The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Slides are great, except the ones made out of Frictionium, the mysterious metal with a friction coefficent that makes concrete sidewalks look like a bathtub of baby oil by comparison. With those you don't slide, you just sit there looking like an idiot on an incline. Unless you're unlucky, and the slide takes three layers of skin as a sacrifice to the dark gods of recess. But slides that work, those are the shit: A-

I've noticed an increasing number of newish playgounds with no swings, or only baby swings. This is a pity, because whether you want to be Superman or a fairy princess, when you're a kid all best-case scenarios involve the power of flight, and swings are about as close as you're going to get. Some of these parks still have the sumo-pants baby swings, but in my graham cracker days I was considered something of an expert in baby-swing use for non-babies, and I can tell you it's not worth the effort. A

Tic-Tac-Toe Games
Oh, please. This seems to be what the more litigationally timid playgrounds are providing in place of swings and other potential bone-cracking amusements: big plastic dowels with Xs and Os on them that you can twirl around to play tic-tac-toe. If I wanted to play a game like some cerebral egghead I'd head home and bust out the Candyland. D-

Monkey Bars
It's hard to form an objective opinion on these, because I hate them. They mock me. Monkey bars are filed in my mind under "things I never quite mastered," along with kickball and the trombone. Each effort to span a monkey-bar chasm ended up with me in the sand, cursing second grade and vowing to use an as-yet-undiscovered worldwide publishing medium to wreak my revenge on those who laughed at me. D

Tractory Sand-Moving Devices
The whole process of moving sand around in a playground is as futile as it is popular. It's not like some future documentary narrator is going to say "Center Street Park: a harsh wilderness brought to heel by generations of grade-schoolers who labored tirelessly, piling the sand into little hills." But I like it anyway. It's meditative. The sand was there, now it's here, and you made it happen. B-

Centrifugal force! Whee! Nothing like nearly being thrown from a moving object while the corndog you just ate fights its way to the surface to justify an afternoon out! Thus will the merry-go-round remain the acme of playground self-abuse until someone invents a device to hold you upside down and shake you like a wet elkhound. C+

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