The Great Fake Chocolate Santa Fiasco

Just when you think things can’t get any worse.  The moment you think you’ve seen everything, along comes something so evil, so plainly diabolical you’d think it’s something that only Satan himself could have the temerity to conjure up and, even then, only after stubbing his toe and discovering that he’d forgotten to take the bins out.  Granted, there are moments in this life when you’re reminded of sunshine and unicorns.  But, once in a while, you’re forced to gaze into the abyss and are left to wonder what kind of heart of darkness feels the need to inflict something so plainly malevolent on the world.  I speak, of course, of chocolate Santa.

Firstly; to the creative genius responsible for putting this monstrosity on the shelves of local supermarkets, clearly someone hurt you sometime earlier in your life and you’re now seeking to inflict your damaged feelings and insatiable lust for revenge on humanity at large.  I urge you to look deep into your black, black heart for any remaining trace of goodness and in the event that you should stumble across even the most slender skerrick of humanity, please reconsider your actions and withdraw the abomination that you have unleashed upon us.  If there’s a shred of decency within you, you’ll remove chocolate Santa.

I appreciate that some of you are confused.  Surely a chocolate Santa is a bit of harmless fun?  No.  Not at all.  Because this isn’t just an issue of a delicious chocolate treat that you can buy whilst picking up some milk, it’s about usurping someone else’s job.  About being an imposter and committing the most egregious fraud on the general public.  His foil face looked all jolly and cheerful.  But the chocolate itself was not shaped like Santa Claus. The chocolate was shaped like the Easter Bunny.

Secondly, you’re not fooling everyone.  Even the mot casual of shoppers is alert to this unholy scam.  It doesn’t take much to figure out that it’s an Easter Bunny, disguised as Santa.  Presumably the dude responsible for Easter has returned early from long service leave and needed to do something to fill in the time.  But there’s surely no excuse for sending out chocolate rabbits in disguise at Christmastime.  The only thing that’s not clear to me is who the victim is.

Is Santa trying to muscle in on the Easter Bunny’s territory?  If, indeed, Father Christmas is trying to put the squeeze on the big bunny as some kind of mafia-style turf war, I’m concerned that the thing may escalate if our furry friend elects to retaliate by ‘going to the mattresses’.  It’d be horrible if Saint Nick was jumped by the Easter Bunny whilst buying fruit with his elf, Fredo.  In the days beforehand, Father Christmas will have the unshakable sense that he’s being watched and the whole thing will end in tears when one of the helpers goes to get the sleigh and it explodes as he starts the engine.

Or perhaps it’s the other way around?  Let’s be honest; rabbits have something of a reputation for turning up where they’re not wanted in plague proportions.  Perhaps this is yet another manifestation of a rabbit plague that threatens to overwhelm Christmas altogether before leaching into to Melbourne Cup Day.  Our only hope is if scientists can develop some kind of chocolate Myxomatosis to confine the population to a manageable level.

Or, then again, maybe it’s a different kind of problem altogether.  For years, the distance between Christmas and Easter seems to have been shrinking.  I don’t mean that in terms of weeks, days and months.  Rather, that products associated with Easter seem to be arriving on our shelves ever earlier.  For some time now, it has felt as though hot cross buns appear before the staff even get a chance to clear away the tinsel.  Who of us hasn’t been shocked by the appearance of the first Easter Egg and noted that it seems to arrive earlier every year? This is really taking that concept one frightening step further.

Phony Chocolate Santa is an attempt to merge Christmas and Easter together in one mega-retail event. I, for one, won’t stand for it. Chocolate Santa, if he’s necessary at all, should be shaped like Santa and not like an oversized anthropomorphic rodent.  Let Christmas be Christmas and Easter be Easter.  Who knows what kind of things might happen if they’re combined?  Will children be required to look for their presents in the garden as they would an Easter egg?  Surely not.  Will hot cross buns be finished off with a hot brandy sauce and set on fire? It seems unnecessary.

To those responsible for putting the Easter Bunny in Santa’s clothing I say this: back off. It’s been the longest of years and the last thing any of us needs is a takeover of Christmas by a hostile rabbit.  Give us some peace.  We’ll deal with Easter when we’re good and ready.  But for the moment, please show a little respect and allow the Yuletide to come in and wash over our feet.  Granted, I’ll eat your delicious chocolate, but let it be known that I’m not happy about.  Merry Christmas. Kind of.

A Remembrance of Hulk Pants Past

Some things can’t be explained.  It’s for the best.  Indeed, there are some questions so deep and so profound that solving them would threaten to unravel all of time and space.  Now that I’ve hit a milestone birthday, it’s time to look back at my life and return to some of the great mysteries that have followed me through the decades.  It’s a journey that’s taken all kinds of unexpected twists and turns but has taken me precisely where I always knew it would – it’s taken me to the Incredible Hulk.

It was one of my all-time favourite shows as a child, growing up.  Which is odd, given that it’s quite a complex story.  Each show essentially began with a recap as to the events that brought us to ‘Hulk world’.  Dr David Banner, who is introduced as ‘physician, scientist’ and, I think, ‘double denim enthusiast’, is trying to find a way to tap into the strength that exists within all humans.  Suffering a temporary shortage of guinea pigs, Dr Banner decides to conduct these experiments on himself.  This, I feel, may not be best practice. It’s certainly not the kind of malarkey you brag about when submitting to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Inevitably, an accidental overdose of gamma radiation changes his body chemistry.  It could happen to anyone.  I mean, who hasn’t been making coffee or tea and forgotten whether or not they’ve added the sugar?  Even professionals or whoever the local café near my office has making my coffee because (presumably) professionals are in short supply forget sometimes, judging by the fact that every fifth coffee I order has no sugar whatsoever in it. Presumably it’s much the same for gamma radiation.  You put some in, get distracted, can’t remember putting it in, so put it in again.  It doesn’t end there.

According to the voice over, when he gets angry or outraged ‘a startling metamorphoses occurs’. In this instance, Dr Banner’s changing a tyre in the rain and is having trouble with the wheel nuts when he goes and turns into the Incredible Hulk.  It’s exactly the same when my small skinny flat white turns up without any sugar in it.  Unluckily, when Dr Banner becomes the Hulk, he now has the power to get the wheel nuts off but, instead, squanders this super-human strength on flipping the car over entirely.  What a jerk.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Dr David Banner is a pretty regular, albeit well-educated, kind of guy.  The kind of person for whom the term ‘smart casual’ was pretty much invented.  I am, of course, choosing to overlook his near fanatical commitment to double denim for the moment.  But things get even tougher on the clothes front from that point on.  For whenever Dr Banner gets angry, he totally shreds his clothes, turns green and grows a mullet.

The credits explain that everyone thinks Dr David Banner is dead.  Confusingly, it then shows him standing beside his own grave with what looks to be a bag from Sportsgirl for no reason other than to confuse visitors. Apparently the Hulk is being pursued for a murder he didn’t commit and Dr Banner is being followed by an investigative reporter, Mr. McGee, who I assume works for TMZ.

The show is greatly aided by a top-notch cast is the form of Bill Bixby, who plays the tortured Dr Banner with consummate ease and Lou Ferrigno who is terrifying as the Hulk without CGI, instead relying solely on a bucket of food dye.

All of this is explained as the opening credits roll.  By the time the show starts, you feel like you’ve already been through an experience.  But for all the self-experimentation, gamma radiation and his perpetual fugitive state; the real question is this: how does the Hulk always manage to shred his clothes whilst preserving the structural integrity of his trousers?

 It’s quite the thing.  Turning into the Hulk makes an absolute mess of his shirts, but he never once seems to split his pants.  It’s nothing short of an absolute miracle.  It seems that whilst David Banner was searching for the secret to human strength and endurance, he may well have inadvertently invented maternity pants.

 Think about it.  Clothing that is designed to accommodate a transforming body. I, for one, would love to see Hulk-brand maternity pants on the market.  But whilst there were lunch boxes and drink bottles and even t-shirts, they steered clear of the maternity market.  What a missed opportunity.  The show lasted about eighty episodes over five seasons. I was shocked when it ended.

Perhaps I identified with the Hulk in that he represents anyone whose strength is underestimated. As a kid there was something appealing about the idea of being overlooked but able to transform in a moment of need.  It’s funny – the television shows of your youth can transform you back to another time.  Just the sound of that urgent piano and I’m back in the family room watching ‘The Incredible Hulk’ with my family.  That, perhaps, is an amazing transformation in itself.