10 Things About My Nephew On His Second Birthday

Two going on old-enough-to-hotwire-your-car.

  1. As a newborn, the boy used to fall asleep to Mack The Knife, but he secretly preferred Billie Jean.
  2. His first hobby was laughing.
  3. He knew Pumped Up Kicks was a hit before anyone else did.
  4. He eats guacamole by the fistful.
  5. A big, sloppy kiss from Jack is the cutest thing that can happen to you in life. He grabs you by the ears and just goes for it. Sometimes he’ll even slip you the tongue. Continue reading

I’m Like, Baby? Baby? BABY? Nooo.

George Zimmerman, grown-ass man.

As my five-year-old niece Abby would say: It’s time to talk about things that are gurd and things that are bad.

Deciding to protect other people: gurd! Going out looking for a fight in lieu of that “protection”, bad. Apprehending an intruder: gurd, probably. But seeing someone as an “intruder” when he is not, and confronting him with lethal force?

Not gurd at all. Bad cop, no doughnut.

Massive shaken baby George Zimnmerman has attracted a lot of press lately. Continue reading

At Last, Season Five!

It’s finally here: season five of Mad Men starts on Sunday, March 25, with a two-hour season premiere. As we anticipate the return of our favorite series, Mad Men fans on Basket of Kisses are revisiting the moments that resonated with us most in she show’s first four seasons.

I joined other Basketwriters in writing a post on these moments for the video blog Press Play. Find the post here, and our Basketcase countdown of the top five Mad Men moments here.

And for goodness sake, don’t forget to watch on Sunday night, as our 17-month wait finally ends!

Consequences

Dharun Ravi at trial. File photo, AP.

It’s time again to talk about bullies.

Yesterday, a jury in New Jersey found former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi guilty of most of the 15 counts against him, including anti-gay intimidation, a hate crime. Ravi is the former roommate of the late Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after learning that Ravi was using a webcam to view his encounters with other men. Clementi was gay.

Now Ravi is a convicted felon, facing at least a few years of jail time and possibly deportation to his native India after he serves that time. When a firm nationwide policy of zero tolerance arrives for the bullies — and it now seems it will — it will probably look like this. Continue reading

Lazy, Self-Indulgent Little Girls

Real and troubled: Claire Danes as Carrie on "Homeland"

I’m about halfway through catching up on a program, Homeland, that wrapped its first season some months ago. It could not be much better: a Federal agent (Claire Danes, as Carrie Mathison) tries to exorcise her guilt over the botched intelligence of 9/11 by preventing the next big instance of domestic terrorism from occurring. She becomes convinced that a former Iraq POW, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), now returned and trying to adjust to American life, is working on carrying out such an attack. Once convinced, Carrie is not the kind of person who’s likely to change her mind.

One of the best things about Homeland is Carrie herself: an intense workaholic who is both an asset and a liability at work. Early on, we see her struggling with a medical issue, then we learn that it’s a mental issue, next that it runs in the family. Throughout, this woman is persuasive. She has a knack for convincing her colleagues that the things she believes are really happening.

Hell, she convinces us.

But Carrie’s lows are dramatic. She cusses, rants. Has alcohol-fueled impulses, sleep disturbances, crying jags. Declares that I just can’t do this anymore (never mind this is her life, her passion, all she seems to want to do). Naturally she does these things. I’m not sure you can depict a mental patient in fiction without showing them. Continue reading

An End, a Beginning

Why does the Western idea of the year end (and the next begin) in the dead of winter? I  mean, I know how cultural the thing is: Pope Gregory XIII decided on ours, in Islamic culture it’s in spring, Judaism places it in fall, and here again the Chinese have the edge on us, both in solid terms of years lived and really good origin stories. And of course North Korea passes recorded time in a very Kimilsungian way.

If we measured the year in terms of our own entry into life (birthday to birthday), that would be so American. Many already do this, if unofficially.

2011, the year I lost my Dad, got me thinking about the whole journey of life: not just how it begins but how it ends. Continue reading

Arrival

People had waited for this one. The baby would be a boy in a family of two adults and one perfect little girl, who was so excited about her brother’s arrival she’d named him “Abby’s Boy”. She also was taking on a new role in the games she played: Big Sister. If you were lucky enough, she’d gift you with this role, and be Mommy herself. “Big Sisser, it time for bed,” the little Mommy would say, and off you’d go, to five seconds of sleep on the carpet.

As for the baby, he was enjoying his time with the real Mommy. My sister had to induce: and here’s an odd thing about life, that someone else can choose your birthday for you. Obviously, someone can also choose your date of departure, but that’s much less legal, not to mention little cause for celebration.

Very early on the morning of the summer solstice, I joined my sister, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law on the trip to the hospital. On the sunlit trip through the sleeping town of Matthews, we passed under a sign strung across the street: the community theater production of “The King And I” was about to open.

It was the best morning of the year. We were all so excited. I remember looking at that sign, thinking: Shall we dance?

Honestly, I could have. Continue reading