Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ever So Much More Baby-Naming... With Kixia!

Hello, my lovelies! It's me, Kixia! And this is...


(View my previous columns here, here, and here.)

Okay, yes, yes... I know.... I've been notably absent for many moons. Apologies.

Have you guessed why I was gone for so long? Well, if you guessed It's because she was writing a book! you're totally correct!

Let me introduce you to MY baby....


Description: 

Naming a child is arguably the most important thing a parent will ever do, but many parents-to-be report that the process is a "struggle," an "obnoxious challenge," and even "a nightmare." But it doesn't have to be! In this baby-naming guide from blogger and self-declared baby-naming expert Kixia Foster, you'll be provided with the key steps for:

*Choosing a baby name that's modern, classic, and unique, that also perfectly fits your newborn-to-be's personality.

*Avoiding those cliché names that all the other parents are giving their children.

*Steering clear of tragic baby-naming mistakes that could scar your little one for life.

Available in November. Hardback. 112 pages. Suggested retail $29.99.

* * *

Is that exciting, or what? :) :)

Oh, but you're probably thinking, now that Kixia's written a book, she won't be blogging anymore. She expects us to PAY for her advice, does she? But that is UNTRUE! I am pleased to report that I will be continuing to blog... starting... RIGHT NOW!

So, as you can imagine, after my long hiatus from the blogosphere, my inbox looks something like this:

3-7-14 Kixia, help me name my baby!
3-9-14 Kixia, what do you think about this list of names...??
4-2-14 Kixia, help, I'm having twins! Suggestions???
4-5-14 Kixia, why haven't you responded to my messages?
10-12-14 WTF Kixia, it's been 6 months! Where are you??? PLEASE RESPOND
1-4-15 Kixia I've given birth and you still haven't responded. WHAT SHOULD I NAME MY 6 MONTH OLD KID?
2-17-15 KIXIA ARE YOU STILL ALIVE????????????????????
2-19-15 F you Kixia, I just went ahead and named my baby Bob.

While I am flattered that so many people depend on my expertise and advice, I would like to remind my readers that baby-naming (though I AM an expert, let's not kid ourselves) is something anyone can (attempt) to do. Like they say in the movies, "You had the power all along." The power to name your kid Braighlynne Papaya Nicollette Smith IV, if that was your wish. The power is yours, and always was.

But that doesn't mean I've become obsolete, oh no, no, no! (P.S.: Buy my book.)

But basically, if you sent me a message more than six months ago, I'm probably never going to read it or respond to it. But I WILL respond to some of my more recent messages, and you are, of course, welcome to send along more. Who knows? Some of them may be published in my NEXT book!

Here are a few of my recent messages as well as my helpful replies:

-----------------
Dear Kixia,

I'm pregnant with my second daughter, due in November, and need your advice -- not about not the name itself -- but about about the spelling. The name I'm going to give her is essentially "McKinsley" but I don't care for that particular spelling. I want the spelling to be semi-unique but not terribly hard for my daughter to spell out. What do you think about:

Mckynsley
Mikinzli
Makynzleighe

or... other?

Thanks!

Kayteigh Rollins
Mommy to Madysynne Rhozze and TBA


Dear Kayteigh,

How about MKNZLY? It'll get the point across, and will also make a nice license plate, if someone hasn't already taken it. And if it's not available in your state, remember, there are 49 others to choose from. As an aside, www.mknzly.com is still available! Go for it!

Sincerely, 
Kixia

-----------------
Hey Kixia,

Our baby is due in three days and we have no idea what to name it.  HELP US!

--Dale & Codey Martinez

P.S. We don't yet know the sex.
P.P.S. We're hipsters, if that changes anything.

Dale & Codey
San Diego

Dear Dale & Codey,

I have a fun idea that should appeal to all. Here's what you do. When the baby comes out, look at the hair color. Then name the baby accordingly.

Black hair? Ebony for a girl, Ebon for a boy.
Brown hair? Browne for a boy, Bronwyn for a girl.
Blonde Hair: Blondca for a girl, James Blond for a boy.
Red Hair: Redmond for a boy, Karrots for a girl.
And if it's bald? Name it Harry (or Harrie)... in the interest of irony.

Yours,

Kixia

-----------------
Kixia,

We are due with our third daughter in December. Our two girls both have names ending with "ty" (Trinity, 4, and Serenity, 2) and we want our third to have the same. We can't use "Felicity" or "Liberty" because the girls have cousins with those names. We have considered: Charity, Chastity, Modesty, Royalty, Majesty, Infinity, Destiny, and Dynasty. We were wondering what you'd suggest?

From, Jon & Lenea
Port Townsend, Washington

Dear Jon & Lenea,

Well, if you didn't already have a daughter named Trinity, I'd advise you against THAT one. Trinity literally means "a group of three". You want a child with three personalities? Fine. Go that route. Oh wait -- you already did!! Hope she's not a total nutso. And your little Serenity is presumably going through the terrible twos right now -- ever feel like rethinking THAT choice? Sorry, but I think giving kids a "virtue" or "abstract concept" name is giving them a lot to live up to. I mean, what if you give a girl the name Chastity and she doesn't remain chaste? What if Modesty likes to wear skimpy bikinis? What if Royalty becomes a bum? What if Infinity doesn't live forever? YOU SEE?

In conclusion, I suggest Hetty or Betty. Both are classic -ty names that ought to make a comeback any year now.

As always,

Kixia

-----------------
Kixia,

I'm writing to you because I'm upset with you. Well, not just with you, but... well, here's how it is. Three years ago my wife and I asked you for baby name suggestions. You told us that the letter "i" was up-and-coming and that if we gave our baby a name beginning with "i," we would not regret our choice.

Well, we named our daughter Isis, and now, quite frankly, we regret it!

This is not to say our daughter isn't the most perfect, beautiful, creative, smart, and talented child on the planet. Because she is. She just happens to have an unfortunate name.

I know that you didn't personally know, at the time, that Isis would come to represent a terrorist organization, but help us out, here... now what do we do?

-Josh Winters
Vancouver, BC


Dear Josh,

Never in my life have I been so excited by a semi-angry message! Yes, I know that there any many parents of Isis-es around the globe who are now regretting their unfortunate decision. You join the ranks of the many parents of Katrinas, Lances, Sandys, and Donalds, who have, at some point, slapped their foreheads going, "WHY?" 

Here's the silver lining, though. Your last name, and I presume your child's last name is also, Winters, correct? (If the child has a different last name, fine, but remedy that immediately.) So nickname your daughter "Isi," pronounced ICY. And there you have it. Isi Winters! Is she a Frozen fan? If so, why not?

Don't get angry, get smart, Josh! Remove that final "S" and your daughter will thrive.

All my best,

Kixia

-----------------

Hey Kixia,

My sister is pregnant with her first child, and wants to name her, I kid you not, Afternoon. She says that she feels like if Eve and Dawn can both be names, then Afternoon should be acceptable, too. I don't know how to get through to her. I mean, even if Afternoon was an okay name, what would she use for nicknames? Affie? Noo-noo? She says I need to MYOB because it's her kid, not mine, but as this baby's aunt, I feel like I ought to protect this child. Help!

-Megan D.

Atlanta, GA

Dear Megan,

My condolences on having a crazy sister. I know that a few years ago, I recommended (in one of my columns) that people give their kids "noun" names if they wanted to be avant garde, and I stand by that. But not everyone needs to be avant garde, and sometimes when we try to be so, we end up getting ourselves on the CPS watchlist, if you know what I mean.

It is a mystery why some baby names are popular and others, which seem to fall in the same category, are not. For example: months of the year. April, May, June and August are all common baby names. September, January, and November have made a few appearances as well. But nobody who is anybody names their child February, but that may be because of that nefarious extra "r". Who can say?

The same is true for seasons. "Autumn" and "Summer" are great baby names. "Winter", maybe. "Spring" and "Fall"? Heck no.

And don't even get me started on days of the week. "Sunday" and "Wednesday"? Great names. Both were names of feisty female fictional characters. But whenever I hear "Monday" all I ever think about is that detective from Mathnet. "Tuesday" and "Friday"? Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. The jury's still out on "Saturday".

In conclusion, Eve is a great name, Dawn is a retro name, and Afternoon needs to be expunged from your sister's brain, STAT. Have you considered hypnosis? Slip the hypnotist a $50 and your sister might even be persuaded to name her kid Sally.

Best of luck,
Kixia

-----------------

Kixia,

What do you think of the name Oona, for a girl?

Your #1 Fan,
Elisa Jones

Elisa,

I love Oona! They're a great phone service. They're internet-based and super inexpensive, so if you have to have a landline... oh... wait, that's Ooma.

Yes, I love Oona! 

Hakuna Matata,
Kixia

-----------------

Well, that's all I have time for today. Don't forget to check out my book! And remember... you have the power to name your baby... so please don't screw it up.


not an actual book


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Care Bears Movie



So I'm on this quest to review every movie that amused me during my childhood. This could take years. So let's get started. Today we have The Care Bears Movie. This was released in 1985, and my parents taped it a year or two later. I watched it a lot as a kid.
The plot:

We are taken to a children's home called Cherrywood, where a nice old man and woman (Mr. and Mrs. Cherrywood) are saying goodnight to a roomful of children. The kids want a story, so Mr. Cherrywood puts on his story hat and obliges.



And thus begins Mr. Cherrywood's story of the Care Bears, magical fluffy animals who live in the clouds amongst hearts and rainbows in a land called Care-a-Lot, and who, you know, care about me and you and... just about everything. It's their duty, and dammit if they don't do a thorough job of it.

In this particular story, the bears' Care Focus is on two kids, Kim and Jason, whose parents have "gone away" (we assume this means they went to that other big haven in the sky.) Kim and Jason have no friends, and they don't want any either. When Secret Bear and Friend Bear try to befriend the kids, the kids are rude to the bears.

buzzfeed.com

Alas, the bears care so much that they refuse to give up.

Meanwhile, Tender Heart Bear is off trying to befriend another lonely soul, a magician's apprentice named Nicholas.


Nicholas comes upon an evil and magical book that just happens to talk to him and offer to befriend him.


Like any good demon in disguise, the face in the book starts out looking, oh, pretty decent.


But Tender Heart Bear knows that this book is up to no good, and so he tries to stop the insanity before it's too late.


However, the demon book gets a wee bit ticked by bear intervention and...



Ta-Dum!


... yeah, so the demon turns green. It's supposed to be symbolic of its evilness increasing. Or something. So anyway, back in Care-a-Lot...


The bears have got this new invention dealy, kind of like Wonkavision or that beamer thing on Star Trek... we're talking futuristic bear transportation, here. The bears call it the Rainbow Rescue beam. Only problem is, it doesn't work. That is... until Baby Hugs and Baby Tugs mess with it. Somehow they manage to summon...


... Kim and Jason! 
You know exactly what the bears would be thinking, were they not bears that cared to the extreme. They'd be thinking, Who invited THEM? It's not exactly Party Time when Kim and Jason are around. They've garnered a reputation of being kind of depressing. But that's allll about to change...

After a song and dance ("Nobody cares like a bear!"), provided by our furry friends, Kim and Jason learn to love again. Specialness abounds. But then... EARTHQUAKE! Or... cloudquake...!!!! Rainbows crack, bears fall down, and the Bears' Care meter starts dropping like crazy. Why is this? Oh, it might just have something to do with the evil spirit... let's check...

Okay, so I probably neglected to mention that Nicholas works for a guy named The Great Fetuccini, the World's Most AMAZING Magician, who just happens to live in a trailer.


The spirit helps Nicholas put a spell on The Great Fet to get the man to fall asleep so Nicholas can take over his magic act. Nick's first performance goes horribly wrong, and all the children point and laugh. The spirit is like, "Hey, let's put a curse on the kids. Let's teach them a LESSON." And Nick's all right with that.

So within a matter of seconds, the scene goes from this...


to this...


Yeah, cuz I know when I'm just feeling mean all of a sudden, my most pressing desire is to put an empty cup on someone's head.

Sooo anyway, back at Care-a-Lot, the bears realize that a bunch of people in the world have suddenly stopped caring (thank you, Nicholas...) and that if this trend continues, Care-a-Lot will disappear forever. UH OH. Friend Bear and Secret Bear decide to take Kim and Jason back home to Earth and see what they can do to help. They use the Rainbow Rescue beam but... whoops... something goes wrong, and the foursome wind up in a maaaagical forest. The other bears are scared. They know that Kim, Jason and the two bears didn't make it to Earth. They also know the Rainbow Rescue Beam is crap. So they all pile into a boat...


and set off to see if they can find their wayward friends... and maybe save the world while they're at it.

Meanwhile, Kim, Jason, and the two bears meet a lion, a bunny, and a monkey, and they all decide to sing about diversity...


... you know, how even though we're all different, we're all alike. Bears and lions are the same. Monkeys and bunnies are the same. Children and evil spirits are... well, they're all just trying to take over the world, but hey, without that, this movie wouldn't have a plot!

The bears on the boat are having a keen time. Just like their counterparts in the woods, these bears have met some friendly creatures -- an elephant, a raccoon, etc. All the while, the evil spirit is sending this demonic cloud thing to kill the bears and kidnap Kim and Jason, because those two children are big fat holdouts and still have love in their hearts and that is just NOT okay. Now, you might be slightly worried about the fate of Kim and Jason, but never fear... as long as they're around the Care Bears, they're going to be juuust fine. And why is that? It's because of THIS little thing...


... the CARE BEAR STARE. It's a thing where they shoot beams of love from their stomachs and can kill things with it and stuff. But BAD things, only bad things. It's really creepy when you think about it so I'd advise you to try not to. Fact: The Care Bear Stare kicks evil demon butt, and therefore we like it.

Well, it isn't long before all the bears are reunited and they all get into the boat and they emerge... wow, right where they need to be, at the carnival where Nick is at! Nick's busy seeking ingredients for the ultimate spell that will obviously do something REALLY BAD. The bears just want to find the spirit and lock her stupid book up.

After some carnivalistic escapades, the bears manage to confront Nick, who has clearly gone insane at this point...


They use the Care Bear Stare on him... but it doesn't work. The animal friends howl and meow and do their things. Nothing. Two more bears arrive via the Rainbow Rescue Beam. NOTHING'S WORKING!!! Oh wait... incoming...

Kim & Jason: "Nicholas, we want to be your friend. Belieeeeeve us!"

Nicholas: "I... believe you. The power of your friendship has made me see the error of my ways. The evil spirit was just that -- evil -- and I will no longer look to her for fulfillment. Must... close... the book...."

The book does not want to close. But Kim and Jason help and Jason gets the key out (he's been holding onto it, long story, don't ask) and stabs it into the book.

The key kills the horcrux inside.Voldemort's power decreases. WTG Jason!

Later, we learn that happy endings abound for all...
The non-bears who helped the Care Bears become "Care Bear Cousins"...
Kim and Jason get adopted by earthly parents...


... and Mr. Fetuccini makes Nicholas his partner (as opposed to his... child slave? I dunno.) 
In the end, Kim and Nicholas grow up and get married and turn into Mr. and Mrs. Cherrywood, and they run a children's home.


All right, I made that last part up. Although there is no proof that Kim = Mrs. Cherrywood, we're all supposed to assume that Nicholas = Mr. Cherrywood. The former bad boy now wears a top hat and tells stories and looks like Mikey's dad from The Goonies. And all because of a bunch of bears.
Bears who care.



(Adapted from an article originally published on my website AlligatorJuice.com on July 1, 2004.)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Planning

In a little over a month I'm going to be taking the biggest, longest trip I've ever taken.


I'm a little bit scared.

And a little bit excited.

For most of my trip, I'll be traveling solo. This idea scares my mother and pretty much everyone I've talked to who's in her age bracket. To me, it's not a big deal. I have traveled solo before. I've slept in hotels by myself and eaten at IHOPs by myself and taken flights and train trips alone. But those trips have been short... maybe 5 days at a time... and they've been limited to my home country, the U.S.A. Europe may be a different story.

The fact is, traveling solo can be pretty great. You eat when you want to, sleep when you want to, and go wherever you want, without worrying about whether someone else is enjoying themselves. If you want to go to an art museum, you go. If you want to lie in bed until noon, you lie. The downside is, if you see something really cool and want to share it with someone, you can't... at least, not immediately. Thankfully, the internet will allow me to keep in touch with people back home while I'm "abroad." Loneliness may happen, but... I'll deal.

Planning

I feel like I've been planning forever. The funny thing is, I've barely stuck to any of my original plans. At first, I was certain I would go to Amsterdam. But I won't be going there on this trip after all. I did a fair amount of research into England, before deciding England could wait. I've also "postponed" Legoland Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, and Disneyland Paris.

In my planning, I spent months reading Rick Steves' Europe 101 during my lunch breaks, and I watched his TV show every Saturday evening. Some seasoned travelers will tell you that Rick Steves isn't the best travel guide, but I didn't care. Rick went to beautiful places and I sat spellbound for half an hour each week.

I also pored over Lonely Planet Discover Europe, consulted maps, and tried to devise the best plan for my nine days in Europe.


Why nine? It's just the way it worked out. For one thing, Europe isn't my only travel destination. Also, budget-wise, it made sense. Also, a transatlantic cruise may have had something to do with it.

Sometime during the spring of 2014 I became obsessed with the idea of cruising. Then I learned about transatlantic cruises. Since I hate flying, it seemed perfect. Sure, I'd have to fly to Europe, since eastbound transatlantic cruises tend to happen in May and June, but westbound cruises? Get me on a boat!

Of course, it may turn out that I hate cruising, too. 

The cruise I'm doing leaves on a specific date from Barcelona, Spain. So of course I had to work Barcelona into my itinerary. From there, I started planning backwards. Three days in Barcelona. Back to Wednesday. 3 days in Italy. Back to Sunday. Two days in Switzerland. Back to Friday. Two days in Germany. Why Germany? For one thing, my cousin lives there. For another, the flight I found to Frankfurt on September 8th was unbelievably cheap. (I'm hoping that means the plane isn't made out of Duplos and decayed wienerschnitzel, but I'm willing to take my chances.)

By the time the cruise ship docks in the U.S.A. it'll be October. I'm planning to spend a few days in Miami, then go up to Washington D.C. I've never been to D.C. After that, it's either New York City or Boston or somewhere else in New England, and the strange thing is, I just don't know. Some of my plans are still up in the air.

Bucket List

By the time I return home in mid-October, I would really like to have accomplished the following:

*See the Alps

*See "The Last Supper" and other awesome art

*Visit St. Mark's Square in Venice

*Eat legit Italian pizza

*Eat legit Italian gelato

*Make some use of my Italian language skillz, which include counting to 20 and naming the days of the week. (So useful.)

*See where Judy Blume lived and went to school as a child in Miami (seriously)

*Watch the Rifftrax Live presentation of "Miami Connection" while in Miami. (seriously...)

*See the White House, Capitol building, and other important D.C. stuff

*See an actual panda at the D.C. zoo (I shall conquer this! I shall!)

Concerns

*Getting lost. (Not a big fear, but it would be a bummer.)

*Getting sick. (I have trip insurance, but even a low-level illnesses would suck. I don't want to lie around all day feeling awful and miss out on things! And what if it turns out I get seasick? I'm packing sea bands and dramamine as a precaution, but still.)

*Getting pickpocketed. (I don't plan to carry very much cash around, but I still think this would be alarmingly violating.) 

*This:


*Losing my passport. 

*Bidets. They freak me out, okay?

*Being incredibly homesick, especially for my cats. (SERIOUSLY.)

Budget

My original budget was a bit too low, it turns out, and have already gone over it by about 20%. Oh well, live and learn. You should see my Excel spreadsheet. It's pretty neat. Color coded and everything.

I saved for this trip all last year. Financially I'm okay. I can't stay in four-star hotels, but I won't be staying in hostels either. I'm also going to be careful with my food budget. I don't intend to eat in fancy restaurants. I hope to find markets, grocery stores, food stands, and cafes to suit my needs. I'm only planning on taking one guided tour, and it's a cheap one. I'm not someone who needs to go-go-go all the time. I love just staring at art and architecture for hours. 

Am I nervous? Yep!

Am I planning to blog during my trip? You bet!


Daisypath Vacation tickers

Thursday, July 2, 2015

About 30 Years - Nice Round Number!

Happy 30th Anniversary to my favorite movie, Back To The Future!


Yep! July 3 is the 30th anniversary of the release of the film. (The year was 1985. Where were you when Marty McFly went back in time and crashed into a barn?)

I know other fans have written compelling articles recently, such as: "How Back to the Future II's 2015 and the real 2015 compare and contrast" ... but forget that. Instead, here are some things I wrote, like, ten years ago!

Stepping Back (That time I interviewed 3 twentysomething BTTF fans)


The Life & Times Of Marty McFly, Age 37 (a goofy comic I drew in 2005)

(a professionally-drawn BTTF comic strip that I merely scanned & uploaded)

(something I wrote when I had way too much time on my hands)

Molly Goes To The Emerald City Comic Con (that time I saw Lea Thompson IRL and saw twenty-odd Deloreans drive by in a parade!)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

World Peace & Syrup Of Figs!

Ninety-seven years ago, world peace was declared.


Yeah, yeah, THAT was short-lived. But people were happy for a little while!


"Mad with joy!" The Yanks went "Plum Crazy!" WELL, I WOULD, TOO!


Army calls canceled! Heck yeah! P.S. Does anyone know how I can get the Red Cross blood donor people to stop calling me? :-/

So, what else was happening on November 11, 1918 in Oregon?


Influenza was ravaging nearby towns, and Yale models were absconding with...


CHEESE!?!?!

A well known lady ("Mrs. E. H. Boots," possibly a cat animagus) did something daring...


Across town, hijinks were occurring...


Meanwhile, this guy was trying to make his new catchphrase go viral....


Only 90something years too early for Twitter, dude.

Then there was this lady....


Bitro phosphate. Hmm. Just Googled it. Google asks: "Do you mean nitro phosphate?" I DON'T KNOW

Serathol (now only found in museums, I kid not) was recommended for gastritis. 


"Dr. King's mysterious medicine" wanted to make sure you said nope to dope...iness.


And lest we forget the younguns when it comes to health matters... Here you are, kids! Syrup of figs! Come and get it!


But wait! Were Dr. Williams' Pink Pills better than Dr. King's New Discovery? 


Well, who knows. But what's important is, YOUR BODY TYPE IS WRONG AND YOU SHOULD CHANGE IT.


Bitro phosphate. Because weight is great.

If you can't change your body, why, then chew some gravely tobacco!


Gross.

In 1918, Gluten-free and sugar-free foods were becoming a thing -- but not for health reasons (I'm not sure anything was really about "health" back then, my goodness.)


In other news, telegraph operators didn't realize how little time they had left. :( 
(Be not dismayed, fellas! Your great-grandchildren will one day work at the Apple Store!)


Speaking of communications, Hands-free phones were making their debut. Check it out!


C.F. Corgan is talking to his mom on the telephone WHILE playing Farmville!

In 1918, oranges were a big deal.


And you could get an 8-room house with a garage, a chicken coop, and a cherry orchard for $2500.


Insert "I really need to build a time machine!" joke... 

here.