Tag Archives: wolverine

THC’s Vikings is a Religion…

Vikings_S02P12,_cast

If you haven’t had the chance to watch this show, you’re missing out. Sure, critics will say that it isn’t entirely historically accurate, but this is mostly because it borrows from several conflicting Viking sagas as well as pagan mythology. Weaving Scandinavian legend and lore into events detailed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, all while maintaining a tenuous balance between Christianity and Paganism, is no small feat. Ragnar’s conflicts with the Anglo-Saxons (and often with his own people) allow for a compelling juxtaposition of two worlds, one grasping for the future and the other for the past, each as beautiful and barbaric as the other. Historical Easter eggs are scattered throughout for the discerning scholar, but the show is entirely accessible to those for whom figures like Odin and Sigurd are not the topics of casual conversation. This is in part because strategic re-tellings of Nordic lore bring everyone up to speed.

So far, the only annoying thing about the inclusion of the lore has been my reaction to it: “Oh! I know this one! And then Loki makes an arrow out of mistletoe and…!”

…And then I realize I’m acting like my youngest daughter and spoiling things. So I figure if I’m going to do that, a blog review might be a better platform than my living room.

That was your one chance to run before the SPOILERS. Continuing on will also make you subject to my opinion, which can be a forceful thing. You’ve been warned.

Vikings has plenty of action with all its flying axes and forbidden romances, but I find that when a television show manages to hook me, it’s because of the characters. With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of my favorites.

Ragnar Lothbrok/Lodbrok

First off, Travis Fimmel demonstrates how a beard and some chainmail can transform someone who looks like this:

Wimpy Ragnar

“Excuse me, guys? This is Asgard, right? Where is the hall for eunuchs?”

Into Ragnar Frickin’ Lothbrok:

Ragnar Meme

If you’re into this show, you both love and hate this guy. He has an infinite capacity for forgiveness, as displayed when he accepts Rollo back after his betrayal, but he is arguably also the most ruthless character as well, demonstrated by his blood eagling of that creepy necrophiliac and wannabe Hamlet, Jarl Borg. He loves his family to distraction, except for when he cheats on his first wife, Lagertha, with this thing:

Aslaug Alice

“It is I, Aslaug! Daughter of Brunhilde and Fafnir… I mean Sigurd!”

Aslaug. From what I’ve gathered from those who are watching the show with me, nobody likes Aslaug. Ragnar doesn’t even like Aslaug. Why, then, does he ruin his seemingly healthy marriage with Lagertha (when she isn’t beating the crap out of him) to mess around with something that reminds me of the swamp witch from Legend:

Swamp Witch

“Me so sexy bathe in river!”

And bears Ragnar mutant children like Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye:

Sigurd_c1

“Did you catch my name? They only said it like 100 times!”

And Ivar the Boneless:

Ivar the Boneless

“Here to conquer the Yellow Brick Road I am!”

The answer comes from the Viking sagas. Ragnar and Lagertha appear in the sagas independently of Ragnar and Aslaug, and their relationship ultimately ends because Ragnar doubts Lagertha’s feelings for him–due to her attempt to KILL him with a hound and a bear when he sought her hand in marriage. (Remember Ragnar telling Bjorn that story in season one?) Lagertha, despite their divorce, does indeed come to Ragnar’s aid in the sagas and provide military support. Her continued presence in Vikings is not just based on viewer feedback but also on source material.

In Ragnar’s sagas with Aslaug, however, she is the mother of all his notable children, including Bjorn Ironside (Lagertha’s son in the show), and Ivar the Boneless is actually their oldest child. Most of these children were iconic figures in their own right, and their “great heathen army”, led by Ivar the Boneless, nearly conquered England after their father’s death. Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and later all of England (who just showed up as a baby in season three), finally put a stop to their raids by granting them land in the Danelaw.

The difficulty here is that Bjorn, Ivar, Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye, and some of Ragnar’s other sons are historically documented figures (Ivar actually ruled Ireland and Bjorn terrorized the Mediterranean), whereas Ragnar and Aslaug, like her parents Sigurd Fafnir’s-Bane and Brunhilde, are legendary figures comparable to the British King Arthur and Morgan Le Fay. Whether Ragnar Lothbrok really existed or if these Viking warriors simply wanted to claim distinction through an unusual birth, as is common in most hero stories, is a matter for debate. In either case, however, the daughter of a great hero and Valkyrie bearing monstrous children to a rags-to-riches king made for a compelling story 1,200 years ago, and it continues to do so now.

In a nutshell, the gross seer with the face like the inside of a hot dog wasn’t lying.

seer gross

“Don’t recognize me from Braveheart? Well, this is what a morning star does to your face!”

Ragnar’s children DO become more famous than him, so unless the History Channel REALLY wanted to revise history and mythology into commercially driven drivel, it was necessary for Ragnar to enter into this second marriage in order to establish the children who would later cause so much documented trouble for Western Europe.

Still, this betrayal made me hate Ragnar for awhile. Now, I see him as a character who feels trapped by prophecy, much like Shakespeare’s Macbeth. As Ragnar explains in season three, he was fated to become a king and have many sons, but what he wanted–farming and family–was never part of his destiny.

Lagertha

Lagertha starts out Vikings as the epitome of feminism in the dark ages, inspiring women to become shield maidens and knavish men to keep it in their pants. This meme encapsulates our feelings about her in seasons one and two:

always-be-yourself-lagertha

After Ragnar’s indiscretions with Aslaug, Lagertha divorces her unfaithful husband and leaves the fiefdom with her son in the a scene that would have impressed even the God-fearing wives of the British Isles–wait, besides being warriors, Viking women had rights? They could divorce, own property, and even become a Jarl/Earl? Lagertha does all of these things, and it isn’t just the History Channel trying to pull in female viewers. Lagertha’s accomplishments here essentially mirror those told in the sagas, with the difference being that she is more politically powerful in the lore. Unlike in Vikings, when she comes to Ragnar’s aid in the sagas, she does so with 120 ships. Or, as this meme so eloquently puts it:

Shield Maiden Sandwich

Unfortunately, the tail end of season two and season three seem to be going the same way as Game of Thrones, with Lagertha screwing everything in sight to please fans of sexual gratuity–despite obviously still loving Ragnar, who obviously does not love Aslaug the serpentine mutant baby factory any more than the fans do. I understood her jumping in bed with the King of Wessex, who doesn’t seem to care about crossing any kind of boundary, least of all the borders of his kingdom. He is, after all, a king with his own Roman bathhouse (how do they keep that thing so clean?), a transgressive Christian at best, and kind of a smooth talker. But then she starts messing around with the douche bag that stole her land and title while she was away in England, and while her son lies gravely injured? Seriously? I’d rather see her hook up with Rollo, who has sacrificed plenty for her in the series and has a good relationship with her son.

Now that I’ve brought up Rollo, I should probably explain why that relationship can’t happen.

Rollo

Berserker Rollo

“Lagertha! My love for you is like a truck!”

Rollo is Vikings’ token berserker. Berserkers were known to cut themselves before battle, wield giant weapons, and not bother with shields or armor. The most famous berserker, of course, is this guy:

1236259-wolverine_variant

“Guns, bub? Who needs ’em?”

Rollo seems to share some other properties with the ol’ canucklehead: he’s ostracized from society, he’s an alcoholic, he’s quick to anger, he never gets the girl…and of course there’s the whole mutant healing factor thing. Remember when Rollo got his face slashed to ribbons by Gabriel Byrne? It looked pretty permanent…

Rollo scars

“Great. Now no one but that skank Siggy will ever love me…”

But by season three, they’re totally healed, Wolverine style:

rollo horse

“BERSERKER!”

It’s too bad for Bjorn that his whiny, Avril Lavigne lookalike wife doesn’t have the same mutant power…

porunn-how-can-you-help-me-no-one-can-help-me

“These scars are just a physical representation of my undiagnosed psychological issues! If only Freud had been born 1,000 years sooner!”

Man, she’s a mess.

Anyway, Rollo’s berserker status in the show is really just a means to an end. He needed to be single when he got to Paris. He has a princess to marry and a dukedom to establish–namely Normandy, which was given to the historical Rollo by King Charles the Simple (what a name!) in 911 AD to prevent future attacks on the French capital.

This Rollo, whose origin is contested, probably wasn’t the brother of the legendary Ragnar Lothbrok, nor was Ragnar the chieftain under which Rollo fought when their forces first laid siege to Paris. After a few buy-offs, which only led to raids in Burgundy, Rollo returned to Paris as the then leader of the Viking army and was reportedly given Princess Gisela’s hand in marriage as well as the Dukedom of Normandy, which he had conquered, in exchange for allegiance to the king. When King Charles was deposed, Rollo went a-raiding again, and Normandy grew even larger. Its greatest expansion, of course, was in 1066, when Rollo’s descendant, William the Conqueror, defeated the Anglo-Saxon forces at the Battle of Hastings and the Normans took over England.

The historical Rollo is arguably the ancestor of the British monarchy from 1066 onward, including the current royal family. His line, through William the Conqueror, was also responsible for introducing knights to England, the major advantage that made the battle of Hastings such a massacre for the Anglo-Saxons under King Harold II.

In Vikings, Rollo is constantly passed over for leadership despite his obvious prowess in battle. His dejected ambitions cause him to making emotional decisions (like betraying his brother) that lead to him being shunned by all of Scandinavia. But patience, ye mountain of hairy muscle. Like the triple-ugly seer told him, “Oh Rollo, if you truly knew what the gods have in store for you, you would go down now and dance naked on the beach.”

Those Nordic gods do seem to work in mysterious ways, like randomly showing up and having an affair with Aslaug and then screwing over the most devout follower on the show, the ever-mischievous Floki.

Floki

Floki Dies Riot

Floki might be on the chopping block because there’s no historical evidence for his existence, unless, as some believe, he is Loki in human form. Some evidence points to this conclusion, such as his miraculous knowledge of how to build ships and siege towers, his demand that Helga name their daughter after Loki’s first wife (Angrboda), and his apparent shapeshifting/magical control of animals that allowed him to sneak past Rollo–by way of doggy distraction–to murder Aethelstan as a sacrifice to the gods.

Rather garnering the favor of the gods, this move so far seems to have brought about disaster for Floki, who is played by Gustaf Skarsgard, one of the few actors on the show of actual Scandinavian origin. His father is the legendary Stellan Skarsgard, so between his origins and acting, it’s no wonder Floki appears to be the most authentically Viking character in the series. And he’s everywhere.

When monasteries are pillaged…

Floki Irreverent

When people need a little alone time…

Perve Floki

When pastoral, pagan weddings of simple elegance make the Christian ceremony look like a funeral…

Floki Helga Wedding

(The most beautiful scene in the show, hands down.)

When battlefield “surgeries” become necessary…

Keep Calm Floki

…Floki is there.

Whether he is the god Loki or not, whether he is favored or shunned for his human sacrifice, one thing about Floki is certain. He’s there for product placement.

Floki Eyeliner

“Helga! See how beautiful my eyeliner is! How bountiful is the generosity of the gods!”

He’s also, you know, totally insane, but that’s one of the things that makes him so endearing. As one Tumblr user put it:

Floki Helga Love

Here’s hoping the raids in Paris don’t ruin these two. Helga has been very patient with a husband who brings more joy to the viewers than his wife.

Vikings airs on Thursday nights on The History Channel. Seasons one and two are currently available on Hulu, and season three is available on the History Channel’s website.

No, THC isn’t paying me for this plug. I just really enjoy the show, and I think that most people who are interested in history and good writing will as well.

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On Superhero Movies, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Book Editing!

the_wolverine-HD

Hey, that’s my sword! Okay, Wolvie. You can borrow it.

Yes, I own the actual antique version of the historical reproduction sword used in The Wolverine. (In the script, Yukio claims the blade itself is hundreds of years old like the clan Yashida sword in the comics, but the repo is of a Japanese officer’s sword from World War 2.)

This probably surprises just about nobody who follows this blog, right?

I was planning on reviewing The Wolverine and Man of Steel separately and including a melange of spoilers and opinionated statements (kind of my thing), but my second job has kind of gotten the better of me lately. I have just under 100 pages of The Dream Box left to edit for TZPP, and my deadline is swiftly approaching. I also had to grade hundreds of papers over the last week for my gig as an English teacher. I’ve kind of had my head under a rock.

Then I heard the news. Ben Affleck is Batman.

This is exactly what I saw in my mind:

Batman and Robin

Holy MATT DAMON, Batman!!!

I even tweeted that Matt Damon was playing Robin, and everyone is so enraged about this casting decision that some people believed me. This was my first experience being a troll. I rather enjoyed it. Given the memes that are circulating around Google right now, I’m not the only one who thinks this is ridiculous.

Why do I think Affleck as Batman playing against Cavill as Superman is the worst casting decision in years? Let’s look at the two (good) superhero movies that came out this summer. And let’s begin with the physiques being presented to us, the audience, as superhuman:

The Wolverine

When Hugh Jackman first landed the part of Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, I was, frankly, pretty disappointed. Comic book nerds are some of the hardest people on the planet to please, and Wolverine is, by far, my favorite comic book hero. Jackman, first of all, wasn’t big enough for the role, which is why you almost always see him wearing three shirts in the X-flicks. (He obviously fixed this issue by taking on the Rock’s training regimen and diet for the new movie.) He also didn’t manage to get the whole berserker rage thing down until X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which I actually enjoyed because I don’t really care for either Gambit or Deadpool as characters, and I thought Liev Schreiber, despite lacking Tyler Mane’s physique, played a mean Sabretooth.

x-men-origins-wolverine-3-liev-schreiber-hugh-jackman-wolverine-sabretooth[1]

But even here, the shot works because Jackman, who at this point is already huge, is wearing that coat… expect a lot of tricks like with with Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.

Still, X-Men Origins: Wolverine suffered from being subject to the continuity of the other X-flicks, which were pretty far off from the comic books. The Wolverine, on the other hand, is relatively self-contained. True, Jean is dead, and Logan has to deal with that vis a vis his psychological issues that are reminiscent of Rick and Lori in Season Three of The Walking Dead, but other than that it’s a side story pulled from two of the best arcs in the Wolverine comic books: 1) Wolverine in Japan, which was written in the 80’s, and 2) Wolverine sans his healing factor after losing his adamantium in a death match with Magneto, which happened in the 90’s. While the second story arc is less prominent than the first and the first has been updated to exclude some Japanese stereotypes present in the source material (re: “The Hand”), many scenes and allusions throughout the film were straight out of the frames of those comic books.

I should know–I own them.

The scene that stood out the most to me is when Logan is shaving and cuts himself–and he’s surprised he doesn’t heal right away. I remember him explaining in the comics that this was when reality set in for him. His healing factor was “tuckered out, darlin'”. He was mortal, and everyone who ever wanted a piece of him was going to be gunning for him now. I also appreciated that in The Wolverine, Yukio had Lady Deathstrike-esque hair, which I took as an allusion to that other Japanese character of great importance who should have showed up in this movie but couldn’t because she died without back story or explanation in X-2. Viper, another of Wolverine’s ex-wives, was probably worked into the script as a substitute for Lady Deathstrike, and what they did with her character held water. Small additions like these reward loyal fans because we know the writers are taking the source material into consideration as opposed to arrogantly believing that–because they work in Hollywood–their ideas must therefore be superior to those of the folks at Marvel.

The Wolverine is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the finest entry in the X-Men movie franchise for this very reason. The Wolverine I know from the comics would return to the wilderness like an animal after suffering a great loss, befriend a bear, and avenge that animal just as he would a human being–whether the statement made by these actions is mainstream or popular or not. He would also throw Mariko’s cheating bastard of a fiance out the window of a skyscraper because he doesn’t like what the man has to say. And he would absolutely need to rip his own heart out (we’re in the meta-narrative now) before being able to get over Jean Grey, a metaphor that was not wasted on true fans and hopeless romantics like me.

I’d personally like to thank everyone involved with this movie because at 31, Wolvie is my hero again.

We could also discuss all the cool samurai action in this flick, including the flaming two-handed swords that looked like something out of Machine Knight, but I’m obviously biased. I’m the intended audience. I can’t say the same, however, for Man of Steel.

Now picture Affleck, at 41, standing next to Cavill, who's younger than me! And keep in mind it isn't the suit that makes Cavill look like that...

Now picture Affleck, at 41, standing next to Cavill, who’s younger than me! And keep in mind it isn’t the suit that makes Cavill look like that…

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Superman. I went to go see this movie because I saw an interview with Russell Crowe, who is one of favorite actors. Crowe explained how his part of Jor-El in the film somewhat parallels his relationship with Cavill, whom he mentored. Still, I was expecting the film to be a lot of flying around, theme music, and men in tights like the other disasters that weren’t much like the comics and–much like some of the earlier Batman flicks–didn’t seem intended to be taken seriously.

Then, I heard that Christopher Nolan had written the story for Man of Steel along with David Goyer, who is getting a bum rap from a couple of my nerd friends on Facebook (as we speak!). I went into Man of Steel with high expectations because I’m a huge fan of how Nolan brought depth, sympathy, and realism to the character of Batman. If anyone could make Superman less of a two-dimensional character, it was certainly Nolan.

I wasn’t disappointed. I hadn’t enjoyed anything having to do with Superman as much as Man of Steel since the Doomsday arc from the 90’s and the New Supermen arc that followed it. The movie focused more on the Superman’s origin story than Hollywood’s typical Clark Kent at the Daily Planet trying to drop game on Lois Lane, and I think for some people who didn’t grow up reading comics and apparently were never bullied as children, this formula failed to satisfy. I, on the other hand, cried when Clark saved the bully on the bus because doing it was right. I cried when Kevin Costner got sucked up by a tornado to keep Superman’s identity a secret. I cried when Superman was finally able to cut loose on another person for the first time after a lifetime of bottling abuse and injustice, of being the cursed and undervalued freak, because Zod, who killed his real father and now threatened the only family he had left, was finally a worthy opponent.

This is the movie you take your son and your father to go see. I went with my daughters and my mother, and the experience was still exceptionally rewarding, but I would argue that Man of Steel is the father-son film of the year.

Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe probably agree with me.

Now, when I think of Ben Affleck and superheroes, my brain doesn’t immediately go to Daredevil, although let’s take a look at Affleck in his prime, 10 years ago when that piece of crap came out:

Is it just me, or is that stick just about the size of his arm?

Is it just me, or is that stick just about the size of his arm even after they stuck him in a textured suit?

Okay, so he’s not quite as wimpy as Orlando Bloom (getting some hate mail from his fans lately, so I must be doing something right), but the difference between Affleck at his best and Jackman/Cavill should be obvious at a glance. Is Affleck going to go through the same kind of training Jackman (also in his 40’s) did to be The Wolverine? I’m not holding my breath on that one. Maybe he’ll bring excellent character acting to the role like Liev Schreiber did with Sabretooth, but I’m not holding my breath on that one either. When I think of Ben Affleck in a superhero context, I think of the Kevin Smith films, and quite specifically, Chasing Amy.

This is Ben Affleck--the co-creator of Bluntman and Chronic, a comic book running gag.

THIS is Ben Affleck–the co-creator of Bluntman and Chronic, a comic book running gag.

As a fan of everything involving Jay and Silent Bob with the exception of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (not Smith’s finest work), I can’t help but appreciate Ben Affleck in a comedic role that, for the most part, involves the comic book industry and fandom. It’s not that Ben Affleck is the worst actor out there, but he isn’t a character actor/method actor. Better thespians than he have tried to take up the cape and cowl, including Val Kilmer and George Clooney, who both failed miserably as Batman.

The one potential positive I do see is that Affleck might take the role more seriously than some of his predecessors due to his previous work with Kevin Smith and the “furor”, as Crow put it, following this casting announcement. But one thing is certain: following Christian Bale and starring opposite Henry Cavill, who seems to play Superman effortlessly, is going to be the biggest challenge of Affleck’s career. I personally like the guy, so I hope he rises to meet it like a proper Dark Knight.

Okay, it’s back to editing The Dream Box for me. For those of you who are new to the blog, The Dream Box is the first novel in a three book Cyberpunk series I’ve sold to the Zharmae Publishing Press that will be available in both print and electronic formats. The book is currently scheduled for release on Black Friday, and my editor (@daniellecromero), has been teasing me with the opportunity to peek at the first cover this week. I won’t be allowed to release the image, unfortunately, but stay tuned for more information as the marketing crew at TZPP makes it available to me.

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The Life and Times of Mr. Quack Quack

photo-6

Most of us remember that one special toy we had when we were little that bordered on being an imaginary friend. Mine was a plushie dinosaur I named Scary because my parents told me that “Dino” wasn’t creative enough. (He’s still around, in fact. They knew how to make toys in the 80’s.)

When Aurie, my oldest, was about two, she fixated on a giant pink hippo chair that she named Spiderman:

Hippo Spiderman

Not my kid, but was our hippo…

Giant pink hippo Spiderman’s demise had less to do with a manufacturing error and more to do with a feline companion we had at the time. Kitty, being a cat and thus evil as the nine hells, deluged sloppy turds, turds that smelled like week-old garbage tossed in salmon and expired mayo, all over Spiderman’s poor plushie lap. (Right about where that kid is, actually…)

It was a horrific end even Stan Lee couldn’t have seen coming.

I remember sneaking out in the middle of the night and hauling Spiderman’s big, dead, pink hippo ass to one of the apartment complex’s industrial sized dumpsters. The only onlookers at his interment were drug dealers and college students right out of a Kevin Smith movie, and these trenchcoated denizens of the ghetto regarded me strangely as I committed the atrocious act of consigning my daughter’s most prized possession to oblivion. So much shame.

Then, in the morning, came the inevitable question.

“Daddy? Where’s Spiderman?”

So Daddy (hey, that’s me!) went out and bought little Aurie a real Spiderman chair! Spiderman chair 2.0 said all kinds of interesting phrases when you sat down… in his lap. -.-

spiderman chair 2.0

Come sit on me! I’m not creepy or anything…

Little Aurie pretended to be happy, but it wasn’t really the same. Em and I, of course, were traumatized by this toy (he kept talking about his web balls!) that at first seemed like a viable replacement for pink hippo Spiderman but later reminded us of the kind of thing you’d see in the bargain section of a Fascinations Sensual Superstore.

A few months later, we moved out of the ghetto. Spiderman stayed there to “clean up the neighborhood”, and Aurie eventually forgot about him.

It was about this time that we bought Mr. Quack Quack. Aurie didn’t initially have that much of a connection to the toy, but Em and I pushed it. Em was afraid she was going to be into boys too early. I, ever the pragmatist, was more afraid that she was never going to find out that Spiderman is a total dweeb compared to Wolverine and Thor.

Spider Sense Wolvie

Spider sense tingling? Too late, bub…

And so it soon came to pass that Aurie had a Mrs. Quack Quack. And, for Easter, a Baby Quack Quack. A whole gaggle of Quack Quacks. She played house with them. A few years passed, and Kiera began to play with them too. Then came Mr. Gram, our Golden Retriever who made it his mission in life to misappropriate these beloved iconic family trophies for chew toys. Em patched a seam here, they went through the wash a few times, and Baby Quack Quack lost an eye to the dogs, but overall, I thought the Quack Quack family was a happy family.

Then, almost overnight, there were no more Quack Quacks about.

The other day, I heard from Em that Aurie, who is now in third grade, has a crush on some boy in her class. Apparently, he “makes her heart flutter”. That’s right. You heard me. Flutter.

This came a couple months after Aurie’s birthday, on which her grandmother gave her deodorant and a training bra. That’s right. You heard me. Deodorant and a training bra.

So, in what was probably a subconscious effort to ignore the real issue, I asked Aurie why I didn’t see her hanging out with Mr. Quack Quack anymore. Her answer astounded me, and I hope to God it isn’t some metaphor for how she sees our family life.

Aurie: Mr. Quack Quack? I go over to his house all the time, but he has plans.

Me: Plans?

Aurie: Yeah, that’s what he tells me. He always has plans. The last time I was there, he yelled at me in the Quack Quack language and chased me out with a mop!

Me: That wasn’t very nice of him, was it?

Aurie: It’s not his fault though, Daddy! Mr. Quack Quack is stressed. He has a hard life.

(At this point, I looked over at the plushie on the nightstand, and he appeared to be brooding… very Twilight Zone.)

Me: Umm… So, what’s so hard about Mr. Quack Quack’s life?

Aurie: It’s his situation, Daddy. He can’t find a job because he doesn’t speak English. All he can say is, “Quack quack!” No one understands him but Mrs. Quack Quack–he tells her things, and then she has to explain everything for him. But she can’t go to his job interviews with him because she works  all day and all night at a taco stand to pay the bills. They never see each other.

Me: Wait a minute! The Quack Quacks have bills?

Aurie: Yeah, they rent. They all live in a beaver damn with holes in it, and Mr. Quack Quack is always mopping. He needs a job really badly, but he can’t get one because all he can say is, “Quack quack!” Plus, he has to take care of his baby all day. Baby Quack Quack should be in kindergarten already, but they can’t afford it because he needs to go to a special school.

Me: Why does Baby Quack Quack need to go to a special school?

Aurie: (as if addressing the biggest idiot in existence) Because he doesn’t have eyes, Daddy. He needs to go to a special school like Helen Keller. Don’t you remember when we read about Helen Keller?

Me: …right.

Aurie: Mr. Quack Quack just needs some space right now. Besides, he’s a lousy cook. All he knows how to make are fishsticks and fish rolls, and Baby Quack Quack can’t stand them, but Baby Quack Quack can’t tell him because he doesn’t understand the Quack Quack language. Those mean beavers are probably going to make him a hobo soon, anyway. They’re going to break down his house with big logs because he can’t pay his bills.

Me: It sounds to me like Mr. Quack Quack needs to find a high paying gig so Mrs. Quack Quack can quit her job and take care of the baby. Couldn’t he interview at some place where the boss speaks the Quack Quack language?

Aurie: He tried that, but his car broke down on the way to the job. His car is a death trap.

Me: (curiously, and a little afraid) What’s wrong with his car?

Aurie: (after describing my p.o.s down to the last nut and bolt) So when his car broke down, everybody in traffic got mad at him. He shook his fist and yelled, “Quack quack! Quack quack! Quack quack!” But nobody understood him. Then the cops came and took him to jail. Mrs. Quack Quack had to leave the taco stand to bail him out, and that cost even more money. They didn’t even pay her in dollars that week. Just gross fish tacos. Baby Quack Quack pretended to eat them and then put them in the toilet…

This went on for another 20 minutes or so before I put Aurie to bed. I had been worried about training bras, deodorant, and a silly third grade crush. Apparently, I’d missed immigration, the recession, special education reform, kids not being able to communicate with their parents, and some really pissed off mafia beaver land lords.

Evil Beaver

Where’s the money, Quacks? Being late again might be… unhealthy for you. Oh yeah, and your fish rolls are shit.

Fat pink hippo Spiderman chair, wherever you are, I’m so sorry. There are no words. Please come back! :-((((

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