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Festivus Memo

MEMO

TO: Festivants
FROM: Festivus International
DATE: 12/24/15

Greetings Festivants! I hope everyone had a wonderful Festivus. This is just a gentle reminder to file your Airing of Grievances & Feats of Strength reports with Santa Claus before midnight your time tonight. These reports will be used by Santa to make final adjustments to his naughty/nice list.

Of course, your grievances/feats reports will be cross-referenced and cross-checked with 2015 incident reports submitted by Santa’s elves. (Not to be confused with any reports submitted by independent elf organizations.) Keep in mind all adjustments are made at Santa’s discretion.

As you know (if you have been reading my memos), Feats of Strength have been given more weighted value this year than in previous years. So if you lifted any especially heavy objects or wrestled any large animals (and won) in 2015, be sure to include that information. If you wish to make a rough calculation of the impact of your grievances/feats on your naughty/nice ratio, this year’s value charts may be found in the reference manual updates I sent out in June.

Happy New Year,
Festiv

Dreamers in Crisis: Zombie Edition

I wanted to watch the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead despite the lukewarm reviews. I checked and it was available for streaming at the AMC website. They often do full episode streaming but maybe the poor reviews helped. The only hitch was that I would prefer to watch on my TV instead of my laptop. Bookmarked the streaming link for later.

Cut to me firing up my Xbox to watch some Netflix and there on the Xbox home page was a graphic for Fear the Walking Dead. I clicked on it thinking, “Could it be this easy? They’re promoting it. I can watch on my TV.”

But no. It could not be that easy. Through Xbox video they are charging to watch the pilot episode. Screw that. I watched it on my laptop.

And I thought it was pretty good. I’m not sure why people are complaining. The entire rest of the series will be full of zombies. This episode was about life just before the zombies and as the zombies emerged. For me, that transition is the most interesting and creative part of the show anyway. Things falling apart.

What I think they got right is the general cluelessness. If anything they underestimated it. We humans are lousy at recognizing change. Me included. When I first heard about both Facebook and Twitter, I thought, “Sounds like a total waste of time.” And they are. And I have accounts on both. What I failed to understand is that humans are constantly looking for new ways to waste time.

Just like we are always looking for more shows about zombies.

Zombies would sneak up on us like Hitler snuck up on Russia. Even though every ounce of intelligence screamed to Stalin, “HITLER IS GOING TO ATTACK,” he was sure Hitler would never invade. If I encountered a zombie, if I saw someone rise from apparent death, my first thought would be, “Well, I guess he ain’t dead.” Not, “Oh my god a zombie!” If I saw police shoot a guy ten times and watched him fall down and then get up, I would think, “I can’t believe he’s still alive after all that, but humans are resilient.” Not, “He must be a zombie. Only a zombie could survive all that.” If an apparently dead guy got up and started growling at me and gnashing his teeth and chewing on other bodies, I would think, “So he’s alive and he has rabies. I better get out of here because animals with rabies have hulk strength. Plus I don’t want rabies.”

Watching TV as I get older, I feel for the actors in the same way I feel for any player that gets cut from any NFL team. Dreamers in crisis. I imagine a particular actor getting the call from his agent:

AGENT: Good news, buddy, you’ve been cast for a major role in the new Walking Dead!
ACTOR: Holy shit! I can’t believe it! My big break!
AGENT: The bad news is you die in the pilot.
ACTOR: Oh.

You were good [name redacted — spoiler]. I’m sure you’ll get more parts soon.

Here come the zombies.

1912 Letter to Santa

Over a hundred years ago, my grandfather Fred Kirk Hill (1903-1937), then nine years old, wrote a helpful letter to Santa Claus:

Dear Santa Claus:
How are you? I am fine and hope you are the same. There were two girls in our room this morning. Their names are Margaret Slyfield and Zella Kane. Margaret has been a naughty girl so I think that you ought not bring her any presents. And I think that you ought not to bring Zella any presents. The teacher had them stand up in the corner. I think you will have to come in your air ship, because there is no snow on the ground. I do not think there will be any Christmas Eve. I would like a cowboy suit, a bicycle and a good book to read for Christmas. I am going to speak for Christmas. It is “the map of Santa Claus.” I have three or four ponies and if one of your reindeer falls off of the houses you can go in the barn and put the harness on my ponies and hitch them up. They have not been hitched up before. You might have a run-away with them. And be sure you bring my ponies back or I will not let you take them again. I guess I will close.
From your friend,
Fred Hill

I meant to post this some time ago but it ended up in my drafts folder. Christmas is still a long way away but why wait? It is a hilarious letter and the sooner I get it up on the internet, the sooner Margaret Slyfield or Zella Kane’s ancestors this might find it. Google is a great way to research your ancestors (if they have sufficiently atypical names) and I have discovered some fun tidbits this way.

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