When I was younger, probably around 8, all I wanted for Christmas was this stuffed-ish toy called a Puppy Surprise. I think it had something to do with the gaping void in my life that would only be filled with a real puppy. At this time, I had no idea that I would be getting a real puppy that spring (hint mum and dad: that void needs to be filled again. I want a puppy for Christmas. Barring that, I will take shoes). But back to my original point. It had a soft body, with this hard plastic face, and you could open up it's stomach, which was closed with velcro. The whole premise of this toy was that when the stomach was opened, the dog would reveal a "litter" of beanbag puppies. You could get 3, 4, or 5 puppies, each with a hard face and head, just like the mum. One of the best parts, and probably one of the biggest selling features to my 8 year old self was the fact that some of these "puppies" were awake and others were asleep. I remember trying to be as good as I possibly could that year because that toy was all I wanted for Christmas. I think I even took a break from being a smart ass know it all for a few weeks, which is kind of a big deal...it shows just how committed I was to getting what I most wanted. I didn't care about anything else. Santa could bring me that one gift and I would be happiest child on the face of the planet. I was obsessed. You can only imagine my excitement come Christmas morning, as my little sister and I woke up at the crack of dawn, and waited impatiently by the Christmas tree for my parents to drag themselves out of bed. My dad set up the video camera and my mum made coffee, and after our stockings were done, my sister and I began the painstakingly slow ritual of each taking a turn to open our presents. I was shaking with excitement, like a little chihuahua that needs a sweater, waiting for the moment when I would tear off that wrapping paper and the holy grail of toys would be revealed to me. We were about halfway through, and it was my sisters' turn. She opened up her gift and it was a Puppy Surprise. I was immediately filled with jealousy, thinking it was unfair that she had one and I had to still find mine in the mound of gifts, assuming that I was going to get one. Then I had that sinking thought of "What if Santa wanted to spite me this year?! What if that fat, jolly bastard didn't bring me a Puppy Surprise at all?!". I wasn't too thrilled with the prospect of having to watch my little sister gleefully play with her new, awesome toy, while I had to content myself with new socks. I think I actually began formulating plans on how to steal her Puppy Surprise away from her. Maybe I would distract her with a mirror or something equally as shiny that a 6 year old would want. Then finally, close to the end, I got what I most wanted. It was beautiful in my 8 year old eyes, a lovely "German Shepherd" (a breed I use loosely of course). I couldn't wait to rip open that stomach and see how many puppies she held. Unable to contain our excitement any longer, my sister and I madly ripped open our puppies. We eagerly counted them, and I came away with 5, all with their eyes open! It was a treasure trove of the most coveted combination. I will say this, I gloated a little as my sister found she only had three, two of which had their eyes closed. My parents caught all of this one tape, as we proceeded to name them. I named them things like 'Buddy' and 'Pinky'. When asked what she was naming her puppies, my 6 year old sister replied, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph". I still don't know how or why she came up with this. Maybe it was because it was Christmas and at church the night before there had been a play about the birth of Christ? I think I might be grasping at straws. I don't even think she knows how she came up with this. All I know is that it makes me cry I laugh so hard remembering it.
Thinking back on it, I now fully realize how incredibly morbid and creepy this toy was. Think about it. How violent is it that in order to get to the puppies inside, you were basically ripping open the stomach of an animal, and ripping out its young. Maybe it's just me, but that's creepy. I have also come to the conclusion that those hard plastic faces were not conducive to cuddling. When you're little, you like to hug and cuddle your favorite toys. This toy was decidedly un-cuddly. Also creepy, Water Babies. It's basically a naked child that also serves as a hot water bottle. There is something inherently wrong with that. It's funny how as children, we don't think there is anything wrong or creepy with the toys and the shows we watched, and how it's only when we're older that we realize how inappropriate some of them were. Seriously, the more that I think about it, the more that I realize that the things that I wanted the most as a child were definitely among the creepiest things I can think of now. Maybe that's why I'm kind of weird.
Now for some music!
I love Shad, and I especially love it when he combines his talent with other great Canadian groups. I was watching the American Music Awards on Sunday night, or at least part of them, and as I was running out door to soccer practice, I heard John Legend quote the New York Times as stating that Drake is at the epicentre, and is one of the most influential artists in hip hop. I am all for Canadian's getting recognition, especially in the music industry, and hey, he was pretty awesome as Jimmy on Degrassi (I totally cried when he was shot in that one episode and then spent the rest of his time on the series confined to a wheelchair, kind of like Artie from Glee, except with less show-tunes), but I would have to disagree. I mean, Drake is fine and all, but I seriously think Shad is way more talented. If you take a minute to just sit and listen to how clever and witty his lyrics are, and the simple fact that he hardly ever swears or uses derogatory language, or autotune, puts Shad miles above Drake in terms of talent. Not to mention the simple fact that he can pair his talents with groups from very different genres and make simply magical and engaging music. Last time I shared his amazing duet with Dallas Green from City and Colour. This week I am going to share with all of you the combination of his amazing talent, with that of Hey Ocean!, a nice little trio out of Vancouver. Vagabond is yours to enjoy. Also, I just have to say the jazz flute makes my inner band geek very happy (yes I was a band geek, and yes, I played the flute, please feel free to judge me). Also also, I love that the title of the song is vagabond (anyone who know me, knows that I love 16th century vagrancy legislation!)!
P.S. This post makes me feel really old. That toy came out in 1991. I'm almost ancient.