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WHAT I'VE REALLY BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY

You may have noticed that not many "squirm factor" ratings have been appearing lately.  That's because Abe and I don't listen to records together much anymore.  It's not that we don't listen to music -- we just don't listen to records.  You see, through the offices of well-intentioned relatives, Abe has acquired a number of musical toys, of which he is quite fond.  So, whenever I put on a record, Abe fires up one of his toys.  He doesn't mind the cacaphony (in fact, he often sets two or three of his toys off at once) but it drives me crazy.  So he wins, and we listen to his tunes.  Here's what's been occupying my eardrums lately.


Playskool Twirlin' Tunes CD Player
Not an actual CD player.  It has a shiny disk that spins when Abe presses the button, and the toy plays a variety of folk songs like "La Cucaracha", "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" and "My Bonnie."  The tunes have counterpoint, but the melody is clear, and performed in a mostly pleasant synthesized tone.






VTech Sort 'n Go Car
This toy combines a shape sorter (five shapes), car with working wheels and a string to pull it, and music.  The tunes are supposed to play when the child puts the shape through the hole, but Abe has figured out how to press the buttons and make it play without fitting the shapes through.  Plays "London Bridge, "ABC's/Twinke Twinkle Little Star/Baa Baa Black Sheep" (all the same tune), and others, in a maniacal trumpet tone with syncopation so exagerrated that it's practically jazz.  Also honks and makes engine noises.




Fisher-Price Sparkling Symphony Stacker
Plays a "magical" glissando every time Abe puts on a ring, and plays one of several classical melodies (Bach, Mozart, etc.) when he caps the stack.  Of course, he's found the button and plays the music all the time.  Sometimes he also stacks the rings.






Carter's musical pull bear
The legs can be pulled to full extension and the bear plays a music-box like "Twinkle Black Sheep ABC" as the gears retract.  Abe only uses this one in his crib, and not much anymore.






Singing Stuffed Pumpkin
No picture available.  This was a Halloween gift last year from Abe's uncle, and when its hand is squeezed, the whole body vibrates as it sings "When You're Smiling" ("the whole world smiles with you") with special Halloween-themed lyrics.  When Abe was about six months old this was his favorite toy -- he even cuddled with it.  No longer so popular.

Baby's 'n Things Lights 'n Tunes Musical Turtle
This toy gave Abe fits for a long time because he wasn't strong enough to press the button to start the music, but now he's mastered it.  When the tune is playing, lights flash on the turtle's back.  It plays "Home on the Range", "Clementine" and others with counterpoint so loud that it sometimes masks the melody, and with a tremelo effect applied to everything so that the experience is vaguely psychedelic.




Leapfrog Learning Drum
This plays a specially written jingle with prerecorded vocals ("play the drum, everyone, play the drum") and invites the baby to hit the drum.  When he does, the notes of the melody reappear in sequence.  Can be switched to percussion mode, or to read off letters or numbers as Abe hits it.  Very useful when he's in the mood to bang on things and we want to preserve our end tables intact.





Singing Stuffed Duck
Not the duck pictured here.  It wears a macintosh and sings "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More" ("how in the heck can I wash my neck?") to banjo accompaniment as the head sways back and forth.  No longer a favorite with Abe, but it was for a while, and it drove me crazy -- the song was a looped sample, and it always ended on a transitional chord back to the first note of the melody instead of resolving properly.  Aaargh!





Rope
Abe's new favorite toy is a six-foot length of rope. It doesn't make any music, but we do get to play Tug of War, so I can sing the McCartney tune ("push it, pull it" - since when do you push in Tug of War?) as we tussle.

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