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
“This game is stupid.” Thus sayeth Mel G. in the LDBCer commentary highlighted below. One might wonder if Mel was sour about having been nailed by The Boy, but I have only one response to offer regardless: thank you. Stupid is the goal. We want to be as stupid as possible. If we’re not, something’s gone terribly wrong. And for now, Mel approves. Onward and dumbward, I say.
Yet that’s where things take an unexpected turn. Here in the tenth running of this Thing of Ours, serious matters sneak in. I pointed that out last year, too, when one of our LDBCers said she was playing for a departed friend who’d introduced her to the game. I figured that was a one-time occurrence. But this year, LDBCer Julie Denny Walsh had this to share:
I replied that I was speechless. But that’s the amazing thing about doing this for a full decade now. What’s always been a goof, a lark, has come to be a tradition. It remains as idiotic as I can make it, but even that idiocy has power over time. If something’s a part of people’s lives long enough, they make it their own. I couldn’t be happier about that. And while I frequently employ language that’s absurd, dark, and apocalyptic, it’s a reminder that with time comes loss, no matter how hard you were laughing.
How do we face that loss? By being as ridiculous as possible. Because in the end, everything is beautiful, sad, terrible, or hilarious to one degree or another. So godspeed to Julie, to her friend, and to all who are just trying to make it through each day. I’m sorry for your struggles and your losses, and I’m happy to provide whatever mindless crap I can in order to leaven things a bit.
Now, speaking of loss and absurdity, this year’s First Fallen is one of the best yet. Poor Ribert Economu was taken down at home, as many of us are. And while that could certainly be his real name, I strongly suspect that there are at least a couple of mistyped letters in there and that just as Miles was known as “Moles” to his computer in Electric Dreams because he couldn’t figure out how to fix his setup mistake, Robert became Ribert whether he meant to or not. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Ribert.)
But it fits. Doesn’t that mistake, that bit of fatal inattention or distraction, form the bedrock of this accursed game? Yes, say I.
Cerelle Bennett was at the gym when an earbud popped out. And a moment of exposure to the facility’s piped-in Pandora was all it took. Jay Cohen went down due to an error that wasn’t even his. The radio playlist he pre-checked mislabeled the deadly tune as “White Christmas.”
My biggest screw-up this year didn’t take me out of the game—no, that was just-plain bad luck while shopping—but it does mean we have one less graph this year. Because I accidentally removed the poll question asking what type of place people were in when they met their doom, that data’s MIA for 2019. (Sorry about that, friends; it’ll be back next year.) Also, it’s to The Boy’s advantage that people don’t understand which environs present the greatest danger, so I’m not ruling out supernatural sabotage.
That said, though, 2019 ended up being more encouraging than the ordeals of recent years have been. Of those who filled out the form this time around, 36% won, up from 30% in 2018. It’s not apples to apples, of course, because it’s based on those who take the time to report in, and that’s not consistent from game to game. Directionally speaking, though? Thumbs up. Either we got faster and smarter, or the evil Kid didn’t have his game face on.
In other developments, the week of demise wasn’t as evenly distributed as it was previously, and the majority of those who met their maker did so in the second week rather than the third. Also, this is the first year that the most people were done in by TV episodes or movies rather than the usual most-deadly-duo of Bing and Bowie. (A good many were ambushed by Morrissette and Fallon. And as LDBCer Robin B. noted, “Isn’t it ironic?”)
The sad part about that shift, however, is that even though we’ve tried to let everyone know what media to avoid, people still ambled past the warning sign and right off the cliff. Again, mistakes. And you can see those graphs along with all of the winning and losing LDBC-elfies and more after the jump, below.
So here we are after 10 years, fellow LDBCers. I hope you’re still having as much fun as I am. If so, and you have a buck or two to spare, I’ll once again ask you to consider making a donation to Americares, which is our official charitable effort for the second year in a row. (And thank you to those who’ve already given and those who are about to.) If you can’t or you’d rather not, no problem at all. The game is the game, and it’s not pay-to-play; we’re just glad to have you on our side no matter what.
And in the final tally, there’s only one side to be on: the one that resists the dreaded Boy with everything we’ve got. It’s not a tradition for the faint-hearted. It ain’t pretty. And it sure as hell doesn’t make any sense. (Just ask Mel.) But would you have it any other way.
Here’s to a 2020 jam-packed with as much happiness as you can stand, all. As always, you’ve no idea how grateful I am to you for giving me your time and attention and accompanying me from one year to the next with a heaping helping of humor and empty-headed, indefensible nonsense.
See you in the fall, and may I say once more:
Why, yes it is quite an experience, Roy Batty. All LDBCers, both the fallen and the victorious, could have told you that. But with the 23rd in the rearview and the Boy banished for another 12 months, we may now relax our vigilance for a while.
That is to say, we did it again, people. The kid’s gone; the holiday music’s safe once more. So now we begin the post-game gathering of the LDBC-elfies and data, which will lead to the number crunching, graphs, and wrap-up. Let’s have at it, shall we?
If you haven’t done so, please report your victory or loss via the form; post your winning LDBC-elfie photos to the Facebook page; and if you’re able and are feeling generous, please contribute to Americares (seriously—no pressure). I’ll post a few more nags to make sure everybody who wants to has reported their result and contributed a photo, and then I’ll crank out the post-game wrap-up sometime after the New Year.
Indeed. Merry Everything, all—however and whatever you celebrate, whoever you celebrate it with, whether you celebrate at all.
Thanks for joining in on the madness. You light up the season for us.
Midnight tonight, your local time. The goal isn’t that complicated, LDBCers.
For those of you left, see the reminder, below, of those whose burden you bear with your very survival. They can no longer carry it; it’s yours to shoulder.
I mean, the little bastard can’t get everybody, right? There you have it, then—simply put.
And when it’s all over at one second after midnight, report your victory (or your downfall, if you haven’t already) via the form. Then celebrate or mourn your result, as appropriate, with a post and/or an LDBC-elfie on Facebook or Twitter.
War and Remembrance: The Departed
Putting the “cuss” in “percussion.” That’s how LDBCer Tara De Lis characterized this struggle of ours, and given the carnage we’ve seen thus far, it strikes me as particularly apt. The “no” in “noel.” The “ailing” in “wassailing.” The “oy” in “Boy.”
Day 9 finds us with nearly 330 brave brothers and sisters down already. And with Ribert, our First Fallen. A reminder of what the holiday truly means: fear. That’s what occurred to me as I reminded the latest victims to report their losses via the form. What if terror, I thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if terror, perhaps, means a little bit more?
It means a whole lot to The Boy, certainly. Cruelty’s his bag. Choir member Julia Kuhn, who, like so many others, had her love of singing twisted and weaponized against her. Lynne Brown, who absent-mindedly gave voice to the deadly notes and self-immolated while placing Baby Jesus in a nativity scene. Countless unfortunates drawn in by what was promised to be a cute Jimmy Fallon/Alanis Morissette bit.
Nature can be beautiful, but she sure as hell isn’t guaranteed to be kind. Why, just consider that she decided the tarantula hawk wasp should exist, and then try to tell me about how gentle Mother Nature is. So it only follows that the holidays carry their own brand of cruelty, and The Boy is that spite and viciousness personified.
So I bring you two sides of the same coin, people: the tragedy of the LDBC-elfie and the flip-side fun of awkward photos, Christmas-tree cheer, hideous sweaters, and all-around jocularity. The season giveth, and the season taketh away.
First, the tragedy. None of them asked for this fate. They actively tried to avoid it, in fact. Yet the evil of the season didn’t factor their desires into its plan. It just went ahead and had its way with them like a kitten with a roll of toilet paper. Shreds of what used to be joy and promising vitality draped over the toilet handle and floating in the water itself, waiting to be sent, spinning whichever way the water goes, depending on your hemisphere, to the sewer of despair. (Please note: the Coriolis effect doesn’t actually determine which way your toilet flushes; that’s a myth.) The holiday is the handle, and The Boy is the giant palm that slaps it to the rhythm of his mirthless guffaw.
Paradise Lost: The Fallen Thus Far
Anyway, after venting my despair, built up by documenting the piles upon piles of atrocities already visited upon those I love, am acquainted with, or just met via the magic of the Internet, I won’t leave you with that dark taste in your mouth. Rather, here’s the promised second helping—one flavored with a lot more levity. Sweaters. Costumes. Trees. Pets. Kids. Awkward family photos. Surely, there’s something to smile at in here, right?
Candles in the Darkness
And there you have it, people. Once again, remember to report in via the form, should you fall, and post an appropriate LDBC-elfie documenting your demise on the Facebook page or on Twitter. Remember: ever vigilant.
The darkness has descended once again, fellow LDBCers, and already we have a First Fallen. Bow your heads, and say a word for our 10th-anniversary First Fallen, Ribert Economu, taken down at home, as so many of The Boy’s victims are. (Yes, I suspect there’s at least one typo in there, but you fills out the form, and you takes your chances.)
So we have our battle cry for the season. And all those who find themselves still standing as the sky lights up with each new morning shall shout it to the ceiling to honor those who’ve passed on and gird themselves for the battles to come. Remember, should you fall, please fill out the official reporting form. And if you wish, take a photo of yourself at the moment of your demise, and post it to the Facebook page so that you’re visually memorialized. (Scroll to the bottom here for some inspiration from the past.)
Part of me was afraid of what I would find and what I would do when I got there. I knew the risks, or imagined I knew. But the thing I felt the most, much stronger than fear, was the desire to confront him. — Captain Benjamin L. Willard
Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum, people. After midnight, local time (wherever you are), it’s Black Friday, and we’re under way. Check your playlists, step lively, and watch your backs. Remember, first one to get taken down and fill out the reporting form is our First Fallen for the year.
I began last year’s wrap-up with an apology for the lateness, LDBCers, and I’ll do the same now since this one’s just as tardy. If it continues, I’ll stop saying I’m sorry and declare it a holiday tradition, which is exactly the kind of responsibility-taking that’s led me to be such a screaming success in the professional world.
But that’s not really what I want to talk about. What I really want to talk about is how meaningless goofs such as this Thing of Ours can sneak up on you with poignance that was never intended. And though such profundity would initially seem to be unwanted—’cause believe me, I’ve done my damndest to ensure that nothing serious comes of our yearly struggle with The Boy—it shows up like that stray puppy on your doorstep, and next thing you know, it’s the best thing to happen to you in a long time.
Exhibit A didn’t exactly creep up on me. After years of my running this Thing and wondering how I might use the ever-growing level of participation to do some good in the world, Facebook launched an easy way to allow people to donate directly from the page. Thus, our donation effort for Americares has raised more than $1,000 for a solid cause (and if you haven’t donated yet and would like to, here’s the link for doing so via Facebook one more time). As I mentioned when I first posted that, I never wanted to create any sense of obligation on anyone’s part; I just figured if people were willing and able, it was a nice thing to do. So I’m truly honored that so many have come through, and again—if you can’t or would rather not, no problem. This game’s supposed to be about dumb fun, after all.
Exhibit B, from victorious LDBCer L’Rae Whipple, made the game for me this year:
I’m still in, as are many in my platoon. I recruited early this year and we’re playing in honour of my friend Jill Pengra Perrapato, who introduced me to the Challenge. Jill passed away from breast cancer last year, and I am making a donation to a breast cancer support charity for all of my troops who make it through. We’re helping to kick cancer in the pah rum pah pah bum!
Because that’s something I didn’t think about when I first launched the Facebook page for the game, followed by this site. (And I’ll remind you that I wasn’t the one who originated the idea of avoiding the song; that was these good folks.) It didn’t even occur to me that if this Thing lasted long enough, people would have their own history with it—and some of those people would die even as we all went on talking about death and murder in joking terms. But then, the list of stuff that doesn’t occur to me would max out my storage limit on the WordPress site.
So that’s my one serious bit for this year, people: have as much fun as you can while you can because you have no way of knowing when the carousel will stop. And while we all joke about carrying on for those we’ve lost, that sometimes happens for real.
Or, as the late, great Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
This year seemed to bring even more dentist-office casualties than usual. That’s always been a thing. But in 2018, it was a thing.
Christine A. was done in to the accompaniment of heartless suctioning. Which might make a decent song title, no? “The Sound of Suction.” Cat C. was laid low whilst being lectured about flossing. (Watch that, Cat: too little and you bleed; too much and your gums recede. It’s a rhyme that illustrates the tightrope we walk in this game and in life overall.)
“Pretty sure this would’ve been my year to win if Staci could listen to her shit Christmas music at respectable levels,” complained Heather A.
Indeed, how many Stacis are out there kicking our feet out from under us with their shit music? Colleagues. Spouses. Friends. Children. All dropping mortar shells into the tubes without so much as a glance at the targeting. It’s not possible to be fragged by malice (unless the fragger lies about their intent), but it’s always a risk that one will be blown up by the stupid and the careless. And those two categories of people account for a good many tragedies in this struggle.
Yet struggle we do. Every holiday season—no matter the risk, despite the suffering. Struck down at Starbucks because we require liquid alertness. Ripped apart at retail because we must make a living. Grinched at the grocer’s in the midst of seeking sustenance. And the following year, we’re back at it.
As you’ll see after the jump, we had a higher percentage of reported wins in 2018, an increase from 28 percent to 30 percent. Perhaps The Boy was off his game. Or maybe we just had more people who saw my repeated nag notices to fill out the form. I don’t know; I’ll take my good news where I find it. (And for the record, House LDBC endured a split this year, with a win for myself and a tragic downfall for the missus.)
Place-wise, home continued to be where the Hell is. However, this year, retail, the car, and work ate into the lead a bit. And church held steady at one percent of all reported losses, proving yet again that The Boy is only too happy to take aim at the pious, the mobile, the shopper, and the shut-in alike.
In terms of timing, only three percent of us went down in the final week of the game, which is a significant drop from last year’s 18 percent. I don’t know what the significance of that is beyond the number. Either people got a lot more careful as they neared the finish line, or The Boy wasn’t nearly as patient this time around. But it meant a little less heartbreak with light at the end of the tunnel, so we ought to be grateful for that small kindness, I suppose (kindness being at a premium in this endeavor.)
One other item to note: I stopped doing the huge artist bar graph as an image this year because the list keeps growing, and it was already almost impossible to read as a picture. So now it’s a straight table. Sorry, traditionalists.
Which is really about it, kids. I’ll end with the same notes of gratitude and good wishes I always try to finish with. (And I’ll fire off one last battle cry for this year’s First Fallen: for Sloppy Joe!)
All the best for a happy and healthy year to you and those you love and like. As I noted above, this pointless effort has begun to manifest a point despite my best intentions, and it’s actually become a much-anticipated way to get through the holidays, according to more than one of you. To those who’ve thanked me, to those who meant to, and even to those who wish I’d clam up and go away, I loose my gratitude in your general direction.
As much work as this is, I enjoy the crap out of it every time, win or lose. And it wouldn’t work without all of you.
Thirty years ago last night, Hans Gruber’s Christmas-Eve attack on Nakatomi Plaza commenced. And while some still believe he was framed by rogue New York cop John McClane, who dropped him off the building in order to guarantee his silence, I think the only thing that matters is that the threat was neutralized. I mean, it was a long time ago. Why start pointing fingers now?
Speaking of threats, as of midnight on the 23rd (that’s the end of the day, not the beginning), ours is gone for the year, too. Now all that remains is to tally up the stats and put together the hotly anticipated year-end wrap-up, which will probably be posted a week or so into January.
You know the drill, then: post your victory or loss to the reporting form if you haven’t already; drop a victory LDBC-elfie photo on the Facebook page if you’d like to be featured in the gallery; drop a contribution into the collection cup for Americares if you can and are of a mind to; and enjoy your holidays to the extreme.
Happy Holidays, LDBCers. You make this time of year for us, year in and year out.
Yes, that’s a desperate channeling of Jeff Spicoli, but I’m still in this thing, and I’m drop-dead exhausted from the fear of it all. I mean, do you even remember a time when we weren’t running from The Boy? I’m not sure I can recall what normal feels like anymore.
Nevertheless, LDBCers, we’re almost there: midnight of the 23rd. The end of the struggle. And what a struggle it’s been. We’re closing in on 1,000 victims who’ve reported in via the form (Mrs. LDBC among them), and we’re at that point in the game where those who get taken out now break my heart. So close. But that’s our Boy, bloodthirsty to the last.
How bad is it? Well, take a look at the gallery of LDBC-elfies below, which is comprised of those who’ve taken a Boy-inflicted dirt nap since the last time I posted a Dispatch. Seventy-two in all. (Okay, so that’s a rather large gap between updates, but as noted philosopher Luther once said, I been busy.)
There’s no sugar-coating it. It’s bad. So bad that LDBCer Sara Starkowski wasn’t even safe in Bethlehem. As in, the Bethlehem.
Every morning I awaken and pray that today will be the day that nobody is caught out in the open. And within a few hours, a dozen or more prove that prayer is useless in this Thing of Ours. Sadly, it seems that our list of toxic media isn’t exactly getting the job done, either, as people keep stepping on clearly marked landmines. (Don’t watch that Pee-wee/Grace Jones video, folks. Just don’t. Same goes for those episodes of The West Wing and American Horror Story.)
Anyway. This’ll be the last Dispatch before the finish, when we can finally breathe easy and take time to both celebrate and mourn. We’re almost there. Hang in. We can do this.
Spare a thought for the fallen below; honor the memory of our First Fallen; keep the rules ever in mind; and for God’s sake, whatever you do, keep moving. You don’t want to be buried in a Pet Sematary this late in the game.
For Sloppy Joe!
Faces of the Fallen: LDBC-elfies
“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change. Not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are. You’ll see what I mean.” — Whistler the Demon
Thirteen days in, LDBCers. Thirteen days, and nearly 500 reported losses thus far. Our friends. Our colleagues. Family members we don’t care for all that much, though we’d never admit that to ourselves when sober. And that guy everyone just knows is stealing other people’s sandwiches from the office ‘fridge.
These are their stories. Well, two of them, anyway. And there are so many more. Enough to fill 400-plus cells in the spreadsheet that the reporting form feeds into. (C’mon, you knew I was going to mention the form. I’m all about that thing.)
First up, a man who went looking for a deal and got more than he bargained for. After that, a woman with zipper issues.
All they wanted to do was shop. Is that so wrong? (Yes, yes, it depends on what you’re trying to buy, true, but rhetorically speaking and setting the freaks aside for a moment.)
These are our fellow warriors, people. Laid low by our foe. As I’ve said before, mourn them. Learn from them. Giggle at them if you must, but know that in doing so, you invite the attention of The Boy. And that’s just not the kind of scrutiny you want pointed your way.
I can offer you nothing more than those lessons in vigilance.
Well, yes, I can. Here’re a few more lessons in the form of the latest LDBC-elfies. But that’s it, I swear. I mean, I have to log off and go make dinner sometime, you know.
Meanwhile, check the list of toxic media before you go blindly watching what may be a landmine for your ears. And let’s be careful out there.
Now go find out who you are.
LDBC-Elfies: Faces of the Fallen