And now, Scary-Crayon reviews...
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia
by: Wes

Merry Christmas, Amelia BedeliaChristmas 2006 may have come and gone, but that doesn't mean that we can't ring in the new year with a belated holiday piece! After all, considering the proximity of the holidays, the fact that many cards lump the winter holidays together, and the reality that Christmas trees traditionally remain up through January 1st, it's not at all unusual to still be thinking about December 25th a week after its passing. Chalk it up to nostalgia for auld lang syne or distant anticipation of the coming winter holiday -- or don't bother with an excuse at all! Amelia Bedelia wouldn't.

Who is Amelia Bedelia, you ask? You can head on over to Wikipedia for more background information on the character, but the tagline of Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia describes her as being "America's most hilarious housekeeper." She's a maid that takes everything incredibly literally, which generally results in numerous humorous (oh ho ho, that rhymes!) misunderstandings and mistakes on her part that, despite obviously pissing off her employers to no end, somehow always turn out okay in the end and do not result in her being sacked on the spot. As you may have surmised from the title of the article, Amelia Bedelia is also the subject of today's review! And she is incredibly hot, especially if you have a thing for tall, attractive women wearing maid's outfits with white aprons and blue-grey stockings and odd blue-grey bonnets with plastic yellow daisies glued to the brims. I know I do.

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia begins with Mrs. Rogers, one of Amelia's employers, informing her that Christmas is just around the corner. And here we get our first example of Amelia's literal-mindedness, as she seriously responds to Mrs. Rogers by saying, "It is? Which corner?" Mrs. Rogers simply laughs and explains her meaning this time, but mark my words -- by the end of the book, Mrs. Rogers will be making faces and spluttering while her husband tries to calm her down and keep her from wrapping her tensed white-gloved hands around Amelia's cute neck. I'm totally serious, by the way -- Parish even uses the word "splutter". But that comes later.

Calendars have lots of dates!!Following this brief introduction to Amelia and the subject of Christmas, Mrs. Rogers tells Amelia to bake a date cake. "Put lots of dates in it," she says. She also gives Amelia a bag of nuts for inclusion in the cake and tells her to pop corn for the making of popcorn balls! When Amelia asks how much she should pop, Mrs. Rogers responds that she will need six cups.

Sounds simple enough, right? But here's the catch: Amelia Bedelia has never heard of date cake and has no idea how to proceed with the making of it! But Amelia Bedelia is also very clever. After thinking about it for a moment, a lightbulb goes off in her head and she realizes that calendars have lots of dates -- and, in order to comply with Mrs. Rogers's request, cuts the dates off of a calendar and dumps them into her cake batter along with the nuts. Now, it's easy to want to criticize Amelia at this point, but let's not be too hasty. I mean, I remember reading this book as a kid and laughing at the silliness of including paper dates in a cake -- but if you'd asked me what kind of date Mrs. Rogers had actually meant, I almost certainly would have returned your question with a blank stare and a shrug. In fact, I didn't really find out what dates were until roughly two years ago when one of my Muslim colleagues shared dates with us during Ramadan. So given that the meaning of "date" in this context is hardly common knowledge, it's hard to fault Amelia for her ignorance of the proper ingredients. I think we should just be glad that she didn't include condoms and flowers and movie ticket stubs in the cake, because those are also things that come to mind when one thinks of "dates." And popcorn. SPEAKING OF WHICH...!

The popping of the corn also goes awry. Remember that when Amelia asked how much corn she should pop, Mrs. Rogers answered that she would need six cups -- but she did not specify whether those six cups should be popped or unpopped. Interpreting Mrs. Rogers's answer as a direct response to her own question, Amelia proceeds to pop six cups of corn and ends up with pans and pans of popcorn. Even as she drowns in popcorn, never once does Amelia think that maybe she misunderstood. On the contrary, she simply says aloud, "Mrs. Rogers must love popcorn balls." Hilarity! And while she's in the kitchen, Amelia also decides to bake a spice cake. For readers who aren't familiar with Amelia Bedelia, baking a spice cake is like her answer to everything. Well, almost everything, because she only bakes one spice cake per book, but still. If Amelia Bedelia walked into the kitchen and found Mr. Rogers (Mrs. Rogers's husband, not the beloved and kinda creepy late children's television show host) collapsed on the floor due to a heart attack, you can bet that she'd put a spice cake in the oven before picking up the phone and dialing 9-1-1. He might not survive, but at least there would be spice cake to serve at the funeral luncheon! And Amelia Bedelia's spice cake always makes everything okay.

Poor, lonely Amy.Following this, there's this weird little throwaway episode in which Amy, who I assume is one of the neighborhood kids, arrives at the back door with her dog and informs Amelia Bedelia that Santa Claus is coming. Then she leaves. The incident does allow Amelia Bedelia to get all flustered about the state of the chimney and resolve to clean it before she is stopped by Mrs. Rogers, but other than that it's kind of pointless. Actually, it makes me kind of sad for little Amy. It's Christmas Eve, and instead of accompanying her mother during a last-minute shopping run or building a snowman with her friends or even drinking hot cocoa while watching Christmas specials, she's wandering around in people's backyards and knocking on doors to tell folks that Santa is on his way. She's got this oddly hollow smile and expression on her face, too -- it's almost like she's trying to convince herself of the truth of something great that, unfortunately, she no longer believes. Perhaps Amy and her family are too poor to receive a visit from "Santa," so she is determined to prove to herself that he really does exist by making everyone else believe in him. Amy needs a hug.

We also see the first signs of Mrs. Rogers's anger, as she demands to know why Amelia Bedelia popped so goddamned much corn. When Amelia responds that she was only following Mrs. Rogers's instructions, her employer clarifies that she meant six cups of popped corn. "Then you should have said so," says Amelia Bedelia cheerfully. Mrs. Rogers slaps her head and does her best to contain her rage.

With these preparations out of the way, Mrs. Rogers gives Amelia a list of additional chores to complete while she goes to pick up Aunt Myra, who is supposed to be spending the holidays with them. Given that Mrs. Rogers notes that she "forgot" about Aunt Myra until just now -- the friggin' evening of Christmas Eve Day! -- one gets the impression that Aunt Myra is that relative that nobody likes, but the Rogerses feel obligated to put up with her for at least a few days a year since she has nowhere else to spend the holidays. It is also never stated where they get Aunt Myra from. Is it the airport, or a nearby mental asylum? Aunt Myra seems pretty sane, but that's what they said about the BTK strangler before he admitted to several decades of murder. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Also, Mrs. Rogers tells Amelia that Aunt Myra loves Christmas carols. Remember that.

Now for the list. First: stuff six stockings for the neighbors' children. Amelia Bedelia's solution to this one is pretty obvious, especially given the lack of further directions -- she cooks up a whole bunch of Stove Top and fills six colorful stockings with it. Again, it makes sense that she'd do this, though I kind of wonder why she chose to hang them on the mantle instead of refrigerating them. The list does say to hang them, but you'd think that Amelia Bedelia would choose to obey the rules of safety instead of following instructions! I just hope the neighbor kids don't eat that shit and get food poisoning. Projectile vomiting is a horrible way to spend Christmas.

SEE THE STARThe next chores involve the tree. Apparently, in the Rogers household, they wait until the last fucking minute to hoist and decorate the tree -- and even then they don't actually contribute to the activity, as they've left poor Amelia to do it all by her lonesome. Therefore, given what transpires next, I'm not entirely certain whether Amelia's actions are entirely innocent, as they could at least in part be motivated by spite. In response to the directive to "trim the tree," Amelia cuts the holy fuck out of it until it looks like it could go toe-to-toe with Kate Moss in a thin-off on a special episode of "Project Runway." Bitter much? Then, to satisfy Mrs. Rogers's instructions that she decorate it with "colored balls," she grabs some string and ties footballs, basketballs, baseballs, and several rubber balls to the tree. Now, I know that Amelia Bedelia has seen a properly-decorated Christmas tree before, so this is just her sticking it to Mrs. Rogers because she didn't use the word "ornaments." Has anyone else ever referred to Christmas tree decorations with the words "colored balls"? They're ornaments, bitch! And then, since Mrs. Rogers told her to "string on lots of lights," Amelia ties a bunch of lightbulbs to the tree. Given his participation in a shady scheme to wreck Nikola Tesla's shit, Thomas Edison would have been pleased to see the use of his creations utilized in such a dedicated effort to sabotage someone else's festivities.

Amelia's not totally vicious, however, and she does add a charming and inspired final touch to her unconventional Christmas tree. When she reads the last thing on the list -- "put a big star on top of the tree" -- she has a brilliant idea and says, "Everybody can be a star on this tree." And she gets more string and ties a mirror to the top of it, with a sign underneath that reads: SEE THE STAR. How clever! Then she makes a gazillion popcorn balls and ties them to the tree for good measure.

After Amelia makes some calls, has her supper (and I know this is a children's book, but I still find the simplicity of this writing to be utterly hilarious), and welcomes some neighborhood kids into her home for unknown reasons, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers arrive with Aunt Myra. "Greetings, greetings, greetings," shriek the children, and we learn that all of their names are Carol. Aunt Myra was greeted with Christmas Carols! Oh ho ho! Mr. Rogers just watches the preceedings with a blank expression, but Aunt Myra is definitely pleased and amused. Not nearly as amused as she is when she sees the tree, however, as she happily shouts, "Popcorn balls!" and "Look! I'm a star!" And this is where Mrs. Rogers starts up with the spluttering and appears to be ready to choke Amelia Bedelia to death. In fact, remember that, when I referred to this picture earlier, I wrote that Mrs. Rogers is wearing white gloves? Actually, she's not -- she's so fucking pissed off that her hands have apparently turned white with murderous twitching rage. Nevertheless, Mr. Rogers calms her down by pointing out that Aunt Myra is happy and that they should all be thankful for that, which arguably implies that Aunt Myra is notoriously difficult to please under normal circumstances. Thank you, Amelia Bedelia -- you've saved the Rogerses from a fate that may or may not have included being bound, tortured, and killed!

SPICE CAKAKAKAKAKEAnd now, at last, it is time for CAKE! Aunt Myra is pleased with the ingenuity of the date cake here as well, though considering that the thing is full of paper and uncrushed nuts -- which Mr. Rogers mistakes for rocks -- all are in agreement that it's pretty much inedible. Given that he'd been looking forward to some good cake, Mr. Rogers breathes a sigh of disappointment... but then BA-DUM-DUM-DUM Amelia breaks out the spice cake! And even though there are apparently large, inflamed mosquito bites protruding from their faces, the spice cake is enough to make everyone forget their troubles and the fact that, just moments earlier, Amelia Bedelia attempted to feed them pieces of paper and break their teeth.

The final pages of the book are where things get really weird. The Rogerses announce that it's time for everyone to go to bed, with Mr. Rogers specifically telling Amelia that Santa Claus won't come if she's awake. Despite this warning, however, Amelia Bedelia remains awake, as she has to wash the dishes and finish up some other household chores. Soon afterwards, however, she hears a sound outside the door -- and lo and behold, it is SANTA CLAUS! Or, rather, it is obviously Mr. Rogers in a Santa suit, as he didn't even bother to buy a fucking beard to complete the costume. Still, for some reason, Amelia pretends not to recognize him and calls him Santa. I have my own theories regarding this development. Given that Amelia Bedelia manages to remain employed despite utterly infuriating Mrs. Rogers in every single book -- and given that Mr. Rogers is usually the one who comes to her rescue -- I'm guessing that he and Amelia have some kind of passionate affair going on. So when he shows up at the door pretending to be Santa Claus, Amelia just writes it off as one of their nighttime roleplaying games and goes along with it. I mean, unless he's delivering toys to the neighborhood children -- which would still be pretty strange -- there's no other conceivable reason for him to be dressed as Santa Claus. The Rogerses don't appear to have children and Mrs. Rogers and Aunt Myra have purportedly gone to bed, so this entire act is clearly for Amelia Bedelia's benefit. And since even she isn't dumb enough to mistake his half-assed Santa for the real thing, either something naughty is transpiring or Mr. Rogers has an alternate Santa personality that comes out once a year and she's just too kind to tell him that he's not really Kris Kringle. Even more suspect is the dialogue that transpires between them. I mean, with a little imagination, you could easily imagine these lines being delivered in a holiday-themed porno:

I'll *bet* he has work to do...

Note also that, above, I wrote that Mrs. Rogers and Aunt Myra have purportedly gone to bed -- "purportedly" being marked by italics. That is because, as you see in the image in which "Santa" arrives at the door, they are not in bed at all. On the contrary, they are looking on from the window, which again suggests that they are in on the act and that the Santa outfit is primarily for Amelia. Why would Mrs. Rogers be so happy to see her husband involved in a roleplaying affair with their sexy maid? Why would Aunt Myra watch these proceedings with glee? Simple: the Rogerses are a kinky, kinky bunch. Why else would Mrs. Rogers have even permitted her husband to hire Amelia Bedelia in the first place, given that she is obviously a terrible maid and has pissed her off on innumerable occasions? Were there absolutely no other applicants, or does she have a thing for watching her husband have costumed sex with the help? That's what we call a rhetorical question, kids -- the answer is so obvious that you don't even need to respond.

Kinky shiznit, man.

Or, you know, maybe I've interpreted these last few pages incorrectly, seeing as how Peggy Parish probably didn't mean to include such naughty implications in a children's book. There is another explanation. Compare Mr. Rogers's height to Amelia Bedelia's in this image -- they appear to be about the same height, if Mr. Rogers is not taller by a couple of inches (see the note on the image). When Santa arrives outside, however, he is noticeably shorter than Amelia, even when perspective is taken into account. I mean, he's not that far away. His legs are also much, much shorter than Mr. Rogers's legs. So it's also possible that, rather than Amelia and Mr. Rogers having a sexy roleplaying affair, there's simply some other guy who kind of looks like Mr. Rogers going door to door delivering presents to houses on Christmas Eve. This would explain why Amelia Bedelia doesn't appear to recognize him. While "Santa" and Mr. Rogers look the same to us, she would undoubtedly be able to discern the physical differences between the two of them, especially considering that she lives with Mr. Rogers and sees him on a daily basis. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

And so ends Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia: either with Mr. Rogers going through the motions before joining Amelia in bed for steamy sex while his wife and sister-in-law look on or with a random stranger in the living room of the Rogers' household depositing mysterious wrapped packages at the foot of their fireplace as reeking stuffing-filled stockings spoil in the background. I'm not sure that either of these disturbing outcomes fills me with holiday cheer, but I still hope that you had a happy winter holiday season and that you enjoyed this final article of 2006. HAPPY NEW YEAR from Scary-Crayon to you -- and best wishes for 2007! :D

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