“HALLOWISTMAS”

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by Joe Buonfiglio

Ah, Halloween.  It’s a time for costumes both ghoulish and titillating, for tricks, for treats, for the mutilation of innocent carotene-enhanced squash, and for the barista-led revolution aimed at turning your next colonoscopy into a pumpkin-spice scented nightmare.  It is an unalterable venture whereby we accept that our bodies are to be willfully poisoned by the invasion of candy-corn  and other high-fructose corn syrupy delights, there is an open invitation to all who are intent on violent home invasion due to the incessant opening of our front door to anyone wearing a costume (even if said costume involves the carrying of an EXTREMELY realistic gun or bloody machete) and, of course, Santa.

Wait-what?  Santa?

At the time this Potpourri of the Damned blog-post is being crafted, All Hallows’ Eve (AKA “Halloween”) hasn’t even hit yet.  But an innocent wander into any prominent retail shop or discount warehouse would make you think it was time for old Kris Kringle to make his annual run to break-n-enter his way via chimneys into the homes of Christians and secular-Christmas merrymakers alike.  Artificial Christmas trees and LED-driven multicolor strands of lights and wintery decorations of every size and shape push out the relatively meager display of ceramic Jack-o-Lanterns and Naughty Nurse costumes and spray-cobwebs in a can.  Christmas is where the money is, so Halloween will just have to take a backseat.  And Thanksgiving?  Turkey Day can just about go fuck itself.  Ya’ gotta get a jump on Christmas sales if you’re going to make regional manager by New Year.

It’s no wonder Americans are so confused this time of year.  We’re lucky breathing and heartbeat are autonomic functions, or we’d all be total fucked by the time movie theaters start their annual midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

So, of course, while we’re all stumbling around in a spiked-cider daze wondering why we thought the matching penis-and-vagina couple’s costumes were going to be such a hit, let’s use this moment of excessive mental instability to start ripping open our wallets and jump into the holiday gift-giving bullshit headfirst.

Oh, there are alternatives.  I guess we could always distract ourselves for a few days.  It’s the perfect time of year to engage in a responsible act of civic duty, don’t you think?

That’s right.  With the air still drenched in the stench of candle-charred pumpkin flesh and the intoxicating aroma of drunken candy-apple vomit and fake costume-blood, Americans take to the voting booths having gleaned most of their election-day direction from Super PAC-sponsored hate ads on television and radio.

However, there is no need to get all stressed out … about voting.  Whether or not that “sexy French maid” you hooked up with sans condom at your buddy’s kegger costume party was actually underage in the light of day is another story; not to mention if you were said sexy French maid.  I’m not responsible for your booze consumption.  If your momma didn’t teach you not to mix “cane” with “grain,” you’ll have to deal with the consequences.  And by the way, the big guy in the sheriff’s uniform?  NOT a costume.  I’ll bet you thought this swingers’ “key party” was a fun idea until you needed to find your car keys fast.  Not so much fun now, though, eh?

I digress.

Anyway, what I’m saying is fuck voting.  Just fuck it.  In our hearts, we Americans know that if we continue on this insane path and keep voting for the same people over and over and over again, no real change can break the gridlock driven by the political butt-plugs we keep putting in office.  The reality is that MY guy is as big an asshole as YOUR guy; so to interrupt the Hallowistmas capitalism-in-action in the retail sector this time of year over an act of absurd futility such as voting is a waste of a good early door-buster sale.  And I, for one, wouldn’t want to piss off the Apple corporation by interrupting their cash-flow through a lapse of judgment such as willfully voting instead of shopping for Apple products.

Nuh-uhn.  Not me, brother.  I’m in enough shit for taking time away from buying Apple stuff to write this blog.  Those fuckers are too gangsta for me.  I got kids.

Disagree? Think it’s every American’s duty to vote their conscience this time of year?

Fuck you!  IT’S HALLOWISTMAS, BABY!  WHEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!  Grab your pumpkin-spice-candy cane-cookie dough-flavored whatthefuckever and head to the shopping mall … or shop online.  Who gives a tinker’s left nut how you do it, just shop.  IT’S HALLOWISTMAS!

As thoughts blend into a bizarre juxtaposition of pillowcases full of trick-or-treat candy and stockings stuffed with toys, I get rather nostalgic.  Starting to venture down the aisles in the discount-toy section looking for those particular somethings for any number of rugratish obscene progeny dangling from the various branches of the family tree, this oddly transitional time of year finds me tapping into both memory and urban lore to revisit some of the best “Toys from Hell” from Hallowistmas-shopping past.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see little Suzie burn the shit out of her fingers on the old-style Easy-Bake Oven.  Oh Hasbro, blessed is thy brand name.

I wonder where Ol’ Suzie Skin-Graft is today.

And Clackers!  Do you remember Clackers?

Clackers, Klappers, Klik Klaks, Toy Clacker Balls, Knockers (my personal favorite)…  Whatever you called these babies, they are the stuff of good times … good times.  On the end of a heavy string, two large acrylic balls would bang together making that marvelous clacking sound … unless you swung too hard … which could shatter the balls sending glasslike shards flying all over as if so much battlefield shrapnel.  The pieces could embed in the furniture … or the ceiling … or your arm … or your eye … both eyes.

Remember when we dared Suzie to make her Clackers go faster and faster and faster?

I wonder whatever happened to Ol’ Blind Suzie? Ol’ Blind Suzie Skin-Graft.”  Sweet girl.

Oh-oh-oh!  The Snacktime Kid Cabbage Patch Doll!  Remember those from the ’90s?  It had a battery-powered mechanical jaw with “real chewing action.”

What could go wrong?

It was so much fun.  No matter what, it would just keep chewing and chewing and chewing and chewing….  It didn’t matter if a kid got his or her fingers or hair stuck in the doll’s mouth; it’d just keep on chewing away.  Too bad Mattel didn’t think to install an on-off switch.

No.  I’m not kidding.

Ah, Ol’ Bald, Blind Suzie Skin-Graft.  Tough kid.  Heart of gold.

And then there are the Sky Dancers. Is it coming back to you now, ladies?  Sky Dancers were a helicopter-like flying toy on a mechanical base.  When you would pull its cord, the hard plastic propeller-like wings would beautifully twirl it high into the sky … or wing it at an accelerated rate in unpredictable directions … and at unintended targets … like the operator herself … potentially causing lacerations and broken teeth … even mild concussion.

Ah, Ol’ Bald, Blind Suzie “Bad Smile” Skin-Graft.  A real trooper, our Suzie is … was.

And how about the Battlestar Galactica Missile Launcher.  There’s a blast from the past.  Those 1 1/4″ long red missiles were just about the perfect size … to lodge in a child’s throat.

It was one of Ol’ Bald, Blind Suzie Gaggin’ “Bad Smile” Skin-Graft’s favorite toys, as I recall.  Loved the sci-fi, our Suzie did.

Remember Yo-Yo Water Balls?  Sure ya’ do!  They’re made out of flammable diesel hydrocarbons with this sticky, stretchable cord that’s just perfect for wrapping around a kid’s neck and inducing strangulation.  Illinois, New Jersey and New York have all banned them.

Too bad Ol’ Bald, Blind “I’m Hanging Myself Here!” Suzie Gaggin’ “Bad Smile” Skin-Graft didn’t live in one of those states.  Tough break.

Lawn Darts!  What can I say about the old-style lawn darts you don’t already know?  Kids tossing around what are essentially sharp, pointy sticks with flights on the tail; it’s every parent’s dream.  Screw TV and video games; lawn darts are the perfect babysitter.

Just ask Ol’ Bald, Blind “I’m Hanging Myself Here!” Dart-Impaled Suz—  Okay, you get the idea.

There are so many more Toys from Hell that we could go a week listing them and just scratch the surface.

Chinese-made Aqua Dots; small dots that a child could move around to construct colorful images.  These babies were recalled after it was found that the toy pieces contained the date-rape drug Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a potent central nervous system depressant.

Sure Johnny is only in kindergarten; but I still think he’s ready to join a fraternity.

The Magnetix series of construction toys snapped together using magnets.  The trouble is that the magnets’ plastic connectors could easily fall out and subsequently get swallowed along with the magnets themselves.  The tiny magnets could actually snap together in the middle of a kid’s intestines!

The bad news is Sara is dead.  The good news is she’s been awarded her contractor’s license!

There were the Sky Rangers Park Flyer Radio Control Airplanes. It wasn’t so much that as a radio-controlled flying vehicle they could be dangerous, because they could fly into someone.  These planes were actually known to explode….  EXPLODE.

But the best of the best — the absolute coup de grâce of the Hallowistmas Toys from Hell collection — is a beautiful little piece of child’s play from the ’50s that takes the proverbial cake, as well as any leftover toothbrushes you have because you forgot to avoid dentists’ houses while trick-or-treating.

It was simply called the “Atomic Energy Laboratory.”

In 1951, the inventor of the now-classic Erector Set, A.C. Gilbert, released the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab.  Kids could enjoy seeing mist trails created by particles of ionizing radiation.  The problem?  This wasn’t a simulation.  It contained real radioactive materials.

No, I’m not shitting you.  I shit you not!

Originally selling for $49.50, the set included four uranium-bearing ore samples.  Okay, it was probably “low-dose” stuff; but you could reorder all you want!  If you had one of these today, the NSA, FBI and Homeland Security would be tracking your ass for sure!

Real. Uranium. Ore … in a fucking kid’s toy!

What a country!

And I thought the 1998 Playskool talking “Teletubby Po” doll accused of saying inappropriate things such as “”Bite my butt” was sinister.  Hell, purple Teletubby Tinky Winky was only accused of being gay by then-televangelist, conservative pundit and delightful homophobe, the late Jerry Falwell.   At least kids were only in danger of being a homosexual convert, according to the Christian Right.  They weren’t in danger of radiation poisoning, for Christ’s sake!

So for the sake of Suzie’s children and grandchildren wherever they may dwell, as well as your own uncouth lineage, make this the perfect Hallowistmas buying season.  Because somewhere out there some toy manufacturer with an industry tie-in is about to launch a promotional campaign for its My First Fracking Drill Site Set (hydraulic fracturing chemicals included).  But, there’s limited quantity.  So hurry.

Doors will close early … and reopen at midnight.

Ready.

Set…

 

© 2014 Joseph P. Buonfiglio     All Rights Reserved.

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