Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Negotiations

It's that time of year again, and as much as I love the holidays, there's always been one aspect of it that has gnawed at my tiny little conscious. We're all familiar with the symbols and traditions surrounding many of the well-known holidays – Santa and gift-giving for Christmas; bunnies, ducks and coloring eggs for Easter; pumpkins and trick-or-treating for Halloween; placing the fate of the world's climatic system in the paws of a large rodent in Pennsylvania for Groundhog's Day — All fairly harmless, good clean fun. But then there's one, gruesome holiday; one based on lies; whose traditions are built on the mass murder of millions of innocent creatures. I am, of course, referring to the genocide known as...

...the Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner.

"And why is this so terrible?", you may ask. "After all, we eat turkey every day." This is of course very true; it just seems to me, I don't know, cruel and somewhat zombie-like to all set our sights on one specific animal for one specific holiday just for the sake of tradition. But I'm not going to go on some lunatical rant about the morals of butchering entire lots of flightless fowl so American families have a reason to sit down at the dinner table together; oh no, this blog addresses the bigger question, the question nobody bothers to ask.

Who the HELL did the turkeys piss off to get THAT gig?

Seriously, when it came time for the powers-that-be to negotiate holiday contracts with various bidders, who exactly represented the turkey population? What kind of Bernie Madoff/Joe Jackson mutherfucker were they stuck with as an agent, because as little as I know about the legal process and contract negotiations, even I can tell they got a bum deal. Image with me, if you will, how it must have gone down:

Turkeys: Phew! Sorry we're late, travel's a real bitch, what with being flightless and all... anyways, what'd we miss?

Agent: Well, it was a real circus in there, all the major holidays were up for bid, but I think you'll be happy with the one we got....

Turkeys: Awesome! What happened?

Agent: Well, first off, we couldn't get your own holiday like you requested; turns out the Groundhogs have a knack for seasonal predictions, which the Committee felt was a much better selling point than your ability to solve a Rubiks Cube in under ten minutes; I couldn't really argue against their case...

Turkeys: Damn! Well, it was a longshot...

Agent: We almost got you into Easter, but ultimately it was decided that your brightly-colored plumage would conflict with the pastel colors the committee had chosen for the holiday, so it went to the chicks. Unfortunately the Chicken Labor Union, which was funded by the Toledo Dye Corporation, teamed up with the Bunny Rabbit Worker's Force, which received major backing by the Hershey's Corporation; so now the official symbols of the Easter holiday are brightly colored chicken eggs and chocolate rabbits; what any of that has to do with the resurrection of Christ I have no idea, but their agent was fantastic!

Turkeys: What the?? Please tell us we're not so convolutedly shoved into a holiday like that....

Agent: Oh no no no.... your role is very significant to the holiday.

Turkeys: Oh wait... is it Christmas? Did we get Christmas? Because, you know, we ARE cold-weather fowl....

Agent: No, unfortunately the state assigned that one to some pediphile as community service; they WERE looking for animals to pull the flying sled though.....

Turkeys: Perfect!

Agent: However, I had left the meeting to go get some Jujubes, and the reindeers grabbed the contract..

Turkeys: The REIN.... what the FUCK? They're not even birds!! Maybe we can't fly, but at least we have freaking FEATHERS! And who the hell eats Jujubes anymore?? So what was left? Halloween?

Agent: Apparently turkeys aren't scary enough for...

Turkeys: SCARY? you want to see SCARY you sonofabitch?!?! Tell me what we got stuck with! Valentine's Day??

Agent: I'm sorry, no... independent studies showed that 98% of all regional turkeys can't shoot a bow and arrow with any real degree of accuracy, so they went with the cherubs.

Turkeys: For the love of.... just tell us...

Agent: Well, it turns out there actually WERE turkeys at the Thanksgiving festivities.

Turkeys: Oh.... well.... that's not bad, not bad at all, right guys?


Agent: Yeah, and they were even present during the gigantic Harvest Feast they had that day..

Turkeys: Wow! That's great! Were they the guests of honor?

Agent: Sure, let's go with that.

Turkeys: This is fantastic! So... what do we do.......

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Game of Perfection (or, 'My First Stress Test')

Remember that 'ol Milton Bradley game, Perfection? The one with oddly-shaped pieces that needed to be placed in their respective holes on a big plastic board before the timer ran out, lest it all spontaneously springs up, tossing your well-placed shapes everywhere and giving you a near-heart attack in the process?

Yeah, I hated that game.

In the classic Chicken-and-Egg conundrum, I'm not quite sure which came first; my intense and primordial hatred and loathing for strictly-timed mental-aptitude tests which therefore governed the deeply rooted anxiety that game brought out; or the deeply rooted anxiety that game brought out, which in turn fed my intense and primordial hatred and loathing for strictly-timed mental-aptitude tests. In other words, do I despise the game because of what it is (basically a stress test) or do I hate what it is because of the game?

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I say I'll take my chances...

Because let's face it, that's really what this torture-chamber-in-a-box really is; an adolescent mental stress test. I don't know about you, but MY face never looked so happy and entertained as the cheery little cherubs on the box would suggest -- more often it would be decidedly more frowny in appearance, with possibly a bead or two of sweat forming on the brow as the incessant ticking of the timer distracted me from finding the hexigonally-shaped hole.

I do find it amusing there's a warning label on the box that simply says, "Choking Hazard...not suitable for children under 3", as if that's the only danger this game poses. I believe it should really say: "Psychological Hazard - may cause aneurysms due to exceedingly-high stress levels... may scar your child for life and cause him/her heightened anxiety when placed in similarly stressful situations down the road.... Side effects may include heightened agitation near clocks, an unnatural fear of geometric shapes, and a constant feeling of being 'rushed'... " To this day I can't play games (board, video, or otherwise) which force players to complete a certain amount of tasks before time runs out. And despite working in the publishing field, the thought of strict deadlines makes my heart palpitate. Sometimes, while working on a desperately-needed layout, I feel as if any minute my keyboard may go BAM!!! and spray key shrapnel everywhere like a Vietnamese booby-trap.

Thank you, Milton Bradley, you sons of a bitch.

(NOTE: Thanks to Steve for the inspiration to write this entry, who somehow was able to recite the entire Perfection jingle on cue.)