Inspector Gadget, apparently Canadian

As a child, among my after-school diet of television shows was included a generous helping of Inspector Gadget. Since Netflix released a new version of the show this year and since I have a toddler, I felt it incumbent of me to watch. My child in the room while watching–not mandatory.

Inspector-Gadget-2015

I learned a few things about the show that I never realized–IT’S CANADIAN. Who knew? It’s like all those HGTV shows I watch–CANADIAN. It’s not that I have anything but respect for Canada, but just like the good, egocentric American I am, I assume that everything on TV is American and uses Australian actors with better US accents than my own.

Another fact I had no idea about was that when I watched the original Inspector Gadget as a child, it was in syndication. The original created in 1983, two years before my first birthday. I thought that me and my peers had this epic, they-don’t-make-kid’s-shows-like-they-used-to cartoon, but really, it was about ten years after the first episode aired that I jumped in the Gadgetmobile.

Among other secrets uncovered, in the process of binge-watching the new series, my husband and I began pondering the origins of the Inspector, and we found this crazy theory about his origin:

“Inspector Gadget is a cyborg detective with a seemingly endless supply of gadgets. Inspector Gadget hasn’t always been a cyborg, he had to be Human at one point, right?Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if the guy who became a cyborg actually has the last name, Gadget? If this person did have a name before becoming a cyborg, we don’t know and it likely wasn’t “Gadget”. Whoever he was, he was a regular human who likely worked for the cops. This theory states that something happened to him. Some terrible accident. Some explosion or collapse that left him completely destroyed. Once the cops found this, the chief decided to do something never before attempted. They used the newest and most secret technology to recreate this man with super human powers. They programmed this robot version of the inspector to look and sound just like him, even to think like him. He was programmed with the very best AI and all.

“He continued working for the company, even watched over his niece and dog, just like the real human version did. The only problem with all of this was that he didn’t die in the accident. No, the real human version survived, only he was changed. The accident deformed him, warped his brain, and made him see things differently. Once he discovered that they had replaced him with a robot doppelganger, he swore to destroy it no matter what it took. They had taken his life away and replaced it with a robot, that they now call Inspector Gadget. The human version decided to use everything he had and knew to fight against this robot version, and to do evil to the company that had ruined his life. He also changed his name. Now he is known as Dr. Claw. You never see his face because it is the face of Inspector Gadget, only deformed from the accident.”

Mind blown.

Back to the Netflix series–I find it vastly entertaining. I realize Inspector Gadget purists might be far too nostalgic to appreciate the re-creation, but I feel the creators did a good job adapting a more modern take with a different animation style. A few new characters and the old favorites. It didn’t feel like it was trying to relive the 1980s glory days but still honor them while reaching out to the 21st Century audience.

Mad Cat looks strangely like my cat...

Mad Cat looks strangely like my cat…

My favorite thing about the new show is Mad Cat. The clever animated nuances of that fat cat are just, as the kids say these days, adorbs. I very badly want a massive plush Mad Cat for my desk, not to assist in foiling any Canadian Intelligence plans, but just because I’m a ten-year-old stuck in a thirty-year-old body and I need that reminder in my 9-5 work day.

Speaking of work, “Go Go Gadget get back to work and stop reminiscing about childhood television shows!”

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The conundrum of February 14th…musings on a controversial holiday

February 14th is synonymous with Saint Valentine, apparently the patron saint of giving chocolate and flowers to a girlfriend, wife, mistress, etc. I’m not Catholic, so I don’t know all the details about Mr. Saint Valentine, but I’m sure that this statement is mostly based on fact.

This time of the year, most of the population takes a stance on Valentine’s Day in one extreme camp or the other:

Booooo! Relationships suck! Hallmark invented this! Girls only! Let’s get together and burn pictures of our ex-boyfriends!

or

Yay, my boyfriend is going to buy me diamonds and take me out to dinner and then kiss me ever so sweetly while my friends give me those little candy hearts that say “u r swell” and cheesy cards with a kitten on it that says “you’re puuuuuurfect, be my Valentine.”

By this very brief, yet descriptive, analysis, it’s evident that no matter what camp one person is in, the opinions remain strongest with that of the female persuasion. The male reaction is often coerced by whomever he is trying to impress and/or is dating at the time.

Generally, the XY masses hope they don’t have to do anything special to celebrate. Likely, they hold less putrid animosity toward the holiday than the ladies who do, harboring more nonchalance and laziness as the driving forces for disdain. The day is largely contingent on the girl they are with; the challenge is figuring out what camp their girlfriend, wife, mistress, etc, is in. Inevitably, if they do something sweet she will be like, “I hate this holiday! You’re so corny and such a loser.” If they don’t do something loving: “Silent treatment.” If they ask the girl point-blank what she wants/prefers: “You should know me. ‘Silent treatment.'” A risky game. I feel for boys on this one.

I know there are others like me out there, others that maybe share my view: indifference. I don’t know anybody, but I do know there has to be more than just me. 7 billion people—someone else in the world must not give it a second thought…

We are the people who accidentally wear red on Valentine’s Day without knowing it and go through the entire day without realizing that we were in the “spirit.” We are the people who don’t notice that the chocolate is in a heart-shaped box because we only see chocolate and eat all contents regardless of container. We are the people who like pink and ribbons and think that the rest of the world has come around too.

5445267986_b331bb6490_zHowever, upon reflection, I didn’t always pass off the 14th as one of the 28 (29) days of February.When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day was a break in the school day and a chance to get hopped up on sugar and decoupage a shoe box into a Valentine’s Day mailbox. Everyone received a Valentine from all the students in the class (bypass hurt feelings) and “secretly” delivered them. When I had a crush on a boy, I would select the best message in my Little Mermaid Valentine card collection and write a little special something.

“You’re cute. Do you like me? Check yes or no.”

I can’t believe I was single till I was 19, I did everything so right.

As a child, all the little holidays are fun and represent a break from the day-to-day at school. As an adult, the magic of one holiday is lost in the doldrums of the day-to-day. After I stopped decoupaging shoe boxes, I guess I was 22 or so, I didn’t really notice.

This year, however, there is twist or five:

  1. I have a boyfriend
  2. He wants to do something on Valentine’s Day (he wants, he’s an odd one)
  3. It’s technically our six month anniversary of officialness
  4. He made reservations at a nice restaurant
  5. He got me a gift

It’s weird because even with this hoopla, I still don’t really acknowledge it. When he wasn’t sure if he could get reservations where at the fancy restaurant he wanted, I thought, “I’ll make perogis.” Perogies are sooooo good!

For me it’s another date night, but with pizzaz because I’m getting a present (which meant I had to get him a present to, which was sort of a bummer [I wrapped it in Christmas paper]).

Maybe my opinion on Valentine’s Day will develop into something concrete, or maybe it will just be another sequence of days with a hot date in the middle of the doldrums. Or maybe, from here on out it is the .5 part of a segment in my relationship, a Gingermermaid and Boyfriend semiannual holiday. Aw…

"Hey Gingermermaid, what do you want to do for Valentine's Day and our six month anniversary?""The who's its and what's it?"

“Hey Gingermermaid, what do you want to do for Valentine’s Day and our six month anniversary?”
“The whosit whatsit?”

I’m 28 years big

The day has come and gone. It has had a habit of doing this since 1985, when it all began. My birthday.

The whole act of a birthday is a little silly and slightly narcissistic. Let’s get all my friends together to bring me presents, sing to me, eat a cake with my name on it, and drink to my honor. I haven’t accomplished anything other than making it another year but yet everyone gets ready to celebrate the accident that is my existence (because it was an accident).

happybunnyinvitationsEven stranger is the metamorphosis of the birthday.

When I was a child, I would get so excited for my birthday I could barely sleep the week prior. I would open oodles of presents, eat my body weight in cake, and host massive sleepover parties with my girlfriends.

Growing up, my birthday parties were legendary; my friends and I dressed up and held fashion shows in the halls of my home, I hosted destination parties at the ice skating rink or bowling alley, we went to movies that we were too young to watch, and played marathon games of MASH.

Aside from the parties and the strangeness of celebrating me only one day of the year (shouldn’t every day be a Gingermermaid day?), I also recall the anxiety and anticipation of turning another year older.

When I turned from 9 to 10, I remember my mind being blown that I was in double digits. When I became a teenager, I thought that I was the most sophisticated person to grace the halls of my middle school/high school combined educational institution. I turned 16, and as an adolescent, 16 is THE age.

I had visions of this age with sweet 16 candles, big poofy pink dresses, a shiny new convertible, a boyfriend I would spend the rest of my life with, and acceptance into Harvard. In reality, at 16 I failed my learner’s permit test to drive, I was so far from dating anyone that it wasn’t even chartable on any map, I had no idea what I wanted to do for college and rarely thought about it, the car I had was a hand-me-down mini van I called GiGi, and I dressed appropriately for the style of the day (I think this was Boho).

At 18, I believed the world was mine. Adulthood. I could no longer commit a crime and have it forgiven because I was no longer considered a minor. I could buy cigarettes and porn and drink legally in other countries that weren’t America. I registered to vote for what I thought I believed.

After 18 the numbers became slightly scarier. I always envisioned what it would be like to be 20 or 25 and I was convinced that I would’ve figured out the secret of life and be completely happy and settled. The reality is, and I recently learned this, there is no such thing as complete happiness or being completely settled. Everything I imagined turning from 6 to 7, 17 to 18, was only a step towards the next thing in my life because, to live, it’s necessary to become another year older. Whether I learn or grow as a human being depends on the day-to-day and the choices that accompany that. Mind blown.

Year 27.

Year 27.

Now I’m edging on 30 and although I freaked out more in my early 20s about getting older, I take pride in the fact that being 28, I’m really not fussed about my age. I realize that my age doesn’t define me, it’s the person I am in that moment and how happy I am that gives me pause to reflect positively or freak out.

At age 24 I wasn’t as happy and had no clue where I was going in life; getting older and not knowing felt like failure. Now I see a direction to take and I realize it’s not so scary to age a bit when I can peek around the bend and see something worthwhile waiting for me.

Reflecting about my birthdays and the years behind and ahead, I feel content and secure, and each 365 days, a little more so.

Aw…

I want to be a ballet dancer (or just twirl and twirl in a skirt till I vomit!)

From the time I was under 3 feet tall till now (5’6 and 3/4′), I have had an affinity and absolute obsession with ballet. 90% of this fascination has to do with the tutu, but more on that later.

My mother enrolled me in dance classes at the tender age of 4, probably at my youthful insistence.  The immediate disdain I had for the art was astronomical. I vividly remember my mother tying the red and green plaid, ribbon laces of my tap shoes as I braced myself,  afraid for my life and limbs, to tread across the slippery floor, thinking this was a terrible idea.

Although tap instilled in me fear, ballet inspired in me hate. I still see the circle my fellow pink slippered friends and I were forced to stand in, our arms on the shoulders of the preschooler in front of us to perform the bunny hop. I stepped out of the circle, refused to move, and  shook my head. This wasn’t going to happen.

The teacher, the elderly Mrs. Stuckey, walked over to me and worked her grandmotherly charm to get me to move. I stood firmly in the corner while the class stared at me with perplexed faces, and stubbornly refused her pleas to dance. Then Mrs. Stuckey uttered the right words to get me moving, “if you practice and dance in the recital, you will get a trophy!” That did it. I would get a trophy! No one ever did practice or perform a better bunny hop…

Fast forward to 3rd grade. Preschool was a huge miss for dance, but now I was convinced this was my calling! I was 10, in the double digits so practically an adult, and although my mother was wary from prior experience, she gave me the benefit of the doubt.

It wasn’t long into the class that I remembered I hated dance. More importantly, I realized why I was dancing—the costumes. I did, and still, love to dress-up.

I opted out of tap dance as I was still terrified of the slipperiness of the shoes and was convinced tapping would be my end. For ballet class I pretty much stared at myself in the mirror and twirled on my own volition. In the end, I only danced jazz and the best part of that was the hot pink leopard pants I got to wear.

This strange juxtaposition of attitudes toward dance, hate and love, fascination and rejection, persisted. On my way to basketball camp, my friends and I would count all the ballerinas that were walking to their studio, which was above the gym we practiced in. I loved basketball, but I envied them for their grace and tight buns  (hair, not derrier).

I was obsessed with the discipline, the way of life, the dancer habits. I wondered if they ate, if they dated boy dancers, and if they had time for anything other than dance. I romanticized about them and wondered how they could make something look so easy and pretty and twirl that much without regurgitating.

Fast forward again, this time to college. I had physical education credits to fill and dance was on the docket. I signed up. That class really changed things for me, not just in my view and appreciation of dance but in many other intangible ways. My professor, classmates, and the ballet itself served more than just a 3 credit course. I wasn’t at a great place in my life and I found support in an unexpected way through the people who plied and pirouetted with me.

My dance class from college in 2004 (sooo long ago). This was our final exam.

It was the first time I didn’t choose to dance for the costume. Which was especially significant since our costumes were quite ugly.

I took a few classes here and there since then. I choose my Halloween costumes based on whether a tutu can be factored in, never losing my affinity for the dressing-up or the idea of being a ballerina.

Me as Ariel and my Pirate, Halloween 2012.

2011 Costume, Princess Ballerina, with Kay-bear.

I won’t name names, but someone who is my boyfriend asked me a question about dancing (perhaps of a ballroom nature), and I began researching lessons he and I could take together that were couple-y. As I was looking, I thought it would be interesting to see if DC offered adult beginner ballet classes.

Not only was it offered, classes started the very next day for the 7-week enrollment! How convenient and spooky. Enrolled immediately.

I dance once or twice a week now; I am not overly graceful or exceptional—I don’t care to be. I just know that when I dance, I can’t stop smiling and I feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Maybe my performances will be limited to my living room, but I’m happy to just twirl and twirl with all the grace of a wrecking ball.

What’s another word for thesaurus

I have this very distinct childhood memory from 1st grade of being told what a thesaurus was and then handed a rather large book to use. I was perplexed, confused, baffled, confuzzled even, as to what this device did and why it was both unlike and like it’s counterpart—the dictionary.

The memory of my first meeting with this large book is so vivid, I can even describe the day’s weather, where I was sitting in the class, and the sensation I had as I mulled over what the purpose of this heavy, word laden contraption was. It’s name seemed more reminiscent of a dinosaur than a literary tool and I was afraid.

I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to grasp the concept of how to use a thesaurus and maximize its potential. It was middle school (possibly +- 3 years) when I had taken introductory computer classes and learned about the magic of the “right-click.” Simply right-click on a word and this magical menu appeared. On this menu, an option: “thesaurus.” Maybe it was the little Microsoft Word paper clip that appeared on my screen and guided me through all the nooks and crannies that was Windows 97 that finally gave me the gift of full comprehension:

“So, it looks like you are looking for another word choice. Let me recommend the following in my clippy fashion via the Microsoft Word thesaurus!”

Low and behold, right-click, select, and a gargantuan range of synonyms presented themselves to me! Who knew there were so many ways to say one simple word?! Imagine my amazement, astonishment, awe, bewilderment, epiphany, fortune, incredulity, jolt,  shock, stupefaction, wonderment, and even whammy at discovering this tool that has been there with me since age 6 when I first learned to assemble letters and make words.

A cloud had lifted. I finally understood.

It didn’t take long to embrace the thesaurus, digital and hard copies alike. Initially, the enthusiasm may have flooded my eighth grade papers with unnecessary word choices:

“The American Civil Contention was a laborious time in American yesteryear. Premier Abraham Lincoln chaperoned the populace through this onerous stint. In the termination, Lincoln’s hegemony amalgamated the nation.”

I learned how to use certain word choices in moderation; I learned when it was appropriate to use a 10 syllable word; I learned how to choose words to give the best context possible; and I learned to love—to love all the words.

Rather, just the English words.

I went forward to get a BA in English, speaking it much betterly. I discovered etymology (not to be confused with entomology). What could possibly more interesting than words than knowing where they come from?! Oh, thesaurus, you showed me the way.

I have a lot to say, or rather I just say a lot, and I am happy to have a stockpiled amount of words in my noggin as well as tools like thesaurus’ (thesauri?) to chat about the same thing multiple ways. For me, this is my art, my expression, my creativity, my trade…