If You’re Happy and You Know It

I don’t often air my beef with the world on here because I don’t like conflict and I’m a terrible debater… But sometimes, something comes along that I’m so passionate about, I just can’t let it go. So here it is…

If You’re Happy and You Know It.

Beloved childhood ditty. With a four-year-old and an eleven-month-old in the house, I hear this song anywhere from 27 to 612 times per day. Sometimes I wake up and realize I’d been the one singing it.

The problem I have lies in the variations of the song. I grew up singing,

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. (x2)
If you’re happy and you know it AND YOU REALLY WANT TO SHOW IT,
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

That makes sense. Like, if I was so jacked about something I started spontaneously clapping my hands? I’d be friggin happy. And I’d know it.

But then there’s the variation which, quite frankly, I hear more these days than the above version. It’s the one in which the third phrase goes,

If you’re happy and you know it THEN YOUR FACE WILL SURELY SHOW IT…

What? Why are you saying that? Sure, I’m probably smiling if I’m happy. But I thought we were talking about the clapping. Or the stomping. Or the shouting HOORAY with reckless abandon. Why are you suddenly talking about my face? It seems irrelevant! I thought the whole point of the song was to say if I’m happy and I know it I’m gonna perform said action. The face thing seems a totally unnecessary and, frankly, confusing side-note. Why not just sing,

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands… If you’re happy and you know it, HEY I NOTICED YOU’RE WEARING A RED SHIRT, If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

It seems just as fitting.

So that’s it. God, that felt good. I’ve been just stewing in that one for a while now. Four years.

Now, I believe in freedom of opinion so, quite honestly, if you do decide you prefer to add the random tidbit about the face while I belt out, you know, the continuous train of thought, I will not judge you. In fact, we can harmonize our differences.

But I feel very strongly that… how can I put this respectfully… You are wrong. And I am right.

[Tee hee, I jest.]

Das all! *simultaneously stomping hands and clapping feet*

P.S. I’m well aware of the fact that I started this post with “air my beef”. And yes, that is hilarious.

HOAR

Hello…It’s Me / The Dreaded Cereal Aisle Run-In

Riiiiiiiight…hey there…you. *good-natured shoulder punch*

Starting this blog post feels a lot like running into someone at the grocery store who texted or emailed or left you a voicemail, like, eighteen months ago:

You meant to get back to her but you didn’t. And then, when you thought of it, it made you so ill that you were such a negligent dick of a friend that you blocked it from your conscious mind until you randomly thought of it again some time later still and, for shame, you didn’t dare write/call back (surely her number has changed).

And then there she is. In the cereal aisle. Checking how many grams of sugar are in Kashi GoLean Crunch (only to be gravely disappointed). And she sees you.

First you yell “hiiiiiiiiiii” in her face, each decibel of volume somehow compensating for every minute you allowed to pass without returning her call. And because you’re acoustically and physically aggressive in awkward social situations, you throw yourself at her in some weirdly-angled embrace where you accidentally graze a boob. And then, drenched in back sweat and allowing not one God-forsaken moment of silence to enter the airspace between you, you say (yell at her while, for some socially-panicked reason, trying to pull her sleeping baby out of its stroller) something like this blog post…

I can’t remember what I even said or was doing when last we spoke (and by “we spoke” yes, I mean I sat alone in fat pants whilst my laptop seared my mommy organs). But since that time, I moved my wee family across this great nation to the Rock. I climbed back onstage for the first time in FOUR years, taking on a role where I got to projectile puke on an unsuspecting dude (which everyone knows is #18 on my bucket list).

[Not that my budding acting career has taken even a hint of a nosedive. Nay. It’s on the upswing. I don’t mean to brag but… I got some serious film and television cred while on the mainland. You may remember me from a little biopic called “Film Yet Untitled” produced by “I’m Pretty Sure a Church Group”.  As you know, it’s about the life of an Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer. I played “Mom in Childhood Scene” having a heated, silent argument with her husband while the protagonist narrates. I mean, it’s no big deal; don’t, like, look at me differently. It’s still me. I promised myself I wouldn’t let my film career change me, so… See you in the Actors Studio, as they say. *pretentious guffaw*.

Oh and then there was that lead role I had. A commercial for a furniture company. Well, not so much a “commercial” as an “employee training video” but still. Wow. Met some big names that day. Mostly the store owner – his surname was super long, I have no idea how you would pronounce it. Nice guy. 

Ok ok I’ll stop, no one likes a braggart. And because that’s all I’ve done.]

I also made life way harder for myself by giving up eating anything that was once alive and probably adorable. This was not a planned decision. It was forced upon me by my sister’s Facebook suggestion to dad to watch Hungry for Change. It spiralled from there because Netflix is so GD helpful in its suggestions.

You watched Hungry for Change? You might also like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. You watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead? You might also like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead II. You watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead II? You might also like Vegucated. You watched Vegucated? You might also like Forks over Knives. You watched Forks over Knives? Don’t you work? 

[Sometimes Netflix gets judgey.]

Anyway, I watched it all. And since I am so “pliable” (read: prone to allowing others to make my decisions for me), I decided to go as “plant- based” with my face-stuffings as possible. I never intended to even use the word “vegan” as I try to avoid labels – I believe they limit us (prevent us from occasionally eating a large cheese pizza when we’re wine drunk without feeling like we’ve fallen off some wagon).

But it evolved somewhat organically (sort of like my groceries at the time – WINNING!… I’m so sorry.), particularly at restaurants. Because people get “vegan”. They get that it means, “no meat, dairy, eggs”. But “plant-based”? If I were a waitress (prior to my Netflix crusade), and someone inquired about which menu items were “plant-based” I’d likely quit my job.

I will at times eat wild-caught fish. If there are eggs or dairy hidden in some baked good? Just don’t tell me about it. I do believe in the importance of eating “plant-based”. But I still have to live. In Newfoundland. With a mother who truly believes that, in a state of severe nutrient deprivation, all my teeth are going to fall out.

What else happened while I was neglecting our relationship?

*My wee offspring is now almost three years old (three years old!!!). He is awesome and hilarious.

*This conversation with my (then) two-year old:

Me: M, what’s your teddy bear’s name?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: CAR-bo-ed?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: Car-bo-ED?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: Car-BO-ed?

M: Car-bo-ed.

Me: Car—

Jeremy: —HIS NAME IS EVAN!?!

* 2015/16 New Year’s Resolution: Total boycott of the term “guilty pleasure”. 2016 is going to be all about unapologetic pleasures. That said, here it is: I f’ing love Mistletoe by J. Biebs. It makes be feel warm and jolly.

*I discovered that few things give me as much profound blackout rage as water running up my sleeve when I’m washing my face.

* Yep, that about sums it up.

Anyway, I am sorry it’s been so long. So many times I said, “I’m going to blog now”. But despite popular opinion (by some of my aunts), I can’t be clever or witty on command. I can’t even think half-intelligent thoughts on command.

[Just now, in an attempt to get to heatheronarock.com to write this, I opened Google Chrome and typed, “thunderbay”. Just like that. All one word, all lowercase letters. I don’t know why but I feel this might mean I have some internal bleeding, somewhere.].

So 2016 will be all about writing. Even if it is non-clever, non-witty, non-coherent. Even if I just want to eat and binge watch Netflix at the end of the day. I’m just gonna dust off this ol’ laptop and plop my weary brain farts onto the screen.

You’re welcome.

I’ve missed you.

Happy new year, mom.

 

How to Create a Successful Children’s Show in 2015

I do think mindless channel surfing or refreshing web pages (lest a status be updated without our immediate knowledge) is sad. Have I done it? Holy eff yes. But I’m not proud of it.

Nor am I proud of the fact that, sometimes, I use television as a babysitter.

Did I say babysitter? I meant interactive learning tool.

To distract my child when I need to momentarily neglect him.

Anyway, for the past two years I’ve become well acquainted with toddler TV chart-toppers. I’ve been to Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood. I know Superwhy we need to stay Bo on the Go. And I Spy a need to Yo Gabba Gabba about it.

[In my head that was all supposed to read way cooler than it did. A total of one suburban mom virtually high-fived me. The rest of you understandably stopped reading.]

And I think I’ve got it down pat. I know what it takes to make a hit children’s TV show. One that can entertain/educate/hypnotize your child long enough for you to poop in relative peace.

Let me share my wisdom:

1. Only hire British voice actors

Do you ever, in a pinch, YouTube “baby videos” or “sing-alongs for toddlers” or “cool videos to watch when you’re stoned”? Who hasn’t! Chances are you may have come across some of the many adorably low-budget kiddie vids out there; 3D animated creatures singing beloved musical classics. Every little cartoon pig, hippo and panda sounds just like Jane and Michael themselves are serenading you.

Note: There’s something about hearing the singing voice of a British child… That entrenches your belief that they are, for sure, ghosts. All of them. All British children are ghosts. Every child voicing those songs in the YouTube videos are doing so from underneath lace veils. And, between takes, are assuring Nicole Kidman that they are, indeed, her daughters.

[Stay with me.]

2. Cut your budget in half by hiring only children for animated shows

If there is an adult character, use a voice modulator a-la Kevin-McAllister-booking-a-hotel-room-over-the-phone-in-Home-Alone-2. You save a buck and adorable panda dads sound just like possessed Marlena.

[If your afterschool babysitter didn’t let you watch Days of Our Lives while you ate Mayonnaise cookies, like ours did, you have every right to feel robbed of a childhood.]

3. Keep the parents on their toes

TV is a temporary childcare assistant at best. You still have to be half on your parental game. Which is why the best children’s shows must feature disturbingly questionable songs (Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?). Alternatively you can just dust off some age-old racist ditties that don’t seem to go away (Baa Baa Black Sheep…).

4. Drop acid. Don a jaunty unitard to invert any stray bit of external genitalia. Wear a taxidermied Muppet on your head (you whimsical British-Guard-gone-rogue, you). Interact with dolls that come to life and play and eat and dance and nap, just like real people. Except don’t make them look like people. Boooooooring. Why not animate, instead, a bumpy, phallic little rascal with legs? Make him one-eyed in case there was any remaining doubt as to the fact that he is, indeed, a talking, diseased penis.

It doesn’t matter what the rest of the characters are. Between that fabulously lithe man in the shiny spandex and the dancing, ribbed marital aid, all you need is a good hallucinogenic soundtrack and BOOM! Daytime Emmy!

Also, in your theme song, shout the name of your show 49 times in a row.

[Yo Gabba Gabba: it’s the closest you’ll ever come to doing magic mushrooms with your toddler.]

5. Write original, super catchy songs without any attempt at creative sense

Honestly, just freestyle sing the lesson you’re trying to get across. They can add music to it in post-production. Cue the orchestra…

*Something furry in my mouth? Don’t lick the pets, don’t lick pets! [Repetition is key.]

*Do you know why your breath smells bad? You forgot to brush your tongue! 

*I won’t get in your curtained van! But I’ll throw the litter in the garbage can!

That last one is what they (I) call “spontaneous genius”. It rhymed and incorporated two lessons in one. That would actually be rejected from most children’s programming for being too good.

6. If you use an adult narrator, make him/her use the annoying baby voice you used to use to compensate for your teenage neck fur when you talked to boys

The very successful creator of my son’s most beloved video series (let’s call it Infant Tesla) also does the narration. Her voice is sweet. Youthful sweet. Insulin resistant sweet. I’m gonna go out on a random crude but honest limb here… I bet her farts don’t smell bad. I said it. She’s one of those people who, when she farts once a year, says, “Oh, mine don’t smell”. Except that they do smell. Like Christmas cookies.

I really want to hear how her voice sounds when she’s in the real world. Like, what sound would she make if she, I dunno, inadvertently walked through a spider web? I, for example, would sound less like a cherry-scented child fairy, and more like Sly Stallone rectifying an impacted bowel.

In short: if you’re narrating a children’s show, do it like you have flourishing acne but deep down know you are the goddamn Little Mermaid.

______________________________________________________________________________

Perhaps, as a child of the ’80’s, I am biased. Our shows rocked! Mr. Rogers, Mr. Dress-Up, Size Small, Fred Penner… are you kidding me? We were being entertained by legends. The most “out there” show I can recall watching as a child was Zoobilee Zoo. Some of my most therapy-worthy nightmares have involved Bravo, the fox…

…holy shit, this should be on Broadway! OK, we officially had no bad shows growing up.

I guess today’s children will say the same thing in thirty years when their kids are watching bad, virtual reality movies in their contact lenses.

Yours,

HOAR