If the Dinosaurs Came Back

Kids aren't as stupid as they look, or at least I wasn't. I never let the fact that if the dinosaurs came back we'd all be screwed undermine the enjoyment I took from If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most, a book I read upwards of a thousand times in those early years. I don't ever remember thinking that if the dinosaurs came back, they'd be plowing our fields, transporting us over traffic, giving us water rides at the beach, or putting out fires in tall buildings.

And I certainly disputed the idea that T-Rexes would be more interested in chomping down trees rather than chomping down lumberjacks. I still think it's plausible they could be used to scare away robbers though, "scare" being an understatement. But none of that mattered to me much, for all the reasons that make kids dumb: there were funny pictures.

But what was this book about? It was about a little boy who dares to dream, as most of us do. To dream that if the dinosaurs came back, they would be our friends and let us use their long necks as bridges and their teeth as lawn mowers. In other words, he dared to be pretty dumb about dinosaurs. But why did I enjoy this book? There were funny illustrations of dinosaurs, with all the little details that you only notice when you can't really read the words, like how the lumberjack is holing up a giant log with one hand, or how the swimmer is struggling to get out of the way of the giant dinosaur at the beach, or how one of the skiers looks like he's about to fly right off the dinosaur's snow-covered back! Whoa!

Funny illustrations were all I needed. Even funnier were my own illustrations, where I too dared to dream, about the dinosaurs terrorizing humanity and giving us a lot of dino-fertilizer (like in Jurassic Park). I was either a brilliant satirist, or really was as dumb as I looked. But maybe that was the point. This book made kids think hypothetically at a time when all we were thinking was "dinosaurs!"

Killing a Tamagotchi

I never owned a Tamagotchi back in the days when kids owned these things as pets. I still don't know exactly what they were supposed to be, coming in those little plastic egg things and blinking around the screen like a little Digimon whathaveyou, but I certainly killed my fair share of them.

The girls used to play with them in school and would often conveniently leave them behind at their desks for mischievous dorks like myself with nothing else better to do to mess with. Although I don't think I personally was brave enough, or mean enough, to do the dirty and (moderately) hilarious deed, I do remember at least consenting to it, and perhaps aiding and abetting the real perps. Either way I plead the fifth... and insanity.

Now the easiest way to kill a Tamagotchi was to press that button on the back (which would "reset it") and leave it behind for the owner to figure it out a half hour later when the thing wasn't crying for even just thirty sustained seconds. I think we were doing the school a favor, actually, taking these things out. The other way was usually more time exhaustive, but a lot more fun, and involved feeding it like a nervous eater on a roller coaster. Feed it until it's wallowing in its own waste (and believe me, these guys really are little machines!). It won't take long after that.

The pure enjoyment of "Hey! You killed my Tamagotchi!" was so brief, but then the chase was on. Hell hath no fury like a Tamagotchi owner scorned, and I don't think I have to tell you who's life they considered more valuable. This is ironic, seeing as the typical Tamagotchi died at least a couple times a day anyways... heck, you could accidentally kill it. Just sit on it for a long time. It's got to suffocate eventually...

These days, there's probably an app for it.

Time to Make the Donuts...

There are two things us north-easterners have come to depend on, and one of them just left carpeted us with 30 inches of snow after a week of 60-degree temperatures. But if the uncertainty of our weather is one thing we can depend on, the other would have to be the absolute certitude that you will find a Dunkin' Donuts every half mile down any road you happen to be on. I am just lucky enough to live in the capital of the Dunkin' empire itself, with two within a stone's throw of my house, so I grew up on donuts and munchkins.

Yes, there's reassuring certainty in driving by the "Dunkies" every day, which is probably why this old nostalgia bomb I'm about to drop on you was so right in its time. This will harken you back to a time when you thought about Dunkin' Donuts for their, well, donuts, rather than for their cheap (and therefore better) coffee. You may remember that throughout the 80s and most of the 90s, DDs hired a live-action Mario-looking guy to be their mascot. He was an enthusiastic donut maker who would diligently rise out of bed early in the morning every day with the groggy existential crisis of his endless work routine, summarizing it with his monotone catchphrase "Time to make the donuts...," before dutifully donning the apron and happy face to offer up "service with a smile" before retreating back to his gloom for another day. This man's name was Fred.

So here's the reason why these Fred the Baker ads ran for so many years: we are Fred, and he is us. Most of us have to get out bed in the morning, slap ourselves in the face in the mirror, jump in the car, and go toil out there in the world to make a living every day. You see? We all got donuts to make. But it's not all gloom, because sometimes we're also the people putting in the order for the box of twelves, trying to play a good game of mix-and-match for optimum variety... cream-filled, jelly-filled, chocolate covered...etc, chased down with one of those big boxes of Munchkins. And so we know that in some odd way it's worth it if we find any way we can to enjoy ourselves while we're doing the slog, just like Fred. Or we don't, and we quit and go work at the BK ball pit.

Remember this box art?
These ads formed some of my earliest memories about Dunkin' going all the way back to when I was a Munchkin myself, and I was surprised to learn they actually played all the way up until 1997 when they finally decided to "retire" (or perhaps "lay off") their long-suffering, ever-committed (and perhaps commit-able) donut maker. They even had a "free donut" day when they decided to put this bit of marketing genius out to pasture, and I do remember this and many other "free donut" days growing up.

My favorite has always been Boston Cream.