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Happy Thanksgiving From X-E!
Matt - 11/23/00

Happy Thanksgiving! Now, did you really think I'd let a holiday go by without cashing in on it with an article? Please. Believe it or not, a good chunk of X-E's audience is northward in Canada and, let me check my hands..north, south...oh yeah, eastward in Australia. So some of you out there probably aren't too interested in hearing about how we weaseled the nation away from unsuspecting Indians with promises of European toys. Don't worry, neither am I - we're not gonna talk so much about the holiday...just all its wonderful pop-culturin' crossovers. Here's another chance to see why us Americans are regarded as being so goofy.

Those of us here in the U.S. know that Thanksgiving is more of a transitional holiday. Let's face it, the religious and historical aspects of our off-days from work are pretty much sacrificed for the crass commercialism and tons of food, but hey, its a lot more fun that way. Think about it, half the people who go crazy with Christmas probably haven't been to church since their Aunt Sadie got married. I'm not saying we don't care about the holiday's background...we'd just rather delve into the fun part of it. In the case of Thanksgiving, unfortunately there's no presents exchanged, or even free candy given out despite warnings from every news broadcast throughout the country that it is indeed poison. Thanksgiving is more or less a chance for families to see each other and have massive eating contests, fall asleep, and luckily not have to go to work the next day when they're more bloated than Jabba the Hutt.

My family's lazy, but large enough and with more little kids popping up every year that we keep the old traditions alive. So all my siblings and I congregate at my parents' house, pretend not to notice how progressively drunk we're getting, and live under the false notion that we'll be awake enough to play Scrabble later in the night while stuffing our faces full of artichokes. Of course, there's the turkey. Personally, I hate turkey, but since I'm sure many of you out there are living single with no families present, here's a little tip on how to make your own special Thanksgiving without wasting 15 pounds of fowl - get a small chicken, cook it. Crush up some valium and stick it under the skin. Virtual turkey. But enough about that, let's move on to the good stuff.

Up first - Thanksgiving cartoon specials. It should come as no shock to you that I'm big on holiday specials, but Thanksgiving historically has gotten the shaft. We touched on this a bit when I did the Halloween specials article, but its even worse with this holiday. The networks have given up! Its a rarity to see shows like these broadcast on television these days, but hey, we've always got the memories. And a buncha pics to seduce your brain into remembering this shit...

Garfield Thanksgiving

Hmm..guess Jon Davis got lazy with this one, the plot has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, and even if it did, its still pretty lame. Jon visits his doctor, the nurse he's always trying to pick up. She somehow draws a conclusion that this stick figure is too fat, and puts him on a diet. Thus, our plot: its Thanksgiving, one of the biggest eating days of the year...and Jon can't eat! Stay glued to your sets! I remember feeling pretty cheated on this one when it came out in '89...where's Jon's grandmother with that wicked star sweatshirt? Where's the farm? Sorry, you'll find none of that here, but you will find Jon convincing the doctor to have Thanksgiving dinner with him, thus proving that our lives must not be that bad if we don't have to rely on our doctors for companionship during the holidays. Course, we don't rely on cats who think their words for the rest of the year either, but Jon's one of those special guys.

In the end, the doctor girl gets bit by the theoretical holiday bug. After seeing Jon agonize over not being able to eat all the good stuff (why he didn't cook his own meal is beyond me) ...she finally decides it'll be a far less annoying holiday if she just lets his diet slide for one night. In the end, Jon stuffs his face, and all is well. Not exactly award winning material we're working with here, but I'm just the messenger.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Another weird plot, but I've always liked this cartoon. The world has taken the proverbial shit on Charlie Brown once again, this time by making him spend Thanksgiving at his grandmother's house, away from his friends, away...from civilization itself! This is one of those Peanuts cartoons where Peppermint Patty is in love with Chuck, so she puppeteers the other children and orchestrates a pre-Thanksgiving party to make Charlie Brown feel more at ease with his holiday plans.

Invariably, anything involving Charlie Brown is destined for failure. When he's winning a race, he decides it'd be a great idea to run with his eyes shut and daydream, knocking him off track and causing him to run through a fence through the woods. When he buys Christmas trees, they die. And the fucker's bald. This is the type of kid who ends up bombing his high school. Patty and the gang want to halt that inevitable future, and they do so by throwing a party involving some of the weirdest foods ever.

You know, when I was a kid, I could never figure out that Snoopy's clearly making toast. I was completely shocked. Now that I look at it, its clearly toast, and I guess its not all that weird. Its not like they're serving technocolored Cheeze Doodles, that doesn't happen until the second pic. I don't know why anyone was surprised that the party's atmosphere looked so bleak, the let the fucking dog cook for it. Talk about complacency. Luckily, everyone gets into the spirit of things, and everything works out just fine.

See? Whenever the kids institute their special magic flip-back head trick, you know the going's good. While we're on the topic of Charlie Brown...have you seen the alternate Christmas special? It came out years after the first one...and father time wasn't kind at all to the Peanuts gang. That special is the worst thing I've ever seen. Twenty minutes of Charlie Brown trying to sell wreaths, another ten of him complaining that the red-haired girl already got the gloves he wanted to get her for Christmas. If I stayed awake through Vanilla Ice movies, you'd think I could survive this. Eh eh, its that brutal. Meanwhile, this Thanksgiving special might not have the charm of the original X-Mas dynasty, but this 1977 release wasn't that bad. Three outta five.

Bugs Bunny's Thanksgiving Diet

It should come as no surprise that Bugs Bunny is a doctor in this cartoon special. The guy's been everything from a viking damsel to a beautiful woman, most anything that would lead us to believe he's a little iffy on his orientation. Here, the good doctor is shown talking with an obese girl bunny about her weight problems, and offers up some sage advice via a selection of cartoon shorts on how to lose weight. Somehow, we accept this as being Thanksgiving-themed.

There were a few other Thanksgiving specials, but they're few and far between, and they get progressively worse. Every few years or so, a network makes the mistake of thinking some claymation turkey or a story about comical pilgrims is gonna garner ratings, but after a solid decade of failure, they've given up to the point where they don't even show the good ones. Oh well, we've always got the Cartoon Network. There were also a ton of Thanksgiving-inspired sitcom shows...the Bradys, Roseanne, even Perfect Strangers got their just due. Poor Larry. Could you imagine living with Balkie? As if it wasn't annoying enough to have a guy dance around and play with a sheep doll 24 hours a day, everything Larry said was announced by Balkie as officially being 'ridiculous'. How can a person live like that? Can you imagine how many great ideas Larry had but never brought up, out of fear that Balkie would claim he's being ridiculous again? Sure, Larry got the hotter girlfriend, but she was a mute, and even if she wasn't, does that really do him justice? If you're gonna be thankful for anything this thankful you're not living with Balkie.

Now its time to talk about the other major facet of the Thanksgiving holiday, or at least mine...the parade. Every year, Macy's coordinates a huge parade down the streets of NYC, and amongst all the dancers and various weather reporters pulling double duty, we get the ultimate treat: giant balloons! Either popular movie/toon/product characters who are there because people love 'em, or there because their parent companies are clever advertisers, these balloons are the heart of Thanksgiving. I've only made the pilgramage to the parade once or twice...there's a univeral anomaly that dictates that it must be entirely too freezing and crowded near the balloons for any sane person to want to be there...luckily, the whole shibang is broadcast on live tv. Every holiday has its traditions. Christmas, presents. Halloween, ghosts. Easter, eggs. Thanksgiving? Al Roker with a big smile telling us that one of the balloons just collapsed and killed three people.

As a kid, there was nothing quite like waking up early on Thanksgiving, putting my boots on, finding the snowhat, bundling up...and going outside to get the paper so I could find out what channel the damn parade was gonna be on. Sure, at its climax, the parade features Santa waving his superiority to the crowd, but everyone knows who the real stars of the show are: the giant balloons that almost never make it through the day without deflating or crashing into a building. With that, here's a look at some of the greatest (and lamest) Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, past and present:

Here's the leader of the pack, Snoopy, who gets that distinction because of his choice of clothes. Afterall, its the Macy's parade. Throughout the past, Snoopy hasn't knocked into many buildings, and has remained pretty stable considering his flighty balloon companions. This is a gorgeous marketing ploy...Macy's sells Snoopy dolls in this outfit, and today alone, they'll probably hock 10,000 of 'em in NY alone.

Spider-Man! Now this balloon is begging for trouble. Spidey's arms are outstretched, and given the wind factor, this almost always results in disaster. By the way, that's not actually Peter Parker. Its the clone. Remember that? Of course you do, its pretty hard to forget the worst comic plot twist in history. 'Mary Jane, I'm home. You've been fucking the wrong guy, awhile! Did you get pregnant? Please tell me you didn't...that's gonna be one fucked up baby.' Then again, no child is born normal in the Marvel Universe. We've got mutant babies, false pregnancies, even kids who grow up to wear Photon outfits and call themselves the Power Pack. But while Spidey looms ominously over the crowd, there's certainly far more creepy balloons making their way down the streets...

The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee! Hey, say what you want, at least he's peddling a good product. The thing I could never figure out is why everyone in the commercials wants to kick his ass, leaving him with no other option than to trade in his cherished cereal to save himself. What's everyone got against the bee? On the destruction meter, this balloon hasn't killed too many people after huge gusts of wind, but that's only because most of the people are chasing after the Snoopy balloon. Nobody likes the bee.

Sonic the Hedgehog! I'm not sure if he'll be around this year, but his surprise appearances in the past have delighted those in the audience fortunate enough to have only played Sonic Adventure with the sound completely turned off, so as not to hear the ridiculous lines scripted for the poor guy. Why must Sonic add 'yeah' at the beginning of every friggin thing he says? If you thought they turned him into a walking joke on the cartoon, check him out in the Dreamcast game. When his pal Tails crashes planes into the ground, he manages to sound cheerful about it. But its pretty hard to lose your smile when you can jump that high, so its no shock that his balloon counterpart comes in the famous Sonic Leaping pose.

The Pink Panther balloon is absolutely horrific. The weight balance from Point A to Point Z is completely out of proportion, so this thing can ultimately instigate armaggedon given the right weather conditions. They stick him in a tube in the hopes to anchor his weight distribution a bit, but in effect, this just makes him heavier, and as a result, more dangerous. Could you imagine getting killed by this balloon falling on you? If that happens, be glad you're dead, because that obituary is going to be pretty fucking embarassing. Late night talk show hosts everywhere will have to bring socks on stage to stick in their mouth to avoid the 10,000 tasteless jokes that can be made. It'll be a mess.

Another balloon that's not without controversy is the famously infamous Quik Rabbit. Seen here deflating right before your very eyes, the Quik Rabbit seems to be doomed never to make it through an entire parade without wreaking at least a little havok. Have you ever noticed how some packages of Strawberry Quik portray the rabbit as being pink? Was this an entirely different rabbit, or does the rabbit have the innate mutant power to assume the form of whatever he's drinking? It doesn't really matter, milk is evil no matter how you look at it. Even when you add 5 tablespoons of sneakily disguised sugar to it.

Haha! Now this one is just amazing. In case you can't tell, that's Ronald McDonald, striking a pose that obviously suggests he's going to take the plunge. Watching the parade is sort of like watching a bullfight. Yeah, its cool that these guys can cheat death with wild bulls, but you know every single one of you deep down is hoping that the guy gets impaled and eventually eaten by the thing. Its our own morbid fascination that manifests itself even here at the good-natured Thanksgiving extravaganza, where families take bets on which balloon is gonna do the Nestea Plunge into the crowd. And judging from Ronald's highly dubious stance, he's gotta be the odds-on favorite.

Garfield's there too, but I don't want to talk about him anymore. I still haven't forgiven him for the lame Thanksgiving cartoon special we previously discussed.

As I write this, it's around a quarter to nine in the morning, meaning that the parade's about to make its triumphant annual return and get underway. Course, throughout the country, there's a ton of such parades, but one thing remains the same across the board: we're all waiting for the evil wind to bring its unholy power. I love the holiday spirit.

So, take a day off from the net, try spending just one day actually looking at sentinent creatures, eat a shitload of food, get drunk, watch E.T., and come back tomorrow for your usual dose of Corey Haim and the Pussycats. Have a great holiday!

- Matt

BONUS: The World Wrestling Federation's Thanksgiving Surprise!

Props to my friend Xavier for the pics. Back in 1991, the World Wrestling Federation decided that its Thanksgiving pay-per-view, The Survivor Series, needed a little kick. For weeks I watched the shows as they wheeled out this giant, ridiculous egg, claiming that it was set to hatch at the PPV. Now understand, they played this thing up like Christ himself was going to pop out and take on Hogan for the title. We were led to believe that whatever came out of this thing, it was going to be a big deal.

Anyway, I convince my parents once again to order the show, and the moment arrives. Crazy music starts playing, WWF interviewer Gene Okerlund runs out like he's about to meet the Pope, and the crowd watches on in amazement...WHAT WAS IN THAT EGG?! My mind the time, I was in love with Macho Man's gorgeous manager/ex-wife Elizabeth, so for some reason I had assumed she was in the egg. It didn't make sense, and the crowd probably would've thrown some eggs of their own had she been, but what we got in reality was actually far worse than that. If you thought the Shockmaster was ludicrous, get a load of this...

THE GOBBLEDY-GOOKER! Yes, the WWF promoted for weeks that a giant egg would hatch at the PPV, forever changing the face of wrestling. What did we get? A guy in a giant turkey costume who danced. Who danced endlessly. Who brought Gene Okerlund in the ring...and continued to dance. Of course, the jaded crowd booed, and 55,000 televisions across the world were hit with shoes in unison. Personally, I was too young to realize that we'd been had by the WWF into believing another ridiculous hype scheme, but even at that early age, on Thanksgiving night, the truth was clear: wrestling is fucking stupid.

Check out our previous holiday special: Halloween!