Tales From Earth:To Epiphany and Beyond...!

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This is part of the compilation created for the book Tales From The Third Planet, created by the Cubehunters on Earth, and printed by Lulu. Anyone can buy it here, with proceeds to go to unfiction! :)

To Epiphany and Beyond...!

Fantastic Alan, using the voice of Buzz Lightyear, guides you through the Christmas Games Season here in the UK.

The time between Christmas and New Year is one that is regularly festooned with games of all types; one of the most popular, yet rarely cited, is "Avoid the Turkey", but that inevitably ends with a houseful of losers - I think that's probably mandated in the rules.

Christmas is designated a 'family-time', and after all your relatives have gathered en masse, stuffed themselves full of Christmas lunch, then slept through the Queen's Speech, suddenly you're all stuck for something to span the time until dinner.


'Scrabble' involves making words from a randomly selected collection of seven letters (which are held in your 'rack'), and intertwining them with words already played. There are bonuses if you manage to use all of your rack, or if you manage to put a word on certain special squares. There aren't bonuses for knocking your rack over so that all of your letters fall onto the floor, nor are there for making up rude words, although arguably there should be if it involves explaining it to poor Grandma.

'Proper' Scrabble players are a weird and dull bunch. While us normal amateurs will sit there thinking "if only I had an 'A', I could make 'KUMQUAT'", they'll get all excited about making tedious non-words like 'ZO' and 'EE'. And they'll happily gum up the board with these things without knowing what they actually mean.

Regardless, two hours later, you've somehow survived, and you've earnt your little relax with your turkey-sandwiches and Twiglets™. Game time now takes one of two forms - better hope you're still a youngster...

... because if you're kiddie-enough, you can look forward to an entire evening of driving the family to distraction by torturing them with the new toys they've received. Any Perplexians out there might be frustrated at the lack of inconsistency in Earth children's games. Take, for example, marbles: are they evil? I mean, in 'Kerplunk' you spend all your time tugging sticks and indulging gentle tube-jiggling in a vain attempt to avoid dropping a ball or two, whilst in 'Hungry Hippos' you tonk your animal-rump as hard and as frequently as possible in order to snaffle them up.

Otherwise, for the er... more 'mature' folk, and it doesn't matter how slowly you're eating, you're gonna end up in a family game of 'Charades'! Now, here in England, we even made a television show out of 'Charades' (we called it 'Give Us a Clue'), and just like that show, your home-game is gonna be 'boys against girls'.

Now, this might just be my own paranoid, twisted and misheld view, (and I might have established it whilst being drunk), but it's mine, and I'm keeping it. I am, however, willing to share: women cheat. All of the time. Badly. Trying to mime the title 'Gone with the Wind', they will raise four fingers to indicate the number of words. Their team will start shouting things like 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow', and 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'. Rather than persist with the signalling until their compatriots finally catch on and remember how the game is played, our double-X chromosomed contestant will mouth 'four words' over and over again, until someone copies but takes themselves off mute. Repeat and fade until the title comes out, girlies whoop, and the pain goes on.

Surviving Christmas Day means you're rewarded with Boxing Day, when all of England traditionally stops and indulges in a full Christmas football programme. In essence this means we drag ourselves out of our deliciously warm homes, full of turkey (remember that?), out to a freezing footy-stadium to see our favoured team get beat. Or draw 0-0 in a game that the local radio commentator sarcastically describes as a 'no-goal-thriller'. Or, if you're really lucky, it might get postponed five minutes before kick-off - then you can race down to the Shopping Park in order to join in some 'January Sale' fighting - presumably the origin of the phrase 'Boxing Day'.

The rest of the season is crammed to bursting with the ever popular 'Drinking Games'. Especially on New Year's Eve, where you may be expected to participate whilst wearing 'fancy dress', which usually becomes somewhat less fancy when you've spilled a lager or three over it. You certainly shouldn't be surprised if you turn up at your local hostelry and are penalised for drinking with your right-hand. The penalty? Taking a drink!

Oh, but as you attempt to take your forfeit, you're penalised again! This time, for drinking with your left-hand! Before too much confusion kicks in, perhaps I should explain: penalty-drinks must be taken whilst holding the drink in the right hand; all other ('social') drinking must be held in the left.

Trust me, after two hours of random penalities (go on, make some up for your friends), even this rule will be more complicated than 'Scrabble'. Joyeuse fêtes!