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Photo Diary: October 2016 Part 2

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 90

pop poppa nap cast logo

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 90 might sound a little echo-y because of the new computer, but it covers Guardians of the Galaxy, snowy days, Steven Universe and way more.

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My review of Guardians can be found here. To see the Rocket Raccoon toy I mentioned, check this link out and to see my review of the Steven Universe DVD head on thisaway.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Pregnant In Heels Is Not Easy To Watch

I’d like to say I try really hard to not judge other parents and how they decide to raise their kids. I personally hate when people look down at the way my wife and I have decided to do things, especially because we’ve done a lot of looking around and research to come up with many of our methods. But, at the end of the day, I do admit that I feel like we’re doing it the right way and that some people with vastly different methods are just wrong. I guess that’s human nature, or at least mine.

The last year of parenthood has made me immensely more sensitive to the subject of children, their habitats and how the kids can be negatively effected. I think there’s a lot of problems right now with how society looks at parenting and children, but that’s a much bigger issue. That’s what makes watching Bravo’s Pregnant In Heels so difficult for me to watch. The series follows a woman named Rosie Pope who sells her baby and pregnancy expertise to rich folks in New York City. I don’t find anything particularly offensive about the job itself, but it’s the type of people generally featured on the show that get to me.

My wife and I watched most of the first season while she was pregnant and found ourselves chuckling at some of the people hiring Pope to work her magic, but now that I’ve got a kid and have thought about the whole idea of parenting far more than I ever did before, I find it difficult to watch. The one episode of the new season I saw split focus between one mom whose oldest daughter was a real terror and another mother who wanted to raise her kid in the Tiger Mom style (essentially, do what I say and shut up). The first mom treated her kid like her friend for years and found herself dealing with the negative aspect of that when her second child was born, with a third on the way, she needed help. Pope basically played Super Nanny and fixed things, so no real problem there though I did think it was strange that you could change a child’s entire outlook in like one week.

The potential Tiger Mom was more worrisome. She was born in China and raised that way herself, so she figured it would be best for her child because it worked for her. This is a general parenting argument that drives me insane because it assumes that children are these complete blank slates that you can fill in as you see fit. I fully believe that we are who we are based on circumstances of both our nature and how we’re nurtured and therefore feel that this can not be the case. Just because you reacted one way to a style of parenting, does not mean your child are. Maybe your child isn’t as emotionally flexible as you were. Maybe, as a woman said on the show, stuffing things down your kid will break them instead of making them stronger. This mom was super controlling, though her husband was more of a free spirit. I think their relationship might actually be as awful as it was portrayed on screen, but it definitely hit buttons for me when she kept saying she was in charge. No one should be in charge of a relationship.

When watching this show I often think, “If this person wanted to hire me, I’d tell them to kick rocks,” but what Pope winds up doing (speaking generally from the episodes I’ve seen) is actually get in there and attempt to change opinions. The first mom thought she’d never get her oldest to sleep in her own bed, but coming at it from a different way fixed the problem. The second mom didn’t seem to ever evaluate her choice to be a Tiger Mom, she just assumed it would work but talked to Pope and a few other people wound up helping her actually look at the potential problems behind that parenting style.

So, at the end of the day, I think Pope — who is very enjoyable to watch, I must add — takes on these difficult clients because she thinks she can help sway them towards a way of thinking that I happen to be more in line with, but also because it makes for good television. I don’t know if I’ll continue watching on a regular basis or even catch up on one of Bravo’s ubiquitous marathons, but the series has shown me that through communication, people can change some of their opinions which is a nice thing to see on television. I really hope Pope can talk some sense into the mom I saw on a preview who doesn’t want to get her kid vaccinated because she doesn’t know anyone with Polio. Sigh.

Poppas Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Travelers

I tend not write about potentially offensive or disparaging topics or groups, but TLC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has gotten me all riled up. I’ll say right off the bat that I’m sure this series does not represent the overall culture of Gypsies or Travelers, the post title was just too good not to use. I’m basing my opinions solely on the show and nothing else.

To be honest, I don’t even particularly understand what Travelers are at this point. I’ve watched the majority of the show’s episodes and all I can tell is that it’s a group of people–some of whom still remain mobile, while others have settled down in brick and mortar homes–with incredibly strict and hypocritical rules when it comes to girls, boys, women, men and, of course, marriage. The entire society (as seen on TV) seems built around the idea of keeping women subservient to men. They grow up, have a mini-wedding for their First Communion, maybe get a job, can not be seen with boys alone for fear of being scandalized, usually get pulled from school to help around the house and eventually marry off to some guy when they’re teenagers (a 22 year-old bride was called “long in the tooth” by her mother in one episode). Once married, the girls move to wherever their new husbands want to live, give up their old lives and basically become a 50s housewife.

I’ve got no problem with marrying young–my wife and I got hitched at 23 which would be old by traveler standards, but somewhat young in our society–nor do I have a problem with women or men staying home and taking care of the house and family. Hell, that’s essentially what I do. What bothers me is that these girls are programmed from the very beginning to work for and want this. There’s no option. I mean, technically, there’s an option, they could run away if they wanted and I’m sure some have (wish they would have gotten one or two of them on camera), but the fear of not being able to see their families keeps them from trying to think outside the box. It seems like psychological terrorism or a form of brainwashing to me.

Now, look, I know there are plenty of people out there who might think that Travelers have their acts together. Their daughters apparently don’t fool around before marriage as that is forbidden by traveler mores, nor do they get knocked up at an early age. I don’t know if I believe all that because it’s also said several times an episode that Travelers are really secretive and if you think one of the 16 year-olds getting interviewed is going to admit to fooling around with some guy, then you’re out of your mind. To be honest, as a father, there’s part of me that even agrees with this aspect of their society. Honestly, if that was it, if the girls were taught to respect themselves and not let just any sweaty mook get into their pants, then I’d be all for it. However, there’s a lot more going on here, including teenagers making huge decisions that absolutely effect their lives.

If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I kind of have a problem with being told what to do and the idea of predestination. I don’t like the idea of peoples’ lives being figured out for them. I’m a big fan of free will. These girls and women seem trained from childhood to put blinders on, focus solely on marrying and becoming a housewife. In the opening of the show, one young girl talks about how she’s not dreaming of becoming a doctor, but a wife. Again, I have no problem with people staying at home, but when that’s the only option you have, my righteous outrage starts bubbling up.

I have a theory as to why these girls get so excited about getting married aside from the idea that it’s the only thing they’ve ever been told to think about and that’s sex. Maybe not full-on intercourse, but at least the mystery of sex. There’s no doubt about the fact that teenagers have raging hormones driving them to be around those they’re attracted to. (Quick aside, I imagine discovering you’re gay as a Traveler is incredibly difficult.) Instead of actually being able to be around members of the opposite sex like normal kids and discovering they’re real people like yourself, everyone’s kept at arm’s reach and therefore fetishized. Don’t believe me? Watch any clip or episode from the show and see how these girls dress. Strippers on stage wear more. Since they’re supposed to be so virginal, why is this okay? While, not directly stated, I’m guessing it’s a form of advertising for their mates. When your entire society is actually based around sex, yet no one’s allowed to talk about it or experience it freely, I think you’ve got a problem. Making matters worse is the practice of “grabbing” by which a boy gets a girl alone and kind of forces her to kiss him. Everyone knows this happens and no one seems to care. But, wait, shouldn’t the boys be respectful enough of their future wives to not try to force them into things? Funny that.

So, in order to really explore their sexuality, these kids make decisions they can’t really get out of (divorce is more than frowned upon). Can you imagine? At 16? Sorry to break this to any relatives who might still be reading by this point, but I was kind of an asshole at 16 (actually, my folks might agree :). I didn’t know what I really wanted on nearly every level aside from some vague idea of wanting to be a writer. I had had plenty of crushes, but no girlfriends. Dating was a mystery, I can’t imagine taking on the responsibilities of a marriage and household just after getting my license. Essentially forcing girls to make those kinds of decisions so young in order to please their parents, fit into their society and discover their sexuality seems awful.

I know there’s a lot of societies all over earth like this one that keep women oppressed or at the very least limit their options. I’m sure I feel the same way about all of them, too, but the Travelers just raised my ire thanks to the television series.

Real Fathers Of New Jersey

This post won’t be for everyone, but will hopefully be fun for those of you who love or hate Bravo’s reality show series The Real Housewives Of New Jersey. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the show, cameras follow five women around from an affluent part of New Jersey. The editors focus on the drama most of the time, but every now and then you get some genuinely legit, real moments. For some people they’re too far and few between, which I completely get. To each their own. I was watching tonight’s episode–yes, I’m a fan all on my own, it’s not like I watch it only because my wife does–and I thought it would be interesting to run down the fathers on the show and mention a thing or two I’ve learned from them. Mind you, I try to learn something from everything I do, even when it’s what not to do. There’s a lot of that when it comes to the fathers on this show, but also a few guys I actually quite like.

I will note right now that I’m not trying to judge these people. Aside from living in a glass house and not wanting to toss stones, it’s also ridiculous to assume you know someone from watching them on a TV show for what probably doesn’t amount to more than a few minutes a wee (especially when it comes to the men, who aren’t the focus, obviously). There are a lot of hours in the filming day and only 45 or so minutes make it into the episode, so there’s a lot that goes unseen. I’m just going on what I’ve seen.

CHRIS LAURITA (Jacqueline’s husband, CJ & Nicholas’ father, Ashley’s step-dad, Caroline’s brother)I actually like Chris quite a bit. He either doesn’t like being on camera much or his scenes aren’t particularly interesting because he doesn’t appear too much. In fact, I don’t remember seeing him with his two boys much, but again, that’s not a commentary on their relationship. I do however like how he’s handled Jacqueline’s daughter from a previous message Ashley. She seems like a really spoiled brat. I have no idea when she started down that road, but Chris seems to be trying to straighten her out a little. Last season, he tried to get Ashley to stop hurling insults at then-Housewife Danielle which was just causing trouble for everyone and this year he tried to explain to her how you don’t just get handed an apartment in New York City, you actually have to work for it. I don’t know if any of it really gets through to her, but he’s trying. He seems to be the strong, silent type which can carry its own sets of problems (what parenting style doesn’t?), but sometimes the law needs to be laid down. I like how nicely he treats Ashley. He could be a lot harder on her, but he seems to take into account the fact that she’s dealing with being split between her mother and father’s families.

RICH WAKLIE (Kathy’s husband, Victoria & Joseph’s dad)Rich comes off as a goofball with his huge glasses and exposed-chest-with-cross-necklace, but I think he’s got a good heart going on. He’s a new addition to the cast this year thanks to his wife Kathy becoming one of the newest Housewives. Most of his scenes involve him talking a big game about doing something while paying other people to actually do it (putting up Christmas decorations) or taking his wife’s idea of starting a small catering company and blowing it out of proportion into buying a restaurant for her. There was one episode a few weeks back where he and Kathy had a very real and honest conversation with their kids Victoria and Joseph about using drugs and drinking. In the past, their kids had signed a pledge about abstaining from such things, but with them getting older (17 and 15 respectively) they had the kids actually write up their own this time. I thought that was an interesting route to take and can see the merits there. Overall the kids seem relatively well adjusted so he and Kathy must be doing something right. That’s one of those really difficult conversations to have, but their family seemed close and honest enough to have it. It might not have exactly gone as Rich and Kathy would have liked, but at least they had it.

JOE GIUDICE (Teresa’s husband, Gia, Gabriella, Milania & Audriana’s dad)Joe’s kind of a question mark for me. He makes it seem like he’s this stereotypical Italian guy who leaves the rearing of the kids to his wife. But I think he’s something of a softy inside. Like most of the other dads on the show, you don’t see a lot of him with the kids. I remember a few times where he goofed around with his girls, giving them kind of a hard time, but it seemed to be in good spirits. I’m not sure how good of a role model he is considering his drunk driving arrest, seemingly bad attitude and how much he lied to his family about their financial problems. I also get the feeling that maybe, being the big tough guy that he is, that he might have trouble getting close to his daughters, but that’s just a guess. He’s the kind of guy that could be a great or terrible father, it’s just hard to tell based on the show.

JOE GORGA (Melissa’s husband, Antonia, Gino & Joey’s dad, Teresa’s brother)I have a strong dislike of Joe Gorga. He’s that typical, male asshole who expects his wife to stay home and be with the kids no matter what. Sure, he’s kind of nice about it, offering to build his wife Melissa a recording studio because she wants to be a singer when she grows up, but I get the strong impression that, if she really wanted to have a career or follow her dreams, he wouldn’t allow it. I’m reacting more to the way he treats his wife than how he treats his kids, but that can’t be a good environment for the kids. You do see him with the kids hanging out on occasion but I disagree with his general ideas on male/female relationships. For me, a marriage is a partnership where the two people elevate each other and do the same with the kids. It seems to me like he’s keeping his wife down, but distracting her with recording studios and lavish parties. Of course, it’s a two way street and she doesn’t exactly seem to be fighting it. Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses, but it looks like cash is the opiate of the trophy wife.

ALBERT MANZO (Caroline’s husband, Albie, Lauren & Chris’ dad)Unlike Joe Gorga, I actually really like Albert Manzo. His wife Caroline and their kids are my favorite part of the show and probably the only reason I keep watching as the series devolves into an endless series of pointless catfights that only rich people have time for. We learned an episode or two back that Albert took over the family business when his father died at 19. He’s worked hard to build the Brownstone up and it’s a huge success. All that work probably kept him away from home more often than he’d like, but he built a secure life for his family, which is commendable. At the same time, his children all have a really strong work ethic and drive to do, instead of have done for them. Heck, even goofball Chris wants to open his own carwash…a sexy carwash, but it’s something I guess. Albert seems to be a good, strong man who has raised children of the same ilk along with his wife and that’s what it’s all about, right?