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Boogie Superstar

We are gaga for this game. I'm in love with it because I can hear my son singing, for real. No joking around singing, because he has to get it on pitch to get the big points, and the big points are needed to unlock the more sought after songs. True, I've heard enough Pocketful of Sunshine and Bleeding Love to last me a lifetime, but having this glimpse into his real singing voice has been a blast. We all get up on our feet to attempt the dance moves--a little blue figure pops up to instruct us when we're not getting it quite right. My family got the wii this summer and we played the sports package solidly for about two weeks, then we didn't use it anymore. Boogie Superstar has been the perfect way to get back into playing with it. The karaoke duets are hilarious, and the dance moves are easy but challenging since they switch pretty quickly and since they're very very fast--you have to match this metronome like ball exactly. A few weeks before we got this game I found my eight year old daughter trying to learn dance steps by watching instructional videos on youtube (poor thing had to teach herself sign language through youtube earlier this summer, when I kept ignoring her requests for a real class). This is a lot more fun. The other good thing is that even when one person is holding the control and dancing, there's nothing to prevent the entire family from being on their feet trying to nail the moves as well.



Young Frankenstein on Broadway

When we were coming out of the subway station after seeing Young Frankenstein on Broadway, my son's friend pointed out a bit of graffiti--the new kind of graffiti, where they use a boxcutter to remove part of one poster and then stick it on top of another poster, not the old kind where they just use sharpies to add body parts and funny quotes. In this particular bit of subway art, someone had cut the last syllable off of an ad for Will Smith's summer blockbuster Hancock, and pasted it over another word, so that the new poster said "[second syllable of Hancock] is the new good." My son and his friend chuckled about this, and later I heard him explaining it to a friend. "It means 'poop'" he explained. I heard him from the other room and I called out 'What did you say it means?' And he smiled and said 'it's a kind of poop, kind of like saying doody." I felt a need to clarify. And I did. I feel bad for him, because he really wants to know all the bad words. One time, coming home from school in 2nd grade, he said "what grade are we in when we learn curses?" Poor thing, I thought he said 'cursive' so I answered plainly, "third grade." He must have been so excited. Later he said 'so in third grade we learn all the curse words?' and that's when I realized what he'd meant. "Oh no," I began, thinking as I was talking. "You're on your own with those." It did get me thinking that there could be some fun book or course where kids are given the curse words. Not in titillating ways but in plain English. A friend of mine from England was horrified once to hear teenage boys calling each other 'pussy' because of its derogatory nature. I really don't think those boys think of it as meaning anything other than 'wimp,' which is problematic in itself, but if they knew the origin, they might be more sensitive when yelling it across a playground, or in front of a group of nuns or something. My kids have heard a few choice swear words from me, but I like to think that I use them very very rarely and so when I do it proves how frustrated/angry/hurt I am. This is no stubbed toe *&^%, this is BROKEN toe *&^%$#. There's a difference, and we ought to clue them in by example. Which brings me back to Young Frankenstein. There is no Mel Brooks comedy I can think of that doesn't have its share of lewdness and inuendo, the occasional racy bit, or clever doublespeak. And this is no exception. I have to admit that during one of the first big musical numbers "Please Don't Touch Me" I cringed at some of the words: "You can stick me, you can lick can savage me and ravage me..." and I found myself scanning the audience to see if anyone else had brought children to the theater. Of course all of those things he would be allowed to do, he was only allowed to do in his dreams, because she didn't want to be touched, hence the name of the song. But I do like to think that kids who don't know what's going on won't be taught anything new from a song like that--especially when it's sung as quickly as Elizabeth sings it. Of course the song ends with an entire chorus of "Tits, tits, tits, tits, tits, etc." so that was the end of thinking that it might go over their heads. But again, it causes me to wonder about all the acts of violence they've seen by the age of ten--through video games, Star Wars, Tom and Jerry, whatever, and why keep basic body bits out of it? They've seen bodies being blown to bits but we have to protect the--oh no! someone said 'tits!'--from consenting adults using their bodies for pleasure (in a basic PG-13 kind of way, of course)? So once I talked myself down, I settled in and enjoyed. It was a really funny show, and both boys thoroughly enjoyed it, especially a hilarious dance number featuring the monster in coat and tails. The sets were gorgeous, and Igor was funny enough for two musicals. I don't go to Broadway shows as often as I should, but for some strange reason I've been to three shows now in a month (friends in from out of town, special deal from a credit card, some really great shows on the TKTS boards), and this was the nicest theater by far. I highly recommend it. It may not be for the very young, but again, there's nothing in it that's worse than what any city kid might see patched together or scrawled on a poster on a subway platform on the way to school every morning. My son is still talking about it.



Leapfrog Didj

I just love it when you find a company whose products you adored for your kids when they were younger and then you learn they make something for their older years, too.  The "Didj" from Leapfrog totally fits that bill.  I just love Leapfrog.  I've always felt kids needed be engaged with technology - it is the way of our world anymore - but reading and math will always matter.  Leapster manages to marry the two in a way my kids love and I feel comfortable with.  When my kids were younger, first we got the LeapPad with Princess books and later Thomas books for my son.  Then, I introduced video games to them with the Leapster.  They played Spiderman and The Incredibles while spelling and doing math problems.  Now, at a lovely event hosted by Leapfrog at the Four Seasons last weekend, I learned that Leapfrog offers a video game-like system for my seven and nine year olds.  My kids were thrilled to try the Didj and they play it every day now.  It looks very much like the PSP - small, hand-held with strategically placed buttons.  It has my kids asking questions like is 36 divided by four nine?  Or saying, mom I know what nine times nine is - all while playing a video game.  They love it and I feel good about them playing - what could be better?  Thank you Leapfrog!




I accidentally invented the referee the other day. We were at my daughter's soccer game and there was a slight dispute about whether the ball had gone into the goal the right way--through the front, as opposed to the wrong way, through the side. Just then a teenager wearing a yellow vest ambled over and announced that it was a fair goal, that it had gone in through the front. That was a big relief to those of us on the sidelines who'd each seen different versions of the goal, and it was a relief as well because the two coaches had had a slightly uncomfortable moment of each assuming it had gone in whichever way would have favored their own teams. Wow, if only there could always be some impartial observer calling the shots, I thought. And then I realized that the yellow vest was the yellow vest the volunteer teen referees wore, and that that was precisely the purpose of the teen who'd been paying attention. We are a huge game-playing family. Games at this point are kind of divided into those that don't require referees--the wii comes in handy since it just tell you if the shot was in or not, keeps track of points, tells you whose turn it is, etc. and Sorry! is nice since all the really nasty moves are actually dictated by cards you draw right there in front of everybody. Fantan is also pretty straightforward. But even games like Yahtzee can lead to disputes (how many rolls was that?) and disagreements. Pictureka falls into the 'we need a referee!' category. But we love that we're all back on speaking terms. It's a massive game of Where's Waldo, if Waldo had no Waldo, and was instead filled with very edgy Spy vs. Spy types of graphics. The board is really nine different panels, and the reason you never, say, find all the objects and never need to play the game again, is that there are prompts during the game where you flip the two-sided boards, switch, or rotate them. You draw color coded cards--one color is 'all play'--first to find an object wins the card. Another card goes to the highest bidder, who then finds the items on the card in 30 seconds. Some of the objects are straightforward--find 5 hearts, for example. Others leave something to the imagination, which means the four of us who stay up to play will end up pouting and fuming and whining. Find 8 things a doctor would use. Well, a table? a lamp? a flashlight? It didn't say find things a doctor would use while BEING A DOCTOR, did it? You can imagine how well we do with 'seven things that fly'--does steam from a teapot fly? Yes? No? Why not? Be prepared to debate that one through clenched teeth. Or better yet, just get a teenager in a yellow vest to sit somewhere nearby.