Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Horrors of Children’s YouTube, pt 2: Just Dance Kids

Last week’s post was long and required research on my end, which means I’ll still be whinging to my cats about it for at least another month. In light of that, I wanted this week’s topic to be something easy and stupid…and it sure ended up being one of those things! Just Dance Kids–a game that exists because Nintendo decided people of all ages have the right to look like assholes in their living rooms–is certainly stupid. Easy, though? That’s another story.

As mentioned previously, I work in an elementary school classroom, which means I watch a lot of children’s videos that appear to have been frantically pieced together to protect a non-existent copyright, featuring songs that give every indication of having been performed by a Chinese tourist held at gunpoint and forced to recite, on pain of death, every English word they half-remember from high school. Something I see a lot of, which I haven’t mentioned till now, is Just Dance Kids. What follows are my unbiased reviews of five prominent Just Dance Kids routines. Included in each review is a special “Jiggle Physics” segment–because, as whoever choreographed these dances realized, kids can’t dance, but they sure can jump up and down. Breast-havers, beware.


The Song
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what’s trying to catch me. The accompanying dance moves skew heavily toward stylized running…

I'm Gonna Catch You

There’s only so far you can run inside a 50’s diner.

…but what the hell are we running from? A murderer? A swarm of bees? The inexorable creep of our own mortality?

Every year is getting shorter...

“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time…”

It’s a mystery.

The Dance
It’s not terrible, except for an oft-repeated move that involves bouncing from one leg to the other while spinning in a circle. I always force myself to do this move; my co-worker’s do not. I am strong. They are weak.

Jiggle Physics
Slightly uncomfortable, but it involves more shifting than jumping. This dance can be done comfortably in front of others, unless those others are eighth grade boys, who get lathered over any hint of mammary motion and are just the absolute worst.

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“Look What They’re Doing to My Children!”: Like Lambs to the Slaughter

"Look at what they're doing to my children!"The above is Johanna Michaelsen’s introduction to her bestselling 1989 book, Like Lambs to the Slaughter, a classic of the “fundamentalist moral panic” genre. That’s a bit like calling an inguinal hernia a classic groin injury, but never mind–if you’re in the mood for Reagan-era anti-educational hand-wringing or gruesome tales of babies getting scarfed down by Satanic daycare workers, this is the book for you!

Johanna Michaelsen

It’s hard to know if Michaelsen is insane or extremely credulous: in all likelihood, she’s both. A former New Ager, she saw the light and became a born-again Christian some time in the late 1970’s. Unlike other lapsed fundies, however, Michaelsen has never straight-up repudiated her old beliefs. Ouija, spirit guides, ESP, numerology,  ghosts, parapsychology–according to her, that stuff’s all real. And it’s all the work of Satan.

Michaelsen’s first book, The Beautiful Side of Evil, was a memoir of her time as a spiritualist and was fairly well-read at the time. But her influence exploded when she became one of the loudest voices in the fight against Satanic ritual abuse. If you’re old enough, you probably remember SRA. Its legacy includes Michelle Remembers, the concept of false memories, and the realization that kids will say just about anything to win the approval of authority figures. At her height, Michaelsen was traveling the country, waxing hysterical about sex cults and babies being butchered in basements. She even got involved with Laurel Rose Wilson, alias Lauren Stratford, a con artist whose three alleged children were victims of snuff films and ritual sacrifice. Laurel Rose lived with Michaelsen until her claims were debunked, then skipped town and re-emerged as Laura Grabowski, a Holocaust survivor. Michaelsen doesn’t seem to have had much to say about this–she was probably too busy throwing up after touching cold spaghetti.

I promise that statement will make sense in due time.

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Find a Husband After 35: The Book That Almost Broke Me

You and I have been some strange places together, hypothetical reader. We’ve discovered the world of real life vampires, traversed the overly credulous soul-scape of angelic messengers, and held back waves of nausea in the face of sexy minotaurs. We’ve found God in a chat room and modeling advice in a 1960’s puberty pamphlet. We’ve seen Satanists, Bigfoots, and bad 80’s fashion. Some of the books we’ve analyzed have tested my patience. But none of them have pissed me off more than today’s feature.

Read these excerpts and tell me what year you think this book was published in.

If you said the 1950’s, 1960’s, or the early pre-women’s-lib years of the 1970’s, I don’t blame you. If you said the year of our Lord two-thousand-god-damn-three, you have my condolences, because that probably means you’ve read this book before.

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21st Century Serial: Thirty Five Weeks in Hell

Nature Abhors a VacuumDo you love late nights? Deadlines? Posting unedited first drafts online where everyone can see them? Then have I got a format for you! It’s called serialization, and it’s been around at least as long as there have been writers who get off on suffering. Between August 2014 and April 2015, I serialized a science fiction mystery story on the official blog of the Mid-Michigan Prose and Writing Group. The story is called Nature Abhors a Vacuum, and I describe it thus:

Pip is a minimally motivated, socially maladjusted college student with a ‘shroom-addicted roommate and a callous fiance. When her upstairs neighbor is murdered, Pip decides to investigate, drafting her younger brother and a local public radio host into service as her assistants. What they discover will forever change their views on space, time, and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen.

It’s an idea I’d been kicking around since 2007, when my then-boyfriend began selling for Kirby, manufacturers of high-end vacuums and workplace degradation. I won’t bother describing what a horrible experience it was–many of the gory details made it into the serial. (Although, if you’re hungry for more scandal, you can check out the “Litigation” section on Kirby’s Wikipedia page.) Anyway, when the leader of my writers’ group asked me to write for their blog, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get this story out of my system.

And it was. But boy, did I learn some lessons along the way.

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