ScreenTime: The Dark Secret Hidden In “Elf”

(Getty/Jason_V)

For most families, Christmas is over. Not so in our house. Rudolph’s dread hold still grasps us, and will continue to grasp well into February. The plaintive wail of “WANNA WATCH RUDOWW!” is heard night and day, ceaselessly calling us back to that winter wonderland.

To give myself and my family some respite during these trying times, I have resorted to playing any Rudolph-adjacent movie I can find. All the Rankin-Bass specials? Check. The Grinch? Check. Finally, running out of ideas, I opted for the 2003 Christmas classic, Elf.

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My daughter was indifferent until Leon the snowman appeared on screen. At this, she clapped her hands with glee and shouted, “RUDOWW!!”

And she was right. Leon looks and sounds EXACTLY like Sam, the narrator of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Leon claims to have no father, that he was, “just rolled up one day,” and we have no idea how old either character is, nor how aging or reproduction works for sentient snow creatures. But at the very least these two are related by species, and seem to hold a similar office in Christmastown. This, and a few other references peppered throughout, prove that Elf & Rudolph take place in the same world. Buddy & Rudolph come from the same North Pole.

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It was a few minutes later that my daughter asked the fateful question: “Where Rudoww?”

She had noticed something I had not picked up on. A stark difference between Buddy’s North Pole and Rudolph’s. Something terrible has happened in the time between the two stories.

The reindeer have been silenced.

Gone are the sentient, talking reindeer like Rudolph and his friends and family. In their place are the dumb beasts of our world.

What did Santa do to the reindeer population? Where, indeed, Rudoww?

No clear answers are given by either movie, but the clues are there, if we care to follow them.

Let’s start by looking at the two biggest changes that occurred during our absence from the North Pole:

First, the toys have become MASSIVELY more complicated and more diverse. In 1966 the elves were building Jack In The Boxes (Jacks in the Box?) and dolls. By 2003 they’re building graphics processors, Etch-A-Sketches… oh, and also still building Jack In The Boxes for some reason. Santa’s operation has gotten much more technically difficult and much harder to manage. Hell, he’s even shipping branded gifts (the “real Huff board” for example), which would require corporate partnerships, factory inspections, licensing deals, etc. etc.

Second, Santa’s reserve of Christmas Spirit, his most important fuel source, is running low.

I put these points to my kid, and together we came up with a theory: A massive increase in the complexity of Santa’s operation plus a catastrophic depletion of resources has caused a full-on Kris Kringle Economic Crisis.

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Santa has had to cut costs. Drastically. But Santa also has an image to maintain. He can’t just outsource all his manufacturing to China. So what does he do?

First of all, break the Elf union. As we watch the Elves make toys in Rudolph, a whistle blows and the floor manager declares, “10 Minute Break!” There’s no way this isn’t union mandated. At the time of Rudolph, Santa is the ONLY elf employer, he has unparalleled demand, limited supply, and an extremely tight deadline. No matter how “jolly” he is, there’s just no way the self-styled King Of Jingling is giving these Elves hot chocolate breaks of his own accord.

Contrast this with the incredibly high-paced, quota-focused workshop that Buddy the Elf is working in. No union with any real power would allow such high pressure conditions. The Elves’ collective bargaining power has clearly been significantly reduced. We should assume this strategy was taken with all groups under Santa’s employ.

Step two: Restructuring and layoffs. In Rudolph, the North Pole’ s position is extremely clear: Elves Make Toys. Heck, a large section the plot is concerned with the one elf, EVER, who didn’t find this line of work appealing.

Contrast this with 2003’s policies. Shoe Making, Engine Maintenance, Teaching, presumably Dentistry. All these are now considered acceptable employment for elves. We must assume that Elves were forced into these other lines of work by not only massive layoffs at Christmas Incorporated, but also by other creatures being placed in toymaking roles (this is also further evidence that the Elf union has been broken).

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By Buddy’s own admission, the only reason that these other, presumably low-wage, creatures didn’t replace elves entirely was their lack of ability in their roles. What if Santa found he could replace his entire workforce with not only cheap labor, but effectively free labor. Labor that came without the burdensome costs of benefits, paid holiday, pensions. Wouldn’t he, in such dire straits, leap at such an opportunity?

I surmise this is what must have happened to Rudolph and his family. Upon discovering that (with the help of modern technology) he could entirely do away with sentient reindeer in his workforce, Santa replaced them with their dumb cousins. A cost-saving measure, a necessary evil to keep up with fast-paced 21st Century life.

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I explained all this to my daughter, who took it in with an impressed but serious face. Then she paused, considered for a second and repeated that fateful question.

“Where Rudoww?”

And the best I could tell her was that he had moved on. And together we hoped he had gone to greener pastures. Some magical land with strong social security initiatives and workers’ rights protections.

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Back To School Photo Fails

(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)

Parents love to capture the moment on the first day back to school, but sometimes that moment isn’t what we envisioned. Check out these hilarious back to school photo fails from The Dad community.

(Instagram.com/cheeksmagee)
(Facebook.com/KellySmith)
(Instagram.com/abbyjmccoy)
(Instagram.com/instagramycohen)
(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)
(Instagram.com/JoyScribner)
(Instagram.com/bullitt.with.a.name)
(Facebook.com/KristenMadral)
(Instagram.com/heatherdtomlinson)

Dad Grades – Hal from Malcolm in the Middle

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Years before his dark turn as meth kingpin Heisenberg, Bryan Cranston starred as Hal on the criminally under-appreciated sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle. While his sadistically overbearing wife, Lois, was perpetually at wits end with their four mischievous sons, the much more care-free Hal happily took the passenger seat in their parenting roles.

DAD STRENGTHS

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Hal is a loving husband and father. He shows Lois affection through raw animalistic passion and utter dependence. He even admits to it, once telling Lois that he and their boys are not smart enough to function without her, and in return can only offer his total obedience.

He takes a much calmer, more sympathetic approach to parenting than Lois. She has a short fuse, at the end of which is a barrel of dynamite eager to ground someone for the rest of their life. Hal, conversely, seizes any opportunity to bond with his boys by having a sit-down and doling out fatherly words of wisdom.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

He’s far more lenient, but will raise his voice and put his foot down when necessary. He’s often creative in his punishments. For example, when Malcolm told him “[bleep] you,” Hal sat him down in the backyard and forced him to look him in the eyes and read aloud a comprehensive list of every vile swear words, teaching him their power.

His biggest strength, however, is his laid-back, often immature attitude. It serves as a refreshing palate cleanser for Lois’ incessant shouting. He is truly the yin to her yang.

DAD WEAKNESSES

He’s more permissive than his wife. In one episode, Hal surprises the boys by letting them skip school to accompany him at some stock car races.

Hal’s lax approach to parenting is, regrettably, his biggest weakness. His spontaneity and often childish behavior sets a bad example for his sons. Case in point: the steamroller. After winning some money on a scratch-off, Hal secretly rents a steamroller.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

When Dewey catches him, Hal agrees to let him steamroll over Reese’s bike. Ultimately, Hal goes mad with power and Dewey must talk him down from steamrolling a row of cars. Surely this gave Dewey license to misbehave in the future. His impulsive nature is typically harmless, but still sets precedent for the delinquency of his kids.

VERDICT

Despite shortcomings at the cost of his need to be the parent his sons actually like, Hal is a great father. Sure, all four of his sons are rambunctious hellions, disobedient and destructive at every turn, but that’s predominantly the result of their stubborn, temperamental mother. He’s a big-hearted working stiff, determined to provide for his family however dysfunctional they may be.

FINAL DAD GRADE: A-

Dancing Dad Embarrasses Daughter at Baseball Game [VIDEO]

Being a dad involves a lot of anxiety, drudgery, and stress. Sometimes you get to enjoy the perks of parenting, like embarrassing your children on television. Or in the stands at a Cubs game.

Or both!

This dad knows what’s up. He ignores his daughter’s attempts to get him to stop dancing and then doubles down on the silly moves.

Father Figures: Be Positive

“My twin girls (Faye and Felicia) are both autistic.

Felicia was diagnosed before she was three; she’s non verbal and loves life in her own wee bubble. Once she lets you in, it’s amazing. That’s her circle of trust.

Faye is her total opposite, always singing and chatting up a storm. Once they started preschool, we found out that Faye was showing signs of autism that we perhaps overlooked because she was so advanced.

My wife and I, with the assistance of Faye’s teachers, pushed hard to get her assessed, reassessed and diagnosed. Faye is very smart and fooled the specialist in the first assessment regarding extra help in school. We were very lucky when she was diagnosed, because the specialist ASD doctors could still recognize her traits.

It’s been a long journey and no two days are alike. Through it all we’ve learned that Faye is just a younger, female version of her older brother. From her diagnosis, we were able to recognize the ASD traits in Jordan. He is now beginning the diagnostic process.

But long story short, both our girls now attend an autism unit in a special school. It’s a God send and they are both doing great! They turned 6 in August and Jordan will be 11 this December.

Be positive and always make sure your child gets all they need. Raising a child with special needs definitely puts into perspective what’s important in life!

Everything for the kids!”

– Nic Young

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

8-Year-Old Girl Stuns Crowd at Harlem Globetrotters Game [VIDEO]

(YouTube/Harlem Globetrotters)

When the Harlem Globetrotters called Samaya Clark-Gabriel onto the court at halftime of their game, the crowd at Madison Square Garden wasn’t sure what to expect. But at this stage in a Globetrotters game it would certainly take a lot to impress them.

First she just started dribbling.

But then she started dribbling two basketballs at once. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold and DOING A SPLIT.

Wow. Did they sign her yet?

Big Dad Rides Small Bike as a Tribute to Late Daughter

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

Peter Williams of Penzance, England is showing incredible strength after the loss of his daughter. On Friday at 10am, he began a 211-mile ride to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

In 2015, Peter lost his 7-year-old daughter, Ellie, to a rare form of brain cancer, only six months after she was diagnosed.

To honor his daughter he decided to begin his ride at Bristol Children’s Hospital where Ellie was treated. He’s also making the entire trip on her little pink bike, which is only 20″ high. Given Peter is 6 feet tall, that’s going to make for an additional challenge, but he’s up for it.

Aside from a small modification to the bike’s seat, he’ll be riding the bike as-is. “My knees clear the handlebars by about half an inch so it’s going to be really tight, but it’s a great bike,” he told the BBC. When he factors in his unique mode of transportation Peter estimates the ride from Bristol to Land’s End will take him a week to complete.

Ellie loved cycling and impressed her dad at age three, when she was able to ride without training wheels.

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

The bike he’ll be riding was her pride and joy – a present she received for her last Christmas.

So far Peter has raised £23,349 (roughly $30K US) through his JustGiving campaign, already doubling his £10,000 target.

What a guy! What a dad! Go, Peter, go!

If you’d like donate to Peter’s campaign, visit his JustGiving page.

If you want to learn more about where the money is going, check out The Brain Tumour Charity.

Father and Son Escape Burning Truck in the Nick of Time

(News Channel Nebraska)

When 19-year old Minnesota man Kobe Sammons drove 500 miles to visit his family in Nebraska he thought he was leaving the heat from his welding job behind. When he arrived he told to his father, Jeremy, that his ride just wasn’t running right. So his dad hopped in the truck and the two went for a drive in hopes of discovering what the problem was.

A short while later they pulled over when Jeremy noticed smoke had entered the cabin of the truck. The smoke quickly turned to heat and it became apparent the engine compartment was on fire.

That’s when both men attempted to open their doors but they would not unlock.

The father wondered if this would be their final moments together.

“I told him he would have to break the glass or kick the door open. I couldn’t help him.” the elder Sammons told News Channel Nebraska.

But eventually Kobe was able to kick the door open.

“It was in those moments. Just when it had to open, the door opened.” Kobe’s dad said.

By the time firefighters arrived the truck was completely engulfed in flames. Authorities on the scene considered that the fire may have caused the doors’ unlocking mechanism to malfunction.

The truck can easily be replaced, the important thing is that this father and son duo escaped unharmed.