The Disaster of the Cranky Crankie

So Lady Gaga had just gotten back from space and was wearing a hotdog costume.

Hitler came up to her and said, “You look like a Wiener Schnitzel.”

She says to him, “This is a bad romance, Adolf.”

But I get ahead of myself.

It all started when Hitler, Mitt Romney, Obama, Hans Solo, a fried egg, and a boy named Mychal decided to make a crankie together. A crankie is a scrolling paper movie, but this was The Disaster of the Cranky Crankie. It was all going fine until Mychal decided to draw a tree.

“NO TREES!!!” cried Romney. “Money!” Then he and Hitler got in a big fight about it that went pretty much like this:

Hitler: “Nature!”

Romney: “Money!”

Hitler: “War!”

Romney: “Money!”

Hitler: “Art!”

Romney: “Money!”


Meanwhile aliens were landing.

“Help me, help me!” cried the fried egg, running straight towards the Tower of Mordor.

Obama and Hans Solo went to greet the alien, who turned out to be Lady Gaga in her hotdog suit.

“I’ve just come back from Uranus,” she said.

A giant slug slimed out of a tree and across the entire crankie. “Yuck, slug slime,” said Squinchy. Then the giant slug climbed onto Lady Gaga’s head.

No one was working on the crankie. Hans Solo was playing holographic chess with Chewbacca and the politicians were still fighting about trees. Mychal decided he would have to finish the crankie by himself. Squinchy wondered when he would be done so they could go play frisbee.

Hitler, Romney, and Obama finally came to an agreement: there would be no trees. Obama was sad about the compromise and nobody saw anything of him after that.

“Hey guys,” said Mychal, “I finished the crankie, and I added a bunch more trees.”



Their heads were enormous, their eyes bloodshot, and they were suddenly missing most of their teeth.

And off flew the giant slug on Lady Gaga’s spaceship.

“Now can we play frisbee?” asked Squinch.

That’s the plot summary of the crankie my campers made last week. Can you see why I like my job?


The Annual Flower Count

Today is a holiday you may not have known about. Not Tax Day. Not Squinch’s birthday. (Though it is both of those.) Today was the Annual Flower Count. At my house, anyways.

This is a tradition my sisters and I started when we looked like this:


It is very simple. We count the kinds of flowers blooming on one day in our yard.

By kinds, I mean colors or varieties — so yellow tulips and pink tulips both count, but all yellow tulips are one.

By flowers, I mean anything that blooms: trees, bushes, bulbs, weeds. Little girls don’t value lilacs over dandelions.

By blooming, I mean the petals are showing and at least one of the flowers is still pretty much alive.

By one day, I mean any day, whatever day the counters decide to count on. I picked today because it was sunny and springy and because the lilacs had started but the daffodils hadn’t quite ended.

Those are the rules. These are the results: in my yard there are exactly FORTY kinds of flowers blooming today. Not bad. Although we often had in the seventies when I was a kid, if memory serves me.

I invite you to celebrate this holiday, too. Happy counting! I would love to know your tally.

Amazon is Hilarious

I happen to really enjoy kid humor, which is lucky since I spend a lot of time with kids and they tell a lot of jokes. While my teacher-self is eavesdropping and my inner ten year old is cracking up, my inner anthropologist (you didn’t know I had an inner anthropologist?) is taking notes.

Here are some preliminary conclusions: Farts and dumb puns are perennially funny. That joke where you’re forced to say that you blew up is still not quite as funny to you as it is to the other person. The pee green soup joke is out of style, but the “What is your name? How do you spell it? YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPELL IT?” joke may never die.

Ross Perot is no longer funny.

There is, however, an entirely new genre of kid humor. PhD. students, listen up. Kids think Amazon is hilarious. Basically, the idea that you can order anything on Amazon makes it really funny.

What if you could order human flesh on Amazon? You just click on Mystery Meat and Mmmmm!

Or there’s the true story of someone’s wealthy friend’s nanny who went on Amazon to order them seven single-serve boxes of that toasted nori snack that is the lunch treat du jour in foodie children’s lunches in Seattle, but somehow ordered seven cases of a thousand. (For real? Didn’t they look at the total price before they checked out? I want to know. But it’s beside the point. The point is, it’s hilarious. Seven thousand! And the kids are eating some of the famous surplus nori right then, so it has to be true, right?)

Or what if you accidentally ordered a baby on Amazon? You meant to click on baby food, but you accidentally clicked on baby? What would you do if you opened your package from Amazon and there was a baby inside it? The kids really want to know. One of the girls looks up and, perfectly deadpan, drawls, “Send it back.”

Now there’s an improvement on the stork.