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The correct amount of lie.

As I've said, my initial idea for a mascot who steals unplayed with toys after Christmas for Boxing Day distribution to children in need was: a penguin with a flying pirate ship.

However, I had used that character in some of Kelvin's stories, and thought it might be better to use something a bit more recognizable in case he happened to chitter to kids at school about it. I then decided, why make up something completely new? Grimlock the transforming dinosaur is pretty awesome and also flies. Maybe he steals presents.

I was pretty satisfied with the choice of Grimlock, until I remembered one thing. After my stories my son often asks me which bits are "real".

"Are vampires real?", "No."

"Are mummies real?", "Yes, there were mummified bodies in pyramids and museum but they are not undead, just plain dead."

"Are the group of astronauts that defend us from alien bugs real?" "No".

The reality of the last one seemed to have pained him the most.

So, this introduces a problem. Where I to introduce Grimlock or an anthropomorphic bird buckaneer, and he were to ask about their truth, I would have to tell him. And then I would seem to be all to close to courting the same question about Santa himself... Which, why I'm comfortable lying about one and not the other I think is an important question for another time.

So I went back to the drawing board, and took a closer look at Santa. He is a clever character. A working class man who must still make use of tools of mass production, and is just magic enough to allow him to be able to spread his hardwork everywhere. There is little to invite open questioning, and his delivery of presents each year seem to put any lingering doubts to rest.

What can we learn from Santa? Human seems easiest, and the less fantastical the better.

And so it was that I decided upon my character:

Allow me to introduce you to "Stan", the wandering brother of Santa, who has no home, but wanders the streets finding those who have more than they need and locating those who need what can be done without. Stan is very sneaky, because he is a ninja, which allows him to get into houses to steal unplayed with toys (for boys and girls who don't put some out) which he stores in his magical bindle until he finds the perfect child for the toy.

I wonder what Elyssa will think...

Do not continue

I really enjoyed this story about a guy who makes video games coping with the death of his parents, and talking about society's view and handling of death, specifically the idea of redefining the oft ignored "Do Not Resuscitate" to "Allow Nature Death".

Hacking the Christmas Mythos

I was joking with a friend of mine a few years ago about how the day after Christmas is the day I often buy leftover things off my Amazon Wishlist.

He, somewhat seriously, replied that that day is Boxing Day, and used to be the day we'd package up our excess and give it to the poor.

In other words, completely different than my plan of adding to my newly acquired excesses.

Now that I've overseen a few iterations of Christmas for my little ones, the flaws in Christmas become more apparent to me.

The Christmas Spirit is advertised as "The Spirit of Giving". In practice however, it is nearly always the one to one exchange of giving and receiving. For children, it is undoubtedly an exercise in nearly unbounded receiving. The only thing that is asked of them is adapting their lizard brains to the nearly unimaginable constellation of battery-driven products available to them. Which is fine, as a parent, I take joy in trying to pick out modest toys that my children will play with in imaginative ways.

The actual mythos of Christmas seems off to me, as unbalanced as the holiday itself. What happens if you are bad? Santa just doesn't give you as much stuff. It is a bizarre pantheon of one.

While I suppose bringing back Krampus might be one option, I'm not too wild on threatening my child with being devoured merely to attain good behavior.

What I'm playing around with instead is a foil to Santa's loot firehose model. One that more accurately portrays the spirit of giving. My decision was clear, Boxing Day needed a proper mascot.

So far, my idea is essentially a Robin Hood style Pirate Penguin who sails a flying pirate ship the day after Christmas and steals toys to give to needy children... That is, unless, you put out a box of toys for him to take, at which point he takes those instead.

This also seems to solve the other problem of Christmas, the nearly always melancholy denouement when there are no more presents to open. That all the fun surprises have been sprung. The holiday seems to open big and then have an undefined purpose the rest of the day. With the pressure of this Pirate Penguin coming the next day it gives you a focus. Okay, I got all this great new stuff, now what don't I need? What can I declutter?

This is the question that is never ever asked in America. It is always "what do I need?" not "what do I no longer need?" Much like my "What did I not receive?" question that started this whole thing, truly the focus should be on how blessed I was to receive anything, and instead to ask myself "What can I give to others now that I have received?"

I know it sounds silly, but I think the thieving flightless bird in a magic ship represents more about what Christmas should be about than what it actually is in practice.

Creepy Video Guy

Found an interesting article about a guy making a point about pervasive public surveillance by Obviously Recording People In Public.

It is so rare that someone can be a troll and make a really interesting point at the same time.