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Get outta that jello tree! Thursday December 2, 1999

The Ghosts of Christmas Presents Past

ProbeSometimes you just got lame-ass presents at Christmas. My folks are these language-loving, cryptic crossword puzzle types who speak Latin fluently, and they assumed that a challenging word game like PROBE would make a good Christmas gift. Good God, what were they thinking? When all the kids in the neighbourhood were playing with their cool new games like MOUSE TRAP, we were sitting around the family rec room playing a stupid "guess the right word" game! I mean, look at the people in the picture on the box! They're wearing ties, for God sake!

Booby TrapChristmas morning before the world of video games and interactive toys was a bit of a chore. But there were a couple of games that always got circled in the Simpsons-Sears catalogue that might have been classified as analog, thumb-numbing games: OPERATION and ROCK'EM SOCK'EM ROBOTS. And year after year we'd run down and look under the tree, hoping to get a good start on my childhood RSI with said toys... well, the closest we got was BOOBY TRAP. Come on already! Do you know how many times my fingers got jammed in that bloody spring-loaded wooden contraption? THIS was supposed to be FUN?

Kerplunk!And then there was KERPLUNK. Even the name of this game sucked! Okay, we had a few laughs with this combination pick-up-sticks and marbles toy, but how many times can you stick sharp plastic sticks through teeny-tiny holes without spilling blood or putting your eye out? And for what? A couple of tense moments when it was your turn to pull out the death stick that would bring all the marbles crashing down into your tray? Harrumph! So I'd bandage up my little hands and trapes down the street to play with friends who got games that weren't quite so lethal. And wait until next Christmas.

Tomorrow: Christmas Games Chart.

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