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Red Lobster's


by: Wes

SO. If you read Scary-Crayon's review of the Red Lobster Fun Book a while back, you might remember the true story of the murderous Red and his wicked intentions. You might remember Larry Lobster, Shrimpee the homosexual shrimp, and their other assorted anthropomorphic pals, most of whom actually appeared on the menu. Yes, here they are taking the time to create fun, endearing characters, only to serve them up to you on a platter fifteen minutes three hours later. I never got that, but something tells me it's all part of Red's evil master plan. And speaking of his devious schemes, for sanity's sake I hope you don't remember the unbelievably creepy Tree of Plenty, from which grew a number of animal parts and even more random things like slices of pie. What did it all mean?!?!? Your guess is as good as mine, folks.

Red Lobster Hidden Treasure Pack Vol.18: The Case of the Sneering Substitute!But they didn't stop with one fun book, oh no -- as you can see from the "Vol. 18" in the bottom left corner of the image at right, they printed quite a few of these. And why wouldn't they? It's brilliant! Instead of giving kids three half-eaten crayons and paper placemats with a couple of stupid games and puzzles, they give them an entire color comic adventure filled with stupid games and puzzles to keep them busy while Red Lobster's chefs masturbate over your food do whatever it is they do that justifies your meal taking so goddamned long to come. To that end, enter Red Lobster Hidden Treasure Pack: The Case of the Sneering Substitute! And instead of half-eaten crayons, they also came with the tiniest No. 2 pencils the world has ever seen! Sans erasers! w00t!

In addition to the new jazzed up name, the artwork is also much improved, both of which lead me to believe that this book was printed after the original Red Lobster Fun Book. And we've touched on the "Vol. 18" in the corner there -- apparently by this time ol' Red was putting a book out every week/month/whatever, thereby giving the kiddies yet another reason to beg their parents to take them to Red Lobster over some other restaurant where the food actually came in a reasonable amount of time. How clever! That evil lobster is a marketing genius.

Anyway, there's not a whole lot happening on this first page. They don't even take the time to reintroduce us to Bobby, Rick, and Kathy, but I guess by Vol. 18 they assumed that kids were already familiar with the cast. If you weren't, I guess you had to order back issues or something. So today in the "special" class, the kids apparently have a substitute teacher. That is, I assume it's the "special" class, since aside from there being a bomb scare or other terrorist threat in the news I have no idea why there would only be three students and a submarine sandwich (look, it's got its own fucking desk and everything) in attendance. And since they have a "sub", here's your first activity: Find five things in the picture that begin with "sub"! Yes, the teacher and Subby are included. I'd hate to be that kid when the schoolyard bully gets hungry.

''My, teacher, what BIG teeth you have!''

Then it's on to Red's Readers' Page, where apparently kids could write in and share their awful jokes and artwork with the Red Lobster dining community at large. In addition to such gems as "What kind of tree grows out of your hand? A palm tree!" we've got a colored pencil drawing of Red Lobster with hands instead of claws. Points for creativity, I guess. And on the third page, our story continues. Being a certified master of the obvious, Rick notes that they're apparently having a substitute today, to which Bobby responds, "And there she is!" Kathy, however -- have you noticed that in keeping with the girl power feminist zeitgeist, the girls tend to be the clever ones in these comic strips, whereas the boys are complete morons? -- is a little more discerning, noting that something looks fishy about that teacher. Get it? The teacher's a giant fish. Brilliant punning, Kathy! And then she proceeds to make a sly reference to "Red Riding Hood", as she whispers in an aside, "My, teacher, what big teeth you have!" Kathy's on a roll. And hey, speaking of teeth -- Red Lobster rules the segue circuit -- there's a little game on the bottom half of the page where you're supposed to match the numbers along the side with the number of teeth that each character has. Simple enough, though I'm pretty sure that sharks have more than eight teeth. And it's kinda wild how those three desks in the top panel magically rearranged themselves so we could see all three kids in an unobscured side-view shot, isn't it?

Meet ''Miss Neer''!

Moving along, the fishy substitute introduces herself as Miss Neer before announcing that today they'll be having a quick quiz about the good state of Texas. And of course, like the typical know-nothing, Bobby throws his hand up to point out that they haven't studied Texas yet, whereas Kathy merely smirks because she knows her shit. Hell, even Rick knows enough to break out the book and try and get in some last minute cramming, and I think Subby faked an illness and ran off to the nurse's office. Bobby, you are the weakest link. But hey, maybe you'll grow up to be President. So again with the relevant games, since the quiz was going to be about Texas, hidden about the scene are a number of items typically associated with the southwestern state, including a few articles of cowboy clothing, a guitar, and a cactus. And then, given that the alphabet is written across the top of the blackboard, it's only fitting that you give the Alpha-Find game a try! All twenty-six letters appear in the word balloons on the page, and it's your job to circle them. I was kinda skeptical about that one, but it's true. See? Anyway, after the substitute gets through threatening Bobby...

''... Who are these geeks?'''s time for recess! Apparently it's raining outside, or there are only three kids in this classroom because they're in some sort of witness protection program and aren't allowed to leave the safety of the building, so I guess the gang won't be enjoying recess on the playground today. But not to worry! Since these kids (except Kathy) are obviously too stupid to come up with their own activities, Miss Neer's invited her "assistant" to teach the children some new games -- including "Predator"! "That's when you run around and bite as many people as you can!" the assistant explains.

Yeah, go ahead and think about that one for a moment. Not only is that totally unsanitary and dangerous on all sorts of levels, but a game where you run around biting people? I don't have a whole lot to add to that -- it's so fucking ridiculous that even dumbass Rick and idiot Bobby realize that something's obviously amiss here. After some prompting from Kathy, anyway. These "geeks" clearly aren't teachers, and with the school in grave danger of people getting diseases and nasty tastes in their mouth and having chunks of their flesh torn off by a dress-wearing shark with eight teeth, it's up to these three students to save the school!

Of course, before they do that, they've got to figure out the identities of these nefarious substitutes. And to aid them in that task, there's the Substitute Search game! Of course, you could fucking look at the suspects and match their faces to the subs, but for the idiots and extremely imaginative folks among us -- after all, the culprits could be those aliens in the center of the top row, cleverly disguised in piranha and shark costumes in order to frame their aquatic rivals -- there are "clues", which aren't so much clues as directions that point you right to Lockjaw and Sneer. Uh, good job, team!

Into the Yellow Brick Maze!

So with the culprits' identities discovered, the kids can finally bring those bastards down! Why a giant shark and piranha would run from a few kids is beyond me, but whatever -- summer blockbuster style, the kids chase the faux substitutes into a maze and it's up to you to steer them to the end without crashing them into any walls, thereby making them even dumber. I'm not sure why the children are in such a hurry, though -- you can clearly see that at the end of the maze the villains run into something that not only stops them dead in their tracks but causes them to scream, "UH-OH!" and "YIKES!" in sheer terror. What horrors lie at the end of the maze? La la la-la, connect the dots to find out! Or click here for the solution. As you can see, Lockjaw and Sneer's fears are totally grounded... for these two unlucky bastards have just come face-to-face with the malevolent baseball cap-wearing Red Lobster. And Crabber, too!

''Now we can see what they were UP to!''So Red kicks the shit out of Lockjaw and Sneer and ties them up 'round the flagpole for all the kiddies to laugh at once the final bell rings. Crabber, of course, doesn't do shit, because he's the traditional tiny sidekick who stands by and cracks wise while the bigger, more capable guy does all of the work. In reference to the height at which the bad guys have been detained, he remarks, "Now we can see what they were up to!" That's not even funny. Still, Kathy giggles and says, "Oh, Crabber!" in that flirtatious way that women do when they're trying to endear themselves to men, which leads me to believe that Kathy is totally interested in fucking that crab. Heck, we've already seen a talking shark and piranha masquerading as old ladies, so stranger things have happened. I'm just wondering if Crabber has pubic hair to match those eyebrows.

Anyway, with the bad guys beaten and half a page remaining, the reader is invited to relax with Red's Word Search. Give it a whirl if you like, and check out my answers here when you're finished. After I knocked off all of the words on the list, I started circling shit that wasn't on there in green until I got bored. Unfortunately, I didn't find any dirty words hidden in the puzzle, but -- I wonder -- is it a coincidence that CEO appears in there? Or, given that this word search was designed and submitted by an eight-year-old, is this indicative of the detrimental effects that living in our opportunistic, money-hungry society can have on a child? Already, as we see here, the child envies the position of the wealthy CEO and aspires to be one so badly that she unwittingly includes the title in even a word search. Could it be that Red Lobster included this puzzle to warn us of the inevitable dangers of capitalism? It's quite possible, comrade! Let's not forget, after all, that he is Red Lobster. And can you hear that faint churning, folks? That's the sound of ol' Joseph McCarthy doing 360s in his grave. I wonder how he'd feel if he knew that 360s only reminded me of Zangief, the mighty former Soviet Union, and cossack dances. And bears.

Red's Treasure Meals!

And to remind the kiddies that yes, at some point, your food will be here, the back cover features the kids' menu, complete with illustrations of the meals right down to the lemon wedge on the garnish and the honey mustard dipping sauce that accompanies the chicken fingers. Those illustrations really look good, too -- I'm practically salivating as I type this. Except slobbering all over my fingers and keyboard isn't really very practical, is it now? Ha ha ha! (Psst, if you know of any hero types looking for a wisecracking sidekick, be sure to have them drop me a line. :P) So back to the food! Where the meal title isn't descriptive enough, as with the "Popcorn Shrimp" -- which I guess could be kind of confusing if, y'know, the drawing of the meal weren't right there -- and the "Shrimp on a Stick" meals, there's even a little description to help the kids figure out what they want. I dunno about you, but "twin skewers of shrimp served over rice pilaf" sounds pretty good to me! I never ordered that meal as a kid. Anyway, I could go on and on about Red's Treasure Meals, but I think I'll just refer you to the Foodstuffs section of SC and wrap this article up. To go, that is. Hah! But seriously, folks, today we've seen idiot kids, a submarine sandwich sitting at a desk, a shark and a piranha wearing dresses and granny wigs, asked ourselves if giant talking crabs have pubic hair, and successfully completed a handful of stupid puzzles and games. At the very least, I think we owe ourselves a pleasant bit of noshing. Don't you?

-- Wes --

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