Discussing Popular Culture with a Nine-Year-Old

NYO:   Uncle Friar, what do you think of the Berenstain Bears?

Friar:   Oh!  Don’t get me STARTED!   I HATE THAT SHOW!  

NYO  (egging me on, singing):  Momma Bear, Sister Bear, and Brother Bear too…

Friar:   ARGH!  That show is so GOODY-GOODY.   If you watch it, check out how long it takes before they start preaching to you, and telling you to do your homework and share.  You’ll be lucky if ONE MINUTE goes by where they don’t try to teach you a lesson. 

Plus the Mother and Sister are always the smart ones…the Dad is always the idiot.  It’s a feminist conspiracy!   I hate that show.   The Berenstain Bears NEED TO DIE!

NYO:    What about Caillou?

Friar (singing sarcastically):    I’m just a little brat, I shaved the neighbours cat, Mommy please smack me, I’m Caiiii-You.

NYO:   (Giggling).

Friar:   Whiny little kid.   I cant’ stand him.   Plus his head is spherical, like a light bulb.  They should make a hot-air balloon out of his head.   Caillou also NEEDS TO DIE!

NYO:  Who else needs to die, Uncle Friar?

Friar:  Little Bear.   

NYO  (now totally amused):   What about Max and Ruby?

Friar:   ESPECIALLY Max and Ruby!!   They need to DIE!  DIE!  DIE!

NYO:   What about Arthur?

Friar:   I’m on the fence with that one.   I don’t like him.  But he doesn’t necessarily eed to DIE.   I’d let him live.  I just wish he’d go away.   

NYO (laughing):   What about Dora the Explorer?

Friar:  Oh, Geez.  That….that is SO GAY, that’s in a category by itself.   I can’t even comment on that!   ARGHH!

NYO (pleased with herself for getting the Friar all riled up):  What about Strawberry Shortcake?

Friar:   Wow…they still have that on the air?  That’s basically a toy commercial from the 1980’s.  Dumb.

NYO:  What about Pokemon ?

Friar:  I don’t even watch that.  That’s just plain STUPID.  Pika, Pika…SPEAK ENGLISH, for crying out loud!

NYO (giggling again):  What about Tweety and Sylvester ?

Friar:  Now, THAT I like.  Bugs Bunny Cartoons are the best.  But I’ve always felt sorry for Sylvester, though.  He’s a cat, he’s hungry, he wants to eat Tweety.  That’s what cats do.   

And by the way, what’s up with Tweety’s head?   It’s so big.  Why would Sylvester want to eat that ANYWAY?  There wouldn’t be any meat.  It would be all brain and skull.

 NYO: What about Batman?

Friar:  Batman‘s all right.  At least he’s not a goody-goody wimp!

NYO  (deliberately stirring up the pot):  Uncle Friar, what about BARNEY?

Friar:   Barney is the WORST!   If anyone deserves to DIE it’s HIM!  

NYO’s Dad  (overhearing):  Come on, Uncle Friar.   Barney has been around for 20 years, he’s a cultural icon.

Friar  (singing the Barney Song):  

I hate you
You hate me
Let’s gang up and kill Barney
With a great big knife we’ll slit his purple throat
They we’ll watch him rot and bloat.

NYO:  (delighted, and chiming in with her own version)

I hate you
You hate me
Let’s gang up and kill Barney
With a big shot gun we’ll shoot him in the head
Sorry kids, Barney’s dead.

So we finally reached a mutual understanding.    

With a Purple Dinosaur, of all things. 

Isn’t it GREAT when the two generations can agree on something?

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33 Comments on “Discussing Popular Culture with a Nine-Year-Old”

  1. Pinky and the Brain, Pinky and the Brain……do you like them ?

  2. Friar Says:


    One is a genius…the other is insane!


    I love ’em!

  3. Kelly Says:


    Aaaargh. I love Caillou. I’ve heard of your hatred before, but I had no idea it went so far into all things a Mama wants her little one to learn from while being entertained. I laughed, but geez, you’re rough!

    I do not want to hear the follow-up conversation where you tell the girl what she should be watching. 😉

    My NYO would be astonished after just one DIE, and she’d have nightmares after your lovely Barney sendup. (Heck, I may have nightmares now.) She’s a gentle soul. Too much of all the shows you mentioned above… except Barney. She never liked him, which is fine because he annoys me, too.

    I never know what I will read next here. Renaissance, Renaissance, Beavis! You crack me up.

    Keeps me coming back for more…



  4. Friar Says:


    Don’t worry. This NYO has known me for years…she’s quite used to Uncle Friar’s Foibles and she was laughing along just as hard as I was. (In fact, she was deliberately egging me on just to see what my reaction was).

    PS. I still hate Caillou. (And there is a lot of venom out there on the internet against him).

    Love him, or hate him. You have to admit Light-bulb head has influenced us all. (He’s become an Archetype…as Ellen talks about in her latest post)

  5. Ellen Wilson Says:

    This big head phenomenon…interesting. I was wondering about Seth Godin’s bald head. Have you heard of this guy? The marketing man? That maybe people think he’s smart because he’s bald. He has all these little quips and sayings. You would love him, I think.

    But then there was Mr. Clean. He had an earring. He was bald. And Tele Savales. On Kojac? Remember? He was always sucking on a sucker.

    But then what if there was some bald woman who had all these quips and sayings. Ten bucks says people wouldn’t think she was as smart. What do you think? I suppose if she made a lot of money people might because a lot of money does seem like intelligence to some people nowadays.

    You just don’t see many bald women running around. In Britain about 3/4 of the men have shaved heads because it’s a genetic fact that British men all have this bald gene.

    Confession. I have always detested Tweety. And it’s true, no self respecting cat would eat a bird with that big of a head. My cat used to leave chipmunk heads all over the place in Marguette. But that was after he was saturated with them. He did used to eat the heads.

    What about Mr Rogers?

  6. steph Says:

    This was totally hilarious and shocking all at the same time! In fact, I don’t even know what to say in response!

    Except how do you know all these kids’ shows??

  7. So big heads are taking over the world? There’s a headline.

  8. Friar Says:


    In the ape world, the dominant alpha male apes (i.e. organgutangs, chimps) tend to be bald. More forehead showing = dominance.

    I think lots of human alpha-males (or alpha male wanabees) shave their head to look more intimidating.

    Women do this too (in the corporate world, I think length of hair is inversely proportional to career progression).

    In fact, at the Widget factory, I knew this women who shaved herself to within 1/8 of an inch of being bald. She looked like she came out of a concentration camp or something.

    At first I though poor woman, she’s doing chemo, or she’s shaved her head in support of a friend who has cancer.

    But NO…..she did this totally on her own, WHY in gods name she’s want to do this I don’t know (She was already a witch)

    But (co-incidentally, or not…) she was fast-tracked to senior management.

    As for Tweety, I wasn’t crazy about him. He was one of my least favorite.

    Mr. Rogers was corny and old-fashionned. He was easy to make fun of. But there seemed to be some genuine warmth and he didnt’ talk down to kids like they were idiots. So I don’t mind Fred Rogers.

    PS. You cat leaving behind chipmunk heads. HAHAHAHAH! Cats can be assholes some times, can’t they? 🙂

  9. Friar Says:


    Ahhh…don’t worry. I didn’t traumatize the kids or anything. Like I told Kelly, this whole conversation was quite funny and the nine-year old thought it was hilarious! I wouldn’t be talking to her that way if I knew it would upset her.

    (And hey…I didn’t teach her that Barney lyric….she KNEW that one already)

    I think these shows are “Okay” if you’re five and under But after the age of 8, kids have outgrown a lot of these programs. Kids aren’t stupid…at a young age, they can already poke fun at things and can be just as cynical as adults.

    And if it’s a “goody goody’ show, ..well, then..that’s just OPEN SEASON to be made fun of! (Tell me the kids don’t do this in the schoolyard already!)

    PS. I like to aware of what’s ‘out there’, so I’ll occasionally check out these shows by flipping channels. Plus I learn about them by osmosis, while visiting my friends with their little rug-rats watching this stuff on PBS and TV Ontario.

  10. Friar Says:


    Just Tweety and Caillou have big heads.

    (Well, I guess Charlie Brown does too!).

    Is there a correlation, I wonder?

  11. neyellen Says:


    Your theories are very interesting. I have never heard that more head equals more intelligence. Women always emulate male (or should I just say aggressive) behavior in the corporate world. That’s what gets them to the top. What if the corporate world was all about sharing and getting along? Like what Mr. Rogers always talked about. I didn’t like his puppets, though. They just irritated me. That meow meow kitty puppet. God!

    The chipmunk heads were actually easier to dispose of with a stick and shovel than the stomachs he always left behind. Yes, it was a pain in the ass, but that’s what this cat does. He’s a hunter. Now, Boob. He wouldn’t kill anything.

    I’m happy not to watch kid’s shows anymore. I did used to like Reading Rainbow with that guy from Star Trek the Next Generation. What was his name? Jory? I can’t remember. That was one of the only shows I liked.

    One of my all time favorite shows when I was little was I Dream of Jeannie. My mom hated it! She’s like, “she has a master.” I thought she was missing the point. She was a Genie and could do what ever she wanted! Man, I always wanted to blink my eyes and turn into a puff of smoke and descend into my bottle. My friend Carla and I always played Genies. My bed was the bottle.

  12. Friar Says:


    I think there is a renaissance of kids cartoons. Some are actually quite funny that adults can even watch (Fairly Odd Parents, Grossology, etc.).

    Just stay away from the PBS shows! (Ugh).

    Yeah, I know what you mean about that kitty…Meow Meow Meow me talking like this….(But did you know Fred Rogers did all the VOICES also!?)

    I grew up with the “Friendly Giant” and “Mr. Dressup”. Purely Canadian shows on CBC. All they did was play make believe and read stories.

    I liked Genie. She was alright (It never occurred to me the “Master/Genie” relationship either. It was just fun to see the magic (I think the adults probably had a hang-up with that..not the kids).

  13. Friar Says:


    Hey, I didn’t make up the big head thing. I read it somewhere.

    I think there is a renaissance of kids cartoons. Some are actually quite funny that adults can even watch (Fairly Odd Parents, Grossology, Kim Possibleetc.).

    But those are on the Cartoon network or Nickelodean. Just stay away from the PBS shows! (Ugh).

    Yeah, I know what you mean about that kitty puppet …Meow Meow Meow me talking like this….(But did you know Fred Rogers did all the VOICES also!?)

    I grew up with the “Friendly Giant” and “Mr. Dressup”. Purely Canadian shows on CBC. All they did was play make believe and read stories. But I loved them.

    I liked Genie. She was alright (It never occurred to me the “Master/Genie” relationship either. It was just fun to see the magic (I think the adults probably had a hang-up with that..not the kids).

  14. Okay now I am seeing chiomunk heads on pikes ( sticks) and chuckling, Ellen..that is so bizarre yet kind of funny .

  15. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar
    I guess I must confess to having worked on the Berenstain Bears.
    Keep in mind I don’t write the stuff!

    Except for features, I don’t watch cartoons anymore (occupational hazard) but I hold huge disdain and a *that must DIE* feeling for those disgusting Brats dolls!!! They should all be destroyed.

    (Aloha, I’m back 🙂 )

  16. Friar Says:


    Okay…now you got me seeing the same thing! Chipmunk heads on pikes. HAHAAHAH.

    Ellen…,your cat cracks me up!

    Well, I won’t hold it against you…..like you said…you didn’t write that stuff. 🙂

    Those Brat dolls…they’re worse than Barbie,I think.

  17. My cartoon viewing has been sharply curtailed by programming errors — “my shows” don’t come on any more: “Batman Beyond”, “X-Men Evolution”, “Static Shock”. I also love “Pinky and the Brain” and “Animaniacs”. “Kim Possible” is an on-again/off-again watch as my preteen decides whether it’s okay to watch. “Fairly Odd Parents” is hilarious!

    @Ellen – “Jordie LaForge” – not sure about the spelling – Levar Burton’s the actor.

    We watched “Reading Rainbow” in my son’s early years, and a few of the other kid shows mentioned. I thought that saving mom’s sanity and making my son culturally aware were important parts of parenthood, too, so he was a young Trekkie (TNG and DS9) and watched a few other “grown up” shows. — Don’t you love my rationale?

    He’s got different versions of “Death to Barney” songs….

  18. Friar Says:


    I still catch Pinky and the Brain (on late at night on the cartoon channel). I really love SpongeBob…and the newer superhero cartoons are actually reasonably good.

    I like the ‘Adult Swim’ cartoons. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, SeaLab 2021, SpaceGhost….(definitely NOT for kids to view!) Hahahah.

    Levar Burton…..yeah, I remember him on that show. (Still freaks me out to see his pupils, I got so used to seeing him with his visor).

  19. neyellen Says:

    @Friar – I remember Mr. Dress up. He was so cool. I was sad when I found out he was dead.

    @Janice – That sounds like some kind of medieval thing – chipmunk heads on spikes.

    @April – Yeah, Levar Burton, that’s it. Whatever happened to him anyway?

    @Karen – Oh yeah!! The Bratz Dolls will NEVER find their way into my house! They are the ugliest, brattiest things imaginable! Stupid stupid dolls. Just the name, Bratz. Wrong. Like it’s cool to be a shithead.

  20. neyellen Says:


    Remember when he took his visor off? He had those neon looking trippy eyes.

  21. Yesterday, a 7 yr old and I attacked a man with the Strawberry Shortcake doll — shoved it in his mouth. That nasty stinky head of strawberry red hair becomes lethal after a few years of compounded baby slobber.

    I like the B Bears, but I will admit to being female. I agree with the rest. I like the old cartoons best.

    Yeah, Tweety’s head is super disturbing — no bird could fly with a head like that.

  22. @Ellen, French Revolution art history…I go there…so much art in the dark….

  23. Karen JL Says:

    @ Janice – I thought of ‘Lord of the Flies’ with that chipmunk heads on spikes visual. “Lord of the Rodents’??

    @ Ellen – More like, ‘it’s cool to be a little slutty prostitute’! Ugh!

    And Mr. Dress Up rocked my childhood too. 🙂

  24. Ann Onymous Says:

    @ Mr. Dressup fans
    I just recently watched Mr. Dressup on the Biography Channel. Did you know he originally wanted to enter the seminary, but thought he could do more for children via a TV program? Joan Rivers interviewed him on the Tonight Show, during which he sang a short song to her, while smiling and looking straight into her eyes. She went all googoo, gaga, and melted away like a little kid. I have never seen that soft side of a normally abrasive sarcastic Joan.

    According to his biography, he rocked a lot of lives. What a legacy to leave behind!

  25. neyellen Says:

    @Janice – That is some intersting art history. I wish I could remember that artist from my dad’s art history book. The painting with the wild child riding this strange beast.

    @Karen – For sure these dolls take the cake. I should get some and do a photographic/essay study of them…hehe

    What a weird message it sends to girls. Uh oh. Here we go on the Barbie phenomenon.
    The best thing to do is take the voice box out of a Barbie and put it in a GI Joe doll. Good entertainment.

  26. Friar Says:


    You guys got Mr. Dressup in the States? That’s so cool. I thought it was only a Canadian phenomenon.

    Mr. Dressup RULED. He was our Canadian version of Mr. Rogers.

    PS. Geordi Larfore without his vizor. Weird, but in a cool way.

    Attacking a man with a Strawberry Shortcake doll? I didn’t know you could do such a thing. I hope everything’s okay?

    Now you keep putting that idea in my head….I could almost make that a cartoon! Chipmunks on a stick.

    I’m normally not one to complain about such things, but even I must admit the Bratz dolls have no redeeming social values. They’re little whore-dolls. I will never buy one for a kid.

    I saw that “Biography” episode you mention. But that was with Mr. Rogers, nor Mr. Dressup.

    It’s true, though…he made Joan Rivers melt.

  27. Friar Says:


    You should go for it! Do an expose on the Bratz dolls. (Just like I do with my stupid candy).

    Can you find one in a bargain bin at Wallmart somewhere? (So you don’t waste too much money) I’d love to see you post a picture of one, with your editorial comments!

  28. Karen Swim Says:

    Geez Friar, you’re a tough cookie! Poor Barney! What about Underdog? Huh, huh? LOL!

    Speaking of Bratz, hate them! Has anyone noticed how the tiny dolls and their giant heads actually look like many of the younger celebrities?

  29. Friar Says:


    No….Underdog was COOL!! I loved Underdog!

    When we grew up, cartoons weren’t so preachy and goody-goody. All they did was entertain us kids…and that’s all we wanted.

    Plus they had an “edge” to them. (Even Underdog beat up the bad guys).

    What’s the worst thing that might happen today? Arthur might turn in his homework late, or Barney might forget to count to ten.

    I really dont’ know how Bratz came to be popular. But apparently they’re more popular than Barbie right now (which must just absolutely thrill Ellen!). 🙂

  30. @Karen- nasty little buggers in that one. The pig is so indelible in that one to me, it didn’t occur. but I can see it….
    @Ellen- well they had so many extra heads lying around….
    @Friar-Chipmunks on a stick , somewhere that’s probably someone’s idea of great take out. 😮

    Okay, Ellen’s cat started it… I am up way past my bedtime. I ran out of trashy novels… hm, surely there’s one around here somewhere I haven’t read in a while. I have to stay loose for the finger painting tomorrow.

  31. Friar Says:


    You musta been checking in my blog after midnight!

    Hope the critters on a stick didn’t give you nighmares. You”re right…I can picture being served this from a road-side vendor is some exotic foreign country.

    Chimpmunk head. Is good. You EAT….Good! One dollar!

  32. Amy Says:

    You rock. One of my brothers and I often discuss the smurfs and communism with my other brother’s children. When I was a kid, we had a choice between Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. Good thing I learned to read young… Also probably a good thing I haven’t heard of most of these new shows.

  33. Friar Says:


    Hahahah! Yes, the Smurfs and their Stalinist Collective (Way to traumatize the kids).

    And all those males, with only one token female? (What’s THAT all about?). I don’t even wanna go there…:-)

    I didnt’ mind Sesmae Street or Mr. Rogers. But somewhere between them, and the 1990’s..cartoons started to get preachy and all politically correct. I feel sorry for today’s kids.

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