2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Grand Finale!!!

We made it through another Advent calendar!

What did we learn?

1. Playmobil is fun.

2. Lego is also fun.

3. I like cheese.

4. The Playmobil calendar is light on characters, heavy on swords.

5. Birds shouldn’t date snakes.

Overall, I liked this calendar. Underall, I think I’ll go back to Lego next year.

What is the final item in Playmobil Pirate Advent Calendar? Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Grand Finale!!!

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 23

img_1553Spoiler Alert: Today is a good day.

Today’s door is the biggest of the entire calendar.

There’s something unexpected in the calendar today. Go ahead and make a prediction before reading further.

Use the space below to write your answer on the computer screen in dry-erase ink:

_______________________________

Now, let’s see if you’re right.

Today we get… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 23

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 22

img_1640To all the people working retails jobs this holiday season: I’m thinking of you today. You have my respect.

Maybe it’s because 2016 has been such an angry year, or maybe people are just plain mean, but it seems a lot of people out shopping are PISSED!

I try to stay positive when shopping, even if the checkout line is twelve-people deep and moving at zombie-snail pace. And I’m generally a happy driver. But people in stores and on the roads are acting like maniacs.

Getting angry doesn’t help. Sighing loudly doesn’t help. Yelling at your kid certainly won’t help. Honking your car horn because the light turned green 0.0002 seconds ago won’t make your world right.

Part of me thinks the entire country needs to take one deep breath — not at the same time, of course, because that would create a vacuum over America and cause devastating wind storms elsewhere on the planet.

Maybe things will feel better after Christmas, when stress levels are a tiny bit lower. Until then, I hope reading about toy pirates helps alleviate some of your holiday stress. And if you feel overwhelmed, close your eyes, count to ten and remember: There’s a Lego Batman movie coming out in February.

Today the calendar gives unto me… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 22

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 21

img_1625What’s your favorite type of Christmas cookie?

Don’t answer that. I’m too busy to listen to you talk on and on about Snickerdoodles and whatever the hell “Grandma’s Crispy Crackle-Kins” are.

Do you know Christmas is Sunday? That’s hours away! Do you know how much I need to do before Christmas? Gallons of things!

Let’s open today’s calendar door, pretend the item isn’t a total piece of cat crap and get on with it!

Today we get… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 21

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 20

img_1608L. Frank Baum, who created The Wizard of Oz and its many sequels, wrote a story called The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus way back in 1902. It’s old and free, living in the public domain, so you can legally download a copy at Project Gutenberg. Shove this into your phone and dip into the story when standing in long lines or visiting boring friends and family this holiday season.

There are thousands of stories about the origin of Santa Claus, and none of them are perfect, but Baum’s version is fun and weird enough to make it worth reading. It’s also short; you can read the whole thing in an hour or two.

The story was turned into a stop-motion animated Christmas special, but it was never as popular as Rudolph or Frosty so it doesn’t get the same amount of airplay this season. Besides…the book is better.

If you don’t have time to read a children’s story, here are some takeaways and talking points for this tale.

1. Santa’s Parents Tried to Kill Him
Well…maybe. The story opens with baby Santa abandoned in the woods and about to be eaten by a lion. We don’t learn why he was left out as food for jungle beasts. I assume his parents were in some ancient sacrificial cult.

2. Everyone but the Elves Help Santa
Instead of Santa’s Elves, there are fairies, knooks, imps and all sorts of other magical creatures each with their own job. I like that. The knooks are my favorite. They’re angry gnomes who protect animals.

3. There’s One Chapter of Epic Violence
Most of the story is straightforward bedtime stuff, but there’s a chapter in the middle in which all the magical good guys fight all the magical bad guys. It’s amazing. There are dragons and goblins and creatures are chopped in half via magical axes. The chapter concludes with Baum apologizing for including such brutality.

4. Jesus Isn’t In It
Some Santa Claus stories include thinly veiled Jesus metaphors, but you own’t find it here. Or if it is here, it’s too hidden for even an adult to find. This isn’t a story about Christmas. The only reason Santa delivers toys on Christmas Eve, according to this story, is seemingly arbitrary. It’s just a date that one of the magical creatures chooses.

5. There Are Ten Reindeer
And their names are: Flossie and Glossie, Racer and Pacer, Fearless and Peerless, Ready and Steady, Feckless and Speckless. Steady is probably the worst name of the bunch. Feckless is the best.

I can’t say this story is an amazing piece of literature, but it’s a nice way to kill some time.

Now let’s Advent!

This calendar needs to step up its game in these last five days or else all my 2017 toy calendar dollars will go straight into the pocket of Mr. Lego next year.

Today we get… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 20

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 19

img_1594Childhood Christmas Memory #782: American Cheese

Growing up, if I wanted cheese I’d get Kraft Singles…which is cheese in name only and is as much a cheese product as toothpaste is a dessert.

But when my parents had parties, it was time to bring out the good stuff — deli cheese!

Christmas dinner at my house was a big deal, but we didn’t eat the traditional turkey or ham or goose. We had sandwiches. This was the easiest thing to serve the seemingly 600 people who came to our Christmas Day party. Aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins of cousins, aunts of cousins, uncles of aunts…on Christmas Day, our house was packed from noon until night. As such, a few tons of assorted sandwich meats and salads feeds people faster and more efficiently than everyone sitting down to a turkey dinner.

And that’s when I’d get the good cheese, the deli cheese.

American cheese from the deli is a common food most people take for granted. To young Dan, however, that cheese was rich, creamy slices of angel paper.

Those thin slices of genuine deli cheese would stick together, making it impossible to take just a single slice. And while etiquette dictates that one should use a fork to take a slice of cheese from the tray and deliver it to your sandwich, often a fork would only rip the cheese and so, etiquette be damned, I used my fingers. Hell, I’d used my toes if I had to.

I am now an adult. I can buy deli cheese whenever I damn well please. But there’s still something special about having that cheese in December, something decadent and sublime. Mention Christmas dinner and some will think of a roasted turkey or glistening ham. Me? I think of a big cheese sandwich with lots of mayonnaise. And ring bologna on the side. But I’m assuming some of you (most of you) don’t know what ring bologna is. I think it’s a Pennsylvania thing. (It’s like…a ring…of bologna. But it’s actually horseshoe shaped.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that cheese a lot lately.

Yesterday we got a dead pirate. Today we get… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 19

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 18

img_1524I made a Sasquatch, and I don’t mean that as euphemism.

I participated in a Secret Santa Squatchmas — those who signed up online exchange Sasquatch-themed presents. My girlfriend did it last year and I was jealous, so she let me join the fun this year. I got a person’s name and some details about that person and then I send them Sasquatch gifts. I feel like I’m over-explaining this. You get it, right? Secret Squatchmas!

I always wanted to try and make a stuffed animal, so this was my chance. I had no idea what I was doing. I just turned on the sewing machine and he came out. He turned out a little…wonky. And yet he’s still perfect. I packed him up with some other Sasquatch goodies and sent him off to my lucky person who just received the packaged and loved it. Yay!

I haven’t received my Secret Squatchmas gift yet, but I’ll let you know what it is when it arrives.

Yesterday was disappointing. Let’s see what today’s item is… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 18

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 17

jetpackwerewolfsignThis is the Jetpack Werewolf, a design I made a few years ago based on my long-standing love of jetpacking werewolves. I sell Jetpack Werewolf items in my Etsy store. It’s one of my best selling designs.

If you know me at all, you know how I feel about jetpacks and werewolves.

You can imagine my surprise when a Facebook friend sent me the following image of the back of a Crayola marker package:

img_1574What the hell!?!

Did Crayola steal from me? Did they loot my Jetpack Werewolf design? If so…WHAT THE HELL!?!

I’ll investigate this more in the coming weeks, but right now I’m confused. On one hand, coincidences occur. But on the other hand, the Jetpack Werewolf design is very specific. If it were cat with a jetpack, that’d be fine, or even a different type of dog. This dog just looks a bit too similar to my werewolf…enough that I’m ticked off. I take great pride in my creativity and spent my career developing my own original ideas…from magic pencils to jetpack werewolves. When I see something infringing on those ideas, my skin prickles.

Am I wrong?

This is weird, right?

Hey Crayola, if you dare come out with a line of magic pencils, watch out. I have my own magic pencils and I know how to use them.

Maybe today’s calendar item will set my mind right. It’s… Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 17

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 16

img_1560Was I too enthusiastic about yesterday’s Bronze Ladle?

No.

I also have a chocolate Advent calendar, but I haven’t been posting about it because there are only so many words a person is allowed to type in their lifetime and writing about a traditional chocolate Advent calendar every day would be wasting those precious words — words I am saving to one day write a play about shoes entitled “Feet Puppets: Journey Into Madness.”

But I sometimes forget to open the doors of the chocolate Advent calendar. That means yesterday I had a backlog of three days worth of Advent chocolate. And eating those three tiny pieces of candy may have altered time and space. Those treats were meant for specific days and to consume them later than their true birth date is to defy the gods of chronology. I’m sorry if my actions have rippled and warped the fabric of time. It’s probably why there’s a dinosaur outside my window and my great-great-great grandfather is climbing that tree.

Oops.

Will today’s item be as wonderful as a ladle? Let’s find out! Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 16

2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 15

img_1542Favorite Christmas episodes of TV shows! Go!

The Simpsons — When Bart gets caught shoplifting. A sweet, funny episode.

Roseanne — When David’s mom yells at him, and Darlene realizes that David’s life is crappy. It’s sad, but good.

Frasier — The one where Fraiser needs to buy the “Outlaw Laser Robo Geek” for his son, but can’t find one in the store. I love the name of that toy. Based on name alone, I want one too! Even if it’s just the name for a tray of celery, I want one.

The Office — Any Christmas episode of the US version s good. And the UK version’s Christmas special is brilliant, if surprisingly upbeat and hopeful.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia — Charlie and Mac realize harsh truths about their childhood Christmas memories.

What are you favorites? Tell me by writing them in the non-existent comment section below.

What lives behind the 15th door of this calendar…? Continue reading 2016 Playmobil Advent Calendar: Day 15