Recently, my favorite contrarian, Casey Rae, mentioned that he was running out of jokebooks with bad puns and corny riddles suitable for precocious little girls. Being raised by such eclectically gothy parents, and being whip-smart, I knew exactly the book their kid needed, because I adored it myself: Normal Bridwell’s Monster Jokes and Riddles.

It was probably my very first book fair purchase with my very own money. If, by “my very own money” you mean: “money my parents gave me for the book fair.” Which I probably do – the details are hazy.

I hadn’t thought about this book in YEARS, but I remembered how much fun the illustrations were and how funny I thought the jokes were. It was fun to re-connect with the source of a great deal of childhood joy.


Norman Bridwell's Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)
Front Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

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Back Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)

My parents probably found this book to be less of a source of joy, because the jokes? The jokes are terrible.

And I loved them.

How terrible?

werewolfjoke

I’m pretty sure my mom used to hide the book under my bed in hopes I’d forget about it and quit telling her these jokes over and over and over.

Author Norman Bridwell is perhaps best known as the creator of Clifford of the Big Red Dog.

By the time I got my hands on this book, I’d heard vampire stories from my grandmother, who wasn’t as skilled in the art of the bedtime story as maybe she could have been. And I was terrified by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the first time I saw it. I think I understood it was a comedy, but…monsters!

I realize now that I was participating in a larger cultural shift that transformed classic cinematic and literary monsters into humorous commodities on which children could spend their allowances. David Skal’s The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror is an excellent place to read up on that subject. I didn’t understand that at the time, of course, but forty years later it’s my professional life, so I figured I should provide you with at least one reading assignment.

Abbott and Costello aside, Brother and I certainly weren’t allowed to watch horror movies. The closest thing I got to horror was the Gothic lunacy of Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion, which I still adore.

I’d never thought about what my first exposure to mummies was, but this silly joke book was probably it.

What did the Pharoah say when he saw a lot of boll weevil bugs from the cotton fields stealing a mummy? “Mummy is the loot of all weevils.”

Needless to say, the joke book was an instant hit in Casey’s house. I bet he’s heard the one about what happened when the Frankenstein Monster asked for the girl’s hand in marriage (that was all he got) about a thousand times by now. I guess they’re still really busy enjoying it, because Casey hasn’t returned any of my texts!

Only kidding.

Casey’s probably avoiding me because of that other thing…

BattleDogs trailer:

We’re watching BattleDogs, because it seems like a patriotic thing to watch over the 4th of July weekend.

It’s about supersoldiers. It stars that guy who was the President in the 1st season of 24. And we already watched Jaws on Thursday. The choice is obvious.

So. Battledogs.

Might be spoilers ahead, but only if you didn’t watch the trailer.

Pro-tip: Intermittently, portentously intoning the words, “Battle! Dogs!” to add drama to the movie…doesn’t.

But we’ll keep doing it. Otherwise I suspect we’re just going to be sitting here, hoping with increasing futility that this movie will improve.

“Battle. Dogs!”

Here’s a synopsis for your convenience: Craig Sheffer (who could pass as David Boreanaz’s older brother, Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh from BSG, playing a character named Ellen, which is convenient if you’re only half paying attention), and Ariana Richards (one of the kids from Jurassic Park, 20 years later), run around a lot and the military behaves badly although they never actually create the supersoldiers in the description of the movie and there are a lot of CGI werewolves running around and then some shit gets blown up and then the movie ends and you say, “Thank the gods! now I don’t have to keep intoning the word BattleDogs” and then you go to bed.

Battle.Dogs.

It’s not a horror movie, it’s a lame attempt at a military action thriller, but with werewolves. I recommend checking out the scene where the first werewolf escapes the “secure” facility – which it does by running out the open front door and down the street and out into Manhattan. A chase ensues. Toward the end of the scene, the ridiculously conceived CGI werewolf leaps over an SUV. Be sure you have the sound up, because the werewolf howl they use over and over in the movie is especially funny when combined with this “action.” Good stuff. If by good, you mean, not good.

Or, spend your time watching the gorier but more competent 2002 werewolves vs. soldiers film, Dog Soldiers.