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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

A Series of Unfortunate Events

**Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events spoilers contained herein**

The Baudelaire orphans

Not having read the novels which preceded it or watched the series that succeeded it, I thoroughly enjoyed the dark comedy Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). A brief synopsis of the film is as follows:

The story of intelligent, charming, but unlucky siblings, 14-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Klaus, and their infant sister, Sunny, who are suddenly orphaned when their house burns down. The executor of their parent's estate sends the children to live with a distant relative, Count Olaf, but they realize that he has dastardly designs on the Baudelaire family fortune. The Baudelaire children are soon removed from Count Olaf's care and go to live with their Uncle Monty, a renowned snake expert. Things end badly after the arrival of a suspicious lab assistant named Stephano—Count Olaf in disguise. The children are then shuffled off to their fearful Aunt Josephine's. Sadly disaster ensues, due to the appearance of a mysterious peg-legged sailor--again Count Olaf, who then hatches his most dastardly plot of all.

Throughout the film, the astute Baudelaire orphans observe a number of clues related to who set fire to their home. Eventually, they discover that their parents were part of an exclusive group of people who investigated arson which unfortunately consumed the Baudelaire home.

Personal anecdote

On the morning of October 26, 2003, I awoke to a peculiar smell. On voluntary appellate leave from my unit at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California, I lived in an apartment located away from the military installation.

My then-wife was asleep and as I was unable to locate what smelled like burning marshmallows and firewood, I went outside to investigate. There, I discovered that the sun was blotted out by thick clouds of smoke.

Reentering my home, I discovered local news stations reporting on what has since been identified as the Cedar Fire—a highly-destructive wildfire which burned 273,246 acres of land in San Diego County. I’d never personally witnessed anything like it.

I awoke my wife and despite warnings from local authorities, we left our home to observe the destruction firsthand. On our way to a Marine motor transport area, I watched flames fly from one side of the interstate that was engulfed in fire to the other side which was previously spared.

Once at the military facility, I saw a background of flames quickly making its way towards my location. People were absent from the area, as a sole law enforcement officer attempted to steer traffic away from the installation but to no avail.

Various taxpayer-funded vehicles were abandoned, left to the catastrophic effects of encroaching flames. In hindsight, I suppose safety-conscious individuals would have removed themselves from harm’s way.

Who had time for safety when a photo opportunity presented itself of an environmentally protected area on fire? At the end of the dangerous excursion, I had black soot in my nostrils, though retained photos worthy of presentation in a poorly written blogpost 20 years later.

Like the Baudelaire orphans and the top-notch team on which their parents served, I wanted to know more about what caused the flames. Alas, one source reports, “It started 25 miles east of San Diego, in the Cleveland National Forest, when a hunter became lost and lit a small fire to signal for help.”

A series of unfortunate events

Over the past several years, I’ve paid attention to the growing number of massive fires which have been the source of much speculation. In the absence of patient investigation, some people haphazardly claim that climate change is to blame.

People who have dared to question whether or not some of these fires are the result of human causation are chided by CNN for spreading information related to “conspiracy theories.” Meanwhile, some official narratives—or deliberate ambiguity in place of explanations—remain worthy of questioning.

In my personal and professional life, I value critical thinking—the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. Unfortunately, much of the data are polluted with confounding variables and interpretive assumptions which result in subjective inquiry.

Therefore, to offhandedly label a person with the dismissive term “conspiracy theorist,” for asking questions and hypothesizing as a means to determine truth, isn’t entirely helpful. Still, it is CNN personnel who have allegedly stated:

“Our [CNN] focus was to get Trump out of office, right? Without saying it, that’s what it was, right?” and, “So, our next thing is going to be for climate change awareness.” “Fear sells,” and, “I think there’s just, like, a COVID fatigue. So, like, whenever a new story comes ups, they’re gonna’ latch on to it. They’ve [CNN] already announced in our office that once the public is, will be open to it, we’re gonna’ start focusing mainly on climate…climate, like, global warming […] climate change awareness.”

Is it unreasonable to conclude that CNN and its staff may have an agenda-driven approach to climate change? Are people like the Baudelaire orphans, their parents and friends, you, or me to simply remain silent, ask no questions, and accept at face value mainstream narratives from a questionable source?

It very well may be true that Canadian wildfires, Maui fires, and other blazes are caused by a warming planet. Also, like the human-caused Cedar Fire or a mechanical malfunction that caused a Texas fire that killed 18,000 cows, there may be alternative explanations for a series of unfortunate events.


In Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, each time the inquisitive Baudelaire orphans come closer to discovering truth, Count Olaf sabotages their success. This is until the end of the movie when new evidence presents itself.

A year prior to the film’s release, I experienced the most disastrous fire event of my life. Thankfully, I was able to investigate matters as a means of determining what was real and what wasn’t.

Now, a series of unfortunate events is unfolding with damaging fires periodically sweeping the globe. Sources such as CNN may condemn people who dare to inquire about the cause of calamitous fires while encouraging the citizenry to instead adopt a climate change narrative.

However, this is not how a discerning or rational person approaches matters. Count Olaf’s or other entities’ attempts at sabotaging the quest for truth isn’t the be-all, end-all answer to global fires.

Dear reader, if you refuse to be gaslit in regards to what could be human-lit fires, your resolve doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Furthermore, if you’re searching for a clinician who also asks meaningful questions as a means of helping people dispute their irrational beliefs, I welcome you to my practice. Let’s see if together we can discover truth.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


Boone, R., Johnson, G., Dupuy, B., and Kelleher, J. S. (2023, August 25). After Maui officials named 388 people unaccounted for in fires, many called to say they’re OK. AP. Retrieved from

Carver, J. L. (2023, May 19). Here’s how the fire that killed nearly 18,000 Texas cows got started. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved from

City of San Diego, The. (n.d.). 2003 – Cedar Fire. Retrieved from

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Enriquez, A. (2021, October 25). Q. How does fair use work for book covers, album covers, and movie posters? Penn State. Retrieved from

Flynn, K. (2020, September 18). Joe Rogan spread dangerous misinformation about fires. Now he says he’s sorry. CNN. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 16). Fear sells. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 10). Labeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Lemony Snicket Wiki. (n.d.). Boudelaire Fire [Image]. Retrieved from

Lipson, D. (2023, August 24). Video: Canada on fire: Fighting the largest recorded Canadian wildfire in history. ABC News. Retrieved from

Turner Classic Movies. (n.d.). Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – Synopsis. Retrieved from

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