Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Horton Wasn't the Only One to Hear a Who!

My whole life is a lie.

Okay, maybe not the whole thing. Parts of it. Small parts. Parts that I didn't know I had. No, wait, that doesn't sound...

If you haven't read the book "Horton Hears a Who" (and I'm going to segue here to say how interesting it is that I only had to type 'Horton' and my auto suggest came up with the rest of the title; I find that fascinating and terrifying), the premise is that an elephant named Horton hears a very small sound and discovers a civilization of microscopic creatures called the Whos. He is the only creature in the jungle to believe that the Whos exist, and all the other animals spend the book trying to get him to admit they aren't real and also killing the Whos.

It all boils down to the phrase "A person's a person, no matter how small", which is repeated enough that you understand that this is an important lesson, but not so often that you wish Uncle Ben hadn't died so Spider-Man would stop flashing back to it so often.

It's a heartwarming book and I don't really remember it growing up. This was probably because my parents have good taste and realized it wasn't a great book. Oh, call the police, I don't like a Dr Seuss book. Face it, it's no "And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street". It doesn't matter what I think anymore because my daughter loves it, so I'm putting my time in now hoping that I won't have to read Twilight later.

So, imagine my surprise when I discover that there is a shadowy element to this book. A single line that changes everything, and puts a darker spin on almost everything that happens to Horton. Before you read any further... SPOILER ALERT.

Here's a page from around the middle of the book:


This is the first time that the Mayor of Who-ville has identified himself as the Mayor and as a Who. Previous to this, Horton's just sort of yelling at this tiny voice coming from a speck of dust. 

The next page introduces us to a bunch of monkeys called the Wickersham brothers. They are in league with a really mean kangaroo for the duration of the story, doing the kangaroos dirty work. 


They are very mean monkeys. But they're even worse than your kid thinks.

The conflict of the story centers on the fact that only Horton can hear the Whos. It's right there in the title. None of the other animals can hear them, so they believe Horton has made it up and punish him for it. Really terrible things. It's a whole big thing. And through all the trials and tribulations, Horton keeps going on with his claims that he knows the Whos exist and that they deserve to live.

And right through to the end, the Wickersham Brothers (and cousins, etc) are right there, persecuting poor Horton. Because nobody can hear the Whos except for Horton.

And the Wickersam Brothers.

They MUST have heard the Whos. Because Horton never says "Who" or "Mayor". Only the Mayor of Who-ville says that.

The Wickersham Brothers know the Whos are real, but they participate in the persecution of Horton along with the other animals because it's fun. Only after the Whos finally prove their existence to the Kangaroo do they stop. The final scene of the book is a picture of Kangaroo and Horton bonding over a shared goal of protecting the Whos. But there's no Wickersham Brothers.

The real lesson of the book isn't what Horton keep saying over and over. And it's not that if you believe in something hard enough your belief will eventually win over others. And it isn't about perseverance in the face of adversity or the power of knowing yourself or any of that.  

I think the real lesson of this book is sometimes people will do bad things to you because it's easy and it's fun and confronting them head on will only make it worse. Sometimes, the only way to get people to stop doing bad things to you is to get allies and to know you are not alone. The minute the Kangaroo expresses belief in the Whos, the Wickersham Brothers disappear.

That or monkeys are just a bunch of jerks.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Writing prompt - I can't believe I have to point this out



"You're not going to believe this, but my dang ferrets chewed through my iPhone cable!"

"Oh, that sucks. How's it look?"

"They literally chewed the cover off the cable."

"If they just chewed the cover off, you might still be able to use it."

"You think? Hold on, I'll send you a pic."

...

"Let me know when you get it."

"Got it. Wow, they really what the hell is that Denise?!"

"It's bad isn't it? Damn it. I'm going to have to drive all the way back to the mall to get one."

"Denise. Forget the cable, what is that on your feet!"

"What?"

"I swear to god, what is wrong with you? How many times do I have to tell you: Sandals are not slippers!"

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Writing Prompt - House Party



"Guys, guys," Shelly said. "Come on, I want to take a picture!"

"Come on, Shelly, do we have to?" Blake asked. He hated getting his picture taken because his smile always made him look a little awkward.

"Yes, we have to! Come on, when are we going to see each other again?"

"In class next semester?" Tony joked. He often joked a little more than the others, and secretly hoped that they thought of him as the clown of the group instead of, well, something else.

"Ha ha, Tony. Coooooome oooooon, stop messing around! Kyle! Come over here! We're taking a picture!"

"That's cool."

"Hey Kyle, nice tie. Where'd you get it, your dad's closet?"

"No, Tony, this is mine."

"Greg! Nikolai!" Shelly waved them over. "You guys gotta come and stand here for the picture!"

"I am happy to picture be in."

"Nikolai, your accent is soooo awesome!"

"Nice beard Greg, where'd you get it-"

"That's like the third time you've said that to me today."

"HOLY SNAP!" All the guys winced as Shelly screamed. "Is that Evan! Evan! You look AWESOME!" Everyone had to agree: Evan was looking pretty awesome today. Without being weird about it, they knew that he was the best looking of them all.

"Okay, you stand over here! We're taking a picture. Jenny! Can you take our picture?" Shelly thrust her phone in Jenny's hands.

"Sure, I guess." Jenny was cute, but shy. Blake had had a crush on her since they'd met at the start of the semester. "Great," he thought, "I don't want to smile too much, or she'll think I'm a dork. But I don't want to not smile in case she doesn't think I'm fun. I'll just roll up my sleeves, then she'll think I'm more relaxed than I am."

Shelly put her arm around Tony, who reacted by putting his arm around her.  Unfortunately, at that moment, Kyle also put his arm around Shelly. Their hands met for the briefest of moments behind her back before they both pulled back.

Kyle thought "Great, what am I supposed to do with my hands now?"

Tony thought "Great, does Kyle know I like him?"

"Okay everyone, smile. Greg, I can't see you. Tony, Shelly, squeeze together. Greg, can you lean forward? Nikolai, I can't see you, can you lean - perfect. Greg, you're in a shadow so move over. Blake, can you, um, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm righteous," he replied, dying a little more inside.

"Evan, you look soooo good. Okay, everyone, on the count of - Greg, come on, I can't see you, you're all dark back there. Wait, is that supposed to be a beard?"

"Jenny, just take the picture!"

"Fine! On the count of three! Greg, I still can't see you - okay real mature. One...Two...Three!" CLICK "Frankenstein! You totally just walked into the picture!" She looked at the picture on the screen. "And you walked in front of Evan!"

"Aw, Frankenstein!" Everyone moaned.

"Frankenstein blending in! Frankenstein just regular student like everyone else!"

"Oh Frankenstein," Shelly shook her head and rolled her eyes. "You're, like, some kind of zombie or something."

"Frankenstein...sad."