One Particular Cessna
Episode 46: Santa and the Reindeer, Benjamin Bunnn – Shel We Read a Poem?
British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem?
Russ: Happy 2022 and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem? I’m Russ.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren.
Russ: Well, Lauren, you had many travels to do.
Lauren: Yeah, I sure did. I went from Portland to Maryland, to Florida and the trip to Florida was just the worst. Just absolutely awful.
Russ: Why was it just the worst?
Lauren: Well, it was accordion traffic, or, also known as “stop and go” traffic. It was supposed to be an 18 hour trip divided over two days. It was more like a 24 hour trip divided over three. And most of that was just sitting in traffic, moving less than 20 miles an hour, when we were moving.
Russ: Oh, lord.
Lauren: It was so bad at times, I had to get out the map. I mean, it would be nice if we had a paper map. But I was using Google Maps just as a map to see how I could get us around the stopped traffic. Not using it to route. I wasn’t like, “Hey, show me a way around this traffic.” I was having to look and see like, “Okay, there’s a road there that crosses this other road, and we can get around this much highway if we use that road.”
Russ: And everyone emerged COVID free, one assumes.
Lauren: Yes. I’m about 10 days away from when I got back. So pretty safe to assume I didn’t get COVID. But nobody wears a mask in the south at all.
Russ: Yeah, that’s true.
Lauren: And not even if they’re sick. Like, they they go out even though they’re sick. And they just cough on everybody without a mask. I remember I was in line for some iced tea, and there was this woman with no mask, just coughing all over the place. And my mother came up to me in a moment when this woman wasn’t coughing, and she’s saying hi. My mother’s 81 years old. And I was like, “Please go to the car.” And she was like, “Oh, you just don’t want me in your way.” And I was like, “Go to the car right now.” And when I got out of there, I was explaining to her that I didn’t want her getting coughed on by this woman and I also didn’t want to start shit with the woman either. So I was just, “Go to the car.”
Russ: I love that common human decency has become politicized.
Russ: I am now probably one of the more COVID tested people in anyone’s near vicinity. I was 100% certain that I would contract it at some point because my trip was from Vancouver to Dallas to Vancouver to Toronto to Vancouver—and got COVID tested both ways every leg of that trip. And wouldn’t you know it? Yeah, somehow I emerge completely unscathed.
Lauren: I suspect that is in part because we were recently boostered.
Russ: You were.
Lauren: Oh, you weren’t boosted yet.
Russ: My booster appointment is this Saturday.
Lauren: Okay, well, I was recently boosted and I am pretty damn sure I was exposed to COVID at some point, because I was around so many damn sick people without masks in the South. Anytime I went to use the bathroom and had to stand in line, or to get some food, or just a soda or whatever, there was some damn sick person without a mask.
Russ: On my trips, it was either all of my friends are vaccinated and all of my family is vaccinated. And I really didn’t see anyone apart from them. Like, I was in public for minutes at a time, if I had to go to a store or something, but it was never a meaningful interaction.
Lauren: Right. I was in public a lot because I was trying to get through in stop and go traffic, and when there stop and go traffic you stop a lot, because you are very bored. And also you have to pee and eat things.
Russ: Got to pee. And there’s just such a dearth of, like, the stadium buddy.
Lauren: Yeah, I mean, there were several times when I didn’t want to deal with the line, or the bathroom was disgusting because too many people were using it, because we were all stuck in stop and go traffic. And I really just used the side of the road a lot. It was much better. But, you know, I found places where I could get tucked back and people weren’t gonna see me.
Russ: Unobtrusive as possible. We’re none of us strangers to using the side of the road.
Lauren: No. My mother was bemoaning that she’s too old to do that now. She can’t squat anymore. She lived in Kenya for a while so she’s definitely no stranger to just squatting on the side of the road, but she can’t squat anymore. And she’s just like, “Well, I can’t.” It’s a sad thing.
Russ: This season was one of the first times that I’ve gotten to experience my in-laws for an extended period of time, because we stayed with them in Toronto. It’s always been a cliche that, you know, the in-laws are usually the punchline of a joke, such as it is. But man, they are just the cutest little people. At this point, I now have a couple of fetch quests because my life is an RPG. And now I’ve taken upon myself—my father in law has a watch that he wore for 40 years, that saw him through immigrating to Canada and raising a family and fill in all the blanks, and then it stopped working last year. And he’s like, “Oh, I just can’t be bothered to fix it.” And it’s like, “I’m going to fix this watch!” And now I’m mailing them a USB drive full of Japanese television shows, because, you know, it’s just adorable.
Lauren: I love that. I love that. It shouldn’t be hard to get his watch fixed. You just take it to somebody who fixes watches.
Russ: He has been frugal for 80 years now.
Russ: And so he’s like, “Oh, it’s so expensive. I just I’m not gonna bother with it. And it’s like, “You need to wear your watch.”
Lauren: Right. I can appreciate that.
Russ: So what are we talking about today?
Lauren: Well, I realized there is one poem we have to read.
Russ: Oh, no.
Lauren: It’s holiday related. And we missed it before the holidays.
Russ: I think I know which one you’re doing.
Lauren: Well, it’s not the one I want to do. It’s the one that I feel obligated to do. It’s called “Santa and the Reindeer.”
Russ: That’s the one.
Lauren: Were you going to do this one?
Russ: No, I was not.
Lauren: Yeah, I don’t necessarily want to do this one. But, you know, we’re nearing the end of the book, and it’s not like I’m gonna hold this over until next holiday season. So…
Russ: When we’re doing A Light in the Attic.
Lauren: Yeah. Okay. “Santa and the Reindeer.”
“This is the hour,” said Santa Claus,
“The bells ring merrily.”
Then on his back he slung his pack,
And into his sleigh climbed he.
“On, Dancer! On, Prancer! On, Donner and Blitzen!
On Comet and Cupid!” cried he.
And all the reindeers leaped but one,
And that one stood silently.
He had pulled the sleigh for a thousand years,
And never a word spoke he.
Now he stood in the snow, and he whispered low—
“Oh what do you have for me?”
“I have games and toys for girls and boys,”
Said Santa cheerily.
The reindeer stood as if made of wood—
“But what do you have for me?”
“The socks are hung, the bells are rung!”
Cried Santa desperately.
The reindeer winked at a falling star –
“But what do you have for me?”
Then Santa reached into his beard,
And he found a tiny flea,
And he put it into the reindeer’s ear,
And the reindeer said, “For me? Oh gee!”
And into the blue away they flew,
Away they flew with the flea.
And the moral of this yuletide tale
You know as well as me.
And the image is of a reindeer. With a very long neck, looking downward kind of disapprovingly. And Santa has his mouth just dropped, mouth agape, just horrified and looking very scared that he might not be able to do Christmas because of this damn reindeer
Russ: Is the moral of this Yuletide tale that it’s just the thought that counts?
Lauren: You know, I really don’t know what the moral is, but I’m sure that Shel—his intention was probably like: kids can make up their own morals. There are several that could that it could be, but I mean—because one of the morals might be could be: Be careful what you ask for. But that doesn’t seem very much like Shel.
Russ: It seems a lot of—at Christmas time, particularly—Here’s your gift. It doesn’t matter what the gift is. Like, here. I found you a t shirt, but at least you thought of me.
Lauren: Right. Well, like what’s the deal with the reindeer here? Is the reindeer… Is it just stupid? And so it’s like, “Oh, a flea. It’s great.” Or is it actually—you know… Is it actually feeling sentimental about this flea because Santa gave him something. And how gross is Santa that he has fleas in his beard?
Russ: The answer is yes to all of those things.
Russ: Yeah, no, but it’s: he wasn’t taken for granted. Here comes Santa, and rather than just buckling him to the sleigh, “Well, what do you have for me?”
Lauren: But he’s been taking his reindeer for granted for 1000 years.
Russ: And this was the year that he didn’t.
Lauren: Well, only because of the reindeer was like, “Christmas isn’t happening. I’m on strike bitch.”
Russ: And indeed, is is that not how A Christmas Carol works? Like Scrooge has been a piece of shit his entire life and only now when the dead rise to change his ways is he like, “Oh, here’s your pittances from the lifetime of money I’ve saved.”
Lauren: That’s true.
Russ: I love A Christmas Carol.
Lauren: What version of it do you like the best?
Russ: Yes. I love them all. I love them all. I love them all. George C. Scott. Patrick Stewart. Muppets. Yes. Take your choice. I love all of them. Do you know the story behind The Muppet Christmas Carol?
Lauren: No, I mean, I’ve seen it.
Russ: Famously, Gonzo, is playing the part of Charles Dickens. And Michael Caine—which, if you say the words “my cocaine,” you say his own name, but with an English accent. So that’s fun. He went to Brian Henson. And he says to him, “Look, I get what’s going on here. I know that I’m playing the one human character in a Muppet movie. And I’m not going to do anything muppety. I’m not going to do anything silly. I’m not going to do anything cartoonish. I’m going to play Ebenezer Scrooge as though this were the Royal Shakespeare Company and they told me to play Ebenezer Scrooge.” And he did. And that’s why it’s one of the best adaptations of A Christmas Carol that’s ever been committed to anything.
Lauren: Yeah, that’s a good… that explains a lot. He is really serious.
Russ: He’s a great Scrooge. And acting opposite Kermit. And like, it makes it so much more brutal because he’s just taking them… like he’s the worst human being ever and also, he’s acting opposite a puppet. How could you be mean to a puppet? And he is, and that Scrooge.
Lauren: It’s pretty good.
Russ: Did you receive any heartwarming gifts this Christmas season?
Lauren: My sister asked me ahead of time, “What do you want?” And I said, “I want a cute bike bell.” And so she got me a cute bike bell. It has birds on it. I like it. It’s huge, though. Minverva meows. It’s like the size of a Big Mac. Russ laughs. I don’t know how this is gonna go on my bike, but I like it.
Russ: Did it come with like a wee mallet. So you can…
Lauren: Laughs. It has a little finger trigger thing that most bike bells have. But it’s huge.
Russ: Oh my god. That’s wonderful.
Russ: I’m going to stand up and walk six inches to the left here so I can grab this thing. But I was completely surprised this Christmas. I haven’t been surprised at Christmas time in a long time by something, because, you know, we’re adults. It’s “what do you want for Christmas?” I want this shirt. I want this pair of shoes, whatever. Completely to my surprise, like three or four family members all went together.
Lauren: Gasps. Cool! Russ is holding up a Nintendo Switch.
Russ: I was gifted a Switch. I opened it up; I felt like a child again.
Lauren: That’s awesome. I really like the Switch. The design is wonderful. It’s made kind of flimsy but the design is really nice. I got an air fryer for Christmas. It was something I asked for after I got some things from my mother that I really didn’t like and she was like, “Well, what do you want.” I’m like “I want an air fryer.” And she sent it to my house and so I just used it last night.
Russ: Nice. What did you cook in it?
Lauren: I cooked red kuri squash.
Russ: How’d it come? Oh, squash ends up good in the air fryer.
Lauren: So it needed more time. And the squash wasn’t… I think the squash was a little old. So I’m gonna try again. You know, it’s my first time with the air fryer. I recently bought potatoes and also Brussels sprouts to try in there, too.
Russ: I will ruin an air fryer. Lauren laughs. I did not know what I was missing until I got one. And I’m not even a squash fan. And so at one point—I can’t remember what I was making for dinner, it was something involving squash—It’s like oh, just chuck it in the air fryer. We’ll see what happens. Oh! Coming from not a squash fan, I’m now a squash fan. Because of an air fryer.
Lauren: Yeah, I got an air fryer pretty much because I can’t crisp a thing to save my life.
Russ: And this makes it crispy.
Lauren: So I got an air fryer
Russ: Well, I am reading a poem today. And I am reading “Benjamin Bunnn.”
Poor Benjamin Bunnn,
His buttons will not come undone.
He hasn’t changed his clothes since last July.
‘Cause no one can unbutton him
No matter how they try, poor guy.
And all that he can take off are his socks and shoes and tie,
And all that he can do is sit and bite his tongue and cry,
And he cannot take a bath—so just lets the water run,
And he can’t go to the toilet, and he can’t get any sun,
And life just isn’t any fun
For Benjamin Bunnn, from Wilmington,
Whose buttons will not come undone.
Why did you choose that weird poem, Russ? Oh, there was a photo. It’s of a poor little fellow who is wearing a hairstyle that is very popular among the young folks these days.
Lauren: Describe it
Russ: It is a perm. It’s a perm. It’s one of those curly haired broccoli… His head looks like a broccoli stalk. You know the haircut. All the cool kids are wearing that haircut nowadays. I read an interview; it was one of those polls of hairstylists recently. The only perms they are doing right now are 25 year old males and lower.
Lauren: I have not seen it. It’s not popular in Portland.
Russ: It’s a thing. It’s a thing here. It’s a thing in Dallas.
Lauren: Well, it should be a thing here if it’s both in Vancouver and Dallas, especially if it’s in Vancouver, but I haven’t seen it. I also don’t hang out with the 25 and youngers so…
Russ: I ride the train to work so I get to see them on the reg. Very pretty boys with so much more hair than I. They’re so pretty.
Lauren: But that’s not all that’s about him. Tell us more.
Russ: Well, he’s also wearing a straitjacket for whatever reason.
Lauren: I know. What the hell? He can’t get his buttons undone. He’s wearing a fucking straitjacket. It’s not like he put on clothes and got stuck in them. He is wearing a straitjacket.
Russ: He’s wearing a straitjacket. That’s not the reason I chose this poem. It is dark. He’s wearing a straitjacket. He can’t go to the toilet. That’s problematic
Lauren: Big problem!
Russ: That’s going to lead to kidney failure.
Lauren: I mean, he would have died. He should have died quite a while ago.
Russ: No, there’s there’s toxicity there. That is not a good thing. Death by urea toxicity is not a way to go.
Lauren: Well, I mean, I assume he’s just shitting and pissing himself. It’s not like he’s holding it in.
Russ: One would hope. The reason I chose Benjamin Bunn, this fellow whose buttons will not come on done, and he’s sitting there looking miserable, is because I am attending my first social event in quite a while in just above 40 days now.
Lauren: Okay, but you’re going to get boostered before you go.
Russ: Yes, I’m going to get boosted before I go. But Fan Expo days have returned to Vancouver.
Lauren: Oh, you want to go cosplay.
Russ: It’s the local nerd convention.
Lauren: You want to go cosplay .
Russ: And I am going cosplay again for the first time in many a time.
Lauren: Who are you cosplaying, Russ? And how many people are actually gonna know who the fuck you’re doing?
Russ: Well, one of them is the Miles Morales Spider-Man.
Russ: Miles is my favorite Spider-Man. And so I’m doing him and the other one is Szeth from the Stormlight Archive.
Lauren: Yeah, we’ll see how that one goes. You’ll get a few people being like, “I really like your costume.” And it’ll be like, two.
Russ: If one person recognizes me, it will be worth it.
Lauren: There will be. The person that I sat next to on the flight back from Denver to Portland was reading the Stormlight Archives.
Russ: You see? You see there?
Lauren: I’m sure I will enjoy it once I eventually get around to it.
Russ: This was not accusatory. I’m not saying “Why haven’t you read this yet?” That was not the purpose.
Lauren: Yeah, I’m actually not letting myself read anything that isn’t related to my projects. Which means that I am reading a whole lot of stuff about surveillance because I would rather do that than try to learn physics.
Russ: Please elaborate on surveillance.
Lauren: So it’s all about the PPB creeper plane that I hate.
Russ: Oh, yes. Yeah, you like that plane.
Lauren: I love it so much. But I am spending a lot of time doing research into it. Not out of the goodness of my heart; out of the spite of my heart.
Russ: What better way to get an audience with a written piece than by something that people hate?
Lauren: Yeah, everybody hates it.
Russ: Spite drives numbers.
Lauren: Yeah, right now I’m reading Eyes in the Sky. It’s about how surveillance has progressed since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Russ: For those who are not familiar, we’ve mentioned it really briefly on this podcast before. Talk about the creeper plane.
Lauren: Oh, god. So the creeper plane is a Cessna that does donuts around the poor neighborhoods in Portland. And it is incredibly loud, especially when it’s the summer and it’s hot, and you have to have your windows open to survive. And it’s just like imitates plane engine all night long. And by all night, I mean, at least until like 1 or 2am.
Russ: Are there published numbers on if it has accomplished anything at all?
Lauren: Yeah, I mean, they say it’s helped with a few cases, but it’s not… Wow, this is such a tangent.
Russ: You realize that seven seconds ago, we were talking about Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar? So I don’t think it’s a tangent.
Lauren: Okay, but that had something to do with your cosplay. We should get back to the poem at some point. In any case, it goes around a lot. In the past years, they published how many hours it’s flown, and how many missions it’s flown. But in 2020, those numbers are mysteriously not there. I wonder why? What happened in 2020 that might make it look bad?
Russ: Because it accomplished nothing and did nothing?
Lauren: Because all it did was stay up in the sky all the time watching the protests for Black Lives Matter. And so the numbers of how many hours it flew are going to be exorbitant and they have nothing to show for it.
Russ: I very much hope that your writings on this blow the lid off and take a Cessna out of the sky.
Lauren: So I thought that I would find more interesting things about what surveillance the Portland Police use. And it turns out, they’re just using like FLIR from back in the 90s. It’s like actually kind of pathetic.
Russ: I was wondering if the plane was even equipped with anything and if it was large enough. I mean, you don’t need a lot of space to put one of the FLIR cameras on there.
Lauren: No. It’s like really old FLIR, too. The real thing is that they can borrow, like, a Stingray or something anytime they want from Tacoma. And so, mainly, it just goes around and gets not very good footage of stuff. Because.
Russ: But okay, so surveillance state aside, let’s remove all the equation. Let’s say that I’m working for the Portland Police Bureau at this point, why not drones? Why a Cessna?
Lauren: Because they have it, I think for the most part.
Russ: But drones can accomplish exactly the same thing without fuel expenditure.
Lauren: Yeah, I think it’s I think it’s because they have this and they’ll get more public pushback, if they suddenly buy drones. Slash people will totally destroy those drones.
Russ: I’m sure that makes sense in someone’s mind.
Lauren: Per hour, a Cessna actually looks quite cheap on paper because the cost per hour for fuel and stuff is actually not that much. Where the costs really come in is stuff like paying the pilots and the software updates and the fact that the engines somehow need to be replaced very often, and maintenance and licensing for the software and training. So the per our cost is only about $100 but with personnel and everything else it is a lot more expensive.
Russ: Going to be honest, I thought that Cessnas these days were still, like, crank started.
Lauren: I wish. Wouldn’t that be very Portland to have like a man-powered Cessna that surveilled people?
Russ: Nice autogyro. An autogyro! That’s what the Portland Police Board needs to have.
Lauren: Well, Russ, this is gonna have to be on the outtakes this has gone on…
Russ: Oh no, all this is staying in here. Both laugh. You know what I learned about autogyros?That big propeller? Yeah, it’s not powered.
Russ: On an autogyro. You know, the little things that can take off in a very short amount of space?
Russ: You know the guys?
Lauren: I only saw it from some Pippi Longstocking movie I saw as a kid.
Russ: I saw it in a Bond movie. But the only powered propeller is the one in back. The one on top is not propulsion, it kind of acts like a parachute.
Lauren: Okay. Okay. It’s a brake, of sorts.
Russ: It is. And so if all power fails, this thing will just slowly drift out of the sky like one of those seed pods that falls out of the…
Lauren: Maple seeds.
Russ: Maple tree.
Lauren: That’s pretty cool.
Russ: And I can think of nothing more Portland than an autogyro. Well, do you have anything uplifting to leave?
Lauren: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. I feel like we should get back to the poem.
Russ: That was it.
Lauren: But why does the straitjacket remind you of cosplaying?
Russ: Oh! Why that? Oh, because, um, because in in Spider-Man, I can’t go pee without taking off the entire costume.
Russ: That was my entire game on that one.
Lauren: Well, welcome to a lot of women’s clothing
Russ: I know and I was looking into that recently like rompers and things. What the hell?
Lauren: Okay, rompers. I’ve always wanted a romper even though I know they’re hard to get out of, but they do not make rompers for tall, curvy women. They do not. You cannot get them for tall, curvy women.
Russ: Well, then there’s a hole in the market and someone needs to make rompers for tall curvy women.
Lauren: What’s gonna happen is I’m gonna really learn how to sew at some point, just make myself a goddamn romper. But it’s not just that I have to learn how to sew, which I’m learning, I also have to learn how to modify patterns, which is hard.
Russ: Or you could do it all the cool designers do and just have that one… I work with someone—I didn’t know this about her—who makes her own clothing. And she turned up the other day in a coat that she had made with like down and stuff inside of it.
Lauren: Oh, I know a lot of people actually do that.
Russ: It was the coolest coat.
Lauren: That’s awesome.
Russ: Just get one of those cool dummies that’s like exactly the size of you and you just cut stuff around it. Super cool. Keep creating out there.
Lauren: I guess my nice thought is that soon you’re gonna have a nice warm hat.
Russ: I cannot wait. I’m very excited about this.
Lauren: You’ll have to send me your address because I forgot it.
Russ: Laughs. Can do.