Tag Archives: didacticism

Alice and Too Much Birthday Cake!

Do you remember the Berenstain Bears books?  It’s this series of children’s books written by – wait for it – a couple named Berenstain.  Yeah, they named their creations after themselves.  Not the humblest bears, are they?

Show your happy family faces DANGIT!

How YOU doin’ Mama?

There are roughly eleventy billion books in this series.  I think after the 90th book or so, the Berenstains just started calling them in.  Recycling old books into new ones.  Getting ghost bear writers, etc.  After a while, you gotta run out of didactic topics to write about.  You see, most of the Berenstain Bears books are designed to teach lessons to children, yet they don’t answer some of the most basic questions themselves.  For instance:

What were Mama and Papa’s names before they became parents?  Girl Bear and Boy Bear?  Likewise, before Sister Bear (creative, am I right?) was born, Brother Bear was called Small Bear.  Which means he had to change his name because of a sibling. That’s just asking for sibling rivalry right there.  I mean, giving up your freaking crib is bad enough, but your name?  Jeez, people.

I will make you pay . . . .

I will make you pay . . . .

But then, having exhausted every other idea, they decided to have the Bears have a third cub. Well, there’s a problem there.  I mean, there’s only two official sexes, at least when it comes to bears.  So what to call the third bear?  Other sister bear?  Other brother bear?  Number Two?  It’s not like they could just start calling the bears Thing One and Thing Two or something I mean who would do that to their children?

Mama Bear is a freaking killjoy.

At least I’m not a killjoy like Mama Bear.

The third one was named Honey.  Unfair.  This kid gets a name.  And that’s not all. Brother and Sister have friends with actual names but they are stuck with Brother and Sister, at least until they get married and then I guess they become Mama and Papa, though hopefully not with each other.  Also notice their last name is Bear.  That’s like saying my name is Alice Human.  Hi, Mrs Human, how are you?  Just fine, come meet my children: Brother, Sister, and Other.

The Berenstain Bears Scrape the Bottom of the Barrel.

The Berenstain Bears Scrape the Bottom of the Barrel.

But what does this have to do with cake?  I’m getting to it.  See, I remember one of the Very Important Lessons they taught to children was one about eating too much junk food.  In fact, the book was called The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.  There’s also one called The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday, which could also fit, but I’m going to concentrate on the junk food one because that one just ticks me off.

I swear Mama Bear is ticked on almost every cover.

I swear Mama Bear is ticked on almost every cover.

See, in the story, Mama notices that Papa and the cubs are getting too fat.  I think that’s a bit presumptuous of her.  She ain’t exactly Kate Moss herself.  And wtf with always wearing her nightgown?  Like, get dressed already.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

She gets a bee in her bonnet, so she goes all Michelle Obama on the family and takes them all to the doctor to hear about healthy food.  Because doctors totally do that.  My question is like, why wasn’t she just serving it in the first place if she’s so healthy?  Oh, wait, I bet Papa bought the food, and as you know, dads are almost always buffoons in cartoons and TV shows.  So Mama buys them healthy food like carrots and the kids actually eat it.

Back the truck up.  I want to know how she got them to do that.  There is no mention of ketchup in the books, so what caused the sudden change?

I have a feeling there was some corporal punishment involved.

I have a feeling there was some violent persuasion involved.

At the end of the book, they all run in the Bear Marathon.  Whoop-te-poop.

You know what I say?  I say the Berenstains need to quit being so judgmental.  How many of these books can you take?  The Berenstain Bears and The Truth (I can’t handle that book), The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV, The Berenstain Bears Beat a Dead Horse.  I mean, enough already.  I don’t want any more lessons.  I want cake.

Too . . . many . . .birthdays . . .

Too . . . many . . .birthdays . . .

I might have had a little too much cake, though, because wow I just totally powered through this whole post in no time flat!  So toooo much birthday for Alice!  Tooo much cake!  But how to stop?  I read all these Berenstain self-help books and they have not cured my sugar addiction.  For realz, I mean, I cannot stop eating cake.  I actually stood at the table and ate cake with a spoon.  I forced Thing One to help me, which didn’t take much forcing, so that I didn’t eat another two pieces myself.  I have a cake problem.

I’ve heard it said that sugar can give you the serotonin rush you need, thus turning you from a Sad Pony into a Squirrel.  It totally does.  But this isn’t such a good thing, because my stomach hurts and I just injested like 5,000 calories and I’m afraid that typing and vibrating in place doesn’t burn nearly enough of these calories off.  So what now?  How do I solve this problem?

One more birthday to go this month – mine.  More caaaaaaaake!


Next up, a character we all love . . . to hate.
Why have I waited so long to cover this show?  For starters, it just seems too easy.  Barney has been parodied by everybody.  His song “I love you, you love me” has had its lyrics changed to “Let’s hang Barney from a tree” and the religiously inspired “I am the devil, worship me.”  There is also the song sung to the tune of “Joy to the World” in which children happily barbecue Barney’s head and then flush it down the potty.  Anyway, I doubt there is an adult anywhere who hasn’t at least heard of Barney, whether or not they have children.  He’s just that popular.
Scary what the mind can
do, isn’t it?


What is it about Barney that strikes such a chord with people?  Is it the guy in the fat dinosaur suit?  Is it that the dinosaur is a noxious shade of purple?  Is it the sickly, syrupy, sweet messages of love coming from the purple dinosaur?  Could it be that the song is sung in that annoying voice that sticks in your head and never, ever gets out? Or the overacting children who dance and sing with the dinosaur?  It can be all of these things and more!
But there are other possible explanations.   Barney is a dinosaur, and most young boys adore dinosaurs.  Why do they like dinosaurs?  Well that’s easy.  Dinosaurs are big and fierce, they roar loudly, they eat small creatures, they stomp around, and they do not have to go to bed at 8pm.  Most certainly they do not sing songs about love and safety and the ABCs.  And while scientists can’t really be certain what color the dinosaurs were (or even if they have the dinosaurs all assembled correctly in certain cases,) it’s a good bet that they probably weren’t fuchsia with green bellies.  So, in a way, you could say that Barney ruined the good dinosaur name.  I mean, he most resembles a T- Rex, the meanest, deadliest (and thus favorite) dinosaur for crying out loud.  A T-Rex would not sing nursery rhymes.
Hi, I’m a real T-Rex.  Scuse me
 while I eat this guy.
But one of the biggest annoyances of the big, purple dinosaur is that song.  You know  the song.  “I love you, you love me. / We’re a happy family. / With a great big hug, and a kiss from me to you.  / Won’t you say you love me too?”  Yes, I just recalled all of that from memory.  Not only is it annoying and mildly disconcerting (I don’t WANT a six-foot tall dinosaur to love me, or give me hugs and kisses, thanks) it’s not even an original tune.  It is sung to the tune of “This Old Man”.  Granted, it does make more sense than “This Old Man” (what is knickknack, and how do you play it on your thumb?) but it is still a rip-off of a nursery rhyme, all of which are designed to never leave your brain.
It’s not just Barney on the show.  He has friends, of course.  There are two Triceratops (I guess that’s what they’re supposed to be) that are arguably more obnoxious than Barney, because they’ve usually got some sort of problem that nobody cares about.  One is a girl named “Baby Bop” which makes Barney sound like the best name ever.  Come to think of it, you have to feel sorry for men who just happen to have that name.  That would have to suck.  I don’t remember the name of the other Triceratops, and I’m not looking him up.  Anyway Barney never takes the opportunity to eat either of them, which is what any real T-Rex would do.  It certainly would have increased his popularity.
Haha, Stick ’em up, kids!


Another disturbing aspect of Barney is how he starts out as a stuffed animal that at random points magically transforms into a giant playmate for kids.  I can imagine they sold many stuffed toys that way to children who waited several minutes (probably armed with sticks) for Barney to appear, only to be disappointed.  Truth in advertising, people!  It reminds me of when I was in kindergarten.  My teacher told my class to wear our moon boots because we were going to the moon the next day.  I was all prepared for the field trip, but there was no sign of the bus.  We went NOWHERE.  The teacher’s explanation was that we were supposed to “use our imaginations” which I thought was a total crock at the time.  I never did totally trust her again after that.  I could imagine other children feeling just that way about the lovable dinosaur.  Barney’s message: adults lie, kids.
Mostly Barney has just infiltrated our culture as a representative of all that is awful in children’s programming.  Yes, if you’re a baby or toddler your standards aren’t so high, so he’s probably okay then, although I wouldn’t advise taking such a small child to see Barney “live”.  I’ve never understood why some adults think a very small child would enjoy an extremely large animal looming over them like that.  There is a picture of me from one Halloween when I my older brother and I were small.  We’re with our mom who is standing beside a guy in a giant pumpkin suit.  My brother looks vaguely uncomfortable, while I am screaming at the top of my lungs.  If you think of it from the kid’s point of view, you probably wouldn’t care for a nine-foot tall monstrosity either.  Especially if it insisted you “love it too.”
Final Analysis
Adult in big, stupid costume: Yes
Irritating songs that NEVER leave your brain: Yes
Overacting, obnoxious children: Yes
Didacticism: You’re soaking in it.