Today’s print edition of the Washington Post has an article in the Style & Arts section, “Last Impressions – When It’s All Going Down the Tube, What Stuff Sticks Around to the End?” It verge on fluff but raises interesting and serious ideas.

Among the last things to go in the Depression was — lipstick.

“It was not particularly expensive, but it was a prized possession,” says Jeremy E. Adamson, director for collections and services at the Library of Congress. “You feel bad anyway, but you make yourself look a little bit better. It says, ‘I care about myself.’ Those little things are terribly important.”

The article notes that the scholarship on the subject of last possessions is scanty because most research in the field is regarding consumerism and acquisition of objects.

What I found most interesting is the juxtaposition of this article with the advertisement that appears on the same page – an ad for what is proclaimed to be “the first feel-good film of the year,” Confessions of a Shopaholic.

I typed the URL the ad gives for the movie – shopaholicmovie.com – into my browser and it redirected to bluefly.com, a popular discount-designer label shopping site, which I suppose really is the most logical place to host the movie’s website.

It’s the final season of Battlestar Galactica and SciFi is scrambling to monetize every last moment.

“Buy artifacts from Earth!” they keep cajoling. Er, no thanks, I have plenty.

In addition to all of the prop and costume auctions, SciFi and Kentucky Fried Chicken are apparently running a sweepstakes. I hadn’t paid any attention to it – living in a time-shifted viewing universe I generally ignore the commercials. One of my knitting buddies was over today to catch up on this season and I failed to fast-forward through one of the commercial breaks in the first episode. Our jaws all dropped when we saw the commercial.

I just hit the SciFi channel website to see if they’re still running the promotion. I see that they’re now calling it the “Can’t say that word on tv” sweepstakes. I’d like to imagine that the Battlestar Galactica writers laughed so hard they ruptured their spleens when the SciFi marketing braintrust rolled out what they originally called the “frak pak”.

Now, obviously, you can say the word on television, because they do. That’s the point of the word. SciFi is basic cable, so having characters utter the word fuck every 6 seconds on a 42 minute program would break the bank. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’m willing to give SciFi enough credit to believe that they rolled this out on purpose so that they could then change the name with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge bit of viral publicity.

Husband suggested I embed this video for those who don’t know the show. Here’s a montage of BSG characters using the word Frak. (It’s pretty amusing, anyway).



So why don’t I think this was a calculated plan on the part of SciFi and KFC?

For starters, I don’t think KFC is that cutting edge in their thinking, nor do I think their shareholders would probably dig that plan.

Secondly, SciFi is the channel that killed the clever, witty and original Dresden Files in favor of Sanctuary. I rest my case.

Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my inner 13 year old found this frakkin hysterical. It’s really a miracle I’m able to get through this post without pointing out to KFC that they missed the boat with this one, because they do allegedly sell chicken at their establishment and the phrase “box of cocks” rhymes as nicely as “frak pak” and could be a cross-promotional bonanza.

Maybe that’s not as funny as I think it is – I proposed it to Husband and he just stared at me while I laughed hysterically.

I think I ate too many cookies today.

If you so desire, you can learn about how the FCC determines if the usage of a word is profane or obscene by reading the Golden Globes Award Order, which was the result of the legal wrangling after Bono used what the FCC refers to officially as the “F-word” (in quotation marks) during the Golden Globes. Or, you can just say “frak pak” a lot and giggle hysterically, which is what I’ve been doing.

The November 12th issue of the New Yorker features a particularly good “annals of retail” column by Caitlin Flanagan. Titled “Bringing Up Baby – Anxious parents spend thousands,” the article chronicles the thing I find even more amusing than the stupid shit people buy their pets, namely – the stupid shit people buy for their babies.

Well, not so much for the babies as for mommy and daddy…much of this stuff is about ego – is the 2800 dollar stroller really better than the 98 dollar one?. Plenty of these products are also gobbled up in the name of “safety” because, of course, before the advent of baby safety products babies didn’t survive to their first birthday.*

Make no mistake, babies are indeed fragile little creatures and tragic things do happen to them, but new parents, I’m talking to you. You need to get a fucking grip and you need to do it right now.

My favorite hot new product is the backseat baby safety monitor. Here’s a link to one if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

So yes, instead of looking in the rearview mirror to make sure that The Precious is still strapped in his carseat, you can stare at a monitor on the dashboard. Frankly, I find the ear-splitting squawking to be a sign that the little beast is still there, but what do I know?

Here’s the deal, kids: if you’re going to get into a vehicle (most likely an SUV) with someone who’s enamored with one of these backseat gizmos, you damned well better bring extra diapers. Not for the kid – for yourself. This should be obvious to people who buy these things, but apparently is not, so I’ll spell it out here: If you, the driver, are staring at a video monitor on your dashboard you aren’t watching the road, you moron.

The de rigeur item in my neighborhood these days is a pram from the Silver Cross line. (Also mentioned in the article, by the way). Silver cross actually has two lines, the “lifestyle line” and the “heritage line.” These things cost thousands of dollars and the new mommies nearly go nuts at the coffeeshop trying to keep an eye on their spawn and their pricey stroller at the same time. These strollers cost more than my car is worth. It’s completely insane. Here’s the thing: the babies really, really don’t seem to care.

Why do I care? Because I have to listen to these same people go on and on to me about how worried they are about paying tuition when their little pooter is ready for school. And I have to paste a sympathetic expression on my face while my brain is practially shouting, “Why not check your ego, put the 3 grand into google stock or mutual funds or even, you know, a savings account. Something so you can, you know, start saving some money for the spawn’s schooling, if you’re that worried?”

But what do I know?

Before I go, I have a little request for new parents – aside from the request to stop trying to kill me when we’re in the car with your spawn. It’ simple, really. For the sake of your children, please stop putting those bubblewrap covers on every fixture in your house. Someday, your spawn is going to go to college, move out of the house, go to prison, or otherwise engage in an activity that will require bathing outside your safety-sealed environment. Our medical system is stretched enough without the prospect of every 18 year old in America needing medical attention their first week out of the nest because they are incapable of functioning in a non-padded environment.

Please, folks. Do it for the children.

*Yes, you know it’s not true. I know it’s not true. Yuppies with too much cash seem to be able to ignore reality and believe anything you tell them. Hell, we survived lawn darts. Today’s children apparently burst into flames when exposed to tap water. Who knew?

The other day I was stuck in one of the mysterious traffic back-ups that happen for no reason in Bethesda. I was behind a big dumptruck with a very neat and professional sign on the back. Maybe I was just tired, or maybe there was something intrinsically clever about the design of that sign, but I started to feel that weird consumer mania coming over me – the one that fills you with the compulsion to own whatever object they’re selling, no matter how ridiculous. Well, the sign on the truck said “For all of your dirt needs, call…” Yes, after about 30 minutes behind this truck I realized I was sitting there thinking, “Yes, I have dirt needs. I have dirt needs. I have dirt needs.” Luckily, I snapped out of it.