Gremlins are Totally Misunderstood

One of the greatest Christmas classics of all-time is the 1980s hit horror film, Gremlins. Thanks to my impressionable young age at the time of its release and my mother’s repeat viewings of it every December, I grew up terrified of the song “Do You Hear What I Hear” and always thought there was something grisly about icing gingerbread men. That blender-microwave one-two shot really haunted me. In spite of the childhood trauma, it’s actually a fantastic movie chockful of yuletide spirit.

I was re-watching it again the other night and realized there is one major stand-out problem with this movie, though: The gremlins are not the bad guys. Not really. They’ve been totally misunderstood, marginalized, and murdered. Really, this film is little more than Christmas-themed anti-gremlin propaganda.

Don’t believe me? Read on as I lay out my case.

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The Classes of the Indoor Housecat: Felinus Fluffibutticus

I’ve finally cracked it, people–the previously inscrutable code of cat archetypes. Cat-kind has long been deliberately enigmatic. Such a nature is what makes them endearing, yet dangerous companions/overlords. I have spent forty years (yes, I confess this to you in the name of science) observing cats in their natural elements: Blankets, laps, sunny windows, keyboards, food bowls, etc. It has, indeed, taken me this long and the observation of several subjects of varying breed and background in order for me to crack the code and distinguish cat personalities so that one might classify them according to archetypes.

My findings are astounding. First, one must acknowledge that it is universally known and accepted that all cats are females (just as all dogs are males). Genitalia and reproduction do not alter this fact. It is known. Second, I share with you now the discovery that all indoor housecats fall into at least one of five basic archetypes. I have described them below for your better understanding.

1. Mother Hens

The Mother Hen cat is the caretaker of other cats, but not necessarily people. If a cat is sick or dirty, or just young, the Mother Hen will bathe her head and other bits to remove offending odors. The Mother Hen is also likely to cuddle kittens or sick cats. She does not shy from her job, though it can be a burden and very tiresome. A Mother Hen need not actually be a mother for this personality to develop, though such traits will commonly not emerge until the onset of adulthood. Mothering cats may or may not develop a favorable relationship with humans, and do not necessarily need to care for the furless ones.

2. Hidden Cats of Scaredy Pantsington

We have all met one of The Hidden at some point or another, and hopefully we do not have them in our own homes, for while some cats have a greater disposition toward being scaredy pants, such a personality trait is often the result of mistreatment. Sorry, this isn’t to say that a scaredy cat has been abused. Sometimes an environment can be entirely wrong for a cat–perhaps too much noise, an overly tidy spouse, children who are handsy, or humans who try to apply rigid rules to felines. Cats, clearly, are not meant to be managed or taught lessons. When a cat feels consistently threatened or harassed, then even a pre-determined archetype will be eschewed for the Hidden Cats of Scaredy Pantsington model. That said, some cats are wired to embrace the ways of the Hidden Cats more readily than others. And even a very secure and happy cat may have been transformed into one of The Hidden during a previous living circumstance. Worry not, with love and affection, some quiet, and lots of treats, your scaredy cat may develop other facets to her personality.

3. The Generalissimo

This is your basic dictator model. A cat who has amazing physical prowess, aggressive confidence, and the ability to work through puzzles is a member of the Generalissimo brigade. Such a cat may express affection for humans or other cats, but is still likely to pounce, scratch, bite, or chase. Most little Generalissimos exhibit higher levels of intelligence and express behavior similar to the raptors from Jurassic Park. You may also have the uncanny sense that your cat is marshalling the other cats and pets to serve their whims–stealing food, framing the dog for crimes, convincing the guinea pig to weet-weet at feeding time (oh, it’s happened). This basic cognitive superiority is important to not only their confidence, but also to compensate for physical decline later in life. One she has trained her army of minions, she need not tackle them in order to make her will known–a withering glare will suffice.

4. Clingy Cuddle Blobs

This is a fairly uncommon feline class, but exists primarily in those cats who reject the other precepts of cat behavior. The Clingy Cuddle Blobs seek to smother humans with affection and cover them with a sphere of heat, and that is all. Such cats are not interested in caring for other animals, nor are they scared, nor are they inclined to hatch a plot. Playing is overrated, as is walking. Sunshine is a nice diversion when humans won’t settle down, but a good human lap is the best thing for a Cuddle Blob. They are especially fond of strangers who don’t like cats or are allergic to them. A Cuddle Blob can sense this immediately, and once convinced that said visitor will not hassle them, they will immediately move to lay across the person’s lap or arm or head. Due to such a deliberately inactive lifestyle, this cat will often be fairly rotund, or “fluffy”.

5. The Weird

The Weird is a very special class of cats and is the least understood of all–by design. The Weird exhibit behaviors that defy logic, reason, and sometimes even physics. While they may actually hatch plans and be extraordinarily intelligent, the focus of any such plans can never be worked out by our simple human brains. For example, a weird may encircle a bed with socks every night for exactly one month, and then never again. A Weird may seem to be in multiple rooms at once. A Weird may form seemingly unhealthy attachments to people, animals, things, or shadows. I’ve suspected at least one of my Weirds of time travel. Now, a Weird need not be hyper-intelligent, though it is more typical. This class can be very affectionate, and very rarely aggressive. Typically, this is a passive, peaceful class that is more interested in the invisible things in the corner than causing trouble. Unfortunately, people sometimes attempt to train or trick their cats into appearing Weird for the sake of video phones or photos. The ineffable qualities of The Weird cannot be taught. It is an archetype that is established at birth and may never be undone.

Have you yet discovered your kitty’s class? At least one of these should apply to every cat, though I will note that there may certainly be overlap between classes. As noted in our diagram above, there are specialized sub-classes to which any cat may be naturally inclined. This I submit to you for your study and appreciation. Please refer to this chart upon welcoming another cat into your home so that you may respect their machinations and desires. All hail our furry overlords.

Playhouse From Hell

Remember when Craig’s List was a legit thing?

There was a time not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away that Craig’s List was a legit and kinda safe place to find bargains in your community. It was, like, 2008. I remember it well. See, I had a toddler back then, so I was broke and jonesing for the hot new toy that every mom had to have or they were bad. BAAAAD. It was the good old days of driving 20 miles to pick up someone’s junk that they valued at just five bucks under retail, but then you half-load the shit in your car and are like “Naw, I have a ten. You want me to take your garbage or no? Sucker!”

Back in 2008 I was scoping out some giant plastic playhouses for my toddling daughter to hide in whenever mommy decided to sit down and eat a whole cake in one sitting like a snake unhinging its jaw. Because it was Craig’s List, most of the playhouse offerings were pretty ridiculous – tables are missing, phone receivers are missing, plastic faucets have been broken off, and water trapped in the walls was growing new cultures of black mold in at least half of the houses I scoped.

But that’s not the worst of it. Oh no. There was one listing that made me wet my pants a little when I read it, and lives in infamy to this day. This was an honest-to-Elvis Craig’s List listing in SE Michigan, word for word:

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LEGO Help Vouchers for Little ‘Uns: Free Download

Parental LEGO freedoms are vital part of our society.

It’s summer vacation right now and I couldn’t be more thrilled that my daughter is rifling through my old-school 1980s red plastic LEGO briefcase and assembling new sets. But she is a pain in the ass. I say this with love. I can spend my entire day by her side, chatting, assisting, bringing her food and beverage, and when the sun goes down, there she is again. She pops into the living room where my husband and I have a movie going asking for help finding a piece that, apparently, has fallen into some magical invisible abyss that can only be accessed by parents. It’s every 15-20 minutes. And us retiring to our bedroom doesn’t help. The LEGO neediness has had a severe impact on my marital happiness.

I’m not joking. This has become a mental health issue for both parents, here. The LEGO tyranny must end.

Before you go thinking I’m a monster for not being more supportive, check yourself. I give my daughter lots and lots of attention and support, but I need freedom of thought, quiet, and ability to listen to adult entertainment and conversations.

And she needs to wean herself. Any 1980s kid knows that half of the awful euphoria of LEGOing is hunting for the elusive brick piece until your eyeballs nearly fall out, and then suddenly spotting it. Or figuring out how to make it work some other way.

This is her time for that mania. Not mine. So I finally had to draw a line between “Hellscape Monster Who Yells at Her Kid to Bugger Off and Find Her Own Damn LEGOs” and enabling parental sap who does everything for her kid. I can’t be her bulldozer. Not with LEGOs, not anymore.

This is my solution. Vouchers. LEGO help vouchers. There are three of them, and she can hand one to us at any reasonable point during the day (maybe I should’ve put an evening time limit on them, hmmm), and we’ll give her a hand. The goal? I want some damn critical thinking on her part about whether or not it’s worth using up one of her daily vouchers. And when the three are done, she’s done with help for the day. Tough love, baby.

Maybe I should’ve only printed two. I don’t know.

In my case, I printed these puppies, attached them to cardboard backing (upcycling ftw!), cut them out, and then laminated them with packing tape. It was a bit much. You don’t need to get so elaborate. Especially since when I handed them to her, she responded with “gee, thanks”, and chucked them irritatedly into her nightstand drawer. Her eyerolls were monstrous. Eleven is just a peachy age.

Note that she is LEGOing right now, and she has not come out of her room to ask for help in over thirty minutes. I think she spitefully refuses to acknowledge the voucher existence for the time-being. But there will be a time soon when she’ll come a-knockin’ (probably just as my husband figures out how to get my bra off), and she had better have a damn voucher in-hand. LEGO freedom for all parents!

Anyway, I am sharing them here because share and share alike. Happy LEGOing.

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 3.04.37 PM.pngDownload for free right here: LEGO vouchers 

Know Your Irish Road Signs

Thinking of visiting Ireland this year on vacation? Getting around in a new country can be tricky, confusing, and startling. Don’t panic.

This is why I have assembled the following guide to help you navigate the unfamiliar roads of the Irish countryside*. It is based on my wisdom gleaned from living here for just under a year’s time. And let me tell you, at first these signs were a bit befuddling, but I think I’ve finally caught on.

Irish Road Signs-from HauntedCoconutcom

*Sign instructions are probably wrong. Do not consult for actual safety or driving purposes. 

Traffic_Jam,_West_of_Ireland

Mr. Boogedy is Totally Misunderstood

If you were a child of the 80s, then you likely know the tale of the silly and harassed Davis family who bought a haunted house in Lucifer Falls and then battled an evil ghost with a magic cloak. You watched Kristy Swanson (the worst actress ever) pout on a picnic blanket with cheese curls, and a robe-clad Bud Bundy get pulled kicking into the air by an inflated fireplace shovel. The kid from ALF even bickered with a little kid ghost over a snot-soaked teddy bear, and all the spirits glowed in neon. It was the spooky and mesmerizing children’s tale called Mr. Boogedy, which originally aired as a Disney made-for-TV movie in 1986.

Animated GIF

I’ve been watching and rewatching this movie every October for many years now, and it has come to my attention that there is, in fact, something very haunting about this tale. But it isn’t the house or how the Davis family was plagued by ghosts. It was the treatment of a misunderstood man named William Hanover that lasted for hundreds of years. You see a hamburger-faced demon zapping lightning at a wisecracking family, whereas I see a trod-upon and anguished soul.

To see my point, let us all go back to the beginning. Boogedy’s beginning.

The Origin Story

Here is the story of Mr. Boogedy–as he is known pejoratively known–in the words of crackpot historian, Neil Witherspoon:

300 years ago, long before any of us were alive, a small group of pilgrims lived on this very spot. They were a hard-working, decent group of people. Once in a while of course, they would enjoy a good laugh. Most of them, that is.

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If You Were Stranded On a Desert Island, and You Could Only Have…

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only play one favorite workplace lunchroom game…it would have to be the ol’ desert island scenario.

There you are, you poor bastard. You’re stranded on a very tiny desert island for what you can only assume is an indefinite amount of time. A few concessions are made by the universe toward your predicament: Apparently, you have at least a meager source of fresh water and food–enough to survive, even if you get the “coconut runs” daily. Sadly, though, it is presumed in most scenarios that you have no companionship.

Curiously enough, whatever crisis led to your surprise crash or abandonment on the little island, you are given some options–maybe by the grace of generous pirates? Well-connected mer-people? So, now is the time to choose. Your benevolent porpoise or pirate wench has given you but moments to decide the small comfort you may be afforded for your eternal, sandy sabbatical. I hope you have your answers ready to go. Wish-granting squids are notoriously impatient.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have…

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Oldies Music is Creepy and Disturbing, Vol. 1

Surf City here we come, indeed.

I grew up listening to 1950s and 1960s “oldies” music on the radio and records and cassette  tapes. It all seemed really normal since it was my mom’s favorite, until I realized that she was born in 1955, which means that she was still worshipping music from her preschool years–and worse yet, subjecting me to it throughout my impressionable youth. Thanks, Mom. I could have been raised on the Stones. Or The Doors. Or even ELO. Those were your contemporary groups! Instead, I spent the 80s listening to Buddy Holly and the Crickets tracks over and over on some enormous headphones that would’ve fit in at NASA.

Okay, I kind of like it. There were some epic tunes even back then, and I’m a little proud of knowing so many lyrics. But decades on, listening to and singing the same lyrics over and over and over, I’ve started to hear some of them in a much different light. I’m rocking out to some of the classics in my kitchen, washing dishes and cooking dinner, and suddenly I catch what I’m singing in front of my daughter and I’m halted upright and make that lemon-sucking face.

What did I just sing out loud? Oh my god, did I just sing about sexually attacking a teenager?!

And I want to hit the “next track” symbol or start nervously laughing at Alexa as if it was her fault the song came on. “Oh, Alexa! What kind of crazy music do you think I like? Ha. Ha. Yeah. Next track! NEXT TRACK!”. But the truth is, some of the creepiest songs are also the catchiest, so my finger hovers over the iPhone and then I just keep grooving, while making coughing noises and mumbling over the choicest lyrical bits.

Damnit, Baby Boomers, you guys are messed up. Your generation sang about some pretty sick relationships, and you weren’t trying to be shocking or emo. You were happy and bopping about it! Dudes. Messed up.

Can’t recall what I’m talking about? I present as evidence, five pretty horrible offenders:

Continue reading “Oldies Music is Creepy and Disturbing, Vol. 1”

It’s Thankstivus! The Better Alternative to Thanksgiving

I’m declaring a brand-new holiday from this year forward: THANKSTIVUS!

It will be observed on the traditional Thanksgiving day. The holiday does not require decoration, but should you choose to, the thematic colors are blue and black, to symbolize the bruising of our souls by Thanksgivings of years past.

Thankstivus Traditions

The celebration of Thankstivus should be observed as follows: First, all parties must sleep in until a very late hour, for family is exhausting. Then all participants gather at one home in the mid to late afternoon. Children should be immediately evacuated to an insulated room elsewhere in the house with nourishment and entertainment to last hours.

Continue reading “It’s Thankstivus! The Better Alternative to Thanksgiving”

I Want to Punch the TD Ameritrade Commercial Guy in the Beard

If you watch a lot of television, especially CNN, as I do, then you know the bearded TD Ameritrade douchebag. He patronizes women, telling them that their life savings is a fortune (….ha, as if! Watch him try not to giggle at their poorness). He therapizes stay-at-home moms condescendingly and, I assume fraudulently, because who the hell is a financial therapist, you creeper? And he does it all while talking out of his fussy beard. I hate that beard. I really want to punch that financial stalker straight in the beard.

Since I can’t do that since that would mostly mean punching my TV which might then weeble-wobble right off the table and break forever, I have developed a solution. I give you, the TD Ameritrade Creeper Beard Dartboard!

TD Ameritrade Dart Board.jpg

Rules: Play darts as you normally would, but you get 50 points if you hit him in the beard.

The CNN Wolf Blitzer Drinking Game!

If you can’t get enough CNN, and Wolf Blitzer’s sexy monotone run-on sentences have you all alight, then you, friend, are the perfect candidate for the Wolf Blitzer Drinking Game! Let’s make an intoxicating game out of the end of the world. Let’s get Blitzered.

That’s it. Any more and you would die.

Special thanks to readers Katy and Lyle for their suggestions on making this game even greater!

(And if reality isn’t your bag right now, perhaps you might enjoy my exciting West Wing drinking game!)

The Wars of the Roses: An Authentic, Irreverent Retelling

For nearly one hundred years in England’s history, a knot of noble families fought over the royal throne in a giant, messy multi-generational screw-you fest that history has dubbed “The Wars of the Roses”.

This title is a misnomer, of course. The murder, deception, and power mongering went far beyond any battlefield. So not simply a war.

And furthermore, though history tries to explain this era as being a battle between two families–each represented by a rose–that ignores a lot of historical context, and a whole lot of players from other families and other countries. So not really strictly about roses either.

Maybe they should have called it The Great English Stink instead. Eh, guess no poets were on hand to think of it. Shakespeare really dropped the ball on this one, eh?

wars-roses-smell-it
“You will smell the white rose! Smell it! Smellllll it!”

Continue reading “The Wars of the Roses: An Authentic, Irreverent Retelling”

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