The Markets have an interesting behavior: they don’t care about something, until all at once they care, and they’ll care a great deal. submitted by
At the beginning of May, states like Texas began to re-open. And for awhile, it seemed that it was the correct move. Cases weren’t going down but they weren’t going up either. Throughout most of may we even saw a slight though not significant decline. Governors and citizens became encouraged and started lifting restrictions and abandoning social distancing rules.
History I promise you will rudely stamp these moves into textbooks as a lesson for people to learn from in responding to future epidemics and pandemics.
We are in the middle of the next COVID crisis. Anyone who is telling you otherwise is frankly lying, or ignorant.
Case counts have soared back to March and April levels, and it seems all but foretold that we will see the US break its record for coronavirus cases in a day by the end of next week. But this time, it’s worse: we have people ignoring social distancing rules across the country, believing the rhetoric of a deranged carrot saying the coronavirus is ‘fading away.’
The fear that helped save lives before has dissipated as the storm of warnings aren’t hitting people living under the umbrella of misinformation.
Dr. Fauci and Dr. Gotlieb, two doctors for whatever the world thinks of them are some of the better experts on Coronavirus, have been messaging you for weeks warning things are getting out of control. Dr. Gotlieb mentioned this recent friday that the likelihood schools are going to be able to open nationally is in serious doubt. Dr. Fauci mentioned that the NFL may have serious trouble playing in the fall. These doctors, who understand way more about the virus than we do, are saying ‘We are going to have serious alterations to our lifestyles through the end of this year.’
Governor Greg ‘I guess I rushed into reopening’ Abbot just made a plea to Texans to not go anywhere unless they need to. Texas is the number two GDP state in the country. Basically giving a casual stay at home order does not bode well for the productivity of Texas, nor the outlook of its ability to fight the virus.
California is really getting out of control. It’s the number one GDP producing state. Florida doesn’t give a fuck and man does the virus not give a fuck about their not giving a fuck. It’s the number four GDP producing state.
This is getting so bad that the EU is considering a ban on travel from the US. You thought airlines had it rough with no flights to China and Europe for the last couple months? If they can’t get in a decent travel summer season on international flights, good luck to your calls. Hopefully JPow creates a credit facility to give loans to fucked airline call buyers since the government is willing to collateralize just about every other part of the airlines for their loans.
We are simply doomed at this point to repeat our recent history. There will be a lot of denial, shouting, the carrot will turn red with anger, and there may even be violence, but eventually we will see some parts of the country forced to shut back down in the coming weeks and months. It’ll become a matter of hospital capacity becoming so overloaded that the state simply cannot manage the crisis.
Bulls will say what they’ve said since the bottom: the fed will print the road out of this. Yeah, that was going to work for round one. Round two? Not so much.
And the fed will have to start getting religious if inflation gets out of control. You can look at the inflation rate released every month and say ‘well the rate looks very disinflationary.’ Yeah, that’s not really how its playing out. Groceries are becoming more expensive, a tell-tale sign that inflation is kicking in hard. Commodity prices are generally rising (Even for oil, as oil inventories destroy expectations every time.) Meanwhile the DXY index is shedding value like its on a weight loss program. All of this to say: The fed can bridge a gap, it cannot replace the economy. And while their next moves will become increasingly exotic and aggressive, it will without a doubt at least come with long term scarring on the economy, if not outright damage upon implementation. Liquidity cannot replace solvency, and that’s something we’re starting to notice in such places as delinquency rates across CMBS’s.
And wall street will finally have ‘fundamentals reassert’ as second quarter results come in with expectations grim as the hospitals overwhelmed with foolish policies playing out in real time.
But let’s make one thing clear: New York proved that if we had simply waited an extra few weeks, been diligent with social distancing, and bothered to wear a mask we would be in a true recovery summer where businesses would have an opportunity to take in enough money to make through a long winter. That’s not going to be the case anymore through the summer. Long dated puts are all but guaranteed at this point.
So, what are the moves?? First, get the FUCK out of cruise lines and airlines if you’re still in. You made a lot of money defying everyone with the stock going up, congratulations. Take profits. Don’t be an idiot. Tourism and travel will come back, but not before summer ’21 at the earliest, and many of the companies we know today won’t be around to take reservations. Border closings will be up for quarters at this point, let’s just be realistic about that.
Second, Vix calls are the way. They are a cheap hedge that pay out huge and can pay for many bullish bets gone wrong in a portfolio. Full blown WSB should consider buying UVXY calls.
Third: Realize that there’s so much credit and debt issued out to risky companies that we may have a serious problem in the coming months with defaults. At the same time this debt has been issued, debt downgrades are soaring. You wanna see the stock market tank? Two sizable S and P companies file for bankruptcy and the market wakes up from its wet dream to realize that stocks, are in fact, the riskiest asset to buy.
I understand that bearish sentiment is usually great for being a contrarian indicator to buy. This is the exception to that rule, as we are not in a financial crisis, we are in a pandemic where half the populous won’t accept facts. This time, the bears will be right.
If remember one thing from this post in the proceeding months, remember this: just because a phenomena isn’t happening to you, doesn’t mean the phenomena isn’t severely effecting others.
Positions: Vix calls 9/18-12/15, XLF Puts dated longer than six months, GE puts, APT shares, hedges in renewable sectors, cash, long dated GLD calendars
Death Count: 242
Iudex Gundyr - Defeated
Vordt of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Curse-rotted Greatwood - Defeated
Crystal Sage - Defeated
Deacons of the Deep - Defeated
Abyss Watchers - Defeated
High Lord Wolnir - Defeated
Old Demon King - Defeated
Pontiff Sulyvahn - Defeated
Yhorm the Giant - Defeated
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods - Defeated
Dancer of the Boreal Valley - Defeated
Oceiros, the Consumed King - Defeated
Champion Gundyr - Defeated
Ancient Wyvern - Defeated
Dragonslayer Armour - Defeated
Lorian & Lothric
Soul of Cinder
Welcome back, Unkindled Ones, for the grand finale. I will be updating the key highlights as we proceed throughout the game over these next few and final hours, as well as the death count. To make things easier to follow, I will have (updated) to the left of the most recent text below. The times I update may not be 100% accurate, but fairly close.
For anyone who doesn't know what this is all about, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/heepr2/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
For anyone who missed the events of Day 1, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hg43r5/ive_a_100_euro_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
For anyone who missed the events of Day 2, check out the link below. https://www.reddit.com/darksouls3/comments/hgqdbm/ive_a_100_bet_on_with_my_friend_that_he_wont/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
11:00 - Once again, I must apologize for the two day break in between. Here in Ireland, 364 days of the year are cold and wet, even when it's dry, so I sure as hell wasn't missing out on an opportunity to make the most of that one day that contained a sweltering 8°C (46.4°F for our American friends) heat wave. The deadline will be @ 1:00am as we started an hour later than originally planned. Weapon update: Lothric Knight Sword & Shield. Let's get into this.
11:10 - She bangs, she bangs, oh baby. When she moves, she moves, I go crazy. 'Cause she looks like a Hungarian belly dancer but she slices you up like a chicken in a rotisserie. Like every Outrider Knight in history.
11:44 - She prances elegantly across the room with the natural grace of the Ballerina that she is, executing a faultless arabesque and flowing like water over a smooth river stone, leaving her onlooker mesmerized and in awe, wondering who this pulchritudinous Dancer is. Their eyes meet for the first time. His heart begins to beat faster and faster, reaching dangerously high levels, on the verge of exploding in his chest. He gasps, almost forgetting to breath. It feels like he's being consumed by the gaping mouth of a great ocean. She advances toward him, one foot in front of the other. Controlled movements, never withdrawing her eyes from his. She's a hair's breadth from him now. He's never witnessed such magnificence. His lips part, words ready to escape to ask this enchantress her name. She slowly lifts her elongated fingers to his mouth, as if ready to hush his eager lips. Then she stabs him in his face and he dies.
12:29 - It could be the rustiness after taking a two day break or it could just be the encounter itself. He's struggling with this one, a lot. Her movements are off-putting and he's finding it difficult to understand her attack patterns.
13:05 - We're at a standstill here folks. Although progress is being made, it's not being made quick enough. Every death is costly minutes lost and the clock is ticking. 15-0 Dancer.
13:58 - And that's all she wrote. This Dancer was clearly not made for the stage. She suspends her head in shame as she is jeered off the platform after failing to impress the judges after 20 attempts.
14:05 - He's swung a sharp left and has decided to make his way to the Consumed Kings Garden in hope of defeating two bosses consecutively in quick succession. Time is his greatest enemy right now. To stand a chance of making it through Lothric Castle and the Archives, he'll need to do this with haste.
14:39 - The Pus of Men are misunderstood lovable abominations that only desire love and affection. With their mahoosize claw like appendages reaching out for a friendly handshake, they find themselves being set ablaze yet again by another terror-stricken, mismatched armour wearing dingbat.
15:04- The lift shortcut has been activated. It's time to meet Ocerios and baby Ocelotte, wherever he is.
15:54 - "Ahh, you ignorant slaves. Finally taken notice, have you? Of the power of my beloved Ocelotte, child of The Joy and The Sorrow." There's more than meets the eye(or lack of them), with this scaleless, clammy, staff weilding naked Wyvern-man. After consuming copius amounts of cocaine in phase 2, which would explain his dillusions, he begins bouncing off the walls on all fours like the absolute mad man that he is. Unleashing a plethora of swipes, bites and tail whips, he's establishing just why he has King in his name. He's certainly no push over so far and it shows.
16:33- The Consumed King has been dethroned. The key to this encounter was using his shield to absorb the barrage of blows in phase two. He's ready to make his way to the Untended Graves to face Gundyr for round two. I have shown him the secret passage as he'd have no knowledge of how to get there otherwise. But first we're going to take a short break. Be back soon.
17:12 - After spending months training away in a Muay Thai camp in southern Thailand, the Tin-Man has returned with seething vengance on his mind. Displaying a whole new moveset of quick dodges, open handed bitch slaps and a roundhouse kick that would give Chuck Norris a run for his money, this herculean trash can is here to pick up todays garbage.
17:47 - When his eyes glow red, he means business. These newly learned attacks are proving to be more than a handful right now. He's barely been able to secure one successful hit during Gundyr's second phase onslaught. He's in trouble with this one. Will his first boss encounter with Gundyr also be his last?
18:50 - Round 13: With a quick left jab to the midsection, followed by a right uppercut to the big man's chin, Gundyr finds himself face down eating dirt. He'll have to hang up his gloves after this one.
18:55 - With four bosses remaining, he's decided to go on a Wyvern hunt in Archdragon peak. He wants to get this one out of the way so that he can soley focus on the remaining two areas. Seeing as he has absolutely no idea how to get here, I'll show him the way...of the Dragon.
19:16 - He traverses across the grey expanse of stoney peaks, breathing in lungfuls of crisp frigid air. Step by step, he meticulously picks out his footing placement amongst the coarse, uneven, rocky terrain. He sees a white marbled mausoleum in the distance, it's a welcomed sight indeed. The conception of a place to rest his beaten and broken body gives him purpose to push on. He forces his weary legs to take another step. Almost there. Suddenly his body is met with an icey chill as a great shadow looms above. A low hiss resonates, causing the ground around him to tremble. Enter: Ancient Wyvern.
19:40 - After quickly learning that his sword attacks only tickled the serpentines scaley hide, he navigated his way around the rafters and delivered a deadly plunging attack to the Wyvern's cranium, casuing instant death. Back to the Bonfire.
19:45 - My personal favourite area of the game that also happens to have my personal favourite boss encounter. Lothric Castle can be a fairly time consuming place for new players to navigate their way around, and time is something he is very short on right now. With little room for error and three difficult encounters remaining, this might come down to the wire.
20:30- Subsequent to being toasted like a marshmallow outside of the castle, he made his way to the right sided entrance where he fought his way through an ambush of Hollow Assasins and proceeded to free the corrupted parasitic Wyvern from eternal torment.
21:23 - His second meeting with the Boreal Outrider Knight went scantly better than the first. Much emphasis on the word scantly. He traded blows with charged up super Knights within the castle walls and found himself passage toward the Archives, only to be stopped in his tracks by a formidable foe.
21:35 - The sky shone bright with a brilliant ember red glow. The Pilgrim Butterflies glided amidst the clouds, as if swimming upstream like Salmon in the fall. The beauty of it all was short lived when pulsing waves began to emanate from their frail wings in the direction of a heaped metallic pile of dismantled armour below. One by one, the pieces began to build upon themselves, until there stood a ten foot hollow behemoth weilding a lightning infused Greataxe and a mammoth sized shield, almost as tall and wide as the hulking brute iself. It found itself at the mercy of its new masters. Obeying. Under submission. Ready to kill.
22:27 - 8 shield bashes to the face later, he got the upper hand and melted down that armour into a brand new teapot. With the clock against him, he's heading into the final area of the game.
22:39 - Thousands upon thousands of old paper creations, stacked upon one another. I doubt you could even imagine it. He stands in awe, marvelling at the vast repository of books surrounding him. So much wonder, and knowledge, and secrets... oh the secrets, hidden away between their covers, like two forbidden lovers. In the far off distance, he hears echoing, an old familiar cackling, resounding in his ears. It can't be. It can't... Two ice cold frostbolts to the side of his head quickly remind him that the Witch Bitch is still very much alive and kicking. Welcome to the Grand Archives, my man.
23:25 - After turning himself into a human candle, he proceeded to make his way through the Archives whilst being groped by Cursed Claws, pounced on by more Hollow Slaves, and impaled by lumbering Gargoyles. Harry, Ron and Hermione won't make his final hurdle towards the Twins an easy one.
23:47 - Incest is best. A motto held dearly by these two edgy teens. A brotherly love like no other, the Twin Princes. These guys gave me absolute hell on my first playthrough and I expect they will do the same here. While it is possible to take down two more bosses within this time 01:00am time frame, it's highly unlikely.
00:00 - One hour remaining.
00:10 - 7 deaths in quick succession has given him insight as to what to expect from this encounter. The unpredictability of Lorians instant teleportation and double horizontal slashes is proving difficult to read, with a follow up combo catching him off guard every so often, resulting in a quick death.
00:30 - "This spot marks our grave. You may rest here, too, if you like." He may have no choice but to take Lothric up on his kind invitation. 30 minutes to go with phase 2 only being reached once. He's accepted defeat at this point but is still giving his all for the remaining time left.
(Updated) 1:00 -And that brings us to the end of our journey, Unkindled ones. Sadly, the Princes could not be taken down but I'm sure with a few more attempts, that'll change. Although he's failed to meet the requirements for this bet, he can hold his head up high because that was a damn good valiant effort. He's experienced his first taste of Dark Souls and he isn't leaving dissapointed.
To those who are wondering if he actually enjoyed playing the game or was doing it for the money? The cash was a big incentive in the beginning, there's no question about that, but he thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. He does plan on completing the rest of it within the next day or so, as well as attempting the Nameless King. He will then do a second playthrough, playing at his own pace. He may have lost the bet but the world of Dark Souls has won him over. As for the 100 Euro, well, I didn't accept it and I never planned on doing so, and I know he would have done the same thing. A pint will suffice when we're out some night. I just wanted to introduce my friend to this phenomenonal game and for him to experience how amazing it is, and I've done that. That's enough for me.
To you guys and girls, thank you for joining us on this journey these last few days. I hope that you enjoyed reading my commentary as much as I did writing it. It's been a blast. Being new to the Dark Souls community myself and Reddit in general, I've gotta say that I'm loving the highly entertaining posts and the community itself. I'm not sure if I'll do something to this extent again, as it's left me mentally broken, but I will stay active. So keep it up everyone, and most importantly, stay safe.
Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster
(seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City
started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord
! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is
something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can
be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole
, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
- Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
- We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
- While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and
her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
- Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the
Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation
. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
- Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where
?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from
the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
- Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
- Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
- Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction"
tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe
, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
- Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly
have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are
(for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones
) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle
), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy
magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
- Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
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