Monday, September 1, 2014

Out-Takes of Children's Classics

A lost chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children almost 50 years ago, has been published Saturday's Guardian Review.  Timmy Troutbeck and "a rather bumptious little boy called Wilbur Rice", backed by their vile parents, shout abuse at Willy Wonka's warnings, scramble into the wagons, and are carried off through a hole in the wall. "That hole," said Mr Wonka, "leads directly to what we call the Pounding and Cutting Room. In there the rough fudge gets tipped out of the wagons into the mouth of a huge machine. The machine then pounds it against the floor until it is all nice and smooth and thin. After that, a whole lot of knives come down and go chop chop chop, cutting it up into neat little squares, ready for the shops." - Maev Kennedy, The Guardian
A deleted scene from Go, Dog, Go! by PD Eastman shows several dogs awaiting euthanasia.  "A green dog in a blue cage.  A blue dog in a green cage.  Die, dog, die."  In Eastman's personal papers a note was found saying, "I don't know what I was thinking.  I must've been crazy."
The classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown illustrated by Clement Hurd originally had an additional page between "Goodnight nobody" and "Goodnight mush" which simply read, "For God's sake, just go to sleep already!"  The page was not included in the published version for being too "harsh."
In Where the Wild Things Are, Max, who arrives on the island of Wild Things wearing only his pajamas and who is much smaller than the native fauna is torn to pieces and eaten before author Maurice Sendak bowed to pressure to be "more commercial."
In the first draft of The Cat in the Hat, rather than cleaning up the house with a magical machine, the Cat and the children lie in wait for Mother's return, then ambush her, and throw her corpse in the basement.  The publisher rejected the manuscript and Dr. Seuss rewrote the ending.
Curious George was shot by animal control officers as a public menace, and the Man in the Yellow Hat paid a hefty fine for endangerment and animal cruelty.  This episode was later dropped.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rough Drafts of the Doxology

This whole humility and self-sacrifice thing
could be big, Big, BIG!
The concluding line "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever," seems to have been added to the Lord's Prayer by first-century Christians, presumably unsatisfied with the original ending.

This new prayer of yours, Jesus, we love it.

Really dude, we all just love it.  We mean that sincerely.

Like the part where it says, "Thy will be done."  That's genius, buddy.  A prayer for God to do exactly what He intends to do anyway.  Man, that'd be sucking up, only it's just, so, I don't know, humble.  And then the part where it says, "forgive us our trespasses... as we forgive those who trespass against us."  Bam!  That line is just killer.  Really, I mean that sincerely.  I showed that to Magdalene, you know, the chick who does the foot rubs, and she got tears in her eyes.  Tears.  I mean that sincerely.  

We all agree sincerely you just nailed it.  I mean this prayer of yours says everything that needs to be said.  If a guy could have only one prayer to use his whole life, this would be it.  I guess that's why they call you the Son of God.  Am I right, or am I right?


This is not a criticism, I mean, sincerely, this prayer is perfect just the way it is.  But.  The last part.  "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."  You see where some people might get the idea that's kind of a downer?  I mean, not me, I think it's great just the way it is.  But the last word of a prayer written by God-Freaking-Incarnate Himself is "evil."  That just sort of, I don't know, it's kind of a let-down.  You're staying on message throughout the prayer, and then, thud.  It's like the last word is about the competition.  It sort of tarnishes the brand, you know?

Not me, not me, like I said I LOVE this prayer.  I mean that sincerely.  El-oh-vee-ee, love it.  But some people are going to get the wrong idea if the last word is "evil."  That's all we're saying.

So we were thinking of adding just a little bit.  We wouldn't change anything in the prayer, just put a little tagline at the end, to kind of round it out, you know?

Like, for example, how about if it went: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name" - etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - until you got to the part, "and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Offer excludes tax, tag, title, registration, and dealer fees."

Better, huh?  Pretty snazzy.  Oh, you don't like that one.  How about this:

"Our Father, who art in heaven" - yadda, yadda, yadda - "not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  Subject to terms and conditions, not available in all areas, void where prohibited by law."

Not easy to please, are ya?  Okay, try this one on for size, "Our" blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, "deliver us from evil.  Past performance does not reflect future results, this does not constitute an offer to sell, if you have an erection lasting more than six hours, consult your physician."

Still no good, huh?  Well, don't worry, leave it to the boys in PR to come up with something.  Like I said, we all just love this new prayer of yours, sincerely, we mean that.  It goes without saying it's perfect in every way.

We just feel it could be a little bit better.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Someone Help Me, Please

I must've overslept
I don't know what happened.

Last night I went to bed and everything seemed perfectly normal.  When I woke up, I was like this.

When I went to sleep last night, my daughters were little girls.  The younger one was just learning to ride a two-wheeler, and the older was mastering long division.  Now they are grown: one married, and one engaged.  Moreover, my face and body have transmorgified horrifically.  I went to bed as a twenty-seven or possibly thirty-three years-old.  Now, looking in the mirror, if I didn't know better, I'd swear I was fifty-five.

When I turned out the lights, Reagan or possibly Bush the Elder was president.  I was very optimistic about the future; we had won the Cold War, and there'd been a little fracas in the Middle East or Afghanistan somewhere, but we'd gone in and kicked tail, and we knew we wouldn't have anymore trouble of out them ever again.

When I went to sleep, the one thing you could count on was that real estate would go up in value.

When I went to sleep, I didn't have liver spots on my hands.

I woke up this morning, and all my favorite songs had moved from the Top 40 station to the Oldies radio station.

I went to sleep having spent hours transferring all my old LPs and cassette tapes to CDs.  Now I can't find my CDs.

When I went to sleep, my parents-in-law were in wonderful shape and doing fine and were generally fun to be around.  Now a caregiver goes to their house each day, but that is not enough, and Nancy and her sister must go down to help out, often for days and weeks at a time.  They are old and in chronic pain.  My father-in-law can barely stand straight and my mother-in-law has Alzheimer's.

I wonder what they were like before they went to sleep last night.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yoda Explains How to Play Monopoly

A token each player must select, and on the Go Space, they must place it.  A Top Hat, a Race Car, a Battleship, or a Thimble a player can be.  Even a Cat a player can be.  A Flat-iron, a player may not be.  No more is the Flat-iron.  Miss it, do not.  Attachment leads to jealousy.  The shadow of greed, that is.

A Banker one player will be. Give  $1,500 to each player the banker will.  Collect $200 when you pass Go, you will.  If on an un-owned property a player lands, buy it, he may.  If on an owned property lands a player, rent the owner must demand, not collect rent he will if fails to do so he does.  (Jesus, hard it is, talking this way.)

If all properties of one color a player owns, houses he may build.  After a the fifth house, a hotel he may build.  Sucks this does for a player who not many properties has.  Especially if on Park Place and Boardwalk hotels there are.  Ha-ha, a loser you are.  Sometimes a relief it is the Dark Side of the Force to join and to jail to go, is it not?  At least rent in jail pay you do not.

When bankrupt a player goes, removed his piece is from the board.  A temper tantrum throw do not, but over it get.  Such a baby do not be. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Latest Developments re Chickens

I will admit to you that Nancy and I have had our problems with chickens.  All has not been smooth sailing on the chicken front.  We did have one pair of them for a long time, but recently, foxes - I presume - got our last two.  I will not even bother to calculate how many chickens have gone home to meet Jesus at Casa Martin.

Nancy was in Macon earlier this week, and got in touch with our chicken contact, who sold her three new ones, real beauties, who lay Grade-A large eggs.  Let it be said, that Nancy is fully one-hundred percent on-board with chicken ownership.  Apart from their tendency to poop on the patio deck - which problem has been fixed by installing a new chain-link fence - Nancy is devoted to the chickens, and is the first to say, the backyard isn't the same without them.

The question remains, how do we protect the birds.

I maintain that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our birds, but in ourselves.  The foxes know where the chickens are now, so we have to be extra careful; I have been too lax in opening up the coop before sunrise and leaving it open after sunset.  I am of the theory that if I am careful not to let them out before broad daylight, and make sure to secure them before sunset, they will be right as rain. 

Nancy, however, has another scheme.  Our chicken contact has his coop electrified - he himself has suffered massive depredations at the hands of dogs, or paws, as the case may be.  The thing operates on solar power and gives a little jolt to any fox unwise enough to stick his nose in.

Nancy sent me a picture of the set-up with her cellphone.

Dear lord, are we really contemplating doing this ourselves?

I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Do I Need You to Draw You a Picture?

This is not really the image I wanted, but I couldn't find the Tony the Tiger
 I was looking for.  But if you look closely, you'll see the bottom part
of the Morton Salt Girl on the container, who is spilling salt in the rain
just like the big Morton Salt Girl.  Does she sense the irony?

So Nancy and I got a new fancy-shmancy refrigerator.  Like any fancy-shmancy refrigeator, this one has an ice-maker and water-dispenser built into the door.  This one, however, has an added feature.  When you get water, an LED screen shows a computer simulation of water sloshing back and forth and the helpful legend, "water."  It also tells you the precise number of ounces you've poured.  When you get ice, the LED shows a simulated cascade of crushed ice.  These images, by the way, are not wholly convincing, nor are they meant to be: they are clearly computer-generated animations.

Why did GE see fit to install this LED panel?  Do they believe the experience of getting water or ice is enhanced by a graphic visualization?  

Now, this is perfectly harmless, but it's very curious.  I tried to express what I felt this meant to my friend Molly Bassett, but couldn't articulate it at the time.  I think this ties in somehow with the little decals you see on the back of minivans and such, with each family member, down to the dog and cat, represented by a smiley-faced stick figure.  Leaving aside certain practical questions - for example, if the dog gets killed by a Buick, do you have to go out and scrape his decal from the windshield? - what is the source of delight some people take in these decals.  Because, let's admit it, there is something pleasing and amusing about them, even to someone like me who never intends to get one.

Or here's another example, although admittedly rarer, probably because you can't just buy these in a store.  Sometimes you will see a mailbox which is a tiny replica of the house in front of which it sits.  A little voodoo mailbox, if you will, that the postman opens each day to put in bills and postcards.

I don't know if other nationalities besides Americans do this sort of thing, but I suspect they don't.  It would seem we like to have not only the thing itself, but an image of the thing.  We pour ourselves a glass of water, and enjoy the watching the sloshing - clearly simulated - of water on an LED screen.  We drive up to our nice house, and enjoy pulling mail from the doll-sized model, as if our mail lived in a house just like ours!  We load our charming family into our minivan - our daughter has a soccer game - and are pleased at the cartoon representation of ourselves on the back window, right down to our daughter's soccer uniform.

Is it that reality is insufficient for us and has to be supplemented somehow?  Or is it that reality is so rich that we celebrate it by representing it in these little totems?  Or is it something else?

The first commercial image that really gripped me was Tony the Tiger on the box of Frosted Flakes.  When I was a kid, Tony was pouring a bowlful from a box, on which Tony was pouring a bowlful, on which Tony was pouring a bowlful... and so on, if not ad infinitum, at least ad the-artist-got-sick-of-it.  (I have scoured the internet but can't find an image of that box anywhere.  Do I remember it correctly?  Did I really see it at all?)  That box fascinated me, and I would ponder that endless regression of Tonys.  It reminded of an experience standing between two mirrors, so that each mirror reflected not only me, but the reflection of me in the opposite mirror, and the reflection of the other mirror's reflection, and so on, this time ad infinitum indeed, for unlike a corporate cartoonist, light never loses its patience with endless duplication.

I think the LED panel, and the family decals, and the little voodoo-house mailbox are somehow traceable to that same phenomenon: the joy we have in our own reflection - I am pouring water, and the refrigerator mimics it.  The ultimate expression of this is to stand between two mirrors and look at our reflection looking at our reflection looking at our reflection in an infinite space.

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Shouldn't this... this?

...and shouldn't this... this?