Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Christmas Town Uber Alles

So C having been never allowed to watch mainstream TV as a child had never seen the beloved Christmas specials of our childhoods. "Frosty the Snowman", "The Year Without a Santa Claus" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" were unfamiliar to her.

She was allowed, although, to watch a "Charlie Brown Christmas". I assume because, while it was of a secular nature, Linus recited the gospel of Luke regarding the meaning of Christmas and that made it Kosher from a Christian perspective.

While cooking last night C was on her exercise bike and I insisted on having "Rudolph" in the background.

I warned her that it portrayed vividly the odd terrors of 1960s Chauvinist American culture.

First off there is the atmosphere of fear in Christmas Town: one feels like the people are inmates of the island in "The Prisoner" or "The Village": 'There is no escape from Christmas Town'. Don't walk beyond the tinseled squirrel festooned trees or you will be eaten, not by the Big White Beach Baloon or "Those of Whom We Do Not Speak", but the "Abominable Snowman", He is an eerie roaring presence who menaces the elves, deer and other denizens of Christmas Town. He is so scary even a souless creature made only of snow, "Sam" is shaken.

Next you have scads of elves forced to make toys in the atmosphere of an early Ford Motor company plant. They are led by a grim faced US Marine Sergeant Elf with a bad goatee who not only insists that they toil at toy making, but bullies them to sing songs for Santa's pretended enjoyment. The song has the taint of slavery. Are any of these elves free? "We are Santa's elves, filling Santa's shelves". I suspect Wal-Mart has crafted a similar holiday anthem for their associates to sing.

Any elf who doesn't seem gay or happy during sing songs gets a shouted dressing down from Head Elf. In today's world and HR parlance, head elf would be called "a workplace bully". I am confident there are no bathroom breaks provided to those who "fill Santa's shelves".

Santa, that jolly old elf, is bored, annoyed and hen-pecked by his wife, who is (where the hell does this come from?) Jewish. I realize Santa loves all the boys and girls in the world, but what's with the Yenta wife: "Santa...eat...eat...Santa...".
She even has a Yiddish accent.

Then there's the gang of Reindeer. Blitzen - an appropriately Teutonic name -epitomizes the feared male gym teacher. Sports whistle in reindeer mouth he bosses the fawns around. I was surprised he didn't force the small reindeer to line up against a wall while he pelted soccer balls at them in that ritual of child abuse called "Dodge Ball".

Upon Blitzen-Krieg finding that the most talented reindeer Rudoplph, has, well, let's see, a red nose, he mocks him and enjoins the younger deer to banish him from the herd: "And we're not going to let Rudolph join in anymore reindeer games!".

Rudolph's parents are similarly supportive: "Why did you let anyone know you had a red nose?" "How could you?" like it was his fault or something that he had a red nose.! Were the parenting skills portrayed were based on my family?

Then back to Santa Claus. Fed up with his duty as Santa and perhaps hen-pecked to death by his wife he confronts poor Donner about his son's nose. What is it about Christmas Town and their obsession with noses? I suspect there may be more: First Heidegger and now "the North Pole" - "the North Pole" sounds like a Neo-Nazi group, doesn't it?

This treatment leaves Rudolph with no option but to run away, his only companion an ostracized elf named Hermie who just wants to be a dentist and to stop being pushed around by the weird leatherman goatee elf.

On their journey they meet Yukon Cornelius, the character in the show I love with the ferocity I usually reserve for the "Charlie in the Box". Now here's a guy you could do tequila shots with.

Eventually they all end up in the "Land of Misfit Toys" which is ruled over by King Moonbeam a flying griffin Lion who tools around the world at night, so it is explained, and brings all the misfit toys to this very sad and lonely island.

It is at this point in the show, that I realize that the people who did TV puppetry in the early 1960s dropped acid way, way, earlier than any of the Beatles...

To make a long story short (it is an hour special after all with alot of songs) Rudolph not wanting to risk the mass annihilation of misfit toys goes off alone on an ice shelf, sadly, like a polar bear in a global warming documentary. Rudolph comes to some realization that he was selfish ("huh?) and returns to Christmas town only to find Santa who is again pissed. This time because his best Reindeer took off looking for Rudolph.

It's at this point that I think Santa might try and find his "empathy" self and that a Deeprak Chopra book would be in order this year in place of milk and cookies.

Rudolph realizing that no one survives outside Christmas Town, knows the only place they all could be was in the cave of the Abominable Snowman. At least the Snowman doesn't rush things. He appears to have had captured the bunch of juicy, tender reindeer months before but hasn't bothered to eat them. He just roars alot and puts them up to his mouth like Binanca. I wonder if they smell like Christmas pine?

After a daring rescure involving rocks and Hermie's home gleaned dentistry skills, the Reindeer are rescued and everyone returns to Christmas Town.

The Narrator then says that "after hearing their story" the folks of Christmas Town, including Santa "all realize maybe they were a little hard on the misfits".

"a little hard"?!?! They ran them out of town into the lifeless polar tundra where they were nearly masticated by a monster and had their little Reindeer bones used as a toothpic. "a little hard" I ask? I think next C complains that I was rude to the cashier at the Metro and embarassed her, I'll remind her of what "a little hard" really means.

Luckily Rudolph's "infirmity" comes in handy when a snow storm hits and leading the sleigh, he Santa and the menfolk Reindeer go to rescue the misfit toys who so long to be with children.

I do feel for these misfit toys. Really I do. But I can't help but think of the look of shock and disappointment on the faces of those children, who instead of the Easy Bake Oven or GI Joe they had been dreaming of all year, awake to find, waiting for them under the tree, a water pistol that shoots jelly or the train with square wheels.

I bet Santa saves those toys for the weirdo kids on his list.

Damn misfits...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


So we bought a new house and moved some 50 km away from Orangeworld.

Purchasing the new house was a strange journey. The family who resided here reminded me of an ever odder version of the infamous Griswolds. There were the parents who spent all the time lighting fires in the fireplace, a teenage daughter with a pet Chinchila named Oliver, who lived in a cage in the basement along side one of the teen sons: Kevin. With an attempt to dredlock his white boy hair Kevin was a cool dude. And Kevin had, in tried and true teenage fashion, transformed a cellar storage room into an ultra cool stoner "burned out basement" bedroom.

Tacked to the wooden supports was dark blue fabric illuminated only by a dull overhead florescent light fixture containing a black light. On the walls were the requisite Led Zepplin posters, a clock permanently on "4:30" time and out in the basement living room, beside Oliver's cage, a photo of Bob Dylan aged about 22 next to a number of electric guitars. From a teenage me perspective, this was pretty much heaven.

While inspecting the basement I pulled aside some of the fabric to see what was behind there only to accidentally come upon Kevin's stash.

When we made the offer on the house, I suggested to Ross our agent, that along with the traditional request that all fixed chattels and applicances were be included in the purchase that we also ask that they include Kevin's stash.

The next time we came to view the house, the Griswolds again declined to vacate and Kevin even sat downstairs on the couch and played guitar for us while we viewed the premises.

The next and final time we went to the house before moving in, was the day of the home inspection. I had to work late, so C, Ross the agent and the home inspector tramped around poking through the house while the Griswolds cooked dinner.

C and Ross went down to the basement and were standing in Kevin's bedroom, in the murk and gloom, talking about the house. Usual teen boy bed: completely messed with blankets and sheets astrew. They began to laugh about me finding the stash and my previous warnings about not looking underneath his bed lest we happen across Kevin's pornography. Meanwhile the family called all the kids to dinner. But where was Kevin?

"Kevin! Kevin!" they called over and over. There was no answer. "Did Kevin go out honey? I didn't see him leave. Audrey, did you see Kevin? Kevin! Kevin! Dinner! Rusty, do know where Kevin is?" and so it went. "Where the hell is Kevin?" Ross and C laughed. Suddenly the bedspread began to move and slowly, there emerged from underneath the blankets and sheets, was Kevin.

He got up and walked by C and Ross without a word and went up to dinner.

The day of the house closing, the sale was delayed. We had arranged for the movers to come at 10am and were paying them by the hour. They arrived at the new place at 2pm, but the deal in Orangeville still hadn't finished and they sat in the driveway, charging us as the clock ticked on.

C didn't get the keys until 4:30 and then drove madly in pouring rain to the new home in hopes of reducing our costs knowing the movers were just sitting idle. But to her surprise, when she arrived the move was almost complete. How had the movers got in with no keys?

While the movers sat in the driveway, Kevin had happened to walk by and happily offered to unlock the doors and then invited them to start moving in.

The only thing that concerns us now is that the cats seem to be fixated with Kevin's room.

And for some reason, the cats really like it now when I play Greenday.

First of