The ninth annual Christmas Spot story. I wrote this on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It's significantly more realistic than my other story about Spot's WebTV because I came in contact with one for an uncomfortably extended period before I wrote this.
It had been a happy 1999. Martin Landau and Barbara Bain were living it up in polyester bell-bottoms on the Moon, and that Prince song was just as popular as ever. And it had been fifteen years since George Orwell's book stopped being worth reading. Spot was looking forward to Christmas 1999, the last Christmas before the first turn of the century of the new millennium (there was going to be one in 2001, too.)
Because Spot didn't have any friends this year, he would buy himself the bestest Christmas present he could afford. So he went to Sears.
On his way there on the subway, recently-installed video monitors above every seat showed him commercials. (Subways are public places, so they have to be filled with commercials.)
The screen showed a stupid TV viewer trying to guess the answers on "Jeopardy!", and then Alex Trebek stopped the show to explain that the stupid person wasn't qualified to watch regular "Jeopardy!" and should instead buy a WebTV. "WebTV has interactive game shows for stupid people. If you're really stupid, buy a WebTV!" Then there was another WebTV commercial involving that other super-brainy game show, "Wheel of Fortune".
"Wow!" said Spot as the train went past his station, "I qualify to play interactive game shows on WebTV!" He took the train back one stop and went into Sears.
In Sears, there was a Philips brand WebTV and a Sony brand WebTV side by side. Spot found a Sears clerk. "What's the difference between the Philips WebTV and the Sony WebTV?"
"Uh... I don't know. We just got those in last year. Give me a minute and I'll look at the units that are on display. I'll look at them for you. Hmm, the Philips WebTV has a keyboard where a few of the keys glow in the dark. But the Sony WebTV has a keyboard with a bigger space bar. That's the only difference. And by the way, keyboards are not included."
Spot bought the Sony WebTV and a matching keyboard (they were both black) and took them home. He wrapped them up and put them under his Christmas tree and then opened them five seconds later.
"WOW! A WEBTV!" yelled Spot. "AND IT'S FOR MEEEEEE!"
He tore open the WebTV's box and inside was a pamphlet which said "INSTRUCTIONS - READ THESE FIRST." Underneath it was another which said "DON'T READ THOSE INSTRUCTIONS - READ THESE FIRST." And underneath that was one titled "OKAY, READ THOSE FIRST, BUT READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS FIRSTER." On the bottom was a tiny one which said "IGNORE ALL PREVIOUS PAMPHLETS, THERE ARE ACTUALLY NO INSTRUCTIONS." So, Spot put all the instruction books aside and watched the included instructional videotape.
It was kind of boring because it just sat there on the coffee table. Spot didn't have a VCR. So, he just hooked up the WebTV to the TV as best he could without reading the instructions. He figured out how to plug in the power cord all by himself. Spot was proud!
He turned on his TV and his WebTV and watched what happened next. The WebTV displayed an animated image of a scary drive down a dangerous night highway, where the yellow stripes down the middle of the road were going past faster than the yellow stripes at the side of the road. Also, Spot's imaginary car was halfway into the oncoming lane.
As the WebTV connected to the Internet, it made pretty "boopBOOPbeepBOOPbeep" noises, followed by a rendition of "The Windmills Of Your Mind", because Spot didn't deserve to hear the actual sounds coming from the unit's modem, which would have sounded like "boopBOOPbeepBOOPbeepSCREEEEECH... bit... bit... bit... (pause) bit..." Spot wondered why it was taking so long to connect to the Internet with this super-fast 33.6 modem. He checked the box and found out that "33.6" meant that it was 33.6% as fast as a regular modem.
Eventually, it connected to the Internet. Then it displayed a message which said "NOW UPDATING YOUR WEBTV. THIS WILL TAKE 20 MINUTES AND CANNOT BE INTERRUPTED."
Forty minutes later, it was done updating. Then it restarted itself and did it again. Two hours later, it asked Spot to type in his name and password using an "on-screen" keyboard, which meant it wasn't a keyboard, it was just a cartoon of one. Because the WebTV assumed that Spot was too stupid to have ever seen a typewriter, the on-screen keyboard's letters were in Sesame Street order and not typewriter order. This made it hard for Spot to type in his clever, hard-to-guess password, "QWERTY".
After a while, everything was all set up. Unfortunately, by now, all the game shows had been off the air for twelve hours, so Spot would have to learn to operate his WebTV while waiting for the game shows to come back in the morning. He looked at the WebTV's handy remote control and the optional keyboard which eliminated the need to use the awful, horrible remote control.
The remote control had four arrow keys with a "GO" button in the middle. Except the "GO" button was labelled "+". And on the keyboard it was labelled "ENTER". In fact, the keyboard had all the same keys as the remote control, they were just labelled differently. But most of them performed the same functions. Sort of.
And there were dozens of other useful keys on the keyboard, too! There was an "OPTIONS" key across the keyboard from the "OPTION" key. "OPTIONS" was near "SEARCH" while "OPTION" was near "FIND". Spot was starting to get confused. The keyboard had an "F" key and a "1" key and a "F1" key but when he pushed "F1" it did not make an "F" and a "1". Also, in addition to "SHIFT", the lower-left corner also had "CONTROL", "ALT", "OPTION", "FN", "META", and "ZEPTO" modifier keys. There were so many modifier keys that not even Richard Stallman would have been able to invent uses for all of them! Not even Buckminster Fuller could have pressed them all at the same time! Some of them were so obscure that not even Dennis Miller could have made a joke about them! Spot experimentally tapped each of them once, but they didn't do anything, because they only did things on computers, and the WebTV wasn't a computer. Also, he discovered that once the "CAPS LOCK" key had been pushed down, it could never come up again.
Spot noticed that there was a slot on the front of the WebTV marked "SMART CARD". Rummaging through the materials that had been included in the box, he found something that looked like a credit card with a computer chip on it. It was glued to the main instruction manual with what appeared to be Krazy Glue. He peeled half of the instruction manual away from the Krazy Glue, then peeled the remaining shreds of the manual away one by one. Eventually, enough of the manual had been destroyed that he was able to put the smart card into the slot.
The WebTV displayed, "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE USING A SMART CARD! YOUR IQ IS NOW: 28." The "28" changed to "27" as Spot watched, as his IQ was slowly siphoned off by the WebTV in order to make the smart card smarter. Then a crook reached in through the window and stole Spot's smart card and used it to cheat on the SAT. "Waah!" cried Spot, "I'm a victim of an intellectual-property theft! I wish WebTV made all of the Internet EXCEPT cybercrime easier!"
Looking over the WebTV, Spot noticed a large hatch bolted shut on the right side of the unit. It said "WEBTV PORT". Spot found a screwdriver and opened the hatch. Inside was... nothing. Spot was nearly sucked into the WebTV by the awesome force of the vacuum inside! There was a swirling maelstrom of nothingness where the "WEBTV PORT" wasn't! Spot slammed the hatch shut and concluded that Sony had simply forgotten to finish designing his WebTV.
By this time, the Sun was coming up because Spot had been fighting with his WebTV all night. He needed to learn to use it fast (assuming anything with a 33.6 modem COULD be used fast) because Spot's favorite game shows would be on TV in a few hours! He looked at the screen.
In big kindergarten letters that flickered and shimmered and wavered, it said:
S P O T ' S H O M E P A G E
Y O U R H O R O S C O P E :
The rest of the screen was filled with important daily news such as Spot's horoscope and lucky numbers, but Spot couldn't read them because the letters were so big that his eyes couldn't focus on them. Okay, so this was the Web. But how could he watch interactive TV on this WebTV?
Spot pressed the "VIEW" button on his keyboard. Nothing happened immediately, so he pushed it again. There was a ten-second pause, then the screen spun around and went "WHOOSH!", and then it did it again, and then there was another ten-second pause. So Spot pushed it a third time and waited ten seconds for the screen to spin around smoothly. Now Spot was looking at "The TV Home Page".
It automatically (and secretly) connected to the Post Office to cancel Spot's subscription to "TV Guide", because it was now conveniently listing all the TV shows that Spot could watch on cable or his satellite dish. Neither of which he had. But it was gratifying to know that on channel B-67 he could be watching something named "LOCAL ACC" 4 hours a day. "TV Guide" wouldn't have told him what was on B-67! Now he knew what was on B-67 at all times! NOTHING!
In a little business-card-size window in the corner of the screen, the WebTV allowed him to actually watch TV. With the program guide's giant letters surrounding the tiny picture. Spot strained his eyes trying to figure out whether he was watching a talk show or pornography, but couldn't because the picture was so small he could cover it with his smart card. (Which he tried to do, but it didn't make the TV program any smarter.)
After a while, he figured out how to watch TV with the WebTV: 1.) Turn on the WebTV and wait a few minutes for it to dial the Internet. 2.) Push "VIEW" and wait a few seconds for the screen to spin around to "TV Home". 3.) Use the arrow keys to move the yellow box to the little TV picture. 4.) Press "+" on the remote control and/or "ENTER" on the keyboard. The WebTV made watching TV so much easier! Half an hour later, he discovered that to get the WebTV menus to reappear, he had to press "BACK", because "VIEW" didn't do anything if you ever tried to use it again.
"WAAH! I AM STARTING TO THINK I MADE A BAD PURCHASE!" cried Spot, as he hurled the little toy keyboard at his TV in frustration. It bounced harmlessly off his glass picture tube. However, it landed key-side-down on top of his remote control. The buttons rubbed against other buttons and did something magical. The TV channels changed to a random number, the "WEBTV PORT" popped open, and Spot was sucked in just as an interactive game show was starting!
PLEASE CHOOSE A CHANNEL NUMBER FROM 1 TO 13:
Spot was on Channel 1. Now, as everyone knows, there's no Channel 1, except for that thing they force elementary-school students to watch that shows nothing but commercials for major multinational conglomerates. But, all cable television receivers, VCRs, and TVs let you tune to Channel 1 these days. So the local cable TV company always fills Channel 1 with ads for the pay-per-view movies showing on other channels.
In technical terms, this is called the "barker channel".
"Oh boy!" yapped Spot, "I'm on the barker channel! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARKBARKBARKBARK! BARK!"
"Hello, Spot," said an elderly man with superb white hair and a tall skinny microphone, "You're here to guess the prices of these consumer goods made by major multinational conglomerates!"
"Oh no! It's Bob Barker!" barked Spot as he tried to run away, but there was no escape from Channel 1. He was forced to do demeaning things, such as to reach into Bob Barker's pocket to look for hundred-dollar bills, and to shop for pantyhose and cat food.
And worse, thanks to WebTV, millions of bored housewives could play along with the game show at home! Spot came in last. Millions of housewives won big prizes, but all Spot got was a lousy consolation prize: Another WebTV.
It was the worst Christmas ever!
Spot found himself on Channel 2, a PBS station. He looked around and saw that he was surrounded by brown bunny rabbits that were munching on Astroturf. Spot was in the middle of "Teletubbies"!
"Wook! Puppy!" said Laa-Laa, pointing at Spot with one of her mittens which passed for hands in Teletubbyland.
"Puppy! Puppy!" screamed Tinky Winky, happily whacking Spot with his little red purse.
Spot screamed and ran into a nearby domed structure of some sort. He slammed the door and looked around, and was startled to discover that he had just locked himself inside the Tubbytronic Superdome!
Fortunately, none of the four Teletubbies was inside with him. (They were all busy chasing computer-animated butterflies, each of which contained only two polygons.) Spot was alone in the Tubbytronic Superdome with the Tubby Custard dispenser, the Tubby Toast machine, and... the Noo-Noo.
Spot eyed the Noo-Noo warily. Not only did it have big creepy eyes and make constant slobbering noises, but it appeared to have a midget inside of it, and either the midget's or someone else's pink butt was sticking out of the back of it. It came after Spot with its prehensile, sucking appendage. Spot screamed again and ran away.
However, Spot couldn't find any place to hide from the Noo-noo. There were no corners in the Tubbytronic Superdome. There was no furniture except for a kidproof card table. And there were no other rooms. There was a slide that Spot could slide upwards on, but whenever he did that he just reappeared at the opposite side of the same room just like in "Pac-Man".
Just then, the four pastel-colored monsters broke down the door and began chasing him around. It WAS just like "Pac-Man"! Except that Spot couldn't find any blinking white power pills to eat to let him eat the Teletubbies.
Spot wished he could eat the Teletubbies.
But they ate him first.
Spot go sucked into Channel 3, which was the special channel reserved for the output of his WebTV. So Spot got sucked back into his WebTV so that he could come out on Channel 3, which meant he got sucked back into his WebTV so that he could come out on Channel 3, again and again and again. "Waah!" cried Spot as he whirled around in an endless loop deep inside the WebTV's circuitry.
Spot's only hope for an end to this madness was for someone to turn off his WebTV. But Spot lived alone, so that would never happen! Spot hoped that maybe, just maybe, a burglar would break into his home and steal his WebTV, which would necessitate unplugging it.
Years later, Spot was still going around inside his WebTV, even though everything else in his home had been stolen. Although Spot's WebTV was no longer hooked up to a television, it was still running, which meant that Spot couldn't see anything! "Waah! I'm in a WebTV and I'm blind!" wailed Spot.
Then, a mad arsonist went out of his way to burn down Spot's home except for his WebTV. On the site of Spot's home, they poured the concrete foundation for a new skyscraper. Spot's WebTV -- still plugged-in -- was covered with two feet of concrete. It ran for millennia, until the electrons that now made up Spot wore out. Spot came to a mercifully painless end -- he felt no pain because it took him millions of years to die slowly.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU FOUND THE ONLY HAPPY ENDING.
Channel 4 was CBS, and Spot showed up in a shabby blue armchair sitting across from David Letterman's desk.
"Well, Spot, I'm going to interview you in just a minute. But first I have to do this 'hilarious' comedy bit. I'm going to say some words that I like, and I'm going to say them over and over. Got that? I'm going to say them over and over."
Spot cringed as the comedy began.
Letterman laughed for a moment at how funny he was about to be, and then began. "Words I like. Pants." (The camera showed a closet full of pants.) "Ham." (The camera showed a canned ham.) "Ass." (The camera showed a donkey.) "Meat." (The camera showed a steak.) "Pants." (The camera showed a man's butt.) "Ham." (A man's butt.) "Ass." (A man's butt.) "Meat." (A man's crotch.) "Pants. Ham. Ass. Meat. Pants. Ham. Ass. Meat. Pants! Ham! Ass! Meat! And the only thing funnier than pants, ham, ass, and meat... IMMIGRANTS!"
With the comedy out of the way, Letterman turned to where Spot was sitting, but he was already dead. Spot had died of amazement when he realized he actually had a desire to switch channels _to_ Jay Leno's show.
"WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?" yelled Regis Philbin as Spot fell into Channel 5.
"I do!" said Spot.
"Is THAT your final answer?"
"Is THAT your final answer to 'Is THAT your final answer?'?"
"And is THAT your final answer to 'Is THAT your final answer to "Is THAT your final answer?"?'?"
"Waah!" cried Spot, "This is going to be another one of those endings where I get caught in an endless loop and the same horrible thing happens to me over and over for all eternity, just like the story where I go to Channel 10!"
But Regis wasn't familiar with the story on Channel 10, so they went over there to show him.
GO TO CHANNEL 10.
Spot turned up on Channel 6, which was UPN. They were showing "Star Trek: Voyager". Because they only ever showed "Star Trek: Voyager". And a bunch of sitcoms starring black people, which were lame shows because the TV executives only allowed them to put black people on shows that were bad.
Because Spot was on UPN's flagship program, "Star Trek: Voyager", he was surrounded by unusually well-constructed sets (they had been built for a much better "Star Trek" series that was made for syndication, not stinky ol' UPN) and an occasional highly-expensive computer-animated special effect. There was one of those coming up right now.
"Red alert!" yelled Captain Janeway as purple and green tendrils of four-dimensional gaseous rocks emerged from a hole through the Universe and grabbed the _Voyager_, causing half of it to become sentient and the other half of it to turn into cheese. Furthermore, invisible, insubstantial, undetectable radiation of a type never before detected was turning the crew into pairs of Siamese twins, all of whom were pregnant with dinosaurs!
Spot yawned. He'd already seen this plot five times before on "Star Trek: Voyager". "Captain Janeway, if I may be so bold as to suggest the obvious course of action... order your engineers to invent a new form of propulsion within the next five minutes. It will enable the ship to escape by going at ten trillion times the speed of light, but it will only work until the end of the episode, and fallout from it will change the laws of physics so that not only will it never work again, but everyone will forget all about it forever."
"Make it so!" yelled the captain, as she adjusted her protective helmet, which was made out of hair.
Spot clung to a chair as the ship tilted to the left and then tilted to the right, both of which it had to do in order to go really fast. In fact, the _Voyager_ went so fast that time went backwards, and Spot turned into an embryo. And then he evolved backwards into an ameba, and then into a random cloud of hydrogen atoms. Time went backwards so far that Spot turned into part of the Big Bang, and exploded.
A new Universe was created out of the explosion of Spot. This universe was shaped vaguely like a puppy. And, because quarks from inside Spot's DNA and memory cells were distributed throughout the entire Universe, all planets evolved life consisting entirely of stupid little puppies who cried constantly and were forced to use WebTVs.
It was the worst ten trillion Christmases ever!
Channel 7 was NBC, and Spot was now on a rerun of NBC's "seaQuest DSV"!
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screamed Spot.
Roy Scheider picked up Spot and hugged him, and Spot got stuck to the thick layer of brown greasepaint that covered every inch of Scheider's body. Spot was only able to escape after the Oscar-winning actor dropped him when he fell off his shoe lifts.
Spot couldn't figure out how to open the door to the only corridor leading off the Bridge, but there was another way out: A water-filled tube led through the ship so the first officer, who was a dolphin, could get around.
"Doggie!" yelled the superintelligent psychic talking dolphin, who tried to eat Spot. Spot tried to hide from him, but the dolphin was much smarter than he was. The dolphin chased him all the way back to the bridge.
He ran over to Roy Scheider. "Mr. Oscar-winning Roy Scheider, sir, you've got to help me! I don't deserve to be here! I need to get off this crappy show!"
Upon hearing those sentences, Roy Scheider sued him for plagiarism.
Channel 8 was The Classic Sports Network. "Oh boy!" yelped Spot, "I can see if Superbowl XIV has the same ending this time around!" Unfortunately, all they were showing were golf games from the early 1970s. Spot fell asleep.
By the time he woke up, the cable company had rearranged the channels, and The Classic Sports Network had moved to Channel 27. "Oh boy!" yelped Spot predictably, "Now I won't have to watch thirty-year-old golf on whatever channel they put in its place!"
Unfortunately, they replaced The Classic Sports Network with The Golf Channel. And all _they_ showed were golf games from the early 1970s. The difference was that they somehow managed to make them more boring. Spot fell asleep again.
When he woke up, he discovered that the cable company had performed yet another reshuffling of the dial. The Golf Channel was gone and had been replaced by The Cartoon Network. And all they were showing were thirty-year-old Hanna-Barbera cartoons in which poorly animated people played golf. Only with less action, less excitement, and less fashion sense.
Spot was now so bored that he was too tired to even fall asleep. He watched golf-oriented cartoons until his brain turned to oatmeal.
Fortunately, that didn't take long, especially in the case of Spot. (He never was a particularly bright little puppy.) Once enough of Spot's brain cells had died, he began to enjoy the concept of old, scripted, two-dimensional golf games. He started to look forward to each exciting golf adventure as he watched them over and over.
And then, the cable company replaced The Cartoon Network with Bravo. All they were showing were interpretive dances representing the concept of golf. Spot's remaining brain cells dimmed and went out.
It was the most brain-damaging Christmas ever!
Spot washed up on the shores of Channel 9, Nick At Nite, which was showing a "Happy Days" episode from the final season. Spot wandered into Arnold's, which was now a roller disco. Chachi Junior and Replacement Potsie had decided to perform "Rigoletto" at Arnold's and meanwhile, Joanie was undergoing counseling for her menopause. Spot hadn't remembered that the show had ever gotten this bad, because he had stopped watching it three seasons after the main character had left.
Then he noticed that the view out the window showed three suns and a purple, ringed planet. He checked a map on the wall of Arnold's and discovered that the series now took place on The Planet Craptacula.
"Nanoo-nanoo!" said Dork, the wacky alien from Craptacula, played by Jim Carrey. Spot screamed and hid behind the jukebox, which was playing a hit by The Bangles. However, his hiding place was exposed when Chachi Junior crashed his talking crime-fighting car through the wall. Arnold's was demolished, for the ninth time! And now Spot would have to help rebuild it by next week! The mere thought of such manual labor made Spot sob as he crawled out from under the mound of plaster dust and curly fries. They went to work right away because they had to finish on time because Presidential candidate Donald Trump was about to visit and deliver a special moral message. Rebuilding Arnold's was a lot of work. Very special episodes were hard!
Just then, the canned audience went wild, cheering for precisely 10.0 seconds (no more, no less) because Fonzie 2000 entered. He looked up from his copy of _The Wall Street Journal_ just long enough to say "Sit on it!" to the camera, and then left until next week.
"Waah!" cried Spot, who was overwhelmed by the crappiness of crappy "Happy Days". Then Ralph Malph III crashed his flying saucer in Arnold's. Spot glanced up at the wall calendar and found that, due to a Y2K-induced computer error, the show was still in production in this distant, futuristic year 2525. Fonzie The Twenty-Seventh entered, walking on his nine holographic legs, and pushed the button that said "Sit on it!" Replacement Replacement Replacement Replacement Replacement Potsie filed his performance over the Internet for this very special episode, transmitted in four-dimensional Spherovision. Spot hid behind the superintelligent gelatinous jukebox once again as Omega Fonzie (who had evolved beyond need of a physical body) introduced a very special episode about the cooling of the Sun.
Spot consoled himself by thinking over and over, "Eventually they'll have to cancel 'Happy Days'. Eventually they'll have to cancel 'Happy Days'." And, around the time all the protons in the Universe had started to decay, they did indeed cancel "Happy Days". To make room on their schedule for the 100,000,000,000,000,000th season of "Murphy Brown". Spot screamed and screamed until all the protons in his body exploded.
Channel 10 was The Sci-Fi Channel, which was showing "The Battlestar Galactica Chain Reaction Marathon." Spot screamed and dived into a handy space warp, which dumped him out over on Channel 30, which was The Game Show Network, showing a twenty-five-year-old episode of "Chain Reaction" starring Bill Cullen. Spot screamed again and ran back across twenty channels because he decided he'd rather be trapped in the "Battlestar Galactica" marathon than any sort of game show. (Game shows were too brainy!)
Aboard the _Galactica_, Spot took up residence, and was immediately put to work watching stock footage. He saw the same Viper fighter being launched over and over, and he saw the same Cylon ship exploding in the upper left corner of the screen, and he saw the same shot of Lorne Greene dictating his memoirs into a salt shaker over and over. There was an odd, repetitive jerking in Spot's legs. Spot looked down and was shocked to realize that _he_ was gradually turning into stock footage!
Spot ran over to Ensign Greenbean, memorably played by Ed Begley, Jr. "Help!" yelled Spot, "I'm turning to
Spot ran over to Ensign Greenbean, memorably played by Ed Begley, Jr. "Help!" yelled Spot, "I'm turning to
Spot ran over to Ensign Greenbean, memorably played by Ed Begley, Jr. "Help!" yelled Spot, "I'm turning to
It was the worst Christmas ever! Also, it was the worst Christmas _forever_!
Spot materialized on Channel 11, another one of the five local PBS affiliates. Of course, all five stations were strapped for cash for some reason -- after all, they only got ninety-five percent of their operating budget from the government -- so they were airing a six-hour "pledge break" where, for six hours, they bored Spot by telling him over and over that their programming was never interrupted for commercials.
Then, they aired "The McLaughlin Group".
"THE McLAUGHLIN GROUP IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND CORPORATION. A-D-M, THE MAKER OF DELICIOUS HARVEST BURGERS, IS PROUD TO BRING YOU THIS COMMERCIAL-FREE PROGRAM! A-D-M, SUPERMARKET TO THE WORLD!"
"Welcome to the show, Spot!" said John McLaughlin. "Issue one! Just how incredibly delicious are A-D-M's delicious Harvest Burgers?"
Spot opened his mouth to say something. "Well--"
"WRONG! A-D-M's Harvest Burgers are INSANELY DELICIOUS!" Mr. McLaughlin took a big bite of one. "Would you like one, Spot?"
"WRONG! You would LOVE one!" McLaughlin jammed something into Spot's mouth. It tasted like cardboard, only staler, and soaked in artificial smoke flavor.
Spot had never been allowed to eat anything delicious before. And now Spot knew what deliciousness tasted like. Deliciousness was bad! A tear rolled down Spot's cheek because this was the worst Christmas ever. It was deliciously bad.
Channel 12 was Telemundo, a Spanish-language network. They were showing a Mexican game show. Nothing more needs to be said.
This was the very worstest Christmas of all.
The fluctuating airwaves deposited Spot on Channel 13, which was The Cartoon Network. He was in the middle of one of Hanna-Barbera's lesser-known, and certainly least-loved cartoons. And more importantly, he couldn't move from the neck down! He could only slide smoothly to the left or the right, provided that he was always behind something which was at least waist-high, and he could only do stuff after he slid off the side of the screen, and the only thing he could do after he slid off the screen was to bump into a lamppost, which set off the cartoon's laugh track. "Waah!" cried Spot in the voice of a bored Casey Kasem.
Spot needed to find a way to escape from this crudely-drawn, two-dimensional, barely-animated dimension. He checked with all the mad scientists he could find in Hanna-Barbera Land, but even their magnets which attracted all the gold in the world, weather machines, easy-to-animated invisibility potions, and ghost disguises couldn't get Spot out of the animation cel which was now his prison.
Then, Fred Flintstone's car ran him over, Yogi Bear stole his pic-a-nic basket, and the Superfriends taught him a valuable moral lesson about how it was wrong to destroy the space program just because of all the wars and starvation here on Earth. This sucked!
And worst of all, at the end of every episode, Spot had to perform a musical number with Jabberjaw. And he was never allowed to realize that there was anything odd about a nine-foot-tall shark who talked like Curly The Stooge but kept quoting Rodney Dangerfield's catchphrase and could change into various household objects. This, of course, was accomplished by giving Spot a lobotomy with a pencil eraser.
It would have been the worst Christmas ever if Spot were still smart enough to realize the difference between goodness and badness!
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December 25, 1999
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