Archives For Gremlin

PENTAX ImageDo you ever talk to inanimate or non-sentient objects? My wife often talks to her computer, and though she is never vulgar, the conversation is rarely pretty.

There is a current advertisement featuring the slightly off Gary Busey, in which he says, “If you’re like me, you like to talk to things.” His gaze drifts to the side, and he adds, “Hello lamp.” Smiling after greeting his tabletop light source, he drops his gaze and gets an expression like someone who has just encountered a long lost friend. “Hello, pants.”

It’s quite bizarre, but rather humorous in an oddly disconcerting way.

My wife and I named the first car we owned. It was an orange Gremlin. Newlyweds, and still in college, we named it Hezekiah in the hopes that it would “live” long.

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.”

And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add fifteen years to your life. (2 Kings 20).

A recent survey in the United States found that nearly a quarter of the population give their rides a name. Younger drivers (18-34) do so more frequently than their parents, with 36 percent giving their cars a personal name. “Hello, car.”

A British poll found that women are more likely than men to attribute personality to their cars, with 60 percent naming their rides compared with 41 percent of men.

The higher likelihood of a British car being named than its American cousin does not surprise me. After all, we learned during our three years in the United Kingdom that they even name their houses. We lived on a family farm near Newbury while stationed at RAF Greenham Common. There were several domiciles on the farm, each with its respective appellation. We resided in “New House,” which was ironically a good thirty years old.

C.S. Lewis’ house in Oxford had a name. “The Kilns” received its distinctive name when it was built on the site of a former brickworks. There is a small lake nearby, which was originally the clay pit which supplied the kilns.

In the United States I suppose it’s possible to find a few places where a home has a name rather than a number. But the norm in our systematized structure is for homes to have sequential numbers. This proves quite practical for reasons such as emergency response by fire fighters, and doubtless many other countries have adopted the practice.

We’ve made the change at some cost though. Houses do have architectural character. Personalities, even. When naming houses, some might choose labels that relate to the profession of the owner. For example:

Clergy: Ascension Manor or Hosanna House

Attorney: Prosecution Place or Litigation Lodge

Physician: Resident’s Residence or Hemorrhoid Hall

If one dispenses with a requirement for alliteration as an arbitrary naming convention—the options would expand exponentially.

Sadly, we don’t get to name our houses today, unless we do so informally like one would with an automobile. We must be content for our streets to possess names while our houses must be content with numbers.

If you are interested in reading more about unusual or entertaining house names, check out this site. (It’s from the United Kingdom, of course.) Names like “Tadpole Cottage,” “Leprechaun’s Leap,” and “The Riddlepit” certainly evoke entertaining images.

Perhaps you’ll also want to consider naming your own home. It just might make your conversations with your residence a little more interesting when they no longer have to begin with “Hello, house . . .”

Newest Pet Craze

July 11, 2013 — 23 Comments

aye-aye 1Have you seen pictures of these delightful little creatures? They’re called Aye-ayes, and they are widely distributed across the jungles of Madagascar. (Any genetic link between aye-ayes and Gollum remains unconfirmed.)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified these harmless mammals as “Near Threatened.” So, helping them reproduce, as an aye-aye breeder, may also keep the species from becoming extinct.

Actually, I don’t believe you can import Aye-ayes as pets—unless you’re one of those rich or famous people to whom the laws for regular people don’t apply. But, if it is possible to adopt an aye-aye, I offer the following pros and cons for your consideration.

Pro: Some people think they look cuddly.

Con: Some people think they look creepy.

Pro: They don’t demand attention all day long.

Con: They’re nocturnal and might keep you up at night.

Pro: People will think you’re on the cutting edge.

Con: People will think you’re one odd cookie.

Pro: They have tiny mouths.

Con: They are omnivores, and eat other animals.

Pro: Most people consider them exotic animals.

Con: They clearly resemble devilish gremlins.

Pro: Daubentonia madagascariensis are lemurs.

Con: They’re not nearly as cute as their lemur cousins.

Pro: In an emergency, they’re edible.

Con: In an emergency, they’re edible.

Pro: Aye-ayes may reveal God’s imagination & humor.

Con: Aye-ayes just may have a less heavenly origin.

aye-aye 3The picture to the right, a close up view of the aye-aye’s “hand” lends credence to the last conjecture, above. It also evokes nightmarish memories of a story that traumatized my youth, “The Monkey’s Paw.”

You can either read it here, or view a recent treatment of it here.

C.S. Lewis acknowledges the danger posed by possessing too much love—an idolatrous affection—for pets. Of course, there are other things we can love that way with even less justification than an animal.

There is a reaction at present going on against the excessive love of pet animals. We have been taught to despise the rich, barren woman who loves her lap dog too much and her neighbor too little. It may be that when once the true impulse is inhibited, a dead poet is a nobler substitute than a live Peke, but this is by no means obvious.

You can do something for the Peke, and it can make some response to you. It is at least sentient; but most poetolaters hold that a dead man has no consciousness, and few indeed suppose that he has any which we are likely to modify. Unless you hold beliefs which enable you to obey the colophons of the old books by praying for the authors’ souls, there is nothing that you can do for a dead poet: and certainly he will do nothing for you.

He did all he could for you while he lived: nothing more will ever come. I do not say that a personal emotion towards the author will not sometimes arise spontaneously while we read; but if it does we should let it pass swiftly over the mind like a ripple that leaves no trace. If we retain it we are cosseting with substitutes an emotion whose true object is our neighbour.

Hence it is not surprising that those who most amuse themselves with personality after this ghostly fashion often show little respect for it in their parents, their servants, or their wives. (“The Personal Heresy: A Controversy”).

Yes, as Lewis so ably points out, it’s far more important to care about the personhood of our neighbor today . . . rather than a departed writer. (Coincidentally, Lewis would object with equal eloquence to Lewisolatry.)

If we cannot express our goodwill to other people, it’s better directed towards dogs and aye-ayes than someone departed from this world.

Which brings us back to the subject at hand. These furry little creature may not be the objects of the latest pet craze now, but it may be possible for you to initiate a new fad!

To make that possibility a bit more likely, allow me to close this column with a picture of a lovely aye-aye in its natural habitat. Now, that’s an animal one could easily consider cute and cuddly (as long as it keeps its paws to itself).

Ksukol ocasatý (Daubentonia madagascariensis)