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Old Activity Books - A Parent's Revenge?
Matt - 08/09/00

Activity books were a parent's perfect crime. Once they trickily gave us one of these books, we could no longer complain about how bored we were. They'd always refer us to the frigging activity book. And as we're going to find out - they were the tools of a parent's revenge!

My life was no different. The literary masterpiece thrusted into my book collection was entitled 'How To Make Flibbers, etc.' by Robery Lopshire. Within the seedy underbelly of the shocking orange cover rested some of the worst ways for a kid to spend his or her time imaginable.

Via use of old milk cartons, newspapers, and so on, not only would your parents spring this book on you as a means to get you away from them, but also as a means to trick you into cleaning the house. The plan was absolutely masterful. Luckily, it didn't take long for any of us to realize the activities we were engaging in weren't only boring and stupid...they were downright wrong. Let's take a look..

Case 1: How To Make A Sweet Pete

People have long lived under the false impression that dressing up fruit and vegetables is a rewarding experience. It's not. How many times were you convinced to leave a potato in a glass of water to watch the spuds grow off of it? Do you realize how stupid that is? I guess it's one of those things you have to accept with a retrospective mind. Watching spuds grow off of a potato isn't's an indication that a child really needs to re-evaluate their social calendar.

Such is the case with How To Make A Sweet Pete, a project that let you finally live out your childhood dreams of dressing up an orange. Forget raiding the cookie jar, your parents' porn collection, your sisters' diaries...this was the real shit. If there ever was any debauchery I wanted to cause as a kid, dressing up an orange was it. Right.

As you can see, the intricate steps have been layed out for you. By use of toothpicks and whole cloves, you can turn your everyday, normal orange into a completely ugly and inedible orange with what some people may consider a 'face' on it. I can't tell you how many times I've been goaded into making one of these. You stick all these cloves into an orange, and by the time you're through about three of them have successfully been implanted without breaking in half. Then what you're left with is the realization that you just missed Thundercats and all you have to show for it is a severed piece of fruit.

It's a glorious piece of art, no doubt...but orange? I see kids today walking around with laptop computers and little robot dolls that can apparently hold a conversation better than I can...but what did we get? Fucking oranges!

Case 2: How To Make A Moogle Mask

I'm all for inspiring the creativity of kids through little art projects, but not at the risk of looking like a fool. The Moogle Mask wasn't only a means for your family to get you to shut up and sit down for an hour, it was a way for them to extract revenge on you for all your misdeeds by making you look like an idiot. Friends, I was that idiot. If a kid's building a mask, you can be sure that they'll want to wear the mask proudly afterwards. No matter where they were or who was around. Now, take a look at the mask. Tell me if you see the problem.

Yep, you guessed it. I remember it all so vividly. For hours I labored on my Moogle Mask, gluing odd pieces of construction paper to a huge shopping bag, trying to make my mask as impressive as I could. And impressive it was! By the time I was done, not only did I have a mask that would cover my head and half my torso, I also had a mask that beyond a shadow of a doubt was the ugliest piece of headgear ever created.

As luck would have it, my mother was going food shopping that day, and I was to go along with her. I asked her if it'd be okay if I wore the mask, and she said yes. Now, I didn't really think much else about what I was going to do, because after all, why would a mother lie? As I stepped through the automatic doors of the local grocer, I had my first taste of total, absolute social suicide. It wasn't bad enough that kids and adults were either laughing at this giant monster shopping bag walking through the store or running away from it in fear...oh no. To make matters worse, I had cut the eyeholes so poorly that you'd have to have a set of eyes around your temples to see out of it properly. It took about four minutes for me to successfully walk into a food display and knock it over. And I have the Moogle Mask to thank for that enlightening experience.

I should've known something was up while reading the pages shown above. Even the kid's dog is pissed about him walking around in that ridiculous thing. Fucking Moogle Mask...

Case 3: How To Make A Wind Thing

Here's another one from the vault of projects never to do in public. I'm not even sure what this one was supposed to do...I guess it's supposed to create some kind of wind tunnel. But what's important is that it's the most ludicrous looking thing on the planet, and to use it, you were required to step foot out of the house and into the outside world.

I remember building this thing with a significant amount of doubt. It was the fall, so it's not like the wind was nonexistant. As I put the pin through the cardboard that attached it to the stick, I knew this thing wasn't going to hold together outside. I was also well aware of the fact that there were a group of kids playing wiffle ball out there, so walking outside holding this thing was at least 40 times more effective than any 'kick me' or 'just fucking kill me' signs.

So yeah, I bring it outside, not knowing what the fuck the thing's supposed to do. Beads of sweat start dripping down my forehead as I realize I've been spotted by others. Then, the obvious evolution occurs. The tiniest gust of wind rips the top off this thing and sends it spiraling into the streets, with me chasing after it to the jeers of the crowd.

To this day, I still haven't the slightest clue what the Wind Thing was supposed to do.

Looking back at all the nonsense in these children's activities book, I'm pretty sure that their goal was to teach lessons in humility. We certainly weren't getting any more artsy or creative by puncturing fruit or walking around with paper bags over our head. These projects were formulated to make us look like fools to gain modesty. But more importantly, they were your parents revenge for the time you stuck a magnet on the television.

Beware the activity books, and stick to the nice, safe television.

- Matt