Wednesday, January 30, 2019

No Comment!

   It’s often said that as Middle Children, we feel like we have to try a little harder to be heard. That’s why I’ve always encouraged readers of this blog to comment and share their thoughts. In fact, a number of my most recent posts were the result of feedback from readers, including this one. But it appears the good folks at, and the little company you may have heard of that owns them named Google, are part of a widespread conspiracy to silence us!
     A few weeks ago, I received a disturbing e-mail from a reader named Melissa B:

“Hi! You have no idea how much I love, and need, your blog. I have been trying and
trying to post a comment. It will not post!!! I have tried everything. If worse comes
to worst, could I email you my comment and you put it in?”

     Then, before I even had a chance to respond, I received this desperate follow-up:

“I can't post my comments. Anywhere. At all.
I have found my people, I need to be heard!!!”

     Just what in the name of Jan Brady is going on here!? I immediately dispatched the entire Smack Dab IT department to investigate this issue, and what they we I discovered was baffling. It turns out if you want to comment, you have to click where it says NO COMMENTS. What the what!? Click NO COMMENTS to comment? Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive? Shouldn’t it say something like, oh, I dunno -- maybe, COMMENT?? Clearly, some first or last born HTML coder feeling threatened by the mere thought of a Middle Child speaking out came up with that brainstorm!

     In any case, mystery solved. Another satisfied customer. Melissa was kind enough to call me “the renaissance man of Mid Kids,” but also offered this piece of advice. “Be careful!” she warned. “If you get too successful, you might come off more like... a first born.”
     Don’t fret, Melissa. That’s not something that will ever happen.

Thank you Melissa for telling me about this scene from Modern Family (Season 2/Ep. 23),
when Claire and Phil are about to miss Alex’s High School graduation speech.
It’s now the newest addition to “Middle Child Masterpiece Theater.

See the entire “Middle Child Masterpiece Theater” collection at the SmackDab Channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Shut Downs & Shut Ups: Middle Child Talking Points

     As the Founding Father of the Middle Child Party, I spend a lot of time tracking the antics of our Middle Child-in-Chief. And as the partial government shutdown enters its second month, I’ve been spending even more time lately thinking about the sad state of affairs in our nation’s capitol. It seems our elected officials talk over each other and through each other, but nobody is really talking to each other. As a result, the state of our union is in a state of perpetual stalemate. But regardless of party affiliation, there’s one thing we all can agree on: politicians love to talk. And Middle Child politicians are some of the best in the biz.
     Nothing illustrates my point better than the political Talk-a-Thon known as the filibuster (a.k.a. every Middle Child’s dream come true). The chance to be center stage, talking for hours on end without interruption. I get all giddy just thinking about it. And while there’s no scientific proof that Middle Children talk more than other people, there is this: some of the longest filibusters in U.S. history were staged by Middle Children. Of course, there’s a very good reason we might love to hear ourselves talk so much. Nobody else wants to listen! I have to admit, when it comes to talking, these Middle Children make me look like a lightweight:
Double Talk: Rand Paul delivered TWO
of the longest filibusters in U.S. history.
     Sen. Rand Paul (KY) has the distinction of staging two of the longest filibusters in U.S. Senate history. On May 20, 2015, the self-professed patriot started talking for 10 hours/31 minutes attempting to block... the Patriot Act. On March 6, 2013, he droned on for 12 hours/52 minutes protesting -- wait for it -- drones!
     The aptly named Sen. Huey Long (LA) spoke for 15 hours/30 minutes from June 12-13, 1935, attempting to stop passage of a bill he later voted for.
     Sen. William Proxmire (WI) spoke for 16 hours/12 minutes from Sept. 28-29, 1981, attempting to prevent national debt from exceeding a mere $1 trillion at the time. He clearly failed. Currently at almost $22 trillion, imagine how much longer he’d have to speak today.
Middle Child Strom Thurmond:
a world class windbag.

     Sen. Wayne Morse (OR) spent 22 hours/26 minutes on April 24-25, 1953, trying to submarine legislation letting Texas control submerged lands in the Gulf of Mexico.
     Sen. Strom Thurmond (SC) staged the longest filibuster in U.S. history - 24 hours/18 minutes - wasting everyone’s time on August 28-29, 1957, trying to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. When it comes to filibusters, that makes him the undisputed King of the (Capitol) Hill.

The shutdown's over, but the melody lingers on:
watch “Music for a Government Shutdown

UPDATE ON LAST POST (“Let’s Kick and Make Up”): I was unable to contact “Kim the Kicker” before posting, but did hear from her shortly after. Not surprisingly, she claims to have no memory of “Kick-gate.” “Wow, absolutely no recollection of that at all! Will an apology work now?" she offers. Oh really, Kim?? I’m pretty sure the damage is already done! Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that’s not even an actual apology. It’s more like an offer of an apology! Whatever. I am SO over it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Let's Kick and Make Up

A Middle Child Love Story?

     When people talk about “falling head over heels” for someone, they usually mean it figuratively. The heel, or any part of the foot for that matter, doesn’t really play any part. Or does it?
Before there were WMDs,
there were these.
     When I was in first or second grade, there was a girl in my class named Kim. Kim A... maybe I shouldn't mention her last name. Throughout the week, at random times, without warning and for no apparent reason, Kim would kick me. Not a gentle “I’m-trying-to-get-your-attention” kick, but more of a “let-me-see-how-hard-I-can-kick-you” kick. Let me just say, if you were choosing sides for a game of kickball, you would want Kim on your team. She was quite the kicker. And you have to remember, back when I was a kid, we didn’t wear sneakers to school. We wore shoes. Hard shoes. Little girls wore patent leather Mary Janes or maybe a clunky pair of Saddle shoes -- shoes that could inflict serious damage on a young boys shins. So it goes without saying, Kim left her mark on me. My legs, not to mention my ego, were bruised. Why did this girl hate me so much? What did I do to deserve this? That’s when I got my first relationship advice from my mother:

“Kim doesn’t hate you,” my mother explained.
“She kicks you because she likes you.”

Kim didn’t break my heart,
but possibly my fibula.
     I’m sorry, you wanna run that by me again, Mom? Kicking is a sign of affection?? For a seven or eight year old boy, this was not an easy concept to wrap your head around. I mean, I was still trying to grapple with how it was even possible to like girls when everyone knew they gave you cooties. Now you’re telling me being liked by one means I’ll have to endure bodily harm? I did not sign up for this.
     Then again, as a Middle Child, it shouldn’t have been a totally foreign concept to me. We regularly feel overlooked and ignored, yet our parents and siblings insist that’s not the case. They say we are loved. So maybe love is supposed to feel like a kick in the pants? No, no no -- my mother had to be wrong. Kim probably kicked me because she thought I was obnoxious and annoying. It certainly wouldn’t be the last time someone felt that way about me. Besides, I was way too young to get involved in some kinky sadomasochistic relationship. Oh my god -- was my mother a proponent of S&M!?
     Thankfully, the kicking eventually stopped. That means she didn’t like me anymore, right? I don’t know whatever happened to Kim. I tried to locate her before writing this. As far as I can tell, she might be a lawyer somewhere outside of Chicago. (If you’re reading this, Kim, please don’t sue me.) She did write something nice in my eighth grade yearbook, so she must have really hated me by then. I guess she got smarter than me after eighth grade though, because I noticed in our High School yearbook she graduated a year ahead of me. It seems only fitting she got kicked up a grade.

A MUSICAL FOOTNOTE: As I was writing this post, two songs kept playing in my head. One was the 1975 Top 10 hit by Nazareth, “Love Hurts,” featuring some of the worst lip syncing I’ve ever seen. (WATCH)  The original version was performed by The Everly Brothers in 1961 (LISTEN) The other song was The Mills Brothers #1 hit “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” originally recorded in 1944.(LISTEN)  I was surprised to see how many people covered this song including: Connie Francis (LISTEN), Clarence “Frogman” Henry (LISTEN), Brenda Lee (LISTEN), Kay Starr (LISTEN), Ringo Starr, no relation (LISTEN), Fats Domino (LISTEN), Paul Anka (LISTEN), Willie Nelson (LISTEN), The Ink Spots (LISTEN), Pat Boone (LISTEN), Peggy Lee (LISTEN), The Lennon Sisters (LISTEN), and Michael Bublè. (LISTEN) Ryan Gosling even performed a version in the movie “Blue Valentine.” (WATCH) But my favorite was the 1945 Spike Jones version. (LISTEN)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Government Shutdown: the Middle Child Perspective

“I scream, you scream, we all
scream for this shutdown
to be over!

     Middle Children are experts in not getting everything we want. We learn at an early age to take what we can get, and that compromise is key. As the founding father of the Middle Child Party, I have shared this meet-in-the-middle perspective with politicians from both parties during previous shutdowns, but it obviously bears repeating. Maybe I need to simplify things to illustrate my point. Perhaps a familial analogy will provide a clear insight...
     One day, Mom decides she’d like to buy ice cream for her three children. The kids are in agreement -- they all want ice cream. But Mom gets paid way less than her male co-workers and can only afford one gallon, so they all have to agree on a flavor. The little sister, Nancy, wants chocolate. She says a majority of people like it best. The Middle Child, Donnie, wants orange ice cream. He knows it's an acquired taste and a smaller group of people prefer it, but he insists “It’s the best flavor in the world, and nobody loves it more than me.” He also says people who like chocolate ice cream are losers. To make matters worse, Donnie wants sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles. Like 5 BILLION! Nancy hates sprinkles. As for their older brother, Mitch, he doesn't want to get involved and won’t pick a flavor until the other two agree on one. Oh, that's helpful. Nancy and Donnie won’t budge, so days and days go by without anybody getting what they want. NOBODY GETS THEIR ICE CREAM!
     Meanwhile, the Middle Child voice in my head is screaming, “Why does it have to be ice cream!?” How about some sorbet? Or frozen yogurt? Or maybe a different dessert altogether, like a nice piece of pie, or pudding? I don’t know if any of this will lead to some sort of breakthrough, but I do know it has made me very hungry.

Speaking of meeting in the middle, the Middle Child Party is proud to present some 
“Music for a Government Shutdown.”