Tag Archives: Sheep

Do You Remember This?

Memory is a fickle thing.

You might remember the phone number of your girlfriend from high school, but not be able to remember the phone number you just looked up on the computer and have forgotten it by the time you get your cellphone out of your pocket.

You might remember that horrifying time you accidentally ordered sheep’s brains in a French restaurant three decades ago, but not remember what you had for breakfast this morning.

Students, of course, have the most contact with the fickle side of memory. I’m sure every single kid has studied their butts off the night before a test and gone to sleep confident they know everything there is to know about the subject. However, when they sit down in class to actually take the test, the answers remain frustratingly out of reach.

I wish I’d remembered to take that sort of thing into account when my young dudes were, in fact, young. I would have saved a lot of money I spent at Walt Disney World, I’ll tell you that.

Latest research talks about childhood amnesia or infantile amnesia, which means we remember nothing before we’re about 2 years old. The more sporadic holdover takes us up until about age 10 and, from those years, we retain fewer memories than we should, based merely on the passage of time.

And, yet, still we took the young dudes to Walt Disney World because we wanted them to have great memories of the place from when they were younger. We knew about childhood amnesia, but thought we’d be different.

Which explains why I was in Walt Disney World last December, accompanied by Hyper Lad and his mom, my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Hankering For More Mickey. See, we talked with Hyper Lad and he said he had never been to Disney World before. We begged to differ. He stood firm and we realized he just didn’t remember it.

Which led to me asking his older brothers and I found they didn’t really remember any of their trips with a great deal of clarity, only bits and bursts. Hyper Lad, though? Nothing.

At least, that’s what we thought until we got there.

We were walking through one of Disney’s resorts on our way to a dinner when Hyper Lad had a flash of memory. He stopped still and pointed to the window sill on a room we were walking by.

“That,” he said. “I remember that. We stayed here.”

No, actually, we hadn’t. We had, however, stayed at a hotel where our room was right next to the pool and there had been a windowsill like that outside of our room. He remembered something, but it required some visual and tactile reminders to trigger it.

You might want to keep that in mind the next time you’re considering an expensive vacation with a young dude or dudette. Or even a massively expensive birthday party for one of your spawn.

Which reminds me. . .  Let’s talk more about this on Wednesday, yeah?

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Dude Review: I Shall Wear Midnight

by Richard

Allow me to go on record here and now and say that Sir Terry Pratchett is — to me — probably the greatest writer in the English language for the past 100 years. Easily. Hah! Take that, Melville! Primarily known for his continuing series of books set on the Discworld, Pratchett has turned his satiric pen on everything from elections to soccer, from race relations to the field of fantastic literature itself.

The Discworld, as imagined by Pratchett, is a place where magic works. You’d expect that, of course, when you found out that the Discworld is round and flat, balanced on the back of four huge elephants who, in turn, stand on the back of the star turtle Great A’Tuin. Yes, it’s that kind of world. Yet it’s also a lot like pre-industrial England, with lords and ladies and serfs and mysterious creatures on the prowl.

While the majority of his more than 30 Discworld books have been for adults, Pratchett also has written five books for young dudes and dudettes. His latest book is called, I Shall Wear Midnight, the fourth and final book about Miss Tiffany Aching. When Tiffany’s story began, she was 8 and had just seen a monster out in the herding lands where her family’s sheep graze. To catch the monster, she uses her younger brother as bait and a cast-iron skillet as a weapon. She posses First Sight (she sees what’s really in front of her) and Second Thoughts (she thinks about what she’s thinking) and that’s about it for magic. She’s one of the most practical beings on the planet, which makes her the perfect apprentice witch.

As Midnight opens, Tiffany has returned home from her apprenticeship to take over her steading. That is, she’s begun to care for and protect the people who live near her childhood home. She’s not your normal witch. She does not wear black like all other witches, but rather a nice, green dress, the color of grass. Of course, she’s still got the black, pointy hat. What would be the point of being a witch if people couldn’t see the hat?

Even more of a challenge is making sure war doesn’t break out between the humans and the Nac Mac Feegles. The Feegles are tiny blue warriors who love only five things, drinking, fighting, stealing, drinking and fighting.

Midnight is the story of how Tiffany grows up, faces the most dangerous enemy a witch can face, puts aside her childish crush on a young man she actually doesn’t want and finds true love. Which certainly sounds like the plot for every other fantasy book for kids. But in the hands of a master like Terry Pratchett, it’s a masterclass in plot and characterization.

Over the course of the four books about Tiffany Aching, I really came to love the characters. Pratchett teaches valuable lessons about seeing people for who they really are, finding things and places and people to love, and being true to your own self. He also writes some of the most gut-bustingly funny scenes imaginable.

The worst part about this book is that it will be the last Tiffany Aching book. I will miss her insight and her humor more than I can say. If you’ve never heard of these books, I envy you. Take a chance and buy The Wee Free Men, the first book in the series and read it with your little dude and dudettes. You’ll laugh until you bust a gut and then possibly a bit more.

Thank you, Sir Terry, for giving us a hero who’s a young girl and treating her like the true hero she is.

As you might imagine, I loved this book. I can’t even rate it. This is the sort of book that goes beyond rating. Just imagine I’m reaching through this screen, grabbing you by the lapels, shaking you and forcing you to buy. I feel that strongly. You and your little ones will love Tiffany Aching.

Go now. Buy. Read. Enjoy. You can thank me later.

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16-Ton Block

by Richard

And now, for something completely different.

These dudes obviously had far too much time on their hands. But, then again, that’s Wales for you.

Enough skeeving off. I’ll be back with some actual content soon.

Until then, enjoy this. Sheep and fireworks, a potent combination.

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