Monday, February 23, 2015

The Parenting Roundabout Oscars Live-Tweet

Or, how we managed to stay awake through five hours of gowns and golden statues. Listen to the Parenting Roundabout Podcast at

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Mauro 10-Point Comfort Scale for Oscar Dresses

Oscar night is coming up in a week, and I'll be live-tweeting with my Parenting Roundabout Podcast colleagues about the dresses and the awards but mostly the dresses (follow us at #OscarsPRP). Over my years as a parent—and maybe particularly as the parent of kids with special needs, one of whom I regularly had to get down on the floor with as he was growing up, even at parties, even at church—I've come to value comfort and practicality in outfits over fanciness and sleekness and cleavage and slits and highness of heel. And while I appreciate that your average starlet can't exactly wear sweats to the Oscars (I'd be among those dinging her if she did), I still look at some of those super-fancy dresses and wince at how uncomfortable and potentially disastrous they will be over the hours that these women will be sitting there waiting to win, lose, or present.

In the interest, then, of rewarding those who do manage to be both comfortable and stunning, and to penalize those who have sacrificed their own comfort for a bit of red-carpet flash, I am submitting my official version of the Mauro 10-Point Comfort Scale, on which I will be rating dresses at the Oscar shebang. Join me, won't you? And add your own suggestions and specifications in the comments.

The Mauro 10-Point Comfort Scale
by Terri Mauro

Award one point for each yes answer to these questions:
  1. Cleavage: Can she sneeze or slouch without risking a wardrobe malfunction?
  2. Slit: Can she cross her legs without flashing a worldwide audience?
  3. Hemline: Can she cross her legs at all?
  4. Tightness: Can she sit for three hours without passing out or sustaining serious bruising to the midsection?
  5. Frills: Will she have direct back-and-ass seat contact without having to sit on a peplum, huge bow, or scratchy petticoat?
  6. Simplicity: Is it conceivable that she could use the restroom without having assistants along to undress and dress her?
  7. Bareness: Is her back covered enough to avoid pattern rash from a fabric-covered auditorium seat, or sweat from a leather- or plastic-covered one?
  8. Shoes: Can she walk to the stage to accept an award without risking a heel caught in a skirt or a twisted ankle?
  9. Train: Can she move freely without worrying about somebody constantly straightening out the back of her skirt (or what’s getting caught up in it)?
  10. Accessories: Do the earrings and hairstyle look like they could be worn for hours without giving her a headache?
Then subtract one point for each yes answer to these questions:
  1. Does this look like a particularly nice mother-of-the-bride dress?
  2. If that color looked that way on you, would your mother have told you not to wear it?
  3. Does it look like something she just had hanging out in her closet? Or you might have in yours?
  4. Is there a regrettable accessory? (See especially: belt)
  5. Is it just, somehow, not appropriate to the occasion? (Can range from a too-short skirt to, say, a swan costume.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Loving 'Parks and Rec'

This post is a bit off the parenting topic, except to say that any show that can hold my attention amongst all my personal chaos of family and freelancing has something pretty special going for it, and Parks and Recreation has been that sort of recreation for me, one of the few Mom Things that everybody knows to stay out of the way of. I've been thinking of putting together a list of my ten favorite episodes for the upcoming ending of the show (sob!), but since there are too many I thought I'd narrow it down by making it a Valentine's Day-inspired list of romance-related episodes. For me, that mostly means Leslie and Ben, because I think they are so adorable and their relationship makes me happy. A few other couples, platonic and otherwise, do make it in, though. My unofficial list:
  1. "Flu Season" (Season 3, Episode 3). Because this was my first episode of Parks and Rec, and the one that made me fall in love with it, and the one where Ben fell for Leslie. Amazon | Hulu
  2. "Indianapolis" (Season 3, Episode 6). Because the idea that it is possible for a nice and positive person to break up with you in a way that is so nice and positive that you don't realize you're broken up with is both funny and sweet, and Leslie's litany of the times she's been broken up with is just funny. ("Skywriting isn't always positive.") Amazon | Hulu
  3. "Fancy Party" (Season 3, Episode 9). Because what other sitcom would allow such a completely impromptu, un-thought-out, unnecessary wedding between two main characters, where no one was pregnant or drunk or the victim of a wacky misunderstanding, and actually go through with it? The fact that Andy and April remained crazy about each other and crazy in general for the rest of the series is awesome sauce. Amazon | Hulu
  4. "I’m Leslie Knope" (Season 4, Episode 1). Because even when they're breaking up, Leslie and Ben are adorable. Love that the box Ben uses when he reveals he knows that they have to break up (to keep from torpedo-ing her City Council bid, since he's technically her boss and their dating is against the rules) ends up having a recurring roll in their romance. Amazon | Hulu
  5. "End of the World" (Season 4, Episode 6). Because of Leslie's scene with Ron, where she confesses that if the world was really ending, she'd want to be with Ben, and Ron points out that unfortunately, it's really not; and because of the very sweet friendship moments underlying all the bluster and buffoonery of Tom and Jean-Ralphio's End of the World (and the money) party. Amazon | Hulu
  6. "The Treaty" (Season 4, Episode 7). Because Leslie and Ben's attempt to just be friends runs so hilariously amok into global war, and oh, c'mon, you crazy kids, just get back together. And because it's the middle of a perfect trio of episodes making just that happen. Amazon | Hulu
  7. "Smallest Park" (Season 4, Episode 8). Because after it's clear that not only can't they be exes and friends, they can't even be co-workers, Leslie finally respectfully asks if Ben would be willing to say "screw it," resume their romance, and accept the consequences. (Spoiler: He would.) Amazon | Hulu
  8. "The Trial of Leslie Knope" (Season 4, Episode 9). Because of the ending, with the nerdiest but most perfect declarations of love that completely fit these two. Amazon | Hulu
  9. "Halloween Surprise" (Season 5, Episode 5). Because when you get a surprise marriage proposal, it's not at all unreasonable to request a few moments because you "need to remember every little thing about how perfect my life is right now." Amazon | Hulu
  10. "Leslie and Ben" (Season 5, Episode 14). Because although this was a much more traditional wedding episode than "Fancy Party" with all sorts of obstacles and hijinks, the ceremony was beautiful and sweet and perfect. Parks and Rec, I love you and I like you. Amazon | Hulu
You can hear me discuss these episodes and more Valentine's themed entertainment on this week's Parenting Roundabout: Round 2 podcast:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How 'Cougar Town' Restored My Faith in Comedy

As the parent of a young adult with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I'll admit, I can be pretty humorless about the topic of alcohol use during pregnancy. I have no patience for anyone who wants to split hairs. This is a 100 percent preventable birth defect. We know exactly how to avoid it. News reports about how maybe this much is okay, maybe that much is okay, just make steam come out of my ears. You might be able to smash your baby's head against the wall a few times before causing permanent brain damage too, but why in the world would you?

Still, our society and our entertainment is pretty heavily invested in the idea that abstaining from drink is a fate worse than death. That's certainly the worldview of Cougar Town, a show that revolves around a group of friends in a Florida cul-de-sac whose most common communal pastime is polishing off bottles of wine. Jokes have revolved around the size of the container Courteney Cox's character uses as a wineglass. Funny jokes. I love the show, despite the fact that I gave up alcohol not too long after adopting my son when it became tough to relax and enjoy a substance that broke my kid's brain. (It's not like I was ever much of a drinker anyway. The line between feeling good and feeling sick was always pretty thin. No way could I keep up with the cul-de-sac crew.)

Cougar Town is one of those rare good-natured comedies — like Parks and Recreation — that just leaves me feeling happy, like I've spent some good time with fun friends. But I'll admit, I was worried when at the end of last season, one of the wine-swilling characters turned out to be pregnant. I wasn't looking for the show to turn into a crusade against drinking during pregnancy or anything; it's not that kind of show, and shouldn't be. But these are characters one might reasonably expect to be among the hair-splitters on the topic of fetal alcohol exposure. If the season resumed with Laurie explaining how she had determined how many glasses of wine she could safely swig, or grandma-to-be Jules laughing about how she drank when she was pregnant and her son turned out OK, I'd never be able to watch the show again, or with the same pleasure. And I would miss it.

So huge thanks and kudos to the Cougar Town writers for, in the usual amiable way of the show, just ambling right around the issue. The season picked up with Laurie late in pregnancy and lamenting her inability to drink. Her friends tried abstaining with her and were unable to, but there was no suggestion that she should join in (or preaching that she shouldn't). In the second episode, she had the baby, keeping this from being a season-long concern. Maybe I should worry about whether she's going to drink while breast-feeding, but you know what? I'm going to let that slide.

I'm just going to be happy that, at a time when those with serious concerns about special needs are regularly admonished not to hold comedy to any standards at all, Cougar Town has shown that you can avoid issue-baiting and still be funny. Turns out it's not that hard to avoid pissing people off.

[I also talked about this on the Parenting Roundabout Podcast: Round 2 this week, along with Snowpocalypse, the Super Bowl, Oscar scheduling, and books I may or may not have read. Listen in, and subscribe on iTunes for weekly episodes on parenting and entertainment.]

Monday, January 06, 2014

Brain Damage Does Not Make for Fun Link Bait. No. It Does Not.

Well, I made myself a New Year's Resolution this year that I wouldn't let myself get all furious and grumbly and foot-stomping about stuff I read on the Internet, and I was doing pretty well until this afternoon, when I came upon this on my Google+ feed:

And that's when the top of my head blew off. Steam out of the ears. It's hard to imagine a post so thoroughly designed to turn my outrage knob to 11. I shared it and added this comment:
OMG, are they kidding me? Is it April Fool's Day already? Drink alcohol during pregnancy to guarantee yourself a well-behaved kid? I think those of us raising kiddos with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder would beg to differ. This is an incredibly irresponsible way to report on a "study" that basically involved asking moms if their kids are well-behaved. Based on that, you feel comfortable saying "Attention Pregnant Women. Want well behaved kids? Maybe you should pick up that bottle of wine," CBS Atlanta? Shame on you!
and took a bunch of deep breaths, but ... GAH! Bad enough the study was done, bad enough it's reported on misleadingly, bad enough the headline completely misrepresents, but whoever is responsible for the message that accompanied it on Google+ needs some serious education on FASD and what it means and why it's really really really not OK to turn this into a flip little "Hey moms!" link-bait come-on.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Games for My Friend, the King of New Jersey

These links to games on the Internet are listed here for V.M., but anyone else who wants to follow them to somewhere fun is welcome to.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Truth, and Nothing But the ... Wait, What?: I'm having my head spun around this week by a couple of kids with fetal alcohol syndrome and the sort of fluid relationship they have with the truth. One I've caught in a relatively harmless lie, but it puts into question whether any of the stories she's told are real. (Many I would be happy to find out are not.) The other changes stories so quickly when challenged that it's impossible to know how to follow up -- I've sent him with instructions before to make something right only to find out there was never anything wrong. A fun thing about the "crazy lying" kids with FASD do is that, while their peers might lie to get themselves out of trouble for which they're responsible, these kids lie in a way that gets them into trouble they had nothing to do with, so it's impossible to know the right reaction. If I could be sure there was one cold hard truth I could get to with questioning, that would be great, but that particular ice cube has melted, and the kid holding it in his hand doesn't even remember what shape it used to have.