culture, entertainment, family, humor, life, parenting, pop culture, random thoughts

Santa is kind of like FedEx

Thing 2 (who’s 7 now) is having doubts and asked me the other day whether Santa Claus is real.

I asked him what he thought, and he said he wasn’t sure but that he didn’t see any way that one man on one sleigh could deliver all those toys to every kid on the planet in just one night.

I said that’s not how it works.

I explained that Santa used to deliver all those toys personally. back in the old days, when the population was a lot smaller, but that he uses a lot of helpers these days.

Santa is kind of like FedEx, I said. One truck couldn’t possibly deliver all those packages to all those homes and businesses in all those countries in one 24-hour period, I said, but a fleet of trucks and planes certainly could.

I said Santa runs the operation. He’s like the CEO. The toys are made by the toy companies, not elves. These days, the elves run the warehouse and oversee distribution.

The toys are delivered first to Santa’s headquarters at the North Pole and then, on Christmas Eve, they’re flown on big cargo planes from the central warehouse to regional distribution centers all over the world and then to local distribution centers, where the toys are placed on trucks and driven to people’s homes.

That’s a lot easier and a lot more efficient than trying to pile all those toys on just one sleigh, I said. The delivery truck drivers drink the milk and cookies and send any leftovers to the North Pole, where Santa shares them with the elves.

Thing 2 thought about it for a moment or two. “I don’t get it,” he said.

That’s OK, I said.

Image

In this 1927 photo, Santa Claus (left) receives his pilot’s license from William P. MacCracken (seated) and Clarence M. Young of the U.S. Department of Commerce. PHOTO: Library of Congress

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culture, entertainment, family, humor, life, parenting, pop culture, random thoughts, school

Play a game of Monopoly in just 30 minutes? Where’s the fun in that?

Concerned, apparently, that the generation raised on smartphones and YouTube lacks the attention span to play regular Monopoly, Hasbro is coming out with a version called Monopoly Empire that’s supposed to last 30 minutes, start to finish.

I understand what Hasbro’s going for here. When I was a kid, I wasn’t a fan of the game because it took forever. I’d bail after a couple of hours, and I was never around when it ended.

But, then, a few Christmases ago, Thing 1 got a Monopoly game for Christmas. It came in a wooden box, and everything except the logo in the center of the board is retro. It was nice, as Monopoly sets go.

My wife had to work over Christmas break, so I stayed home and decided to give the game a second chance.

Thing 1 set up the board on the dining room table. We played a couple of hours that first day. We bought and developed property, went to jail and collected $200 when we passed go.

I thought we must be missing something, because neither of us were going broke, so sometime on Day 2, we checked the rules, and it wasn’t my imagination.

When you play it the right way, the winner is simply “the last player remaining in the game,” whenever that might be.

Our game lasted a week and ended in a tie, when Thing 1 went back to school and I went to work. I had a little more money than my daughter did, but neither of us had anything close to a Monopoly, which was OK.

Sometimes, the point isn’t to win. Sometimes, the point is just to play.

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entertainment, family, humor, life, music, pop culture, random thoughts, technology

Jukeboxes were social media, one quarter at a time

I saw something the other day that I hadn’t seen in years: a jukebox.

I don’t mean one that plays CDs. I mean a real, honest-to-God jukebox that plays 45 rpm records.

We were out in the country, about 30 miles south of Nashville, and we stopped for lunch at this mom-and-pop place by the highway. I knew there was a real jukebox in the room as soon as I walked in and heard Alan Jackson singing “Little Bitty.” I knew because the sound was grungy and a little bleary, like the band had been out partying too late the night before.

Old jukeboxes sound that way because of bad speakers and because of the records themselves. I know guys who swear vinyl sounds better than digital, but I don’t think anyone would defend the 45.

I bought a lot of singles as a kid, and I was a disc jockey back in high school, and I don’t think there was a lot of quality control at the record plant. You’d pull a 45 out of the shuck and it might be warped, or the hole in the middle might be a little off-center, so even new records sounded wobbly.

On top of that, a vinyl record dies a little every time you play it. When the needle rides along the groove, it wears the music away. The music starts to fade. The sound isn’t as crisp. The highs and lows give way to a murky middle.

That’s the sound I heard when we walked in the restaurant.

“Look at this!” I said.

The jukebox had a window, and I wanted the kids to see how it worked, how pressing A-6 makes the mechanical arm slide down a rail until it finds the record you want then grabs it and holds it upright against the turntable. My kids, who’ve grown up with iPods and Pandora, couldn’t have cared less.

We were the only ones there besides the owner, so I played whatever I wanted – the jukebox was stocked mostly with country records, so I played some Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson — and I flashed back to high school and the peer pressure that goes along with playing a jukebox.

When you play a song on a jukebox, you’re telling everyone within earshot who you are.

Every song is a statement, and there is nothing worse than pressing the wrong buttons and playing Barry Manilow instead of the Boss.

Pandora and Spotify share your playlists with your friends online. Jukeboxes did that in real life, one quarter at a time.

Photo by Anonymous Account (Flickr)

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