The Haunted Coconut

Playhouse From Hell

Remember when Craig’s List was a legit thing?

There was a time not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away that Craig’s List was a legit and kinda safe place to find bargains in your community. It was, like, 2008. I remember it well. See, I had a toddler back then, so I was broke and jonesing for the hot new toy that every mom had to have or they were bad. BAAAAD. It was the good old days of driving 20 miles to pick up someone’s junk that they valued at just 5$ under retail, but then you half-load the shit in your car and are like “Naw, I have a ten. You want me to take your garbage or no? Sucker!”

Back in 2008 I was scoping out some giant plastic playhouses for my toddling daughter to hide in whenever mommy decided to sit down and eat a whole cake in one sitting like a snake unhinging its jaw. Because it was Craig’s List, most of the playhouse offerings were pretty ridiculous – tables are missing, phone receivers are missing, plastic faucets have been broken off, and water trapped in the walls was growing new cultures of black mold in at least half of the houses I scoped.

But that’s not the worst of it. Oh no. There was one listing that made me wet my pants a little when I read it, and lives in infamy to this day. This was an honest-to-Elvis Craig’s List listing in SE Michigan, word for word:

Little Tikes Playhouse – $15
White, pastel blue & pink playhouse/cottage w. pretend oven range inside. This had a yellow jacket’s nest in it over the summer. Husband plugged up the hole, but there is no way to really take the nest out unless you cut apart the plastic. You can’t really see it. We don’t believe in using pesticides so it has not been sprayed. Queen yellow jackets can survive in the nest over winter so you’d want to be sure to get rid of her if you can or if you don’t mind spraying chemicals, spray it. It’s only $15 due to the nest.

Yes, all you need to do is hire an exorcist, light a couple matches, and wear a gas mask, and you’re good to go! Fun for the kiddies!

yellowjacket

You see that yellowjacket above? It’s laughing. Laughing at the idea of eating your children right now. Laying in wait inside that playhouse. But at least – thank the gods – you can’t see her (as the ad graciously reminds us). And you can’t see her nest pulsating and growing inside your child’s cherished plaything. Because if you can’t see deadly insects, then they don’t exist.

Why – you might ask – why wouldn’t someone just banish this playhouse to the pits of landfill hell? The garbage man won’t object – because apparently the queen is overwintering right now!

And WHAT hole did the husband plug up exactly? And WHAT did he plug it with? A gasoline-soaked rag?? It better have been flames. If you have to say “due to the nest” in your ad, then any holes should be plugged with flames.

But no. They thought, “Another child should have this nest.” These people who walk among us in society, who are neighbors and family to somebody, who apparently spent time researching yellowjacket life cycles and cursing imaginary toxins, thought “I can get a Costco sheet cake out of this!” 

How to Complain Like a Pro

As a consumer, student, employee, and citizen, we all get a little screwed sometimes.

An important measure of any institution–be it a business, school, or whatever–is how they try to rectify a mishap or misdeed. In spite of that truism, the cold reality is that your reaction to getting screwed is the critical catalyst that determines how your complaint will be heard and processed. It is up to you.

Complain the wrong way, and you can look like a fool who gets nothing but high blood pressure and a wasted afternoon. I once complained the wrong way (let’s just say my temper got the best of me and I hulked out over a voicemail to a doctor’s office), and got a lovely letter inviting me to never come back to their office ever again. As if I was going to anyway. Shitkickers.

But if you play the complaint game the right way, not only do you stand to receive satisfaction over your complaint, but you can legitimately gauge the integrity of the institution against which you’re railing. Take an ugly situation and turn it into your moment of haughty, glorious victory.

This is a brief masterclass on the art of complaining. Read and follow the instructions below to learn how to badass your way into getting satisfaction from a complaint.

#1. Ask Yourself If You Have a Legitimate, Reasonable Complaint

Before you even turn to the keyboard or phone, you need to slow your roll and examine your situation thoughtfully. Are you actually in the right? Is your gripe reasonable given the circumstances? And is it worth your precious time and energy to get the complaint train chugging down the tracks?

Read More

Chardee MacDennis Rules: A Playable Version of the Game

Brought to you by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia…and Boss Hog.

If you’re reading this, you probably are familiar with the notorious cure for boredom that was conceived by the assholes from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

That’s right, it’s Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games!

And I have (very painfully) put together a set of rules and cards for a version that is actually playable. Yes, that’s right, playable! Obviously the original Sunny version of Chardee MacDennis would certainly result in serious injury, jail time, and probably death. So I went a-hunting around the interwebs and pretty much every homegrown variant I saw online (when I decided to make a set for my husband for Christmas) was oddly focused around men having to do things to each others’ butts and balls …unpleasant things.

I don’t do frat boy.

So I developed a version of Chardee MacDennis that stayed as true to the original game as possible, but in our actual reality. My husband and I have play-tested this once and it worked beautifully. When we moved, my husband was adamant that we keep the “Chardee” set and bring it with us. Glad he did.

Disclaimer
This is an alcoholic drinking game. This is a dangerous game and should never be played by anyone for any reason. The drinking demands and various stunts are all potentially very dangerous, and other elements of the game are destructive, insulting, and degrading. HauntedCoconut.com takes no responsibility for harm to person or property.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol leads to impaired judgement and can lead to death. Always drink responsibly, never drive after drinking, and do not play this game. Look out for your family and friends and cease the game immediately if anyone is in distress or does not want to play.  Seek medical attention immediately as needed for you and your cohorts. If you do play Chardee MacDennis, someone could very easily get hurt and things will be broken. People will cry. Reputations will be ruined. Just don’t play this game. If you do, you accept responsibility for all harm, consequences, damages, and injury–physical, mental, and social. Don’t play this game.

Did you read that full disclaimer? Good. You should. Now that we’ve established you should never play this game, here is how one might hypothetically go about doing so.

maxresdefault

The Crap You Need to Play

First, you will need to gather a number of items. Here is a list of non-perishable items that I keep in a specially designed shoebox for this game:

Read More

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 5

Gail the Goldfish, friend and companion to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, has a splashy season 5.

Gail plays Monopoly (to help Donna, of course), goes overboard for cabbages, and rightfully panics over C.J.’s new fishing hobby. It’s a rough season for the whole gang, since we start with Zoey missing and end with Donna being blowed up. So it’s anything but calm waters for our favorite little goldfish.

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 5.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 1.59.43 PM.png

Season 5, Episode 1

  • Prop: Maybe…probably…a little elephant figure
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: GOP President Walken is in charge and Gail might just be showing a nod of respect to the new Commander-in-Chief.

Read More

LEGO Help Vouchers for Little ‘Uns: Free Download

Parental LEGO freedoms are vital part of our society.

It’s summer vacation right now and I couldn’t be more thrilled that my daughter is rifling through my old-school 1980s red plastic LEGO briefcase and assembling new sets. But she is a pain in the ass. I say this with love. I can spend my entire day by her side, chatting, assisting, bringing her food and beverage, and when the sun goes down, there she is again. She pops into the living room where my husband and I have a movie going asking for help finding a piece that, apparently, has fallen into some magical invisible abyss that can only be accessed by parents. It’s every 15-20 minutes. And us retiring to our bedroom doesn’t help. The LEGO neediness has had a severe impact on my marital happiness.

I’m not joking. This has become a mental health issue for both parents, here. The LEGO tyranny must end.

Before you go thinking I’m a monster for not being more supportive, check yourself. I give my daughter lots and lots of attention and support, but I need freedom of thought, quiet, and ability to listen to adult entertainment and conversations.

And she needs to wean herself. Any 1980s kid knows that half of the awful euphoria of LEGOing is hunting for the elusive brick piece until your eyeballs nearly fall out, and then suddenly spotting it. Or figuring out how to make it work some other way.

This is her time for that mania. Not mine. So I finally had to draw a line between “Hellscape Monster Who Yells at Her Kid to Bugger Off and Find Her Own Damn LEGOs” and enabling parental sap who does everything for her kid. I can’t be her bulldozer. Not with LEGOs, not anymore.

This is my solution. Vouchers. LEGO help vouchers. There are three of them, and she can hand one to us at any reasonable point during the day (maybe I should’ve put an evening time limit on them, hmmm), and we’ll give her a hand. The goal? I want some damn critical thinking on her part about whether or not it’s worth using up one of her daily vouchers. And when the three are done, she’s done with help for the day. Tough love, baby.

Maybe I should’ve only printed two. I don’t know.

In my case, I printed these puppies, attached them to cardboard backing (upcycling ftw!), cut them out, and then laminated them with packing tape. It was a bit much. You don’t need to get so elaborate. Especially since when I handed them to her, she responded with “gee, thanks”, and chucked them irritatedly into her nightstand drawer. Her eyerolls were monstrous. Eleven is just a peachy age.

Note that she is LEGOing right now, and she has not come out of her room to ask for help in over thirty minutes. I think she spitefully refuses to acknowledge the voucher existence for the time-being. But there will be a time soon when she’ll come a-knockin’ (probably just as my husband figures out how to get my bra off), and she had better have a damn voucher in-hand. LEGO freedom for all parents!

Anyway, I am sharing them here because share and share alike. Happy LEGOing.

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 3.04.37 PM.pngDownload for free right here: LEGO vouchers 

The Fake Melania Conspiracy Theory

It’s completely bonkers to even entertain the “Fake Melania” theory. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

First Lady Melania Trump has a fondness for large sun spectacles that hide a third of her face. And if I may offer some fashion commentary for which I am entirely ill qualified, she wears them more often than one might find stately in a First Lady. Hiding one’s eyes can be regarded as a sign of something else to hide, not to mention that I find it rude to greet a new person without showing your face. It’s sort of like not removing a hat when you sit down to eat or enter someone’s home.

Decorum aside, there is one more reason the First Lady may want to reconsider her constant bespectacled state: It has fueled a very odd rumor, that a body double has been occasionally been appearing in her place.

Even if it were true, it would hardly be the craziest scandal. Melania was dragged into her role as international hostess with little warning. When she vowed to honor and cherish Donny Blimpo, she could hardly have imagined what awaited her. Her future was supposed to be a life of quiet splendor from atop Manhattan. The responsibility and scrutiny heaped on her has cast a harsh light on her behavior, grammar, fashion choices, Donny Blimpo’s porn star proclivities, and every other crack and crevice in her life.

So not only would I hardly be surprised if she did explore the option of a body double, I wouldn’t blame her. What is all that money good for if you can’t hire a model to slip on your shoes and hold hands with your beef-wreaking marital partner?

That doesn’t mean it’s true, though, no matter what the interwebs say. Let’s explore how the rumors started and what’s really behind those giant dark glasses.

Origins of the Fake Melania Theory: October, 2017

It was autumn, 2017, and the Trumps were heading out on a trip to visit a Secret Service training facility in Maryland. They paused on the White House lawn to address reporters. Melania is dressed in a trench coat and trademark jumbo shades, which is completely evocative of a spy costume. Between that and her body language, which arguably looks bored and uncomfortable, spectators begin to wonder if it is really her.

melania-body-double-trump

Adding massive fuel to the fire: President Trump actually says during that gaggle, “My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here…”. The interwebs collectively point out that this is exactly what Donny would say if she wasn’t right there.

Read More

The West Wing: Inside Goldfish Gail’s Fishbowl – Season 4

Gail the Goldfish, friend to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is in for a bowlful of drama during season 4. Boats, cows, flamingos, and more major closeups than ever before. Her Papa, Danny, is back and he’s bringing all sorts of new stress into C.J.’s life. It’s the beginning of President Bartlet’s second term and things are about to get crazy.

Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 4.

If you think that you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment and if you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!

By the way, if you’re enjoying these posts I’m doing about Gail, a great way to say thanks is to head over to Heifer International and make a donation. Thank you!


Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 9.56.10 AM.png

Season 4, Episode 1

  • Prop: A boat labeled “Washington D.C.” is dominating Gail’s space
  • Gravel: Dark green
  • Nod to Plot: Josh, Toby, and Donna missed the motorcade. So either Gail’s building them a boat to get them home to D.C., or she’s making sure she’s covered for transport in case she’s ever left behind.

Read More

Thoughts on a Disaffected Pigeon

Some weeks are harder than others.

Tuesday

The weeds are everywhere in the gravel driveway. I’ve jammed my fingers into the pebbled earth to rip their roots, but there are just too damn many. I had to arm myself with a spray bottle of vinegar and lemon juice and spritz them, plant by plant. Hunched over with vinegar misting back on to my clothing from the hilly breezes rushing past, it was a desperate and smelly attempt to avoid the commercial stuff.

That’s when the pigeon landed. He was a majestic, slightly pudgy fellow who had been tap dancing on the roof for some time leading up to my weed expedition. I had heard him from my oversized living room chair where I had been munching tuna salad on crackers. I was afraid it was mice in the attic. Or maybe Benny the Badger came back and somehow got on the roof. Sounds weird, but he’s the one who shut off the water supply to the house. That was a talented badger. It’s a shame his life was cut short attempting to cross a bendy part of the road. Such a waste.

When I saw the pigeon land on the gravel a few feet from my hunched form, I knew he had been my roof ghost. His landing was so deliberate and closeby that I got the distinct feeling that he was greeting me. I did the polite thing and said hello and complimented his feathers. No joke. I did this out loud. My neighbors should get accustomed to the strange new American lady who talks to her wildlife and names them. The pigeon, by the way, was instantly dubbed Herbie.

I didn’t imagine that my relationship with Herbie would last much longer than our initial greeting, so I continued to edge around the gravel weed beds spritzing vinegar. Herbie followed along. I observed aloud that he had a band on his leg and asked where he got that from. His head tilted. We shuffled across the yard for the next twenty minutes, with me occasionally chastising Herbie for walking through the vinegar. I plunked myself down at the bistro table set I bought myself for my first Irish birthday and sipped some Coke while watching Herbie peck at who-knows-what in the gravel.

That’s when it occurred to me to Google banded pigeons. Was he being tracked by an ornithologist? Did he escape from an aviary? No, indeed. He is either a very unskilled or disaffected racing pigeon.

Yes, this is the week I learned that “pigeon racing” is a thing. The birds are cared for like domestic pets, banded, and trained for homing. Then they are released with several of their compatriots at a reasonable distance from their homes. Each bird is clocked to see how quickly they get back. Herbie had not embraced the spirit of the competition, clearly.

I phoned in his appearance as a “stray”, which the local pigeon racing club politely asks you do. I’m still not sure why I felt compelled to report Herbie, and part of me still wonders if I should have. The gent on the other end of the line assured me that he wouldn’t be culled for his naughty sojourn and he would be well-greeted. Cool. I don’t want to be a bird narc.

Read More

Game of Thrones Unanswered Questions

The Game of Thrones finale. It wrapped the season that Benioff & Weiss wrote strictly by writing character names on slips of paper and pulling them from a drawstring bag like a raffle.

“The person to kill Dany will be….[crinkle, crinkle]…..Jon Snow!”

“Okay, next up, the person to sit the throne will be….[crinkle]…wow, it’s Bran!” 

I think we can all agree that we, as fans, deserved a lot better than the stew of comic book battles and character pivots that comprised the last few seasons. Under the guidance of Benioff & Weiss, the”Song of Ice and Fire” became a very swift and shallow tune: Fire melts ice.

Fire melts kids and buildings. Fire melts Spiders and Hounds and Mountains. Fire wins. The insane and power hungry leverage the element for the brute force of it, sidestepping the dominions of cleverness and wisdom. Fire wins because fire destroys. And destruction is always far easier (and flashier) than creation. Once Benioff and Weiss left the source material, they had a rare opportunity to create a world and its rulers, schemes, traps, and games. Instead, they quite symbolically stuffed Tyrion in a crypt and burned it all down. All of it. That isn’t creativity. It’s a waste.

rory-mccann-maisie-williams

And if the “Song of Fire” was short and brutal, the Song of Ice was cut off before it ever finished. The North’s tale was far more complicated than that of King’s Landing, so it is understandable that superhero fanboys B&W had a hard time crafting a deep resolution to the issues of The Children, the White Walkers, and the Three-Eyed Raven. Once Hodor died and Cold Hands popped in for a quick “hello”, Bran’s story just stopped, as if Old Nan was called away for lunch.

So now I will pour out a little Dornish red for the plot threads, logic, and common sense that B&W scrapped in favor of CGI fire and dragon fights. Here are some of the biggest unanswered questions from Game of Thrones:

  • Where is Hotpie?
  • Why wasn’t Gendry a serious contender to take the throne after Dany’s demise?
  • Is Ellaria Sand dead? Is anyone checking to see if she survived the castle crumbling? (Because she might be hungry and pissed)
  • Why were the White Walkers (and the Night King) created by the Children?
  • What was the Night King’s motive?
  • Why did the White Walkers never hassle Bran and his slow, clumsy traveling party tromping north to the Three-Eyed raven?
  • What happened to Cold Hands (Zombie Uncle Benjen)?
  • What happened to the Children? Are they gone?
  • Why is Bran the Three-Eyed Raven and not someone else? And what the hell is the Thraven?
  • Who was the old Thraven?
  • Why did Melisandre go to Volantis after being shunned from Winterfell? That was a long way just to escape the Onion Knight’s wrath. Was she supposed to have a purpose in Volantis?
  • Why does there need to be a Nights Watch if the Free Folk and the Children aren’t the enemy and the White Walkers are gone?
  • How is Bran the Broken going to justify giving away High Garden to Ser Bronn? Lady Olenna had other grandchildren (as part of the TV canon), and presumably there are many Tyrells left.
  • What happened to the Warlocks of Qarth? Even after Dany freed her dragons, they sent an assassin after her. Why did they stop pursuing her?
  • How is it that The Mountain died from a long fall into a pit of fire, but not from lots of stabbing? Will his charred corpse still emerge from the fire?
  • How is it that Samwell can instantly become a maester when he never finished earning his chains at the Citadel and he stole a bunch of their books and ran away? How did he get robes so fast?
  • What ever happened to Ser Ilyn Payne?
  • The first time Samwell saw a White Walker, it saw him but ignored him. Why?
  • What has happened to Cersei’s new loan from the Iron Bank? Will Bran & Co. have to assume the debt? How on earth can they afford to rebuild?

game-of-thrones-season-8-episode-4-feast-table-hs.jpg

And of course…

  • What on earth does Podrick do that makes him such a sex god?

This mystery, as in the others, will persist  until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, until the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. Oh, Podrick.