Monday, February 18, 2019

15 Memorable Middle Child Movie Moments: Part 1

    Academy Awards Special Feature!

     Hollywood’s big night is almost here! What better time to pay tribute to the greatest Middle Child movies of all time? Oh right, there are none. Okay... what better time to pay tribute to films where a Middle Child is the protagonist, or at least plays a pivotal part? Yeah, that could work.

SAMANTHA “SAM” BAKER
played by Molly Ringwald in “Sixteen Candles” (1984)
Older sister: Ginny/Younger brother: Mike
     The premise of John Hughes’ teen angst classic is so Middle Child-ish, it has to top the list. It’s Sam’s 16th birthday, but her family is so consumed with her older sister’s wedding the next day, everyone has completely forgotten her birthday! It doesn’t get any more Middle Child than that.


                                              DONNIE DARKO
played by Jake Gyllenhaal in “Donnie Darko” (2001)
Older sister: Elizabeth/Younger sister: Samantha
     It’s not often a Middle Child gets top billing, so this film makes the list. After a near death experience, Donnie sees visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who convinces him to commit crimes. When a plane his younger sister is on explodes, one of the jet engines falls into Donnie’s bedroom, crushing him to death. Talk about your troubled Middle Child.
(SIBLING SIDENOTE: Jake’s older sister Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Donnie’s older sister.)


                                          SODAPOP CURTIS
played by Rob Lowe in “The Outsiders” (1983)
Older brother: Darrel/Younger brother: Ponyboy
     Like many Middle Children, Sodapop is the peacemaker. According to Shmoop.com, “He takes his role as middle brother seriously, and is constantly the in-between for Pony and Darry, acting as a buffer against their constant clashes.” That doesn’t mean he enjoys being a sibling mediator. “I can't stand to hear y'all fight,” he says. “Sometimes I have to get out or… it's like a middleman in a tug o' war and I'm being split in half…” You’re preaching to the choir, Soda.

                                  MAXINE JOSEPH
             played by Vivica A. Fox in “Soul Food” (1997)
Older sister: Teri/Younger sister: Robin “Bird”
     Maxine doesn’t have such a great relationship with her older sister. Oh, maybe that’s because she stole her sister’s boyfriend and married him. Okay, so maybe Middle Children aren’t always the peacemaker in the family.


EDITH GRU
voiced by Dana Gaier in “Despicable Me” (2010)
Older sister: Margo/Younger sister: Agnes
     According to the Despicable Me Wiki page, “Edith is currently the least explored of the three sisters, which is understandable considering she's the Middle Child, the likes of which are stereotypically neglected by their parents.” That is truly despicable.

ELLIOTT TAYLOR
played by Henry Thomas in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)
Older brother: Michael/Younger sister: Gertie
     A lonely ten year old longing for friendship forms a psychic connection with a big eyed, long necked, Reese’s Pieces loving alien. Of course the kid’s a Middle Child! While not the title character, maybe Elliot can lay claim to top billing since his initials are also E.T? Can’t blame a MidKid for trying.

TRISTAN LUDLOW
played by Brad Pitt in “Legends of the Fall” (1994)
Older brother: Alfred/Younger brother Samuel
     Three brothers live in remote Montana -- isn't that redundant? -- with their father in the early 20th century, but there’s an outrageous twist: the Middle Child is actually his father’s favorite son! Unheard of!! This movie must be pure fiction. Brad Pitt wins a Middie Award for “Best Looking Movie Middle Child Ever.” He also wins a Middie for “Best Middle Child Line in a Non-Middle Child Movie” for this classic scene as Tyler Durden in “Fight Club.”
(SIBLING SIDENOTE: Henry Thomas appears in his second movie on the list,
this time as Pitt’s little brother Samuel.)

RYAN BINGHAM
played by George Clooney in “Up in the Air” (2009)
Older sister: Kara/Younger sister: Julie
     Mega-frequent flier Ryan Bingham spends most of his life travelling for business. His goal is to become the seventh and youngest person to earn ten million AAdvantage miles. In a true act of Middle Child selflessness, Ryan transfers 1,000,000 miles to his sister and brother-in-law so they can fly around the world for their honeymoon. Clooney was also Middie nominated for “Best Looking Movie Middle Child Ever,” losing to real-life pal Pitt.
(AWARD ANNOTATION: Clooney was a Best Supporting Actor nominee 
for his Middle Child portrayal.)

COMING FRIDAY: 15 Memorable Middle Child Movie Moments: Part 2

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Share The Love?

The 2019 Middle Child Valentine's Day Cards are here!

This Valentine's Day, make love not war! Celebrate the day with the world's most (in)famous Middle Child lovebirds. And CLICK HERE to see the entire collection of Middle Child Valentine's Day cards.

(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE, SAVE & SEND)
























CLICK HERE to see the trailer for "Middle Child Love Story."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Monumental Middle Child Mistreatment

     Experts say that Middle Children learn at a young age how to mediate as we often find ourselves literally in the middle of sibling turf wars. So it should come as no surprise that the President who presided over the biggest family feud this country has ever seen was a Middle Child. Abraham Lincoln was the second of three children -- the purest form of Middle Child there is. Lincoln had an older sister, Sarah, and a younger brother, Thomas.
     Also not surprising for a Middle Child, his birthday is largely forgotten! Just a handful of states still remember Lincoln’s birthday! (It’s today, February 12.) Only Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and New York acknowledge it as a legal holiday. New Jersey used to, but in 2008 they pulled the plug on Lincoln's birthday as a public holiday. Worse yet -- the state he was born in doesn't even officially acknowledge the day. Shame on you, Kentucky!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Greatest Middle Child Love of All

     As Valentine’s Day approaches, it seems only fitting that we pay tribute to one of the greatest Middle Child love stories of all time. The bromance between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is about as unlikely as a pussy-grabbing, xenophobic, self-tanning NYC real-estate developer getting elected President of the United States. But there you go.
     How these one-time fierce foes fell hair over heels and into each other’s nuclear arms is a mystery of modern day diplomacy. I’ll bet these two war hawks turned love birds can hardly wait until they meet at their next “summit” (nudge nudge, wink wink). And certainly nobody wants to see what happens if they ever have lover’s quarrel.
     So how could someone not make a major motion picture about this long distance love-fest?
     Oh wait, maybe someone already has...

COMING NEXT WEEK:
New Trump/Kim Mid Kid Valentine’s Day cards.




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 Blogger.com, 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.”


Monday, December 24, 2018

“The Middle Child’s Night Before Christmas” (2018 Update)

The Likely Author of “The Night Before Christmas” Was a Middle Child!

Livingston: All I want for
Christmas is some credit!

     While I was putting together an updated version of “The Middle Child’s Night Before Christmas(previously released in 2014), I found it odd that Santa’s 7th reindeer is named “Donder” in the famous Clement Clarke Moore poem, but called “Donner” in the 1949 Gene Autry song, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” So I did a little Mid Kid muckracking, and made a shocking unrelated discovery: Clement Clarke Moore might be “The Grinch Who Stole the Night Before Christmas!” The likely real author was a Middle Child! His name was Henry Beekman Livingston, Jr. Naturally, he wasn’t given credit.
     When the poem (originally titled “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”) was first published in 1823, it was submitted anonymously. In the following years, it was reprinted without attribution in countless publications. Word had spread that it was written by Moore, and in 1837 a friend of Moore's put Moore's name on the poem. When Moore included the poem in a book of his poetry published in 1844, he became accepted as the true author. It wasn’t until 15 years later when Livingston’s family first discovered Moore was taking credit for the poem they remember their father reading to them as his own as far back as 1807! They waited until 1900 before going public with their claim, and the issue has been debated ever since.
     In 2000, Donald W. Foster, a Literary Detective and Professor of English at Vassar College, argued Livingston was the true author. And as recently as 2016, New Zealand scholar MacDonald P. Jackson spent a year looking into the matter, concluding Livingston was the likely author. Good enough for me! (And you think I’m nuts spending a mere blog post on this?)
     While experts still debate who the real author of “The Night Before Christmas” was, there’s no question who wrote this version...



     
In case you’re still wondering, the names in the original 1823 poem were actually “Dunder” and “Blixem,” Dutch for “thunder” and “lightning.” (Which kind of makes sense because Moore knew German, not Dutch, and Livingston was of Dutch descent.) In a subsequent 1837 version, “Blixem” became “Blixen,” to make it rhyme with “Vixen,” and “Dunder” was renamed “Donder.” When Moore included the poem in his 1844 publication, he retained “Donder,” but “Blixen” was renamed “Blitzen.” Although “Donner” was popularized in the 1949 Rudolph song, the name was mentioned in the New York Times seven different times prior to 1949. So, mystery solved! Sort of. Not.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New Middle Child Christmas Classic Discovered!

     “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” has become a beloved Christmas standard -- except for those who have recently taken issue with its portrayal of bullying and sexism. Well, they’re certainly not going be happy about this news.
     After years of searching, a select team of the world's best Middle Child Musicologists -- working under the direction of the International Middle Child Union -- have unearthed a never before heard version of the holiday classic which actually predates Rudolph. And the protagonist in this newly discovered rendition is treated even worse!
     Much like Rudolph, “Melvin the Middle Reindeer” tells the tale of a reindeer overlooked and cast aside by his furry-pawed peers. However, there is no happy ending for this reindeer reject.
     Music forensic experts have determined this discovery was recorded in the very same studio as the version made popular by Gene Autry. But it was placed on a shelf and everyone forgot about it.
     You can download and listen to the track from SoundCloud. They even found a video, which is really weird since that wasn’t even a thing then.



NEXT WEEK: The Return of “The Middle Child's Night Before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Middle Children Can Be Very Animated: Part 2

     We continue our salute of those animated characters firmly perched on the middle branches of their family trees. In no particular order, here are the final honorees to earn a spot on the “Smack Dab List of Best Animated Middle Children.” If I missed any, let me know...

KENNY MCCORMICK (Older Brother: Kevin; Younger Sister: Karen)
     Like many Middle Children, Kenny has a habit of acting out. He’s been arrested 4 times -- once for prostitution, when he gave Howard Stern a “hummer” for $10. He’s also committed Proxy Murder -- together with Eric Cartman, they got Sarah Jessica Parker to dress up as a moose and took her into the woods, where she was shot by hunters. His criminal record also includes: copyright infringement, attempted murder, vandalism, assault, filing a false police report (when he lied to the police about his parents abusing him), cannibalism, kidnapping, violation of firearm laws, underage smoking/drug abuse, arson, blackmail, pedophilia, vigilantism, underage sex, indecent exposure, fraud, civil unrest/rioting, and breaking & entering (when he broke into Cartman’s house with Stan Marsh, Butters Stotch, and Timmy Burch, to remove Cartman’s kidney.) Okay, so maybe he’s taken acting out to the extreme.
     Kenny’s ultimate Middle Child attention grab is dying in nearly every episode of the first five seasons of South Park. He has died and come back well over 100 times across the South Park franchise, meeting every fate from being struck by lightning (Ep. 1/Season3), to being eaten by a giant reptilian bird (Ep.14/Season 15) -- yet no one ever seems to remember. In Ep.12/Season 14 he laments, “I go to school the next day, and everyone is just like, ‘Oh, hey Kenny.’ Even if they had seen me get decapitated with their own eyes.” You know you’re a Middle Child when nobody even pays attention to you dying!



DEWEY DUCK (Older Brother: Huey; Younger Brother: Louie)
     Along with his buoyant brothers, Dewey has been making life miserable for his Uncle Donald since their debut in the 1937 comic strip, Donald's Nephews. The second brother hatched, his official birth name is Dewford Deuteronomy Duck. Dewey missed out on being the eldest triplet by a mere three seconds. Instead, he’s the Middle Duck and wants to stand out.
     In the 1987 DuckTales episode “Duck in the Iron Mask” (Ep. 56/Season 1) Dewey is at bat for his Junior Woodchucks team, but the crowd keeps mistaking him for one of his other two brothers. Dewey wants to be his own duck and separate himself from the threesome, so the next morning he sheds his signature blue shirt and appears wearing attention grabbing garb.
     Dewey’s Middle Child issues continue in the 2017 DuckTales reboot. As a way of proving himself, he embarks on dangerous adventures by himself, earning the nickname “The Guts.” Like many Mid Kids, Dewey can be sensitive and insecure. He’s also made it his life's mission to find his long-lost mother, Donald’s sister Della.



CHRIS GRIFFIN (Older Sister: Meg; Younger Brother: Stewie)
     Christopher Cross Griffin was an accident, the result of a broken condom. Peter and Lois filed a lawsuit and were able to buy their house with the proceeds, so it wasn’t a total loss. In “Peter's Daughter” (Ep.7/ Season 6), Lois admits she smoked and drank a lot when she was pregnant with Chris hoping it would terminate the pregnancy. So even before becoming a Middle Child, nobody wanted him around.
     Chris is self-conscious, mostly about his weight. I’m sure being called “Elephant Child” when he was born didn’t help. He has a close relationship with his father, but sometimes thinks he won’t live up to Peter’s expectations, which are pretty low. Chris is uncomfortably attracted to his mother. He even once dated a girl that looked like Lois, figuring the only person who could love him would be someone who could tolerate his father.
      Chris has pretty typical sibling rivalry with Meg. They love each other, even if it’s only because they’re forced to by their mother. Of course, that doesn't include that time in “Lethal Weapons” (Ep.7/Season 3), as seen here. Chris is also often the unwitting guinea pig for Stewie's many experiments.
      Oh, and in “And the Wiener is...” (Ep.3/Season 5) we learn that Chris has an unusually large penis, like most male Middles. Or maybe it’s just me.




Thursday, December 6, 2018

Middle Children Can Be Very Animated: Part 1

     I’ll be the first to admit it. Like other Middle Children, I’ve done many things over the years to compensate for the attention I felt like I was wrongfully being denied. Whether I was standing on my head singing songs for my grandparents, putting on puppet shows and magic shows for anyone who’d watch, or making an injury appear to be far more serious than it actually was, my Middle Child antics could surely be described as... animated. Did it ever quench my thirst for attention? Of course not. But there is a special group of Middle Children who have earned worldwide adoration by being animated. And I mean totally animated.
     While many fictional Middle Children have been immortalized in TV & Film (see this list from Zimbio), the animated Middle Children gathered here are for real! All verified by extensive study of cartoon birth records and analysis of comic strip DNA.
     In no particular order, here is the “Smack Dab List of Best Animated Middle Children:”

 LISA SIMPSON (Older Brother: Bart; Younger Sister: Maggie)
     America’s favorite sax addict is ranked 11th on TV Guide’s list of “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time” -- tied with her older brother. Intellectually superior to her parents with an IQ of 159, Lisa is the voice of reason in the family, yet feels like an outsider and often wonders if she was adopted. What Middle Child hasn't had the very same thought?
     For the most part, Lisa had to raise herself as Homer and Marge were busy dealing with Bart, as seen in “Lisa’s Pony” (Ep.8 Season 3). As an infant, she changed her own diapers. Doh! While this lack of nurturing made Lisa fiercely independent, it also made her feel like her parents don’t understand or support her. When trying to build Bart’s confidence before a golf competition, Lisa tells him, “Having never received encouragement, I'm not sure how it should sound, but here goes: I believe in you.”
     Early signs of Lisa’s Middle Child issues are evident with her heartbreaking rendition of “Happy Birthday to Me” in “Stark Raving Dad” (Ep. 1/Season 3). There’s a story in Simpsons Comics #89 titled “Lisa in the Middle.” And Lisa’s Middle Child Syndrome surfaces again in “Peeping Mom” (Ep. 18/Season 26)...



SIMON SEVILLE (Older Brother: Alvin; Younger Brother: Theodore)
     The list of famous animated rodents is an impressive one: Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Mighty Mouse, Danger Mouse, Chip & Dale, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Fievel Mousekewitz, Jerry, Itchy, Speedy Gonzales, and of course, Alvin & the Chipmunks.
     The birth order of the singing Seville siblings has been the center of worldwide controversy. Some fan sites suggest Simon is eight seconds older than Alvin. In fact, in “The Sub,” Ep. 29B/Season 2 of Alvinnn! and the Chipmunks, Alvin does refer to himself as the “Middle Child.” But as seen below, all questions are laid to rest in “Grounded Chipmunk,” Ep. 60/Season 6 of The Chipmunks, when Alvin reveals the truth! Having previously established Theodore as the runt of the Seville scurry, Simon is confirmed as the Middle Chipmunk, securing his place as the sole inductee in the Animated Middle Rodent Hall of Fame.



JOHN DARLING (Older Sister: Wendy; Younger Brother: Michael)
     Don’t let the top hat and fancy talk fool you. Although he appears sophisticated for his age, the high flying Middle Darling is a child at heart with a playful sense of adventure, as witnessed by his fascination with pirates. John likes listening to his older sister's Peter Pan stories. He also enjoys playing the part of Captain Hook while his younger brother is Peter when play in the nursery.
     Scottish author and playwright J.M. Barrie named John after John Llewelyn-Davies, one of the brothers whose family was the inspiration for the boy characters in Peter Pan. True Pan-ophiles also know John shares the same middle name as the world’s most renowned diminutive Middle Child -- Napoleon.

 LINUS VAN PELT (Older Sister: Lucy; Younger Brother: Rerun)
     Born on July 14, 1952, Linus didn’t make his first appearance in the Peanuts comic strip until September 19, 1952. He wasn’t mentioned by name until three days later. How Middle Child is that? Linus has a typical Middle Child relationship with his siblings. Lucy treats him like crap, making him her personal errand boy and often getting physical with him for no apparent reason. She even once took his beloved security blanket and locked it in a closet for two weeks as part of a bet. What a bitch!
     Linus is depicted as a loving older brother to Rerun, who he actually named. Upon learning about her new baby brother, Lucy comments that having another little brother is like watching reruns on television, and Linus suggests naming him just that. Rerun is often embarrassed by some of Linus’ more glaring peculiarities. These include, but are not limited to, Linus' unwavering belief in the existence of the Great Pumpkin and his obsession with his ever present security blanket, which he’s often mocked for by other characters as well. His insecurity is further evidenced in his persistent sucking of both thumbs. He insists one is sweeter than the other, by the way. But nothing captures Linus’ true Middle Child nature more than his loyal best-friendship to Charlie Brown. And that cannot be easy.


NEXT WEEK: Middle Children Can Be Very Animated - Part 2

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Middle Child's Day is in Jeopardy!

     Actually, it was on Jeopardy! On November 14. Day 6 of the Teen Tournament. Season 35, Episode 48, to be exact. That’s right, we got us some nationally syndicated game show attention!!
The category was “SIBLINGS,” and the answer was:


      And Claire Sattler, a Senior from Bonita Springs, FL, nailed it! (She went on to the finals and won, by the way.) Without hesitation, she asked “What is Middle Child’s Day?” -- a question millions of people have no doubt asked countless times before. Which is the whole point of this post.
     As you know, raising awareness of Middle Child’s Day has been the primary mission of the International Middle Child Union since its inception. So this is a big deal. I mean, everyone knows how hard it is to get on Jeopardy! (Lord knows, I’ve tried and failed. I did make it onto “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” in 2003, however.)
     Granted, this was only the Teen Tournament, when you can play along at home and feel like you’re really smart. But still, it’s a start. To quote Johnny Gilbert, “This is Jeopardy!” It’s not some one-season wonder. According to Ranker.com, Jeopardy! is “the longest-running game show currently in production - not just in the United States but the entire world... with a staggering 8,711 episodes.” It’s also my favorite game show ever!
     And this wasn’t some dopey $200 answer. It was a $1,000 one. Those are notoriously tough answers. Of course, I realize now that sounds like a good thing, but it really means they thought it was such an obscure answer, nobody would know the question. So I guess I have more work to do. But even that can’t dampen my enthusiasm. We made it to almost prime-time TV!
     Now, can I take credit for any of this happening? Of course not. But will I? There’s no question.

     In celebration of this momentous occasion, I've created a special version of Middle Child Jeopardy! CLICK BELOW to play.  (CLICK HERE for some musical motivation.)

http://www.wolfescience.com/byojeopardy/play.php?id=77536&table=byoj_boards

NOTE: My last three posts were all inspired by information sent to me by family, friends, and followers. If you have any Middle Child miscellany to share, let me know at the SmackDab Tip line: midkidmusings@gmail.com 
(Your tips are completely anonymous. How apropos. )

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

They're Playing Our Song.

A SmackDab Music Review


     According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English Language. For many Middle Children, however, Lisa Simpson’s adaptation might strike a more familiar chord:


     But thanks to Palmyra Delran, that’s all about to change. Delran is a musician/songwriter/producer and host of “Palmyra’s Trash-Pop Shindig” on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” channel on SiriusXM. Her just released album, “Come Spy With Me,” (from Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records label) includes a track that could have Middle Children singing a different tune.
     “Happy Birthday Middle Child” is “a punky, fun tribute to stepping up and being seen,” says Parade Magazine. The song features non-MidKid Debbie Harry -- yeah, that Debbie Harry, from Blondie -- and expresses what so many Middle Children feel, maybe even more so on their birthdays.
     Delran says she had the title kicking around for a while in her book of songs to write, “but I forgot about it.” Typical Middle Child treatment, right? But wait a second -- Delran is a Middle Child, with older and younger sisters. It seems she was lucky enough, however, to escape the ravages of Middle Child Syndrome. In her Parade interview, Delran explains, “There seems to be an inside joke with Middle Children that they get ignored… or maybe they’re just milking it for attention?”
     Now hold on there one darn second, Palmyra. An inside joke!? Trust me, there’s nothing funny about it! Okay, maybe there is a little. But milking it for attention!?! Hmmm, possibly. Even though it
sounds like Delran might be questioning the very legitimacy of Middle Child Syndrome, I am willing to forgive her. After all, we’ll take attention any way we can get it. I mean, beggars can’t be choosers.
     With that in mind, I think that “Happy Birthday Middle Child,” with a few slight revisions, could be the official anthem for Middle Child’s Day. In fact, I'll even take it a step further. In recognition of helping to raise awareness of our plight, I hereby award Palmyra Delran’s latest work the International Middle Child Union Seal of Approval. Like it or not.