Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Art of War v. Christmas Vacation

Ol' Sun Tzu was a clever cat, and his Art of War is the pre-eminent work of military strategy and tactics. Translated by a Jesuit priest in the late 1780's, it has inspired Napoleon, Mao Tse Sung, and the planning of Operation Desert Storm. It works on so many levels--war, business, advertising, etc. Basically; Lay Plans. Wage War. Attack Stragegically. Positioning. Proper use of Energy. Illusions and Reality...and most importantly, the best victory is one that is WON WITHOUT FIGHTING.
Here is the Backstory:
Every year at Thanksgiving we kick off the Christmas Season by watching the movie Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and the actor who should have won the Academy Award for all time, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie. Generally we watch it with Connie's sister Cheri & husband Rick, her brother Greg & wife Kelly, and sometimes with my brother Brady and his wife Katherine. The in-law parents sometimes watch, sometimes fall asleep, and the little cousins drift in and out. Every year someone says "we should have a Christmas Vacation contest".... One year there was a half hearted attempt by Greg or Rick to dress up as Clark Griswold, but it was so lame nobody noticed, accept maybe me, so I started laying my plans for 2008. It was the perfect storm: we were all going to meet in Des Moines for Thanksgiving, and "Operation Eddie" was put in place.

First of all, Craigslist is great for Step 1 in art of war "laying plans" . So I started looking for old piece of crap Winnebagos for sale around the Des Moines Area. There are lots. I sent emails to the sellers basically saying, "Here's an idea I expect you to turn down, and I don't want to buy your RV, but I'd like to rent it for a day." Then I'd lay out what I wanted to do-- Out of the 10 emails I sent between October and November three said they would do it. I ended up working with George Garwood who had an RV parked at his shop about 15 minutes from where Rick & Cheri lived. A very gregarious guy who was ready and waiting when we showed up.

Second, Google Images is great to find the picture of what you want. All I needed to get was a white robe (had one, just needed to hem it to a short-short length), a bomber hat (quick trip to Bass Pro Shops and picked one up), then needed to get a cigar (had some) and the hardest two parts were the can of Meister Brau (don't make it anymore--Old Milwaukee had to do), then the rubber hose from Orschlein's in Bethany Missouri and the costume was complete.
The plan was coming together. We met up with my RV guy George Garwood at the Pilot Truck stop less than 1 mile from the Ernzen's house. Connie, Ryan and Sarah had been 'confused' by this great idea, but as we got into the RV and I changed into my costume, it started dawning on them that this idea, while idiotic, just may be epic. Slow sly smiles came onto their faces when they realized that they may actually have fun with this hare-brained idea instead of just making fun of me. We got in the RV and drove over to Rick & Cheri's and pulled up, and our 8 year old Cousin/Nephew Grant was outside looking at us slightly confused as I got out of the RV in my bathrobe, hat, cigar, beer and long rubber hose that I was sticking into their sewer.

Right then my brother in law Rick pulls up in his car, does a double take and starts shaking his head. My father in-law Jim Dice comes outside and looks at me both very confused and somewhat consternated. Two neighbors of Rick & Cheri come out and say to Rick, HEY, YOUR "S#(^^#!$ Full" . Finally my mother in law Delores, sister in law Cheri, brother in law Greg & wife Kelly came outside to look, all speechless for a while, then laughing. Greg finally said the magic words:

"You Win".

All in all, best $103 I ever spent:
$60 for RV Rental, $20 for driving to Cheri's, $20 for driving home, $20 being a great guy.
$29 for the Hat at Bass Pro Shops. (I'll probably take it back)
$14 for the Hose (Don't know what else to do with this...)
Winning the contest? Priceless.

That's it. Game over. It's done. New Contest.

(Sun Tsu is looking down with a smile.)


brady said...

A wise sage once said, "John, is this the best use of your time?"

For the record, the moment I read that you were browsing Craigslist is when I connected the dots from seeing that sump pump hose in the back of Guz to the rest of your Cousin Eddy plans. LOL.

Anyhow, the heroes of this story are: Connie, Ryan and Sarah for their (pity and) slow-nodding approval; Jim and Delores for not shutting their door on you.

Still, this is Thanksgiving. And just like the Griswold XMAS, who but your own kin will turn a blind eye and accept this behavior? (In truth, I'm looking forward to seeing that picture.) From what I can see, you're quite blessed to have such a loving (forgiving) family.

Happy Thanksgiving Murphinis!

Brendan said...

Next year you'll have to be barking for the yak woman, or maybe just show proof of being a pixie dust spreader on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Nice work.

Brendan said...

Funny, I was thinking of including this very line in my reply, too.

A wise sage once said, "John, is this the best use of your time?"

And, uh ... did Libby play the part of Snot?

murphini said...

once the pictures get here, you'll see it is a "MeisterStuck". Too dang bad we left our camera in our car instead of bringing in the RV.

Really, I have a lot of time on planes to think up these goofy stunts.

Speaking of, next summer will be m 25th anniversary of riding in Colorado and doing Trail Ridge road. We need to start looking at times for a summer

packers and movers kalyan said...

thanks for this it very nice