“I don’t want to be any trouble!”

One of the unspoken “side-effects” of illness, whether physical or mental, is the added stress of worrying whether one is causing problems for friends and family.

I think the short answer is “yes”, and the more accurate answer is “yes, but we think it’s worth it.” We all have perfectly healthy friends who need help occasionally, who need us to forgive when mutual plans are messed up because of something they overlooked or didn’t anticipate. In theory the sick person could always anticipate something going wrong, in which case we’d probably be annoyed with them for depriving us unnecessarily of their company, and knowing that their behavior is making their own lives harder in order to reduce inconveniencing us.

On the one hand, while we admire people trying to take care of their own problems, it can get frustrating to try to have to deal with a problem that has gotten worse when help could have kept it a minor inconvenience. At the same time, it’s too easy to criticize those who ask for help frequently. It seems a no-win situation. But as parents know that while it’s easier to do almost anything for a child, that only by letting them do it themselves (even though it takes longer, and possibly more effort for the parents), this is the way kids learn and get better, and feel good about themselves. We have to let our friends choose their own comfort levels about when to ask for help. But we also need to reassure them that needing help isn’t going to drive us away, that in balance, the extra effort having them in our lives is worth it for us.

Since they have to spend so much time and effort focusing on dealing with their problems, those problems may be the only aspect of the relationship they notice. We need to help them see past that filter, and not feel that we are keeping them around out of sympathy.

This may be why many of us are happy to push for awareness and general societal supports, from ramps to interpreters for the deaf. If we recognize the rights of all to participate in society in a useful, meaningful, and satisfying way, our whole society is better off. We benefit from the things that they can do. On a personal level, friends each have some special something that enhances our lives that makes it worth while for us to make sure that the restaurants we go to have a reasonable selection of gluten-free or vegan offerings, or even that activities are enjoyable for everyone participating. This is normal social interaction for everyone (I’m not counting the occasional narcissist who assumes that just because sports is the center of his life that everyone must enjoy it). Yes, sometimes we may want to eat Mexican, even though our best friend thinks cilantro tastes like soap, or wish we could go see fireworks, although our friend has PTSD that is triggered by loud noises. It’s a matter of scale.

There are some people who seem to think that their special circumstances entitle them to have the world, including you, rearrange itself for them. Hey, a jerk is a jerk whether they have a handicap or not, I’m not talking about that. There are mothers who still do their adult son’s laundry, but most of us achieve a better balance. I haven’t yet found a perfect answer to how to decide when to ask for or to offer help when it might make a task go faster, but make the person feel more helpless, and I think it probably each situation needs to be looked at individually.

I am getting older, and this means I sometimes have to have jars opened for me, and get help carrying heavy loads. I don’t drive after dark anymore. I don’t hear as well, nor is my memory as annoyingly good (there may be an advantage to that). All of us, unless we die young, are going to need help. And, let’s face it, not only is an old person not as cute as a baby, we’re a lot heavier, so it’s not as easy to pick up an elder as it is to change a baby’s diaper.  We’d better make ourselves pleasant enough to make it worth it to those we need help from.

There’s no answer to this one, we can only think about it, and try to be kinder to each other.


Jason Nadeau Rituals for Transformation

5-31-2017 Jason Nadeau Rituals for Transformation

Please join Tchipakkan and her guest Jason Nadeau on the New Normal 8 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 8-9 p.m. edt.

Jason is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master/Teacher, Shamanic Practitioner, and Certified Firewalk Instructor. He’s been on a spiritual path for over 20 years and has been a full-time Massage Therapist/Bodyworker/Spiritworker for over 12 years.

Want to catch this interview, call in with questions or be part of the live chat happening during every show?

We’ll be talking about rituals for transformation – everything from the simple food and water offerings to firewalks. If you are out of your teens, you know that you aren’t as you used to be. But wouldn’t you like to direct the way you change so that you become more the person you want to be than just the result of whatever life throws at you? Some sorts of transformation are in small increments, developed as habits, as a vine climbs a trellis with the sun directing its growth, some transformations are dramatic, in response to dramatic influences- as a blade is tempered in fire and under the hammer of the smith. But always, there must be direction.

Want to call in with questions or be part of the live chat happening during every show? We’d love you to phone in with questions: 619-639-4606 (live only). If you know you’re going to listen later but have a question, look on the facebook events page and leave a question there. We’ll try to answer it during the show.

Listen live at www.Liveparanormal.com on your computer, click the “Listen Live and Chat” listing under the “radio-listen/chat room” heading, and click “LISTEN HERE” next to “the New Normal”.

If you can’t tune in 8-9, Live Paranormal.com archives its shows by date, and I archive them by date, guest, and topic on my website: https://tchipakkan.wordpress.com/the-new-normal/directory-of-podcasts/

Hope you can join Jason and me tomorrow night from 8-9 at the New Normal on liveparanormal.com



Holidays and Rituals

You may have noticed that I enjoy holidays. I like that they remind us of good things we may fail to appreciate in our daily lives, (or, in the case of awareness days, of the bad things others need to deal with), and that they bring us together. As I write, today is Firefly Day, (4-24) where fans of the short lived SF TV show share their fandom, or Douglas Adams Day, where people carry a towel, or Talk like a Pirate Day, or yesterday where Dr. Who fans made tally marks on their arms.

These actions being done by people who may not know each other, may help each other find other people who have something in common with them. Unlike sports fans, who can assume that those in the stadium with them are also fans, they are more like the early Christians who could identify each other with drawing two curving lines- representing the “Jesus fish”- that could be drawn in dust or spilled wine and then wiped away unnoticed by those not in on the symbolism. Masons have secret handshakes, and gangs have “colors”. We want to know that we are part of a special group.

Humans have a need for community, a need to show solidarity, to feel part of a group. We reinforce this with rituals, a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order” with the intent of creating a desired result, whether a shared goal or simply to know who the others who share your goals are.

Being part of the community was natural when most people stayed their whole lives in the same town. It used to be that people could assume that everyone they saw was like them, thought the same, did the same things. In the modern world we have lost that (perhaps false sense of) security. Currently 17.7% of Americans go to church weekly, which is still above the 5.5% of Americans who are regular football spectators (although much less than the 13-30% fandom numbers in other countries from Europe to Australia). On the other hand, over 21% of Americans got to baseball games, more than Church services. But that still leaves four out of five of us not having church or sports to provide a sense of being “inside a group”. So we show signals to our own groups- those who are in the same fandoms as we are, who love what we love, think what we think.

And to share a holiday, to do something together (even if with others scattered across the whole world) is to share a ritual. Whether you are pausing for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Shoah, or the Armenian Genocide, or whether you are carrying a towel or wearing a lilac on May 25th, you are doing something that creates a connection between you and your community- even if it is a community in minds rather than proximity of bodies.

Our world is different, our friendships are maintained not by working elbow to elbow, but by being in contact often through modern technology. So it makes sense that our rituals and holidays would be done the same way.

The Wild Hunt on the New Normal

Listen to Tchipakkan on the New Normal Wednesday night (November 30th) from 8 to 9 pm edt. as she talks about Ghost Armies.

From earliest times, there have been reports of groups of specteral entities, often in the sky, often dangerous to encounter, although not always, commonly called the Wild Hunt, and associated with the dark time of the year. These reports have continued in every period, up to the modern song Ghostriders in the Sky. One might even include Santa Claus as a part of this tradition, especially when some of the earliest versions were also bringers of gifts and blessings.

Tchipakkan will talk about many of these traditions- please join us and call in with questions and stories: 619-639-4606

If you miss the show, we’ll post the link to the archive here for you to listen later.

The Wild (or Infernal) Hunt, Herlaþing, Hounds of Annwn, Wilde Jagd, Noisy Riders, in folklore are tales of an army of spirits who could be heard passing on winter nights, and if directly encountered was dangerous to body and soul. From souls of sinners or unbaptized babes to pagan gods, these were objects of horror, pity and danger, or at least contact with the divine. I’ll try to cover as many versions as I can, from the Benadanti through the cursed huntsmen, to the Krampus connection.


To listen live: open a window on your computer to http://www.Liveparanormal.com, sign in, and click on Shows, and the New Normal to listen. To listen later at your convenience, shows are archived by date on LiveParanormal.com here, and they’re organized by date, topic and guest on Tchipakkan.com .

My thoughts on “scary looking guns”

A friend shared a quote by Ronald Regan: 51549bd932c087b912f126ded42467c0
I’m not sure I agree about that.
I think the concept is that the second amendment was aimed at making sure that people (like themselves) could resist when the government tried to enforce unacceptable laws by using armies. The amendment specifies militias- like the men who fought the British Army at Lexington and Concord. The American Revolution was an armed rebellion. Thus, the second amendment was not to protect your home from cat burglars, but from armies.
ferguson_police_riot_gear_812_ap_img3At that time, the armies were men with rifles and bayonets, and sometimes cannons. In honesty, since the army now fights wars with weapons that cost millions of dollars each, the army is not powered by the infantry and cannot be resisted with weapons you can keep in your home. No matter how much you have, the military will have more. And these days, when they buy a bigger, shinier toy, they sell off their old ones to the police, so THEY have bigger weapons than home-owners can have. Millions of Americans have the AR-15, a semi automatic (one shot per trigger pull), against true military weaponry we are smears on the pavement, if they don’t choose to use explosives. So the quote is not applicable. While it is legal to have an AK 47 in the USA, it must be modified so that it is, in fact, NOT a “machine gun”, it cannot be automatic, but semi-automatic. These laws have been in place for decades.
I do believe that it is reasonable to have background checks, proficiency checks, inspections, that firearms should be stored safely, pretty much what goes for automobiles. I don’t believe that these laws will keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, or people who get so upset or are so filled with hate that they misuse them. Won’t happen. I also don’t think that whatever the framers of the Bill of Rights intended, that we have a snowball’s chance in hell of resisting the government with firepower. The only chance we have to protect our rights are working together in great numbers and denying attempts by the government to change the laws in ways we don’t like.
Sadly, a LOT people are made very uncomfortable about some of the changes that are happening in the modern world. They would rather have Jim Crow Laws, and anti-Gay laws. They want the right to maximize their profits even if it means others starve or people or the environment is injured. That’s why we have government, to protect the rights of those without power.
I don’t think that an armed civilian force will scare the military industrial complex into rational behavior. Had the Jews shot back and not been willing to go into the Ghettos, could they have avoided the Holocaust? I doubt it. I think that they would have had the media convince most people that they were dangerous and would have been killed more quickly. This issue is a smoke screen. Like so many other political arguments we should look past it and look at what the real issues are.
People die when people are allowed- even encouraged to hate. If there were no bullets, they’d use machetes- like they did in Ruanda. Let’s work on the hate, not the style of guns.


Kirsten Houseknect

I’ve asked Kirsten Houseknect back for more talk about Tarot. Kirsten Houseknect

This time she’ll be pointing out how there are correspondences between cards in the major and minor arcanas, which allow the cards to mention the same thing more than once in a reading, which allows us to get more clairity.

Kirsten studied Tarot both Formally with teachers, and informally with self study for many years. After researching the symbols and number meanings used in the original Tarot images of the “Rider waite” deck, she finally moved past the difficulty of reading the minor arcana, AND found new ways to get overall answers from a spread.

Miss the show? the archive is here: http://tobtr.com/s/8966449

Please join Tchipakkan and Kirsten on the New Normal 8 pm Wednesday, 6-8-16, 8-9 p.m. edt.

Please call in with any stories or questions: 619-639-4606

If you want to listen to the earlier show with Kirsten, it’s archived here:  http://tobtr.com/s/8869809  To listen live: open a window on your computer to http://www.Liveparanormal.com, sign in, and click on Shows, and the New Normal to listen. To listen later at your convenience, shows are archived by date on LiveParanormal.com here, and they’re organized by date, topic and guest on Tchipakkan.com .


Maryalyce Merrit how to Manifest Abundance

If you missed the live show, it’s archived here: http://tobtr.com/s/8803761

Please join Tchipakkan and Maryalyce on the New Normal 8 pm Wednesday, May 4th, 8-9 p.m. est. as we talk about how to get what we want (not what we fear).
Everything in the world has an energy or vibration, and by using the inherant properties of everything from crystals to herbs to times of day or season, we can work with the flow, not against it.Akasha's Journey shelves
Let’s discuss abundance! For some of us, this is the beginning of vending season, we’ll talk about how to tap into the energy of abundance and not get stuck in the scarcity mindset out of fear. We will discuss essential oils, deities, stones, herbs, and runes that you can work with to bless your cash box, cash, and vending set up. How to use “self talk” to avoid sabotaging ourselves. Do you have your own business? For those in less seasonal, or more “mundane” jobs, we can cover things we can do to make check books, atm cards, & pay stubs into magickal charms to power your move toward positive goals.
Do you need help with your techniques? Do you have experiences to share, something that’s worked for you?
Please call in with any stories or questions: 619-639-4606

“She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes”

Cody-and-MaryAlyce_face0Maryalyce (aka Akasha’s Heart) has been practicing witchcraft and the magickal arts since 1994. She is an ordained minister, priestess, ritualist, writer, teacher, and healer. She is a member of the Hands On Trade Association, is a Reiki Master Instructor and Practitioner, Advanced Level IET Practitioner, Run Valdr Instructor and Practitioner, and teacher of such things like reading Tarot and Medicine Cards, Introduction to Wicca, Introduction to Witchcraft, Witch-Crafting (making magickal tools), How to Organize/Construct/Lead Rituals, and others. With her passion for just about all things esoteric, metaphysical, astrological, and deeply spiritual, she decided to follow her soul’s journey to feed, educate, and empower the world community. This may be in the form of oracle readings for seekers, healing sessions, healing circles, or Reiki instruction among others. As a dog lover, she extends this healing to not only dogs, but other animals and familiars as well. Maryalyce is an ABCDT Certified Dog Trainer, and she and her rescued dog, Cody, are a registered Delta Society Pet Partner therapy team. Akasha’s Journey has evolved from the same passion for magickal living and crafting tools and items for people and their pets to assist them on their own journeys. Part of Maryalyce’s dream is to make healing & learning how to heal accessible to the community and the people who truly desire it, and of course, the beautiful animals who cannot ask for it themselves.
Come visit me and begin your transformation. The joy is in the journey. www.akashasjourney.com

To listen live: open a window on your computer to www.Liveparanormal.com, sign in, and click on Shows, and the New Normal to listen. To listen later at your convenience, shows are archived by date on LiveParanormal.com here, and they’re organized by date, topic and guest on Tchipakkan.com .

Presumption and the Golden Rule

There are words we don’t use these days: Condole, Condescend, Presume. Perhaps we should not be so ready to give them up. Condole is a great word meaning to try to help someone who is grieving. Condescend is to be nice to someone when you don’t have to be. I think we should do more of both of these things. Presume is something I think we should do less, and by not using the word we attempt to deny that the behavior is a problem. I think it is.

There’s a difference between Presume and Assume. We have all heard the “witticism” that “Assume makes an Ass of You and Me”, but to assume something is to simply take limited information and extend it to make a decision based on the facts you’ve got seen through the filter of your experience. This is not a bad thing. The phrase is as odious as “there is no I in T-E-A-M”, but it is a good idea to remember that an assumption is only a working hypothesis, and you need to collect more information before you can be sure of your course of action.

However, presumption goes beyond assumption; it implies that not only are you making an assumption, you are making the assumption to your own benefit, taking up responsibilities and privileges that you have not been officially granted.  In the Victorian world one could say “You presume, sir.” and it would be understood that the offender was assuming a level of intimacy, or a class to which the speaker did not accept he was entitled. (The very word “entitled” encompasses a set of rights and obligations that are bundled with a title, and the obligations cannot be ignored any more tha the rights.) In modern America we attempt to leave class-ism behind us, and grant that each person has intrinsic worth, not defined by their birth or “station in life”. However a great deal of sexism, racism, and other prejudice continues to be based upon our assumptions that WE are better than some set of THEY. Our manners our better, our education is better, our ethics are better.

Because we are all “equal”, and we “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”, we are making the assumption that we all want the same things. The most cursory observation of humans will show that this is not true. Because a man finds a woman attractive and would like to have sex with her does not in any way suggest that she would reciprocate that sentiment. To make that assumption is presumptuous. Because the idea of being waited on by eager servitors is appealing to some, does not mean that those who we assume are there to help us would take the enjoyment in it that we would take in being helped (likewise, some are very uncomfortable being helped, so we cannot use our preferences to predict those of the rest of the world). In embracing the presumption of “equality” and “fraternity”, we find ourselves with salespeople who have been trained to use our first names. They are taught that by stepping into the role of a close friend, we will treat them as one and extend the trust that we would extend a friend, so that they may then sell us whatever it is that they are pedaling. I fear that this alteration in the definition of friendship has led to devaluation of what a friend is. The use of the term BFF (Best Friends Forever) acknowledges that a normal “friend” is not the same as the true friend (who will help you move, or, as the joke goes, move bodies).

Just as I would require a close relationship before I would have sex with someone else, I require some significant interaction to build trust before I am willing to bestow the title “friend” upon another person. The assumption is that most people in modern American culture are willing to extend that term to anyone with whom they are acquainted (and not actually feuding). Trust is based on knowledge, and modern friendship “assumes” that everyone out there will treat you as a friend. I think that most of us don’t actually make that assumption about “everyone”. There are privileges one extends to friends beyond what one grants a stranger or acquaintance. You don’t accept a stranger walking into your house, even if you have friends you know well enough that you’d rather not bother go open the door for them. There are people with whom you’ll share food, others you’ll even share a fork or glass. Different levels of friendship will distinguish with whom you exchange gifts, or how much money or what kinds of tools you’ll loan them. There are people you’ll hug, and others with whom you shake hands. You share different levels of personal information with people at different levels of intimacy, and that is based on trust. Trust is based on a larger amount of information. Casual friends you can be confident that they won’t embarrass you if you go someplace public with them, close friends you can tell your problems and know that they won’t use your weaknesses to hurt you later.

The French have a term “tutoi” that means to speak with someone in a familiar way. In French there are formal and informal pronouns, and one only uses the informal “tu” with close friends, and the more formal “vous” for others. We used to have that in English as well, the term thee or thou was only used with those with whom one was intimate- hence it’s continued use when speaking to God, because one was as intimate with God as one was with a lover. However, one also used it when speaking to children or servants, because they had no social standing, and so needed no honorific. Quakers adopted using Thee for everyone to indicate that everyone was equal in the eyes of God. The rest of us simply started using the more respectful “you” for everyone, granting them the honorific formal pronoun. We no longer use that distinction in English, which may be a good thing. Considering how prickly we can be, someone who used the “intimate” form of address to suggest closeness might easily be assumed to be suggesting that the one he spoke to was being demeaned. (As I do when a saleswoman calls me “dearie” or uses my first name.)

Anyone who claims the “familiarity” of being my friend, anyone who enters my home, and helps himself to my stuff Presumes. He (or she) is helping himself to something to which he has no right, which she has not earned. We have attempted to create a world in which humans can expect certain things simply by “right of being human”. However, all rights come bundled with duties. Your entitlement to respect and courtesy requires that you behave in a respectful way to others. If you abrogate that responsibility you presume upon my good will, and frankly, it doesn’t extend that far.



Reading to your kids

734088_10151414937871983_1794002182_nWhen we were little my parents read to us. Mostly I remember my mother reading, but sometimes my father would be reading one story (usually to my brother) while Mother read another; it was “terribly unfair” that they read at the same time so we had to pick!  I would guess that it had to do with the stories- when there are four or five kids, what the older kids liked is different than what you read to the baby. I think we’d actually listen to almost anything. Even now at the lake or during a black-out one of us will read (Steven King or Terry Pratchett) while the others do something else that needs less light. There’s something wonderful about listening to a story, especially a good one, a familiar one.

If I was to give advice on child rearing, I realize that most of it is really personal, you have to tailor it to the situation, but I can’t think of one where reading to your kid is inappropriate. When done just before bed (as is traditional), it helps relax the listener and the reader. More importantly, it helps parents share stories that teach us the symbolism and culture of our people. Modern kids should recognize Zeus and Thor, Hamlet and Don Quixote, but they have modern symbols to draw on as well like Alice, Dorothy Gale, and Tinkerbelle. A lot of these classics have been made into movies, but when you read the book, not only do you get MORE and go deeper into the details of the story, it becomes a personal exchange. The parent can talk about what they’ve read, and no preamble or explanations are needed to make sure that both parties know: you were just there together, when Pinnoccio was turned into a donkey, or when Heidi got lost trying to find her way back home.

Books create a bridge between generations- the books that spoke to my mother and 19517_bookhouse_vol5and6grandmother (like the Little Colonel books, or the Bookhouse series, watching Black Beauty be passed from hand to hand, or Lad: a Dog spend his life with his Master) were shared experiences. Fairy tales create a bond and mutual language between all who’ve heard and told them: the littlest sister or brother who isn’t appreciated by the older ones in their family, the orphan, the hard-worker, the misunderstood, the one with an impossible task. We all relate to those archetypes. Nursery rhymes are a prelude to fairy tales, then you start adding classic children’s books: The Jungle Books, the Secret Garden, Peter Pan. They became classics because they touch something in so many people. If you read to your child you can tell with which characters and situations your kids identify. Little colonel

I was trying to think of a list of the must-read books I’d recommend (and thinking I probably missed too many with my kids). If you get the kids started reading, once they do, it is inevitable that the time you alot to reading too them won’t be enough to “find out what happens next” and  they’ll finish the book themselves. This is not a problem, anymore than re-reading a book is.  I know that I re-read Wind in the Willows and Swiss Family Robinson every year in the years after I’d first had it read to me. Diana read Charlotte’s Web when she was three, and Kat adored hearing the Alice books at five, but still loves them in her twenties. I think she’s watched over 20 movie versions- they compliment, and do not render the other medium redundant.

You will discover that children can be even more annoyed than adults when movies and books don’t match. (You should have seen how cross I was when they “sugared up” Mary Poppins!) For this reason, whenever possible, try to read the book to them before they see the movies, and whichever comes first, talk to them about the differences- what they liked better in the movie, what they liked better in the book. Let them say how they’d have handled it. Movies do have the advantage of being faster, and being available without having to get an adult’s time to experience. Because so many of the great books have been made into movies, your favorite kids movies may be a good place to start showing them how the book has so much more story than the movie can fit in.

I suggest starting with Poetry (and of course, music, but that’s another subject): Nursery Rhymes, Aesop’s Fables, Mother Goose, Child’s Garden of Verses, A A Milne, Shel Silverstein, a Visit from St. Nicholas. Then there are picture books: Little Red Riding Hood, Millions of Cats. I loved Little Black Sambo- if you can still find it. (A kid getting the better of five tigers? That’s right up there with the Jungle Book!) Dr. Seuss has his special place, but so does Uncle Remus. Some of my favorites were Harold and the Purple CASterix Underusorayon, & Make Way for Ducklings. Thinking about illustrated books, I also read my kids Asterix the Gaul, and the Elfquest comics, starting a lifelong habit of enjoying graphic novels, and appreciating the backgrounds.

Whenever you are reading picture books, please have the pictures be gorgeous. I started on the beautiful books illustrated by great artists that my mother had gotten when she was young, when Pyle and Wythe were not ashamed to do illustrations. The version of Little Red Riding Hood I grew up with was detailed, and rather creepy in it’s own way. But as I reached my teens and wanted more fairy tale books like my mother had in the thirties, I discovered that during the sixtiePyle_pirate_handsomes they were being illustrated with highly styalized pen and ink and collages. I suppose they were trying by using minimalist illustration to encourage the kids to come up with their own images in their heads, but I was spoiled and I hated it. My Grandmother found me one called The Book of Enchantments (Pharmacopoedia), large format, full page paintings, great detail; I later discovered that the paintings were based on Breugel paintings. It was gorgeous. But when the binding gave out, I took the 12×15″ pages and pinned them up on my walls, and I’ve never found the book again.  Luckily by the time I had kids of my own kids, others like me had started making fairy tale books with gorgeous illustrations again.

Donn P Crane illoFairy Tales are the best first books for bedtime reading, and luckily there are many: from Grimm, Anderson, Wilde, and Lang’s colored fairy books are great. Myths are often mixed in with fairy tales, and a great stories for kids: Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic African, Native American, Arabian Nights, Indian, Chinese and Japanese- whatever you can find. Myths lead to Legends and folk tales: King Arthur, Robin Hood, even more recent tales like Sleepy Hollow and ghost stories if they won’t spook your kids. Hiawatha may fall into this category, and lyric poems are something kids enjoy but many adults don’t consider.

For little kids the House at Pooh Corner, Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter stories,  Alice in Wonderland (and through the Looking Glass), Wizard of Oz (did you know it’s a long series?), Heidi, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Wind in the Willows, Just So Stories, & the Jungle Books, The Secret Garden, The Princess and the Goblin, Doctor Dolittle, Charlotte’s Web, Willy Wonka, The Velveteen Rabbit, Bambi, the Hobbit, Homer Price, and Matilda all have their place in my heart.

If you can, introduce your kids to these great books before they see the movie and think that Disney is the “right” version and the book “got it wrong”. firehunterAnd if you loved a book, share it. I don’t think that The Long Nosed Princess or the Enormous Egg were ever as famous as most of these “greats” I’m mentioning, but I loved them, and I’ll probably never forget the first book I bought with my own money at a book fair (I was in fourth grade) Fire Hunter by Jim Kjelgaard, a book about Hawk and Willow, cave people very reminiscent of the Jean Auel characters I loved as an adult.

As kids get older, adventures are what I wanted: Swiss Family Robinson, Mary Poppins, House at Greene Knowe, Five Children and It,The Chronicles of Prydain, Lad: a Dog, Wolf, Black Beauty, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Tom Sawyer, King Solomon’s Mines, The Little Prince, the Borrowers, Rats of NIMH, and don’t forget A Christmas Carol- it’s more of a short story than a book, and can easily be read in an evening or two. Other adventures are probably more likely to be read by your kids, but if you’ve got the family habit of reading, you need to switch to something at a more appropriate level for older kids: Gulliver’s Travels, the Three Musketeers, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, The White Company, Tarzan (and John Carter of Mars), Sherlock Holmes, Poe’s, even Jane Eyre- it will depend on your taste.

There were some books I didn’t discover until I was an adult, but would have loved to have read or had read to me when I was a kid. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Chronicles of Prydain, The Worlds of Chrestomanci, Wizard princessbride_img_2Aof Earthsea, Lord of the Rings, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Dark is Rising books, Madeline L’Engle’s  Time quartet, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, and Kane Chronicals are marvelous, and I expect his Norse series will be too. . Other books like those by Terry Prattchett, Piers Anthony (Xanth), and Dickson’s Dragon Knight books are part of my adult life, although they may be suitable for kids. Most good books are, especially when shared with the adult. The Princess Bride (the Good Parts Version) is not only is a good story, but celebrates the special bond a book can create between the reader and readee.

I’d love to hear from you what books you think are the “must read” books for parents to read to kids.



Swearing heroes

fucking-california1When I was younger there were two kinds of heroes, both were “noble”, but some were Noble, and some were Common.

There were heroes who came from “common backgrounds’, but just as they emulated the honor and courage of legendary heroes, they also assumed their manners. They may have come from longshoremen and mountain men, but they never swore. You can see this in some of the old movies when the hard bitten detective is clearly about to swear, but remembers there is a woman present (shown by a flick of his eyes in that direction) and stops himself.

Then Hollywood decided that if they were “slew the dragon” and saved people, it was OK for the hero to be true to his common roots, and we ended up with (as it’s the season I’m thinking of Christmas movies) John Maclane in Die Hard and Martin Riggs  in Lethal Weapon, where the “f word” comes out of their mouths every five minutes. I guess they just figure that anyone who that sort of language bothers can stay away from the movie.

Just as the “whore with the heart of gold” never got the guy (she often ended up sacrificing herself so that the man she loved could make his escape with the pallid virgin), the cruder male characters couldn’t aspire to winning the virtuous leading ladies. These days, they get the “consolation prize” of lots of great sex, again the implication being that that’s the best thing they can imagine, rather than all that they deserve.
It’s true that different subcultures have different expectations, and the dialect that you were taught as a child does not indicate whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy- even if it does determine whether you are socially acceptable in other subcultures. And we can be assured that the “lower classes” are just as suspicious of the motivations and outcomes of dealing with rich folks as the rich are as likely to assume lower intelligence or morals of the poor. No matter where you come from, the “Other” is suspect. Language is simply one mark of difference, and one (as we see in Pygmalion or My Fair Lady) that is not as easy to change as a suit of clothes.

Modern theory has it that swearing is a mark of a person being honest. But we need to step back from Philip Marlow trying hard to be the man his mother wanted him to be, and remember that we grow where we are planted. When Willie the Pooh says “Bother!”, it’s not affected, it’s simply what comes out of his mouth when he’s upset. Yes, we need to remember that because someone swears, that doesn’t make him a bad person. But at the same time, we need to remember that just because he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that he’s repressed, dishonest, or there’s something wrong with him.