Thursday, May 28, 2015

Zoe vs.: The Honor Roll

I'm starting a new feature called the Zoe vs. the Universe Honor Roll. In this feature I, under advisement from Zoe, will highlight a child who deserves recognition for going above and beyond in letting their parents know who's in charge.
This week we have Claudia Moser, toddler daughter of White House correspondent Laura Moser, who succumbed to a tantrum while visiting the Red Room of the White House.
It is unclear what set the three-year-old off. Her emotional outburst was perhaps related to her unknown party affiliation, or it could've been a critique of Obama's foreign policy. Or maybe she was just overwhelmed by the unbearable tension between feeling that the Red Room was too red yet at the same time not red enough.
Whatever it was, it ended in a full face-plant on the rug that said loud and clear: "Who cares if he's the president? Give me candy."
We tried to inform Ms. Moser of her honor but she was too busy napping after refusing a well-balanced meal. Well-done, Claudia!

If you have a photo or story about a small person whose behavior was so reprehensible it kinda deserves special recognition, feel free to send it to ercatalano10 (at) gmail (dot) com and he or she may win a spot on the honor roll.

Zoe (and guest): 94; Universe/POTUS: 0

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Zoe vs. the Dear Daughter Letter

It's the end of the school year so every time you look up people are graduating all over the place. College, high school, grammar school. And even Pre-K.

. . . and destroy.

Zoe will be graduating preschool in about a month, and since everyone keeps telling me time goes by so fast, I figured I'd start on my Dear Daughter/High School Graduate letter now. 
Only a little bit different.

Dear Daughter/Future Supreme Commander of the Known Universe:

It seems like only yesterday you were an evil mastermind in training. And now you’re ready to head off on your own, your plans for world domination to be put into effect. 

This will be the last time I will offer you advice, unless you see fit to visit me from whatever island you choose as your base of operations, where you will erect your impregnable fortress, gather your minions, and build your army of killer robots.

So, before you set off on your flying monkey, I have some words of advice for you.

Don’t hide your genius.

Well, maybe just the evil part. You do have to get along in the world before you crush it in your steely fist. 

As a corollary, never pretend to be less than you are. Unless you’re lulling people into a false sense of security.

Don’t compare yourself to other evil geniuses. It’s a waste of time and energy, both of which you’ll need to come out on top. Ally yourself with them temporarily, and then stab them in the back before they can do the same to you.

Read. A lot. Learn the rules. So that you can then break them with impunity. Study Shakespeare. Model yourself after Iago before it all went south. Learn from his mistakes!

Become a student of history. Find weaknesses and exploit them. I know you know how to do this. Remember, I raised you.

Don’t get married until your career is firmly established. And when you do, make sure your partner not only shares your dreams for ultimate power but will be satisfied playing second fiddle. World domination is not a team sport.

Be your alterego. Embrace it. Have a theme and a logo. Get business cards made up. But when you do, make the initial print run small in case there’s a mistake. Have the printer fix the mistake before you slowly roast them over hot coals and give them a bad review on Yelp. That’s just good business sense.

Don’t take selfies with duckface. You’ll be embarrassed later, and no one takes an evil mastermind seriously if a Google search turns up embarrassing photos. 

In fact, you should probably avoid photographic evidence of your whereabouts altogether. (A reasonable precaution when your plans necessarily involve pissing off the entire global population.)

On the other hand, you should hire a PR consultant. It’s important to learn the art of spin, and while the hoi polloi is distracted by your good works, you’ll be pulling strings behind the scenes to topple world governments.

Onto wardrobe. When you grind the plebes under your heels make sure they’re attached to comfortable shoes. You don’t want to turn an ankle while you’re grinding. That would be embarrassing. (See duckface discussion above.)

Exception: stilettos. Nothing says power like stilettos. However, if you do plan to wear them, start practicing now. I remember a certain four-year-old at her preschool graduation threatening a level of destruction that would make the prom in Carrie look like a Teddy Bear picnic, but her plans were foiled when she tripped in sandals that were on the wrong feet. You don’t want to spend your first few weeks of utter supremacy laid up in bed.

Get in the habit of wearing gloves. They’re stylish, you won’t leave prints, and if you slowly peel them off one finger at a time you’ll intimidate the weak-minded into coughing up useful information about themselves or others. Pay attention to gossip.

As for color, wear red with some black. Or black with some red. These are power colors.

Learn a few magic tricks. Sleight of hand will serve you well.

Don’t collect anything weird. Enemies will use that against you. For instance, by driving up the price of a Shawn Cassidy lunchbox on eBay (bastards!).

Speaking of enemies, remember that superheroes are all alike. They may differ slightly in origin story—alien, bug bite, radiological mishap or what have you---but at heart they are just people (or aliens) in great shape. And that shape is square.

Bide your time when you want revenge. Plan delicately and don’t leave evidence. Divert attention. If anyone cottons on, discredit them. With photos. (Again, see duckface.)

Lie if you can get away with it. If you can’t, tell the truth but mix in some disinformation.

Don’t get so busy bending others to your will that you forget to enjoy yourself. After all, it’s the little things, like the tears and lamentations of the vanquished, that make life sweet.

Ignore warranties for purchases under $500. They’re never worth it.

Don’t eat the hot dogs sold in movie theaters. Trust me.

And most of all, I hope you dance. On the broken bodies of your enemies.

Don’t forget me,

P.S. Burn this letter.

Zoe: 93, Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Zoe vs. Kanye West, Ph.D.

This week Kanye West, self-reported messiah, received an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. That ripping sound you hear is everyone in the world who has an advanced degree tearing up their diplomas.
When I covered the Kardashians, I did not include Kanye West because he told me he deserved his own post and to do otherwise would dilute his magnificence.
So here we are.
I can't really comment on his music. It's not for me, and I'm not someone who can even speak intelligently about the music I do like. However, one thing I'm unable to countenance is a "proud nonreader of books" receiving any degree from a school of higher learning.
I just don't get the appeal of Kanye, no matter how many times he tells me I should. Of course, that in itself could be the problem, considering my preference for the low-key and the subtle. Kanye's brand is self-aggrandizement, along with transparent posturing and self-indulgent tantrums. The other day I saw a meme where he was smiling until he noticed the cameras. Like flipping a light switch, he went full-on Grumpy Cat. He has that in common with Zoe.

Grumpy Cat was robbed, y'all.

In fact (shocker if you didn't see this coming), there are striking similarities between Yeezus and four-year-olds. Except for the fact that mine likes to read.
1. A huge ego
"I'm the genius voice of this generation." (Yeezus)
"I'm the best jumper." (Zoe)
"I'm a superhero princess who can do magic." (Kanye, ha, no, I mean Zoe)
"Listen to me sing even though I can't sing but, admit it, you like to hear it anyway." (Zoe, and dammit, she's got me there)

2. Watch me!
Kanye craves attention even when (especially when?) he's sitting off to the side sulking. If Kanye West sulks in the woods but there's no photo on Instagram is he really fronting?
Zoe is the same way sans autotune.
Watch this! Daddy, look! Mommy, listen! Excuse me, I need to talk!
She's also given to epic sulks that require an audience in order to reach the sublime.

3. Inappropriate talking
Kanye, like a four-year-old, doesn't know when to sit down and shut up. Especially if someone else is getting attention. Someone like Beck or Taylor Swift.  Then he's got to interrupt with the truth of his own awesomeness. Or Beyonce's.
Similarly, when Mommy and Daddy talk to each other, Zoe can't abide it. She needs our attention right at that moment. She's got a tale to tell. Yes, it has made-up words, but the point is to keep right on talking till she hits on a real one.
Is Mommy on the phone? Not. Even. That's her cue to start climbing me and frame my face with her sticky hands to make sure I have no peripheral vision to distract me from her story about a boy named Donder who has a big butt but he fell on it and it was funny, but also sad, but mostly funny. Donder.

4. Stunning illogic
In his acceptance speech at the School of the Art Institute, Kanye said, "This honor is going to make your lives easier. Two reasons: You don't have to defend me as much and I'm going to make all of our lives easier." The world may be his canvas but ain't no numbers there.
The other night Zoe said, regarding a boy in her class: "He's always never not sharing." Sounds like they're already covering paradoxes in preschool.

Gwyneth, the third member of the Unholy Trinity,
along with Karl and Kanye, wasn't there that day.

The similarities are endless, much like Zoe's one-sided conversations. So in honor of absolutely nothing, I'm rewriting Kanye's "Gold Digger." I give you "Big Gabber."

"Big Gabber"
She talks my ear off, when I need to pee
She's a verbose child, we can agree
She a constant gabber, sunup to sundown
And she gabs all over me

(Stop talking, please!)
Now I ain't sayin she a big gabber (when I want to pee)
But she's keepin up her endless chatter (stop talking, please)
Now I ain't sayin she a big gabber (when I want peace)
But she's keepin up her endless chatter
Slow down girl c'mon slow down (Get off of me)
Get down girl c'mon get down (I cannot breathe)
Slow down girl c'mon slow down (Get off of me)
Get down girl c'mon get down (I cannot breathe)

Cutie the bomb
Since the time she was born
With a My Little Pony
Under her underarm
She said I like to play with rocks
I'm feeling too warm
Can I take off my socks?
Eat your chicken parm, it won't do any harm
No, I'm looking for Rainbow Dash
Have you seen her?
No, not Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy
No, not Apple Blossom, Pinkie Pie
Mama gotta find all they bad ass. That's show biz!
Ok, I do my best wading through all this other paraphernalia
Find 'em riding in monster trucks with Cinder-alia.
Too busy talking to eat the dinner I laid
Promise her candy, little chatterbox gotta get paid
You know why?
I need to explain?
Little girl be causin my ears pain
Hey, Mommy, I'm Blaze and you be Crusher
I don't care what none of y'all say I still love her

(Stop talking, please!)
Now I ain't sayin she a big gabber (when I want to pee)
But she's keepin up her endless chatter (stop talking, please)
Now I ain't sayin she a big gabber (when I want peace)
But she's keepin up her endless chatter
Slow down girl c'mon slow down (Get off of me)
Get down girl c'mon get down (I cannot breathe)
Slow down girl c'mon slow down (Get off of me)
Get down girl c'mon get down (I cannot breathe)

18 years, 18 years
Talking since she's born, got her for 18 years
All the time talking brings me to my knees
Morning to nighttime, please stop talking, please
You hear her gabbing away any given Monday
Story she spinnin takes you through the following Sunday
To get a break you'd spend all your money
And shorty already telling you what to do with your money
She walkin' around lookin' like Elsa with your money
Should've got Louis Vuitton earplugs for your money money money
If you ain't no punk holla: We want silence
It's something that you need or you weep
Cause when it's bedtime she's never ready for sleep.
18 years, 18 years
18 years of gabbing but you know I wouldn't leave her for no other little white girl

Just Zoe being Zoe (drops mic)

Zoe: 92; Universe: Kanye

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Zoe vs. Nancy Drew

Last week was the 85th anniversary of the publication of the first Nancy Drew book. When I was a kid, I wished that I could be Nancy Drew. She was smart and pretty, relatively free from parental constraints, and she solved mysteries. What could be better?
Fast-forward thirty years and I’m now married and the mother of one little girl while Nancy Drew remains forever eighteen years old (and 100 pounds). But that doesn’t mean I can’t still learn from her.
Here are:

10 Lessons from Nancy Drew That Apply to Motherhood

1. Always break for lunch. Unless you want the people you’re responsible for to get cranky. Low blood sugar leads to sloppy thinking and sore feelings.
No need to get fancy. Though Nancy could certainly throw together an award-winning Bento box, she plays to her audience, and they want sandwiches. Crusts optional.

Whatever this was Timmy had shoved
up his nose, Nancy decided some
mysteries were best left unsolved.

2. Be prepared. Bring the extra sweater. Make sure there are batteries in the flashlight (and in the toys that light up). And opt for the sensible pumps; you’ll be on your feet a lot.

3. Anticipate calamity. Be ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. The sound that roused you from slumber. The glass on the edge of the coffee table. You never know what accident is about to unfold before your eyes or behind your back.

4. Ask for help. Surround yourself with chums not bums.

5. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, pretend that you do. You may not be good at everything (like a certain girl detective) but your charges believe you to be the smartest, most put-together human who can solve any mystery from "Why are we here?" to "Whose foot is this?"

6. Look for clues. Investigate. Don’t let fear stop you. No matter what stench greets you when you walk into their room, face up to it. That smell’s not going away until you deal with it.

7. Trust your intuition. Silence can sometimes cloak nefarious doings. Peer around corners so your quarry doesn’t notice you spying on them. Once they see you, they will stop what they are doing and you’ll never get to the bottom of what was making that suspicious noise.

8. Persevere. Sometimes you won’t be taken seriously, you may be doubted, but you must press on anyway no matter what others may say, even supposed authority figures, be they police chiefs, elderly churchgoers, or sanctimommies.
Remember: There is no perfect crime. A perpetrator will most likely drop something in their rush to evade justice.

9. Project outward calm. Keep those tears on the inside. Daily you will be faced with a person who believes they’re running the show, but you know better. Make sure they do.

10. Don’t forget to have fun. You are the pilot of your own destiny and a model for others. A little honey goes a long way.
Just not too much. High blood sugar is as dangerous as low blood sugar. Strike that balance. After all, it’s what Nancy Drew would do.

Zoe: 91; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 
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