Giving Thanks, Cabbages-Style

Above: Every bored toddler should be playing with razor-sharp axes for the holidays, right? (?!)

Well, it's that time of year, folks! Time to stop and think about what makes us thankful. So at Cabbages, I've put together a very special list of the things that I've been grateful for in the past year which are 100% unrelated to things like turkeys, family, or parades where giant Snoopys stomp Manhattan like beagle-shaped Godzillas. Perhaps you might even join me in a few of them!

  • I'm thankful Lindsay Lohan is finally getting the help she needs. Again.
  • I'm thankful I didn't have a large beverage before seeing the new Harry Potter, as I was not forced to recreate the bladder-busting "crumbling Roman aquaduct in rainy season" concerns of that time I went to see Gladiator with a jumbo Diet Coke.
  • I'm thankful actress Betty White is too busy implementing her plan for later-life World Domination in order to make another sequel to Lake Placid.
  • I am thankful for Twitter, because writing pithy messages in 140 character increments has unleashed my secret desire to write existential philosophy for tea-bag envelopes.
  • I'm thankful my two kittens nuzzle me awake before the annoying sound of my alarm goes off. Less thankful they do this at three o'clock in the morning. (They will be receiving wristwatches for Christmas.)
  • I am thankful for blog spam because I have learned amusing new phrases like: "I need to encourage you how yearn a heyday" and invitations like: "...And so entertain stomach with us." I've decided to entertain stomach throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks, Spammers-- Pass the stuffing! 
  •  I'm thankful for Facebook quizzes like "How Mentally Unstable are You?" or "If You Were a Dried Legume, Which One Would You Be?" So I know who to stay clear of, should I see these people in real life.
  • I'm thankful for those cha-cha-ing, ever-pooping Charmin bears commercials as it makes me wistfully nostalgic for the days of squeeze-obsessed spokesman, Mr. Whipple.
  • I am thankful for the beauty and versatility of sarcasm, for without it, we would likely not be where we are here today.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! (I am additionally thankful that you stopped by-- no sarcasm involved.)

My Superheroic Alter Ego: Blood Pressure Elevation Girl

Faster than a racing heartbeat! More powerful than a punctured jugular! Able to generate her own anxiety at the flash of a single white lab coat...

It's the world's most boring party trick!...

It's an exciting new pharma giveaway!...

No! It's Blood Pressure Elevation Girl! Feel the rush!!

Yup, that's me. 

Aside from the time they couldn't get my blood pressure at all and I had to convince them I wasn't the walking dead...

My one big superpower has been going to the doctor's office and instantly shooting my otherwise-regulated blood pressure skyward to levels so unrealistic, that medical staff are ready to shield themselves in protective gear less I explode in a shower of coffee, bodily fluids and Cheez-Its.

Like most superpowers, this talent is both unwanted and mysterious.

I mean, it's not like I'm afraid of needles, blood, or have an irrational fear of $10 co-pays.

I'm not germophobic or unnaturally averse to the latest paper dressing gown fashions.

Yet the moment I get into the doctor's office, I can feel the anxiety creeping onto me like a radioactive spider. 

Breathing exercises don't work because then I start getting neurotic about that. 

"Am I breathing less than I normally do? Am I getting too much oxygen? Is it possible to get too much oxygen? Ack!.. Will the oxygen make the blood pressure rise from all the extra oxygen molecules, like one of those Three Musketeers Bars that float around the office on the commercials?!"

Reading the magazines doesn't take my mind off things, because someone helpfully stocked my entire doctor's office with health and medical magazines. Articles like "You Can Prevent Death Before 50" and "Your Colon and You" are not so much mentally transporting. 

I respect their efforts. But I just don't want to read about the place I already don't want to sitting in. I don't want to be learning about new diseases at this moment; the time for intellectual curiosity is not Now.

I want a nice boring Highlights for Children magazine with all the hidden items already circled. Or a supermarket rag covered in reality TV stars I've never heard of.

And then I get called in, and the medical assistant wants to take my blood pressure. I inform her in advance it's going to be higher than normal, because I don't want her to feel sad and disappointed. I figure it's good to set expectations. And as it's happening, I'm still there trying to will the number down, like I can control the blood pressure cuff with my mind.

Which, of course I can't, because telekinesis is not my superpower.

So she goes out of the room telling me my blood pressure is "a bazillion over many," and then has me wait seven years for the doctor, who will come in to take my blood pressure again, because they are Optimists.

But me, I am an over-achiever. So I will sit there and try to over-achieve on getting my blood pressure down. I will picture beautiful tranquil islands, and try to distract myself by counting all the letters on the posters taped to the walls. 

I can tell you how many babies are on the vaccination poster. (Nine. Four facing forward, five posed sideways.)

I will examine my nicely-printed chart of perfectly normal blood pressures from home over the last three months, and develop my defense case for the doc. 

"See, I can prove I'm not compulsive hypertension liar." And I will examine my own personal blood pressure cuff, to make sure the batteries are still good. If I am waiting there seven years, I can do this a good many times.

Clearly, I am a sick woman, but not in the area they think.

So today, I went to the doctor's for this very thing. Expecting this very same scenario. And the doctor said: "120 over 77. Perfect!"

I had her repeat it. And I am now befuddled. My superpower is gone? Am I like Hiro when he lost his time travel capabilities?

Will I wake up the next time, with the ability to... oh... write equally well with both hands? ("I am... Ambidextra!")

Will I suddenly be able to accurately estimate how many jellybeans in a jar? ("You may call me... The Quantifier.")

Or maybe I'll finally be able to wrap Christmas presents so they don't look like a five-year-old thumbless child did it. ("I am... the GiftMaster!")

Now I think about it, I hope it's that last one. Christmas is coming. And anyway, I won't need the superpower of self-elevated blood pressure.

I'll just go to the mall on Black Friday.

So tell me: what's your superpower?

Toyota Highlander Geek Family Kid Versus Supernanny Smackdown

Folks who follow me on Twitter might know that as a marketing writer myself, I recently had some, um... strong... opinions on the new Toyota Highlander ads series.

These commercials are the ones featuring the blond, tousled-haired tot who is the self-proclaimed Mr. Blackwell of all that is Cool and Roadworthy in the world of foreign minivans.

See, this mouthy munchkin has been dealt such a rough hand in life...

While he personally is apparently so cool that car windows frost up when he walks by, he also bears a horrible burden. He confides that he, by some strange twist of fate, is son to the "Geek Family." Parents who drive an unfashionable wood-paneled family truckster circa 1985.

From what I can tell, the trouble with this car isn't reliability or even spaciousness. It's that it's not even retro enough to be sufficiently back-in-style for his discerning elementary school tastes.

(Y'know, like velvet Elvii, lava lamps, or 60-year-old Cher wearing electrical tape again.)

So we are naturally led to agree that the opinion of a person whose whole life has spanned the service of a single two-term President is the one we should be following for our major automotive decisions.

Unfortunately, when you are a changeling from the Magical Land of Coolsville, where the highways are paved with gold, and all the precious wee ones ride in Corinthian leather car seats in supercars, well... landing up in the Geek Family truckster becomes a painful pothole in your young existence.

And that's where I think Supernanny needs to come in. See, I would like Supernanny to sweep in the moment Coolboy's disrespecting Geek Dad's sock-and-sandal footwear combo, give the kid an eight minute broadcast time-out on the Naughty Curb, and lecture the adults on backbone, brats and parenting.

Says Supernanny Jo in my happy vision:

"You will sit on the Naughty Curb for disrespecting your parents, making Bart Simpson look like Mother Theresa, and not being even half as funny as your ad agency writers think you are. You will sit here for an eight-minute media black-out, and then you will apologize to your mother, father, and primetime viewers on basic cable."
Barring that, I would settle for some Roald Dahl/Willy Wonka-style justice.

Now, of course, there are those who would say, "But it got your attention, and you're talking about it now, giving it press, so therefore, it is good marketing!"

I figure those people also probably enjoy pebbles in their shoes and Pauly Shore marathons and can make excuses for that, too.

See, for me:
Positive Attention
Hey, I might still consider this product/service in my decision-making process.
Negative attention, or in this case, "causing me to disproportionately contemplate the lamentable state of the world in terms of parenting, respect and manners, even though I know very well it's only a friggin' 30-second car commercial"
Associating your product with smart-mouthed, fast-talking kids, and reminding us why nobody ever really liked Danny Partridge much. And look how he turned out.

But just think: somewhere in the Magical Land of Coolsville, by the babbling energy drink brook and sitting under the tree where the hot new video game discs grow, is the real Geek Family Kid-- the missing one, the one that got swapped by the media trend fairies for Too Cool Boy.

Sure, he probably has a haircut shaped like a cereal bowl and knows Star Trek episodes like baseball stats. But in this magical land he might just say an even more magical word to one of the adults.

Like "please" or possibly "thank you."

The Coolsville elders will have to call a meeting to figure out how to handle it.

Are there any ads out there right now that make you blow a gasket, scratch your head, or just wish they would go away?

The Totally Non-Holiday Holiday Movie List

Somehow it became November, and the winter holiday season is creeping upon us. 

Which got me thinking about the rather strange array of movies I trot out during the next eight weeks in an attempt to be festive... while simultaneously not feeling the urge to drive an icepick through my ears because I'm hearing "White Christmas" for the 400th time in a day.

So for all of you folks who reach a point where if you hear about how "every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings" one more time, you're going to go on an eggnog-fueled rampage, this list just might be for you.


  • Addams Family Values. Ah, nothing like the combination of dry Gothic wit and blue blood summer camp, culminating in a completely off-season Thanksgiving holiday pageant to say, "Pass the turkey... But please use the medieval catapult."

  • Die Hard. Terrorists. Walking through glass in bare feet. Being held hostage. Lengthy delays in airports... Sounds like a family holiday to me! Plus, it's chock full of Christmas music, peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men. Okay, so that's near the closing credits. But, still.
  • The Ref. This is the Christmas movie you watch to feel really good about any of the petty conflicts, inconveniences and irritations you might encounter during your own holiday season. Or, perhaps, you'll be wishing Denis Leary will come and hold your own squabbling relatives hostage for holiday dinner-- y'know, just to liven things up a bit in a new, fresh and festive way.
  • Ghostbusters II. The ultimate in Christmas feel-goodness as found in mood slime and Jackie Wilson piping "Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher" through the movin' groovin' "Harbor Chick," Lady Liberty. If you can make New Yorkers happy during rush hour with monumental traffic jams (literally, in this case), you've truly channeled some holiday spirits. Believe me, I know. I'm originally from New Jersey. I've seen the malls.
  • Funny Farm. Watch Chevy Chase try to create the picture-perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas without Randy Quaid in a powder blue leisure suit and dickey. Challenge guests who've had an excess of mulled cider with rum to compete and see who can laugh most like the insane Redbud mailman.
  • The Hogfather. Okay, so this really is a Christmas movie... If, y'know, you lived in an alternate universe where Santa was actually an anthropomorphic pig deity. And a wild-boar entourage pulled his sleigh. And where Death was basically a good guy but a little bit misunderstood. And he had a granddaughter who was a part-time nanny, part-time witch. But otherwise, totally Christmassy.
  • Death Race. Jason Straitham demonstrates that Christmas is more than a season-- it's inexpensive background set decor while you eradicate the baddies. (Thanks to my friend Dave for this suggestion.)
So, folks-- any other films you'd like to add to this list? At Of Cabbages and Kings we always are glad for suggestions!