Ho ho howdy folkses! Welcome to Day Two of our Twelve Days of Shitmas celebration for 2022! Our Day One selection was one of the most excruciating things we've ever offered for the holidays here at MMT, but however inept, misguided and nonsensical it may have been, it was, at the very least, somewhat well-intentioned. Not so our Day Two special, which though it doesn't quite rise to the same rarefied level of ordeal-viewing, is nonetheless a lazy, cynical, opportunistic cash-grab of the sort that tarnishes our tinsel and blemishes our balls. A lazily-written, poorly-animated, fad product tie-in from the golden age of lazily written, poorly-animated fad product tie-ins, it's just the thing to keep our Shitmas momentum heading firmly in the right direction, which in this case is straight down to the septic tank with the rest of the Yule logs.

Shitmas: You'll know it when you smell it.

We're posting a brand-new review of a holiday special every other day beginning December 3rd and culminating with what we consider the worst of the bunch on Christmas Morning...and dare we forget this year's Crouching Elf, Hidden Santa feature, where random screenshots in each review contain invisible links to 100% carbon neutral, ethically sourced Elves and certified organic, environmentally sustainable Santas?

We know what you're thinking, and frankly shame on you. That's not what a candy cane is for, people, no matter what the voices are saying. We also know that other thing you're thinking, which is that you want even more Shitmas entertainment, and we've got you covered with our Shitmas Bonus Tales from the Northside anthology collection, a series of unseemly peeks at the dark underbelly of Santa's sprawling Christmas industrial complex. It's a dirty dozen of holiday scandals so hot they could fry a fruitcake from fifty feet away, if that's your idea of a good time.

Who all here are old enough to remember Wacky Wallwalkers, the sticky, stretchy, tentacled toys that you'd throw against a vertical surface and watch with waning interest as they appeared to crawl down to the floor all on their own by the reputedly enjoyable power of polymer adhesion? Originally a Japanese novelty called Tako, the colorful, rubbery cephalopods briefly became a must-have objet inutile after their introduction on the U.S. market in mid 1983. A popular prize in boxes of sugary breakfast cereal, they were offered in a variety of bright hues and some even glowed in the dark.

As we learned from our inaugural Shitmas Day Eleven from 2019, if you were likely to see something under your Christmas tree during the first half of the 1980's, you were also likely to see it animated on your television screen, whether on Saturday mornings, weekday afternoons or prime-time during sundry holidays. Between 1982 and 1985, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong Jr., Rubik's Cube, The Cabbage Patch Kids, The Glo-Friends, The Masters of the Universe and Wacky Wallwalkers all featured in their own Christmas specials, and glutton for holiday punishment that I am, I've seen them all. I can confidently assert that Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls ranks firmly second to the bottom among them, and as for the absolute worst of the bunch...well for that you may just have to wait until The Twelve Days of Shitmas for 2023.

Apologies for the shitty screenshots.

We begin with a cold-open preamble on the M.C. Esher-esque planet of the Wallwalkers, where King Kling-Kling has just discovered a bright new star shining down on a distant planet called Earth. He sends for a crack team of explorers to board a rocket and travel to our big blue ball, in the hopes they might discover the nature, meaning and purpose of this sudden and unprecedented phenomenon. The team is comprised of six bland, contrived, essentially interchangeable characters, whose names and predominant defining traits are celebrated in a jaunty two-chord song that plays over the credits.

We've got to learn them now to experience the pleasure of forgetting them later, so let's get to it, shall we?

Wacky, their leader, is wacky.

Springette is springy.

Crazylegs has crazy legs.

Big Blue is big and blue.

Stickum is sticky.

Bouncing Baby Boo is bouncy, a baby and his name is Boo.

About eight hundred years into their two millenia journey to Earth, King Kling-Kling updates them with his latest observations, which indicate the star has some connection to a mysterious thing called "Christmas," but what it is or where on Earth it's located he simply cannot tell.

The gang finally reach Earth and start putzing around looking for this elusive and wonderous whatsit. Crazylegs, who wears a two-quart saucepan as a hat, expresses his wish that the object of their quest might be something he can eat, because two thousand years is an awful long time to have nothing to fill your squishy, octopoid belly but lukewarm interstellar MREs.

Stickum, meanwhile manages to get himself stuck to a lamp post, because, as he resignedly laments, he's "naturally adhesive." Wacky grabs him around the waist and the rest of the gang all form a fireman line behind him, pulling with all their stretchy, tentacled might. When he finally comes loose, they go rolling down a hill, arse over head, and finally come to a stop in front of a strident, shouty guy with a bullhorn and a mean 70's porn 'stache who's furiously festooning his home with Clark Griswold-esque gobs of gaudy decorations.

It's very subtle.

When Shouty McPornstache mentions the word "Christmas" over his bullhorn, Wacky steps up to ask him what all the lights and plastic reindeer have to do with this magical subject. After assuring himself Wacky isn't from the electric company, come to pre-emptively enjoin him from switching on his lights and triggering a city-wide power drain, Shouty explains he's aiming to win the home decor contest for his neighborhood, thus sticking it to the family down the street who took home the trophy the previous year by having Santa Claus skydive into a vat of plum pudding on their front lawn.

As he stomps off to attend to his work, Wacky and crew wax skeptical that this mysterious thing called Christmas could be a mere competition in home decor.

Just then a package delivery guy walks by with a big cardboard box, and when he sees a bunch of pink, blue and green cephalopods standing around shooting the shit and waving their many arms in the air, lo' tho' they doth not care, he loses his own shit, drops the box and runs. When it hits the ground a bunch of santa costumes fall out of it.

The Wallcrawlers realize this is a serendipitous opportunity to blend in with the festively dressed locals. They start rooting through the Santa hats and jackets that good fortune and their own hideous visages have placed at their disposal, but before they can don their garish new gear a couple of tween-age kids walk by, talking loudly about heading to the local mall to go Christmas shopping. One of them, a chunky, freckle-faced delinquent named Darryl, just can't shut the fuck up about how great Christmas is, so the Wallcrawlers assume he's some kind of expert on the subject. They quickly slip into their disguises and follow the kids downtown.

Darryl, all-American rich kid.

The gang reach the mall and see a huge sign reading "Christmas Sale," and figure they can probably just buy some Christmases and take 'em back home for King Kling-Kling to study it at his leisure.

They head inside and find the place packed to the gills with irritable shoppers maxing out their credit cards on gaudy, gratuitous consumer goods they neither need nor truly want. Darryl is all but chewing his friend's ear to the hammer and anvil, bragging about how his parents are a pair of easy-mark bitches who will buy him anything he asks for no matter how big or expensive, so long as he whines and cries and guilt-trips them into it.

The other kid says his parents usually just give him some money to go shopping for himself, and when Darryl notices that the cart he's pushing is already full of a honking huge mess of presents and toys he gets jealous and starts shouting for his own parents, whom he has come to the place to meet with, to start buying him more useless shit double quick.

He's a fine argument for birth control.

Now we cut to the very parents in question, standing in front of a well-stocked toy department, with Dad arguing that his son is an insufferable spoiled brat who doesn't deserve the dozens of toys they've already bought him, let alone whatever else he's likely to ask for when he meets them there. By the time Darryl does show up Dad has worked himself into a lather of austere denial and pre-emptively tells him no, no, no, you entitled little shit, whatever the fuck it is you're about to ask for the answer is already NO.

Darryl runs to Mom crying that Dad is being mean to him, and she immediately gives in to his entreaties, assuring him his father is just a useless, impotent cuckold sub whom he should completely ignore and humiliate, just like she does when she makes him sit in the corner and watch when the neighbor comes by for a quickie. She tells Darryl to go ahead and pick out whatever needlessly expensive toy he wants.

Dad's got a dick like an inchworm.

Darryl pics out a $1000.00 candy-apple red kiddie sportscar, with a four speed engine, Dolby stereo, factory A/C and a little rubber hand that pops out of the dashboard and auto-wanks you the instant you reach puberty, but Dad finally grows himself a pair of plums and flatly refuses to pony up, sending the kid into a four-alarm meltdown.

When his shouting and pouting doesn't change Dad's mind he turns on the eye-spigots and stomps off in a huff, vowing to the gods of consumerism that he's going to have that goddamn kiddie sports car even if it kills him.

Dare we hope?

On a balcony overlooking the very spot where Darryl the pathetic twelve-year-old is pouting like a terrible two toddler, the Wallcrawlers have a quick huddle, opting to separate and inquire in various parts of the mall regarding what exactly a Christmas might be and where they might pick one up on the cheap. They all agree to meet back up at the selfsame spot as soon as they they find one.

First, perennially hungry Crazylegs finds himself a well-stocked cafeteria advertising "Christmas Dinner." A fast-talking lunch lady hustles him to pick some grub and he ends up with a plate full of tuna noodle casserole. He takes a hearty mouthful and is singularly unimpressed. Might this feculent muck really be what all the Christmas fuss is about?

Next, Wacky finds a display of Christmas trees and eats one of the glass balls, lamenting that the "fruit" he's just munched was nothing but bland, crunchy skin with no pulp inside. Could this empty, flavorless orb be the fabled object of their quest?

Next we cut to a line of kids waiting to speak to the designated department store Santa, with a spoiled female counterpart to Darryl sitting on his lap and reading from an extensive list of expensive demands.

This is why I have cats instead of children.

Santa shuffles the kid along and Springette cuts the line and bounds onto his lap. She starts interrogating him about who he is and what he's doing, and what the hell is Christmas anyway, and why is the sky blue and has he ever dropped a tab and stared at a snowglobe, like really stared at it, man? 'Cause you can see the whole damn universe inside that shit.

Eventually Santa tires of her shenanigans and tells her to sod off. He's had a hard day, and after all, he's just a guy in a Santa suit doing his job, not the actual jolly old elf himself. Springette, shocked and appalled at his fakery, publicly outs him as an imposter, triggering a massive kiddie stampede.

Another fine argument for birth control.

In the meantime, Bouncing Baby Boo, in a fruitless attempt to sneak off-set and have a word with his agent, has followed an EXIT sign out to the parking lot.

"I know you're here, Morrie! You can run but you can't hide!"

Wacky, Springette, Crazylegs and Big Blue all meet back up to report, and they're all terribly disappointed at what they've found so far. Surely something so widely celebrated as Christmas isn't just a guy in a suit, a hollow fruit or an overcooked casserole! It's just got to be something more!

As they thus ruminate, Stickum comes riding up the escalator to join them, but one of his tentacles sticks in the crack and they all have to pull on him again to get him unstuck. Crazylegs finds the emergency stop button and Wacky gets slingshotted down to the toy department. He somehow falls out of his Santa suit disguise and must pretend to be a plush toy to avoid detection.

At that very instant Darryl's parents walk by, with Mom begging her normally impuissant husband to buy her poor, sensitive, neglected child just one more present, just to let him know he loves him.

Three guesses what it's gonna be.

Dad flat-out refuses to lay down a thousand smackers for what is clearly a nicer car than he drives, so he grabs the nearest, ugliest thing he can find, which is, of course our hero Wacky, takes it to the counter and has it paid-for and gift-wrapped before the horrified eyes of the rest of the rest of the Wallwalker crew.

They follow the desperately dysfunctional family out to the parking lot and watch them get into their car and drive away, with Darryl still screaming and whining that he wants that fucking sports car and god dammit he's gonna have it.

Springette, as second-in-command, steps up and takes charge of her diminished crew, ordering Crazylegs to find Baby Boo while the others chase after Wacky. They ditch their costumes so they can move more quickly and take a shortcut over a hill to try to cut off the car, dropping down from an overpass onto the top of a bus driving directly behind it.

Just like Dirty Harry.

Once they reach Darryl's house the three remaining Wallcrawlers sneak around to a window, watching and hoping for an opportunity to swoop in and rescue their pal.

Darryl is still whining about the car, how if only his parents loved him enough, or indeed at all, they'd go straight back and buy it for him, along with a bunch of other shit, too. After all, he insists, the whole point of Christmas is for kids to get whatever they want, regardless of the expense.

Mom, despite being dom in the bedroom, is still a spineless enabler to her son, but Dad's finally found his inner big dick energy and isn't having any of Darryl's bullshit. As the two rueful progenitors head off to discuss the unbearable misery their unprotected loins have unleashed on the world, Mom gently admonishes her noisome groin gopher not to open the new present they just brought home until the following morning. The instant they've left the room he opens it anyway and is nonplussed to find a weird, misshapen octopus doll he didn't ask for and certainly doesn't want.

"I saw something like this on mom's nightstand once, but her's needed batteries."

When Darryl stomps off out of the room still muttering about the all-important toy car and still vowing to find a way to get it, the sticky, wobbly rescue team emerges from the fireplace and are finally reunited with their friend. Before they can escape back up the chimney, however, Darryl returns and realizes he's got a house full of goofy-looking aliens on his hands.

He hustles them out to his back yard club house and forces them to spill the beans about their intergalactic mission. Quickly realizing the blackmail potential of the situation, he threatens to call the Air Force and have them turned over to the authorities, to likely be probed, euthanized, autopsied and preserved in formaldehyde for future study...unless they're willing to help him raise enough money to buy the car before the mall closes that evening.

The pre-pubescent art of the deal.

Wacky and company have no choice but to agree, and so we cut to Darryl negotiating tree maintenance and removal services with several of his neighbors, offering to saw off the top ten feet of their towering evergreens and decorate them for the holiday at a few hundred bucks a pop, with the mysterious caveat that none of his clients should watch him doing it.

The question of why anyone would hire a pudgy twelve-year-old, possessing neither discernable skills nor relevant experience, to do the skilled and dangerous work of a professional arborist is left both unasked and unanswered.

A montage and a shitty song about teamwork later...

...and Darryl finally has his cash.

He leads his exhausted crew back across town towards the department store, and the poor, put-upon Wallwalkers lament their lost friends and bewail their failed mission to find the meaning of Christmas. Darryl insists to them that Christmas is about kids getting whatever they ask their parents well done everyone! He's getting what he wants, so Mission accomplished... a very Desert Storm-y, George W. Bush-y sort of way.

Suddenly, from out of the shadows and down a telephone pole, Crazylegs appears! He says he was looking all over town for Baby Boo, up, down, left, right and slantways, and since Boo is a baby and all, he thought maybe he'd find him at the local orphanage. When he crept up to a window and peered inside, he claims, he instead found Christmas!

Funny, all I see are orphans.

Crazylegs leads them all down an alley and to the wondrous edifice to see for themselves. They watch generous townsfolk coming and going, leaving money and gifts for the parentless tots, and when Darryl sees his friend from the department store donating all of the presents he thought he'd bought for himself, he experiences a sudden, miraculous and highly perfunctory third-act redemption. He realizes now that Christmas is not about money and greed and the accumulation of disposable consumer goods, but about loving and caring and being generous to others less fortunate than onself for maybe an hour or so on a single day each calendar year.

"My entire life has been a lie."

Crazylegs further shows them another room where a lady is telling the kids the story of the original Christmas, and by an uncanny narrative coincidence, she's just getting to the part about the mysterious Star of Bethlehem guiding the three Wise Men to Jesus' birthplace just about two thousand years before.

"Speaking of which, Jesus had two dads and y'all ain't even got one!"

Back at Darryl's house, the Wallwalkers watch from the window as the boy convinces his parents to load all his unopened gifts into the Yugo and donate them to the kids at the orphanage.

He also drops his whole wad on this triflin' bitch.

As Darryl and his parents stick around the place to hand out the presents, the Wallwalker crew gets ready to head back home, proud to have completed their mission, but deeply saddened that the youngest and most vulnerable of their crew has chosen to ditch their Christmas special and return to the regional stock theater company from whence he came.

They drag themselves back to their rocket, wracked with guilt and regret, only to find Baby Boo waiting for them. Better yet, he's even decorated the interior of the craft with a Christmas tree and presents and well-stuffed stockings hanging from a makeshift mantlepiece!

Last I checked all that shit costs money, Boo.

And so they bring the secular and superficial trappings of the Christmas holiday home with them, to be as badly misunderstood and baldly exploited by the rest of the Wacky Wallwalkers as they are by the greedy and cynical hypocrites of Earth.

The End.

I feel certain the makers of Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls were clueless to the irony of turning a crude and crassly commercial program explicitly designed to sell toys into a moralistic screed against crude and crass commercialism. After all, it's one of the most fundamental flim-flams of the capitalist credo that you can have your cake, eat it, then poop it back out to sell to the masses. Sometimes, however, consumers will flatly refuse to eat the shit they're being served.

Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls landed in the bottom five in the Neilson ratings for the week in which it was broadcast, and by the following year sales of Wacky Wallcrawlers had declined to a trickle as newer, shinier toy fads steadily supplanted them. That's what happens, I suppose, when your product does only one, essentially dull and useless thing and also picks up lint and cat fur like a half-sucked cough lozenge.

You can still buy Wallcrawlers under a variety of names from a multiplicity of cheap, knock-off companies, but today they're more a nostalgic Amazon impulse purchase than a must-have staple of the modern toy chest.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got some online shopping to attend to.

Shitmas Bonus!

Tales from the Northside:
Night Shift

As I mentioned in my previous story, I had the good fortune to meet an Elf a few weeks ago by the name of Dongle Dangle Dingle, who had formerly held several positions at Santa Claus' massive North Pole operation. I'd always imagined it as a magical, mythical realm of frolic, fun and whimsy, but after having sat slack-jawed for several hours at my new friend's disturbingly matter-of-fact accounts of its sordid, troubling reality, I found myself thoroughly disenchanted and utterly disabused of my naive and fanciful notions.

Eager to turn our talk into a different channel, I asked Dongle how he'd first become associated with Santa Claus and what sort of work he'd originally been hired to perform. The following narrative is entirely his own, though slightly edited for clarity, and is a completely true and authentic account from my friend's colorful and eventful life.

"I was a very young man, just barely eighty-seven, bright-eyed, innocent and naive to the ways of the wide world. It had been my lifelong dream, like many Elflings before me, to be part of Santa Claus' magical world in whatever capacity the old fellow might see fit. I believed at that time that Santa's goodness and wisdom were infallable, and I was full to the brim with wide-eyed ideals of kindness, compassion and generosity. Most of all I simply wished to play my part in making the children of the world happy.

I had sent seven applications to the North Pole over the course of the previous three years and was beginning to despair of ever hearing back about them, but one glorious morning my mother came from the postbox at the end of our garden with a letter from the Claus Organization. I was so excited my hands shook as I opened the envelope, and I remember distinctly being afraid that I might tear apart the letter trying to get it out.

Get it out I did, though, fully intact, and there before me in plain black and white was what I then believed would be the very beginning of all my dreams coming true: I had been accepted for a seasonal third shift position at the electrical plant that supplies Santa's entire operation with the power to heat all the houses, factories and stables, and to run all of the equipment in the manufacturing facilities that make the toys. It wasn't the position I'd applied for, but I was thrilled to take any job with Santa, and figured it was nonetheless a foot in the door I might use to work my way up to bigger and better things.

I was to report on November 16th of that year to the foreman of the plant, which the letter informed me was a Walrus named Taft."

"Sorry," I interjected, "did I hear that right? The foreman was a walrus?"

"Yeah. A lot of the foremen up there are walruses. Unlike the rank-and-file worker Elves they have a really strong union."

"And his name was Taft?"

"Damn right! So I packed my suitcase and headed North, hoping to arrive a few days early and take a tour of some of the other parts of the complex, but the weather was bad and my ship was delayed. By the time I finally arrived at the plant it was already the day of my first shift and less than an hour before my orientation.

I was in a bit of a daze through the whole two hours of it as I hadn't slept much in the nautical tumult of the past few weeks. I'd never made such a long sea voyage before and with the weather so salty and bitter cold, and the ocean so wild and unsteady, it had been almost impossible to rest during the passage.

I remember Taft going over the break schedule two or three times to stress how important it was to keep things rolling along, so that no machine, control board or piece of equipment was ever left unattended. Aside from that I was kind of tuning in and out of what he was saying.

So my first day began, and I can still recall the rosy glow of sunset as we walked from the orientation room to the entrance to the plant. Most folks think there's six solid months of night at the North Pole, but actually the period of complete, twenty-four hour darkness is just under two months, bookended by long periods of partial light.

My shift began at the beginning of polar twilight, where the sun is just below the horizon, but there's still quite a bit of light refracted by the curvature of the atmosphere. Day by day that light fades into a faint glow that gets more and more obscure until the weeks of total darkness begin.

The first few hours the supervisors were contantly reminding us of when our breaks would be. It was three and a half hours on, then a half hour break to eat or rest or use the toilet. Then another three and a half hours, then another break, then another three and a half then a break, and so forth."

"That's already twelve hours! Wouldn't your shift have been over by then?"

"Well, you'd have thought that, wouldn't you? I had my first break, then my second and I was getting pretty damn tired from waiting for my third when it occurred to me that there were breaks baked into each four-hour block but I'd been given no indication as to what time the shift was actually over.

I spotted a grizzled old-timer running a capacitor bank about fifteen feet from my station. He was the most muscular Elf I had ever seen, with forearms like watermelons and squat, bulbous legs like the trunks of misshapen trees. I asked him when it would be quitting time and he flat-out laughed at me.

'Oh, it's quitting time you're after, is it? Well, young Elfling, you've got quite a surprise in store, haven't you? Yessir, you'll have arms and legs like just mine before you hear that whistle blow! Just see if you don't!'

"By now my muscles were really starting to ache and I felt a cold, desperate panic shoot straight up my spine. I struggled to recall the part of the orientation where they told us the shift hours, when my attention had ebbed and flowed from my lack of rest. Eventually disconnected bits and pieces of Taft's cold, hard words came back to me, and finally I was able to reassemble them.

I had made a terrible mistake. A regular overnight shift in any other job would be eight or ten hours, right? Maybe twelve if it were some warehouse or manufacturing job where the place was badly understaffed, but generally you'd think third shift was just eight, or maybe ten hours' work. What I hadn't thought of was that at the North Pole 'overnight' literally meant the entire night, from twilight to darkness to day. Right at the pole itself that whole process takes seventy-one days!"

"Seventy-one days?" I gasped, "You've got to be shitting me!"

"I shit you not. Barring my increasingly precious half-hour breaks, I worked non-stop from eleven PM on November 16th to eight AM on January 25th. It was easily the worst thing I had ever experienced, at least up to that point in my life, and if I'd only just taken my wages and gone home when it was over it would have remained so...but that, my friend is a story for another day. It's getting late and I'm getting too old to keep those kinds of hours anymore."

I assured my friend I would be there the following evening to hear more of his tales, and we bade each other a fond good night. He hopped off his barstool and shuffled towards the door, but stopped about half way and turned back to me with a cheeky smile.

"That old-timer was right, by the way. By the end of that long night shift, I looked just like him!"

And with a heartly laugh and a jovial wave goodbye my friend disappeared into the cold and windswept November night.

All "Tales from the Northside" stories
copyright 2022 Bradley Lyndon

Merry Christmas, folkses.

Next Installment: December 7th!

As always, Cheers and thanks for reading!

Written by Bradley Lyndon in December, 2022.

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