Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Notes from the Nightstand: Hickory Dickory Dock

In case you've forgotten, I've been reading all of Agatha Christie's books in (mostly) chronological order for the past few years. Here's the post from my other old blog that explains it all. I'm now up to the 1950s and just finished Hickory Dickory Dock (1955).

Christie wrote quite a few novels with nursery rhyme titles and themes: And Then There Were None, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, Five Little Pigs, Mrs. McGinty's Dead, and A Pocket Full of Rye. And Then There Were None is totally inspired and an all-time favorite of mine, and A Pocket Full of Rye is quite clever, but I think the others are pretty forgettable. Hickory Dickory Dock definitely falls into this last category.

Christie periodically, but especially in the '50s and '60s, tried to branch out into youth culture and edgier topics like drug smuggling and addiction or revolutionary politics, with not very great success. Her best efforts are the classic upper class drawing room murders at country houses with butlers who did or didn't do it. Hickory Dickory Dock, unfortunately, is set in a youth hostel in London and has a cast of young international students (with '50s-era British racial sensibilities thrown in for good times). Lots of small thefts have been occurring in the house, which is upsetting but not catastrophic until, of course, someone turns up dead. But no hot-headed 20-something - or a syndicate of jewel thieves and drug-smugglers - can stop Hercule Poirot once he's on the case!

If you're interested in checking out an Agatha Christie mystery for a quick, easy read during the holidays or on a cold, snowy January Saturday afternoon, take my advice and pick up And Then There Were None instead. Really only the most hardened Christie fan should ever attempt one of her novels from the '50s - Great Britain was apparently a pretty grim place in the decade after WWII, and these novels surely reflect that sour "stiff upper lip."


This is probably my second favorite Christmas album ever - The Bells of Dublin by the Chieftains.

"The Bells of Dublin/Christmas Eve"

"Once in Royal David's City"

"St. Stephen's Day Murders" with Elvis Costello

"Wexford Carol" with Nanci Griffith

And this song isn't from Bells of Dublin, but I ran across it while digging around on YouTube and had to include it. It's the Chieftains and the Decembrists doing a great Bob Dylan song, "When the Ship Comes In." Fantastic.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Katie Sez...

... This pizza is mouth-watering!

... Our car is magic! (after I pulled a cup holder we rarely use out of the armrest)

... (while galloping around the house) My horse and my legs are both named Trusty!

Maggie sez... Her tricycle is named Trusty, too! She needs to get more creative.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Book of Mom, Chapter 1 Verse 1

I have a parenting theory that kids sometimes really do need to see your anger in order to fully GET IT.

It's not cool among parents of my generation to ever lose your cool around your kids, no matter what extraordinarily chowderheaded things they get up to. And if you do happen to become possessed by a malevolent spirit and actually YELL at your beloved babies, you are required to feel guilty. You must repent. The peer pressure enforced rules are clear: No yelling. No threatening. No anger. It destroys their souls. You are a MONSTER.

But when my kids do something dangerous or incredibly foolish or just down-right malicious (in other words, every ten minutes or so), I feel justified in making my anger known to them. I know that I'm treading into dangerous territory here when I admit that I am growing increasingly shameless (no shame! *black power fist*) about my avenging angel routine. I mean, it's not like I hit them with wooden spoons. Who would do that? (I'm looking at you, Baby Boomers.)

But they do NOT get subtle hints, that I know for sure. I have solid and endless personal evidence that subtle hints and polite suggestions go right over their heads and out into the atmosphere. And gentle rebukes fair even worse. At not quite four and six years of age, they actually scoff - to my face - at kindly reminders concerning etiquette and platitudes about "good choices," etc. Shock and awe seem to work pretty well, though. FEAR THE WRATH OF MOTHER!

At this point, my children have enough experience with the Wrath that they know it by name. They don't have to be told that it will come as surely as the fieriest comet crashing into the Earth and obliterating all of mankind in its blazing inferno. I remind them regularly, just to keep it fresh in their memories...

Me: Do you need to go to the bathroom?
Kate: No.
Me: If you pee on my couch I will be so mad that my skin will turn purple and horns will come out of my head and I will bring the whole house down with the sound of my roaring and the gnashing of my teeth.
Kate: I know.

Me:  Do you need help with that milk jug?
Maggie: NO! I can do it myself!
Me: You know that if you spill that whole gallon of milk all over the table and the floor I just mopped that my hair will catch on fire and my eyes will pop out of my head and roll around on the floor while red hot lava spews from my nostrils. You know that, right?
Maggie: Fine, be that way. Why don't you pour it instead?

Me: Girls, how much more of your fighting do you think I will be able to listen to before fangs sprout from my mouth and I grow hooves like the Beast and I tear around the house shredding all the curtains and eating your stuffed animals?
Kate: Eleventeen seconds!
Maggie: Probably less than that.

Maybe I'm fooling myself. Maybe I am destroying their fragile psyches. Maybe they will print this post out someday and show it to their parole officers. Maybe they don't even care if I'm angry. Maybe they hear it all as, "Blah blah spit spit blah shouting shouting blah blah curse-word." I don't know for certain, but at least they scatter out of my warpath when they see me coming with my flashing red eyes. And I know that I feel A LOT better afterwards. Sometimes they actually stop doing whatever boneheaded thing they were doing. It's better than just muttering crazily under my breath while they blithely flood the bathroom by stopping up the sink with Kleenex while I'm busy untying the cats.

O, ye children, listen to my words and know this: verily shall your acts of transgression be known by me as I have eyes even upon the back of my head and ears that can hear the smallest of whispers behind the bathroom door. Be forewarned that as you defy the will of your maker, so shall you feel her righteous fury. And the fire of heaven shall rain down upon thee and the angel of vengeance shall be upon thee and YOU SHALL FACE THE WRATH! Behave accordingly.

Can I get an amen?!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It's that time of year again, kids. It's just not Christmas without the Pogues....