Monthly Archives: April, 2012


I know that men can become attached to their tools and machines.  When you start having conversations with your equipment, though, you might have a bit of a problem.  Next up: two children’s shows feature talking tools and machines.  (What is it with these talking inanimate object shows?  Are there not enough animate objects to make shows about?  Like, say, giant mutant dogs?  Nevermind.)  Our first contestant is:
Bob the Builder
                Bob is a likable enough guy.  He is a builder – hence the name of the show.  But he doesn’t do the job alone.  He also works with Wendy (they’re just friends) and a lot of different vroom-vroom machines, making him a natural favorite for boys.  These machines of his, though, are not ordinary machines.  They are living machines, which technically means they are both Bob’s equipment AND employees.  I’m not sure how you would figure out your taxes in that sort of situation.  Are they dependents or work related expenses?
Surprise, Wendy
                Either way, they are a little unsettling.  Machines were created because they offered many of the positives of an employee (working until they break) with none of the downsides (expecting a paycheck).  But here Bob has to deal with both.  So you have to wonder – does he pay the machines?  If not, are they slaves, or even weirder, adopted children?  They do act like children, often running off and doing their own thing and messing up Bob’s projects.  He and Wendy  do seem like parents, always disciplining their construction equipment.  And from what I can tell, just like children, the machines have no freaking off switch.  What a pain.
                The machines had names.  I don’t remember all of them, but there was a cement mixer named Dizzy that particularly got on my nerves.  That one was supposed to be a she, I think, although I don’t want to know how you would determine that.  She had an irritating voice, and was always spinning around, cement sloshing around her insides.  Then there was a crane named Lofty, who suffered from self-esteem issues.  I wish I was making this up.  Whenever the crew would yell their catch phrase – later cleverly stolen by Obama as a campaign slogan – “Can we build it?  Yes we can!”, the crane would always add, “Yeah, I think so.”  Because you can never be too sure of your abilities, even when you were specifically built to do the job. 
Haha, welcome to the
nighmare, kids!
                Oh, no, I almost forgot Spud.  No, he wasn’t a talking potato; that would be silly.  He was a talking scarecrow, and a real jerk too.  I wanted one of the machines to “accidentally” rip the thing apart.   Spud proves that the delusions extend past the construction equipment, although interestingly enough, not to the animal characters.  The idea that these machines really are alive reminds me of a Stephen King horror novel, so I’m going to say that they must be Bob and Wendy’s delusions.  Of course, I’m not certain that Wendy – and the other people in the town – are all having the delusion.  Maybe they are just humoring Bob, because they’re afraid he’ll snap like that Killdozer guy.  If you haven’t seen him, you should really check him out on youtube.  Talk about a trip.
                According to Wikipedia, “The show emphasizes conflict resolution, co-operation, socialization and various learning skills.”  Well, okay, I guess it emphasizes all these things, but personally, I think Bob would be better off getting his socialization AWAY from the construction equipment.  Just me, though.
                But it’s not just Bob who has a strange attachment to work related objects.  There’s also:
Handy Manny
                Handy Manny is a lot like Bob, only he’s Hispanic, and he talks to tools, not construction equipment.  His “friends” all ride around together in his tool box, until he needs to take them out to help him with some project.  This show came on after my children were a little old for it, thank goodness, so I don’t have quite as much experience with it.  I have seen bits and pieces of the show, as well as the toys, and it’s enough to be a least a little curious about the prospect of animate tools.
                I had to look up the characters on Wikipedia, since I didn’t know their names.  I think I am even more disturbed now.  Observe:
Turner:  a flat head screwdriver with a fondness for babies (don’t even want to think about it)
Imagine opening your toolbox
to find . . . .THIS
Pat:  a stupid hammer (maybe they shouldn’t have pounded him against nails)
Squeeze:  a female pair of pliers (again I don’t want to know how they tell)
Rusty: a paranoid monkey wrench
Dusty: a female handsaw.  Don’t make her angry, she’ll cut you!  And laugh while you’re bleedin’!
Flicker: a bilingual flash light.  He flashes his light when excited.  Okay.
                There are others, but I got bored going through the list.  I think they’re enough, anyway.  Could you imagine if your tools could talk back to you?  Now I’m not a mechanic, but I do use tools.  I have to wonder how pleased my pencil would be with me, what with repeatedly shaving his head off, then forcing him to leave a trail of his lead blood on my paper, just so I can write. 
Wrench: My teeth hurt
Hammer: Bang. . . bang . . . bang
                Manny’s tools are part of his team, and his good pals.  No one else seems to think it’s strange that he talks to them, and they talk back, so maybe they’re humoring him as well.  I’m guessing he and Bob have the same psychiatrist.  That would make things simpler.  Anyway, I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m overanalyzing a cute kid’s show.  But think about it.  Especially the hammer.  He’s pounding the thing, over and over again, right in the face.  Is there a CPS for tools, because that seems a bit much.  No wonder the thing is a moron; all his brain cells were pounded out.  And all so Manny could get a nail in some wood.  Are you happy, Manny?
                Then there’s Dusty, who you must remember was used as an effective weapon in many horror movies.  I could just see that freak scarecrow grabbing Dusty, jumping into Muck the bulldozer and going on a homicidal rampage through cartoon land.  Let’s hope they stop at the World Tree on their way.
                Final Analysis:
Talking construction equipment/ tools: Yes
Tool Abuse: Yes
Delusional characters: Yes
                                                                                                                                       Didacticism: Just Weird

Pool of Tears

Well, I guess NOW you have something to cry about . . .


`I wish I hadn’t cried so much!’ said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. `I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears! That WILL be a queer thing, to be sure! However, everything is queer to-day.’
          Alice in Wonderland
Is it possible, like Alice, to drown in your own tears?   I am a champion crier, having started practicing in infancy, and further perfecting the art during sessions of “The Lord of the Flies” on the playground in public school.  Why cry so much?  Is it because I was orphaned at a young age with no money, food, or decent clothes and had to sell matches on the street until Hans Christian Anderson mercifully killed me?   No, I’m not the poor little match girl, or the little mermaid, or any of his other pathetic characters (What DID people do to Anderson anyway?  I want to go back in time and give him Zoloft.)  Wait . . . where was I?
Thank you so bloody much, Hans
Oh, yes, on top of an apparent case of ADHD, I have depression.  It’s not something I go around advertising, because shockingly this is not a very popular condition.  If you have heart disease, people go aw, and tell you to take your little nitroglycerin pills, which confuses me, because I had always thought nitroglycerin blew you up.  I guess in that case you wouldn’t have to worry about heart disease at least.
But with depression, people get all uncomfortable.  It’s like saying you’re gay.  Suddenly people of the same sex think you’re going to be filled with uncontrollable lust for them.  I’m straight, not gay, yet somehow able to stop myself from jumping every man I see (oh, sometimes it’s an effort, being the slutty librarian I am).  But I can control my impulses.  And I’m not contagious (although I do think some really irritating people are carriers of depression). 
Proof that humanity is lost


So I take medication, and I pay someone to listen to me whine.  And most of the time, I’m okay.  And I walk among you, indistinguishable from the normal population – like pod people.  Or Republicans.  But sometimes I’m overwhelmed, and I have to go off by myself and cry.  And cry.  Until I get this massive headache, which is no fun at all, because I didn’t even get to be happy drunk first. 
Depression isn’t just a mental disease; it’s physical too.  You have no energy, so you lay there like a slug, and you revel in lying there like a slug, because the entire world is awful what with all the crime, pollution, poverty, and Twilight movies.  You see the world through dark-colored glasses, so all the bad is magnified.  You might not have a terminal illness, but you did have a funny cough earlier and a pain in your hip.  Whatever you do, don’t research your symptoms on WebMd.
You have every one of these diseases.  Happy?


You did, didn’t you?  So now you are worried that you have an incurable disease, on top of your sadness about the general state of the world, and the fact that people will actually wear dresses like this in public. 
And then you get off the couch, and you go out to work, or the store, or something, and invariably there are people there.  And these people will annoy you by breathing.  You have to do something about this, and unfortunately, murder is generally frowned upon.  You must either find some sort of way to get through it, or you go back to being the couch slug.
Get off the couch!  No, you can’t be a slug.  There is no money in being a slug, unless you’re either independently wealthy or a Congressman.  So you take your medicine, if the doctor says you need it (he has a medical degree, dufus99 on the Internet most likely does not).  And you get counseling, if that helps you.  And you find something, anything, that makes you happy.  I’m sure there’s something.  For me, it’s laughing at stupid people, but whatever works for you.
Depression is the great lie.  It is the Jabberwock that hides in the closet of your mind.  But depression doesn’t define who I am, anymore than heart disease defines Ronald McDonald (just say no to Big Macs, clown!)  So sometimes I, as my aunt used to say as a child, have me a little cryin’ spell.  But then I have to pick yourself up and go after that white rabbit, because he’s not going to chase himself, and if I stick around I might just drown in my own tears.  And there’s too much of Wonderland to see yet, to do that.

I feel stabby! Oh, so stabby!

`Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’
                    – “Jabberwocky” from Through the Looking Glass

What?  What???

Today I feel stabby.  Stabby is a new word I picked up, and before you tell me I can’t use stab that way, I will have you know that it is in the Urban Dictionary on the Internet.  I don’t see how you can get a more reliable source than that.  At any rate, at least it isn’t as bad as using antique as a verb (Today Lovey and I are going antiquing).  Antiquing sounds snobby and slightly constipated, whereas stabby adequately describes wanting to stab something.  So I can safely say that it makes me stabby when people talk about going antiquing.
                English is an evolving language.  And some speakers of the English language have evolved more than others.  I have two degrees in English, but neither of these degrees were grammar degrees.  Obviously.  Many of my professors were so grateful to have someone who could string two sentences together coherently that they ignored all but my most grievous errors.  Well, at least if they were male.  Papers from my female professors came back covered in red, like they’d been, well, stabbed repeatedly.  I’m not sure why the female professors were tougher.  Perhaps they were more immune to B.S.  At any rate, I learned that I had better use proper grammar with them.
                But what is proper grammar?  Some of the rules, over time, change.  Some changes are okay.  Others, in my opinion, are not.  Texting on a phone is fine, because it’s really annoying trying to hit those teeny little keys.  Texting in normal correspondence, such as with email, those “antique” letters, or academic papers, is not.  “Lol, omg, wtf is antiquing?” is not a sentence.  On any planet.  If you turn a paper like this into your professor, you should fail college immediately, and possibly serve time in grammar prison.  It’s just wrong.  Now a blog, being personal writing, is different.  Here I can call stupid sentences “stylistic”.  Hence my multiple fragments.  In fact, that last sentence about fragments is a fragment.  OMG.
Dictionaries can be your friend!
                Lewis Carroll liked to play with language.  Alice in Wonderland, and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, both use puns and nonsense words.  It’s like he predicted how future teenagers would write.  One of the best examples of this is the poem “The Jabberwocky”.  This work is filled to the brim with nonsensical words and phrases.  I loved the poem.  Until, in a grammar class, we had to dissect it.  We had to tell what parts of speech the words – that weren’t words, remember – would be if they were words.  I nearly lost my mind.  What is brillig?  An adjective?  An adverb?  Let me think – oh, yeah IT’S NOT A WORD!  It is not supposed to make sense.  That’s why they call in NONsense.  It was enough to make me want to take a vorpal sword to somebody.
                And so we come back to stabby.  The Urban Dictionary defines the word as: -adj. describing feelings of hostility or mean temper, usually related to misfortune or high stress. Originates from the fact the stabbing someone or something seems unusually rational when one is in a stabby mood.  It’s not proper grammar, but it describes how I feel much better than “annoyed” or “frustrated”, yet is catchier than “homicidal”.  I need this word, because I have to live in the real world, which is, as I’ve said, far closer to the one Lewis Carroll imagined than I would like.  For instance, today alone I have had to deal with people, children (not counted among people), cars, caterers, professors (also loosely counted as people), furniture moving, computers, faulty coke machines, telephones, and people.   It’s enough to make anybody stabby.
                It’s just a good thing I am not the Queen of Hearts.  Somebody might lose a head. 


I decided to combine the next two shows together because they are 1) both about personified modes of transportation and 2) both full of nightmare fuel.    First up, the oldest:
Thomas the Tank Engine
Better make yourselves
useful – FAST
                This is a show about trains.  Living trains.  With giant, creepy faces on their fronts.  Thomas is the main character.  He and his friends – the other trains – want more than anything to be “very useful engines” to their boss, Sir Topam Hat, who looks like that guy on the cover of the Monopoly games.  They have a weird competition going on with the steam engines, who are the bad guys, supposedly, although it is really hard to tell, because there isn’t a single likable character.
                I’m not sure if the trains are so grumpy because they are British, or just because they are forced to carry lots of people figurines around all over the place without a tip.  I don’t think I’d really like to carry people around in my stomach and eject them at various train stations.  I carried two people in my stomach, at different times, and that was really quite enough, thank you.  So I can’t imagine someone carrying a whole trainload of people inside them at once, with the exception of the some of the reality show stars on TLC.
All Aboard!  Hahaha . . . I’ll walk, thanks.
                But for whatever reason, these trains have serious attitudes.  They are always griping at one another about something, and getting all whiney and offended about the stupidest things.  Basically like most people on Internet message boards.  Sometimes they play nasty tricks on each other, just for the heck of it.  Some people have linked the show to a celebration of communism (everyone must be “useful”) but I think we shouldn’t disregard the possibility that it’s just a really awful kid’s show that happens to sell a lot of overpriced toy trains. 
                Anyway, I spent my time watching this show either bored to tears or hoping that somehow the trains would take part in one of those Math problems and smack into each other going at high velocity.  If I were at Shining Time Station, I would seriously reconsider other modes of transportation than climbing inside a living train with a surly personality.  Like, say, a plane.
Jay Jay the Jet Plane
“Gosh, Tracy, we sure are creepy!”
“You said it, Jay-Jay!” 
                Like Thomas, Jay-Jay is a living form of locomotion, this time for the “friendly skies”.   He also has a scary human face on the end of an otherwise normal looking vehicle, only instead of grumpy, his face could best be described as “manic”, sort of like the Joker on speed.  He has friends – a pink, female plane named Tracy and a young plane with a propeller for a nose, called Stuffy, because the propeller causes nasal congestion.  Or something.  There are a couple of other planes, one of them with an irritating Southern drawl, and finally, there is one human.  An actual, real-live human woman in a mechanic’s jump suit.  She takes care of the planes.  And talks to them.  And, as far as I can tell, never leaves the airport.  This is a woman in serious need of a date.  Or possibly psychiatric drugs (more on this in our next installment: Adventures in Psychosis: Bob and Manny.)
“Yeah, I dunno, she’s been standing on that lot talkin’
 to the planes for over an hour . . . better get the white coats.”
                These planes are more cheerful, flying about over “Terry Town”, wasting fuel all over the place, and almost never carrying around any passengers.  They are certainly not being “very useful planes.”  I figure Sir Topam Hat would have them stripped for parts in about five minutes.  They are usually learning lessons, like . . . actually I can’t really remember any of them.  I just remember . . . those faces.  OMG, the faces . . .
                I’m not sure how these shows could fail to freak out small children.  I mean, riding on a plane or a train can be scary all by itself.  You don’t need to think about it having a mind of its own – a creepy, twisted mind of its own at that.   If I’d watched those shows, I probably would have refused to board a plane or a train, just to be on the safe side.  The only use I can see for these shows is as a way to prevent terrorism.  Who would want to hijack something like that?
Final Analysis
General Weirdness: Yes
Scary, Maniacal Faces: Yes
Animate forms of Transportation: Yes
Useful Against Terrorists: Yes

Woman at the Well

We dare you!

We dare you!

I picked up a Bible today (it happens!  No lightning bolts either!) and opened to a random page.  And it occurred to me that, just as your average citizen has as much chance of predicting the stock market as a broker, that I could find meaning in this book as well as a concordance or a preacher.  I mean, that’s why we got Martin Luther – so we can screw up this ancient text along with the priests.

Anyway, despite being raised a middle-class heathen, I have always had a fascination with this book.  Most people do not like to do Bible study with me, since I spend the entire time asking silly questions like “Why is that guy named Beazlethorp?”  So I will just have to study this on my blog (don’t worry, I’ll go back to other meaningful things, like hellish children’s shows, next time).

The Samaritan Woman

So a Samaritan, a Roman, and a Pharisee walk into a bar . . .

So a Samaritan, a Roman, and a Pharisee
walk into a bar . . .

This is a story from the Old Testament’s sequel, the New Testament, in which God has a kid who tries to save the world and all sorts of predictably bad stuff comes of it.  This particular story has Jesus taking a load off by a well owned by a Samaritan woman.  Now I’d heard of Samaritans (there was a good one) but I wasn’t sure what they were, so I turned to my library research skills and picked this up from Wikipedia: “Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.”

Got that?  Me neither.  Moving on.

Jesus says “Gimmie some water.”  Sheesh, Jesus, didn’t Mary teach you to say please?  Were ya born in a barn?  No matter, she’s way ruder back to him.  She says, “No way, cause you’re a Jew and we Samaritans don’t deal with you.”  Ah, random prejudice!  Now Jesus, being God’s son with awesome super powers, could do one of three things at this point:

A) smite the crap out of her

B) teach her about God and stuff

C) ignore her.  I mean, it’s a woman.

Jesus, being Jesus, decides to tell her about God.  But tells her in his usual way –with riddles.  He has to get his jollies somehow.  So Jesus says, “Well your water is not so great, my water is living water.  And if you drink it, you’ll get eternal life.”  Which makes one wonder why he asked for water in the first place.  Well, she thinks that sounds pretty cool, so she asks for some of his water.  And Jesus tells her to get her husband, and when she fibs to him, he points out that she’s had five husbands.  Oh, oh, Jesus googled stalked her!  But she’s impressed and says “You must be a prophet!  Any idea when that Messiah guy is coming?”  And Jesus – looking all cool – is all, “Yeah, that’s me, pretty much.”

Then the Disciples (I like to call them the 12 Stooges) show up and want to know why he’s talking to a girl.  And the girl goes into the village to tell everybody how he knew all this stuff about her, and wondering if he’s the Messiah or just a stalker.  Then we’re back to the disciples, and they’re trying to get Jesus to eat something (great, this is going to be like the water thing again, right?)  Bingo.  He tells them he has food they don’t know about.  Nanner.

So the disciples, who keep in mind KNOW he talks in riddles, take it literally and ask “Hey, did you give him food?  No way, did you?”  And Jesus, after slapping them each on the back of the head (it doesn’t say this, but I’m thinking it had to happen), says “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.”   Well, did he will you to have a sandwich?  I could just imagine going out to eat with him.  “I’ll have a living water and the will of God.  To go.”   Anyway, he goes on to talk about reaping and harvesting and stuff, because apparently the writers have ADD and totally forgot about the rude well woman.   And Jesus never did get a lousy drink.

So that’s the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  The meaning of it is to be nice and give someone water, cause you never know, it might be the Messiah, and he might want to tell you a long, confusing story.  I think.


                 As anyone who has read my blog knows, I’m a big, bleeding heart liberal.  So I care about the environment, sure.  Pumping every bit of oil out of the ground only to dump it in the sea is Bad.  I get that.  But sometimes, a show comes along with a Very Special Message that , frankly, makes me want to burn down a whole rainforest full of spotted owls.  Case in point, our next program:
Big, Big World




                This is a show with puppets, but not the cute, funny kind like Grover on Sesame Street.  These puppets make you want to commit puppetcide almost immediately.  The animal puppets all live in this Big Tree O’ Life – the World Tree – in a rainforest and teach kids about loving every creature and taking care of nature and all that crap.  As in: “We are the world!  We are the puppets!  We are the ones that make you want to puke and rip your hair out!”  The main character is a sloth.  He had a name, I’m sure, but a fellow mom friend (who also doesn’t like doing dishes) and I just called him “Hippie Sloth”.  I’ve never seen a puppet so stoned.  This guy made Bob Ross look like an ADHD poster child.
How can I stop eating
                And he had friends.  There were two irritating monkeys, an old, wise turtle (how original!), some bitchy bird, and finally an anteater that loved ants.  I mean, the anteater actually wanted to be friends with the ants despite them being the core of his diet.  He was constantly fretting and whining “The antssss, why won’t they be my friendssss?”  I don’t know, because you EAT them?  That would put a damper on a relationship.  That’s like me wanting to befriend Chicken McNuggets.  I’m not sure what the writers were going for education wise with this character.  Hey, kids, some people need therapy, and that’s okay!
Monkey: That thing’s gonna eat us!
Sloth: Far outttt.
                This show was literally painful to watch, with its repetitive message of reduce, reuse, regurgitate! Naturally it came on at a time when the kids were out of school.  So we got to see a lot of Hippie Sloth chilling out in his tree with his message of peace and love.  Not that I can blame the guy – if I had friends like his, I might look into weed too.  My friend came up with the name “Reefer Tree” because that seemed to fit better than Big, Big World (after all, they didn’t show us the world, just the stupid tree).  Also, it made us laugh, and that was the only way to keep our sanity.  Our kids did pick up on it, though, and one of them remarked during a hospital visit that “Hey, Reefer Tree is on!”  Luckily the nurse was amused, and didn’t hop on the phone to CPS.  I bet she had kids too.
                Bottom line, taking care of the environment is a good thing.  This show did not help the cause.  I’ve never hated my environment more than while watching this show.
Final Analysis:
Stoned Puppet: Yes
Peace, Love and Nausea: Yes
General Weirdness: Yes
Didacticism: YES


PBS means well – they really do.  Back around 2000, they started making more shows with minority characters, because I guess they felt left out of the wackiness.  Which brings us to my next children’s program:


Two kids, Max and Emmy, who look white and speak English like Anglos, yet have a disembodied parent voice with a Mexican accent, find a glowing scale in their playroom.  No, not one you weigh on; it turns out it’s a dragon scale – and it’s magical, of course.  I’m thinking if I saw something strange and glowing in my room, I might get Mom and Dad.  But not these two.  They say some magic words – I guess whoever left the dragon scale left instructions or something, I forget.  Anyway, these magic words  – which are repeated every episode so they can reuse the same animation – transport them to dragon land.

Hey wait my hand is stuck arghhhhhh . . .

Hey wait my hand is stuck arghhhhhh . . .

Now I’m a big fantasy fan, and I’ve read a lot about dragons.  They’re big, scaly, and they breathe fire and eat people, especially knights.  They seem oddly fond of kidnapping princesses.  So I’m waiting for these kids to get roasted, but, alas, turns out they’re friendly.  And they can speak Spanish.  No, really!  Who knew?

Anyway, there are several eccentric (read: annoying) dragon characters.  Cassie is the pink one, who shrinks when she’s unhappy and whining, which is pretty much all the time.  Org, or Ord, I was never quite sure, is the token big, stupid one.  And then there’s . . . Zack and Wheezy, the two headed dragon.  They have one body, two heads, yet one’s a boy and one’s a girl and . . . anyway, they also have opposite personalities.  Zack is paranoid, and Wheezy is so obnoxious you want to kill her.  Talk about your therapy issues.

Toys for confused children

Toys for confused children

They also have a teacher, Quasimodo, no wait, that’s the hunchback.  At any rate, he’s the typical old, wise teacher, and apparently the only adult Max and Emmy come in contact w/ besides disembodied parent voice.  From time to time there are guest star dragons, like the one in a wheelchair.  Cause his legs don’t work.  In that case, I don’t know why he doesn’t just fly, except that they all have such tiny wings on such huge bodies that I’m not sure how any of them fly.

Dragon paraplegic?

Dragon paraplegic?

From what I can tell, Max and Emmy spend most of their time in this dragon place, and their parents never know the difference.  They never say how long the kids are gone, but when my kids got quiet for more than five minutes at a time, it usually meant they were covered in Noxema or something and it was time to check on them.   Either this doesn’t occur to the parents, or they’re just so glad they’re gone that they don’t care.  Maybe they left the dragon scale there on purpose.

I really didn’t like Dragon Tales.  I’m not certain which character was the worst – I guess they all tied for last place.  Where the heck was St. George when I needed him?


                                                                                                                                             Final Analysis:

Spanglish: Yes

General Weirdness: Yes

Two-headed, Bi-Polar, Dual Gendered Dragon: Yes

Didacticism: Yes