Dr. Kilduff or: How The Powerpuff Girls Taught Me to Love a Pun

Dr. K was my high school literature teacher for two years and he always had this thing about not using anything outside of the text in order to analyze it. Thus, a Plath poem entitled “Daddy” could not, ostensibly, have anything to do with her father. Or, rather, if it did, we couldn’t talk about it.

I never liked that and I finally figured out why: upon rewatching the PPGs, I realized that the majority of my sense of humor came from that show.

Puns? Got it.

The novel I’m trying to get published STAR CROSSED OR: THE CONFOUNDING CALAMITIES OF BYRON THE CAD AND MARIETTA THE ZOMBIE is filled to the brim with puns. They say that puns are the highest form of comedy. Even Shakespeare (eyebrow waggle) used them. SHAKESPEARE. And this dude.

One of the chapters has a subtitle about a Flouring Assassin. It’s about a little girl…who’s becoming an assassin…and SHE’S COVERED IN FLOUR. Or another chapter that tells the future with tea leaves. I call it a Pourtent of Tea. Ha! Even gardening puns make it:

“I can’t even tell if that’s a lie or the truth, it’s so disturbing.”

“My honor!” he snapped back.

“Is so neglected that it’s beginning to wilt from a lack of attention. Nothing I say or do is going to make a damn difference. Does it look like I have a watering can?”

“Hidden beneath the folds of your skirt I’ve no doubt you have at least twenty different ways of killing people and I assume that in assassination school they did teach you how to kill someone with a watering can if given the opportunity.”

“Yeah, the class was called Tenderizing the Garden–”

Absurdity? Yep.

There are zombie fleas that eat the insides of your hair follicles until they eventually burrow into your brain. People electrocute zombies back into life a la Victor von Frankenstein (a distant cousin linking the Shelley character and the Marvel villain*) and they go insane remembering the people they ate when they were undead. And even a slang spoken by street-dwelling triplet junior assassins:

“Swiss worm cheese, they told me you was. Dancing with the squirmies and drinking with the lord of the unforgettable yawn. To see you here, though, flesh peddling and boot stomping for wagon bits makes a Spittle use his hard-boiled noggin.”

They’re well educated street urchins.

A slightly unreliable narrator who bursts in inappropriately? Check.

The story is told in two parts. The first from Marietta’s perspective. The second from Byron. TRUST NEITHER. In fact, I don’t even think you can trust me. The narration shifts slightly from a close third on her and a close third on him, but affects the personalities of them while simultaneously telling about their lives.

Even now I have difficulty keeping it straight, and the point of view is something with which I struggle. That just means a little more editing to get it tight.

Catchy theme song? Uh, no. But I’m working on it.

But what this means is that in some parallel universe where my works are analyzed and critiqued, no one may ever dream of relating it to PPGs if they have a teacher like Dr. Kilduff. And that is just a travesty. It is the things that shape and mould us into the writers we are. And while it’s not imperative that one know everything about a particular author’s biography in order to analyze any works by said author, it often sheds light in the most mysterious of ways.

*Victor von Doom and Byron share a thing! They both believe they are horribly disfigured, due to only a small scar on their faces. Source. I mean, c’mon, guy. IT’S NOT THAT BAD.

From the Powerpuff Girls episode “Schoolhouse Rocked.” I’ll just leave this here:

Ms. Keane: Well, girls, I think Mr. Wednesday taught us a valuable lesson here today.

Bubbles: Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance?

Ms. Keane: No. Don’t turn your back in the middle of a dodgeball game!

Narrator: Oh, Ms. Keane! Under your rule, school is cool!

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