Friday, August 17, 2012

Gene Wilder's Wonky Willy

"Remember Owen, It's not called a Wonky WIlly."

My daughter has been asking to watch specific scenes from Willy Wonka again. She likes the part where Charlie finds the golden ticket - presumably feeling empathy and common understanding of discovering something fantastic. She also likes every single instance when an Oompa Loompa shows up. Particularly as she can now sing, "Oompa Loompa, having a poo..." and then claim she wasn't doing anything underhand. Surprisingly she hasn't requested to see the boat ride scene again. Which I'm actually taking as a good side. "Show me the part where Wonka proves he's mentally ill Daddy. Please!" I'm certain that psychologists ask captured lunatics whether they hold any emotional attachment to that scene. If you keep that scene in mind you can guard yourself against any would-be lunatics on Facebook that you may be friends with that have - forty years later - released some latent genocidal feelings that will trigger a mass killing spree simply from clicking on the above link. Look for anyone you know slightly withdrawn from conversations lately. Only to return with a series of vague status updates that say things like "it's on for tomorrow!" and "It's time to make the magic happen!" right before a horrible atrocity has been committed in their local area. Presumably with a final status update of, "Time to EXECUTE my plan now! ROFLSNORT!" 

My daughter did spend some of yesterday afternoon repeatedly reminding her brother of the movie's real name. Mostly by saying, "remember Owen, it's not called a Wonky Willy." I'm afraid that this version will now forever be differentiated in my house between the modern Johnny Depp remake of the original book by being referred to as Gene Wilder's Wonky Willy. Which sounds a bit too much like one of those dodgy porn remakes - except this one is clearly aimed at a niche market of disturbingly-angled penis fetishists.

Anyhoo - I'm glad to say that watching that again (and the awful movie version of Curious George - which even my daughter asked if we could turn off) has prompted her into asking about reading a lot lately. Actually what really triggered it was me telling a story about something I remembered from school and linking that weakly to being able to read one day. Basically I said something about how - based on her current reading ability - it may be quite likely that she achieves some sort of Eureka moment pretty soon where she suddenly is able to read everything that looks like a word. At which point she will suddenly be able to understand and see that she's surrounded all the time by stuff that she can understand and comprehend. A whole new world will open up bombarding her with messages that will greatly affect how she sees the world. All the more reason to not have cable news on ever (outside of the obvious reason to avoid it) seeing as one minute it's warning you about communist Muslim perverts, and the next it's trying to tease out naughty feelings in your naughty bits -:.

The suddenly being able to read everything thing really seemed to interest my daughter. She liked the image I painted of her sitting in room reading. Mostly because I suggested we make some sort of sitting nook - with a big comfy couch (definitely not this one), coffee table, lamp and (her suggestion) "a candy machine." I told her about how I remember lying in bed on horrid wet days just reading for hours and hours. I told her about create-your-own-adventure books. And about how I lay in my room all day long reading the Discworld series. I told her that reading was pretty much all I did at one point. Obviously I deliberately avoided mentioning playing computer games for ridiculous periods of time in my bedroom. She doesn't need to know about the nights when I managed to play Kick Off until 5am once, then lay down in bed only for my mother to wake me up very shortly afterwards for school.

And if I'm completely honest the entire "you'll be able to read!" thing spawned from a long conversation about what I can remember from when I was her age at school. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I can't remember a single thing from when I was her age. That would make what she's experiencing sound very unimportant. So instead I somehow ended up telling her about how I can remember that I used to deliberately cover my hands in "school glue" and peel it off. The most surprising thing about that is that "school glue" is not a euphemism for something that one of the teacher's was found to be releasing in a storage cupboard. Then again I didn't go to Catholic school so the odds were evidently lower for that sort of thing.

I did then find myself suddenly remembering a few choice selections of my entire school experience. None of which  was suitable to recount in a nostalgic way to a five year old wondering what lies in store for her in a few weeks time. Mostly because they were either incidents when I either broke bones, nearly died in a swimming pool, was dared to look under a teacher's desk after being assured she never ever wears knickers because then she have a quickie with whichever 6th form boy she fancies that day, (I didn't - but she did overhear the whole thing) or involved a sordid story about a girl coming up with an entirely wasteful way to use a Mars bar. That last story did end though with the gag-reflex-testing line of, "and she even ate if afterwards...!" None of which seemed appropriate to tell a little girl wondering what people do at school all day long.

On top of that the only two things I can remember with any real clarity are not appropriate in any manner and make my school experience sound like a series of League of Gentlemen. The first being aware that it was probably not a common occurrence across the country to have a headmaster angrily complain that someone - or worse, a cabal of deviant weirdos - had defiled one of the school bathrooms by throwing their own shit around. I can still hear the breaking Welsh accent yelling, "Feces! On the ceiling!!" as he struggled to contain the emotion of how ridiculous a situation it was that he not only had to beg other kids to tell on who'd done it - but to point out that this was the third or fourth time this had happened. This was a huge step up from the typical stuffing-paper-in-the-toilet hijinks that happens at every school. This was someone or someone's who had drawn on the mirrors with it and stuck it to the ceiling tiles like that terrifying Twiglet commercial.Which was all the more weird considering it came in the middle of an assembly right after all the kids in the year sang Morning Has Broken (save the two or three who's parents insisted they stand outside during the hymns).

The other story - that I'd long since forgotten - was about how once when I was twelve or thirteen I realized that I needed the toilet so badly during class that I knew that if I moved that I'd likely piss myself. Fearful of earning the cracking nickname Piss Pants I took to staunching the oncoming tidal wave of golden shame by ramming my hand into my groin and twisting bits and pieces for the twenty minutes or so of class remaining. It was only after about fifteen minutes that I realized that what I was doing wasn't clever or discreet at all and that the girl beside me (no recollection of who that was) had clearly noticed. So while I thought I had heroically "dammed the yellow river" with a combination balloon animal/fist-bung/crotch-thump manoeuvre (take that Google perverts) she presumably thought the sweating, whimpering nervous boy beside her was knocking one out in history class. So I'm sure you can see that I avoided all these tales of

This weekend though we will be attending the finest parade of the year in our area. It's way up north in a rural town and pretty much just involves your usual chain of fire engines and local clubs marching up a road. But being a mountain, Adirondack town it also involves an alarming number of bearded men and flannel. Add the Palin-esque women running for office and wobbling their chesticles at men in dungarees hopingthey'll vote for them. And lastly everyone clapping as tractors pulling trailers go by carrying local beauty pageant winners sat atop a hay bail with Miss Hard Wood written on a banner fastened to it.

But the difference with this parade is that it also involves absolutely massive logging machines as well. Which is colloquial and interesting - but any photos of it make it look like the residents of the county have all gathered to marvel at construction equipment as if they've never seen it before.

In all fairness though it isn't just rural folk astounded by progress and science. Although I should point out I have drawn an amazed crowd of people staring at me like cavemen witnessing fire for the first time simply by putting on a tie without a mirror or assistance. Still - the machines are freaking enormous. The size of which is only dwarfed by the quantity of candy thrown at all the children's swilling the parade route. Here's my daughter from last year.I need to point out to that this is all we could carry as we didn't have a bag - so crammed all this guff into our pockets.

That's avile quantity of candy. The kids will get some help from their mother. Not me though - all candy tastes artificial in every way to me. But prior to the onslaught of candy I took my daughter out to a local bike path to test out her bike horn. Usually it's got a few people on who insist that because they're put on a special t-shirt that the eight minutes they walk for can be designated as exercise. Her brother didn't feel like being pushed on his bike (too big for him to pedal properly) so ran around after her. He can do this all day long. They should have burned off a suitable number of calories to fit in some of the candy they'll collect.

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