If you’re anything like most parents-to-be, you selected the items on your baby registry based on what your friends who already had kids swore they could not live without. But as one quickly learns once the baby arrives, what one parent loves, another one loathes. I found, personally, that I hated many of the products that consistently received four and five-star rave reviews. I was curious to find out if other parents felt the same way, so I asked the parents on our staff, as well as all of my mom friends, to share their honest reviews of popular products.
The answers were informative—and hilarious.
Munchkin Click Lock Weighted Straw Cup
If you’ve got kids, you’ve also probably got a house full of colorful Munchkin products. The Munchkin Click Lock straw cup makes it possible for your toddler to drink from any angle, thanks to the weighted straw, and it consistently gets rated “best in class”. According to Munchkin, these cups have a no leak guarantee, but TJ Donegan, executive editor, core content—and dad of two—strongly disagrees: “The lid sucks, the handles suck, it constantly is misaligned so it becomes impossible to close and then even more impossible to open, it’s all slick plastic so if your hands are wet forget about even trying to use it, and then it freaking leaks everywhere.”
Avoid leaky sippy cups full of milk (gross) and opt for our top-rated straw cup instead, the OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup.
Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack
This nature-inspired drying rack makes an appearance on almost every baby registry, but despite it’s popularity—and 4.5 star rating—staff writer Rachel Murphy gives it two thumbs down. The Boon Grass drying rack may look cute on the counter, but Rachel says, “it takes up too much space, it was a pain to clean and I ended up scrubbing it every day because a slimy film would build up under the grass-looking part.”
Save yourself from mildewy faux-grass, and go with the OXO Tot Space Saving Drying Rack that Rachel now swears by: It takes up less counter space, has different sections to hold a variety of different bottles and parts, and doesn’t require frequent cleaning.
Munchkin Step Diaper Pail
A diaper pail is at the top of every new parent’s must-have list of baby gear, but no matter which model you select, not a single one of them is ever going to truly be odor free. The Munchkin Step Diaper Pail has a 4-star rating, and it claims to seal in odors as the lid closes, but Mike Roorda, senior video producer, strongly disagrees. He says, “Any diaper pail that claims to cut down on stink is a lie. There’s baby poop in there. It’s gonna stink. It might stink for less time than if you have it sitting in the open but you’re not going to avoid it altogether unless you’re emptying it after every dirty diaper, and honestly no one has time for that nonsense.”
Register for a diaper pail if you must, or save yourself the hassle of buying bags and whatever other accoutrements are required, and just take the dirty diapers directly outside to your trash cans. You will not regret this decision when your house smells like baby powder instead of baby poop.
The delightfully marketed NoseFrida Snotsucker has loads of fans—and 4.5-star reviews—but Kate, a mom of four, can’t stand it. “I’ve never had a young child take kindly to anything being shoved up their nose. It’s pretty much a traumatic scream fest,” she reports. Kate suggests using a good, old fashioned bulb syringe, which the hospital sends home with you anyway. She says it’s faster and easier to use, and doesn’t have the “ick factor” that goes hand-in-hand with the NoseFrida
Editors note: there’s a piece of foam that keeps you from actually inhaling your child’s snot, but it’s still gross.
Dr. Brown’s Bottles
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Dr. Brown’s bottles are so popular. Upon a recommendation from a friend, I registered for one of the starter packs when I was pregnant with my son. After just a few uses, I ended up sending back a box of used bottles because they never worked and were so impossible to clean that they actually made me cry (I was sleep deprived and hormonal, but still).
Well, it appears that I am not alone in my hatred for Dr. Brown’s. As one friend so eloquently put it, “Dr. Browns bottles leak constantly and have seventeen parts and if you throw them in your bag with its cap on it is guaranteed to soak everything inside. Shouldn’t someone sucking be the only way of getting milk out of there?” Don’t run the risk of ending up with a designer bag full of formula: Skip Dr. Brown’s and go with Philips Avent instead.
“Shouldn’t someone sucking be the only way of getting milk out of there?”
Did you have visions of yourself being the picture of attachment parenting maternal bliss while carrying your infant around in the Moby Wrap? I did, too! The Moby is essentially one giant piece of stretchy fabric that a parent can fashion into an infant carrier. The videos and instruction manual make it look so simple, but it took me over an hour to figure out how to tie the thing, and by the end of it I was a sweaty mess and my newborn was screaming bloody murder.
The Moby doesn’t get a lot of rave reviews from my mom friends, either. Kathleen, a mom of twins, says: “The last thing I wanted with my newborns (especially two of them at once) was to be trying to wrap several body lengths of folded fabric around my body, keeping it straight and trying to keep track of the open edges for sliding a precious little baby into.” Skip the guessing game of the Moby wrap, and opt for the much-easier-to-use LÍLLÉbaby carrier instead.
The cute and colorful Bumbo seat helps your baby sit up in a comfortable position, and keeps your little one contained—and entertained—when you need to do other things. People rave about the Bumbo—it has lots of 5-star reviews—but two friends said it did not work for their chubby-legged babies. One reports that the leg holes were so small that she couldn’t even wedge her kids into the Bumbo, and the other says “I would lift my kids up and the seat would come with them!”
The Bumbo isn’t something that gets used for an extended amount of time, so it’s definitely not worth shelling out for, considering the steep price. If you’re dead set on trying it out—and your kid has skinny legs—borrow it from a friend and invest in our favorite high-quality high chair instead.
Fisher Price Snugabunny Swing
The Snugabunny Swing gets plenty of rave reviews and is a popular baby shower gift, but a number of parents I talked to found it completely useless. The swing itself takes up a lot of real estate—not ideal if you’re a city dweller in a small apartment—and I constantly stubbed my toes on ours because the legs stuck out so far.
My friend, Devon, doesn’t get the appeal either. She says, “you can’t put a baby in a swing when they’re teeny tiny, and by the time you can, they’re too big for it! That got donated right away.” Skip the swing, and go for a Babybjorn Bouncer instead, which is actually useful when they’re infants.
“It felt like bait for people who wanted to spend too much to have their child lightly jiggled by an iPod dock that resembled a Mork from Ork set piece.”
Lest you think that the Mamaroo is a more practical option than the Snugabunny swing, my friend Stephanie and I urge you to not fall for the hype. The Mamaroo is a futuristic egg-shaped rocker that lots of parents swear is the answer to their child’s ceaseless crying, but it had the opposite effect on my kids and just made them cry harder. As Stephanie says, “I legit hated my 4moms Mamaroo soother/swing. Whatever it was, it was an egg-shaped, all-the-rage baby swing alternative. But it felt like bait for people who wanted to spend too much to have their child lightly jiggled by an iPod dock that resembled a Mork from Ork set piece.”
Invented by Dr. Harvey Karp of The Happiest Baby on the Block fame, the Snoo is supposed to be the secret ingredient for getting your newborn to sleep. The fancy bassinet is a major investment, but my friend, Angie, has passionate feelings about how useless this newfangled bassinet really is: “Getting an already asleep baby hooked into the Snoo was like playing the game Operation. It’s bananas that a $1300 crib uses some cheap elastic and a literal hook to secure your baby in there. Sure, you’re supposed to have a magical baby you put down awake who falls asleep on their own. But I didn’t have that, so the Snoo was so frustrating. In the end it ended up being a very expensive place to throw my clean laundry before I folded it.”
Don’t fall for the hype! Babies don’t sleep, and no amount of money will change that fact. If you really want a bassinet for your newborn, opt for the more affordable Halo instead.
“It ended up being a very expensive place to throw my clean laundry before I folded it.”
Chicco KeyFit 30
My own personal vitriol is directed solely at the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant carseat. I haven’t had an infant in four-and-a-half years, but just thinking about it makes me want to punch something. The Chicco is consistently showered with five-star reviews, but do not believe what you read (except when it’s written by me, of course). Both of my babies hated the Chicco so much that they screamed at the top of their lungs for the entire length of every car ride—my daughter would actually make herself hoarse, she screamed so hard. Taking my kids out in the car became such a miserable experience that I stopped going anywhere that wasn’t within walking distance and I essentially became a shut in.
As if the fact that my kids hated this seat wasn’t enough, it’s also incredibly heavy, far too bulky, and a total pain to buckle. The Chicco has a weight of 17 pounds without a baby in it! You’re not even supposed to lift anything for a while after giving birth (especially if you’ve had a c-section), yet somehow a new mom is expected to lift and carry this plastic behemoth that weighs more than a ton of bricks? HARD PASS. Please, do yourself a favor and get the Nuna Pipa instead: It only weights eight pounds and it’s so much easier to use.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — Can J.J. Abrams stick the landing?
This December, after a staggering 42 years, the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies comes to a close. With J.J. Abrams once again at the helm, the ironically titledmarks the end of the nine-movie Skywalker saga.
Here’s the big question: Can Abrams stick the landing? After his generally well-received first Star Wars effort,, and the decidedly controversial Rian Johnson follow-up, , Abrams has the chance to send the trilogy — and the entire series — out on a high note. Maybe the highest note.
Can he do it? Will he tell a story that’s at once thrilling and satisfying? Give us answers to burning questions? Drop a few surprises along the way?
Let’s discuss. Don’t worry, no spoilers. But to fully understand my predictions and perspective, you need to know me a little better. Here, then, is my Star Wars origin story.
It’s 1977. I’m 9 years old and dragging behind my parents, who have told me nothing about the movie we’re about to see. Star … Wars? Sounds wholly uninteresting. Granted, movies hadn’t yet played a formative role in my life. I remember laughing at Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Silver Streak and Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. In fact, the latter opened the same weekend as Star Wars, and I’m sure I saw it first.
But on that fateful day, I’d experienced precious little science fiction, save perhaps for a few Star Trek reruns. I liked the spaceships, sure, but beyond that it held little appeal. Hence it was a very glum little Ricky who plopped down in his seat. No runaway trains? No Trans-Ams? No, thanks.
I don’t remember how long it took for my brain to catch fire. Was it when the Laurel and Hardy robots strolled through a flurry of blaster fire, causing the theater to erupt with laughter? Or when the monstrous figure in a black cape hoisted a man by the neck, causing a collective gasp? My overall memories of that first viewing are a blur, but I know this for certain: Two hours later, I emerged transformed. Overnight my world became Star Wars and every ancillary aspect of it: computers, robots, technology, outer space, spaceships, movie tie-in books, magazines, action figures, soundtracks.
I distinctly remember going batshit crazy when a TV commercial announced. (Little did I know what I was in for.) I distinctly remember arguing with friends who insisted the movie was fantasy, not science fiction. (Technically, they were right — because The Force — but they were also snobby dorks. When I think of sci-fi, I think of Star Wars.)
Flash-forward to 1999. I’m 31 and, like everyone else on the planet, holding a ticket to see The Phantom Menace, the first of three Star Wars prequels. Three! If the original movies looked incredible with 70s and 80s technology, imagine how they’d look on the cusp of the 21st century.
Two hours later, I emerged… well, like everyone else on the planet, confused and disappointed. What… the hell… was that? Trade disputes? Midichlorians? Jake Lloyd?
Eh, OK, even George Lucas can whiff once in a while. He’ll pull it together for Attack of the Clones. And Revenge of the Sith.
Nope. And nope. I’m not saying the prequels are bad, just that I have no desire to watch them ever again. They’re dull and soulless and dumb and I hate them I hate them I hate them.
Flash-forward to 2015. Star Wars continues! Blessedly, with George Lucas’ misguided pen nowhere in sight. Instead, The Force would reawaken under the careful eye of J.J. Abrams, the man behind Alias, Lost, an excellent Mission: Impossible outing and a damn fine Star Trek reboot. This is gonna be good.
But it wasn’t good. Although The Force Awakens had more nuance in its pinky toe than all three prequels combined, it gave us flat characters and a nonsensical (to say nothing of rehashed) plot. It asked us to love Rey and Finn not because we felt for them or identified with them, but simply because they were the stars of a Star Wars movie. Nothing about the story felt organic; instead, we were force-fed (sorry) our heroes, villains and plot points. The Millennium Falcon is just sitting around with the keys in the ignition? Finn and Poe Dameron are BFFs after spending, what, five minutes together? And, come on, another Death Star?
I won’t say much about The Last Jedi, because that was a Rian Johnson joint and we’re here to talk about Abrams’ latest. I’ll give it praise for at least trying to mix up the formula, even if it failed miserably at times. Its worst offense: turning our innocent Tatooine farmboy-cum-Jedi, our beloved hero, into a dick. If you’re going to dig up Luke Skywalker, don’t make him grumpy and unlikable. And if you’re going to kill him at the end, figure out a way to do it that doesn’t leave everyone scratching their heads. “Huh? He died from… Force-projection exhaustion?”
So here we are, one movie left, with Abrams quarterbacking again. Sure, I’m hoping it’ll be great, or at least good, but my inner child — who’s been sulking in the closet ever since 1999 — is dubious. The truth is I have low hopes for The Rise of Skywalker, in part because Abrams has a mixed track record when it comes to closure (see: Alias, Lost, etc.).
But the larger problem might be the script: Abrams co-wrote it with Chris Terrio, who pennedand — a pair of incredibly bad films. Some (maybe most) of the blame there goes to director Zack Snyder, but I fear The Rise of Skywalker has rot in its bones. There’s no solid foundation on which to build, no way to conclude a story which, let’s face it, concluded at the end of Return of the Jedi. Where I’m aching for something original, or at least logical, I expect we’re in for more nonsensical moments (a decades-dormant R2-D2 suddenly wakes up because … the movie’s about to end and it’s time to find Luke?) and intelligence-insulting action sequences (the First Order’s fleet can’t catch the Resistance ships until they run out of fuel?!).
Ah, but what about the trailers? They look cool, right? I’ll have to take your word for it, because I don’t watch trailers. Trailers ruin movies. I don’t want any jokes spoiled, visuals revealed, surprises telegraphed. I want to go into the movie cold, with close to zero idea what’s coming. The more you’ve seen in advance, the less you’re going to enjoy the film. Period.
Full disclosure: I briefly broke my rule, only because I’m feeling pretty “over it” about the whole franchise. I watched the first teaser, the one with Rey staring down, then running from, a land-skimming TIE Fighter, which just seemed ridiculous out of context.
Then I heard that familiar, menacing cackle at the end, and that’s when I knew I was in for another disappointing Star Wars outing. So Emperor Palpatine is alive, apparently? How original. The Force Awakens gave us Death Star 3.0; looks like The Rise of Skywalker is going for Big Bad 1.0. Yawn.
There’s another shadow looming over The Rise of Skywalker, one that’s sad and inescapable: However the movie handles the death of Princess Leia, it’ll feel artificial and contrived as it forces us to remember dearly departed Carrie Fisher. It’ll take us out of the story for that collective in-memoriam recognition.
Think of Star Wars’ best moments. Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm. Han appearing at the last second (“Yee-haw!”) to give Luke the all-clear. Yoda raising the X-Wing from the swamp. Darth Vader spilling the beans; Luke’s gut-wrenching reaction. The shock of Lando’s betrayal. Vader saving his son from the Emperor (before George Lucas ruined it with that insipid “Noooooo!”).
No modern Star Wars movie has given us a single goose-flesh moment to rival any of these, and that’s all the evidence I need that the Skywalker saga will go out in a blaze of Force-push, with very little pull. Prove me wrong, Abrams.
Originally published Oct. 12.
HuffPost is reportedly on the auction block – TechCrunch
Late last night the Financial Times reported that HuffPost, arguably one of the crown jewels of Verizon Media Group’s remaining network of media properties (which includes TechCrunch), is up for sale.
Verizon has been shedding media properties in a retreat from the strategy that it had begun to execute with the acquisition of AOL for $4.4 billion back in 2015. Through the AOL deal, then-chief executive Tim Armstrong became the architect of the telecommunications company’s media and advertising strategy.
Armstrong’s vision was to roll up as much online real estate as he could while creating a high technology advertising architecture on the back-end that could better target consumers based on their media consumption (which the telecom company would also own).
The idea was to provide a broad-based competitor to the reach of ad platforms on Google and Facebook which were also targeting users based on their browsing history and interests. The benefit that Google and Facebook had was that they had a more holistic view of what consumers did online and they positioned themselves as a distribution channel between media companies and users — essentially redistributing their articles and videos and hoovering up the ad dollars that had previously gone to those media companies.
The multi-billion dollar land grab continued when Verizon paid $4.5 billion for Yahoo in 2017.
Now it appears that Verizon has a multi-billion dollar case of buyer’s remorse. Part of the billions that Verizon spent on Yahoo was for the early social network Tumblr, which Yahoo had acquired for $1.1 billion back in 2013.
Earlier this year Verizon unloaded Tumblr for the cost of a luxury Manhattan apartment. That $3 million sale was presaged by the significant fall from grace of other former high-flying media and tech properties.
Vice was once worth $5.7 billion at the height of the media investment bubble, but earlier this year Disney wrote down its stake in the company to virtually nothing.
At least Vice is emerging as a survivor. the company has rolled up Refinery29. Vox Media is also doing well in the new world of media. It bought Recode back in 2015 and recently acquired the publisher behind New York Magazine to expand its purview into paper publications and get its hands on the popular New York websites Intelligencer, The Cut, Vulture, and Grub Street.
Other publications like Hello Giggles, which was founded by the actress Zooey Deschanel, were sold to Time Magazine. High-fliers like Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Vice and Vox have all had to lay off staff in recent months.
It’s been a wild ride for HuffPost, which began in 2005 as a collection of celebrity bloggers brought together under the auspices of Arianna Huffington, from whom the site took its name.
AOL acquired The Huffington Post back in 2011 in a deal that was valued at $315 million less than a year after picking up TechCrunch for $25 million.
Verizon announced layoffs across its media properties at the beginning of the year. It cut roughly 7 percent of its staff — or around 800 jobs — including some at HuffPost.
In a statement to the Financial Times, Verizon said that it would not comment on rumors and speculation.
Neither Verizon Media nor HuffPost responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.
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