In Defense of Cinderella

I’m going to start with both the most popular, most retold, and most criticized of all fairy tales.

Brief History: This is literally the oldest, most retold fairy tale. Every time and culture has a version of a tale which begins by making you feel the unfairness of an abused young woman’s life. Then, there is an opportunity for her to have a break from her awful situation, but can’t get to said event without some help (whether be fairy godmother, birds, or fish). In the end, her suffering ends with some violent end to her tormentors, the arrival of a wealthy male, or both.

Analysis: What I feel needs the most put into context is the constant belief that Cinderella was the victim of the story, a poor sap who could have rescued herself at any time and did not need a prince to do so. First of all, in the original versions of the tale, our heroine lives in times and societies which would not have given her opportunities to save herself without desperate measures. In the earliest versions, such as the Egyptian/Greek tale, she is slave or a captive. In the most popular versions, Grimm and Perrault, she lives in a world where a woman on her own would have had very few opportunities. If she had run away from her wicked family, she would have been at the mercy of expected roles for women of the time. And how nice would the ending of the story have been if she had joined a brothel or become a beggar? A true inspiration to little girls everywhere.

In most versions, she needs help, this true. But again, this is because of the world she lives in. Women could not help themselves, especially a woman of middle or higher classes. She accepts the help because without it her life can never change. Of course, the child of abuse, she is also willing to only take that help for one night. Only one night to make her life just a little better. In hindsight, she really should have been asking for a job in a shop or a house of her own complete with inheritance.

Lastly, and men I apologize in advance for this last part, the prince is not the hero. He is the booby prize. He is what is given as a way out and reward in the midst or her hard life.

Blame it on the Victorians: The focus on Cinderella’s domesticity and lack of complaint are very much Victorian attributes. Women were to go through life with the hand they had been dealt and if men chose to the change their fate, then so be it. But Heaven forbid that a woman attempt to change her own position or try to better her own life. This can be seen in other literature of the time like Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Vanity Fair, where women who try to act in a way which was classified as “masculine” (as in they take charge and try to use whatever means necessary to better their lives) always meet horrible ends. Where as other women of these novels who are victims, innocents who are mistreated by society like Emily in David Copperfield or the sisters within Woman in White are conveniently rescued by circumstance.

Last thoughts: I confess, it’s all about the shoes.

*If you want know any of the places where some of my research comes from, just contact me.

In Defense of Fairy Tales

My next few blogs will be one of my favorite topics – fairy tales.

I’m going to try to focus on fairy tales which are fairly popular, but have received a bad reputation over the years from society.

Each blog will include an extremely short history and explanation of the fairy tale and an analysis so show what needs defending. The analysis will really only focus on the main character of the story (because analyzing step-mothers and wolves takes too long). It’ll be semi-educational. It’ll be funny. It’ll be my answer to the princess and poisoned apple haters. Well, I guess you should hate poisoned apples. I guess they aren’t doctor recommendation. Did my rant just lose steam? Damn.

*If you want know any of the places where some of my research comes from, just contact me.

Westerosminster Kennel Show

Welcome to the annual Best in Dragon Show! I’m your host, Alistair Fizzibottom, here to give you a full play by play of the competition this year. And as always, this year’s competition is sponsored by Viking Hordes. Remember, nothing says conquest like a Viking brand Horde.

Oh, it looks like the competition is under way.

Our first contestant is Glitter, a great serpent. Gorgeous scales, but the animal seems a little sluggish. Oh! The owner should not tug on the leash like that— And yep, yep. Glitter jut ate her owner and went to sleep. The judges have declared her disqualified.

Next we see in the same category Hopper the sea serpent. Although Hopper shows excellent color and barnacle to flipper ratio, I know the judges will not be happy about that leftover yacht still in Hopper’s teeth. Looks like Hopper’s owner forgot the floss.

Put out a few extra bowls of kibble, here comes Gail the hydra! At fourteen feet high and seven heads, it might be hard to beat this beautiful specimen. Oh, wait. It looks like two heads have not fully grown back in. That is gonna cost a lot of points.

Here comes the great bearded dragon from Southest China. What a gorgeous, graceful specimen of the golden variety. Oooooo. Ouch. His name is Chop Suey. That just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Owners should lose points for that one. Can we all agree that no one would be sorry to see this dragon eat his owner?

Now there is a breed you do not see everyday. A genuine well-dwelling Lindwyrn. Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on this rare treat. Apparently, her name is Marigold and she is only four hundred years old. She’s practically a baby! Look at those judges stare. She might have this competition won.

Wait, wait. Here he comes! Our reigning champion, fifty-two years running – Mr. Twinkles the green drake! Looks like his claws and wings have been polished for the event. Such a majestic creature. And those hindquarters! Mr. Twinkles has one of the best physiques of any dragon here today. Oh, ladies and gentlemen, he’s coming to the announcer booth. Hey there, fella. You wanna treat. Those are some big teeth you ha—

Forgotten Dragon Films

Dragons have been a staple of special effects ever since George Melies used a smoke breathing puppet to wow audiences. Most people can name the most popular dragon films like How to Train your Dragon, Dragonheart, Shrek, Pete’s Dragon, Neverending Story, and the Hobbit films. But what about the more forgotten dragons in film? Sure, not all of them were state-of-the-art CGI, but many of these forgotten mythological creatures deserved a place in your cinematic memory. Here’s a list of the top 5 forgotten film dragons and why you should remember them:


5) Spot from the Munsters

I have always been partial to the Addams Family myself (the Munsters were a little stuck-up for my taste), but I was jealous of Spot, their pet dragon that lived under the stairs. Eddie had the awesome choir of taking Spot for walkies and I always wondered how he actually got the dragon out of the house. I was excited to see that Spot was going to be included in the Mockingbird Lane reboot Bryan Fuller wanted to make, only to have my excitement dashed to pieces when the reboot was turned into a single episode Halloween special. At least Fuller got to do some dragon related writing on Hannibal.


4) Magellan from Eureeka’s Castle

Not a lot of people remember this puppet-filled Nickelodeon show written by R.L. Stine (yes, of Goosebumps fame). Usually if you mention it, children of the late 80s/early 90s will get that squinty “oh yea” expression. It was about a wizard-in-training named Eureeka who lived in a giant’s castle music box with her other friends who mostly consisted of unusual creatures and talking animals. Most popular among them was Magellan, a child-like dragon whose tail was out of his control. He often spoke to his tail like it was separate person, which looking back on it is a little strange. Actually, it’s a lot strange. But he was lovable, so we’ll let it go.


3) Yowler from Dragonworld

A recently orphaned little boy moves to Scotland where he befriends a baby dragon, only to grow up and have to keep greedy amusement park owners from taking control of his beloved pet. If this sounds like a cheesy mid-90s direct to video tale to you, then dingdingding! You won! Yes, this was a poorly produced fantasy film by the same company that made the Prehysteria film series (raise your hand if you just had dinosaur puppet PTSD). Still, Yowler was an adorable puppet/stop motion creature. He had a goofy face with big expressive eyes and a lot of overall personality. It was the sort of movie that made an 8 year old think that owning a pet dragon was a possibility. Plus, it starred the hot guy from Monarch of the Glen.


2) Taro from 7th Voyage of Sinbad (SPOILER ALERT)

Always show respect for the Ray Harryhausen creatures! The stop-motion genius created this obstacle chained to a wall in the final battle of the first of the Sinbad adventure films. The dragon is not made to be cuddly or pathetic, yet you feel a little sorry for him. He lives his life trapped as a guardian of a cave. Taro is freed by Sinbad in order to rescue himself and the princess from a cyclops. Taro does indeed fight the cyclops, giving the heroes a chance to run away. However, in order to fully escape from the Island, Sinbad and his men then have to kill Taro with a giant crossbow. The dragon accidentally lands on top of the story’s villain, killing the sorcerer, thus saving Sinbad a second time. As the crew rows away, they see the giant reptile cry out as he dies upon the beach. Not really fair for poor Taro. May he rest in peace. For shame, Sinbad.


1) Gorbash, Smrgol, and Bryagh from The Flight of Dragons

This 1980s Rankin and Bass animated film is never as easily remembered as the Last Unicorn or the cartoon version of the Hobbit, but it was still a decent film. Written a part study of dragon anatomy and part typical fantasy story (the main character slips from his modern world to a world where magic is an everyday occurrence) by borrowing from two different books, The Flight of Dragons was a good mix of action and pseudoscience. Peter, the main character voiced by John Ritter, is accidently merged with a dragon and discovers first hand why dragons can fly and breathe fire. The explanations seemed completely logical to me as a child and Peter as a dragon was very lovable. The final battle against James Earl Jones is pretty epic too.

The Tale of Ragsy


Little Billy loved Ragsy, his rare hairless Azawakh-Great Dane-Thai Ridgeback mix which his uncle gave him. At least, that was what Billy assumed Ragsy was. He’s looked up a lot of dogs on the internet and, although the pictures didn’t quite match, he just had to assume that was what Ragsy was. After all, the animal was almost the size of a pony with a square head and a long neck. True, the ridgeback dog in the picture had fur ridges and Ragsy’s were more like a dinosaur, but Billy figured that the dog in the online picture would have the same scales without fur.

Billy’s parents, not being too well-versed on the matter, assume all of little Billy’s research must have been accurate and saw no reason why he shouldn’t take Ragsy in for show-and-tell. They dropped Ragsy at the school around 10am, when the teacher said it would be alright for the dog to be there. When he came in, tugging on his leash as he sniffed the classroom air, the class as a whole jumped. The teacher ran to create a barrier between her students and the strange looking creature. Then, Billy jumped up.

“Ragsy!” he cheered and the hairless animal wagged his thick tail.

The teacher regained her composure and moved slowly to her desk. Ragsy watched her, his cat-like eyes blinking at her sinisterly. “Okay, Billy. Tells us some things about your . . . dog.”

“Ragsy is a year old, so he’s still kinda a puppy. He likes to play fetch and sometimes he barks at the mail truck. I’m teaching him tricks.” The little boy took out a baggy of jerky from his pocket. Ragsy excitedly licked his long, forked tongue over his sharp teeth. “Watch. Speak, Ragsy!”

Billy held out a piece of jerky over Ragsy’s nose. At first, the beast tried to nip it out of Billy’s hand. The boy held it out of reach and repeated, “No. Speak!”

Ragsy moved his bottom jaw once and a shrill cry rang out. Children plugged their ears while Billy giggled.

“Good boy!” He tossed the jerky in the air and Ragsy leapt for it. When he landed back on the floor, the classroom tremored from his weight.

Billy went on with his explanation. “Because Ragsy is still young, he’s still growing. He’s starting to get longer nails, which I think might be a Great Dane thing, I’m not sure. And he’s getting these two lumps on his back. I tried to take him to the vet, but he vet wanted to call some people called ‘cryptozoologists’ to look at Ragsy. Mommy said that sounded expensive.”

When Billy ran his fingers along the two golf ball sized humps growing from his pet’s back, the animal made a fearsome purr, then snorted in happiness.

“He like beef the best. Last week, the neighbor’s pet potbelly pig went missing and she kept thinking Ragsy ate him. My daddy kept telling her that Ragsy doesn’t like pork, but she didn’t believe us until we found her pig hiding under her porch. Turned out Ragsy was trying to play with it and the pig got scared. I guess pigs don’t like dogs.”

Ragsy lifted a back leg and started to scratch behind a scaly horn, making his collar jingle in the process. Billy took over the scratching and the forked tongue hung from one side of the toothy grin in pleasure. “He likes to be pet behind the ears. Does anyone else want to pet him?”

A couple of children raised their hands, but the teacher motioned a no and their limbs when back down.

“Billy, thank you for bring Ragsy in to see us. Why don’t you put him in the coat closet until your mom comes back for him and we can have the next presenter come up.”

“He doesn’t really like the dark—” Billy started to explain.

“I’m sure he’ll be okay,” the teacher responded.

With a shrug, Billy walked Ragsy towards the back of the room. The animal lumbered behind, sniffing and drooling on each student’s backpack. He dipped his nose into one boy’s bag and came out with an action figure between his jaws. In a single swift bite, he broke the action figure in two and swallowed the pieces.

“Billy’s dog ate my show-and-tell,” the owner of the action figure tattled, more annoyed than upset.

Billy led Ragsy into the coat closet and told him to be good boy as he shut the door. Once Billy was back in his desk, a little girl walked to the front of the room. She started to show off photos from her family vacation when they heard a scratch, scratch, scratch.

The teacher told the children to ignore it and encouraged the little girl to go on.

Ragsy started to yowl and cry from behind the closed door. Still, the teacher just told the girl to talk a little louder.

Then, there was a hissing noise. A second later, the room heated up as a flame ball burst through the closet door and hit the whiteboard behind the teacher’s head. The wooden door had partially disintegrated, the edges of a hole still sizzling. Ragsy poked his head through the hole and made a little whimper.

“I told you he doesn’t like the dark,” Billy stated.

Finally Caught Up and Now I REALLY Want a Baby Dragon!

I didn’t start Game of Thrones until season 6 had ended. I read the first book long ago before the HBO had made the epic deal which made them oh-so-powerful. Okay, I read most of the first book, but that’s beside the point! I finally caught up! I have now finished all seasons 1 through 6 so you can all just get off my back and —

What do you mean season 7 already started? And I’m already behind? What the hell! Well . . . Son of a bi—


*This blog goes out to the victims of the Battle of Blackwater Bay.


Dragon Themed August Blogs

Why dragons? Why not? I live someplace where stepping outside in summer is like being eating by a fire breathing monster so why not end the season with some mythological fun.

A quick note out there to all the dragons who may be reading this blog: I do hope I do not offend any of you, but at the same time I am not entirely sure if dragons can read. Wait, was that assumption offensive? If any dragon is reading this, could you please contact me and set me straight. I totally promise not to capture you and make you a pet.

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 4: Surfploitation

As the night went on, the party on the beach followed Bubbles’s instructions. They lit a bonfire. They had a ridiculous chase scene. They talked in outdated slang.

Finally, one of her friends asked about the surfing she has boasted about intending to learn. Bubbles, feeling all of the confidence of a beach babe knowing she was successfully making her hunk boyfriend jealous, ran to a board resting beside a sleeping man.

“I’ll show you!”

“I don’t think you should surf at night,” one friend pointed out.

“Or take someone’s board,” another friend said.

But Bubbles would not be swayed. She removed her dress to reveal the swimsuit underneath. She ran with the board skillfully, as if had done so a million times. The freezing water bit at her legs and was like needles pricking her fingers, yet still she went in. She paddled out just far enough, but not too far. She waited until a wave, not too big, but not just a bump in the surface of the water came her way.

She knew she could do this. She could feel the energy of all fictional surfers course through her veins. She paddled a little with the wave and as it gained momentum before she hopped up on the board. Her feet hit the slick surface beneath her and attempted to adjust her balance.

Within a second, she fell off into the icy wave. Salt encrusted the inside of her nose and mouth, burning her lungs. She managed to hold onto the board as she staggered back out of the water. Everything ached.

Her friends brought her a sand covered towel and asked if she was alright. One of them stealthily returned the board to the sleeping beach bum.

As Bubbles shivered and shook out her high ponytail, anger rose within. Surfing wasn’t exhilarating. It was hard! And she had sand everywhere, in places she thought no foreign particle could reach! Even their bonfire was a tiny, piddling flame barely able to keep her warm!

Feeling all of her frustration welling up, she screamed out, “That’s it! I’m done! I’m done with these movies! They’re sexist hooey! I bet the surfing was all fake and no one ever seemed to care that there were several cases of assault going on and no one ever really got hurt and there’s no one who really looks like Frankie and Moondoggie—”

Just then a young man with dark hair coiffed perfectly into a pompadour stepped toward her. His square jaw and broad shoulders made her take a physical step back. “Excuse me.”

“Oh my.” Bubbles murmured.

His dark eyes sparkled at her. “Sorry to bust up the party, especially since I’m off duty right now, but do you have a permit to have this fire on the beach?” He took a badge out of his shorts pocket.

As the word “police” registered in Bubbles’s mind, she let out a squeak. And with that, she ran to her Woodie station wagon, put the car into a decided reverse, and drove away from the beach for a very long time.

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 3: Ukulele and Bongos

Bubbles and her friends arrived on the beach once again after a long day of tourist activities including shopping and museums. “Today was just nifty!” Bubbles exclaimed. She admired the sun starting to slip beyond the horizon.

Her friends laid out towels and groaned as they stretched out. “Yep. Now I just want to relax for an hour before the others show up.”

A man chasing a woman in a bikini ran by, kicking up sand as they went.

Bubbles’s second friend watched them go, unsure of how to respond. She then turned her attention on Bubbles. “Aren’t you going to sit for a while? We’re going to probably be up half of the night.”

A group of their other friends who were on a road trip were merging vacations for the evening. The girls agreed to let the rather large group crash at their hotel room and hang out for the day. Bubbles was thrilled with this plan since the idea of so many people crowded into a single space reminded her of a Frankie and Annette movie.

She started to rummage through a large duffle bag she had retrieved from the back of her station wagon. Out came her portable radio, a ukulele, a pair of bongos, and several outfits.

Holding out one outfit to the taller of her two friends, she proudly proclaimed, “Look! I bought you a dress!”

The bright blue garment swayed in the breeze. Thousands of polyester strings layered atop of spandex were thrust into the friend’s hands. “That’s a lot of fringe. I mean . . . A lot of fringe. How many lampshades died to make this?”

“It’s so you can go-go dance. This is going to be the absolute ultimate!”

“Uh huh.” Her friend’s mouth hung open as she tossed the dress into her beach bag and allowed it to fall all the way to the sandy-covered bottom.

The woman being chased by the man went by once again. “Should we help her?” one of Bubble’s friends wanted to know as the pair turned at the end of the beach and vanished into a crowd of families.

Bubbles waved a hand nonchalantly. “Oh she’s fine. They’re just a running gag.”



Her other friend lifted the bongos and tapped the top to a slow rhythm. “What is all this stuff for?”

“A spontaneous musical number.”

One friend grunted and fell back onto the towel. Her she wrapped the edge of the terrycloth around her neck, pretending to choke herself.

“We have to have a musical number!” Bubbles announced. “Every beach party has a musical number. Look. I have lyrics and parts for everyone as soon as they get here.”

“No one will want to sing, Bubbles.” The friend with the towel around her neck tried to say.

“Of course they will. Look at that ocean and that sunset. The entire atmosphere is going to just want to make people sing. You wait and see.”

The same friend rolled her eyes. “Have you met our friends? The only way you’re going to get them to sing is if you get them drunk first and then I don’t think they’ll sound too great.”

“You’re right. We really need a full band, but I figure this stuff will have to do. I printed out the song and if you want we can practice before they get here.”

“Bubbles—” the first friend whined.

Her other friend slapped hand in the sand and they exchanged a silent, “I’ll handle this.”

She looked directly at Bubbles and gave her a sympathetic smile. “This looks like fun, but I thought you said you wanted a spontaneous musical number.”

“That’s how it usually goes when on the beach. If we were in a club or at a party it would be planned because there’s usually a stage but—”

“Then doesn’t lyrics and rehearsing take away from the spontaneity?”

“I guess . . .” Bubbles’s face fell and she sunk to the sand, tucking her legs beneath herself so she could sit in her pencil skirt.

“So just leave it alone. Like you said, the atmosphere is right. If a song and dance number happens, then it happens.”

And so they waited the hour for their friends to join them. As the others cat-napped, confident that they had escaped another of her cheesy plans, Bubbles sulked and ran the sand through her fingers. The stack of printed song lyrics became half buried beside her. The sun dipped below the ocean around the same time that six other boys and girls arrived in a rented van.

They all gathered on the beach, chatting about their different adventures and what their next plans were. Bubbles stayed mum, smiling weakly as times she thought were appropriate.

Then, a strange thing happened. One of the new arrivals picked up the bongo drums, at first goofing off and then absent-mindedly creating a strong beat. Another boy lifted the ukulele and tried to play a melody that matched the rhythm.

One of the girls found the song lyrics in the sand by Bubbles’s. “What are these?”

“Nothing,” Bubbles answered glumly, barely noticing as the other girl passed out the papers.

After a few more minutes of conversation, two of the newly arrived friends tried singing the words on the paper to the beat of the bongo drum. Two more friends joined in. Soon, a full blown sing-along had broken out.

Bubbles hopped to her feet in joy and started to belt out a verse. Other people on the beach came by and joined in with hand clapping.

Her original pair of friends sat amongst the chorus as the radio was switched on and people began to dance. They shrugged at one another before joining in.

Bubbles grinned at them. “See, didn’t I tell you! Isn’t this just the grooviest!”

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 2: “You Stupid!”

The following day, Bubbles traveled to a different beach and got her start earlier in the day. She spread out a towel under the flimsy umbrella she had dug into the sand. She nestled beside her wicker purse and removed her book, her deflated beach ball, a portable radio with a long antenna, and a bottle of Coppertone which she was fairly certain had expired in 1967. Within the next hour, her two friends showed up with exhausted expressions.

“Hey, girls!” Bubbles eyed their modern swimsuits with her own criticisms, “Thanks for coming out here with me. You missed a swell time yesterday, believe me!”

One of her friends started to apply sunscreen generously to her nose and cheeks. “Yeah, I’m just really not into surfing. Besides, you should have come with us. The amusement parks here are so much better than at home.” The truth was, both friends worried about having the responsibility of rescuing Bubbles from drowning if she tried to do any tricks on the board.

“How was the surfing?” her second friend wanted to know.

“Oh that.” Bubbles blushed and stumbled to get up. “Hey, who wants to go start a game? I can blow up the ball and—”

“I have to let the sunscreen soak in,” her first friend explained as she ducked under the umbrella.

“And I need to answer this text from Mike,” the second friend answered.

“Is that all you two think about is boys?” Bubbles whined.

“I didn’t say anything about boys,” her first friend pointed out.

“And Mike’s watching my cats. Even if he wasn’t my boyfriend I’d want to hear from him. I don’t trust my roommate to feed them,” her second friend explained.

Bubbles sighed and swung her arms back and forth as if dancing to a song in her head. “You just wait and see. He’s going to try to make you jealous by flirting with your roommate, because he probably thinks you’re out here flirting with all of the muscly beach hunks.”

Her two friends glanced at the other beach inhabitants, most of whom were too old or too young for their taste. At that exact moment, a man in a Speedo strolled by with a metal detector. Tufts of curly, dark hair blanketed him and peeked out from under his tan arms. In unison, her friends asked, “What hunks?”

“They’re around here somewhere. They’re probably planning revenge against some bikers who were on their turf.”

“Wait, I thought your thing was beach movies. Why are you talking like West Side Story?”

Bubbles went on, ignoring the comment. She pointed at a group of men and women in leather vests who had just arrived in the parking lot. “See! There there’s the biker gang!” She started to run towards the group while her friends screamed at her frantically to get back to the safety of the beach blanket.

The group was not the clean cut sort from the movies Bubbles loved. They were all middle aged with long, tangled beards or multiple piercings. Still, Bubbles ran up to the one she assumed was the leader. He had the longest beard and his tattoos more elaborate than the other men or women.

“Excuse me, can you tell me when the rumble will be over?” she asked politely.

The rest of the assembly started to grumble amongst themselves, thinking she was laughing at them. Yet, the man she had spoken to directly eyed the girl up and down, noting her 1960s style swimsuit and her bouffant hair. Removing his sunglasses, he asked carefully, “What did you just ask?”

“You know! Where you all have a slapstick fight against the young summer surfers over some bar or nightclub that’s probably run by a celebrity who had nothing better to do. And why doesn’t everyone in the group repeat you for emphasis?”

Each of the motorcycle enthusiasts went silent as the man she addressed twerked his mouth and leaned his head down into a dark stare. “Do you think I’m Eric Von Zipper?”

“Well, yes,” she replied with complete innocence.

The man couldn’t hold it in any longer. His face broke into a smile and the rest of his friends stared to laugh. When the mirth died down a little, he exclaimed, “I love those movies!”

In Search of a Summer Beach Movie – Part 1: The Surf-ening

Her name was probably something very Anglican and 60s like Susan or Patricia or Sally, but for the summer time she went by a nickname – Bubbles. Now, I was not the 60s and the name Bubbles had absolutely nothing to do with her personality, appearance, or even a love of the Powerpuff Girls. She simply worried about copyright infringement if she started calling herself Gidget. So Bubbles seemed a good alternative.

Bubbles loved cheesy teen beach movies and she was determined that this would be the summer she would no longer watch them – she would live them!

Traveling to the beach turned out to be harder than she thought. Each time she asked someone, the Californians would just point westward. They also seemed less than impressed with the Annette and Frankie music blasting from her radio. It took all morning and lot of colorful driving language, but she finally got her Woodie station wagon to a popular surfing spot.

First, she was shocked by the lack of people playing volleyball or building sand castles. There were no faux-Polynesian style huts surrounded by Tiki torches and the beach bums were actual transients who lived on the beach, not hot college guys having a break from responsibility.

Finding a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, she lifted the ball cap pulled down over his eyes. When she had his attention, Bubbles declared, “Here I am! Teach me to surf!”

The man redirected her to a corporate-owned building on the boardwalk and grunted, “Effing tourists” before returning to his nap.

Still, she was determined. She marched up to the desk and repeated, “Here I am! Teach me to surf!”

The instructor, who not blonde or wearing anything colorful or in possession of a name like Kahuna (his name plaque read “Ricardo”), chuckled at her. “Sure. It’s about $60 to join into the group lesson, but that includes rental of equipment. How does that sound?”

“Fantastic. But I do plan on using part of my allowance to buy my own board someday. That would be the absolute ultimate!”

“Uh huh.” Ricardo answered, not sure of how else to respond. “Um . . . yeah. Our boards are all out back. They are just standard for teaching standing up and paddling—”

“What colors are available? I really want yellow with a white stripe or maybe something with pretty flowers all over it!”

“They’re just plain boards for learning on. We don’t customize them.”

“Oh. I guess that’s okay for today. Maybe by next week I can bring my own board? How long does it take for me to learn how to surf while sitting on someone’s shoulders?”

“We don’t teach that. In fact I wouldn’t recommend that for you at all . . . ever.” He watched her mouth quirk in stubbornness and decided to change the subject. “Let’s get you sized for a wetsuit.”

“Golly gee. Thanks all the same. But I’m going to surf in this!” She motioned to her light pink two piece. The waist of the bottoms reached above her belly button and the sports bra-like top had little white flowers embroidered along the thick straps.

Ricardo, officially having decided he did not get paid enough for this, held his hand against the bridge of his nose and demanded. “Out. Just get out.”

Mystery of Historical Monsters

For those of you that know me well, you know I possess an unhealthy amount of knowledge of fairy tales in general. This fairy tale trivia led me to have an equally unhealthy knowledge of Marshal of France Gilles de Rais.

If you have pushed the 1999 Joan of Arc movie from you mind, allow me to refresh your memory. Jeanne, the French farm girl who led armies against the English during the Hundred Years War and got a warm stake for her troubles, had a commander who served with her. When the war ended, de Rais went home where he squandered his fortune on a play he wrote, defied the church by building a chapel that did not fully conform to the 1430s religious norms, and started to practice occult rituals. Oh! And he was tried then executed for the brutal abuse and murder of approximately 150 young boys. Did I almost forget to mention that part?

Gilles de Rais became the bogeyman of the French medieval world. He was hanged and burned for what is the most evil of human atrocities, and thus became the cautious tale parents told their children. Over the next two centuries, the story of a child killing lord morphed into that of a wife killing lord called Bluebeard who kept the bodies of his victims on his property as de Rais supposedly did. That's right! That’s the plot of a fairy tale, for those of you who didn’t know. But you will probably hear me talk more about Bluebeard later.

The mystery I present today is not about the fairy tale or the crimes themselves – it is about how society wants to hold onto the morbid belief in such heinous monsters. Over the last several centuries, it has been suggested that de Rais was framed for his crimes, that he himself was the victim. The same has been suggested of Countess Bathory, the woman walled up in her own castle for the torture and murder of young women because of a belief that bathing in their blood would keep her young. Several historians have wondered if the crimes against Bathory were really a way to knock a woman from her position of power. Remember, the Middle Ages were not huge fans of women in general. Unless you count that woman who was the first to create a foaming, full headed beer. I bet they loved her.

The idea of de Rais’s innocence is that he was targeted by the church and those who wanted his wealth or remaining lands. It didn’t help that Joan herself was burned for heresy or that two of the judges at his trial were men who could legally inherit his property. Every few years, another article or book comes out wondering if de Rais was a legit serial killer or another target in a church “witch hunt”. And every few years, people familiar with the story scoff.

I am not saying which way I side with. I am just wondering why people hold on so tightly to the monsters. Some just want to believe that de Rais and Bathory did these terrible things and don’t want to hear the other side. They want Bluebeard to still be Bluebeard. And why? Why is there insistence that the Hills Have Eyes really is based on a true story and not English anti-Scottish propaganda?  Why are there some who seem disappointed when told the truth of Ed Gein, when what was wanted was a mix of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs? Are we that morbid that we need the monsters to be the most monstrous they can be? Is it just the need for bogeymen and a good scare? Or maybe you just said to yourself, “Gross. I do not feel that way.” Fair enough, but I bet you know someone who does. Even the content of most crime dramas and Lifetime movies would suggest a need for morbid curiosity.

It could just be that everyone needs a good scare once in a while and all of these historical figures are more the stuff of legend than reality. It feels safe to villainize those who were tried and found guilty and safer still when they died hundreds of years ago. Or I could just be way off base here and sufficiently creeped some of you out.

I would tell you to go watch a Disney movie to make yourself feel better. But don’t get me started on the morbid background of those!

Mystery of the Forgotten 80s TV Robot

This week's mystery will be short, sweet, and utterly head scratching: Vicki the Small Wonder Robot.

For you 80s children who used to tune into this little science fiction gem, just bear with me here. Think about it. Vicki was the invention of a set of parents who didn’t want to do housework anymore. At the beginning of the show, she wasn’t quite their kid, but they seemed to care about her beyond just being considered a Roomba in a white pinafore. Although, they technically left it to their son and the oblivious yet obnoxious next door neighbor to teach Vicki about humanity, they kept hinting that she was slowly becoming a part of the family. They even sent her to school and taught her to smile.

If they show had continued, what would have become of Vicki? The dad would have had to keep altering her every few years so the neighbors wouldn't be suspicious of why she was eternally 10 years old. And if Vicki continued to show more signs of humanity, would she have eventually become sentient? And if she did, would she have gone down the path of the Robin Williams or Haley Joel Osment android? Would she have longed for true humanity to the point of depressed desperation?

Or would she have followed the more predictable killer robot route? Would the laugh track have finally driven her over the edge until she dropped couches on every human being?

Think of it. No one would see the Skynet apocalypse coming from a little girl in a pretty red dress. "Hasta la vista, Lawson Family"!

Mystery of the Roanoke Documentary

The mystery of America’s first colony is one of the great unsolved events of this country’s written history.

For those of you who don’t know, here’s the short version. Before Jamestown and that liar John Smith, English settlers colonized the “New World” on an island in North Carolina during the late 1500s. Because they essentially set-up their fort on a swamp and did not adequately prepare supplies for the new environment, their governor John White had to return to England.  Because of politics and armadas and Queen Elizabeth’s lack of interest, it was three years before he came back with help.

And when he did, the whole colony had vanished.

They left behind a single clue, the word CROATOAN carved into a post. White asked the local Croatan Native Americans, but they had no idea where the settlers had gone.

It’s a great story, right! Did they join a Native American community? Did they try to swim back to England? Did they just die out? Did aliens abduct them? The mind reels!

But that is not my mystery this week. Oh no. My mystery is how could any documentary about such a subject be boring?

History Channel aired a special on the controversial Dare Stones. The stones are a series of rocks found in the 1930s which were supposedly clues left by White’s daughter, Eleanor Dare. The stones were determined as fake decades ago, but the documentary wanted to prove that one amongst them could have been authentic.

The television special was essentially two men driving back and forth up the east coast. They talked to the same three or four people while overdramatic music would crescendo at inappropriate moments.

Every once in a while, re-enactors appeared to represent the lost colonists wandering through the woods. They were led by an actress meant to be Eleanor herself. If she was not trudging through the same patch of trees over and over again, she was staring longingly at the sea or down at a rock. That was pretty much it. Three scenes of historical re-enactment played repeatedly before or after each commercial break to buffer the footage of the two men driving.

This went on for an hour and, I confess, I dozed in and out yet could still follow everything perfectly. That should give you an idea of how little was actually said.

At the end of the hour of repetitive hypothesizing and talk of stone testing, the result was (drumroll and spoiler alert) — Inconclusive!

That’s right! All of that hemming and driving and staring into the sea and the only way to find out what they decided is to watch the TWO HOUR follow-up documentary featuring the same men. I don’t think I could do it.

This is nothing against the people on the program or what they were trying to do. The mystery here is how could they take something so fascinating and make it so damn boring

Even the actress playing Eleanor Dare looked bored and she got a free trip to the beach!

Mystery of the Nabob

Last week, the United States pondered the definition of a mysterious word which appeared on Twitter. My next mystery is also a based around a single word, but one which stems from many of our childhoods, not one which adds further confusion to the political offices of our country. To some, perhaps this word was never a mystery. But to those of you who, like me, always wondered here is the answer.

What is a nabob?

The classic, toe-tapper from Aladdin entitled “A Friend Like Me” includes this word. While the Genie sings, Aladdin nearly kisses him the form of a lovely, dancing girl. When the Genie turns back into himself and blushes at the stunned young man, he declares “You big nabob!” For most of my youth I assumed I was mishearing this word. To be perfectly honest, I just assumed Robin Williams was saying stuff to say stuff. I never thought too hard about what a “nanoo nanoo” could possibly be, so why would this be any different.

Then, the older I got the more I wondered because, even though Disney had the foresight to allow the late, great Mr. Williams improvise many of this lines, I doubted that they would allow complete nonsense into their big-budget animated feature.

Instead of wondering in vain, I recalled a tool which allows me to solve such problems within seconds – a dictionary! And by a dictionary, I was course mean, the internet! Did you think I was a Luddite?

It turns out a nabob is a person of “great wealth or importance” or a “provincial governor of the Mogul empire of India”. Many English men who made their fortune through the East India Company were referred to as nabobs. I could detail for you a history of the East India Company, but it’s a long story of economics and opium and cultural diffusion and far too few pirates (despite what movies will have you believe). By the nineteenth century, nabobs apparently were no longer the fashion and the word fell out of use, save for one bizarre time that Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew used it to describe people in the media.

When I looked up nabob on the Merriam-Webster website, it said that the word was in the bottom 40% of their internet traffic popularity, so maybe not as many of you have wondered about this as I have. All the same, mystery successfully solved. Now the only question which remains is do we want to bring it back? It could be our secret word that sounds insulting, but isn’t. For example, did you hear that the nabob tweeted the word covfefe?

Side note: Don’t look up “nanoo nanoo” on Urban Dictionary. Just . . . just don’t.

Mysteries Abound!

This month’s blogs will focus on mysteries. Some mysteries shall be big – the kind which have baffled mankind through the ages! Those will be the sort of epic mysteries which vloggers re-hash within lists and History Channel makes over dramatic documentaries about! While other blogs will be rants about small mysteries – mysteries you might not have even realized WERE mysteries.

This week’s is one of these small mysteries. This is a mystery very personal and important to me. Feel free to comment and help if you can solve it.

Has anyone seen the TV remote? The one that controls the actual television set, not the one to the ROKU or the cable box. Because Caillou is on and I must have the satisfaction of shutting that little bald jerk up from my disgruntled place upon the couch! Therefore, I ask again. Does anyone know where the TV remote is?

Con Well Wishes

All right Phoenicians the day has come the start of another comic con. In just a few

hours the convention center doors will open and people from all different backgrounds

will crowd together into those doors and give the fire marshals palpitations. So, as you

are sweating within that mask, collecting that local art, and getting those

autographs from people you thought only existed on TV, Five Smiling Fish wants to wish

you the happiest and safest 2017 Phoenix Con. Let your geek flag fly! ...and don't forget to come by and see us.


Quiet! Listen carefully. Do you hear that? It's the calm before the glorious chaos that is Phoenix Comic Con.

Here is what you need to do to prepare:

1. Deep breaths

2. Create an easy-to-find meeting place for you and your friends

3. BRING WATER - stay hydrated!

4. Walkie talkies work where cell reception might fail

5. Be aware of local eateries for each night

6. Deodorant - Help keep the con funk under control

7. Vitamin C - Help keep the con crud under control

8. Make the world a better place - It's a crowded convention on a hot day. Tensions run high and sometimes people act like jerks. Don't give in to their behavior and don't let them ruin your good time.

Titles that We Need to Bring Back

There are positions and labels which have faded from use or common cultural recognition. However, as the modern world is. . . what it is, some of these terms really need to be brought back into circulation. Here are 5 I think would hold up well in today’s society.

5. Badger

This one is pretty self-explanatory once you know the history behind it. In early modern Europe anyone who bought food from farmers to re-sell it at market was called a badger (or sometimes bagger). You had to be licensed to do this to make sure you weren’t just trying to make money off other people’s work.  So many possibilities for this one, not just as a double meaning for people from Wisconsin. Think of all of the jobs which are a way to make money from someone else’s labor and how they badger you to buy. Makes sense, right.

4. Lector

In the 1930s, some businesses who wanted to keep their workers from striking hired lectors to read aloud and break up the monotony. No, seriously this was a thing. . . that didn’t really work (see Tampa cigar makers’ strike of 1931). But wouldn’t it be a fabulous title to bring back? That guy who always reads out “interesting” Facebook articles to the whole of the breakroom would no longer be annoying – he would be the “lector”.

3. Reeve

Feudalism produced all sorts of ways to give the illusion of representation and a say in one’s community, while still making certain that all people adhere to their place in the time period. A reeve was like the communicator between the peasants and the nobles who made sure the farms ran smoothly. Reeves were also peasants themselves who had been given a position of power. What if we started to call the heads of homeowners’ associations reeves? I feel this would fully encompass some of their out-of-date priorities. And we could always jokingly refer to them as “reavers” like the mutant killers from Firefly.

2. Bard

I want to be called a bard. I feel this would better explain my financial status as a writer in a more romantic way. When you tell people you are a musician or author, their gaze withers to pity and then they watch you buy the next round of drinks as if you are so brave. If you tell them they that you are a bard, people will either scratch their head and pretend to know what that is or give you a solemn nod of reverence before you continue your travels.

1. Berserker

This is a term for a Norse warrior who fought in a “trance-like state” which turned them into both a fearsome and a completely insane fighter. Clearly, this trance-like state could be applied to many in the modern world. Instead of just crunching numbers and imputing information mindlessly, you could do so with furious bad-ass-ittude! You would be the Berserker of the office and all would revere you!