I did NOT select it. I WANTED TO LEAVE ALL EXISTING COMMENTS INTACT. I wanted to use these new comments going forward ONLY.

    Six years of comments is too many to mess with.

    I clicked "next." I saved the update to Blogger. I clicked on my blog.

    All of my comments are gone.

    All of YOUR comments are gone.

    I went back to Discus and clicked "IMPORT." (I would have clicked IMPORTFORTHELOVEOFGODIMPORTIMPORTIMPORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if that had been an option.)

    And then I burst into tears.

    I cannot believe I can hit two buttons and WIPE OUT six whole years worth of comments. Is it really possible? Did I really do that? Is it that easy? Are they really gone?

    They can't be, right? They...can't?

    I joke all the time about you being my Invisible Internet Friends but it's only the "invisible internet" part that's funny. And just because it sounds funny. The reality, of course, is that you are my friends. You have been my friends for a long time, and I love you and care about you and have relied on you to help me through some of my biggest life moments.

    It's like you've been through everything with me. You can't suddenly be gone.

    I am absolutely heartbroken.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    Boy Names?

    Here's something hilarious and terrifying:

    I am due in 8 weeks. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    We have not stocked up on new baby things yet at all. We have not dusted off Eve's bassinet. We have not transferred Eve to a new sleeping arrangement so that the Butterlump can have her crib. All of the baby gear we do have is pink. Because we didn't think that one through.

    In short, if this baby came early for some reason, we would not do you say..."prepared."

    But "stuff" aside? We also do not have a name. We have definite contenders (family names, mostly, including Sammis*). But we do not have a name for sure and the last time we talked about baby names on this blog you all had fantastic ideas for girls.

    In fact, it was because of you that we came THISCLOSE to naming Eve "Finnouala."

    So I'm putting it out there to you again: What are your suggestions for baby boy names? 

    We like super traditional and old-fashioned but not super popular (see: Eve). Ish also LOVES the idea of naming him something that comes with a nickname he'd have been given in the 1950s. I guess like "Scout" or "Lumpy." (Except we are not naming our son "Lumpy." Not just because the name is LUMPY -- which should be enough -- but because Lumpy was the nickname of The Beaver's lame sidekick buddy on Leave it to Beaver, which is ridiculous when you think about it because Beaver was totally lame himself. So Lumpy is the name you give to a lame person's even lamer friend. Not cool.)

    (Apologies if "Lumpy" is a friend of yours.)

    Authors, Brits, and Celtic/Gaelic names always have appeal.

    We love the name Dashiell (Dash!), for example.

    Whereas we do not love the name "Lemuel." DID YOU HEAR ME, ISH? FOR THE LAST TIME, LEMUEL IS NOT ON THE TABLE.

    *If you do not happen to like the name Sammis, please do not feel the need to chime in and tell us so. That is the reason people don't share possible baby names with other people in the first place.