Review: Magical Sentient Economy Snow Shovel

Note: Relationship depicted as currently in the post-magical, pre-bitterness phase

What’s being tested?

The fateful decision to draw an amusing face upon grandfather’s rickety old snow shovel, which, one magical winter’s evening, is given life by virtue of an unspecified ‘Christmas Miracle’ scale event.

What we found

Pros:

Our testers found that this particular circumstance gifted them an almost premium level of dependency on the part of the newly sentient snow shovel, almost certainly a level of dependency not recently experienced by a man/woman taken to drawing amusing faces on season-specific gardening tools. In addition to this, this new responsibility costs relatively little to satisfy, beyond the occasional varnishing of the wood handle, and a good dry-off. It was also found that discovering a freshly alive snow spade not only represents a consistently amusing and interesting anecdote on a social level, but also extends to the level of the multi-media franchise, with opportunities for marketing the relationship in cartoons, small-scale merchandising and self-help books. A significant degree of our testers even felt that the presence of a living scoop validated the ideal that ‘anything can happen’, which subsequently endowed them with a sense of confidence hitherto unknown in lonely members of the faces-on-tools community.

Cons:

The aforementioned boost in confidence in ‘limitless possibilities’ could still be misplaced, especially if the subject (previously taken to drawing faces on snow shovels) applies for a relationship with someone beyond his/her conversational or financial means. The shovel itself is likely to display significantly high spirits or even ‘chipperness’ which, in certain circumstances (after the rejection of a relationship application, for example) could prove most unwelcome. The snow shovel could also be at risk, depending upon the circumstances it is born into – it’s new owner may not be emotionally mature enough to deal with the responsibilities of looking after another sentient being, or may be of an unsound or unsavoury disposition. Our experts also found that the spade runs the risk of being discovered by a shady government bureau, before being abducted and cruelly tested upon in order to discern the root of its magical origin and secrets. This can be a source of stress for both shovel and owner.

Some of our testers even suggested that they became reluctant to draw anything resembling a face on anything else, lest it should be granted life by another unlikely deus ex machina. Many also experienced a deep level of frustration and even remorse upon realising that the ‘miracle’ that brought their new snow spade friend to life could have been better deployed elsewhere,  in answering the prayers of a starving homeless child, or a refugee from a foreign conflict, for instance. A source of mild irritation was recognised in the form of the obligation to buy another non-sentient snow shovel.

Verdict

Our testers found that, while their magical friend initially brought a new found sense of wonder and enchantment into their lives, this wonder/enchantment inevitably became commonplace, whereupon the terrifying prospect of living with a upbeat talking spade who would always be dependent on them became stark  and obvious. Our experts therefore recommend never wishing for anything that cannot be provided for by known science, and advise steering clear of whatever has the potential to be both whimsical and miraculous.

Review: Upon Returning to the Newly Aisled Supermarket

Note: Delicate refridgeration machinery, now elsewhere

What’s being tested?

The 2nd time you attempt to navigate your regular supermarket after its aisles and products have been rearranged for unspecified conditions.

What we found

Pros: While the novelty of the rearrangement had dissipated slightly upon returning to the recalibrated market-effect warehouse, many of our testers still felt a degree of excitement while attempting to navigate the still relatively unfamiliar isles, a rapture not unlike the one presumably felt by the young contestants attempting to accomplish an optimum run through the final round of Pat Sharpe’s seminal early 90’s entertainment property, ‘Fun House’ (please note; not the adult version). Many of the rearranged stores on test were willing to play ‘crazy sax’ music over the intercom for the duration of our shop, which augmented the experience greatly.  Some of our reviewers even found the return trip to be a more rewarding competitive experience than the previous, as it was easy to discern the advantage a 2nd timer had over someone who had only just realised that this-wasn’t-how-they-remembered-it-being. A few of our testers found a degree of satisfaction in recognising the shoppers who formed the latter category , and by either actively helping them navigate the store, or convincing them that entire food groups had been phased out and no longer existed, many of these testers found the rearrangement to be a continually rewarding experience.

Cons: A degree of our testers experienced the same uncontrollable burning primeval rage they had felt upon entering the rearranged supermarket on the first occasion, suggesting that they still believed, sub-consciously or otherwise, that they had been deliberately hoodwinked by the chain of their choice, and that ‘everyone was laughing at them’, albeit unfairly. Many of our reviewers noted that the majority of the staff had ceased exhibiting visible signs of guilt in response to individual customer confusion, with the majority of those questioned refusing to acknowledge the recalibration without significant and ultimately physical prompting. It’s worth noting that much of the negativity surrounding the aisles being changed could have been avoided if the supermarket(s) had just asked what our testers thought prior to the rearrangement, and listened to what we might have liked for a change, without going off and just doing their own thing, which was, on balance, hurtful and thoughtless.

Verdict

While the change in layout was undeniably an inconvenience, we found that it also represented an opportunity, and the chance to see things from a fresh perspective. The majority of our testers enjoyed seeing their favourite brands in bold new contexts, and, despite many members of staff refusing to even entertain the idea that things had changed even slightly, it was generally considered that the aisle re-boot would be hugely beneficial on all fronts, and would never have to be undertaken again, at tremendous financial cost, in 4 months time.

Review: ‘Celebrations’ Mars Bars

Pictured, C-grade confections, not all on test

What’s being tested?

The inevitable surplus of Celebration-grade ‘Mars’ confections, usually evidenced in the twilight phases of a Celebration-grade gift-receptacle.

What we found

Pros: Our testers found that the Celebration (C) grade confections provided the same spectrum of nutrients as Fun Size (FS), Regular (R), Competition (Co) and Share Size (SS) grade Mars sweets, albeit at a reduced level. Nevertheless, it was felt that C grades could provide a temporary alternative to any of the aforementioned grades, were they not available. Many of testers mentioned that they felt bigger when consuming C grades, with ‘giants’ and ‘giant people’ being a common unit of measurement. Being able to fit more than 3 C grades in your mouth at one time was hailed as a positive, as it would reduce the effects of a typical R grade deficit by however many C grades were orally consumed, as well as reducing the overall negative aesthetic of loads of C grades just banging about at the bottom of the gift-receptacle.

Cons: Given that the C-grade inhabits the broader realm of leisure-gift confectionary, it contributes to a relatively low aspirational experience. A degree of our testers felt that eating the Mars C-grade felt appropriate to sitting in your unkempt back garden on a sunny day in your underwear, or drinking alcohol in the small hours of Tuesday morning in an untidy living room with the curtains open, especially when C-grade confections were deployed in a celebratory context. A common observation was that the Mars C-grade felt particularly depressing to eat as the garish novelty highlights of the larger C-grade experience, most notably the Galaxy Truffle and Malteaser ‘Teaser, had been all but exhausted, barring oversight or wrapper anomaly. Augmenting this dark attitude was the sharp reality that beyond the buffer of Mars C-grades lay, in almost all cases on test, only C-grade Topics.

Verdict:

In isolation, the Mars C-grade was found to be a not unpleasant confection, and a satisfactory miniature heir to its R-grade predecessor. Unfortunately, we also found that the C-grade was almost universally associated with an air of melancholy and wistfulness, with its consumption considered a singularly lonely experience, even in a communal environment. A solution could be to regulate the mastication of its associate C-grades in favour of the Mars, perhaps with a rotational timetable with each confection arranged in order, thus making the C-grade on test part of a wider experience, as opposed to it remaining in its current state of segregation. As it stands, we could not recommend the Mars C-grade confection for deployment in anything other than an isolated environment, with the curtains drawn.

Review: The Rating of an Individual as ‘a Human Bollard’

Note: a human effect bollard, not a bollard human

What’s being tested?

The realisation that you have judged an individual pedestrian based on their speed and progress directly relative to your own velocity in a built up area, and subsequently found them to be of no greater value than a concrete traffic calming measure.

What we found

Pros: A few of our testers felt that such an attitude would become increasingly necessary as our species draws closer to living in an age where we are forced to fight for material advantages, namely in resources like coal, gems and wood. As such, a small proportion of our staff suggested that they would even consider teaching their genetic successors that such instincts should not be resisted, and that a cool and unsympathetic attitude to those who could not maintain a serviceable communal pace in the wild was the only way to ensure our continued survival as the dominant species on this planet. Those who disliked the attitude still hoped that complaining about people who refused to walk fast enough would at least replace the embarrassing self defeating argument about ‘people from abroad taking all the jobs and lounging around on benefits’ as the number one rent-an-opinion opinion for the not very bright.

Cons: A great deal of our testers felt that it wasn’t very nice to label people human bollards, and it was found that there were often perfectly good reasons for individuals not walking as fast as other individuals. The notion of a standardised rate of pace was generally considered to be a terrifying idea, as much as that the initial rate of pace would almost certainly mutate over time, until no one would be allowed to travel anywhere on foot, what with the minimum pedestrian velocity eventually becoming entirely unattainable.

Verdict

We found that, while the instinct itself was, on balance, horrifying, it was important that we acknowledged that instinct, and attempted to understand where it came from, why it came from there, and what we could do about it. Our testers felt that, while resolution to this internal conflict may never come, it was the quest to find this resolution that would ultimately make us more human, and the challenging of said instinct( as opposed to simply obeying it) would be the saviour of our species as we move into a more troubled age. Suppressing it and pretending it didn’t exist while judging others on their own failings was also posited as a probable alternative.