Category Archives: Mission 10: Secret Santas

Mission 9.5 Report: Secret Zappas

Submitted by Professor Plum:

I combined two missions and celebrated the holiday season with a Secret Zappa gift giving session. In this interactive performance piece, I delivered gifts to random strangers in a highly theatrical manner.

My first step was to visit a dollar store with ten bucks in my pocket and spend it on anything that caught my eye. My acquisitions:

– playing cards with assorted vegetables on reverse
– balance bird
– kazoo
– bunny-ears headband
– box of colored pencils
– solar-powered dancing flower toy

Words can’t describe the final object in full splendor so I’ve included a photo:

My hope was that the gifts would be cute enough to mitigate the sketchiness of their delivery. The lackluster wrapping job certainly didn’t add to my credibility.

The final challenge was becoming Sir Secret Zappa himself. I wore fuzzy snowflake pants and a tight vest, carried an electric guitar, donned dark glasses, and messed up my hair as much as I could. Unfortunately, Zappa’s wild black mane and bushy moustache were too much. My budget didn’t allow for a trip to the costume shop. However, authenticity was not my goal. I feel that I captured the Zappadan spirit which lives in all of our hearts and I hope that came across.

To distinguish myself as more than just another crazy guy in a strange outfit handing out suspicious parcels, I blasted “Peaches en Regalia” from a portable amplifier ducttaped to my back and shouted Merry Zappadan as I was distributing the gifts. I still probably came across as crazy, but it was glamorous and certainly cemented my identity as Zappa.

I distributed the gifts to unsuspecting café patrons. I entered the café in an oversized peacoat to disguise myself and quickly surveyed the scene. After selecting my targets, I revealed my identity and fired up the soundtrack. I was afraid of being tossed out or reaching the end of the song so I only gave myself three minutes to distribute the gifts and make my escape. It was a rush but I managed to unload all the goods. I gave the final gift to a barista on the way out.

The audience reaction was a mix of confusion and surprise but I think they appreciated it and I earned smiles and blushes from my targets. Everybody stopped what they were doing to watch and I noticed a few people taking photos or videos on their phones. I imagine it took a while for the shock to wear off and for the full impact of my performance to sink in, but I suspect that everybody was discussing it long after I left.

I didn’t want to ruin the moment by asking somebody to send me a photo so I don’t have much documentation of the performance. I had recruited a friend to film the episode but he bailed at the last minute and, since it was already the last day of Zappadan, I had to go solo. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun, and might try it again with a video crew. Zappadan is a long way off but some speculate that on February 2nd the prophet will stir from his annual hibernation to relieve himself in the yellow snow, take medication for his hibernal hangover, and search for his shadow which, according to rumor, exists only in the fourth dimension. Perhaps he’ll hand out a few presents while he’s at it!

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Mission 10: Secret Santas

If you live in any country in which both consumerism and Christianity and are rampant, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the Secret Santa. Perhaps you’ve even participated in one of these awkward exchanges. In case you haven’t, the general idea is that everybody is asked to give a lame present to virtual stranger. In exchange, everybody can expect to receive an even lamer present from another virtual stranger. The problem with Secret Santas, however, is neither lame presents nor strangers. In fact, both giving and receiving lame presents can be great fun, especially when strangers are involved! Their principle downfall is that they simply aren’t secret enough.

Oh sure, you might not know precisely who has been assigned to give you a present, but that’s about all that’s left up to the imagination. It’s no secret that you’re going to receive a present of some kind or another. You even know exactly when and where you’re going to receive it! And, worst of all, you know why the virtual stranger is giving you a lame present. It’s the same reason you’re giving another virtual stranger a lame present–because that’s what you signed up for. How much more interesting would it be if these details were left up to the imagination? That’s what this mission aims to explore. Let’s transform the act of giving from obligation into art!

Give a present to a complete stranger. Your gift doesn’t need to be anything special, but we encourage you to think about the delivery of your present as a performance. You could be anonymous or you could be really really open about it. For instance, you could mail your gift to a random address. You could also flag down your target on the street and, on bended knee, deliver your present along with a heartfelt a capella rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

Keep in mind, however, that society teaches us from a very early age to be suspicious of anything we receive from strangers. In other words, the more convincing your presentation, the more likely the gift will be accepted. Nevertheless, you should be careful to reveal nothing about your motives in giving it. That would take all the fun out of it!

Happy holidays and, as always, viva la revolucion!