Sunday, October 24, 2010

didn't roll off the cabbage truck yesterday

Photo from Awkward Family Photos

Like every good 1980s girl, I had a Cabbage Patch Kid or two. I loved them--yarn hair, creepily vacant eyes, tattooed asses and all. But I never stopped to wonder where they came from.

There is actually an unnecessarily complex mythology surrounding the origins of the franchise. I won't attempt to summarize but suffice it to say that it involves a ten-year-old boy starting an orphanage to save the Cabbage Patch Kids from slave labor in a gold mine. However, what I'm talking about here is an even more improbable creation story. And this creation story is true.

In northern Georgia, there is a small town called Cleveland. In this town, there is a magical place.

Babyland General Hospital,
birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids

Sort of like Tara...okay not really.

Yes, Babyland General Hospital is the birthing, nursery, and adoption center for Cabbage Patch Kids. You can go for free and see a Cabbage Patch Kid being born.


How I went virtually my entire life without knowing this fact is beyond me.

But wait, you are no doubt saying to yourself. How exactly is a Cabbage Patch Kid born?

I'm glad you asked. I'm going to turn it over to the poorly written Wikipedia article for a moment.

Dolls are "birthed" every hour during business hours in a procedure during which one of the "LPN's" (Licensed Patch Nurse) assists the Magic Crystal Tree in producing each doll. When the intercom announces that a Mother Cabbage is in labor, a nurse hurries to get ready for delivery of a new Cabbage Patch baby. With the nurse are the pink and blue bunnybees that pollinate the kids with crystals, determining if the newborn is a boy [blue crystal] or girl [pink crystal]. The nurse comments on how much the Tree is dilated and injects with "Imagicillin," an "experimental but highly recommended" drug. If the need arises, a "C-section" or "Cabbage section" may be administered....A full-featured Intensive Care Unit is in place to handle premature births and otherwise unhealthy newborns.

The Magic Crystal Tree and Mother Cabbage, from whom all Cabbage Patch Kids flow

So some rabbit-bee creatures fertilize some cabbages and then a magic crystal tree gives birth to some human children with the help of a nurse? And the cabbages get shot up with an experimental drug? I can't believe I'm saying this but this is better than Teen Mom.

Let's see the blessed event unfold for ourselves:

I...can't even

As far as I'm concerned, the greatest horror in all of this is the names. Cabbage Patch Kids have the least euphonious names ever. If you go to you can see an ever-refreshing slideshow of birth announcements.

Wait...she was born with pigtails?

Austin Jerri
Doreen Jillaine
Zena Jordyn
Tammy Betsy
Jaylee Derek
Grady Damien
Buck Clay
Gwynyth Kimber
Glendonn Ragan (A FEMALE NAME)
Garrison Dusty
Jaidyn Celia

And finally, bleak vision of the future:

What if this is what happens to bad people when they die?

This post is missing a huge shoutout to Mary Nell, who is responsible for alerting me to the existence of Babyland General Hospital. Once my disbelief gave way, we discovered via a quick Google search that someone out there had gone and done the most brilliant thing ever:


Discussion Question:
Can you cobble together even one respectable name out of the names listed above?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tips for Living in a Tiny Apartment

This song came on the radio last night and I nearly knocked over my chair in my eagerness to turn the volume up. Hey, want to know how I got that awesome embedded Big Pun YouTube to start at a specific point in the video? Super-easy HTML tutorial here.

Nick and I have lived in our fair share of tiny apartments. There was our little shoebox on San Gabriel in Austin--our first apartment together. It was really only big enough for one person, so Nick put most of his stuff in storage and moved in with little more than a suitcase. And then there was our itty bitty place in Midtown Atlanta a couple of years ago. The oven and fridge were sort of whimsically shrunken, and there was no door on the bedroom. Oh, the joys of renting.

We're now getting comfortably settled into what is probably the smallest of the three tiny shoeboxes we have inhabited. I figure our 2+ years experience with surviving in close quarters with two grown adults, a hyper dog, and a demanding cat has got to count for something. So I thought I'd try to impart a little wisdom about surviving in less than 500 square feet.

*You can keep your bed.

So long, ugly green chair.

The Goodwill did not accept ugly green chair. I was really quite offended.

So long, giant red vinyl couch. So long, coffee table, bedside table, dresser, desks, end tables, and book cases! Up to my parents' garage you go, heirloom dining table!


IKEA Ingo dining table ($69.99) and 4 IKEA Ivar chairs ($19.99 each)

IKEA Laiva TV Stand, $20

IKEA Laiva Desk, $20


Like...above the kitchen cabinets!

Or...below the ottoman!

Or...that tiny section of wall! Looks big enough for a broom to me.


A drinking glass becomes a dainty container for your makeup brushes.

Your knickknack rack becomes an out-of-the way place to stash your makeup.

And who needs a coffee table with a centerpiece when you have a beat-up army trunk and a salad bowl from your wedding registry?


If it was good enough for the Shakers, it's good enough for you.


It's all about being modular, man. Think you don't have room for a guest room, a dining room, and a living room? Sure you do.

In this photo, it's configured like a living room. Push the trunk aside, fold out the futon, and you've got a guest room! Or push the trunk aside, pull the dining table and chairs out into the center of the room, and you've got a freakin banquet hall! It's like HOGGWARTS, dude.

...okay, almost like Hoggwarts.

The last rule is the most important.


Discussion question: Have you ever lived in a tiny place? Do you have any tips to share?

check out more pics of our tiny apartment on my Flickr

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Editor's First E-book*

* I think e-book is the nerdiest spelling since e-mail but I do whatever Merriam Webster tells me. ...generally.

Olsen Twins, chopped and screwed.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I read my first e-book this weekend.

My interest in e-books is well-documented. I love to talk peoples' ears off about the endless possibilities of digital publishing, but I was starting to feel like I was all talk. What if reading an e-book was just totally lame? How could I make such sweeping statements about the future of the publishing industry without actually experiencing an e-book firsthand?

My homegirl Serenity Gerbman recommended a book called Room (hardback here and Kindle version here) on her Facebook wall a few weeks ago. She called it her fiction pick of the year so far, which is very high praise from a well-read lady like Serenity.

I stopped by a bookstore to check it out. It's pretty new, so it's not out in paperback yet. Having approximately .5 inches of available space left in one's tiny shoebox apartment does not make a person want to stock up on hardcover novels. And anyway, it cost $25, which is just more than I can spend on a book right now. I put the book back on its stand and walked away with a sigh.

Nick got a sweet iPad for his studies at MIT, and we're both in love with it. On Saturday morning, curled up in bed in my pjs, I had a brilliant idea. I grabbed Nick's iPad, opened the Kindle app, and moments later, I was reading Room.

The premise is simple and intriguing: Jack and his mother have been locked in a room for all of Jack's life. Just like any good episode of Law and Order: SVU, the story is RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES, very clearly inspired by the abduction and rescue of Jaycee Lee Dugard. I have a little obsession with stories about feral children and children in captivity. Have you read this incredible article about Dani, a little girl in Florida who was neglected and confined to a room for most of her life?

I could not put this book down. I read it in two days in just a few sittings. It's narrated from Jack's perspective, and his gaze is unflinching. I cannot recommend it enough.

I hardly noticed that I wasn't reading a regular book. Nick has an iPad case with a cover that flips open just like a book, so it felt like a book in my hands. So much so that I kept reaching with my thumb and forefinger to turn the page. No eyestrain. Delightful.

The iPad Kindle app allows you to touch any word in the text and get a dictionary definition. Can you imagine what a learning tool that must be for younger readers? This feature helps me understand how interactive e-books could be. Classicists, imagine a dynamic Perseus-style text for reading. Social networkers, imagine discussing an interesting book with people from all over the world from inside the text itself. Kids, imagine reading texts above your reading level with effortless aplomb.

This is all well and good, but there's one test every reading platform must pass: can I read it in the bathtub?

The answer is a resounding YES. Nick, I'm sorry I took your fancy new toy in the bathtub.

...actually, I'm not.

Discussion Question [two-parter]:
A: Have you embraced e-books? Do you think the experience is comparable to reading a traditional book?
B: What is the funniest part of the "Gimme Pizza" video above? Please cite specific moments.