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The History of Thanksgiving (For Reals)

With the coming holiday, I think it’s important to know the true story of just what we’re actually celebrating.  As such, I give you…

The First Thanksgiving Part 1: A Lesson in Sticks and Violence
(originally written for PostHumorous.org 11/2010)

A lot of people in this country have forgotten the truth behind the great American holiday of Thanksgiving.  Most people are still attached to the mythology they were taught in elementary school where a bunch of people dressed in big black hats and shiny buckles arrived in the New World with Chris Columbus in 1812.  Folks like to remember the idea that the Puritans had fled England due to fights other Puritans to make their way in the wilds of coastal Virginia, Delaware, and Kentucky.  They remember how the colonists were starving during their first winter and their dirt houses were a mess, but fortunately encountered some Indians.  After killing the Indians and taking their stuff, the Puritans gave Thanks to Puritan Jesus for helping them kill the Indians and get corn on the cob.  This is what we were taught in school… but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here’s what really happened.  Ladies and Gentlemen… (drum roll)  I give you… the First Thanksgiving.

The mid 16th century was a horrible time to live in Europe.  It was a horrible time to live anywhere really, but it was really bad in Europe.  In England, the royal family had outlawed fun entirely and was also in the process of revoking the Magna Carta… an early form of the modern Master Card.  France was no better with their ban on bathing and manners which has lasted to this day (except for a small reprieve from 1939-1945).  Spain had just built the largest navy in the world by cutting down every tree in continental Europe and to make the massive amount of sails required, had confiscated everyone’s sheets.

Religious oppression was rampant.  King George created the Ministry of Faith-based Initiatives (circumventing the common interpretation of Separation of Church and State) which he used to finance religious and social agendas that appeased the Pope.  The first official act of the Ministry of Faith-based Initiatives (MoFI) was to create and enforce a wave of oppressive rules targeting African Moors and Spanish Muslims collectively called the “Kill All Strangers Act of 1545″.  The Ministry was swift and brutal, but not brutal enough for the Puritans.

The Puritan movement began in 1207BC when founder Jebburt Gunch accidentally sat on a stick.  The protruding stick then became such a conversation piece that Gunch would have weekly stick viewings.  Always the entrepreneur, Gunch found that he could make money by selling “Do-It-Yourself Stick Insertion Kits” consisting of a stick and a bottle of whisky.  Soon Gunch, his collective followers, and stick stickers gained in number and like any group that gets big enough, they started trying to convince others that they should have a stick in their butts too.  By 1205BC, Gunch and the Gunchies as they were called were running around with sticks and “converting” everyone to their ways.

For the next thousand or so years, the Gunchies were nothing more than a large group of oddballs.  Their high mortality rate due to chronic dysentery led to a shrinking and almost wiping out of the group.  It wasn’t until 0BC/AD when Jesus Josephson came along and died that the organization had a rebirth.  As a matter of coincidence, Jebburt Gunch’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson Pubert Gunch made a habit of placing his chewed chewing gum on his stick for safe keeping while he ate.  Gum was expensive back then… this was before the days of Doublemint and Big League Chew.  He sat down under a tree one day beside some other travelers to have a sandwich and when he stood up, another stick got stuck in his gum… forming a cross.  The other travelers saw Pubert’s stick cross poking from his rear and immediately believed he was some sort of saint.  They gave him their lunches as a sign of devotion.  Pubert was a big fellow and was feeling hungry so he didn’t argue.  Pubert spent the next few years wandering the country with his stick cross looking for free lunch.  He was successful.  In addition to lunches,  Pubert also received lots of odds and ends and he soon had more stuff than he could carry so he hired an entourage to carry his stuff for him.  The touring group was often referred to as the “Pubertans”.  The language conversions from old English to middle English to modern English to Ebonics left us with what we now call “Puritans”.

By the 16th century, the Puritans had dropped the butt stick crosses in favor of severe clothing, big hats, and swords… lots of swords.  Though initially pleased with King George’s attempts at forced morality and limited free will, the Puritans longed for a more structured society where their scrutiny and manipulation could develop unfettered by the watchful eye of various peasant’s rights associations.  The moment that would change the human face of planet Earth came when, in 1678, a London Post reporter printed an article saying that the Puritan plan to kill everyone who wasn’t white (aka Operation Flash-Bang) was racist.  The Puritan leadership bristled at the allegations and promptly fled Europe due to the oppression of the liberal media.

They first tried to go to Africa and that went over like a lead zeppelin.   Twenty minutes after their arrival, half of them were killed by locals when the Puritans demanded better drink service.

Next they arrived in the Caribbean.  As they approached the island of St. Thomas (back then referred to as “Tom’s Place”) they heard island music, laughter and general merry-making.  They immediately headed north in search of something more serious.

Eventually they landed at Plymouth Rock.

 

Return of the History of Thanksgiving pt II: Electric Boogaloo

In our last episode of history, we learned about Europe and Puritans and sticks.  The main characters of the story were on a ship, cruising around the Atlantic Ocean looking for fun.  Actually they weren’t.  Cruises back then were horrible experiences with people cramped into tight living conditions and they often suffered from outbreaks of disease.  On second thought… cruises back then were very much like cruises today.  Except for the buffet.  Cruises in days of Yore had horrible buffets.

In 1267AD, the Pilgrims (I don’t have a clever origin story for that name, so we’ll just say that they hired an analyst and changed it to appeal to a younger demographic) finally landed at Fraggle Rock, Delaware.  The Puritans thought that sounded a bit dirty so they renamed it Plymouth Rock,  Massachusetts in honor of the place they’d just left…  Massachusetts, England.  They were greeted by two natives who were promptly killed and the Puritans/Pilgrims proclaimed the new land deserted and claimed it in the name of themselves.  After a few weeks, the PPs decided that a stone only a few feet across was insufficient living space for the 40 or so settlers and they decided to move inland a few feet and founded the colony of Plymouth.

Things went well for the colonists for the first few months.  Only 25% of them died from dysentary.  They’d built several buildings and houses, a church, a town hall, and Fenway Park (the one in Boston is just a replica).  These were the salad days of Pilgrim life.

Then the weather went south.  Literally.  By early November of that year, the average temperature at Plymouth was 1.  To make matters worse, candy hadn’t been invented yet so the Pilgrims gave away all of their food to visiting Indians who were mistaken for Trick-or-Treaters.  The Indians were confused by the “kill me one minute, give me food the next” bipolar behavior but shrugged it off as a “white thing”.

By late November, the colonists were completely out of food and had to resort to eating their old ship.  It was high in fiber, but low in taste.

The Indians, meanwhile, were still trying to wrap their heads around the white people’s Halloween tradition.  Near as they could figure, it involved silly clothes and giving people food.  In an effort to make nice with the Pilgrims, the Indians dressed up in a variety of funny hats and clothes, gathered up a bunch of their food, and went to go give it to the colonists.

The colonists, meanwhile again, saw the Indians approaching their colony and were pleased to see that they’d not only brought food, but were also dressed similarly to classic Puritan standards.  The Pilgrim leader, John “Hannibal” Smith, welcomed the Indians and their food with open arms.  They sat down and had a big feast of duck, venison, corn, and pumpkins.  The popular Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes feast didn’t become traditional until after 1968 when Frank Perdue married an Irish lady and made her a VP of Marketing.  After the meal, the Indians were accidentally killed for their land.

And that’s how Halloween saved the colonists.  For years afterwards, colonists would often say, “I sure am Thankful for Halloween” or “You know what I’m Thankful for?  Halloween!”  Eventually the Puritans found out that Halloween was a Pagan holiday and that the rituals and fun associated with it were completely out of line with Puritanical Mythology.  They didn’t want to give up the government holiday, though, so for a while they called it Thankfulween and Hallowthanksman.  Finally, in a fit of frustration, Elmer Wannamaker bellowed, “I’m tired this whole pile of  Thanks.  I give up.”  His wife jokingly said, “You should call it Thanksgiving Up Day”.  Bill Hallmark, a struggling card salesman, overheard the exchange, wrote “Thanksgiving” on a card, sold it, and the rest is history.

No Voice, No Sword: A Podcast Highlight

Here’s a quick teaser highlight from the Egg of the Phoenix campaign.  This is what happens when a DM forgets to prep an NPC’s story and a new player meet’s his very first rust monsters. *Naughty Language Warning… a lot!

The Concept of Sad Cows

The concept of sad cows and their bells is kinda freaky.  So waxes poetically the fighter upon the inclusion of cow bells in the adventure.

The Surly Dragon at AwesomeCon DC 2015?

We hope so!  We’ve sent in our pitch and with fortune we’ll be presenting a panel and running a pickup session.  Our panel will be on using cheap (or better, FREE!) technology to improve your gaming experiences.  We’ll cover table top improvements, online play, and social media options that can help your group go digital-deadly.

We are going to also record a podcast there and inet access permitting, do a live event online as well.

If you want to see this panel happen, send an e-mail to the folks at the Con and demand to see The Surly Dragon team!

Great Moments in D&D ep III

The Dungeons and Dragons saga continues -

 

Dungeon Master: A rotting, shambling humanoid approaches you slowly.  It looks up in your direction and croaks nonsense.

Fighter: (croakily) Nonsense.

Cleric: I turn it.

Rogue: Wait, if it can talk, maybe we shouldn’t dispatch it.

Magic User: You’re new here, aren’t you?  Kill it.

Paladin: Why did it say “nonsense”?

Fighter: (croakily) Nonsense.

Dungeon Master: It didn’t say “nonsense”,  it’s just croaking nonsense.

Fighter: (croakily) Nonsense.

Cleric: I turn it.

Paladin: It croaked “nonsense”?

Fighter: (croakily) Nonsense.

Dungeon Master: Yes.

Paladin: I say “nonsense” back to it.

Dungeon Master: What exactly would you like to say it?

Paladin: “Nonsense”.

Fighter: (croakily) Nonsense.

Dungeon Master: OK.  You say “nonsense” and it continues gibbering to itself.

Magic User: I think at least one of you is failing your INT checks.

Rogue: This is starting to feel like “Who’s on first?”

Cleric: What?

Rogue: No, “What”‘s on second.

Dungeon Master: Let’s start this encounter again.

Magic User: Why?

Dungeon Master: Stop it.

Great Moments in D&D ep II

More great moments in Dungeons and Dragons

 

DM: A man approaches you, he…

Party: Kill him.

DM: A woman approaches you, she…

Party: Kill her.

Fighter: Is she hot?

Magic User: Not again.

Rogue: I kill her while the fighter flirts.

DM: OK… ummm… crap. (throws notes away). A person wearing a big hat that says “friendly” approaches you and…

Party: Definitely kill him.

DM: But he’s wearing a friendly hat.

Cleric: Only the devil wears a hat like that.

DM: Fine.
—————————————————————————–

(Next Session after losing all NPCs to party kills, the DM introduces his girlfriend to the group to get her started in the world of gaming.)

DM: OK, this is Girlfriend. Be nice, she’s never played before so please help her with dice and such.

Girlfriend: Hi!

Party: Hello! Do we just meet her in the tavern?

DM: Sure.

Fighter: OK, put her in the back so she doesn’t get hurt.

Cleric: Yeah, we’ll go Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, Magic User, Girlfriend.

Party: OK

DM: Alright, you’re heading up a twisting trail when suddenly you’re attacked by bandits.

Party: Kill ‘em.

DM: How?

Fighter: I run off and engage in melee.

Rogue: I flank the fighter’s targets.

Magic User: I ready a fireball for the leader when he appears.

Cleric: I standby with heals.

Girlfriend: I drink my potion of haste, cast silence 15′ radius on the Magic User’s shoe and backstab the Cleric with my poisoned dagger.

Magic User: No, you’re supposed to attack the… oh crap.

DM: You’re silenced, shut up. Cleric roll a save or die.

Cleric: I’m dead.

Fighter: Wait, what the crap!?

Magic User: I cast my fireball a her!

DM: Nothing happens, you’re Charlie Chaplin.

Rogue: Can I run back to attack her?

DM: Sure.

Rogue: I fire my bow!

DM: She uses her Gauntlets of Snaring and catches them, laughing.

Girlfriend: Ha, ha! Like that?

DM: Yes.

Girlfriend: Ha, ha!

Fighter: What’s happening with my fight?

DM: A dozen bandits converge on you.

Fighter: No problem for me and my +5 sword.

DM: You mean the one that Girlfriend successfully pick-pocketed off you in the tavern?

Fighter: I hate you.

Rogue: I surrender.

Girlfriend: Weakling, called shot to the groin with a poisoned dagger throw.

Rogue: I’m… yep, dead.

Fighter: I draw my other sword.

DM: Which one would that be?

Fighter: Well I have five and it’s on my sheet…. somewhere… I have it. We found it last week… remember, that one… it’s in party loot.

DM: You have a scabbard full of party loot?

Fighter: Just kill me.

Girlfriend: That’s a coup de grace!

DM: Good session everyone. Now stop killing all my NPCs without reason. Go play Gauntlet if you want that.

Girlfriend: Can I play again next week?

Party: NO!!!

(true story)

Great Moments in D&D ep. I

True Dungeons and Dragons transcript–

 

Dungeon Master: As you enter the town, you come across a strange sight. There is a man fishing in the well in the town square. He looks like he might be a bit… disturbed.

Fighter: I throw him in.

Dungeon Master: Really?

Fighter: Yup.

Paladin: So how many quests am I going to have to complete to “unscrew” this with my god?

Dungeon Master: I’m not sure, that guy was supposed to be a key part of THIS quest.

Fighter: If his quest was to find the bottom of the well, he accomplished it.

Wizard: I disbelieve.

Dungeon Master: Sorry, your fighter doesn’t disappear. A DIFFERENT person comes walking towards your party, keen to talk to you it appears.

Fighter: I throw…

Wizard: SLEEP the fighter.

Priest: SILENCE the fighter.

Rogue: I backstab the fighter.

Dungeon Master: Break time!

Written in Blood, Stained, Cloth Things

The group continues its crawl through the dungeon of nasty.

A New Face In the Gallery

In honor of going over 200 likes on Facebook, we’ve got a new mascot.   I think we’ll have a contest to name the dragon.

It’s a Big Day at the Dragon

First… we’re over the 200 mark in likes on Facebook.  Many thanks to all who have done so.

 

Secondly… if you’re wondering why random cooking questions have shown up on the twitter feed it was because I was attending Alton Brown’s Edible Inevitable show in DC.  AND Surlydragon got a major boon by being mentioned by Brown and shown on his big screen when answering my question.

 

Gamers like food badly.

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