Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Global Virtual Parade for Middle Child's Day!

     In my previous post, I announced the International Middle Child Union was scrapping our yearly plans to find a sponsor for a Middle Child’s Day parade. Even though I’m confident there would’ve been low turnout, I’m pretty sure it was still the responsible thing to do. But while making this announcement on an Indianapolis radio show, a thought occurred to me. We’ve gotten pretty good at finding new ways of doing old things lately. Musicians are streaming concerts from their homes. We’re having Zoom family get-togethers. Town council meetings are being held remotely. Does a virtual parade sound like such a far-fetched idea? Clearly it’s not. Fremont, CA just had a 4th of July “Porch Parade.” Lexington, MA had a virtual Patriots Day parade. And San Antonio, TX had a virtual Riverwalk Parade. So in true Middle Child fashion I say, “If they can have one, why can’t we? It’s only fair!”
     That’s why I’m thrilled to announce today the I.M.C.U. is planning a global “Middle Child's Day Virtual Parade” on August 12. As the founder of the world’s largest (and only) Middle Child advocacy group, I am reaching out to Middle Children all across the country -- and all around the world -- seeking their participation. We welcome Middle Children of all ages, but the global “Middle Child’s Day Virtual Parade” is open to virtually everyone. If you know a Middle Child, are related to a Middle Child, or even ever felt like a Middle Child, we’d be more than happy for you to join us.
     After months of self-isolating and quarantining, a virtual parade is just what the doctor ordered. Everyone could certainly use a good laugh, and the I.M.C.U. is more than happy to oblige. Even if that means you’re just laughing at us. We’ll take the attention any way we can get it. Beggars can’t be choosers.       
     All you have to do to join the parade is submit a short clip or photograph of your parade entry. It could be something as simple as a banner, sign or tee-shirt, or maybe a miniature shoe box parade float or a one-man Middle Child marching band. Let your imagination run wild. Entries will be edited into a parade video viewable on August 12 at the Smack Dab Channel on YouTube. The most creative entry from each city will have a chance to be named “Virtual Grand Marshal.” Full entry information is listed below.
          This is clearly no time to be going to a parade, so why not have the parade come to you!? Submit your entry, and help make our “Middle Child’s Day Virtual Parade” a reality.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
1. Design and decorate a Middle Child themed banner, poster, flag, or float. (Here’s a link to learn about how to make your own miniature shoe box float.) Wear a Middle Child themed tee shirt, dress up as a famous real-life or TV Middle Child, or create anything you might march in a real parade with.
2. Video or photograph your entry in a horizontal (landscape) format.
3. For photos: save as JPG. For videos: clip should be 15 seconds in length. Any motion should be a “pan,” moving the camera from right to left as you look through the lens.
4. Go to the Smack Dab Facebook page and attach your video or photo to a message, or send your entry as an e-mail attachment to midkidmusings@gmail.com
5. SEND YOUR ENTRY NO LATER THAN AUGUST 5. Include your name, city, state, country, and e-mail contact.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Will the Pandemic Mean No Middle Child's Day?

     As founder of the International Middle Child Union, I've been giving serious consideration to canceling Middle Child’s Day on August 12 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But after much soul searching and lengthy discussions with myself, I’m having a change of heart. To the relief of practically no one, I am pleased to announce that Middle Child’s Day will go on as planned. I mean, if we called it off, it probably would be no different than any other year. Nobody would even notice!
     Clearly, there’s no point in calling off a holiday hardly anyone even knows exists in the first place. But beyond that, Middle Children could use the attention now more than ever. On the best of days in the best of times, we feel left out and alone. So can you imagine how much worse our Middle Child Syndrome is when we’ve been isolated for months? Canceling Middle Child’s Day would be like rubbing salt in an already open, painful, unattended wound.
     The I.M.C.U. is, however, halting our efforts to find a sponsor this year for a Middle Child’s Day Parade. At first, I thought we could have a CDC-compliant parade. It would hardly be considered a large gathering. There would only be like four people in it, so social distancing would be a piece of cake. And crowd control certainly wouldn’t be a problem. But maybe next year. For now, the I.M.C.U. will be shifting our focus to encouraging Middle Children to celebrate our special day safely. It should be easy, since they’ll probably be celebrating alone.

Monday, May 11, 2020

They're Playing Our Song: Part 2

     On May 12, 1973, the classic 70’s song, “Stuck in the Middle with You,” by British folk/rock band Stealers Wheel, peaked at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling over one million copies along the way.
     The song is not in any way about being a Middle Child. It’s actually about a label signing party the band members attended with music industry executives. Guitarist Gerry Rafferty had lifelong issues with the record industry, and despised being around them -- they're the “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.”  The song was also performed as a parody of Bob Dylan, sung in a style so similar, to this day people attribute the song to Dylan.
     Actual meaning aside, the song has struck a chord with Middle Children all around the world who consider it the perfect theme song. (I even adopted it as the official intro to the “Pay No Attention to This Podcast.”)
     Of course, having a Top 10 hit is quite an accomplishment, but the song never made it all the way to #1. As any Middle Child will tell you, that’s a way too familiar tune.

(INTERESTING SIDE NOTE: Gerry Rafferty had left the band when this music video was made. That's actually keyboardist Joe Egan miming to Rafferty's vocal track.)


     In celebration of this historical day, I've compiled a list of cover versions of “Stuck in the Middle With You” for your listening pleasure. And mine. (SPOILER ALERT: none of these are as good as the original. I've ranked them from top down. Whaddaya think?)

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Case of the Missing Middle Child Movies

     Like millions of people all around the world, I’m trying to be productive during these long days of home confinement. I’ve already cleaned out and organized every closet in the house. And reorganized them. Twice. Clearly, I needed another project. So I figured this would be a good time to digitize some of my father’s old home movies. But what started as a fun walk down Memory Lane turned into another Middle Child Nightmare on Elm Street.
     I know that virtually every Middle Child has asked the question, “Where are all the pictures of me?” as they flip through the pages of family photo albums desperately seeking proof they were actually part of the family. My father, for example, created an amazing photo album of my older brother’s first year, taking a picture of him every single one of his first 365 days. For me? Not so much. But what I never knew, until now, was that this lapse of photographic memories had also been adapted for the silver screen. Let me break it down for you.
Lights! Camera! But no Middle Child action.
     As you can probably tell from the labels on each reel, my father was a very detail oriented man. Every foot of film he shot was clearly catalogued. Based on my father’s index, he got a movie camera sometime after my brother’s first birthday, which explains why there’s no coverage of the glorious day. But as you can see below, he was up and rolling by my brother’s second birthday. (That also happens to be the year that I was born. Just sayin'.) So now that my father had a movie camera, surely I would get my chance on my one year birthday -- but he must have been out of film as there’s no record of any footage. Or maybe he figured it wouldn’t be fair to document my one year birthday if he couldn’t document my brother’s. Whatever the case, there is footage of my brother’s third birthday that same year. And his fifth and seventh after that.
     Okay, so there are no home movies of my first birthday. Big deal. I’m sure my second birthday was captured on film. Let me check... crap! I was afraid of that. Nothing. Not a single frame. In fact, it wasn't until I turned six that I finally received my first birthday screen time. WTeffinF!?! I guess by then he figured they had to keep me, but really.

Major motion pictures make it to the screen faster than it took for me to get my home movie birthday break!
(The names have been blurred to protect the favored.)
 
      Maybe I’m overreacting. I do that sometimes. Let me see when my younger sister got her birthday movie debut. Because if he didn’t bother filming any of my first five birthdays but took movies of hers, well, that would be so.... OH MY GOD. He did! There’s footage of her second birthday party, not to mention her third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth!! Wait a second, could it be that I didn't even have a birthday party until I was six years old!?

It looks like everyone got their second birthday filmed.
Well, almost everyone.


        I’ll admit, over the years I have grown accustomed to a whole range of Middle Child indignities (Read “The Birth Denouncement”  and “Tales from the Middle: the Best Worst Seat in the House.”), but being edited out of my own Lifetime movie? Well, this is a new low. And it gets even lower.
     Now remember, my father didn’t have a movie camera when my brother was born, so he couldn’t document the day the new born king came home from the hospital. (He more than made up for it with that photo album, though.) But he did have a movie camera by the time my younger sister and I arrived on the scene, so obviously there’s footage of each of us coming home. And sure enough, there is. OF MY SISTER!
     Interestingly, the footage of my homecoming was... mysteriously damaged. Kind of like those missing minutes from the Nixon Watergate tapes. “Double exposed,” according to my father’s notes. Overlapped by shots of my brother and a dog. And it wasn't even the family dog. We didn't have a dog!! I have to share the screen with some unrelated canine!!! Just an unfortunate accident? I think not! Double exposed my ass!! I’ll tell you what’s been exposed. A vast parental-sibling conspiracy. An insidious plot to further marginalize the Middle Child. It was like I was being social distanced before it was even a thing!

Welcome Home?: You can't make this stuff up!

     Ironically, I will be celebrating another birthday in just a few days. I doubt anyone will be filming it. But it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.




Monday, March 16, 2020

Happy St. Gertrude’s Day!

     Everyone knows March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, right? Of course they do. But he’s not the only saint whose feast day is March 17. It’s also St. Gertrude of Nivelles Day. Who, you ask?
     Exactly!
     If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times: you don’t have to be a Middle Child to know what it feels like to be a Middle Child -- and St. Gertrude is the perfect example.
     According to catholictradition.org, she’s the patron saint of cats and the people who love them. (For the record, I am not one of those people. I don’t trust cats and I'm severely allergic to them. Just writing this post is irritating my eyes.) Back in the day, Gertrude was the “go-to” saint if you were experiencing a rodent infestation -- kind of like a Medieval Terminix. Over time, that led cat-lovers to associate her with their furry friends. Catster.com even goes so far as to call St. Gertrude “the original cat lady.”
     Like St. Patrick, Gertrude was also never formally canonized by the Catholic church, but in 1677 Pope Clement XII declared March 17 as her feast day. Great. He couldn’t have made it on the 16th or 18th? It had to be on the 17th?? It’s like some sick joke. Kind of like randomly making Middle Child’s Day on August 12 instead of July 2, the actual middle of the year, when it should be.
     Anyway, the bottom line is St. Gertrude got totally screwed. As a result, every year around this time, it’s always the same. St. Patrick gets the royal treatment on his day, like some favored first-born. He’s toasted and celebrated, basking in the emerald tinted limelight. St. Patrick, St. Patrick, St. Patrick! Meanwhile, poor Gertrude is lost in the shadows, a mere afterthought, treated like some second class saint. Overlooked and forgotten. She’s the saint that ain’t. No parades. No drunken revelry. Consigned to the litter box of feast days. Ugh. It doesn't get more Middle Child than that.
     I feel your pain, St. Gertrude! I really do. But like I said, I’m not a big fan of cats. On the other hand, I’m not even the least bit allergic to beer. So you win, St. Patrick. Well played.
     Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Valentine's Day Middle Child Candy Hearts Are Here!

     Just in time for Valentine’s Day! FREE Limited Edition candy hearts, with sentiments specially selected for the Middle Children in your life. (Oh, you can’t really eat them. They’re just images. But when you’re a Middle Child, you take what you can get.) Right click an image to download or e-mail, and share one today -- before you totally forget!







CLICK HERE 
to see the entire collection of Middle Child Valentine's Day Cards.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Best Overlooked & Underappreciated Movies of 2019

Academy Awards Special: the Middle Child Movie Guide

     Hollywood’s big night is here, and as usual, the Best Picture nominees are the stars of the evening. The center of attention. Of course, the critics have questions. Did the Academy get it rightDid they really nominate the best Best Pictures? Who got snubbed? And is the Academy being selective enough? Are there too many Best Picture nominees?
     This year, there are nine. Nine! That does seem like a lot. But when you consider there were 786 movies released in the U.S. and Canada in 2019 according to Statista, maybe it’s not so many? Of course, that also means there are hundreds of other movies that won’t get to bask in the Oscar limelight. Far from Hollywood favorites, we hardly even know their names. But they’re out there. The Middle Children of the movie industry, yearning for your attention.
     While the lucky nine spend the evening basking in the glow of their nominations and exchanging accolades with their film families, I'd like to shine a little limelight on those less loved films. There are lots of websites where you’ll find lists of these lesser known movies. I looked at lists from Looper, Indie Wire, Screen Rant, Parade, Thrillist, and The Daily Beast. There are 123 different titles on these six lists. That's a lot of overlooking, not to mention a lot of... looking. If you saw just two a week, it would take over a year to see them all. I really love popcorn, but I still don’t think I could do it. So I combined the lists, narrowing it down to those titles that were on more than one -- the crème de la passed over movie crème. I figure the more lists you appear on, the less “most overlooked” you are, right? I mean, ideally, if you were genuinely overlooked, you wouldn’t be on any of these lists.
     I was able to trim the list down to 29 movies. I gave each a star to indicate how many lists they’re on and linked them to their trailer. Look at all the hours of work I'm saving you! Maybe now you might have some time to actually see some of these.
     To be honest, out of all 123 movies, I’ve only seen five  -- and only a pathetic one from the “short list.” In fact, I only saw four of the Best Picture nominees, so why listen to me? Clearly, those aren’t the kind of credentials that make me what you’d call a movie buff, even though did I mention that I really love popcorn? But while I may know diddly squat about cinema, when it comes to being overlooked and underappreciated, unfortunately I am somewhat of an expert.

****
  Her Smell
***

                            Blinded by the Light           Fast Color                High Flying Bird
 
                                      Little Woods                   Luce                        Monos
                                             The Last Black Man              Wild Rose
                                                in San Francisco
**
                                     Apollo 11                   The Art of                   Brittany Runs
                                                                     Self Defense                 a Marathon
                                         Crawl                  Dark Waters                Fighting with
                                                                                                          My Family
                                    High Life                  Give Me Liberty             The Kid Who
                                                                                                         Would Be King
                                  Knives & Skin            The Mustang               The Nightingale
                               The Peanut Butter           Plus One                      The Report
                                       Falcon 
                                 The Souvenir              Sword of Trust        Under the Silver Lake

                                                  Wild Nights with              The Wind   
                                                           Emily

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Lower Than a Groundhog

     This past Sunday was February 2nd -- Groundhog Day! I know this, because a reminder popped up on my iPhone. I did not enter the date, and I certainly didn’t set up a reminder. It’s a default entry on the Google calendar app, right in there with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Groundhog Day! Like it’s some kind of national holiday.
     It’s not like I needed any reminder anyway. It’s kind of hard to escape. It was all over the news. Forget impeachment, Brexit, Coronavirus -- will some woodchuck weatherman see his shadow? We need to know! Geez. They even made a movie about Groundhog Day,  and then a Broadway musical.  It’s that big of a deal. Robert Frost wrote a poem about groundhogs. Robert friggin’ Frost! When the only poet to win four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry writes a poem about you, you know you matter.
     It must be nice to be a groundhog. They must be sooo happy, having a special day with their name on it that so many people pay so much attention to. How nice for them. I mean, how awful would they feel if there was a Groundhog Day and nobody paid any attention to it? Could you imagine?
     Oh wait, I can -- it would be like Middle Child’s Day! Which is kind of ironic, because just like Groundhog Day, year after year, it’s always the same thing -- everybody ignores Middle Child’s Day! No headlines. No movie or musical. And certainly no built-in Google calendar entry or iPhone reminder. Sure, there’s that Middle Child poem I’ve written about in previous posts, but that hardly counts. That poem was messed up. But sure, let's all make a big fuss over Groundhog Day because, you know, we wouldn't want to hurt their feelings!
     Honestly, is a weather forecasting rodent worthy of more attention than a Middle Child? Actual human meteorologists can’t predict the weather, and we think some grubby groundhog can!? Of course they can’t. Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous furry forecaster, has only been correct 39% of the time over the last 100 years. That sucks!!
     Not to worry though. There are actually other marmot meteorologists we can turn to. Thank god. And while some of them have a better record than Phil, they’re not always in agreement. Take this year, for example. Staten Island Chuck (NY), Buckeye Chuck (OH), and Dunkirk Dave (IN) all agree with Phil. None of them saw their shadows, calling for an early spring. But General Beauregard Lee (GA), Jimmy the Groundhog (WI), and Sir Walter Wally (NC) did see their shadows, which means six more weeks of winter. Now what!?
     Maybe Bee Cave Bob holds the key. This Texas weather-forecasting armadillo also agrees with Phil, if that sways you one way or another. And if it does, you have a serious problem. But there’s one thing I can tell you with 100% accuracy: whether any of these creatures saw their shadows or not, Middle Children can expect six more weeks of being overlooked and forgotten.
     Probably more.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Poem That Changed My Life: Revisited

     Back in July of 2013, I told the story of how I found out I was a Middle Child in a post titled “Poetic Injustice: The Poem That Changed My Life.” There’s no father son chat about the birds and bees and Middle Children. It’s not the kind of thing someone actually tells you. You don’t get a certified letter in the mail or anything. Nobody presents you with a certificate. You kind of just figure it out, and of course by the time you do, the damage is already done. In my case, I found out via a poem.
     You know how poetry can really touch your heart? Well, this poem punched me in the face. My mother had clipped it out from some woman’s magazine and taped it to the kitchen wall in the house I grew up in where it stayed until I was full grown adult. So I saw this thing all the time. It was called “Middle Children,” written by Mary Margret Milbrae.

LISTEN to the poem

     In my previous post, I offered a thorough analysis of the poem and my many issues with it. I came to the conclusion that this poem did not at all accurately capture the essence of what it means to be a Middle Child. At least not my experience as a Middle Child.
     After all these years of this poem haunting me, I couldn’t take it anymore. I spoke about all of this on Episode 2 of “Pay No Attention to this Podcast.” Most people took the title of my podcast literally, however, so they never heard it. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the smartest name for a podcast, but I digress...
     I had finally had enough. I had to put the ghost of that poem to rest. So I wrote my own Middle Child Poem. A poetic rebuttal, if you will.
     So, take that Mary Margret Milbrae.

 LISTEN to the poem

Special thanks to Eleanor Handley and Michael Satow for their beautiful readings. 
Neither are Middle Children, so that was very magnanimous of them. And a bit surprising.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Middle Child Syndrome New Year’s Challenge

     Towards the end of every year, Middle Children have ample opportunities to experience multiple episodes of Middle Child Syndrome. With an overabundance of family gatherings from Thanksgiving through Christmas and Chanukah, plus the added exchanging of presents, the chances of feeling left out and slighted are plentiful. But that’s all behind us. Yesterday’s news. Now, we can look forward to a brand new year of coping with our namesake syndrome!
     When it comes to Middle Child Syndrome, one thing is for sure: nothing ever changes. It’s out with the old, in with the old. New Year, same syndrome. I, for one, can hardly wait to see what exciting MCS opportunities will present themselves in the New Year. And I know I won’t have to wait long.
     Certainly by the end of the first day of 2020, any Middle Child worth their salt will have already struggled with their first MCS flare-up of the new decade. In fact, I’d say -- and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here -- for many of us our syndrome will likely kick in shortly after the big ball drops at the stroke of midnight.

This one called that one to wish a Happy New Year but didn’t call me!”

     That seems like a pretty safe bet. Or maybe

They spent New Year’s Eve with them but didn’t invite us?” 

     So many possibilities. How far into 2020 will you (or a Middle Child you love) get before Middle Child Syndrome rears its ugly head, and what triggers it?
     Take “The Middle Child Syndrome New Year’s Challenge” and tell us all about it. Share your story on Twitter (@midkidmusings), on Facebook (@smackdabpage), or leave a comment below.
     Wishing everyone a New Year filled with happiness, health, and plenty of ATTENTION!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Joy Vey!

Celebrate the Holiday Season with these Mid Kid Klassics:

NEW!!  
“Chanukah, Oh Chanukah” (Middle Child Style)
8 nights of presents means 8 nights of Middle Child Syndrome!




“The Middle Child’s Night Before Christmas”
Not a creature was stirring... except the Middle Child!


PLUS: Was the author of "The Night Before Christmas" a Middle Child?
CLICK HERE to find out more.

“Melvin the Middle Reindeer”
The musical tale of everyone's favorite forgotten reindeer.



PLUS: Shop the Smack Dab Shop for the best selection of Middle Child gifts.
(Nothing will arrive in time for the holidays, but we're used to being forgotten!!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

This Holiday Season, Give The Gift of Attention!

     You think dealing with a Middle Child is difficult? Try shopping for one!
     The Smack Dab Shop is the world's largest (and probably only!) selection of Middle Child apparel. It’s where you'll find something to satisfy even the hardest to please Middle Child. And all royalties from sales will be donated to UNICEF, benefiting children in need regardless of birth order.
     Shop the Smack Dab Shop this Holiday Season, and find something for every Middle Child not on your list!
 

SHOP NOW AND SAVE 15% OFF YOUR ORDER. 
(EXCLUSIONS APPLY. SEE SITE FOR DETAILS.)