A Spider, A Bag of Oranges, Two Strange Kids; Fighting Nature With Nature and The Birth of A Champion for Mother Earth: A Super Hero Origin Story

My son hurt nature. My daughter said so.

We had an unseasonably warm afternoon a few days ago and let the kids out to burn off some “winter wiggles” while they had the chance. My wife and I watched from the window as we cleaned the kitchen and prepared lunch. After a while, the kids moved past the portion of yard we could see from the window (our yard is fairly large and fully fenced. Also, our Mastiff stays close to them and could easily pin a grown man. As long as we can hear them, we don’t worry too much about their safety, but we do poke our heads out the back door every few minutes if we aren’t out with them for some reason. Rest assured, they are not neglected or ignored.) and we suddenly heard the seven year old girl scream “YOU’RE HURTING NAAAAAAAATUUUUUUUUURRRE!”

As she was screaming she was running toward the house. We met her at the back door and, red-faced and out of breath she reiterated “Brother hurt nature!”

After we finished giggling and trying not to look like we were laughing at a little girl, we got the full story. My son, who is five, had somehow come into possession of a bag of oranges. I didn’t know we owned a bag of oranges. My son is basically a hairless squirrel so it is likely the oranges had been under his bed or in his closet long enough that I’d forgotten we’d even bought any.

He used said bag of oranges to beat a small spider to death. It is highly likely the spider came out of the bag of oranges. Still, if you ask me he was simply fighting nature with nature. However you define it, his dispatching of the potential threat with a potential food source severely traumatized his sister. She is a tree hugger. I used to think she was only literally a tree hugger. She wanders around the yard by herself, dancing, singing, talking to invisible entities and hugging trees. She actually wraps her arms around them and squeezes them. I now know that she is also figuratively a hugger of trees. She’ll grow up to delight in cleaning the ocean, sweeping rocks and searching knot holes in trees for fairies. She’s basically a fairy herself. Freckles across the nose and she’s lucky if she weighs 15 pounds.

Look out nature hurters. There’s a new super hero in town.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…encourage your children whatever their interests. Unless they take their bag of oranges after innocent creatures that couldn’t hurt anybody anyway.

A don’t…Step on their sensibilities. They are who they are. Guide them, teach them, let their true selves develop.


Jerks in Film; A Post-Script

I forgot to make a couple of points in my previous post. First, I’m confused about the name of the mountain the Hobbit and his companions are seeking. It may not be the Misty Mountain. Maybe it’s the Lonely Mountain. I apologize to any aficionados and/or die-hard Tolkieners that may have read that post. No offense intended.

Now, back to those jerk birds that Gandalf press-ganged into service. How mad were they to not at least take the party over that ridiculous forest they end up having to walk through. Sure, they wouldn’t be taken prisoner by Elves, but they also wouldn’t have to deal with the giant spiders and hallucinogenic air and disappearing pathways. And the funny thing; Gandalf knew about it. He told them before they went in that if they left the path they’d never find it again. None of this was any surprise to Gandalf. He knew full well that they were likely blundering straight into their own deaths. And if he can trick birds into saving people from Orcs and falling trees, surely he can also trick them into flying on a few miles further. It isn’t as if the birds couldn’t have handled it. Not only could they withstand the force of a full sized man (Gandalf) falling onto their backs without even being knocked from the air, the ratio of Gandalf to duped bird looked to be less than the ratio of average sized man to average sized horse. The birds could’ve at least taken them past the forest, if not all the way to the mountain.

I’m rescinding my previous assertion that the birds were the jerks. The birds must’ve known Gandalf. This is why they stopped where they did. They assumed that anyone traveling with Gandalf was as good as dead anyway and did not continue further as soon as the spell was lifted. The jerk in these films is Gandalf the Gray, Enslaver of Birds, Needless Endangerer of Hobbits and Dwarves. He even ditches the party right after telling them they’ll die in the forest!

For shame, dear wizard, for shame.

And while I enjoy his cryptic banter and befuddle-speak (“What do you mean? Do you mean to say it is a good morning or that I should be good this morning?”…and so on and so forth on many occasions) I cannot reconcile with the fact that he is a jerk. A friendly, sometimes funny, jerk. But he’d lead you to the depths of Hell and then ditch when you ding-dong the doorbell. “Oh dear, it seems a mild misfortune has befallen a wise old bunny rabbit! His carrots have top-rot, you see. I’m afraid you must kill the very Devil yourselves. Don’t worry, we’ll meet again the next time I cook up some hare-brained scheme.”

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy movies for what they are. Entertaining bits of fiction. If you read into them too much you’ll end up bitter like me.

A don’t…follow Gandalf anywhere. Not even down to the 7 Eleven for a pouch of the halflings’ leaf. Not only will the leaf allegedly slow your mind, Gandalf will introduce you to a crack dealer and then run when the dealer reminds Gandalf he still owes 3 farthings.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Rudeness -or- Jerks in Film; Is This What the Director Intended?

My wife and I were recently on a Star Wars jag. We watched all the movies in the order of story line chronology. This has nothing to do with this post other than as a weak segue into our more recent Tolkien jag. We’ve only made through one and a half of the Hobbit movies, but a scene near the end of the first brought to mind something I’d thought about before and since forgotten. There may be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the movies yet you might at least watch the first one before reading on.

The scene I reference comes as the party of dwarves (plus one Hobbit and one Wizard) finds itself hanging from a tree whose roots are tearing from the ground, about to dump them all off a cliff. Gandalf summons some giant birds that swoop in at the last minute to save everyone. As we are treated to scenes of birds gently picking people up with their talons and catching those plunging to bloody demise upon their backs, we may expectedly think that, perhaps, these birds are friendly to those they’ve just rescued.

I find that the truth couldn’t be further from what I asserted in the previous sentence. These birds were obviously mind-controlled by Gandalf. He selfishly yanked them away from whatever they were doing and forced them into a danger-fraught servitude. And the birds were none too grateful about it. You may think I’m reading too much into this, but after the birds drop their loads and retreat, the camera pulls back and we see the fabled Misty Mountain on the horizon. It is still a distance away, but nothing a giant bird couldn’t easily handle, even encumbered. To quote Dr. Seuss, “And that is not all, oh no, that is not all.”.  As the camera continues to pull back from the party, their hope refreshed upon glimpsing their destination and blinding them to the fact that the birds might as well have left them to die on that precarious tree, we see that the birds have not only dumped them many miles from their destination, but on the top of a very high bare knob of rock with fairly sheer sides. If scaling down the sides of that and then realizing they still have days and days of travel ahead isn’t enough to squash their hope again, nothing is. How mad were these birds at having been duped? And why wouldn’t Gandalf use his bird-duping ability to make the birds take them the rest of the way? Granted, no story, no movie, but still. Why the birds? Why the cliff?  I suppose they are simply happy to be alive at this point, but Gandalf should be mindful of the creatures he misuses and the rest of the party should be mindful of Gandalf from here on out.

In a similar reminisce, I’m reminded of the scene in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” right after Jack disappears and the mayor is knocking on his door, screaming his name, getting frustrated and finally falling down the stairs while those homeless guys sit in the street watching. They watch until the mayor rolls into the gate before telling him that Jack isn’t home and hasn’t been all night. And those guys weren’t even mind-controlled by a wizard into doing something dangerous and against their will. I suppose their actions were due to their status as “low-class” and they were passive-aggressively lashing out at the higher class.

Or, they could just be movies and it all means nothing. Who knows.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…Look out for the jerks in movies. They’re usually rather entertaining and if the movie begins to drag you can root for the jerks and take pleasure in the misery of the main character for a while.

A don’t…be a jerk yourself. If a wizard takes over your mind and pulls you away from building your house or feeding your kids to save his hide, do it with a smile. Be the bigger bird.

Robots, Clues, Caramel Mustard and Various Mind Numbing Endeavors -or- Love Your Kids at the Risk of Losing Your Mind; Board Games vs. Bored Games

Do you enjoy board games? Do you have children? If you answered no to either, you may not understand this post. By continuing to read, you risk wasting precious irreplaceable minutes boring yourself with nonsense. It’s up to you.

It is our Christmas tradition for “Santa” to bring our family a board game. We all open it together then play it together until the wife and I hate “Santa” for having brought it. It is getting much easier now that the kids have moved past the “junior” versions of most games. Have you ever played the little kid version of Candy Land? Maybe it’s the actual version, I can’t remember that far back into my childhood with much detail. Either way, it numbs the adult mind. You draw a card, move the number of spaces indicated, and on and on and over and over and it never ends until you can convince them there are better things to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I love playing games with the kids and I treasure the time we spend doing it, but I need to involve my brain at least a smidge. This year our family game was Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Admittedly, it doesn’t require much in the way of conscious thought, but at least there’s frenzied action. It is more satisfying than Monopoly Junior Frozen Edition, in which you can’t even place houses or hotels, by a far cry. Robot fights have become our new household decider. No more arguing about who has to take the first bath. This used to be an endless conundrum because somehow every child in this house took the first bath last time. I don’t know if their memories are really that defective or if they’re just vehemently opposed to taking the first bath. Logical reasoning doesn’t work on them. They don’t seem to understand that they’ll have to take a bath either way and getting it over with makes at least a little sense. Thankfully it isn’t a worry anymore. Neither is “There’s only one fruit snack left and I don’t want a granola bar.” or “I had that seat.” or any of the countless other arguments that they somehow come up with.

What I really want to talk about, though, is the fact that I got Clue from my wife as one of my regular Christmas presents. The kids love it, even though the younger two, aged 7 and 5, aren’t quite mentally ready to enjoy all the intricacies of game play. My daughter, the 7 year old, whispers in a voice that can barely be classified as a whisper, the legends writ upon her cards as she marks them off on her little deduction sheet. My son, the 5 year old, takes the cake with his gameplay.  First, he always grabs the Colonel Mustard token, (my favorite, by the way. He forces me to begrudgingly adopt the persona of Professor Plum. I know there are other options but the way I see it, if I can’t be a Colonel, a professor is better than a mere mister) and moves it erratically around the board between turns, visiting every room that holds a murder weapon, confiscating it and then stockpiling them all in a random room of his choosing. When it comes his turn, he rolls the dice, counts the pips, then plunks his token down in whichever room he wishes and declares, “It was Caramel Mustard in the room an’ ‘e used the shotgun!”

I’ve told him over and over that the “shotgun” is a revolver. We’ve had many a heated debate over that simple fact. I inform him that a revolver is a type of gun and it just happens to be the type of gun that plays a part in the classic case of who-dun-it in which we now so frequently engage. He alleges that since it has a trigger, it is a gun. Guns have triggers, no, no, there’s a trigger so it’s a gun, it’s a shotgun. I guess we’re making progress because he used to refer to all manner of firearms as “shooty-guns”. I’ll take what I can get.

If you think I’ll ever try to correct him on the “Caramel Mustard” thing, you’re quite mistaken.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy quality time with your children. Even if it numbs your mind, the silver lining here is that you’re building memories and engaging in important family bonding time. All this for the low, low price of your ever receding flow of sanity.

A don’t…be a huge stickler for the rules. You never know what inventive methods of rule breaking a child may employ.

An Offensive Gift, A False Scripture and a Moose; A Christmas at Work Worth Forgetting

Merry Christmas.

With holiday sentiments safely out of the way, let me tell you about a Christmas present I got at work. Rather, let me be vague about it and assure you that it was offensive. It was good naturedly offensive and I took no real offense at it. But I wanted to convey that I had been off put. Since I’m not saying much about the gift itself, I’ll go on at length about my response to the gift.

My response involved the fabrication of scripture. I understand that some may find this blasphemous (although I mean no disrespect to true scripture), and some may be offended merely by the mention of scriptures, religion or Jesus. If you are offended by such things, consider yourself forewarned that you may disregard this post as you see fit and hold me blameless.

Having performed my due diligence, and assuming you are still reading, I present below the full text of my response to the offensive gift:

Dear Sekrit Santuh (this is how the attached card was signed),

Thank you so much for the gift! I found it to be rather offensive. As I assume this was your intent, I applaud you on a job well done.

It wasn’t offensive in the way you might imagine, however. You see, I do not believe in Santuh. Neither do I celebrate the holiday he is associated with. I celebrate the holiday that inspired Christmas, which was originally called the Festival of Christ’s Moose.

This special day was set aside to commemorate the year that Jesus, upon his birthday, took leave of the Holy Lands and rode a moose to Anchorage. As he rode, a multitude of Inuits and Eskimos began following him saying, “Savior, teach us and lead us to salvation.” And Jesus, having pity on them, dismounted his moose and began to preach to them saying, “Blessed are the cold in heart, for they shall find warmth.”  And as he was preaching, the multitude began to grumble against him saying, “We hunger.”

And as they were grumbling, a thunderous noise was heard in the East and from behind a sparse copse of evergreen trees emerged a large, white man-like creature that walkethed upon two legs. And as the multitude hungered and cowered, the creature roared and it did beat upon its chest and did fall upon them with violent intent. And as the creature came forth to devour them, the multitude cried out to Jesus saying, “Savior, save us!”

And Jesus, having pity on them, stopped preaching and he said to his moose, “Go!” And his moose went and it plunged its antlers into the creature and killed it. And Jesus, remembering their grumbling, blessed the creature and tore it asunder and filled many baskets with the pieces and fed the multitude. And they who were once cold were filled with a warmth and it was not a physical warmth, yea, it was a warmth of the heart.

This is why most Christmas celebrations include Christmas Dinner, however, it should rightly be called Christ’s Moose’s Dinner and the main course should include Yeti steaks. Since these are very hard to come by, modern day celebrants have seen fit to do away with the truths behind the holiday and celebrate Jesus’ birth by eating turkey, a known non-cryptid.

Thanks again and may you all have a hairy Christ’s Moose.

Signature omitted

And thusly were those who offensively gifted me regaled. Much to my wife’s dismay, I also attempted to regale the children with a similar tale. They disregarded it out of hand. Smart kids.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…know that I understand the severity of creating one’s own scripture. It was a joke meant to shame my co-workers. I’ll not attempt to build a church around it or encourage others to adhere to my false tenets.

A don’t…read any truth into what I’ve concocted. The most that you can take away from it is that moose exist and it is cold in Anchorage. I’ve seen no real evidence to suggest Jesus ever even saw a moose in his Earthly incarnation.

What Happens to Mrs. Claus?

I find Christmas tolerable. I enjoy the aspects of family togetherness and excited children. We try to teach the kids that they need to be thankful even if what they get isn’t exactly what they wanted and that getting presents isn’t the most important thing. Isn’t it strange, though, that we teach this lesson by having them give? Selflessness is certainly important, but if someone is giving, someone else must be receiving, thereby somewhat negating the message. Of course, in most cases the receiver is in a state of less fortunate-ness, but I don’t know if my kids think about it deeply enough to realize that, although we try to instill helping those in need as well. Hopefully they won’t even look at it deeply enough to realize that when they give, someone is doing something we are trying to teach them isn’t so important, which is the getting. But we try to give to getters who need to get. It’s really a mess. A paradox I can’t quite fathom or throw sufficient philosophy towards at this point in time.

Since my aforementioned state of lacking sufficient (insert your favorite philosopher’s name)-ness is apparent, I’ll move on to the actual question I hope to answer.

What happens to Mrs. Claus?

My wife and I recently watched the Santa Clause movies, as is our custom this time of year. We’ve both been watching them since they began to exist and, for some reason, it wasn’t until this year that either one of us noticed the most glaring question the first two movies pose. My wife inquired thusly:

“What happens to Mrs. Claus?”

In the first movie Santa (spoiler alert) dies and is replaced by another man. In the second, in order to remain Santa, the new Santa must abide by the Mrs. clause and find a Mrs. Claus.

Fine and dandy. That will, and did, make a movie of the Christmas type.

But neither movie ever mentions, that I noticed anyway, what happens to the other Santa’s Mrs. Claus. She had to exist for the premise of the second movie to be believable. So, what happens to her?

Did she die long ago? Did they get divorced? Is there some clause we aren’t privy to that states that a once-married Santa remains Santa after the termination, by death or divorce, of his marriage? That is possible, but seems a stretch even for a movie.

Did she die with her Santa? When Santa died in the first film, he somehow evaporated. Did his wife do the same upon his death?  My wife’s scenario purported that she was baking cookies at the time of Santa’s death and suddenly seized, falling stiff and lifeless to the floor. Then she, as her husband before her, simply became one with the atmosphere. I suppose I could live with that.

This idea, though, suggests some sort of bond that seems less than symbiotic. It reminded me of E.T.’s flower. It lives as he does, dies as he does, but does neither party any discernible good. In the Santa Clause scenario, Mr. Claus retains his status by forming the bond, but what benefit is there to the secondary relationship holder? How would that clause read?

It is necessary that the party primary to this agreement commit a matrimony upon you to retain his status as Santa. You, being less than primary yet no less necessary, at least for now, gain no benefit from this one-sided symbiosis. (I know a one-sided symbiosis is not a thing.) If the primary party should meet some sort of demise, you also are doomed. If you should die before the primary party, said primary party suffers no ill effect other than, perhaps, a bout of grief. The primary party will stifle this grief, however, by losing himself in his work and causing so much joy that he could not possibly thereafter be unhappy. Please sign below to indicate that you are certifiably insane.

The movies are good. They are light-hearted and cause me to experience laughter and a basic joyousness. But for crying out loud, what happens to Mrs. Claus.

This post is dedicated to my wife, without whose insight I’d have spent the evening conversing with her or something.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider the dark recesses of the happiest of holidays. It’s a little fun.

A don’t…marry Santa. What a one-sided mess of a marriage you’ll doubtless endure.

Figgy Pudding…? Holiday Hooligans and an Odd Demand

Figgy pudding? I ask you “What?” in a couple of ways. And quite rhetorically, mind you.

I’m not only going to ask what it is, I’m also asking what it isn’t.

It obviously isn’t pudding made with figs. If that were the case, it would be called fig pudding.

Figgy indicates that it is fig-like without actually containing figs. But fig-like in what way? Is it of a fig-esque consistency and/or color? Is it any sort of pudding you like with a false fig flavoring added? Or is it a British form of pudding that isn’t a sweet at all and figgy means something in British English that doesn’t even reference the fruit?

All of these questions are rhetorical, as I mentioned. I don’t care to know the answer. Either way it goes, I’m determined not to like figgy pudding. If I want a dessert pudding, I’ll go with banana or butterscotch. If I want a savory pudding my go-to is the Yorkshire variety.

Now we come to the Holiday Hooligans. I have been blessed in that never in my life time have I been accosted by roving Carolers. I’m sure they mean well. Well, I used to give them the benefit of the doubt until I thought deeply on the subject.

Before I get into that, though, let me tell you how I felt about Carolers before I learned that, whether they know it or not, they are in reality hooligans.

I don’t know how to handle Carolers. I don’t know the etiquette. I have thought about it a lot because I am a person for whom the big setbacks in life are inspiring, but the minor irritants are sources of extreme worry and anxiety. What is expected of me if Carolers tromp into my lawn and, with warm and happy hearts, serenade me with songs of the season? Do I part the blinds and peer out at them? Do I stand just inside my screen door and listen? Do I step out onto the lawn? Do I join them or applaud when they’re done? Do I have to indicate somehow that I’ve been sufficiently caroled and they can move on? Do I tip them? Or do I just sit in my house and wonder when they’ll leave? Thankfully, I’ve never had to find out.

Now, the hooligan thing. I don’t believe present day Carolers, if they exist somewhere, intentionally threaten anyone. But they do give a clue in a common carol as to how to indicate that they’ve done their job. They just do it in such a threatening manner. “Bring us figgy pudding!” They demand. “We shan’t leave until we get some!” They threaten. “Fa la la la la!” They harass.

There are two problems here, should I ever find myself caroled. First, I don’t know what figgy pudding is and, based on the terrible implications of its name, I refuse to find out. If they are true to their word, I’ll have permanent living yard art should Carolers ever ply their craft upon my lawn. Second, what if they don’t sing this song? I’ll have no clue how to let them know the time has come to depart.

I suppose both eventualities present the same conundrum, but at least if I ever find myself being shaken down for figgy pudding I can call upon some neighbor to produce some and satisfy the good-hearted hooligans who threaten and harass in a spirit of good cheer.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…be sure that you keep homeowners such as myself in mind should you ever go caroling. Some of us simply don’t know how to handle such things.

A don’t…think me a Scrooge-esque individual. I don’t yell “Bah!” in the faces of purveyors of humbug. I don’t have the money to be a miser. I don’t have it in my heart to hate anyone for attempting to spread cheer. I simply dislike the method of satiating Carolers. Also, I’d say that at best I’m merely semi-social. I’m very awkward socially. I’ve no idea how to react. I’m sure if I ever was caroled I’d offend the Carolers with my clumsy attempts to go through the motions of appearing appreciative.