BAGDAD -- It began simply enough. Children across the country started drives to collect Silly String to ship to troops in Iraq after learning it could be used to detect booby traps. Then, slowly but inexorably, things began spiraling out of control.
One group, misunderstanding, collected and shipped over 10,000 lbs. of Silly Putty. It turned out that this came in useful, too. "We built a few dummy soldiers, just for fun," said Staff Sgt. Soupy Sales, "And the insurgents started shooting them. So we started making them as fast as we can to use as a sort of an early warning system. The great thing is that we all look alike to them, so we didn't have to be that detailed."
When word of that success got out, kids nationwide began sending all kinds of toys, with mixed results.
"The eyeglasses with big noses and moustaches were fantastic disguises for covert ops," said Lt. Col. Ernie Kovacks. "I'd never have guessed that they would make us blend in so well."
"You'd be surprised how fast a tank would sink in the sand if we pelted it with a few thousand water ballons," said an amazed Maj. Groucho Marx.
There have been a few misses. A science student from Pocatello, Idaho built and shipped a giant remote control Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robot. "The problem with that, of course," explained Capt. Larry Howard, "Is that one blow to the chin destroyed the stupid thing. That didn't help morale."
Still, all in all, it's been a remarkable success. Pogo sticks help soldiers cross dangerous minefields with surprising speed while at the same time minimizing the chance of hitting a mine. Chinese handcuffs have been very effective in thwarting insurgent efforts to quickly pick up weapons. Preliminary analyses show encouraging signs that many Iraqis will indeed shoot their eye out if given a Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
Fighting a war isn't all fun and games, but maybe it's closer than you think.