It’s very easy: So long as you don’t hear “The Little Drummer Boy,” you’re a contender. As soon as you hear it on the radio, on TV, in a store, wherever, you’re out. And you record your loss on the official reporting form, then tell us all about it on the Facebook wall, along with the time and place of your demise. Continue reading
So Mrs. LDBC and I are just getting around to watching the second season of Stranger Things, which sets the mood nicely for this Thing of Ours. And in only the first episode, they include the perfect song, which I’d forgotten all about:
Because it has been just another day. Nineteen of ’em, in fact—dark and deadly ones. And as Mr. Elfman says, there’s murder in the air. And a lot more of it to come, I’m afraid.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom, people. Well, it is for the time being, but I’d like you to keep the children’s art (on loan from the offspring of generous LDBCers Libby Frank and Clare Sheridan) in mind so that the creative pixie dust of the wee ones’ drawing implements may help you face the butchery ahead.
We’re about 600 people down thus far in the game, which is more than 30 blown away daily, on average. And that’s just those who’ve reported in. Madness. (Not the band. I’m talking true lunacy here.)
Alec Rose suffered a Moldavian Massacre-like episode in Whole Foods, which might as well be called Whole Family from this day on. Lisa Andrews wanted a banana—and for her sins, The Boy gave her one. Desiree Kern got wrapped up but good. Peggy Gannon survived a day of paintball, only to get pasted. And Lillian Murphy. Ah, Lillian Murphy. In a year where more people than ever are being taken down by the dreaded Pentatonix, Lillian Murphy managed to do it live, in person, at a concert. That kind of suffering takes some doing, folks.
While I’m at it, let me just stress: stay away from Pentatonix. And for pity’s sake, do not watch that Pee-wee Herman/Grace Jones video being sent around. Oh, and avoid Psych: The Movie, which has been mowing people down right and left. And when you see the Amazon Echo/Alexa and Blue Man Group ads coming, run like hell.
What else? A couple nice mentions from The Boston Globe and The Indianapolis Star, both of which we’re very grateful for. Spreading the word about the menace of The Boy means lives may be saved. And speaking of lives saved, LDBCer Marine Madesclaire filed this dispatch from the Land o’ Disney, which she managed to escape unscathed. We’ll take our inspiration where we find it, so thank you, MM.
(Please note that there should be a video above. If there isn’t, please try another browser or watch it here. Chrome on the Mac can sometimes be wonky with Facebook embeds, for some reason.)
All of that said, there’s no avoiding the sadness, people. Thus, we present a gallery of the latest victims, here to be mourned along with those from the last batch. And a strange idea I’ll toss at you: while assembling and tagging this gallery, I was listening to the Hilarious World of Depression podcast. And as it turns out, clicking through the gallery while the theme song from that plays makes for an oddly appropriate multimedia experience. Give it a try.
OK, remember, please: should you go down, let us know on the Facebook page, and fill out the reporting form. And all the while, be true to the spirit of Carlin Reed, who really does manage to sum the entire LDBC dynamic up in one simple statement here:
And let’s be careful out there.
I’m gonna level with you, LDBCers: heartless as I may appear to be, I’m actually a big, giant softie with gooey insides. Sort of a molten-chocolate cake, if you will—if said dessert had a crust of hardened steel and a core consisting of my vital organs floating in a living aspic of empathy, remorse, blood, and weeping. (Hey, nobody told you to eat while reading this thing.)
Thus, when Heather Cvitkovic McGregor shared this Black Friday tale punctuated by her broken-hearted six-year-old, I swear to you, I misted up a bit. I mean, look: I don’t do this thing to make little girls cry. And I think what really gets to me is the way the kid thinks not of herself, but of her family unit suffering together. I’m not kidding, people: it’s lump-in-the-throat time.
Let me set the scene. Black Friday. A second Thanksgiving dinner spent with my family. My sweet children and innocent nieces and nephew are idyllically playing. Christmas music hums in the background. Bellies full, my sister and I laugh as we do the dishes. And then my precious six-year-old comes to me with giant tears in her eyes. “Mumma, we lost.” I look at her quizzically. And then I hear it. And a string of obscenities come pouring out of my mouth. What?!?! Who put this station on? Who jeopardized mine and my children’s chances of making it through the holiday season? Why?!?! So I didn’t make it an entire 24 hours. And it took me two days to recover from the loss. It will take my nieces and nephew a lifetime to recover from my foul mouth. I did not take a picture. I could not even tell you what version it was. I can only tell you I lost—and not at all graciously. Damn you, Drummer Boy. Maybe next year!
See? How can I go on after that? But then I remember that you’re all counting on me to keep making the donuts, so I relegate that grieving child to the statistical scrapheap. I man up and move on. I volunteered for this, after all. I’m just saying I’m not a monster, okay? That would be The Boy. Not me.
Anyway, as of this posting, we’ve got 152 casualties reported on the official form. That’s twice what we had as of this date last year. It like somebody invited us to go swimming with sharks and then dumped chum in the water. Only it’s not toothy fish we need to worry about it, it’s holiday-themed evil incarnate. You get the picture.
A couple fun things to note, though: we got a great write-up from The A.V. Club the other day. And I did my yearly thing with our pals at Good Day Sacramento this morning:
Also, here’s LDBCer Kara Lang on family tradition. And if this doesn’t uncork your holiday sentiment, I doubt there’s anything else we can do to help you, to be perfectly honest.
So there’s that. Plus we’ve got a whole host of LDBC-elfies turned in already (gallery below). If you’ve gotta go out, might as well go in style and send a snapshot of the tragedy our way. And we have our First Fallen, too, whose name is the battle cry that gives us strength to make it through LDBC 2017, the valorous Joyce Dudley Hindman.
Ever vigilant, people. For Joyce!
It has begun, people. We have always been at war with The Boy.
And already, we have our First Fallen. From here on out, the battle cry sounds for the late, lamented LDBCer Joyce Dudley Hindman.
And hey—let’s be careful out there. For Joyce!
So here we are, with another year and another game rapidly shrinking in our rear-view mirror, fellow LDBCers. And sometimes it seems as if we’re well rid of both, as if they were particularly cruel.
That’s because they were. As in, Robot-Santa-raining-hell-upon-all-below cruel. For starters, we kicked 2016 off by losing one of the patron saints of the game, the late and truly great David Bowie. (And I’m not saying that lightly. The man was one of my creative heroes, and I actually like his duet with Der Bingle quite a bit, lethal as it is year in and year out.) Never mind the others who left us as the year went on. (And I won’t name any more. This thing of ours is about helping us to forget our woes, not enumerate them. Besides, you know them as well as I do.)
The New Year, 2016, turned against us. And then Christmas did, too. Yes, it’s true that we added a healthy helping of new players, passing the 3,800 mark on the Facebook page this year. And it’s also true that a greater percentage of us remained healthy this year than did so in 2015 (the percentage of winners rising from 24 to 28). However, the doom continued to find us in new ways, from new sources.
The This Is Us holiday episode slew a good number of LDBCers whose only sin was to seek out quality network drama. The Real O’Neals, seeing that, felt the need to get in on the action and followed suit. Indie-film darling Wes Anderson decided to do some artful bloodletting while getting handsomely paid for it by the evil H&M. Jennifer Nettles and Idina Menzel suckered their country fans by sneaking The Boy onto the Country Music Awards, accompanied by a little kid whose dancing made for one of the most infuriating ways to lose the game in 2016. Even Crusoe the Celebrity Dachsund took a chunk out of somebody.
And that’s not to mention the standard villains who betray and slay us on an annual basis. They were all heard from again: Reindeer Games, Pee-wee Herman and Grace Jones, American Horror Story, Will Ferrell and his misbegotten SNL Christmas special, and our friends at NPR, who did in scores of the faithful with their bumper music whether the listeners had contributed to their local pledge drives or not. Loyal friends found themselves six feet under before they’d even noticed the first spade of dirt headed their way. Photoshop fiend James Barnett, the man behind the marvelous movie-parody posters with which we announce the coming o’ The Boy, ate it after years of easy wins. (As much as I love the man, however, he was getting a bit cocky, so perhaps it’ll do his attitude some good in the long run.)Let’s face it: the holidays are too damn violent. Every year, we vanquish the kid. And every year, it costs us dearly. Yet come late November, we take up the fight anew. It’s sort of like we’re all Westworld hosts, and The Boy is The Man in Black. Only it’s drumsticks instead of a knife and gun. And he’s not nearly as good an actor as Ed Harris. And we’re already well aware of how many times we’ve died, so nobody needs to clue us in.
OK, so maybe it’s not like Westworld at all. Maybe it’s more Stranger Things. The Boy is that petal-faced monster from an H.R. Giger scratchpad, and too many of us are Barb.
I don’t know, people. I’ve had a lot of caffeine today. What I do know is that this year brought us some new wrinkles, too—chief among them the “Hoist with His Own Petard” rule, which holds that anyone who intentionally tries to take you out is themselves out, no matter how much they try to claim they’re not playing. Bullies must be bludgeoned, bashed, and bedeviled, and that rule goes a long way toward that end.
Personally, it was a good game. Mrs. LDBC and I both won again, mostly because we’re shut-ins and have alienated anyone who ever would have invited us anywhere. On the invitation flip-side, however, I was asked back by the good folks at Good Day Sacramento, who have been kind enough to tolerate my nonsense at least once a season for several seasons running now.
So it wasn’t all bad. It just seemed that way while we were skulking about, living in terror.
A few other things to note: I added a new chart this year to show what percentages of victims were taken down in which week (below). Nothing earth-shattering was revealed, but it’ll be fun to keep an eye on that in the future. The aforementioned Bing and Bowie continued to rule the roost in terms of claiming the most victims. And Harry Simeone was consistent as well. Location-wise, fewer people fell victim at home compared with those who went down in the car, at live events, and in other external locales this year vs. last year.
The takeaway: you people get out of the house too much.
So that’s it, friends. Once again, we close out remembering our First Fallen. This year, it was the unfortunate Mike Misch. (For Mike!) May it be no one at all next year, but we know that’s not going to happen. Still, we’ll kindle the flame of hope come next Black Friday, and start the annual struggle all over again.
A very Happy and Healthy 2017 to all of you, veterans and newcomers alike. As much of a goof as this thing is, you vastly improve and brighten our holiday season with your enthusiasm, your posts, your form-filling, and your LDBC-elfies (below).
And let us all say: puh-rum-pum-pum-pum, people. See you in November.
The Quick and the Dead
Song Sung Blue
Here Is Where the Story Ends
Comes a Time
LDBC-Elfies: Tragedy and Triumph Captured
LDBCer Tales from the Trenches
I went out like Elvis.
Scarlett Anderson – L
I said “fuck” in front of a customer when it came on.
Bonita (Beth) Applebaum (Grodis) – W
My daughter is a little turd who tried to sabotage my win, so I took one of her Christmas presents back. Teach them young.
Carolynn Campbell – W
Key to winning: stay out of New Jersey.
Matt Carson – L
Boss was walking around the office handing out gifts with music playing on his phone. I’m a freelancer and so did not receive a gift.
Holly Duthie – W
It pays to avoid humans and the places where they gather.
Sebastian Forst – W
I’m 8, and I’m the only one in the family who won!
Michael Jacobs – L
I’m not surprised. 2016 just hasn’t been a good year in any respect.
Polly Law – L
When I realized what was on the audio system, I exclaimed, “I’ve been killed!” rather loudly. Probably not the best idea, as there was an armed police officer in line to get his morning coffee standing nearby. A rather minor kerfuffle ensued.
Andrew McDonald – L
As soon as I got into the car, I heard the damn boy and swore aloud. The driver looked at me funny. I told him I just lost the LDBC. His response: “It’s a nice song; try to enjoy it.”
Lynn Sebrell – W
I drink from the Keg of Glory! Bring me the finest eggnog and fruitcake in all the land!
Molly Shira – L
I managed to refrain from shouting, “Fuck!” in a crowded theater.
Sara Starkowski – W
As a professional elf in retail, Christmas parties, parades, and any place where holiday spirit is required, I never expected to make it! I am beyond amazed at this Christmas miracle. Santa was thrilled. He was taken out early.
Anne Timberlake – L
Country music in the car is my guilty pleasure. This time around the guilty drummed out the pleasure.
George Timms – W
Do you think I can put this on my CV?
The Victorious and the Vanquished: The LDBC Wall
|Aldrich Smith, Allison||L|
|Applebaum (Grodis), Bonita (Beth)||W|
|B from 317, Charles||L|
|Brown, Mary Jo||L|
|Coffey, Lea Ann||L|
|Davis Couling, Angela||L|
|Design, Factory 1||L|
|Dimitri, C. Robert||W|
|Durham, Mary Frank||L|
|Eppich Catlin, Katherine||W|
|Gilmore, Mary E||L|
|Goldman – van nostrand, Lisa||L|
|Gudzikowski Jacobs, Laura||L|
|Hazel, Anna Samantha||L|
|Hockett, Rose Ann||W|
|Roth Smith, Dawn||L|
|Rowland II, Rick||L|
|Shollenberger, Lee Ann||L|
|Simmer II, David||W|
|Snell Nachtsheim, Joyce||W|
|Sprague Frederiksen, Lucy||W|
|Stebbins, Kerri Anne||L|
|Van Voorhis, Kathy||L|
|Van Voorhis, Steven||L|
|Ware, Minda Grace||L|
|Wessel Walker, Donna||L|
|Wessel Walker, Mary||L|
|Wolfisch Cole, Terry||L|
That moment when evil topples, and you get to stare at its one big, dumb eye as its own loss begins to dawn on it? Yeah.
We did it.
The Boy is vanquished for yet another year, people. Now comes the fun part. Fill out the form (below) with your win. Post victory LDBC-elfies to the Facebook page or tweet them to @LDBChallenge. Smiles, people! Show us some teeth! Or better yet, let us see some Freddie Mercury-level rejoicing.
But let us not forget the fallen we’ve left along the way. For they have been us in past years, and they will be again.
You know the routine, old-timers (and you rookies, pay attention). I’ll nag you a bunch more times over the next week or two to fill out the form so I can do all my wondrous statistifying and post all of the LDBC-elfies along with the Wall of the Fallen in the year-end wrap-up. And then we put this thing to bed.
So rejoice! Fill out the form! And the happiest of Happy Holidays to all!
Ever see that old Night Gallery episode where John-Boy Walton‘s mom asks him to be a sin eater, which means he takes in the sins of the dead person so the departed can go to Heaven? If not, I’ll ruin it for you. His mother tricks him and forces him to eat the sins of his father, who was the village sin eater, which means he’s taking in the accumulated sins of someone who’s already eaten everybody else’s sins. A holiday classic, I tell you.
Anyway, today’s tale is something like that. But I’ll let Rick Damigella take it from here with his LDBCer Dispatch.
I’m writing on behalf of a friend regarding an event I’ve nicknamed the Company Holiday Party Drummassacre and ask that you rule on the actions of a notorious individual we will call DJ Fun Ruiner. A good friend of mine works for a large company. Large enough that different divisions have their own holiday gatherings. Yesterday, their division gathered for a mid-day holiday lunch and party. The very moment the party started, the DJ immediately played a classic instrumental version of “The Little Drummer Boy.” The collective groans and gasps from the revelers indicated a very large number of them were playing The Game. This was absolutely intentional on his part because at this point DJ Fun Ruiner began laughing hysterically. Laughing hysterically at nearly 1,500 people who he thought were just drummed out.
The egregiously evil DJ laughing at the upset players resulted in a large number of the party goers to begin pelting him with cookies. Now, as you can imagine, there were a lot of very distraught people at the Company Holiday Party Drummassacre who believed they were eliminated. Now, while I know the rules, I was hoping you could find it in your heart, to publicly post a ruling on this particular incident, so that I can share it with my friend, who can then let their coworkers know that they are in fact, still very much alive.
Well, those of you already familiar with this year’s new “Hoist with His Own Petard” rule know what comes next. The partygoers are still in the game, but the jerk DJ is himself out due to the jerkiness of his jerky attempt. Even worse, he’s out 1,500 times over—once for each attendee. Which means his face probably looks much like John-Boy’s did at the end of the episode. [Editor’s note: John-Boy is no relation to The Boy.]
I’ve helpfully included an image for those of you who never saw that Rod Serling classic. It ain’t pretty. But it helps if you can imagine cookies launched by angry attendees bouncing off it.
Anyway, we’ve reached day 22 of this thing of ours, and we’re approaching nearly 600 victims of The Boy who’ve reported in via the form. Those who’ve turned in LDBC-elfies since our last report are featured in the gallery below.
We nearing the home stretch, people. Let’s not go wobbly now.
Cody Stark and the good folks at Good Day Sacramento were
foolish kind enough to put me on the ‘lectric television, as a cousin of mine used to call it. We talked LDBC and the new “Hoist with His Own Petard” rule: Click to watch.