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bear-primal.jpgThat upstanding ursine family from childhood throws off the shackles of civilization and finally embraces its grizzly and grisly instincts in this new collection of bedtime reading musts.

Stories include The Berenstain Bears Rub Themselves against Trees, The Berenstain Bears Wander Aimlessly for Several Days in Search of Suitable Sex Partners and this year’s Caldecott Winner, The Berenstain Bears Eviscerate a Couple of Campers and Their Dog.

#11 CNN Crib Crawl

cnn-crib-crawl.jpgSure, mobiles over the baby’s crib are nice but why waste your wee one’s formative years teaching them basic shapes and colors when they can learn that 200,000 Chechnyan rebels have amassed on the outskirts of Moscow?

Just install the news crawl along the inside perimeter of the child’s crib. Then marvel as your infant’s eyes grow wide and their mouth goes agape while he or she is fed such up-to-the minute global political and economic reports as India resuming nuclear arm testing, the colossal fallout from the subprime crisis, the emergence of Islamic militancy in Cambodia and the rumored cancellation of The Backyardigans.

Let’s face it, your newborn spends most of his or her day in a fetal position. Why not give them a good reason to stay that way?

#10 Passive-Aggressive Simon

passive-simon.jpgIntroducing a party game that finally captures all the mirth and merriment of chronic resentment, indirect stubbornness, unexplained sullenness and even disavowed resistance!
 
Simply turn Passive-Aggressive Simon on and wait. And wait. And wait. The game can go for hours without uttering a sound or emitting a single flash, all the while expressing a willful misunderstanding of what it is you want it to do or claiming forgetfulness of its own instructions.
 
But avert your eyes for just one second–just one!–and out comes a quick but ambiguous series of blips and lights . Did it go blue-red-green? Did it indirectly blame you for why it took so long to start? Was that sequence of lights sincere or sarcastic? Is it trying to incite anger and disappointment by purposely failing at its own assigned task? Does it think it’s unfairly being held to too high of a standard by being used as a party game? And why did it leave a note about which colors it flashed instead of just telling you face-to-face?
 
Yes, with Passive-Aggressive Simon you’ll enjoy everything from trying to play a game with a game that fears competition and confrontation to trying to have a relaxing night with a toy that seemingly wants to foster chaos and inefficiency to trying to get through just one round with a gadget that doesn’t get why you’re suddenly so angry and severely critical even as it resists every attempt you make at having just one moment without it muttering yet another negative response or prematurely admitting defeat by turning itself off.

#9 9/11 Jenga

jenga-flag-tiny.jpgRemember the innocent joy of watching one move transform a tall, rectangular structure into a heap of bricks?

Well, no more! That’s because the new 9/11 Jenga is as strong as our nation’s freedom and as resilient as America itself. First each wooden brick is hot-glued to one another. Then the entire tower is encased in form-fitting Lucite, permanently affixed to your kitchen table with a steel spike and patrolled by a phalanx of 4,000 army figurines, model helicopters and Estes rocket launchers, all under the watchful eye of 600 cameras posted around your house without your permission or prior knowledge. The result is a childhood classic you and your family can once again safely enjoy if not approach or touch.

Estimated completion date: 2049.

#8 The Hardy Men Mystery Novels

hardy-men.jpgWe all grew up with the Hardy Boys. Isn’t it time they grew up with us? Now comes a new series of books written specifically for an older—if not particularly wiser—generation. Each edition in the new Hardy Men Mystery Novels library details the exciting adventures of our now middle-aged but still intrepid heroes, including:

The Hardy Men and the Case of What’s-His-Face, Y’know, That Guy…I Think It Begins with an M: Yep, Frank and Joe are off on their latest escapade, only to suddenly forget who they were pursuing. Frank is certain he wrote it on the back of his shopping list while Joe yells at his kids to keep quiet for just one goddamn minute so he can think straight. Eventually the two go back to the couch and watch SportsCenter.

The Hardy Men and the Missed Financial Opportunity That Really Could Have Gotten Them Back on Their Feet: Recently downsized from their jobs and trying to make ends meet, Frank and Joe are let in on a sure-fire investment by Chet, only to be held back by a now complete lack of self-confidence. The two then spend the next several months dreaming about how they could have flaunted their wealth in front of their so-called friends.

The Hardy Men and the Case of Those Thieving Bastards Down at the Car Dealership: When Frank and Joe go to lease some previously owned SUVs, little do they know that they’ll be the ones taken for a ride. But six hours and seven charges for “undercoating” later, the brothers feel horribly violated and not all too certain about how their wives will react to matching Serbian-manufactured Yugos.

The Hardy Men Inadvertently Kill Most of Their Day at Home Depot Buying the Wrong Drill Bit before Going to Brewster’s Pub to Watch Their Local Team Not Win Enough to Cover the Spread and Hear that Hot New Piece of Ass behind the Bar Call Them “Old Timers” and then Driving Home to Each Find Their Home’s Foundation Cracking, Their Boiler Dying and Their Youngest Son Being Encouraged to Consider Only Trade Schools or Food Service Training Programs at the Tender Age of Five: Frank and Joe go back to Brewster’s and drink themselves blind.

The Hardy Men Grow Eerily Silent While Flipping through Their High School Yearbook:  While looking for the DVD manual to see how to remove a Dragon Ball Z figure out of the disc tray, Frank stumbles across his old high school yearbook. The brothers then spend the next three hours in quiet reflection, reliving long-forgotten accomplishments, recalling all-too-fleeting glory and imagining having sex with every single girl in their 12th grade class.

So whether you want to relive a childhood classic or just have something to hide your face behind while your kids scream at each other at the dinner table, The Hardy Men Mystery Novels will let you experience true adventure without the usual shortness of breath and aching joints that now seem to accompany everything you do.

#7 Bob the Contract Builder

post-it-bob.jpgWhen you first open the hastily assembled, inexplicably untreated and three-times-the- initial-cost-estimate box for Bob the Contract Builder you’ll make a startling discovery–Bob’s not in there.

But just wait a few days or seasons and the uninsured and unlicensed Bob is certain to arrive at your doorstep, neither contrite nor sober. Then it’s time for another’s day work that may or may not occur at your house but will almost certainly appear on your bill.

One of this year’s hardest to find toys (despite an oral contract), Bob the Contract Builder comes fully loaded and surly to boot, featuring three out-of-service phone numbers, no physical business address, several incorrectly-sized planks of the wrong lumber, sheetrock instead of copper pipes, a rambling rant against Mexicans and his last wife and $10,000 of your money.

#6 My Drinking Buddy

drunk-buddy-small.jpgYour favorite childhood chum has gone from PlaySkool to the bar stool and is ready to teach you everything he knows, from saving cash by bringing a rum flask to pubs and just buying Diet Coke to making money by doing anything–and we mean anything–for a dollar.

So why drink alone when this rummy raconteur will go wherever you go…so long as you’re buying. Just get him a double, pull his string and hear him spout such insightful, occasionally incomprehensible witticisms as “The bitch left me” “What kind of man drinks hard lemonade? A wo-man!” “I said, play some fuckin’ Merle Haggard!” and “Oh Christ, I can’t go to jail again.”

Also available: My Pot Pal, featuring such memorable mumblings as “Is it Tuesday?” “Are those Funyuns?” and “Am I still working at Mellow Mushroom?”