First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Princess Peanut and the Fairy Tale Loop

At our house we tell stories. Everyday. We spin yarns. Our kids sit rapt as my wife and I take turns telling tales to thrill and to pacify. They stop us to add their own details our even to pick up the thread of the story and weave some of it themselves.

Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? And it is. It is. Except . . . 

Here's a synopsis of virtually every story: There is (or was, once upon a time) a Princess named Peanut and a Prince named Pumpkin Man and a King named Daddy and a Queen named Mommy. They live in a big pink castle. 

There is an evil witch named Witch Sasha (the Peanut came up with the name).  She lives in a dank cave in the dark and menacing (and appropriately named) Witch Forest. 

Witch Sasha is evil and jealous; black-hearted and cruel. All she wants to do is steal Princess Peanut's crown. Or dress. That's it. That is every story. Over and over and over again. Stories of a of a morally bereft, fashion obsessed, cave dweller with faltering magic powers and a secret hideout the location of which is neither secret nor hidden.  Versus the beloved and fabulously dressed Princess Peanut. We are allowed variation only in the methods the Princess uses to regain her stolen outfits. 

Sometimes the princess sneaks up on the witch and steals it back. Sometimes it's magic wand vs. magic wand in a battle to the owie. Sometimes it's a daring midnight raid or a spell cast from afar. One time it was a car/flying broom chase scene and ensuing vehicle-to-vehicle struggle. That was a good one.

Sometimes it's a battle of wits.

"Look, Witch Sasha, just give me back the crown and we can all--hey! What's that?"

Witch Sasha turns to look.

"Yoink! See ya, sucker!" And Princess Peanut flies off on her magic horse.

"Unicorn, Daddy!"


Whatever happens, we try to make sure it's the Princess who does the dirty work, with occasional assists from her adoring royal family. Around here, our princesses don't get saved. They do the saving, bitch.

And the Princess always prevails. With little blood shed or outright violence. Though the mental anguish our royal family visits upon a homeless 2nd rate sorceress would probably count against us in civil court. 

One time-- on a day when "sharing with her brother" meant "taking the toy he was already playing with" --I deviated from the Peanut approved script. I told a story about how the princess' anger at having her clothes stolen made her just as witchy as the witch and how the only way to solve it was to be nice to the witch, let her have the dress, and then brave the dangers of Witch Forest sans flying horse (I mean unicorn) or magically turbo charged Subaru.

Lesson delivered. Take that to the learning bank and deposit it under Kick-Ass parenting. 

The next day we were in the car and she turned to me and said, "Daddy can you tell me the story of how Witch Sasha stole Princess Peanut's dress?"

Son-Of A Bitch.

Stay tuned for part 2. Things get violent. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Children's Literature: Evil? Or Really Evil?

Reading to the kids is great, right? Read, read, read.  We learn together and snuggle together. Build closeness, vocabulary, conversation skills, and critical thinking. Not to mention literacy.

I was so happy, so excited to introduce them to my favorites from childhood, reintroduce myself to the same, and to discover--as a family-- authors and books I'd never read before. I was a naive ponce.

These books have the darkest of dark sides. I wish someone had warned me. For example:.

Curious George: Up until recently, I'd only read modern Curious George sequels. Curious George and The Genetically Modified Banana. Curious George Goes to Yoga. That kind of thing. Or I watched the cartoon with my kids (William H. Macy is the narrator, making it the only thing he's ever been involved with where he doesn't play the most depressing guy ever).

I read the original Curious George to the kids the other day. Here's what happens in that book: The Man In The Yellow Hat captures George by taking advantage of his natural curiosity. On a whim he does this, by the way. He's visiting the jungles of Africa and he decides, "Fuck it. I'll take home a wild monkey." Yeah, that's called poaching.

George takes off up a tree when he sees this strange yellow-white man. So the Man puts his hat on the ground. He figures that George will be so curious he won't be able to help himself, and he'll come down to investigate. Which he does. Which is why the book isn't titled Intelligent George. 

So, he grabs the monkey and lets him run free on the ship he's taking back to New York. The "sad"  monkey then attempts to kill himself by throwing himself off of the ship and into the ocean. They say that George jumped because he was just so "curious"about seagulls and their power of flight, he wanted to fly too. C'mon. He'd never seen a bird before? In the Jungle? Plus, we're talking about a fast moving steam ship and an age when psychiatrists recommended electric shock for a bad case of the mondays. The monkey was suicidal.

They get him back to NY, and he escapes. The Man With The Yellow Hat  being incredibly responsible. 

They finally catch him and throw him in maximum security prison. He escapes. Again. By taking out a prison guard.  They finally catch him once for all after he's been on the streets for a while, gets mugged twice, and starts self-medicating with heroin (Subtext).  The book ends with him "happily" being locked up in a zoo. And of course by "happily" they mean "on lithium."

Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe the zoo is a much better option than the jungle where he spent his entire life before the Man With The Yellow Hat kidnapped him and sold him into captivity. Dance monkey. The people paid good money.*

I believe the second Curious George book is called, "Curious George and the Cancer Experiment," but that's from memory.

George seen here being led to his fate by some sort of quasi-military police unit.
Apparently after being beaten with a phone.

Green Eggs and Ham:Let's just sum it up like this: Sam-I-Am is presented as a charitable, suffering being who follows his friend all over the country trying to force feed him in all manner of odd and creepy places. Sam-I-Am is definitely a stalker and probably a rapist. I'm all for trying new things, but even at breakfast, no means no.

"Could you would you with a goat?" indeed. Pervert.
Could you would you tied to a chair in my basement?

While we're mentioning Dr. Seuss, let's mention The Lorax: We're led to believe this book may be the first conservationist children's book. A person hiding in a defunct factory tells a traveler the story of how he and his family came to the area, deforested it, polluted it, and then left. The Lorax was the character who kept trying to warn them. In the end, the traveler is offered the one seed that was saved in order that he might replant. Is this not the story of how the logging industry fucked things up? Clear cut a forest and then plant new saplings and tell everyone they've got it under control. Nice try. It's all about old growth forests. You can't support an eco-system on saplings, you son of a bitch. And hey Lorax, thanks for the series of sad-sacky warnings, but how about filing an injunction and going to the press next time? You blew it. And your mustache looks like shit.

I apologize for that last line. I shouldn't have let it get personal.

Awww, what an adorable little corporate propagandist

Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad day: I got this one off of a top 100 books for kids list. Let me understand this, please. The kid wakes up in a foul, shitty mood, goes through his day in a foul, shitty mood, and goes to bed in a foul, shitty mood. So this book is either about rampant parental permissiveness or ignored and undiagnosed childhood depression. Awesome. We read this book at the library. We didn't take it home. Why? Because my daughter said to me, "Daddy, I don't want that crabby book." Amen to that, swee'pea.

Depressed child or spoiled little prick?
Your guess is as good as mine.

There are others I'm not mentioning and many many more that I have yet to read. I will continue to read these twisted tombs and to report my findings in this space. We parents have got to stick together against the forces of darkness. Not to mention literacy.

Homemaker Man

*You read that right. He was kidnapped in Africa. Put on a ship. Taken to America. He escapes, does a stint in prison and ends up set "free" in a zoo. I am not making any of this up. It's all in the book.

Here's where I got the pics:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday's Random Bull$h!t

Have I ever done a weekly wrap-up? No. Can one post a weekly wrap up on a thursday? Depends. Back in my early 20's, my week wrapped up around tuesday, so yes. 

I have lost 19 lbs. 19! Had a doctor appointment the other day and I weighed in 19 lbs. less than I did 3 short months ago. That's a whole bra size. How'd I do it? Green tea and positive thinking. And incredible amounts of amphetamines. 

I kid of course. That positive thinking crap is ridiculous. 

(Recumbent bike and so, SO many low-carb, low-fat veggie wraps. So many. I'l kick a lavash bread in the nuts. But it's working, so I'll continue.)

Also, getting ready for My Wife to have surgery next week. Not to worry. Nothing life threatening. Except for the fucking surgery. Do I seem nervous?  Bah. 

Once it's all done and she's home safe and sound, I'l let you folks in on the nature of it. Here's a hint: The 6 Million Dollar Man. 

Who in this day and age would've cost 450 million dollars and then would've fallen pray to a virus in week 2. Steve Austin, crashing your hard drive.


Oy, the yelling. Loud frustrated bursts. Raw throated exhaultations to "pleeease stop!" Red faced, chest-heaving exclamations at triple digit decibel levels. I don't know how the kids stand me.

I've been yelling too much lately. Way too much.

Read more over at DadCentric, if you please. 


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