Review of: Toys and Games (Part Two)
Silly-Putty: Silly-Putty rules. At no point in this review will I make fun of Silly-Putty — this is my solemn pledge to you. Yeah, sure, it’s stretchy and it’s bendy and it’s putty… but that’s just the beginning. For one thing, it will copy images from newsprint. Yes, you can xerox the Sunday Comics page, in putty form, and then stretch it. Make “Garfield” thinner! Or fatter! Scrunch him out of existence! Whichever! Also — and okay, you probably already knew the thing about the comics page — but did you know that Silly-Putty “cleaves?” That’s right… Take a hunk of putty in both fists, and snap your fists away from each other really fast. The putty will have sheared off at perfect 90-degree angles! Fucking amazing! What else “cleaves?” Nothing that I can think of. And that’s why Silly-Putty is the most powerful substance in the universe. And to top things off, it comes in a red plastic egg. Put it all together, and Silly-Putty gets a Grade of A-plus, a full grade higher than I gave to, say, the missionary position in sex, which is either a very fine commentary on Silly-Putty, or a very sad commentary on me.
Play-Doh: The intentional misspelling of the word dough, like the word “Kreme” in certain disgusting doughnut food-products, was to indicate that this is a product that should not be eaten. Like that was going to stop us! Show me a package of Play-Doh, and I’ll show you a soon to be satiated child. I myself had a “McDonaldland Play-Doh” set and man, that was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Care for a delicious “McPlay-Doh French Fry,” Mr. Miller? So good! Can’t eat just one! A “McDoh Flurry,” perhaps? Well, gosh. …Don’t mind if I do. Basically, for me as a child, the words “non-toxic” equaled “It’s go time.“ And it even smelled like food. Grade: A
Slinky: Do you remember the song? Of course you remember:
“What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs
And makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing!
Everyone knows it’s Slinky.
It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky,
It’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy.
It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky,
It’s fun, it’s a wonderful toy.
It’s fun for a girl or a boy.”
Nah-nah-nah-NAH, nah-nah-nah-NAH, Nah-nah-nah-nah-NAH-NAAAAAH. Oh!
…Anyway, putting aside the fact that the phrase, “and makes a slinkity sound” just smacks of recursiveness, and putting aside the fact that I was apparently just dying to use the word recursive in a sentence… Behold, the Slinky! It’s… a spring. Yes, welcome to life in the days before the “Internet.” Playing with springs is apparently what we did with our time. In the future — assuming that I ever ever have kids — I am mightily looking forward to boring the crap out of my children with stories of how us old-timers used to play with blocks and springs and bouncy balls and things. “…Gather ’round, my children. Stop ‘Sexting’ now. So. Do you know what my favorite toy was when I was five? A rock… a lousy rock. That’s right; I scotch-taped four wheels onto a rock, and named it ‘Rockcar.’ Plus, we played with springs, apparently. Are you listening, Kaitlin, Dakota, Brooklyn, Zoë? No Internet. No Cable TV. No Xbox 360. No nothing. …And did you know that when I was a kid, we only had three pathetic TV channels, and they would turn off at 11 o’clock at night and show a picture of the American flag? Amazing stuff, no? …Hey. …Where are you all going on your jetpacks? Hey!” Grade: D
But wait. I’m not done reviewing you yet, Monsieur Slinky! It’s also reassuring to know, according to the song, that the Slinky is “fun for a girl or a boy.” I myself consider a spring to be a fairly advanced piece of machinery, like say the shovel or the stick-shift, but no, it’s right there in the song, so it must be true. So go ahead, ladies! Slinky your hearts out! Just make sure your precious beautiful long hair doesn’t get caught in the Slinky and drag you bouncing down the flight of stairs. Boo-yah! And hey, are you sure you wouldn’t rather play with…
My Little Pony: And so we return to the never-ending debate of whether it’s better to be born a guy or a girl. On the plus side for guys, we get paid more. On the plus side for girls, you can pretty much have sex whenever you want. But on the way huge plus side for guys, as kids we got to play with exploding, missile-shooting G.I. Joes and Transformers, whereas back in the day you miniature women were stuck with playing with… tiny plastic horses. But they had hair! Which you could comb! See, there’s nothing even to make fun of with “My Little Ponies,” that’s how sucky they were. Grade: C-minus
The Game of Life: “You could be a winner at the Game of Life.” Not necessarily true, my friends. Because I am an aspiring future hipster and because I admire all things retro, I bought “The Game of Life” a few years back, and would play it with my hipster dates in New York City. And let me tell you… “Life” is like life. It’s all over within the first ten moves. Yay pessimism! Basically, you move your little car thing ten squares, and then you hit the Career Square, where you can choose whether you want to enroll in college or can skip college completely. (I, um, highly recommend going; mostly for the Life University freshmen honeys, know what I’m saying?) And then, after that, you get your Career Card, which determines what fake job you will have for the rest of your fake “Life.” If you’re, say, a “lawyer,” you make $120,000 every payday, whereas if you’re an “artist” — for example, if you have a Master’s Degree in creative writing and write a dumb blog — then you make $30,000.
And that’s it. The game is over right there. No amount of landing on “Win the lottery” squares or “Go to the hospital and pay the doctor” squares can overcome this gigantic disparity in salaries. Lawyer wins, Artist loses. Good stuff! Hey, I wish someone had handed me the Game of Life when I was busy choosing my undergrad major of “English Literature with a minor in Classical Literature and Languages.” Heh.
So anyway, during the phase when I was reexamining “The Game of Life,” or “T.G.O.F.,” I would occasionally play “Strip Life” with my dates in order to liven things up. …During my adulthood, I have actually played Strip Poker, Strip Life, Strip Uno, Strip Trivial Pursuit, Strip Risk: The Game of Global Conflict (very boring), Strip Connect Four, but for some reason, not Strip Yatzhee (a shocking oversight). “Strip Trivial Pursuit” was my favorite—
“Oh no. I’m sorry, ‘Manifest Destiny’ is NOT an album by The Cure, but rather is a term for the Western expansion of the United States during the 19th century. Yeah! Fucking take it off, baby!” Grade: B-plus
Simon: I didn’t like “Simon.” I didn’t know any kids in my neighborhood named Simon, but whenever I played this game — which involved pressing brightly colored buttons in the order that a rude and annoying computer told you to press them — I always imagined a kid; a kid with thick glasses and a bowl cut and a blue-and-red striped shirt and an English accent and a calculator in his acid-washed jeans pocket, and this kid was always really, really good at the game “Simon,” which I sucked at. And oh, how I hated this imaginary kid.
There were certain childhood activities that I just never mastered, and never will master. For example: I could never get further than pressing three buttons on Simon without it emitting a nasty electronic “Wah-Wah” losing noise; and in the same way, I could never get further than three rungs on the “Monkey Bars” on the playground without collapsing into a heap of humiliated rumble in the dirt below. I’ll be honest with you, failing at the Monkey Bars always bothered me — that was a significant moment, and meant that you had to make the long slow walk of shame back to the Jungle Gym while trying to be all like “I don’t care; screw the Monkey Bars.” …But failing at Simon, on the other hand, well, I could deal with that. I mean… if you were good at Simon, what would that signify, anyway? That you were a cyborg? That you would make a good lab rat? That you were ready for an exciting new career in pressing things and making sounds? Grade: F
Perfection: Perfection! Do you aspire to reach a state of perfectness? Then play this game and jam a bunch of plastic things in the thing correctly before the thing explodes! Did you know that Stephen Hawking plays Perfection twenty times a day and wins each and every time and is in a fucking wheelchair? Or are Stephen Hawking jokes a little too 1996, perhaps? And did you know that when I write these reviews, I just basically drink a couple of beers and write whatever occurs to me from second to second? Anyway… this game always gave me a goddamn heart attack as a kid. It’s really less like a toy and more like trying to dismantle a nuclear bomb in the last remaining seconds before Los Angeles is destroyed. 4… 3… 2… Aggh, no! An extra triangle piece! I’m sorry, Mr. President. I… failed. Grade: C
 But that’s not all! Hit Silly-Putty hard with a hammer, or drop it off the side of a building, and it will shatter! Leave it alone for a month and it will flow into goop. And according to MIT University, “Silly-Putty picks up dirt, lint and pet hair, and can stabilize wobbly furniture; but it has also been used in stress-reduction and physical therapy, and in medical and scientific simulations. The crew of Apollo 8 even used it to secure tools in zero-gravity.” And according to my dad, “you can use it to clean dirty typewriter keys.” And me with a dirty typewriter…
 Totally true. A lousy goddamned rock with wheels taped onto it.
 Sad but also totally true.
 A lie! A pathetic lie! No one ever bought this. “Aaah, the Monkey Bars suck. I’d just rather hang out here by the Jungle Gym.” Bullshit! The Monkey Bars are a test. The Monkey Bars are life itself. Did you manage to make it to the end of the Monkey Bars? If so, you are a better man than I, and I bow my head to you, Gunga Din. …As you can see, I never really got over this whole Monkey Bar thing. I should probably go see a shrink about it or something.
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