Monday, January 30, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Puppies & Poconos": 'Now on TLCgo i.e. TLCno!'

Coming up on Kate Plus 8! They're taking a family vacation to Kellerman's! Oh wait, darn, it's just the Poconos.  Also, they get some puppies. What does this have to do with the Poconos, you ask? Well, they both begin with "P", so some producer somewhere thought it would be cute to lump the two story lines together.

Sometimes it's interesting to pause and read what you can find on the screen that isn't shown long enough to read at normal speeds. For the heck of it I pause on the clapperboard, which reveals that the Tup girls' couch interviews were filmed on 9-18-2016, which was a Sunday. Kate really is getting to the end of the line here when kids are going to cooperate with giving up even a portion of their weekend to doing work like this. I predict a lot of bribes will be necessary in her future.

Why is Kate yelling and clapping at her kids? Apparently she wants them to put their bags out by the van. Well, then ask them to do that in a normal tone like a normal person, what's with all the hollering? It's never more prevalent how much snipping and sniping she does to her kids. I've commented about it several times, and it just never lets up. The kids are going to resent it, and resent it very deeply, if they don't already. How awful to constantly have someone speaking to you in such a high-stress, negative tone. I couldn't stand it.

Mak and Nanuq are the puppies, and Kate's cradling one like a newborn. Ha, and he loves being babied as puppies, and even grown-up dogs often do. Aww, doggie babying. It's just so fun.

They just got the puppies so they decide to take them along on the trip. More yelling about diaper bags and getting in the car. They pile into the car and are ready to go when they suddenly realize they forgot to load the puppies. Ha, my parents did that to me once, when I was maybe two months old. They piled themselves and all my crap and all their crap in the car and nearly got a block down the road before realizing they didn't have me. They burned rubber getting back home to the baby. Apparently when they found me I was just quietly sitting in my carseat on the kitchen table contemplating what I would do with myself now that I was all alone in the world. I was fine. They laughed it off and still tell the story today. Instead of taking it in stride, Kate freaks out, doesn't see the humor in any of this, and yells and screams at the kids to go get the dogs. Good grief, it was just an honest mistake. Something got lost in the communication of who would load what into the car. With nine people it's bound to happen. At least you didn't arrive in the Poconos without the puppies you intended to take with you, now that's a problem! Interestingly enough, the boys are the only ones to explain how this happened. Hannah was supposed to be watching them and I guess she flaked. It's just one of dozens of examples of both the girls likely covering for each other, as well as Kate not pinning the blame on who was the real offender as long as she is one of the girls or has some kind of favored status.

They arrive at their spacious lake house rental. The puppies got car sick and have diarrhea, which Kate claims makes her feel bad. That's fine to have a little empathy, but at the same time, I really support bringing puppies along wherever you go if at all possible, even if they are young and getting sick (as long as it's safe to do so, like they have their shots). Not only is it an excellent opportunity for socialization to get them out of their comfort zone, but you can begin to get the pups used to traveling, which in my opinion is one of the most enjoyable things about having a dog, taking him along on your adventures large and small. The diarrhea and car sickness will mostly likely go away once the pups realize that traveling is the time of your life and nothing to fear.

Ha, does this count as a humble brag? The vast house, which has stone fireplaces and gorgeous hardwood flooring, has a difficult layout for Kate. I'm so sorry your vacation is hard.

Oh my god, the kids need to grow the F up already, especially the girls. They're immediately bickering over Kate's selection of bathrooms for them. For all the nagging Kate does, she so rarely corrects them over the major stuff, like frankly, being spoiled about the stupid bathrooms. It's like she can't issue spot when it comes to her kids. Do the girls have any idea that when most normal families take vacations you are very, very lucky to even have more than one bathroom to fight over? Try getting a family of four or five showered and ready for a busy day on vacation with just one Red Roof Inn shower and sink and the T.V. only gets four channels and the ice machine is out of order. It's no picnic. Another failing on Kate's part, not impressing upon them that nothing about most of their vacations is average or normal.

Once unloaded, they head to the lake, which looks just like pretty much every lake I ever camped at as a child. Classic East Coast summers. The kids play on rafts, paddle boards and with squirt guns. Shockingly, Kate remarks that she can't swim. But she has a pool at the house, and frequently takes the children on vacations that involve lakes, oceans and pools. Irresponsible and reckless, pure and simple.

Next up, some fishing from one of the docks. There's a brief shot of some guy in a red shirt and shorts who appears to be helping them fish, but they never explain who he is.

The next day, we begin with a sweeping shot of the house rental, and it's gigantic. It doesn't even fit in the frame. What an amazing vacation, and one that not a single one of these people seem to really appreciate.

Kate screaming and hollering at the kids, from inside, asking whether the puppies peed and pooped, really interferes with enjoying how absolutely adorable the pups are. Shut up, Doofus. If she really must know right then, why can't she walk outside and ask the children in a calm, normal volume tone whether the pups went potty? I don't understand it.

Next they head to Triple W Stable, where we will get to watch other people's kids ride horses. Lol, Kate, who clearly has no idea how to ride, is giving instructions to the kids about riding, like don't let go of the horn. That's what she said.

Great edit by TLC, where they cut to the riding instructor who tells them never hold the horn. This is a place where they hold the reins together with both hands. Heh, Leah and Hannah roll their eyes at each other. Kate, because she is an asshat and a terrible example to the children, proceeds to tell the instructor she will hold the horn. I'm at best an amateur horsewoman, I ride a handful of times a year and have ridden with my friend's cattle in Wyoming.  I have ridden at places where they want you to hold the reins together and move them left and right to steer the horse like how Triple W wants it, versus how I prefer to ride where you hold each rein separately (what the instructor calls "split reins") and sort of pull one side or the other back to steer. I do know because I tried it, if you try to steer split reins when the horse is used to the reins being together, or vice versa, the horse doesn't understand and won't respond correctly, can even get agitated. I can see the instructor getting a little more adamant as he firmly tells Kate you cannot hold the horn as that sends a message to the horse you're incapacitated. (And that, use your common sense, could be very bad.) Kate is probably too dumb and uninformed to realize this, but horses are extremely sensitive to a rider. How they sit, how they hold the reins, their level of confidence. Something as simple as threading the reins through your fingers correctly can make all the difference in the world to your control of the horse. So, when a riding instructor tells you to do something a certain specific way, and you think it's dumb or wonder how something so seemingly minor would make a difference, just f-ing do it the way he tells you. It's for your own damn safety, actually.

There's a lot of liability when you run a horseback riding place, and the last thing you need is a defiant customer. This guy is well within his rights to kick Kate off this ride right here and now and be done with her. The hilarity in all this is that Kate, in an attempt to try to help herself feel safer by holding onto something, is actually going to make her ride more dangerous. She's an idiot.

By the way, this is my first time trying out TLCgo, their streaming service. This episode mysteriously disappeared from my DVR so I found it on go. TLCgo is just like HBOgo, only HBOgo was here first. Hey, can they sue?

I have a major complaint I'd like to put in the comment box though, in that when you watch episodes on TLCgo and pause them, as I have to do a lot to write the recap, the video starts over when you press play again. You have to then manually pull the slider back over to where you last left off, if you can remember. What the hell, TLC! Less Duggars, more fix your streaming.

Nothing happens on the horseback ride, and pretty soon some of the kids are complaining and wanting to go back. The instructor just sort of sits there, listening to the whining. Kate soon allows half the group to go back, where apparently lunches are packed for them. I can't be the only one who finds this very rude. If you're going to quit halfway through the horseback ride, don't go in the first place. But I get Kate not wanting to pick her battles with this one. It's just not worth it. But I would have said from the beginning unless you're sticking out the whole ride don't go, we're not stopping in the middle for someone to take you back absent an emergency, as this is very rude to our instructors and the rest of the group.

Well, the children who left missed out on a beautiful view of a vast green meadow and spotting a baby deer. Their loss. Kate makes a comment similar to what she said last episode in that it's nice the kids are old enough at last to do these sort of things. Huh? The kids were old enough to ride horses at least six years ago, what in the world is she talking about? She really works hard to try to age them as slow as humanely possible. You would think they just got out of their pull-ups so now they can really take on the world without being bogged down having to carry around baby wipes.

Back at the house that doesn't even fit into the camera frame, they're not taking the puppies out enough, because one just peed in his pen. Kate passes him off on Aaden to walk. Well, it's too late to walk him now, isn't it? Kate complains they're like infants. Sort of. You do have to usually attend to them every hour with something, usually taking him out, much like it feels like you're constantly nursing a baby every hour those first couple months. I would say puppies are more like 2-year-olds, if I had to put a human age on them. In any case, doofus here is going to piss TLC's security deposit away at this rate, pun intended.

Kate has her typical freak out walking out onto the dock. It's one of those docks that is small and moves. I think they're floating docks, which explains the movement. Movement is thus normal, though unsettling if you're not expecting it. The kids think she's dramatic. Yes. One really has to wonder whether a lot of her water-related freak outs would improve if she just got herself some swimming lessons. Then at least you know you probably won't die if you slip off the dock. I don't know what kind of lessons could improve all her other freak outs, though.

Cara really is picking lint, I'm not making this up. A big piece of lint there!

Some of the kids, especially Alexis, are reluctant to get into the boats. When asked on the couch why they don't like boats, the girls say, not at all surprisingly, they don't like boats because they get sick and their mother forces them to get on anyway.

Their mother is cruel and hateful, period. Obviously their repeated nausea wasn't an anomaly or something they have outgrown now that they're older. The Tups are chronically seasick when they get on boats. With the dozens of other fun activities you could do at this place why force them? It's mean. Scientists think that seasickness and nausea actually stem from the brain, ears and eyes, not the stomach. I'm kind of curious if anyone has looked into whether preemies, who are often born with underdevelopment in those areas, are more likely to develop sea sickness as they grow older. It would be interesting to know, since all the Tups have it, yet the twins don't seem to at all.

Wow, Alexis is really refusing to go! She's sat down and crossed her legs on the dock like a regular sit in. Go Lex! This is really B.S. It's not like Alexis is refusing to go because she's a brat. She doesn't want to go because she pukes. I mean, anyone should understand that. Geez, can Kate cut her a break here? Have the nanny stay with her, or somebody? Finally Mady somehow persuades her to get in. The kids don't have much of a chance with both Kate and Mady bullying them into doing things like this. Hey, how come Kate is permitted to freak out and make a scene over anything under the sun that upsets her, but sweet Lexi here can't do the same when she actually has really good reason to? Surely the kids have noticed the hypocrisy.

Mr. Captain Man?? Can we punch this woman in the face now? Golly!

It's pouring rain and Mady says it's cold rain. How miserable, but production has a schedule to keep and tubing is today, so. The boys love tubing and make sure they get to go first. One of the boats has a fun slide that dumps you into the lake. They love it. Thankfully, Alexis is enjoying herself and not sick. I hope someone explained to the poor child that it's really unlikely she's going to get seasick the same way she does when they deep sea fish because this is an extremely calm, flat lake. That might have helped reassure her. Rather, they seemed to just be trying to bully her in it with threats that she was going to ruin everyone else's fun if she didn't get in and get in now. Poor little beaten down thing.

Another complaint about TLCgo, the commercials every ten minutes or so are at times absurdly long and they push their fat shows on you, and peddle the Duggars. I don't know how many times I've seen that Whitney chick panic over her not-a-pregnancy now, I can't get away from it even trying to avoid her at this point, too.

Cara picks more lint from her pant leg as Mady explains that Kate was dramatic when she went tubing with Joel. Joel is a good sport, just focusing on working his goPro and enjoying the ride despite his mother. And when I say tubing, it's not even really tubing. It looks way safer and more stable. It kind of reminds me of one of those circular life rafts for commercial fishing boats, with tall sides, only built for just two people. There's no chance you'll fall out unless you're an idiot who doesn't listen to instructors with vast expertise when they tell you to hold things a certain way and not the way you stubbornly would like to do it. Kate is grateful for parentified Joel, who comforted her on the ride.

The kids aren't the most articulate folks in the bunch, are they? "Fun" is about the extent of their description of that activity.

The next day, archery tag at Skytop Resort. A friend told her about it i.e. the producers set it up. This has to be hundreds of dollars to play, especially the way they've reserved the whole field just for them. This sounds like basically paint ball only with foam-tipped arrows. Looks deliciously fun. I'm sure Kate will spoil it somehow. "It's like Hunger Games!" Kate jokes to the teens, because she thinks she is also a teen and their BFF. Cara basically looks away at that, sort of like the looks the Obama girls had on their faces when their dad was making dumb turkey jokes at the turkey pardon, hehe, because what else can you do when your mother won't act her age.

The kids are five years old and can't figure out what the teams will be. Mercifully the instructor says either figure this out or he'll just do a count-off and pick them himself. I think I'm in love. So much whining and drama over something so simple, it's nice to see someone shut it down right away because Kate sure won't.

At the end of the day these teams end up being ridiculously unfair, with the twins and their friend Marley with Joel and Leah, who they observed doing some practice archery and determined are the best at it. We can bet Kate will suck, and that's only one older person with the rest of the tups who aren't as good at archery. What the heck! If I didn't mention it Collin is nowhere to be found and not even mentioned. It's truly like he never even existed. So, wouldn't it be much more fair to split up Joel and Leah if they were the best, or better yet, make them captains for a school yard pick? Instead, Mady gets to hand pick her entire team and Kate gets the leftovers. That is not fair. It's really a shame for everyone, because games are almost always more fun when teams are even. Why doesn't Mady have any empathy for how unfair this is to the other team? It's bizarre.

Notably, Hannah seems genuinely annoyed that she has to be on Kate's team, and snaps at Kate that no one wants to be on Kate's team. And you know what, that's normal at that age. You don't want to play this cool game with your mother. Sheesh. Why can't Kate be like every other mother and just watch?? And, if Kate watched, the numbers would be even. The way it is now, one team gets someone extra, which also isn't fair.

Not shockingly at all, Mady's team wins, to which even the usually affable Aaden bursts out how unfair the teams are.

Kate, who ultimately is bullied by and afraid of her own children, finds herself shut down by Mady when Kate suggests they mix the teams up for the next game. Kate, you are the parent, she is the child. You've become aware how unfair, and thus un-fun, these teams are. Mady's team is taking disturbing glee in absolutely killing Kate's team, and Kate's team is not having fun because they don't even have a chance. Be the adult and tell Mady, don't ask her, that the teams are going to be shuffled up for the next game. Pathetic.

In round two, Mady's team creams them again. Hannah actually seems close to tears. She's had it and walks off. I remember that feeling as a kid her age when some kind of competition or game was so unbelievably mis-matched and you were getting humiliated so unbelievably badly you just wanted to cry.  Like a shut out of your Middle School basketball team. It's just terrible. Unlike normal people who can remember stuff like that from their childhood, I don't think Kate can remember how she felt when that happened to her, or remember how much more deeply a twelve year old kid feels "unfair" and "losing." It's much easier for a mature adult to just shrug something like this off. To a kid, it's like the end of the world, and yet it's so simple to fix this problem by just mixing up the teams.

It's unclear whose idea this is, but mercifully they finally decide to mix up the teams for round three and draw names out of the hat. I still think schoolyard pick would be most fair, with the two best players as captains. Drawing from a hat has a good chance of creating unfair teams again by pure chance. But at least it's doing something to address the current cluster-F.

The new teams are Kate, Leah, Marley and Aaden, versus Mady, Cara, Alexis and Joel. That's better.

Kate's team finally wins! Sweet Aaden says I just wanted to win once. Aw. Wouldn't you know it, now that the teams are more fair the kids seem to be getting along better. The losing team is even high-fiving the winners. That's what a little help from reasonable adults will do in resolving stupid conflicts kids find themselves in and don't know how to get out of. Otherwise, Kate, it's Lord of the Flies, it really is. If kids didn't still need adults at this age, we'd set them free at 13 and be done with them.

Kate pats herself on the back for how much she loves teamwork and seeing them get along. No she doesn't. She loves conflict and divisiveness.

Rock climbing is up next, and paintball? And this is all on the same day! This is starting to get a little tiring just watching it, and feels intentional from production.  The more they cram into the day, the more stressed everyone will be, the more conflicts that will occur (see Hannah) the better footage they will get. See the glaring conflict of interest there? Production can't possibly be in charge of protecting children if their number one goal is good T.V.

Watch other people's kids rock climb. Then watch other people's kids play paintball.

There's some competition in the lint picking department. Alexis is slumped on the couch, getting bored talking about all this, picking lint off her pants. Heh.

Leah gloats, to Alexis of course, that she did not have nearly as much trouble rock climbing as Lex does. Kate remarks about how it's all about encouraging, not tearing people down, to which Leah gives her a gigantic eye roll. It's astounding how little respect the children have for her, and it's equally astounding how little control she has over how they treat their siblings. Frankly, as much as poor Lexi is picked on, I'm not sure Kate is capable of stopping it even if she wanted to. What a shocker, the authoritarian parenting style doesn't work after all in the end.

I feel like I've been binge watching Big Fat Fabulous Life just by watching the commercials on TLCgo. I know Whitney is I guess a lesbian now, and pregnant, but most likely not really, and also overall still a hot mess.

This episode is disintegrating into more like a really well-produced home video, with the cheap canned music in the background and no real plot, just some paintball and rock climbing. Almost like something you pay 80 bucks to the paintball place to produce for you and they send it to you a week later watch it once then throw it on the DVD shelves never to take out again.

You know what's kind of a head scratcher is they haven't done much activities that are at all suited for including your dog. No long hikes, no picnics, no relaxing by the lake and throwing a frisbee at the shore for the dogs. The pups don't even seem to be around most of the time. Who's watching the little puppies during all this people fun?

Ha, they flash back to the last time they went white water rafting on their trip out West and the instructor was "taunting" Kate. I vaguely remember that, and had to check my old recap to recall exactly what happened. A quick break to look at my recap from that episode, which reveals that Kate started it by disrespectfully talking back to their instructor, undermining him when he told the kids what they could do, ordering him not to get her wet, and shouting at him about how he should angle the boat straight (Actually, you don't necessarily always want to go down the river straight, certain positions of the rapids and other anomalies in the river mean sometimes you will steer the boat in other ways.) I think the one thing most glaring about this is that contrary to what Kate often says in that she's grown as a person over the years, she's actually the same exact nasty person she ever was. This time around, it was their riding instructor she was terribly rude to, outright defiant to the point of jeopardizing her and everyone else's safety, and tried to tell him about both his job and himself. Same shit, different year with this piece of work.

So, the truth is, the rafting instructor from the RV trip was pushing back a bit on Kate because she started it all, and was being a very rude and disrespectful customer, and was spoiling everyone else's fun. But yes, Kate, he taunted you just out of the blue, just to be cruel and make your experience terrible. Kind of like what you do to people so no surprise you see it in others. I leave you with his final line of the night: "We're gonna give out an Academy Award at the end of the day and I'm nominating you." Ha!

And, speaking of those awards, let me steer you in the direction of one of the probably unlikely winners, a dark horse. Hell or High Water. See it, cherish it, and understand why Manchester by the Sea is actually just manipulative Lifetime drivel and overrated as hell. I think Hell is going to gain some momentum this month.

Also, did I say Kate went white water rafting but insisted she not get wet.

The "Jesus rock" is cool, looks like you're walking on water because it's buried so close to the surface. But wait, what does Kate need a rock for?

I've noticed most of what Kate talks about when she blah-blahs about the activities is her. How she felt to do the activity, the stupid thoughts that went through her mind, her opinions and observations. Very little has anything to do with the children and perceiving and enjoying these activities through their lens like a normal mother would. There's something terribly wrong with her.

I will say this, what a beautiful glimpse of the wonders of Pennsylvania. The gorgeous, peaceful river, the bright green foliage, the vast forests, the good and patient people. What an opportunity this show has missed out on over the last decade to really embrace Pennsylvania and show why I fell in love with the state when I lived there for four years. They spend so much of their time elsewhere. A shame.

Kate can't resist making sure that everyone knows the other tour guide from freaking over five years ago was not fun and that she enjoyed rafting this time because this guide was fun. And by fun she means, puts up with her. Oh, I don't know, I thought her previous tour guide was a real riot. What did we tell you? Narcissists never move on, never let things go, remember the minute details of minor transgressions forever as if it were yesterday. I can't remember a darn thing about the handful of rafting trips I've been on other than they were great fun, but Kate recalls exactly how he crossed her by getting her wet and steering the boat a certain way and what's more wants to make sure she sticks it to him. Lol, as if he's watching this or cares. Might I say this again, five years later, folks.

Well this is telling, Mady remarks that dinner is usually chaotic and she prefers to go up to her room for that. Is she talking about on vacation, or generally? What the hell? That's not healthy at all. The puppies are attacking and biting the children to the point of tearing Joel's shirt, which is not funny or cute and sure as hell won't be funny or cute when they are adult dogs. They're eating absolute garbage for dinner, hot dogs, mac and cheese from the blue box, canned beans. The salt level must be heart attack levels here. Of course, that's fine on vacation especially, but why does Kate think she's so health conscious when they eat all this crap?

God, I leave this recap hating TLCgo. The commercials are five minutes long and pop up the second you even so much as think about touching that little slider. Curses. All in all, too much Poconos, not enough puppies. This was one of the worst episodes this season if not the worst one so far. Kate and the kids were as ungrateful as ever for the experience and somebody was always upset, hollering or complaining. There was just no plot at all, nothing developed no matter how hard they tried to stress out the kids, it was all about being tortured with another family's boring vacation which is the whole reason Betty White has stayed off Facebook in the first place.

I think this was one of the lowest rated ones too, if I remember right. Until next time when they take another once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Space Camp.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "New Orleans, Here We Come!": 'Kate Making Excuses for Herself: But I'm an Exception to the Rules Because'

Coming up on Kate Plus 8, or as Mady has deemed it, "Kate Making Excuses for Herself: But I'm an Exception to the Rules Because." Baw! In later years, Mady will learn that is also known as narcissism. Kate has always wanted to..., and I'm already bored. I thought Kate didn't have help anymore. But there's Andrea, the nanny, front and center apparently drinking on the job with a big glass of wine.

Heir Kate is walking around with a clipboard and pen asking Andrea, as Andrea truly looks very busy and productive making lots of sandwiches, if she has done various tasks Kate could have done herself. Yes, Kate, I emptied the fridge. Yes, Kate, I ran the dishwasher. Oh, I should clarify, Kate phrases these tasks like did we empty the fridge? Well, if "we" emptied the fridge, then wouldn't Kate know it was done, and could check it off without consulting Andrea? What a piece of work she is, she can't even give Andrea full credit for doing the chores herself. I have never seen a nanny more checked out. Why is she still working for this woman?

This episode is structured like the fifty other episodes where they went on a trip, with about five minutes in the beginning about the chaos of packing. After all this time you would think packing would be pretty efficient and uneventful by now. Absolutely nothing remotely interesting happens. Kate is able to get in a dig at the boys though emphasizing how much they suck at packing. The biggest problem is they don't understand the difference between a play outfit and a go away outfit. Neither do I, so count me as a boy.

I get a kick out of this family always being demoted to the very back of the plane in some of the worst seats possible, right in front of the restrooms so it smells back there, it's busy all the time, and the seats won't recline. I have a feeling it's because unless you book way in advance, it's impossible to get so many seats together in any other part of the plane, but you know it chaps Kate's hide she's not where she should be in first class with the rest of the aristocracy worthy of life boats.

I'm glad some of the kids are able to make the best of the cameras. Several of them frequently make funny faces at the cameras and overall act silly when the red light is on. Good for them.

They start the next day at some cute outdoor seating and beignets. Oh god those are so good. The kids seemed to enjoy the experience and loved putting the powdered sugar on. I notice right away Cara and Mady are constantly whipping their phones out at this meal and showing each other things. For teens who don't have social media, they sure found a lot to look at. Heh. The producer asks what's with taking out the phones at the meal. Mady explains if this were a more formal meal of course she would put the phone away. I agree, this was really casual. It's just breakfast, and just beignets. And if Kate doesn't want the phones out she can tell them so. You have to pick your battles here, and if the phones are keeping the teens in good spirits, who cares? They can put them away at dinner. No one was really talking anyway, except Kate who threw out a few orders at the 12- and 15-year-olds, like don't wipe your hands on your clothes, instead use a napkin. Seriously? I somewhat feel for teens who are always under strict orders from parents over the stupid phones, if the parents don't make any effort to engage them in good conversation or otherwise make their time together interesting so they won't miss their phone so much.

And wouldn't you know it, they're using Snapchat, which is basically social media. Only, I guess they didn't get permission from the app to use the name, because Mady has to call it this app that does face filters. Heh. Snapchat makes this generation's teens giggle uncontrollably like my generation was giggling uncontrollably at the likes of that stupid game Mad Libs. Every generation has their thing.

Kate pretends she cares when the waiter comes over and announces the bill is "36 bucks". So that's how you pay? No check, they just announce the price at the end of the meal? Geez, this place is iPhone casual after all. Let's be honest, that's going on the company credit card. Kate strategically planned the sugar rush in the morning instead of the evening so they can get it out of their system early. Oh, I didn't realize the children were four years old.

You can tell there's not going to be much substance to this episode when they're already filling time by sticking in a bunch of unnecessary old clips about prior family photos. They go to some unnamed park and take a bunch of iPhone photos. A quick google on my part reveals this is probably New Orleans City Park, which houses the oldest tree in New Orleans at 800 years. That's a lot of botox. Why not share some of that interesting information instead of this dumb little side story about how it's hard to get a good family photo? Sigh. At least this time Kate isn't barefoot sucking a lollypop so hard you would think she was practicing how to get a promotion.

Commercials! That little tease of the Duggar show Counting On implying they might be having twins was so stupid. They're not having twins, are they? Yeah I didn't think so. Dumb.

Next up, etiquette class. Where would one begin with this doofus? Alexis is "sick" with the flu and isn't coming. I know kids can get sick suddenly, but is anyone not buying this? She was happy on the plane, scarfed down her beignets that morning, climbed all over the ancient trees. Now, seemingly a short time later, she has the flu? I'm going to speculate Alexis didn't want to film for some reason, had a tantrum, and that's why she's not here. Because I can.

Mark their instructor, who is wearing a beautiful fitted tweed jacket and maroon shirt, begins explaining etiquette. Heh, oh the irony, Kate is already finishing the guy's sentences, which in etiquette is more aptly called interrupting. 

The kids are so mean to Alexis, in particular the girls, who almost all claim, in two separate couch interviews no less, that Alexis is basically a slob. Poor kid. At least she laughs at all this teasing, but at a certain point the ganging up on has got to catch up to her psyche.  It's one thing when one or two sisters do it, but I think it's quite another when you have four sisters against you. The only person who needs etiquette wasn't there, says Mady. Huh? I see Kate there.

The girls seem rather offended when Mark teaches the boys to escort them to the table and pull their chairs out for them. We can do it ourselves, they insist! Ha, the little Gloria Stienums. Naturally, Kate attributes this sudden stroke of "women's libbers" to her, Kate, since they see her doing it all alone. Drink! Slapping hand to the forehead. Women's lib is not about doing things all by yourself and never letting a man, or anyone, help you. Not mainstream anyway.  Is that what she thinks it's about? She's confusing this movement with a praying mantis. No Kate, not the same thing.

Mm, no, I'm gonna go ahead and attribute the girls' feminism to the media. Everything is attributed to the media.

Speaking of all this, why not take your girls to the Women's March, Kate? There was a local one right in Philly, and 50,000 showed up. I didn't go to the one here, but when I was on the 101 freeway this afternoon I drove under several marchers hanging out on the overpasses, and gave them several honks and fist pumps. Lots of my girlfriends went to either this one in L.A. or the one in D.C., and many who have daughters brought them. Kate should have gone. She just might learn something, and she and the girls could be part of history. It's always interesting how unengaged she is with everything, which is fine for herself, but it's depriving her girls of a mother who teachers their daughters to be part of the world instead of just their world.

Mark kisses up to Kate complimenting her on how good the children's manners are already. Speaking of sexist, why is he assuming their manners are all attributable to their mother? Dads teach manners too, as do grandparents and teachers. Hey, Mark, it's not 1879, and the kids have decent manners despite Kate, not because of her.

Mark next lectures that cell phones are a cardinal sin at the table. Generally, at a nice sit down meal, yes. The twins don't care, and justify whipping out their phone in case something cute happens and they need a picture. Ha, Aaden and Joel are so funny. They make fun of the twins and Kate for going through withdrawal tremors not having their phones.

By the way, Collin's not on the couch with his brothers, but he's on this trip. Hm.

Of course Kate feels she needs her phone at the table because she is a mother, which is where Mady throws out her new show name: "Kate Making Excuses for Herself: But I'm an Exception to the Rules Because." Perfection, Mady.

They dig into some delicious bread pudding and for some reason Aaden has developed an uncontrollable fit of the giggles. I love me a good case of the giggles. He is so flipping cute. Of course Kate is right there scolding him and blaming it all on the sugar. I blame it on just a darn great kid.

More sucking up from Mark about how impressive the kids were, again implying this is all attributed to Kate. Eh, they're not all that impressive. They're mostly just average, with average manners. So is this Matt's full time job, teaching people how to cut meat like ladies and gentlemen and scolding teens for having their iPhones out? Or did they just bring this guy in specially for the Gosselins?

Coming up, looks like they're doing some Hurricane Katrina clean-up. I know it's been a decade since the hurricane but I believe it that there's still work to be done. I went down there for a week to do some clean-up about 18 months after the hurricane and there was still plenty to do. The experience was one I'll never forget, but I also came away with a deep sense of frustration. I found the clean-up efforts disorganized and inefficient. Even though our group was working directly with major organizations like the Red Cross, there were many times where we were sitting around while they tried to figure out where best to send us. We also had to spend time fixing other people's botched efforts, like a playground built by Extreme Makeover that had major drainage problems. The whole thing was just so inept and sad, and it's really sad, though frankly not all that surprising given what I experienced, that ten years later there is still all this work to do. This is unacceptable governmental crawl, at, in my view, state and federal levels, but mostly local.

Okay, fine, I'll recap this comment. Kate has always wanted to do a building project with the kids. Good grief, then just go do it! You don't have to go all the way to New Orleans to get your fix. Look at Habitat for Humanity's web site and find a local weekend project and just go. She's just so helpless.

Day two. They head out to the historic ninth ward, which still looks pretty run down. The reality is much of the population just never came back. I still remember going there and seeing spray paint on the doors of each of the flooded houses, markings from disaster workers indicating what's been cleared from inside. Descriptions like two bodies, three bodies, etc. Chilling, devastating, preventable.

Oh wouldn't you know it, Alexis is miraculously feeling better from her sudden-onset flu. Did it ever occur to Kate that because Alexis is so teased about her manners by her siblings, she was embarrassed to be at an etiquette class and potentially face more ridicule and so quickly worked up some "flu" to stay behind? Poor kid.

They meet up with a guy and girl from Youth Rebuilding, which rebuilds houses just for teachers. That's awesome. Their comments about what's going on here are somewhat vague, which I found typical when I volunteered there, but I think they're saying they still have 40,000 homes left to go through in the 9th ward.

It's rare I agree with Kate, but she too, correctly, thinks it's absurd that there is still so much cleaning up to do here after ten years. Will she delve into why that is, where the failing are, or have any curiosity about this problem at all? Of course not. I myself have a lot of political thoughts about this issue I suppose I should refrain from sharing, but I'm going to anyway. Suffice it to say I do put a huge amount of blame for the snail's pace clean-up efforts on the local government and local disorganization, based primarily on my own experience spending a week there doing clean-up among locals. In fact as far back as 2006 the mayor was under all kinds of fire for the slow efforts even then. You can pour all kinds of money and volunteers at a community, but if they refuse to get organized and implement some efficiency, of course it's going to take ten or more years to get cleaned up. For one, if my organization, which happened to be my school, was made to wait hours and hours while they sorted out something for us to do, how many hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours have been lost over the past ten years because New Orleans couldn't get organized? For another, if an organization is going about a project all wrong such that it will have to be redone from scratch, why didn't someone notice or say something before it was too late? These third-world country clean-up efforts are an outright disgrace and nearly as tragic as the hurricane itself.

Kate apparently doesn't see the irony in her comment that kids can get tunnel vision and only focus on what they need and want. What a two-faced dolt.

They begin painting some interiors. Then, they move to a demolition project. Oh, those are fun! Too much explanation, not enough demo. Finally they hammer into the plaster and have at it. I'm a big fan of introducing kids to volunteer work in a manner that ensures they are having a blast. It lays good foundations for understanding how volunteering can enrich you just as much as those you are helping.

I like Cara's shirt, which looks like a college t-shirt but instead says "Kale." Good one. You can get it at Urban Outfitters. 

Mady says all this volunteer work was fun. Cara picks lint.

Kate is such a freaking jerk. As they are wrapping up the work she thanks the guys from Youth Rebuilding, then says this is good in particular for her kids who forget how good they have it. Um, her kids are standing right there! I understand that's a major motivation behind engaging children in volunteer work, but it's mean to tell people, right in front of your kids no less, that your kids are ungrateful. Even if it were true, would you say that about your adult best friend if she were standing right next to you? Why people think it's okay to make rude and nasty comments about their kids simply because they are kids is beyond me. If you're concerned a child has a real problem with gratitude (one that goes beyond normal childhood development, too) one should speak to them privately about it, or involve a therapist if necessary. Oh, and I'll give Kate a hint. Due in large part to disrespectful comments like that, her kids have little motivation to be grateful. Why try to live up to the expectations of someone who has such little respect for you to begin with?

Also, the kids don't have it that good. They have tons of money and a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle and for that I have always said they should be grateful, but they have also lost their privacy for it, which many are probably going to grow up and resent if some don't already. But, it's important to Kate's daily propaganda the kids have it drilled into them their lives are amazing, mostly due to Kate.

The kids are at that age now where they can actually make a difference, Kate remarks. Yes, they were at that age seven years ago, too.

Kate claims they next ran into an "insectarium" that wasn't part of the plan because it rained that day. She, Kate, not production mind you, researched this all out on the internet. It's just absurd that Kate gives herself full credit for planning activities when there is an incredible amount of work that almost all productions large and small need to do to film in almost any place you can think of that Kate couldn't possibly know how or be capable of doing. Wait, so did they run into it randomly, or did she hunt it down browsing on the internet? Those two statements don't seem consistent. How does a production crew stumble upon something like this with all the permits and releases that are required to film? Why does this woman lie so badly? Why do I hurt my brain trying to make sense of her?

It's another bug place which I feel like they've done at least twice before. I have nothing against bugs but little about this is interesting or worth recapping. The whole time Kate's on the sidelines making this all....about...her, screaming and carrying on and threatening to faint. So just faint already and be done with it, at least then you would finally STFU.

Even Joel and Hannah admit they were really embarrassed by Kate's behavior. She's making a scene (and there's a whole camera crew there) of course they're embarrassed. The rest of the kids seem mortified too. Just ask other kids with mentally ill mothers, it's very embarrassing.

The bug that looks like a leaf is outright wild. It really looks exactly like a leaf. They head to the bug cafe where they are presented with a variety of dishes with bugs in them, like chocolate chip cookies with a cricket in there. More screaming and carrying on from Kate, meanwhile the kids are much more open minded and willing to try. Joel even liked the crickets. The kids call her overly dramatic and are even more embarrassed. Kate's skin is quite bad during this segment, obviously covered up by cakes of foundation. I don't know if that's stress or what.

Now they're holding a baby alligator? That's not a bug. I'm confused. They try to make it seem like this is the happiest day of Alexis's life, but you can tell she's 12 now and alligators don't do it for her quite the same way as they used to. Much like a twelve-year-old is not going to go ga-ga over a T-rex or firetrucks the same way when he was two. It's okay, Alexis.

The museum was a lot better than Kate expected, Kate remarks. Does Kate understand phrasing a comment like that is generally a rude thing to say? I really think her social skills at this point are about a two of 10. She doesn't seem to understand how rude and condescending some of her remarks are. Oh, sure, sometimes I think she's intentionally being an asshat. But other times I think she genuinely thinks she's giving the museum a compliment by saying they are better than expected. She just doesn't understand, and like Carry Ann Inaba, I'm fascinated.

Next up, a cooking class, which is also something they've done at least once before. I guess no one can say she doesn't do her part to reduce, reuse and recycle!

I like the canned New Orleans music they are playing. You know those moments where you have a flashback memory to something you haven't thought of in years? I just had one, to the obscure made-for-T.V. movie The Muppets of Bremen, which was a very clever play off the Grimm fairytale, only set in cajun country. I must have watched it a dozen times as a little kid. Jim Henson was so clever and such a master. Seven hells, I actually found it on Youtube! I love it.

They begin the cooking class by having a little crawfish pealing challenge. The kids enjoy it, and as per the usual Kate is freaking out and claims she has a stomach ache. You know, if you are going to be a cook, unless you're a vegetarian cook only, at least take some responsibility to have some awareness of how your animals get from the farm or wild to the table. Stop acting like Woody Allen and Diane Keaton trying to cook a lobster and be an adult. 


They divide into teams and make a rue, some shrimp jumbo, and a colorful salad. Yum. At last they dig in. Collin really isn't saying much throughout this segment and never cracks a smile, he just stands around watching his siblings cook. Something is very off there. 

Kate isn't exactly Giada De Laurentiis is she? "That had perfect spice and bite," she remarks. Lol, so descriptive. I'd love to know what she thinks bite means.

Finally they head to the fancy restaurant Galatoire's, which naturally Kate takes full credit for booking. Heh.

Aw, the kids look great all gussied up. The boys look like little Mormons in their white shirts and ties. Cute.

Way to suck all the fun out of a nice restaurant like this by making it a test of their etiquette class. Predictably, the kids immediately start ragging on Alexis, this time about how she eats the bread. Leave Alexis Alone!

The waitresses are being extraordinarily nice to the children, though I question if that's how they are to all children or if this is just because they're celebrities.

Mady and some of the other kids try snails and like them. Mmmm, I like them too. Or maybe I just like the butter and garlic they always drown them in and all the bread dipping I do afterward, heh. 

At the end of the day the kids' manners and even Kate's really aren't that impressive. They have to constantly be reminded to wait until everyone is served, which really should be basic for kids by this age. They also frequently touch their food with their fingers, boss each other around, make dramatic and disgusted faces when they eat something they don't like, and blurt out rude things like "I hate mushrooms!" Kate's had years to help them correct these poor manners, this shouldn't be this much of a struggle. 

They go around the table and talk about what they enjoyed the most. Collin very clearly says he enjoyed the cooking class and insectarium. He seems like a sweet, though frankly, sad little boy. It's hard to believe someone like him needs to be institutionalized. If he does, he sure hides his issues well.

Ha, there's Andrea at the other end of the table just downing wine and bread pudding and not really saying much. It's been a long trip, hasn't it?

Next time, it's so odd that they have never been to the Poconos! The problems of the one percent are often odd. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Discussion Thread: Game Night 1/10/2017

"Game Night"January 10, 2017
Kate and the younger kids have a family game show night, with Mady as their host, which involves them answering questions about past seasons and episodes of their show.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Discussion Thread: Sweet 16 1/3/2017

Sweet 16
It's the twins sweet 16! Kate allows Mady and Cara to plan their own party and tensions run high. Kate finds the moment bittersweet, while the twins are just happy to be with their friends.