Friday, December 31, 2010

Today's Vocabulary

Snowblower: 1. (n) Cause for great joy among the snowman community.

The beautiful thing about these little verbal bon mots is that I can toss off a quick one (a verbal double entendre in and of itself) without having to write a long article. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today's Holiday Vocabulary

Snowballs: 1. (adj) Vicious taunt from Frosty's childhood.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guys Like Us Rebroadcast

   Lucky me.  I was one of the fortunate few selected to receive the latest in a string of chain e-mails.  Only this time, instead of a “can’t miss” financial scheme from a Nigerian king, this latest one tried to persuade me that women have it worse than Paris Hilton at a Mensa meeting.  That I was even chosen to receive it proves I’m not the insensitive Neanderthal my wife swears I am (hey, I cried when-SPOILER ALERT-“Old Yeller” died!).
    Evidently, the sender thought I’d get a kick out of a list which trumpets the misery of armpit shaving, heel wearing, and eyebrow plucking.
    Sure, I liked it in a “you go, girlfriend” kind of way.  But, I hesitated to share that at our last Super Bowl party.  I really didn’t want the gender police to come crashing through my door, demanding surrender of my Guy Card.
    But, burkhas and bikini waxes notwithstanding, I can’t see how it’s all that bad being a girl.  Ladies, c’mon!  Do bullies ever kick sand in YOUR face at the beach?  
    So, the next time you ladies are patting yourselves on the backs and high-fiving during the next Lifetime Channel Marathon (“All PMS! All Day!!”), you may want to consider what it’s like to be a man.
    Indeed, what makes up guys like us?
1.  We worry about being called to the chalkboard while daydreaming. “Is that a banana in your pocket, Mr. Penwasser, or are you just happy to diagram sentences?”
2.  We avoid getting kicked in the...uh...well, you know where.  At all costs.
3.  We must know how to fix a car or our very manhood is called into question.  At the very least, we need to know how to lift the hood and stare meaningfully at the engine as if we knew a carburetor from a Double Beef Whopper With Extra Cheese.  Hmmmmmm, whopper.  Oh, and calling AAA doesn’t count.
4.  We’re counted on to be the breadwinners, even if our wife’s maiden name is “Trump.”
5.  Refractory period.  ‘Nuff said.
6.  Ladies don’t suffer from performance anxiety...if you know what I mean. 
7.  Women don’t have to worry about being told they “throw like a girl.”
8.  Two words:  Body parts.  Zippers.
9.  Shrinkage.
10. What in the name of androgyny is an “ubersexual”?  I’ll take torn jeans, ratty sneakers, and washing my hair with soap anytime.
11. Gotta know the difference between a crescent wrench and vise grips.  “That metal thingie” may work for my wife, but it’ll get ME laughed out of Home Depot.
12. We’re supposed to be able to whip up 100 pancakes, cook an omelet which would make a French chef weep, and barbecue an elephant on the grill.
13. Knowing how to golf, bowl, fish, hunt, and shoot pool are key elements to membership in the Guy Club.
14. We actually know the answer to the age-old “Ginger or Mary Ann?” conundrum.
15. YOU say “Clothes shopping at the mall.”  WE say “Cart pushing through ‘Guy Hell’.”
16. Church service at 9:00.  Kick-off at 1:00.  Still think God isn’t a ‘he’?
17. The “Best of Oprah” puts us to sleep faster than a 20-inning no-hitter.  
18. Guys never say “adorable”, “precious”, or “cute.”  Ever.
19. Men know that, when confronted with the dilemma of two of three stalls being occupied, the obvious solution is another bathroom.
20. Faced with the prospect of sharing a king-sized bed with another guy or sleeping in the dog’s bed, we’ll choose Rover’s crib anytime.
21. Farts make us laugh.
22. Sorting whites from darks can’t be any harder than computing an ERA, fixing a lawnmower, programming the VCR, or baiting a hook.
23. Shrieking at the sight of a mouse loses many valuable “Guy Cool Points.”
24. Why is it always, “Honey, I heard a noise downstairs.  Please go check.”?
25. You may have fat ankles, but have you seen that hair on our backs, in our ears, and from our noses?
26. We pat each other on the fanny in the huddle but, never, EVER make eye contact at the urinal.
27. Nobody can convince me that “#1 Grampa” baseball caps, black socks with sandals, and metal detectors on the beach aren’t dorkier than blue hair.
28. You have “The View”, we have “NASCAR.”  You have Brad Pitt, we have Jessica Alba.  You have HGTV, we have ESPN.  You have Martha Stewart, you can have Hugh Grant.     
29. Menopause, schmenopause.  Try male pattern baldness, prostates the size of small dogs, and man boobs.
30. Last, but by no means least:  erectile dysfunction. 
    My list complete, I crack open a can of beer, prop my feet up on the coffee table, and flip on SportsCenter.  Chuckling to myself, I can’t help but be proud that I sport a Y chromosome.
    As I further pondered our differences, though, I have to be honest.  I suppose we do have it equally good and equally bad.  I mean, for every stray nose hair we have there’s unwanted facial fuzz for you.  For every nightclub shootout, there’s an obnoxious pick-up line at Happy Hour.  
    Women never have to worry about six-pack abs.  But, then again, men never have to fret over “Does this make me look fat?” 
    A bit deflated, I compared the lists and decided no one sex has it over the other.  
    But, suddenly, like a lightning bolt from out of the blue, I was struck by one undeniable fact.  One truism that makes me so happy to be a guy that I could belch out the alphabet and stick my hand in my pants:
    Women have to kiss guys.

Hey, it's the end of the year. No sense trotting out new stuff until after January 1st. Still working on the Christmas candies, after all.  Errr, I mean my diet.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just Curious

  How long are you socially required to wish people a "Happy New Year?" Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? State of the Union? St. Patrick's Day?
  To be safe, I'll honor "auld lang syne" until folks take down their Christmas lights.
  So, I guess the answer is, "Until Memorial Day."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gleδileg Jól

When a Yule Lad cometh...

    Our daughter was snoring away-no doubt dreaming of what kind of “loot” she’d get from the miniscule sheep worrying troll that night.  A precocious fourth-grader, she made sure to remind us at dinner of what a good girl she had been all year.  Surely, she solemnly told us, Stekkjarstaur would be able to fit a puppy in her sneaker.
    Luckily, she remained oblivious as my wife slipped a sweet into her shoe without a sound.  The girl would have to be satisfied with a pack of Twizzlers this year, as the puppy would have to wait for another time.  Like when she got married.
    One child down, I marveled at how easy this whole Yule Lad thing was.  It was certainly a lot easier than trying to assemble a bicycle after midnight on Christmas morning.  Or trying to convince skeptical children that a jolly fat man silently slid the whole shebang down the chimney without creating a racket which would wake up dead people.  Or swearing that those were really Christmas carols they heard coming from the living room, not curse words. 
    So, I confidently told my wife that she could relax and go watch her DVD of “CSI: Miami.”  I would play the part of the Sheep Worrier and slip a “Family Size” Snickers (that’s one big family) into our son’s shoe.
    The spartan apartment in which we lived wasn’t like your typical one back in the States.  Our bedrooms were so small, I hardly had enough room to change my mind, let alone walk freely around my son’s bed.  That being the case, I had to lean carefully on his sheets and stretch my full length just to reach the windowsill.
    And that ain’t easy when you have to shop for your pants in the Boys Department.          
    Even though my backbone began to pop like a set of maracas and the muscles in my arm began to rip away from my shoulder like I was on a medieval rack, I smiled when my fingertips brushed up against his shoe.  As the candy began to tumble inside, I heard a small whisper from out of the darkness, “That’s okay, Dad.  You can turn on the light if you can’t see.”
    Busted, I quickly dropped the Snickers into his shoe and beat a hasty retreat without a word.
    The next morning at breakfast, after grumbling sourly that there was no milk for my cereal, I asked my eleven year old about the night before.
    “Oh, that,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, “I’m too old for that baby stuff anymore.  I’ll tell you what, just save yourself the trouble and give me my present before I go to bed.”
    Mildly depressed that my little boy was growing up, I said nothing as he headed off to school.
    Before he walked through the door, he called over his shoulder, “Oh, hey, I left something for you and Mom on your nightstand.  See you this afternoon.”
    Shaking off my gloominess, I shuffled into my dollhouse bedroom.  I spied a piece of paper lying next to the alarm clock.  It was my son’s Christmas letter.
    Starting off with “Dear Santa,” it went on to list, by color, size, and memory storage, everything he wanted to see under the tree come Christmas morning.  Thankfully, at least, there was no mention of a puppy.
    At the bottom, he closed with, “Oh, yeah, just in case, Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.”
    Or, as they say in Iceland, “Gleδileg Jól.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gleδileg Jól

  This isn't one of my usual wiseguy yuckfests (at least I hope my posts are yuckfests).  Still, I thought I'd pass along a holiday experience my family and I shared when were living in Iceland. Now that I'm retired and my son is in college and my daughter is a high school junior, I sometimes miss those days...

     A few years ago, my family and I lived near the Arctic Circle at the U.S. Navy air station in Keflavik, Iceland.
    The base, first opened during World War II to patrol Allied shipping lanes between America and Europe, has since shut down and reverted to the Icelandic government.  A victim of fiscal cost-cutting in light of a changing world, it was felt that the money to keep it running could be better spent elsewhere.  Especially since the threat of Viking raids in the North Atlantic has pretty much petered out. 
    During the short time we were there, though, we experienced a land rich in stark beauty and a culture awash with tradition.  From ogling jaw-dropping New Year’s fireworks displays which were truly “shock and awe” to lolling about geothermal spas in sub-freezing temperatures, we completely immersed ourselves in all that was Icelandic.
    Except for the national delicacy of rotted shark heads.  Those we gave a pass.
    One of our favorite customs happened a couple weeks before Christmas.  Readily acknowledging Santa Claus as the favorite of children worldwide and undeniable champion of early winter festivities, Icelanders inject their own unique way of celebrating the run-up to December 25th.  For the thirteen nights prior to Christmas morning, the legend has it that their homes are visited by the impish gnomes known as the Yule Lads.
    With names as diverse as Sheep Worrier, Pot Licker, and Candle Beggar, each of these bearded little creatures maintains his own specific identity.  Never malicious or spiteful, they instead play mischievous tricks wherever they visit, whether by drinking all the milk or rearranging the furniture.  Then, perhaps as a way of atoning for their pranks, they reveal their softer sides.  Before slipping quietly on to the next house, they drop a treat into each sleeping child’s shoe.  Unless the youngster has been naughty.  Then they get a potato.
    Enchanted by this charming bit of folklore, my wife and I played up the fable of the Yule Lads to our two children.  As December 12th approached, we told them that Stekkjarstaur, the Sheep Worrier, would surely be paying us a visit that night.  To be ready, they needed to place one of their shoes on their windowsills before they went to sleep so that he could leave them a present.
    Or a potato, I kidded my son.
    Several hours after the sun went down at 3:30-Iceland is pretty much at the top of the world, after all-and the kids had gone to bed, we set the stage for the first of the Yule Lads’ visits.  Since Navy regulations forbade the housing of livestock in government quarters, we didn’t have any sheep.  So, we opted for the modern tradition of placing empty milk cartons in the fridge instead.
    Certain the kids were asleep, we stole into their rooms to place a small goody in their shoes.

To be continued...When a Yule Lad Comes Callin'

Monday, December 20, 2010


what kind of idiot needs instructions on how to open a frikkin' Kit Kat?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Still Home For the Holidays Redux

Once more into the rerun breach go I. But, I couldn't resist a Santa story. Plus, there's presents, church, and turkey sandwiches.  
New stuff coming this week.

    After what seemed like mere seconds, I was rudely shaken awake.  “C’mon,” my brother excitedly cried, “Santa Claus came last night!”
    That he seemed genuinely surprised caused me a little concern.  Where had he been all these weeks?  Of course Santa Claus came last night!  Who’d he expect, Nixon?
    We bounded downstairs to a dazzling rainbow of brightly wrapped presents beneath our garish tin pole.  Quickly diving into the pile, we were brought up short by our mother’s shrill, “Nobody opens anything until your father and I get there!”
    Thus admonished, we perched of the edge of our avocado and gold couch, nervous energy barely held in check.  It seemed an eternity until our parents trudged like zombies into the living room.
    Coming out of her narcoleptic daze, my mother gushed with mock wonderment, “Wow!  What happened here?  Did Santa Claus come?”  (Amazingly, she sounded as shocked as my brother.  What was it with these people?  Did they all have brain damage?).
    Ignoring her faux amazement, my father hesitated several seconds.  Finally, he took a deep breath, sighed, and nodded.
    Instantly responding, we dove under the tree, intent only on finding that which was ours.  Gripped in a giddy paroxysm of joy, I joined the frenzy of ripping anything with my name on it to shreds.  We were a brood of children possessed, we were seized with the spirit, we were seagulls descending on a chicken bone.
    After we had torn open our presents and cavalierly tossed the discarded wrappings throughout the living room, our parents solemnly proclaimed that it was time for church.  As much as tinsel, mistletoe, and holly wreaths, they declared, Christmas was all about sitting uncomfortably on wooden pews and incoherently mumbling our way through carols.
    Despite the fact that Paris Hilton makes more appearances at Mensa meetings than we did at Mass, we were “going, goddammit!” our mother piously announced.  So, after scrubbing melted chocolate footballs from our faces and exchanging footie pajamas for swanky “Dad N Lad” polyester wear, off we sped in the family Batmobile to “Our Lady of Barnum Avenue” church.
    Upon arrival-five minutes after the service started, naturally-my father ushered us into the very last pew.  “That way,” he whispered to us, despite withering looks from Mom, “we can beat the traffic.”
    Even though I somehow doubted that departing parishioners were the same as fans leaving a Yankees game, I believed in my Dad.  After all, he gave us such pearls of wisdom as, “Seatbelts can only trap you in a burning car.  Underwater.”
    Gratefully, services stopped being held in Latin during the early 60s, so we actually understood what was going on.  I wondered why they kept “Adeste Fideles,” though, but I now suspect it had a lot to do with teenage boys giggling through “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
    The service was fairly tolerable.  There were a bunch of holiday hymns, a Christmas sermon about how Jesus never got coal, what my father called “bells, whistles, and secret handshakes,” and my brother needing the Heimlich maneuver to get that communion wafer out of his throat.
    Before you could say “Dominus Nabisco,” we were done and headed out the door in front of everyone else.
    As badly as we felt for being “Twice a Year Catholics” (the other time, of course, being Easter), I really was convinced our father was a deeply religious man.  After all, anyone who invoked the name of the deity as often as he did while watching football must surely walk with the angels.
    Once home, we joyfully returned to our toys, although now we wanted to see how creative we could get.  For instance, G.I. Joe (with “Kung Fu grip”) didn’t fare too well in the Vietcong EZ Bake Oven.  We also discovered that, if you removed the rubber suction cups, toy arrows sharpen up real nice and stick in the couch.  Or each other.
    Meanwhile, our mother bustled about the kitchen merrily preparing the “Holiday Feast.”  The star of the show was, of course, the turkey, which had been slowly mummifying in the oven the past two days.  Its aroma filled the house with flavor as its burning grease flooded the kitchen with smoke.
    Besides the turkey, though, our Christmas feast featured food you’d never see any other time of year. For instance, I can’t imagine any egg nog keggers at a Fourth of July picnic.
    When presented a choice of turnips, squash, candied yams, egg nog, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce (always from the can), plum pudding, marzipan, the horrifying blood pudding, mincemeat pie (which always struck me as some sort of Dawn of the Dead concoction), and that ubiquitous doorstop, the fruitcake, we children usually settled for white meat, Hungry Jack mashed potatoes, and marshmallow snowmen.
    After which, we fought over the drumstick.  And flung dinner rolls at our sister.
    Sufficiently gorged, we retired to the living room to see how else we could tear apart our presents while Mom hosed down the dining room.  Dad, on the other hand, now comfortably attired in his festive holiday outfit of tee shirt and tighty-whiteys, plopped down in front of the television and scratched his back with a fork.
    As the afternoon dragged closer toward evening, our eyelids grew heavy.  Our early morning rampage had finally caught up with us and, chocolate-fueled frenzy notwithstanding, we were sliding closer to sleep.
    Through lidded eyes, I remember my father lurching toward the kitchen.  Before I lapsed into a food coma, I remember a faint, “Boy, I sure could use a turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip.”
    With a jolt, I felt myself roughly yanked from my reveries by a shaking hand.  I forced my eyes open to look directly into the beaming face of my daughter.
    “Merry Christmas, Daddy,” she smiled.
    I nervously looked around the room, half-expecting to see a virtual bloodlust of demons whipped up into holiday froth by the intoxicating scent of evergreen and sight of ribbons and bows.
    Instead, I saw a calm scene of my wife, sipping her first cup of coffee and my two children quietly sorting through gifts.
    Sheepishly, I informed my daughter, “I’m sorry, honey, I couldn’t figure out how to program your IPOD.”
    My son, ever the optimist, calmly looked over his shoulder and reassured his sister, “No problem.  I can do that for you.”
    Hearing that, I realized I’d been home for the holidays all along.
    Looking at my children, I smiled.
    Smiled at the “Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come.”

Okay, time to go away for a few days to spend some time with family.  Sadly, there'll be no aluminum tree this year.  Happy Festivus and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Hey, I know this is a retread from last year. But, doesn't network television rebroadcast holiday specials year after year after year (thankfully, 'How Santa Got Foot Fungus' only ran once)?  So, I thought I'd rerun a post from 2009. It has absolutely nothing to do with being too lazy to write a new post when Monday Night Football is on.  Honest.

    Christmas has gotten way too complicated.

    Staring helplessly at the indecipherable instructions for my daughter’s new IPOD, I break out in a cold sweat.  It dawns on me that I have as much chance as breathing life into this pricey little gizmo as George Bush has at getting lucky at a Teamsters Christmas party.
    My wife long since gone to bed, it was up to me to play Santa Claus for the two kids who stopped believing in the jolly old elf years ago.
    I didn’t have a beard, my belly didn’t shake like jelly (well, okay, maybe it does), my nose wasn’t like a cherry, and I didn’t grip the stub of a pipe in my mouth.  Nevertheless, this Ghost of Christmas ‘Presents’ was doomed to failure.
    Dejected, I flopped into a chair next to our tree and slowly sipped one of the season’s most noxious beverages, egg nog.  It wasn’t always like this, I whined inwardly.  Why, back in my day there were no such things as V-Casts, X-Box’s, or I-Tunes.  And, you didn’t need an engineering degree to slap together a Schwinn.
    Exhausted by my fruitless labors, I reluctantly gave myself up to the Ghost of Christmas Past.... 
    Christmas was always a big deal at my house.
    No sooner had the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade concluded than my father was rattling around in the basement, grumpily searching for decorations he’d dumped into boxes last January.  As always, he groused that this year he’d make sure to label everything so he didn’t have to paw though cartons like an alley cat digging for fish heads in a trash can.
    Triumphantly emerging from the cellar several hours later, he tossed each of us an impossibly knotted ball of Christmas lights.  He ordered us to unravel each strand and check to make “damn sure” each light worked.  Meanwhile, he’d be in the house, inventorying our mother’s Nativity salt and pepper shaker collection.
    How he managed to pull this off from the couch we never knew.     
    As darkness began to fall, we proudly informed our father that we were ready for his inspection.  We confidently assured him that each strand was meticulously unwound and each bulb was double-checked for brightness.
    Glancing at our work like a stern field marshal, he walked up and down the many rows of uncoiled lights, barely nodding his head.  He gave no indication whether he was pleased or not.
    With a final nod, soft grunt, and glance at the setting sun, he pointed at one set, “That one.”  Dutifully, we pulled out the old wooden ladder and positioned it under the porch eaves.  After handing him the approved string of lights, we watched Dad whip out his staple gun like Sarah Palin at a moose hunt at Staples.  After a few choice holiday expressions of goodwill, he managed to secure the wire strand under the gutter.
    After my brother plugged in the lights, bathing the porch in a soft red, yellow, and blue glow, my father pointed at the other strands and said, “Take those downstairs.”
    “Tomorrow,” he said, “we’ll get them tomorrow.”
    In other words, halftime was over.
    Lights forgotten, the next day was devoted to the annual Real Tree or No debate.  Each year we always argued over the wisdom of tramping through a muddy lot, binding a deformed evergreen with twine, flopping it onto the car’s roof like a dead antelope, and wedging it into a tree stand which was usually missing a leg.
    Put that way, we went artificial.  At least then we wouldn’t have to forget to water it, vacuum millions of dead needles from the oh-so-classy gold shag carpet, or surreptitiously dump its drying carcass on the neighbor’s lawn come the first night of the new year.
    Unfortunately, when we got to the store, our parents fell in love with, of all things, an aluminum tree.  Crowing that it was the future of fashion to have such a monstrosity perched in the living room window, they assured us we’d get used to it.
    When we complained it had no color, they showed us the snazzy color wheel which came with it (“All the primary colors!  Plus Green!” the ad roared).
    In retrospect, I now realize that nothing screamed the 1960s quite like a tree made of Reynolds Wrap.  Back then, though, all we knew was that it looked like something you’d see in front of the Munsters’ house.
    Enamored of their choice, my parents tossed the future in the open trunk and headed home.  Right past several lots full of natural trees that looked downright beautiful by comparison.
    As Christmas Eve drew closer, our disdain for that hideous tree was replaced by a sort of fascination.  Who could have guessed that its metal branches could pick up FM?  Or that the color wheel made for a wildly spinning torture device for our sister’s Barbies?
    There are many things in life that I wish didn’t exist:  mimes, televangelists, Katie Couric, you name it.  We looked at Christmas carolers in much the same way.
    Don’t get me wrong.  Christmas carols, with the possible exception of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” are some of the most beautiful pieces of music in the world.  When you really want to get in the Christmas spirit, nothing does it for me like “The Little Drummer Boy.”
    It’s just that I objected to being ripped from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and banished to the front door to gawp as a mob mangled “Away In a Manger.”  Now, if the Vienna Boys Choir showed up on my front porch, you’d have a deal.  
    I also had a problem that neither of our parents sat with us as we endured off-key holiday favorites by a gang whose hearts, if not talent, were in the right place.  No sooner had the Yuletide revelers clambered up onto the porch than we were ordered to sit and listen while Mom and Dad hid in the kitchen.
    Thankfully, the impromptu concert usually only lasted for three songs.  At which time, our father would throw the group a few dollars, wish them a “Merry Christmas,” close the door with an alligator smile, and turn off the porch light to avoid further intrusions.
    Meanwhile, much to our dismay, the Peanuts gang had already started singing, “Hark, the Herald Angel Sings!”
    Now, there’s a Christmas carol for you!
    As the clock struck nine, we all scooted to bed.  Our parents warned us to remain in our rooms all night; it wouldn’t do to surprise Santa as he somehow managed to squeeze through our furnace grate (we didn’t have a fireplace) to place wonderful treasures under the ugliest tree known to man.
    OK, so we bought it.  Then again, we believed in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and that a nun could fly.  After all, it was no crazier than believing the Partridge Family could sing.
    We tossed and turned throughout the evening; our pent-up excitement made sleep impossible.  To pass the time, we regaled each other with tales of what Santa would bring and mortified our sister by making fart noises under our armpits.
    As midnight approached, my brother hushed us-there was the sound of movement downstairs.  Instantly calling a halt to our armpit symphony, we strained to hear what was happening.
    “Santa’s here!” my little brother gasped in wide-eyed wonderment as he slid beneath his covers.
    Straining my ears, I heard something, too.  The muffled sound of scuffing feet barely disguised a quiet rustling of paper and shuffling of boxes.  Even so, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on.  It was only when I heard a sharp bang followed by a string of colorful words that I knew the magic of Christmas had arrived.
    Thus buoyed by the wonderment of the moment, I happily closed my eyes and drifted away to sleep.  I was confident that I was due for a windfall of goodies when I awakened.

Next: "Santa"monium at the Penwasser house!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 12 Days of the Winter Solstice

  Oh, I don't know....the holidays bring out the poet in me. The hustle and bustle of Yuletide shopping, the hushed reverence of the season, the wonder in a child's eye as he takes in a riotous display of multi-colored  Christmas lights, the consulting of the entrails of an owl as "people of nature" attempt to divine the omens of the coming year...  Oh, it's all so thrilling.
  It's in that spirit that I trot out a favorite carol of mine. Inspired by "The 12 Days of Christmas" I chose not to write the entire excruciatingly long song (I mean, how repetitively boring IS the whole thing?  It's like a holiday version of "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.")
  So, without further adieu...
On the 12th Day of the Winter Solstice, a Druid gave to me....
12 Anglo-Saxons
11  Romans roaming
10  Crows a-cawing
9    Vikings raiding
8    Pagan wizards
7    Wooden idols
6    Lunar Elf gods
5    Stonehenges
4    Celtic runes
3    Chicken bones
2    Solar flares
And a goat's head in a fir tree 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Have a Holly Jolly Politically Correct Christmas

    Pretentious Creative Artist Disclaimer:  Due to fiscal constraints, we regret to inform you the work you are about to read is unavailable in Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Pig Latin, Esperanto, or Poodle. 

With apologies to Major Henry Livingston, Jr.:*

Twas the Night Before December 25th

‘Twas the night before December 25th, when all through the domicile (be it house, teepee, shopping cart, or refrigerator carton).
Not a creature was stirring, not even a sentient life form known as a rodent (which has every right to live free of evil humans).
The school-issued condoms were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that Planned Parenthood soon would be there.

The children of the multi-diverse family unit were nestled by Family Services all snug in their beds,
while visions of non-dairy, non-sugar, non-peanut, non-caffeine, non-transfats, non-threatening, non-taste broccoli plums  danced “With the Stars” in their heads.
And my life partner in a hyperbaric chamber and I in my neoprene bubble
had drifted to sleep, with nary any trouble.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed (which I selfishly bought at IKEA while millions slept on grates and ate newspaper), to see what was the matter.
Away to the window where I feared that I’d spy
George Bush, Dick Cheney, or that Obama guy.

The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a “little people” sleigh and eight height-challenged reindeer.

With a stature-limited seasoned-citizen driver, so lively and quick,
I knew it must be that Person of Androgynous Reknown, Nikita or Nick.
More rapid than bailouts, her/his coursers they came
and she/he whistled and shouted and called them by name (though not as subservients; rather as equals in mutual commerce exchange).

“Now Hillary! Chris Dodd!
Joe Biden and Nixon!
Al Franken! Al Qaida!
Osama, Bart Simpson!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now, dash away, but only if you’re physically able and don’t feel threatened by it all!”

As dry leaves before the hurricane fly,
which plugs up the levees because Bush wants you to die,
so up to the subsidized housing the hoofed business partners flew,
with the sleigh full of sinful capitalist loot and Nikita/Nick, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, I turned and I saw
Nikita/Nick and her/his attorney-at-law.

She/he was dressed in synthetic fur, from her/his head to her/his foot,
and her/his clothes were all tarnished with the tracings of soot
 (a carcinogen which I knew to be the by-product of the evil exploitation of our friends, the majestic trees).
A bundle of toys she/he had tossed in a sack
and I KNEW I was liable if she/he busted her/his back!

Her/his eyes--how they twinkled!  Her/his dimples, how merry!
Her/his cheeks like BOTOX balloons, her/his nose like a cherry!
It was obvious with him/her I should not be alone
this creepy, suspicious Michael Moore clone.
Her/his droll little mouth was drawn up in a frown
hoping he/she was not in the house of some government clown.
The stump of a pipe she/he had just for effect
as she/he sported a nicotine patch on her/his neck.
She/he had a broad face and a little round belly
that shook when she/he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

(NOTE: the American Medical Association strongly urges a lifestyle which eliminates the existence of “little round bellies”, as they may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, halitosis, driving heavy equipment while drowsy, and rickets.)

She/he was chubby and plump (see NOTE above), a right jolly old fairy/troll/forest nymph/dwarf/multi-diverse personage of varying-yet valuable-ethnic persuasion/wood sprite/lobbyist/elf,
and I laughed when I saw her/him, in spite of myself (although, to avoid being called racist, I said I was laughing “with”, not “at”, her/him).
A wink of her/his eye and a twist of her/his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

She/he spoke not a word, but went straight to her/his chore
and bought carbon credits from the troll named Al Gore.
And laying her/his finger on the side (not in) of her/his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney/window/teepee smoke hole she/he rose.

She/he sprang to her/his sleigh, to her/his team gave a whistle,
and they mutually agreed in committee to fly as equals away like the down of a thistle.
But, I heard her/him exclaim, ‘ere she/he drove out of sight.

“Happy Non-Sectarian Day-of-Observance-Which-Has-Nothing-To-Do-With-An-Established-Creed-Or-Dogma-of-Faith-Because-That-Would-Be-a-Heinous-Violation-of-the-Sanctity-of-the-Separation-of-Church-and-State-Because-What-About-the-Children-Dammit!? and to all a mutually-satisfying (as agreed upon in writing. In triplicate. By the ACLU.) night!”    

    *Evidently, Clement Clark Moore is the 19th century equivalent of any middle-school plagiarist or mainstream media hatchet artist.  A classic since its 1823 appearance in the Troy Sentinel, ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’ (as it was alternately known) was claimed by Moore as his own in 1837, conveniently after Livingston had conveniently passed away.  In fact, Moore, who hadn’t written anything else of reknown, incorporated the work into one of his own books, Poems, in 1844!  So, the next time you’re tempted to fret and bemoan our lack of journalistic scruples, just remember Moore’s response when asked if he had, indeed, written this most-famous of Yuletide poems:  “Uh, yeah, whatever.”
    Or, so I’ve read on the Internet.  Because, after all, if it’s there, it must be true!