Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Isn't it Ironic, Part II

So my friend Heidi tipped me off to the following, which suits my purpose much better than the essay below and makes me blush a little at having declared some items ironic in the last post that were not actually ironic. Irony really is something you just sense, rather than know, and all the improved situations down there are truly ironic. I love it. And you, Patrick Cassels.

Lines From Alanis Morissette's "Ironic," Modified to Actually Make them Ironic

by Patrick Cassels December 26, 2006

An old man turned ninety-eight. He won the lottery and died the next day... of chronic emphysema from inhalation of the latex particles scratched off decades' worth of lottery tickets.

A black fly in your Chardonnay... poured to celebrate the successful fumigation of your recently purchased vineyard in southern France.

A death row pardon two minutes too late... because the governor was too busy watching Dead Man Walking to grant clemency any earlier.

Rain on your wedding day... to Ra, the Egyptian sun-god.

A free ride when you've already paid... all of your money to the good-natured cab driver when you mistook him for a mugger.

The good advice that you just didn't take... after reading Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking and resolving that the key to success is making your own decisions.

Mr. Play-it-Safe was afraid to fly. He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye. He waited his whole damn life to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down, he thought, Well isn't this nice... now I'll never make it to the National Association of Aviophobics conference in Reno, NV.

A traffic jam when you're already late... to receive an award from the Municipal Planning Board for reducing the city's automobile congestion 80 percent.

A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break... at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco corporate offices in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife... with which to kill your spouse for sleeping with the young soup chef who works at the Au Bon Pain.

Meeting the man of my dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife... who happens to be the psychiatrist I recently hired in hopes of improving my luck with the opposite sex.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Isn't it ironic?

"Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything's okay and everything's going right. And life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything's gone wrong."
- Alanis Morisette, "Ironic"

My 11th-grade Honors English teacher opened class discussion one day with a question: "What is irony?"

A blond girl sitting on the front row immediately shot her hand into the air. "It's, like, you know, rain on your wedding day," the girl said. "It's, like, you know, something not good that you didn't really expect." The teacher, in response, paused just a little too long, blinked several times, made a non-committal murmur, and called on someone else: a boy on the back row with a reputation of reading during his free time.

I write this not to be critical of my classmate: irony is a difficult thing to articulate, but rather, I would like to take this opportunity to criticize the source of the girl's confusion: the song "Ironic," by Alanis Morisette. Thanks to "Ironic," a generation of pop-culture consumers have now concluded that ironic and surprisingly unfortunate are synonyms. Given my eleventh-grade classmate's definition of irony, as based on what she had learned listening by to Jagged Little Pill on continuous repeat for weeks on end, the following things could be considered ironic: Tornadoes. Tipping over a glass of milk. A flat tire. Drive-by shootings. Saran wrap stretched over the toilet bowl. Stubbing your toe. Diarrhea.

I love Alanis. Don't get me wrong. If it weren't for the song "You Outta Know" I may not have made it alive out of a devastating breakup at age 19. I was more than a little bummed when Alanis found inner peace and happiness and stopped producing her satisfyingly angst-laden albums. But every time I hear the song "Ironic" playing on the radio, I have the urge to reach in through the speakers and give the woman a good shaking. The worst thing about "Ironic" is that some of the situations described in the song are ironic and others are not. Were she even simply consistently wrong about irony, it might be easier to cast aside the whole song as a bunch of literarily incorrect nonsense-- but because the song contains some bonafide ironic moments, listeners get all confused and start thinking it's all irony, which, as I will show below, it is not.

So let me make this clear: Rain on one's wedding day is not necessarily ironic, neither is good advice that you just didn't take, nor is a free ride when you've already paid. And because I am an excessively nerdy person, and to help clear up any 1990s-induced confusion that might still be lingering in my own mind and among the minds of you, my faithful readers, I have analyzed each situation laid out in the song and assessed it for ironic content. So, without further ado, I will lay before you the fruits of my inner strangeness.

1) An old man turned 98. He won the lottery, and died the next day. My assessment: unfortunate, but not ironic. Ironic if the old man had spent his whole life saying, "When I win the lottery, I'll do this and this and this and be happy, but until then, I'll just plug along in my own meaningless, boring cesspool of a life." And he finally won the lottery-- but by then it was too late to redeem the wasted moments, days, and years that he had passed waiting for blind luck to change his fortune.

2) Rain on your wedding day. Unfortunate, but not ironic. Unless, perhaps, you (the person getting married) are a haughty meteorologist who predicted a sunny day.

3) A free ride when you've already paid. Unfortunate. Irony might be introduced into the situation if there had been some struggle preceding the payment for a ride, a pride conflict that ended with someone finally submitting that they were wrong, there were no free rides, and laying down the payment, only to have a free ride arrive just moments later.

4) A black fly in your chardonnay. Gross. Ironic if someone has just finished lecturing about the cleanliness of the establishment at which the chardonnay was served.

5) A death row pardon two minutes too late. Ding, ding, ding! Irony.

6) Mr. Play-it-Safe was afraid to fly. He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye. He waited his whole damn life just to take this flight and as the plane crashed down, he thought, "Well, isn't this nice." This one is my favorite. Not only because the situation is ironic but also because of the verbal irony inserted at the end.

7) A traffic jam when you're already late. Frustrating, but not ironic. Unless you're the engineer who planned the traffic lights.

8) A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break. Ironic!

9) Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. Ironic!

10) Meeting the man of my dreams...and then meeting his beautiful wife. Oh, the irony.

So what is irony? I'll tell you: I don't know. Like romance, irony is difficult to describe and will be defined differently by different people. I could be wrong in my assessments of the irony in the above-described circumstances. But just as there are some things that are decidedly unromantic (farting), there are some things that are decidedly not ironic (rain on one's wedding day)-- and I have taken it upon myself to stop people from calling farts romantic and rain ironic.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Liam Update: April 2010

Liam, as you all know, has finally launched himself into the world of mobility. He is relatively laid-back about his movements, however-- even though he can drag himself anywhere his whimsy draws him, I don't feel that everything in the home is in danger of either being utterly destroyed by (or utterly destroying) my new little quadruped. Here's a little of what's been going on with our little angelito.

Here he is, grinning at Daddy from his walker in the kitchen. He loves his daddy; in fact, I'm pretty sure that when he says "dad" he knows that it signifies the nice man who takes care of him in mommy's absence.

Examining the camera lens. Liam is very scientific in his approach to life, cautiously exploring everything he encounters. He spent a lot of time playing with the shadow of his hand in a sunbeam one morning. He loves to try things over and over again: "If I do this, what will happen? Will it happen again?" He likes to do this with Soren, who freaks out and screams every time Liam touches him. One morning I was holding both my boys in my lap and Liam reached over and very softly touched Soren's arm. "OUCH!" screamed Soren. Liam laughed, then did it again. "OUCH!!" Liam laughed some more, then tried touching him a little more firmly. Soren started wailing, so Liam, still amused, started touching him more. It was all I could do to keep from laughing myself.

Smiling at Mommy's fascinating rending of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." Liam loves being sung to and really loves watching dancing. Auntie Hillary tells me that he laughs and laughs when she belly dances for him in the kitchen.

Engaging in some sort of exciting game with Daddy's weighted medicine balls. Here's another funny Soren/Liam story: Liam and Soren were playing with blocks together in the front room. The adults of the household were enjoying this rare moment of brotherly peace, so we were in the kitchen eating dinner. Soren ran in to make sure I was still there, and after a few minutes, I told him we should go check on Liam. Liam, in Soren's absence, had crawled over to Soren's toy train and was examining it. When he looked up and saw Soren, however, he startled-- and started to grab at another nearby toy. I could practically hear him saying, "I wasn't playing with your toy! No siree! Not me! I was just sitting here looking at this....um...at this here block! Yup! That's what I was doing all the while!"

All that drag-crawling is exhausting!

Liam has a fantastic fake cheesy grin.

I always put Liam in bed with daddy before I leave for work in the morning. Liam LOVES having a grown-up to cuddle with at sleepy time.

Enjoying a piece of Soren's "Diego" puzzle.

Getting a leg up on his crawling skills. (Heh heh.)

Liam's been big on throwing stuff lately. Anything within reach, he'll pick up and hurl, like the Duplos above.

Liam is a quirky little guy. He can whistle a little. He also enjoys rocking himself back and forth vigorously, shaking his head compulsively, and thoroughly examining the carpet. We've been able to get him to eat a little more solid food throughout the past month, but it's scary to give him anything too chunky because he'll put a bite of food in his mouth and then start rocking hard against his high chair. He was doing this one evening and I asked him, "Liam? Do you WANT to choke on that?" Liam paused, looked at me, blinked three times, and then returned to hurling himself against the hard plastic seat back.

Liam is still our little sunbeam. He has a light in his eyes that literally shines. He is a marvelously sweet and calm child-- except at night when he wakes up instantly furious that a bottle hasn't already been brought to him. He'll scream with all the fervor of his being until the sweet liquid refreshment has been put to his lips. In just minutes, his little face will have grown splotchy from the exertion of all that screaming, but he'll be able to shut off his rage instantly after his bottle has been brought to him.

Liam's best friend, Bahbah. I finally weaned him this month. so he's really taken a shine to his bottle.

Hypnotizin' Those Babies

So even if all that prenatal Hypnobabies practice didn't help me have a drug-free delivery, it seems to have made an impact on Liam. Look at him working that hypnotizin' groove on his pappy.

My Birthday Present from Liam

On the evening of my birthday (it was very lovely, thank you), Abraham and I were playing "Pass the Pigs" on a book of nursery rhymes on the living room floor. Liam really, really wanted to get his chubby little paws on those chubby little pigs, and it ultimately turned into his first official crawling experience.

Also, I cannot believe how long it takes to upload videos. Gee Willakers.


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