Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gen Z and Me

So, have you heard about Gen Z?

I typed that right. I didn't mean Gen X or the Millennial Gen Y kids. I mean Gen Z. There's a whole bunch of 'em, and they were born between the early '90s and 2010, according to Wikipedia, which is the final word on everything until somebody hacks it and writes what they want.

ANYWAY! The Gen Z kids are young and hip and now. Which is why I'm barred from their group.

However, I have found there are ways I can help these Gen Z-ers. For example: I can shed light on some of the obscure '80s and '90s references that are trotted out on shows like "Psyche." Last summer's show promo was a parody of that '80s hit "Private Eyes." The kids thought it was a knee slapper.
Me: "That's a good take on the Hall & Oates song."

Cara: "Which song?"

Ry: "Who's Hauling Oats?"

Yes, they loved the "Psych" commercial even though they didn't even KNOW it was a parody of the singing duo HALL & OATES who had a song named "PRIVATE EYES!!!"

So I called up the video on YouTube, and -- like all Gen Z kids -- they saw the first 12 seconds of it and got distracted and grew impatient because they're impatient and think they have better things to do than watch '80s videos.
Ry: "Whatever, Mom, we got the point."

"Glee" is always dredging up ol' timey hits like, "Good Vibrations."

Me: "Wow, they're going with Marky Mark."

Cara: "Who's Marky Mark?"

Me: "Only Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch!"
Cara thinks "Funky Bunch" sounds hilarious. Then I point out Marky Mark has been in movies with Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney, and produces half of HBO's line-up. So, laugh all ye want... young 'un.

Recently, Cara directed my attention to the apparel site. There, she clicks on what she "loves" and all her selections end up together on a "Loved Items" page. Cara emails these lists to me and I hit the delete button.
Cara: "Mom, just look at their clothes! They're SO CUUTE!"

Me: "Cara, just look at your closet and drawers -- they're SO MESSY!"

Cara: "You're so mean. But just click on the dress on the top. Isn't that SOOO CUUUUTE?!"

I click on the "A Little Bit Indie Rock" dress. I don't know what's indie rock about it -- I mean, it's not plaid, it's not eight layers of different ripped up fabric and tulle. I'm guess I'm just really out of touch with the indie rock scene, man, because this dress looks like a "Michelle Obama has Tea with Southern Republicans" number.

The Indie Rock description starts with "You may be a little bit country, like Marie, or a little bit rock n' roll, like Donnie...." Yes, they spelled Donny wrong -- but that's because the caption writer probably didn't spend years of her life with his poster on her wall, like some people.

Me: "Do you know who Donny and Marie are?"

Cara, after a several-second pause: "Osmond?"

Me: "And do you get the 'little bit country, little bit rock n' roll' reference?"

Cara: "It's a reference?"

That was my cue to jump into a rousing rendition of, "I'm a little bit country, I'm a little bit rock n' roll" dut dut dun naht! I explained the whole thing about Marie sang a country song, Donny sang a rock tune. Sometimes they switched it up and Marie got to rock out.
Me: "Here, look. I can probably pull it up on YouTube."

Cara: "It's okay, Mom. I get it. ...Now can I get the dress?"

Oh, those impatient, attention-deficited #!* Gen Zers!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Down That Slippery Slope

As a veteran football widow, I've come to know what to do to keep the kids happy, the husband happy and myself relatively sober during an NFL football Sunday.

But now we're in the playoff season. And that means Saturday AND Sunday games. Lucky for me, it's been a-snowin' like the dickens outside. Unlucky for me, we don't have a quarter-mile hill running down our backyard, like I had growing up.

So, I drive my kids to a sledding site. Lucky for me, it's easy to get to. There are also no trees or telephone poles in the sledding path. Unlucky for us all, there's a two-way street at the bottom. But, the town is kind/smart/wary of lawsuits enough to shut the street down for a few hours on busy sledding weekends.

I've taken Ryan a number of times, and Cara at least twice. You'd think this would make me #1 Mom. Mom of the Year. Best Mom on the Block, at least.

But -- and the established readers will already know this -- no.

Me: "Hey, it's a great day to go sledding. Why don't you get your stuff on and we'll go over."

Cara, making a beeline anywhere away from me: "I have homework. LOVE YOU!"

Ryan: "Why do you keep doing this?!"

Yep. I'm told over and over by my kids that "I'm old" yet I'm the one longing to fly down the slope, hopefully catching some air as I hit a few mogul-like bumps in my path. I guess sledding is for old people now. It's not Xbox, it's not Skype or facebook or Netflix. It's what old people do, until they need a hip replacement and turn to indoor games like "Where's My Damn Bi-Focals?"

Last weekend, I took my sister and one of her sons with me, Cara and Ryan. This should have
been an all-out good time for my son: snow, sledding, a male cousin. Yes, I know: not the free-for-all he'd like with all the boy cousins and uncles who pull out shovels to create jumps of ill-advised heights.

But whatever, it should have been considered something decent.

Ten minutes after our arrival, Ryan was insisting he couldn't go fast enough because the snow wasn't "any good." Thank you, Bob Costas, Jr.

I recognized a recent storm had made the snow a little rougher, but it was certainly sleddable. Ry took a few more runs and determined he'd had it. My sister and I, meanwhile, were doing run after run, looking for the premier area on this very wide slope, doing our best to not take out any small children along the way. See, it's funny when another kid does it, yet "frowned upon" when an adult causes casualties.

Luckily for me, a bystander dad heard me and Ryan spiraling toward a "negative conversation." He pointed out an area further down the way that had a steep start. Ryan, feeling pressure from an outside source to appear agreeable, decided to give it a whirl. Bam! It got my son to the very bottom of the hill and inspired him to take a few more runs.

However, about 20 minutes later, my sister and I noticed all three kids standing at the top of the hill, chit chatting. My kids are routinely ready to conclude their sledding day after a half hour, so clearly we moms had wickedly forced them to run past their limit.

Ryan: "Why do you guys keep going down the hill?"

My sister: "Because we've got the keys!"

Me: "What's up with you guys? You're all done?"

Cara: "Mmm, yeah. Are you almost done?"

My sister and I were like, "What is the deal!?" We came to the conclusion that it must have been how we were raised. Once my mom got her brood of five out the door with all our snow gear on, I don't recall being allowed back in for at least two, if not five, hours. My mother may remember it differently.

My sister and I got in a couple more runs, the last one of which was a race that I let her win -- because I'm older and didn't want her to be all sad... and stuff. But, I'd like to point out, in an effort to NOT run into some small children, I had to swing right onto a cruddy path full of footsteps and lumpy snow, thus taking me way off course. But, still, I let her win.

Because I'm an adult. Obviously.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Post-Holiday Crash

Some people end the holidays feeling down. Once the shopping, eating, drinking, partying and running around ends, they go into a winter slump.

Not me. 'Cuz my shopping, eating, drinking and partying go year-round, yo!

Okay, maybe not exactly. But just because I'm not bummin' doesn't mean I'm happy and content. Because I'm not. I'm aggravated. And it sort of has to do with "technology." Which my kids say has to do with "being old." To which I say, "Clean something, brats." To which they say, "We love when you trot out your comedy routine. Ha ha ha."

By technology, I'm not talking about how to dismantle U2's bomb of a Broadway show. That's going to take teams of professionals.

No, I'm talking about getting the new Garmin to work. Getting my new iPod to sync. Getting my computer to stop sending spam texts to my phone and emails to my mother!

Seriously, my mother was getting Canadian pharmacy spam emails from my computer. I was aggravating her and I didn't even know it. Which kind of isn't anything new, actually.

Anyway! I got Mike a Garmin for Christmas. First he was offended due to the fact that he's male, and that gender as a whole feels it never needs directions. Then I told him it could look up restaurants for him if we're in a strange, new place. Quickly realizing it could become a vital tool in the eternal Salfino Quest for Perfect Pizza, Mike embraced the device.

So, Christmas afternoon, I'm trying to get us out of the house so we can go to my parents when Mike decides to christen the Garmin.

Me: "You need to read the instructions and we don't have time for that. Besides, I think we know how to get to my mom and dad's."

Mike: "What? You just turn it on. Just get the kids in the car."

Cut to us driving up the highway.

Mike, fidgeting with the thing on New Jersey's Rt. 3: "Can you get this thing to talk? I thought it was supposed to talk. And why isn't it showing where we're going?"

Me: "I told you not to worry about this now. You KNOW where you're going! Don't crash the car trying to get the Garmin to TELL you where to go! Mary, mother of Jesus!"

Mike convinced me I should give it a shot, try to make it work. After two minutes, I was car sick and frustrated.

Cara: "Is it like 'Star Wars,' Mom? Is it freaking you out?"

Me: "No, but it WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE to have the directions booklet."

Ryan: "You just touch the screen and the directions come on. Give it to me."

Mr. Xbox/iTouch/DSi went on to figure the whole thing out and tell us how it could make phone calls, give us multiple routes to Grandma's and take us around the moon in the process. Jerk.

Mike bought me a new iPod for Christmas. The iddy biddy Nano.

I've always had the big version with the wheel. But I figured I'd try the tiny thing now that the other is getting old and skitchy.

I plugged it in to my computer to sync it up with iTunes. Great. It alleged the sync was complete and I could remove it from the charger. Groovy. I played around with the screen, and next thing I knew, I was locked into some other language and the battery appeared to start draining.

Me: "Uhhhhh, I don't think THAT'S supposed to happen."

PS--45 minutes of plugging, unplugging, downloading and researching how to get this thing to work ended up with me asking Mike to step in. Three minutes later he, said, "You needed to re-boot your computer and re-start iTunes. You're fine now."

Grrr! Ya know?!?

Well, there's a chance I might have good news to report. After another round of computer fun, I may have stopped my email from spamming my phone and my mom. I won't know for sure until tomorrow, as it preferred to hit us up in the early morning hours.

I worked with a Comcast customer service rep who told me to change passwords and security questions, re-boot, assign more protections, go totally Tron and take matters into my own virtual hands.

I was feeling pretty IT-capable until I finally went to log into my email, it stopped working and came up with nothing but an exclamation point.

My feeling exactly!

Happy New Year!!