Posts Tagged ‘jumping the shark’

I was mightily surprised to spot a Chicken Dance Elmo toy at my classy friend JS’s house recently. Not that I was in any position to judge – we have an all-singing all-dancing My Little Pony called “Pinky Pie” in our house, after all. But that’s a whooooole other story. 

JS observed my horror when one of my children hit the button on Chicken Dance Elmo and it began doing that thing that it does – which happens to be being Elmo in a chicken suit, dancing and singing along to the Chicken Dance. 

“As you can see, I have only ever given my son the most educational of wooden toys,” JS remarked. 

“Yes, I’m sure it has the Steiner Tick of Approval under its left foot,” I replied. 

“Not to mention the ‘Fair Trade’ sticker under the other,” she added.

Need I mention that all that long car journey home, The Pixie and McGee sang and danced the Chicken Dance? Need I reiterate that it was ALL the way home? WELL, DO I?

“I feel sick because of that chicken singing Elmo,” Mr Justice proclaimed when our journey was finally at its end. 

I knew exactly how he felt. 

I have always considered Elmo’s meteoric rise to fame on Sesame Street as the show’s “jumping the shark” moment. Which, coincidentally, happened around the same time Mr Snuffleupagus stopped fucking with Big Bird’s head and became visible to everyone. Sheesh! 1985 must have been the Sesame Street writing team’s “annus horribilis” – which, incidentally, is one of those phrases that always makes me giggle because it looks and sounds much ruder than it actually is, especially when applied to the writers of Sesame Street

ANYWAY, ne’er an Elmo toy has graced this house because of my deep aversion to all things Elmo. Not in a chicken suit, not in a nappy, not in a PVC multi-zippered “tickle me” gimp suit. And I’m proud of it. 

But then there are really good friends of mine, whose opinions I respect and company I seek, who have revealed themselves to be Elmo fans. In fact, it’s fair to say that they love Elmo and want to marry him. And maybe even want to kiss him. On the lips. 

“You know how there are those things that you hate that you expect everyone else must hate too but then you end up being constantly surprised by how many people who you thought were just like you actually like those things? The ones that you hate, that is,” I asked my husband in a rather convoluted fashion later that evening. 

“You mean like the Queen?”

“Yes, the Queen and Pauline Hanson and NCIS.” 

“Shit! Not that show with that red-headed guy!” my husband said, appalled. 

“No, not that one. That’s CSI: Law and Order Special Investigation Unit Thingy in Miami,” I replied, a little uncertainly. 

“Oh, I hate that red-headed guy. That terrible hair. He should be ashamed of it!” he said, himself a redhead and with two redheaded children. 

“ANYWAY, I’m talking about Elmo!” I announced in an attempt to rein the conversation back in. After all, this was about my pet hates, not his. 

“Oh, Elmo… ” my husband sighed. “I once saw Elmo on Rove and he was talking to an adult audience about himself in the third person and in a high squeaky voice. And that’s when I realised he was a complete prick,” he concluded.

“What, Elmo or Rove?” I asked. The volume in my head had suddenly been turned right up on that Chicken Dance song and it was hard to think clearly. Next time I go to JS’s house, remind me to set our all-singing all-dancing Pinkie Pie onto that terrible redheaded thing – and no, I don’t mean my husband. At least I don’t think so. I just don’t know anymore…

Elmo want to be a chicken, Elmo want to be a duck. Cluck cluck cluck cluck.  

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Every evening, after our young masters have retired to their chambers, my husband and I settle down in front of the TV with a glass of wine to enjoy those precious remains of the day together. 

Just the other night, we decided to finally start watching the box set of UK 1990s show “Cracker” that had been given to us. The first thing that struck me was how utterly dated the mid-90s already look – I mean, hello! That was when I was supposedly at my coolest and it turns out I was actually no cooler than Fonzie on waterskis.

The second thing that struck me was that, after 20 minutes, I still had no idea what the hell was going on. I started thinking “Wow, those Granada scriptwriters in the 90s really knew how to challenge an audience”. There was no drawn-out spoon-feeding exposition for this show – no way! Instead you were, like, totally slam-dunked straight into the world of Cracker…

And then, after just one too many exchanges between characters referring to events such as so-and-so’s suicide and the affair with such-and-such, I turn to my husband say, “Are you sure this is the start of the series?”

And it was at this point that my husband admitted that the disks weren’t numbered so he had just randomly selected an episode to start off with.

I picked up the box and there, on the back, as clear as a well-ordered list, was a list of the episode titles, helpfully organised in chronological order. And I realised my dear husband had a little less helpfully launched us into the series with Episode 9 (of 10), which was a little like starting a joke with the punchline. 

And so, both slightly peeved (one of us a little more than the other), we decided to spend the rest of those precious remains of the day catching up on some sleep. 

However, my husband’s attempts earlier that day to create “somewhere comfortable to sit” in our room by installing a chair on my side of the bed, meant that he had completely destroyed all chances of finding “somewhere comfortable to sleep”. Everything that had been carefully hidden down that side of the room had been, with equal care, lifted up and dumped on our bed.

And so, too tired and disheartened to sort the situation out, we decided that the best thing was for both of us to sleep on the fold-out bed in the kids’ room under the glare of the daylight-nightlight. Which was fine until the usual game of Musical Beds started shortly after midnight, when Tiddles McGee magically appeared between us and then The Pixie also threw herself into the mix around 2AM. At which point my husband promptly relocated himself to the pink princess bed, leaving me wedged between the two children. 

In our household, The Pixie and TIddles are both classified as “Snugglers”, who have to have as much of their body pressed against you as possible, while the rest of us are what I like to call “Separate Sleepers”. I looked wistfully over at Mr Justice and his Separate Sleeping Ways and was wishing that I was sharing a bed with him, until he suddenly sat bolt upright and laughed like a little mentalist in his sleep and I instantly recalled with great clarity all those times he’d punched me in the face when we’d had to share a bed. 

And then to top things off – oh joy of joys – my husband started snoring loudly because, now that he was no longer under my direct jurisdiction, he was sleeping on his back. And trapped as the Meat in the Snuggle Sandwich as I was, I was completely unable to kick him back onto his side. 

So there I was, lying in the dark, thinking my night couldn’t get any worse except, perhaps, if someone started throwing up, when I suddenly felt that all-too-familiar sensation of – how shall I put this –  the “Red Tide” coming in. And I was forced to somehow get myself out of the bed and to the toilet as quickly as possible A) without waking the Snugglers and B) before I created a Japanese Flag situation. Without giving away any secrets, let’s just say that I did it and it certainly made that Catherine Zeta-Jones scene from Entrapment look a complete and utter doddle – although, I was considerably less cat-like than CZJ was, it must be said. 

But the strangest thing of all happened when I returned to my Meat position a few minutes later. I found myself lying there and listening to the surround-sound breathing of my precious family for a long, long time. And I thought to myself that, even if I wasn’t able to get back to sleep at all, I couldn’t think of another place on this planet that I’d rather spend the remains of that night. And then finally, sleep came.

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Recently, I completely lost my writing mojo. How I lost it, I’m not quite sure. I expect that it was through the same kind of carelessness that caused The Pixie to lose all her clothing and suddenly be standing nude in the kitchen – when I asked her what had happened, she said “Because I was wobbling so much.” Anyway, whatever the reason, I had lost that mojo and could not find it anywhere – not even down the back of the couch where almost everything else that I’ve ever lost seems to end up hiding (my virginity, patience and temper excepted). 

So what does an NDM without her mojo do? Not much it turns out, except stare blankly at her screen and then publish a few “back-up” posts that had been languishing away in the Drafts folder instead of freshly-brewed material. But when the back-up material runs out and there are only a few odd posts left with titles like “Fez At Breakfast” and no body material, then what? THEN WHAT?

My good friend KT tried to snap me out of it. “What are we going to do about this?” she asked. 

I replied that I didn’t know. But then I suddenly thought how, at our upcoming mothers’ night out, I might just get Very Drunk Indeed and run down the street naked singing show tunes and surely that would be blog-worthy and get my writerly juices flowing. And I felt this little frisson, like how an evil genius must feel when they’ve just come up with their Ultimate Plan for World Domination. Or even how the Mild-Mannered Lawyer must have felt when she laid the foundations for the Cake Off (see “We’ve got Ourselves a Cake-Off”)

Luckily for everyone, KT quickly diverted me from that particular course of action. “Why don’t you just prepare a game of ‘Truth or Dare’ for everyone to play. Maybe writing some questions will help get the mojo back.”

Okay. So I started writing some “Truth” questions. But after about ten minutes, all I had was:

Which Beverley Hills 90120 character do you think you are?

If you had to snog one of the Wiggles, which one would it be?

Did “Sesame Street” jump the shark when Mr Snuffleupagus became visible to everyone or when Elmo started to do the talk-show circuit?

Which Corey: Hart, Haim or Feldman?

So, you think you can dance?

Yep, it was definitely a Mojo No Show. 

I moved onto the “Dares”: 

Cook a meal that all three of my children will eat that doesn’t include chips.

Toot this recorder in my ear for as long as you can and as loudly as you can and Suffer. The. Consequences. 

Try writing better questions for this game. Go on. You try do it and see how much you like it. 

See? The mojo has gone the way of the missing socks of the house, ne’er to be found again. 

But maybe, just maybe, this is my chance to reinvent myself Madonna-style, perhaps even start wearing a flat-cap and marry a Mockney Geezer, only to end it all in a very public and very bitter divorce and go out with someone 16 years my junior instead. Tasty! It’s so nice to know that, even I’m not able to write anything half-decent ever again, that I have Options. 

In the meantime, if anyone finds my Mojo, could you please send it back to NDM Central as soon as you can? For one thing, its return will ensure I never mention my nudity and flowing juices in the same sentence again. And that’s got to be a good thing. Surely. 

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A lot of people say to me “With three kids, how do you manage to write anything at all, let alone six days a week?” These people have obviously never done the white glove test on my house else they wouldn’t have to ask. However, I usually indulge them by claiming to take the Brangelina approach to parenting and employ a nanny, housekeeper, chauffeur, naturopath and astrologist for each child. And between us all, we still can’t find a matching pair of socks or even the kids’ shoes in this house. Honestly, you just can’t get the staff these days. 

“But come on, NDM”, I hear those people say. “What is your secret? Tell us. Tell us!” Okay, okay, calm down, I say. And stop kissing my feet. (Can you tell this conversation occurred entirely in my head yet?) The truth is almost too dull to share but here it is: I write in fits and starts throughout the day, usually with children climbing all over me or with food cooking on the stove – or even both. As long as I don’t get confused and cook the children by mistake, I can just about manage it. And every day, I thank the universe for the Miracle of Wireless Internet, without which I would be stuck typing in the dark front bedroom while my children roamed around the rest of the house completely unsupervised, quite possibly with sharp scissors in their little hands.

I have often wondered if I didn’t have three children hanging off me half the time what lofty heights I might reach with my writing. But then, what the hell would I have to write about? It’s just soooooo 1985 when I got my first job at McDonalds and had to buy the uniform to work at McDonalds to earn the money to buy the uniform to work at McDonalds… etc, etc. Ah, the irony! The irony! 23 years on, it’s still not lost on me. 

When I started this blog, my husband made me promise one thing and one thing alone: that I never use the term “jump the shark” because, according to him, it had descended into the realms of cliché. (If you’ve never heard the term – as one friend of mine hadn’t – here’s a link to the Wikipedia definition of To Jump the Shark full of fun facts, such as how actor Ted McGinley is known as “The Patron Saint of Jumping the Shark” because of his uncanny knack of joining the cast of shows like “Happy Days” and “West Wing” just as they were starting to get a little bit on the nose).

This post marks my 50th on this blog site and it’s about time I donned my leather jacket and waterskis and star-jumped that shark, don’t you think? Some might argue I already jumped it around post #24, when I slipped in the second “Deliverance” reference in as many weeks (according to my ever-knowledgable husband, blog etiquette dictates that you’re only allowed one every two years). Others might have seen the writing on the wall by the fact I’d used that old star-jump joke again so soon after the last time (see “Kicking the Habit“) – and in the title of this post no less. I’ll have to concede that its re-appearance might be a warning sign of sorts – just like when Tiddles stands behind the armchair and looks really cross shortly before he does himself a big ol’ back-sliding poo. 

In any case, here I am – about to Officially Jump It. What will be on the other side? Indiscriminate usage of smiley faces, and animated ones at that?  Maybe cop-out posts where I just link to those YouTube clips doing the internet rounds, showing stuff like someone pull a whole string of spaghetti out their nose? Or perhaps I’ll just rehash old posts, much like those Flashback epsiodes from 70s sitcoms where the main characters stand around saying stuff like “Remember when…” and “What about the time we…”. Then again, I could just get old Ted McGinley to guest-write a column to seal my fate once and for all. It would be the humane thing to do. 

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see what I’m churning out in another 50 posts’ time, especially since I’m on the verge of re-entering the workforce in a part-time capacity (ooooh, I kept that one to myself didn’t I?).  And as for jumping the shark, I think we should all stop to remember that Happy Days still went on to spurn “Joanie loves Chachi”, which was at least memorable if only because it was so very very awful.  And in any case, urban legend has it that “Joanie loves Chachi” was the highest ever rating program in Korea because “chachi” means penis in Korean. And for those very same reasons, no matter what I go on to write, I’ll still be getting hits on my blog site from people searching for “lactating asian babes” for many, many years to come. So there.

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