Frizzle Fails: Majorly Unfun Magic School Bus Trips

Science is cool. When I was a kid my mom was a science teacher, and during the summer I’d serve as a child guinea pig for whatever courses she was taking. I dissected owl pellets, collected pond water, and learned firsthand that science is awesome. And gross. Did I mention gross?

If you weren’t lucky enough to have a scientifically inclined parent, you may have had the next best thing — the guiding, fictional hand of Miss Frizzle, the adventurous, well-dressed schoolmarm from The Magic School Bus. The Magic School Bus was a series of children’s books and cartoons about a group of kids diving head-first into the inner workings of scientific phenomena.

But let’s be real. Teachers are great, but they can’t hit the mark 100% of the time. Here are some Frizzle Fails: those Magic School Bus adventures that delved a little too far into the disgusting, confusing, or downright depressing side of science.

The Magic School Bus Gets Demented

The school bus takes a mystical journey along the neurons and synapses of Phoebe’s grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with advanced dementia. Can they make it through the hippocampus before activity is significantly impaired?

The Magic School Bus Heats Up

Riding on the back of a flea, the Magic School Bus travels with a roadkill racoon on its trip through the animal control center’s crematorium. The kids learn an important scientific axiom: energy cannot be created or destroyed… it can only change form (into a harrowing experience that will haunt you for all the rest of your days).

The Magic School Bus Is In The Money

…as a strain of bacteria being passed from person to person on a dollar bill. The whole gang follows Ralphie’s tooth fairy money as, in the course of a single day, it passes from a man’s unwashed bathroom hands, to the wallet of a lady who just sneezed into her bare palm, before making its final appearance tucked into a g-string at a gentleman’s club.

The Magic School Bus Yes We Can-Cer

When Tim Jamal is diagnosed with a rare invasive tumor, the Magic School Bus takes a fun ride along his fast-dividing cells, evading the surgeon’s knife before ultimately getting wiped out by a high dose of chemotherapy. Uncontrolled mitosis? More like uncontrolled fun!

The Magic School Bus And The Poison Ivy Mystery Tour

WHEEEE! The School Bus slip-slides along the oils excreted from a poison ivy plant, and everyone learns how urushiol can trigger an immune response before – whooosh! – getting knocked out by a hefty, immune-suppressing dose of oral steroids. Will prednisolone make the kids go HAM with mood changes and aggression? Will Frizzle escape the dreaded moon face?

[Guys this isn’t even a book pitch, really, I just have poison oak really bad and this is my life right now.]

The Magic School Bus Peanut Caper

What began as a wacky adventure into the growth cycle of legumes ended three minutes later. Because Keesha has a nut allergy. Read more in The Magic School Bus EpiPen Extravaganza!

Dammit, Friz.

The Magic School Bus In The Mouse House

Miss Frizzle takes the gang on a great trip along the gut flora in the digestive tract of a mouse (you would not BELIEVE how much food from your very own home they find in that stomach!). When the mouse is chased out by the family cat, he is snatched up by an owl. The mouse is swallowed whole, and the kids find themselves broken down into teenier and teenier bits inside the owl before being regurgitated in a sack of hair and bone that is harvested and dissected by a bunch of curious youngsters.

[Like… this is what I did for fun when I was eight. Thanks, mom.]

The Magic School Bus Joins A Gerbil Family

This trip begins in the vas deferens of a male gerbil. From there, they … learn some stuff… then grow into the rapidly dividing cells of a gerbil embryo. When the fetal gerbil is fully formed, they learn – oh no! – that a choromosomal abnormality prevented proper development. After a bumpy journey through the gerbil birth canal, they learn that the circle of life is short indeed, when the gerbil mother recognizes that the child will not thrive and eats it. From there, it’s an awesome lesson in gerbil digestion and egestion. YAY.

The Magic School Bus Is NOT The Father!

The kids learn about DNA analysis – AND the civil justice system – when they go for a quick trip on Dorothy Ann’s blood cells during a hotly contested child support inquiry. How much of her genome is identical to her putative father’s? A statistically insignificant amount, it turns out!

The Magic School Bus Comes To Your AIDs

In this Very Special Edition of the Magic School Bus, the kids learn about the proper handling of bodily fluids when Friz, who has several open paper cut wounds on her hands (so much grading!) comes to the assistance of the heavily bleeding victim of a freak drone accident. As they tag along with an HIV strain, the kids learn that communicable diseases can be passed in a number of ways and that they should always take precautions when interacting with bodily secretions. But it never hurts to hug!

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Just Say YES: 80s & 90s Kids’ Shows That Made Drugs Look Fun

First things first: we would never tell children to do drugs. Children’s programs do it for us. Or did, anyway. Back when the front line of the War On Drugs was manned by a white lady named Nancy, kids’ shows told the youth of the nation to “just say no.” The problem: the drugs looked awesome. Was it because the show runners didn’t know what drugs looked like? Or were they just trying to show kids how hard it could be to resist peer pressure? Because I guarantee if these cartoons showed gross needles, or weed being smoked out of a dank Coke can, fewer kids would have wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Instead, the drugs looked awesome:

Punky Brewster

Punky’s got lessons. Don’t go all the way inside of a refrigerator. Your family is who loves you, not who abandons you in a supermarket. Someday, you’ll get a bra. And don’t do drugs, even though drugs look like the best candy in the world.

A group of girls invite Punky and Cherie into their clique, but only if they do drugs. I repeat: the girls invited Punky and Cherie to hang out in an amazing technicolor dream fort, and offered them free drugs. I’m not surprised that Punks did the right thing, I’m just confused why those girls wanted to be friends with her that hard.

Cartoon All Stars To The Rescue

This was an all-out failure of concept. When a young boy starts drinking beer and smoking dope ( I think they say “dope,” and I’m never 100% clear on what drug that’s supposed to be), his kid sis and a team of Cartoon All Stars gang up to teach him that there’s a better way.

That’s right, kids. If you do drugs, all your favorite cartoon characters will come over to hang.

In a way, though, this was the harshest punishment of all, because can you imagine being on drugs and then trying to deal with the fact that you were rolling with Alf, the Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, the Muppet Babies – the freaking Muppet Babies – and the Ninja Turtles? While we’re at it, Ninja Turtles: the CONSTANT PIZZA? The slow, drawled out speech? Sitting around all day in a basement with your bros? Oh, come on.

Dinosaurs

I’ve seen episodes of Weeds that were less pro-drug than this. Earl and Robbie, the boy dinosaur who’s Dinosaurs’ answer to Eddie Winslow, find a plant that makes them all chill and happy, but then the next day all they can find is seeds and stems. So I guess the lesson here is that they should have had more drugs on hand. Anyway, the whole family turns amotivational and at the end, Robbie delivers an anti-drug speech. Or is it an anti-anti drug episode speech? “When one show does an anti-drug episode, other shows feel pressured to do one, too. […] [P]ut a stop to preachy sitcom endings like this one.” In sum, the writers room of Dinosaurs probably smelled like that one kid in your nighttime sociology class who always wore a Central American poncho.

Saved By The Bell

We all know and love the “I’m so excited.. I’m so scared!” scene, but it’s easy to forget how appealing that episode made drugs look to all those Type A kids out there. Like, if I do “caffeine pills,” I too can get tons of shit done? That sounds amazing. I think we can all assume that “caffeine pills” is a Saturday morning T.V. euphemism for speed or a less depressing version of meth.

Then, there was Johnny Dakota. He was a teen star who showed up to make an anti-drug P.S.A. with the kids of Bayside. The gang goes to a party at his place and learns that he does drugs himself. So, Johnny Dakota went back to his lifestyle of drug-fueled house parties and the Bayside kids went back to hanging out with their principal. Real good job there, Saved By The Bell.

Fresh Prince

Was speed really THAT big an issue for highly-motivated teenagers in the 90s? Like Spano, Carlton is a clean-cut honor roll type who falls prey to amphetamines. He gets the pills from Will, who is using them to keep up with his go-go lifestyle, and Carlton takes them thinking that they’re vitamins. I am now realizing that I took Sudafed to pull an all-nighter in law school a few times, and that I probably learned that little trick from 90s kids’ shows. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and I owe it all to what I know realize were drugs. These were either some hardcore amphetamines or Carlton had a pre-existing condition, because he got hospitalized HARD.

Captain Planet

This episode features something that I was led to believe would happen a lot more than it does: a stranger forcing me to take drugs for no real reason. Do you remember that? They’d teach you how to “just say no” if someone offers you drugs, and then your whole DARE class would get sidetracked talking about “well, what if someone MAKES you take drugs?” And not for any reason other than that they want you to be a person who is on drugs. I remember when Traci and I were in Greece, we met this weird girl on the train who told us to be careful in Athens because people would put drugs in our food. “Oh, like… for reasons?” we wondered. Nah. She said just like weed or mild hallucinogens, and I don’t know why they would waste their hard-earned drugs on people who didn’t even want them.

But I digress. Some dude puts drugs in Lenkas food not to do anything to her, but just so that she becomes a person who is on drugs. She’s pretty miserable when she’s off drugs, but when she’s on them it looks like a blast!

Now, as someone who’s blessed to share her name with a popular club drug, I’m in a unique position to critique drug names. The one in Captain Planet is called Bliss. That’s a stupid drug name.

Jem

A girl we’ve never seen before is offered drugs, and before you know it her guitar skills are through the roof! Eventually she starts experiencing side effects or something, but this will go down as the anti-drug episode that taught us kids that if you hate practicing clarinet for band, there’s probably a drug for that.

 

Best of C+S 2014: Paltrow-Worthy Pinterest Divorces

We’re into our second week of our Best of Cookies+Sangria series, and we’re taking time to remember the conscious uncoupling that was Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. With Gwyneth the Goop herself at the center of all this, one can only imagine just how pretentiously beautiful the divorce will be.


Actress and lifestyle expert Gwyneth Paltrow is getting separated. Excuse me – consciously uncoupled, rather – which, in case you’re wondering, is the sound that the word “separated” makes when spoken from very far up your own ass.

Even though her soft piles of money probably ease the experience a little, the fact is that splitting up is never easy —  and is even more unfortunate for a family with kids. But I got to thinking about Paltrow’s brand, too. GOOP is a lifestyle website/store/thing that teaches you how to live like a rich macrobiotic WASP-y lady. That is: beautifully.

Folks who don’t make GOOP-level bank look to Pinterest to beautify their lives with a little less Nordstroms and a little more D.I.Y. Sadly, some of those first folksy burlap-and-lace Pinterest weddings have probably resulted in some less-beautiful divorces conscious uncouplings by now. So the question is: if you’re a person who carefully curates every detail of your life to Etsy-level twee perfection, how do you divorce with style? What kind of cupcakes? HOW MANY MASON JARS?

Here’s how I think a Paltrow-worthy Pinterest divorce board would look – the sad but real end to many a Pinterest wedding:


But that’s not all! Try these other GOOP-y pins to cutify your split:

  • A divorce party … with a photobooth!
  • Have your attorney wear Bluegrasss-y suspenders
  • Everyone at the child support hearings sits on hay bales
  • How to eat your feelings? Gluten-free cupcaaaaakes!
  • Out-of-context quotes from Dr. Seuss and Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Repurpose your used tissues into seasonal art or faux flowers
  • A baby wearing an absurdly large head-decoration
  • Burn his stuff in a bonfire – AND make gourmet s’mores over the embers!
  • Keep track of your attorney and realtor appointments in a ‘bulletin board’ made from an old barn window
  • When the divorce is finalized, have your friends greet you outside of the courthouse with sparklers!
  • After your S.O. cheats, construct some rustic signage outside of the house telling him exactly where he can go!
  • Not speaking? Communicate through adorable chalkboard slates!

Every Generation Gets The April O’Neil It Deserves

As the gloriously childless aunt of 6 little boys, I’ve learned a thing or two. First, if little boys did their own grocery shopping it would be an entire cart piled with fruit snacks and Goldfish crackers, and ketchup to dip them in because little boys don’t really care that you’re disgusted by that (also they wouldn’t be able to pay because those children are unemployed as helllll). Second, the more little boys you have in one house, the lower their ability to direct their pee into a toilet. If you have more than four little boys sharing a bathroom, you may as well install a drain in the center of the floor and buy a hose attachment for the shower to spray everything down at night. The entire room is essentially one of those pee troughs I hear they have in men’s rooms at old stadiums. And third, little boys love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was true in the early ’90s, and it’s true today. So while I normally would have left Ninja Turtles behind with Puppy Surprise and Noozles, I actually have a pretty decent working knowledge of those pizza-eating reptiles.

But guys, Ninja Turtles has changed since we all fell in love with those heroes in a half shell three decades ago. Well, not so much the Turtles themselves – they’re still some weird version of the 90s surfer archetype – but April O’Neil. April, a female human, is the Turtles’ keeper, sort of a combination of Wendy Darling and Lois Lane. While the Turtles are basically static, April O’Neil is an ever-changing, bouncy-haired sign of the times. Like hemlines or employment rates, I think that whatever’s going on with April O’Neil tells you what’s going on with America:

1984– Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Comic Book)

Profession:

Computer Programmer

Age: 27
Appearance:
What It All Means:

April O’Neil, whitewashed character? Well, maybe. It all hinges on one question: Is that a perm or a jheri curl? 80s style aside, early April is ethnically ambiguous. She was in computer programming when there barely was computer programming. She was a talented hacker back when the only thing there was to hack into was black screens with green writing and the top scores in the nearest arcade’s Pac Man game. Basically, April O’Neil was the future. She’s also a rebel and a nonconformist: remember, this is the go-go 80s, when the successful smart ladies looked more like this:

With her Members Only jacket and bigass scarf, April is obviously dressed for practicality, not fashion. Although those blinding earrings say “hey, I can be glam, too.” Or maybe they’re also weapons.

I know it looks like April’s packing heat but that’s just how jeans made people’s crotches look in 1984.


 

1987 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Animated Series)

Profession:

TV Reporter

Age: 28
Appearance:
What It All Means

Ah, the Reagan Era. Big hair, big shoulder pads, big business. TV reporter is a bit more in line with the flashy professions you’d expect a late-80s leading lady to have. You’ll notice that as TMNT goes more mainstream, April has become conspicuously busty and Caucasian. I tried to Google “why does April O’Neil wear a jumpsuit” (I forget if there was a reason) but to no avail.

April is a smart, feisty lady who obviously needs, from my vantage point, a minimum of eight pockets to store all of her stuff. Buy a purse, April. Buy a purse. Or a fanny pack. Weren’t those the thing during this time?

Also, considering her outfit is all one piece I’m pretty confused about what the belt does.


 

1990, 1991, 1993 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Live-Action Movies)

Profession: TV reporter
Age: ?
Appearance:
What It All Means

If the ladies of the 80s were all about glitz and glamour, the Bush I/ Clinton-era gals were into practicality, sensible footwear, jorts, and unisex button-ups. They were what normcore aspires to be. This was April O’Neil’s Elaine Benes moment: just a regular girl who pals around with the guys, except the guys are these giant turtles to whom she plays den mother. Think less “hot jumpsuit” and more “yellow raincoat from the Lands End catalog.” Although no longer a braniac computer programmer, this April is one heck of an investigative reporter and , like her comic book counterpart, she’s not afraid to admit she likes a good chunky knit sweater.

If you’re wondering where you know her from: Judith Hoag now plays Tandy Hampton on Nashville.


 

2003 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (AnimatedSeries)

Profession:

Scientist, I guess? And apparently also shop owner?

Age: 27
Appearance:

What It All Means

This is a throwback to April 1.0 – because in a post-9/11 world, all we wanted was a little stability? Maybe. I’ve made it this  far without seeing any episodes of this incarnation, but the hair makes me think there’s sort of an Agent Scully thing happening here. You can tell April’s a scientist because she’s wearing a white coat and, more importantly, she has those two loose tendrils of hair that ladies always sported in the early 2000s in order to show people that they were busy and sort of carefree but could totally let the bun down and have nice hair if they wanted to.

 


 

2007 – TMNT (Weird CGI looking movie thing)

Profession:

Archaeologist

Age: adult?
Appearance:

What It All Means

Is this a Bratz doll? This has got to be some sort of Bratz doll. Remember, this was during the heyday of the celebrity gossip cycle about Britney, Lindsay and Paris. Even children’s characters were sort of sassy and weird, with the giant eyes of something that gestated near a nuclear power plant, Michael Jackson noses and Hungry Caterpiller lips. This was also during the era when they started taking all of our beloved 80s and 90s shows and remaking them with cheap computer animation that made it look like it was supposed to be in 3d but wasn’t. You can also see the influence of Lara Croft: Angelina Jolie with the archaeologist job and the big braid.


 

2012 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Computer Animated Series)

Profession:

Student

Age: Like 17 or something
Appearance:

What It All Means

If the last one was a Bratz doll, is this one a Lego person? You know what this April says about America? That in 2012 we were in a recession and we made some cheap-ass cartoons. This looks like one of Clarissa Darling’s video games.


 

2014 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Michael Bay situation)

Profession:

“Lifestyle Reporter”

Age: 20-something

Appearance:

 

What It All Means

Honestly, though, what DOES it all mean? We started with a be-jheri curled ethnically ambiguous computer programmer, went to a sensible 90s tv reporter with Jerry Seinfeld’s wardrobe, then circled around to … Megan Fox. This is where we are and hope we’re all very happy with this outcome.

On one hand, you have that whole “Olivia Wilde is ‘too hot’ to play a journalist” nonsense, and I mean, why can’t an intelligent, professional woman  — who also hangs out in sewers eating pizza with turtles who are also mutants who are also teenagers — look like Megan Fox? But it’s not that I don’t think smart people look like Megan Fox, it’s that I don’t think human people do. But on the other hand, this is a character who, well, hangs out in sewers eating pizza with turtles who are also mutants who are also teenagers. In a Michael Bay movie. Our disbelief has long been suspended. Still, I miss the hard-hitting journalism (lifestyle reporter, April?), the science, the chunky sweaters, the pockets.

Guys, every generation gets the April O’Neil it deserves. And this is ours now, I guess.

Paltrow-Worthy Pinterest Divorces

Actress and lifestyle expert Gwyneth Paltrow is getting separated. Excuse me – consciously uncoupled, rather – which, in case you’re wondering, is the sound that the word “separated” makes when spoken from very far up your own ass.

Even though her soft piles of money probably ease the experience a little, the fact is that splitting up is never easy —  and is even more unfortunate for a family with kids. But I got to thinking about Paltrow’s brand, too. GOOP is a lifestyle website/store/thing that teaches you how to live like a rich macrobiotic WASP-y lady. That is: beautifully.

Folks who don’t make GOOP-level bank look to Pinterest to beautify their lives with a little less Nordstroms and a little more D.I.Y. Sadly, some of those first folksy burlap-and-lace Pinterest weddings have probably resulted in some less-beautiful divorces conscious uncouplings by now. So the question is: if you’re a person who carefully curates every detail of your life to Etsy-level twee perfection, how do you divorce with style? What kind of cupcakes? HOW MANY MASON JARS?

Here’s how I think a Paltrow-worthy Pinterest divorce board would look – the sad but real end to many a Pinterest wedding:


But that’s not all! Try these other GOOP-y pins to cutify your split:

  • A divorce party … with a photobooth!
  • Have your attorney wear Bluegrasss-y suspenders
  • Everyone at the child support hearings sits on hay bales
  • How to eat your feelings? Gluten-free cupcaaaaakes!
  • Out-of-context quotes from Dr. Seuss and Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Repurpose your used tissues into seasonal art or faux flowers
  • A baby wearing an absurdly large head-decoration
  • Burn his stuff in a bonfire – AND make gourmet s’mores over the embers!
  • Keep track of your attorney and realtor appointments in a ‘bulletin board’ made from an old barn window
  • When the divorce is finalized, have your friends greet you outside of the courthouse with sparklers!
  • After your S.O. cheats, construct some rustic signage outside of the house telling him exactly where he can go!
  • Not speaking? Communicate through adorable chalkboard slates!