Monday, April 28, 2008

The Secret is 'out'

I hate to admit it, but every now and then I have a serious case of schadenfreude (taking pleasure in others' misfortunes), but only in the sense of delighting when someone or something overblown gets taken down a peg. (Like seeing that ostensibly perfect mom, the immaculately coiffed one whose whole-grain fed kids behave so perfectly, losing it and screaming at her kids in McDonalds'.) So imagine my delight when I read that the various co-creators of The Secret are at each others' throats in court!

I don't claim that positive thinking has no value, but I was always struck by the hypocrisy of Rhonda Byrne, The Secret's author, who claimed that she wasn't interested in profit, she just wanted to get the effectiveness of positive thinking out to the world. If it was really so effective, couldn't she just have visualized us all getting it, and saved everyone the $19.95 (or $29.95 for the DVD)? However, apparently she has now formed a production company, which is suing the web developer for infringing on their proprietary rights, and meanwhile the DVD producer with whom she developed the original concept is suing her for not making good on their original agreement to split the profits. It's all a bunch of complicated legal tussling over profit-sharing, copyright ownership, and employment versus independent contracting - basically fighting over the enormous income stream that has been generated by a philosophy that stresses gratitude, integrity, and generosity.

I was always a bit skeptical of anyone insisting that I just had to visualize a BMW in my driveway to manifest it - I was more interested in manifesting a clean family room and a tank of gas for less than $60. But now my skepticism has been vindicated by such delicious evidence of the underlying hypocrisy. Although who knows - maybe the lawsuits prove The Secret after all, and a bunch of lawyers visualized - then manifested - the most lucrative lawsuit they could imagine!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Family Movie Night

Life with boys is not what I expected when I decided to become a mom - sure, I knew I couldn't choose my kids' gender, but I was convinced I could raise my kids in a neutral way AND fulfill my maternal fantasies. So I couldn't frenchbraid their hair, but I could read them the Little House books - wrong, they preferred Captain Underpants. I bought them dolls and stuffed animals - they used the toys as guns. I'm gradually learning it's hard-wired, no matter how hard I try.
And it's not like ours is a macho, athletic household. My kids don't know anything about sports - we won box seats to a Giants' game, and they were more interested in the cotton-candy vendor than the action. (Other than Ben noticing a typical Barry Bonds move, not really hustling to run for a potential single, and very loudly he piped up, "That guy there isn't very good!") Ben takes drum lessons, David does theater and takes dance class, but they still have a boys' sense of humor, no matter how hard I try to be a civilizing influence. For example, David has invented a game where he tacks on an inappropriate phrase to the end of the title of songs from musicals. (His current favorite is adding " . . . in my pants" to classic musicals like Damn Yankees, so you get "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets . . . in my pants", and so on.) (Okay, I shouldn't laugh, but I've got to give him credit for an originality!)
Our recent family movie night was a great illustration of life in a boy-dominated household. We couldn’t agree which t.v. movie to watch, because I wanted Steel Magnolias (southern women bonding in the beauty parlor with great sarcastic oneliners!), but the boys preferred Alien Resurrection (the REALLY violent one in the series, where a cloned Sigourney Weaver gives birth to the ultimate monster child, and saves the world with Winona Ryder as an android). We ended up compromising by flipping back & forth between the two, which produced a hybrid I called "Magnolia Resurrection" -
"Ripley? You’re alive? I guess this means I’ll have to kill you."
"If you can’t say anything nice about anyone, come sit next to me!"
"Keep away from me, you disgusting slimy alien ."
"Ewww, that woman needs some serious lycra on those thighs . . . . "
"What are we gonna do? The aliens are escaping!"
"That boy is so confused he don’t know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt!"

I decided to put the movie hybrid idea into my comedy show, but when I told the boys they immediately corrected me and said, "No, mom, what would be really funny is a movie called 'Alien Erection'. . . .". (I'll leave the ensuring gestures and sound effects to your imagination.) Meanwhile, I'm going to go re-read Little Women and see if the neighbor's daughter will let me do her hair . . . .