Joker Boy by Zilpha Frank
“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: