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!

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
                                 The Souvenir              Sword of Trust        Under the Silver Lake

                                                  Wild Nights with              The Wind   

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:

“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!


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Let's Talk Turkey: Putting a Middle Child Myth to Rest

     In his lifetime, Benjamin Franklin was known as a printer, politician, philosopher, author, scientist, postmaster, inventor, statesman, diplomat, and founding father. Inexplicably, Middle Child is never included on that list, but that’s another story for another post. Franklin also gets the blame/credit for one of America’s most enduring myths: that he lobbied congress for the turkey, not the bald eagle, to be our national bird and part of the Great Seal of the United States. But I cry fowl, and “Turkey Day” seems like a fitting time to set the record straight.
     Ben Franklin did not want the turkey as our national symbol. While it’s true that he did sit on the first committee tasked to find a national symbol in 1776, none of their designs included an eagle or a turkey. In fact, none of their proposals were even accepted. It wasn’t until Franklin was no longer involved in the process that a third and final committee chose the eagle in 1782. Franklin was serving as envoy to Paris when Congress approved the design, so he wouldn’t have even heard the news, let alone had time to lobby congress. The truthless turkey tale was the result of a letter he sent to his daughter two years later. In it, he wrote:

“For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly.”

     Franklin goes on to say that an eagle is “a rank coward” and “too lazy to fish for himself,” accusing them of regularly stealing captured prey from other birds. But he doesn’t stop there, and this is probably where the myth took hold. In true Middle Child fashion, Franklin tries to push a few buttons by first suggesting that the bald eagle chosen looked more like a turkey, then adding “the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours.” He concludes that unlike an eagle, a turkey “is a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”
     Granted, it’s kind of ironic that this famous Philadelphian is no great eagle fan, but for all his praise of turkeys, the truth of the matter is Franklin might not have even really liked them very much, either. As Michael Rosenwald points out in a piece for the Washington Post, Franklin’s relationship with these flight challenged fowl was... complicated. “Decades before Franklin was extolling the virtues of turkeys, he was electrocuting them to test the power of electricity,” Rosenwald writes. Yep, apparently Franklin was frying turkey way before it became a thing.
     In a letter written in 1750 to a fellow scientist, Franklin detailed his experimental electrical exploits. He noted it didn’t take much “to kill common Hens outright,” but turkeys were a horse of a different color:

“...the Turkies, tho’ thrown into violent Convulsions, and then lying as dead for some Minutes, would recover in less than a quarter of an Hour.”

     Egads! Not to worry, though. Doubling the power seemed to do the trick, easily smoking a 10 lb. turkey. Franklin’s final observation was shocking, especially coming from a man who wrote in his autobiography that he became a vegetarian at the age of 16, and once equated eating flesh to unprovoked murder:

“I conceit that the Birds kill’d in this Manner eat uncommonly tender.”

     Go figure. And on that note, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your meal!

For more Thanksgiving food for thought, click here.

Monday, November 18, 2019

No Thanks!

     It’s that time of year again. Halloween is a mere memory, the Christmas creep has begun, and the “Thanksgiving is the Middle Child of Holidays” tweets and articles are popping up like Black Friday Preview sales. But I beg to differ. Thanksgiving is so not the Middle Child of holidays! I wrote about this way back in 2013, but it obviously bears repeating.
     Far from overlooked and forgotten, Thanksgiving gets more than it’s fair share of attention. And there’s certainly no need to make up a Middle Child of holidays when there already is one. It’s called Middle Child’s Day, for God's sake! On August 12th!! And unlike Thanksgiving, when there are parades all across the country, we don’t even get a single parade -- even though we’re really trying. So enough with the Thanksgiving pity party. I don’t want to hear any more Thanksgiving Middle Child nonsense.
     Anyway, it’s not like this is the first time people have used our beleaguered birth order as fodder for metaphorical mockery. I also wrote about this in a previous post (big surprise), and since then the list has grown even longer.
     People are giving Middle Children status to everything, from wine:

     to automobiles:

     to demographics:

     to computer software:


     and even reading material:


     Although that one could be a compliment I suppose, depending on what book you’re talking about.
     I guess the good news here is that Middle Children are getting more attention than we think. Just not the kind we want.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Making of a Monstrous Middle Child

A Special Halloween Report

"You don't have to look very hard to find proof
that Middle Children do some scary things."
     Any parent of a Middle Child will tell you, we can be real terrors. Little monsters. There’s even been research that seems to back that up.  There’s no doubt our behavior can be frightening, and you don't have to look very hard to find proof that Middle Children do some scary things. So in celebration of Halloween, I thought it would be fitting to feature a real-life Middle Child monster -- well, a real-life movie Middle Child monster. A creature so horrifying, just the mere mention of his name sends chills down the spine: Michael Myers.
NOT a Middle Child.
     No, not that Mike Myers. The other one, with the creepy mask. The primary antagonist, serial killer, and all-around psychopathic dude in the Halloween film series.
     Now, I’m no fan of slasher flicks. In fact, I’ve never actually seen any of the Halloween movies -- with my eyes open. Just writing about this is giving me the willies. And if I’m being totally honest, the reason I haven’t posted in a few weeks is because it took me so much longer than usual to write this post as I was looking over my shoulder the entire time! But I’ll be brave and press on.
Serious Middle Child issues.
     On Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Audrey Myers watched as his older sister, Judith, was making out with her boyfriend prior to going up to her room to have sex. This apparently bothered Michael, so after the boyfriend left he crept upstairs and repeatedly stabbed Judith to death. In hindsight, maybe his parents should’ve given him a better middle name than Audrey. Anyway, young Michael was sent to an asylum where he was to be held until his 21st birthday, when he would be tried as an adult. But that would never happen. Fifteen years later, on October 30, 1978 -- the day before he was to be transferred to court for his hearing -- Michael escaped. Before leaving, he carved the word “sister” on his door -- a special message for his younger sibling, Cynthia, who was adopted by the Strode family and renamed Laurie after both of her parents were killed in a car accident in 1965.
Where Jamie Lee Curtis
earned her scream creds.
     And so began a killing spree that has fueled a film franchise ranked first in U.S. box office, when adjusting for inflation, compared to other horror film series. Truly killer box office. Since his first appearance in the original Halloween in 1978, the murderous Middle Child has killed a total of 121 people in the 10 versions of the movie he appears in, as catalogued by ScreenRant.
     While many Middle Children would kill for the kind of attention Michael has received, Michael actually has. Empire Magazine named him “one of the most iconic killer characters in cinema history,” TimeOut Magazine lists him as one of “The 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time,” and Paste Magazine puts three different installments of the Halloween series on their list of “50 Best Slasher Movies of All Time,” with the original version topping their list. Yet he doesn’t make the cut, pun intended, on AFI’s “100 Years...100 Heroes & Villians” or USA Today’s “The 50 Most Popular Movie Villains of All Time.” Typical Middle Child treatment.
     Of course, Michael Myers is no typical Middle Child, and he's surely not one you'd ever want to piss off. I really hope I haven't already.

If you want to find out more about all things Michael Myers, check out this great article by Shea Serrano at The Ringer. (I know he’s just a movie maniac, but just in case, there are even some tips on how you might possibly survive an encounter with Michael.)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Check This Out

     I am that guy. The one you don’t want to ever get in line behind at the supermarket. Not that you’d have many opportunities. I don’t go to the supermarket that often. I don’t like supermarkets. Actually, I hate them. It all stems from my childhood. My mother didn’t have a driver’s license, so when she had to go to the market, we all had to go to the market. Of course, this provided more opportunities for Middle Child Syndrome to kick in. With two parents and three kids, one of us would invariably have to get bumped from a cherished shopping cart seat, so I would opt to wait in the car to avoid the inevitable disappointment. (Don’t worry, they left the window open a crack.)
Whatever. It left a bad taste in my mouth, so now I try to avoid supermarkets at all costs whenever possible.
     But on the off chance that you happen to be in a supermarket on the rare occasion that I am also there, do not, I repeat DO NOT get on line behind me. I always pick the wrong line. And I don’t mean one-person-behind-you-in-another-line-got-taken-before-you wrong. I’m talking entire-other-lines-are-no-longer-there wrong. I’m-sorry-but-the-keyboard-on-my-register-has-melted-and-shut-down wrong. Yeah, it’s that bad. If I see someone behind me deciding which lane to choose, I will warn them. “Do not get in line behind me!” They will thank me later.
     In any case, as a result of me spending so little time in supermarkets, I’m not very good at it. I have no idea how much things should cost, and I have no idea where things are. So, those few times I’m asked to go, I always come home with the wrong stuff, or forget items altogether, and I have to go back. Which makes me hate supermarkets even more. It’s a vicious cycle.
     I’m also always so surprised, and disturbed, at the way people behave in supermarkets -- especially at the check-out lines. I can’t believe how cut-throat things get, how people jockey for position and are ready to pounce when a new register opens. How they’ll sprint ahead of someone who was clearly in front of them when the cashier opens a new lane and calls out “Next in line.” Where is the honor? You weren’t next and you know it! You just cut in front of a vision-impaired Senior Citizen with a walker! It’s a dog eat dog world up there, I tell you. Every man for himself. I’m way too sensitive for this.
     So I was clearly not at all prepared for what happened when I was at Aldi the other day picking up a single boneless chicken breast family pack which I had forgotten to purchase on my visit to the very same market earlier in the day. I was standing on a line, obviously the wrong line, behind three other people with huge orders. As a courtesy I had already tried to wave off anyone attempting to get behind me, when the strangest thing happened. The lady in front of me asked if I’d like to go ahead of her! I was shocked. This kind of thing never happens to me. I accepted her gracious offer, but was completely unprepared for what was about to happen: the next lady in front of me also asked if I would like to jump the line!! Of course I was thrilled. Thrilled, yet suspicious. Was this some kind of gag? Was I being pranked on one of those TV shows?? Naturally, I was convinced I would somehow pay the price for my good fortune. I’ll get run over in the parking lot while walking to my car, I figured. Or just as I was about to be rung up, a massive power failure would shut down every cash register on the eastern seaboard. Something had to go wrong. This was too good to be true. And then, it happened.
     While ringing up the one person left in front of me, the cashier dropped a banana! It was SO obvious what would happen next. The one person left in line in front of me would slip on it, land flat on his back and require medical assistance. EMS would turn the checkout area into
emergency triage and local police would yellow tape the area, questioning the cashier about her role in this potential assault with an unlicensed fruit. I’d be stranded at the register for hours, or maybe even brought in for questioning as a key witness. Or even worse: I’d have to move to another register -- at the back of the line!!
     As luck would have it, none of that happened. I breezed out of the market, even escaping injury in the parking lot. But I’m pretty sure I shot my wad when it comes to having any future luck at a supermarket checkout.