Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thus Ends Our Blogging Year

NOTE:  Camels not to scale.
And a sailor tying his shoe was probably not part of the original nativity.

"...Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king?
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold. 
Let us bring Him silver and gold,
Let us bring Him silver and gold..."

Not for nothin', how 'bout bringin' the kid a frikkin' blanket?

This brings an end to the 2012 Blogging year as Penwasser Place won't resume operations until 2013.  At which time we'll bring you hilarious observations on life and insightful commentary on the human condition.

Or the normal crap you've come to expect.

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Penwasser Christmas

He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake.
It's behavior like this which got Mr. Mraz arrested.
 The following is a repost, sort of.  Actually, it’s more of a condensed version of a post I foisted upon you two years ago.  And then again last year.  I figured that, since nobody read it in 2010, I may as well give it another try in 2011.  But, after reading it, I realized it was too long and whittled it down.  It’s probably still too long.  Sorry.
  The following is a true story (as far as you know) of a Penwasser Christmas set in the late sixties/early seventies.  Sometime around then.  Give me a break.  It was a long time ago.

    Christmas was always a big deal at our house.

    Starting immediately after Thanksgiving, we began the big run up to the most wonderful time of the year, not counting Flag Day.

"I don't know what the frik
Muslims do for Christmas. "
    And felt sorry for the Jewish kids.

    As much fun as getting ready for Christmas was, December 25th was actually what we were all waiting for.

"Included at no extra charge, a color wheel
with all the primary colors!
Plus green."
    As the clock struck nine on Christmas Eve, our parents scooted us off to bed.  Warned to stay there all night, we were cautioned not to surprise Santa as he placed gifts under our aluminum Christmas tree.

"Hey, you people even think
the Partridge Family could sing.
And Liberace isn't gay."
    OK, we bought it.  Then again, we believed in the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and that a nun could fly.

    We tossed and turned all evening.  To pass the time, we mortified our sister by making fart noises under our armpits.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord
this blessed Christmas Eve.
    As midnight approached, we heard the sound of movement downstairs.  Instantly calling a halt to the armpit symphony, we strained to hear what was happening.

    “Santa’s here!” my brother, Gary, gasped.

    Straining my ears, I heard the muffled sound of rustling paper.  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 holiday expressions of goodwill that I knew the magic of Christmas had arrived.

    Reassured, I happily closed my eyes.

    What seemed like seconds later, I was rudely awakened.  “C’mon,” Gary excitedly cried, “Santa Claus came last night!”

    He seemed genuinely surprised.  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 presents beneath our garish tin pole.  Quickly diving into the pile, we were brought up short by a shrill, “Nobody opens anything until your father and I get there!”

    Thus admonished, we nervously perched on the edge of our avocado and gold couch.  It seemed an eternity until our parents trudged like zombies into the living room.

    Coming out of her narcoleptic daze, Mom gushed, “Wow!  What happened?  Did Santa come?”  (Amazingly, she sounded as shocked as my brother.  What was it with these people?  Did they all have brain damage?).

    Oblivious to her amazement, my father silently nodded.

"Hand it over nice and easy, fat boy.
Nobody needs to lose a finger here."
    Instantly responding, we dove under the tree in a giddy paroxysm of joy.  We were a brood possessed, we were seized with the spirit, we were seagulls descending on a box of French Fries.  

    After we had torn open our presents, our parents announced that it was time for church.  After all, what says Christmas more than sitting uncomfortably on wooden pews and splashing each other in the face with water from the petri dishes disguised as holy water fonts?

    Despite the fact that Snooki makes more appearances at Mensa meetings than the Penwassers at Mass, we were “going, goddammit!”  So, after exchanging footie pajamas for swanky “Dad N Lad” ensembles and hideous frocks of a color not found in nature, off we sped in the family Batmobile to Saint Stanislaus.  

    Upon arrival-five minutes late-my father ushered us into the very last pew.  “That way,” he whispered, “we can beat the traffic.” 

"Are you sure Bethlehem is that way?
You stupid bastard,
why don't you ask for directions?"
    The service was tolerable.  There were a bunch of mumbled carols, a Christmas sermon about how Baby Jesus didn’t get coal, and the obligatory offering for starving Chinese kids.  “The ones who aren’t Commies,” Father Karl sternly added.  That was about it.  Oh, and Phil needed the Heimlich maneuver to get that communion wafer out of his throat. 

    Before you could say “Dominus Nabisco,” we were knocking down old Slovak ladies to get out the door.

    Once home, we joyfully returned to our toys, although now we wanted to see how creative we could get.  For instance, G.I. Joe 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.

    Meanwhile, Mom merrily prepared the “Holiday Feast.”  The star of the show was, of course, the turkey, which had been mummifying in the oven the past two days.  Its aroma filled the house with flavor and its burning grease flooded the kitchen with smoke. 

"And Icelanders eat sheep heads.
Makes you appreciate me a little more doesn't it?"
    Besides the turkey, dinner 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.

"Did someone say 'blood' pudding?"
    When presented a choice of turnips, squash, candied yams, egg nog, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce (always from the can), marzipan, sweet potato souffle with mini-marshmallows, the horrifying blood pudding, mincemeat pie, and the ubiquitous fruitcake, we usually preferred white meat, Hungry Jack mashed potatoes, and marshmallow snowmen.
"No, seriously.  How about that blood pudding?"
    After which, we flung dinner rolls at Karen and the dog.

"What good is a 'kung fu grip'
if that damn oven melted my junk off?'
    Sufficiently gorged, we retired to the living room to strap Karen’s Barbie to “Revolving Color Wheel of Death” while Mom hosed down the dining room.  Dad, on the other hand, attired in his festive tee shirt and tighty-whiteys, plopped in front of the television and scratched his back with a fork.

    As afternoon dragged 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 heard a faint, “Boy, I sure could use a turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip.”

    Followed by a harsh string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill as he found one of our pointed wooden arrows.

    “Hey,” Gary mumbled as he drifted off to sleep, “Santa’s back.”

    Let’s see Kwanzaa match those kind of holiday memories.
Because we gotta have something to do between Christmas and New Year's.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Well, Whaddya Know?

The world didn't end yesterday.

Guess I'll have to do some Christmas shopping, after all.

Bloody Mayans

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Facebook Funnies XXVIII

"'Go to the seashore,' she said. 'You'll have a chance to work on your 
tan,' she said.  'Just think of the saltwater taffy,
Kettle Korn and 
herring kippers,' she said.

Next year, we're going to the Poconos!!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Yule Dad Cometh

Continued from Merry Christmas-Iceland Style.  I'd provide a link, but that's too much work.  If you really want to know what's going on, please select "Older Posts"  below.
In the running for the role of Yule Lads.
Until the government of Iceland realized they were all dead.
    Our daughter was snoring away-no doubt dreaming of what kind of “loot” she’d get from the little troll that night (and I don’t mean me).  A precocious fourth-grader, she made sure to tell us at dinner that she’d been a great girl that year.  Hopefully, Stekkjarstaur would be able to fit a puppy in her sneaker.
Type II Diabetes-Starring Eddie Murphy

    One child down, I told my wife I’d place a “Family Size” Snickers (if the family was the Klumps) in my son’s shoe.

    The base’s apartments weren’t like the typical ones back in America.  Everything was so small, I didn’t have room to walk around his bed.  This being the case, I had to stretch clear across where he slept just to reach the windowsill.          

    As I neared his shoe, I heard a voice 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 candy into his shoe and departed without a word.

    The next morning at breakfast, I asked my eleven year old about the night before.

    “Oh, that,” he said with a wave of his hand, “I’m too old for that 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 and saw a piece of paper next to the alarm clock.  It was my son’s Christmas list.
What the frik is an iPod Docking Station?
Maybe I should just give the Penwasser kid a potato.
    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.
At the bottom, he closed with, “Oh, yeah, just in case, Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.”
Or, as they say in Iceland, “Gleδileg Jól.”

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas-Iceland Stye

Sorry, it's another tiresome rerun.  Even though my part in the kitchen renovation is complete and-thank the Lord!-people who know what they're doing are putting it all back together, I'm feeling under the weather and not up to writing much.  Pretty ironic when you stop to consider that I called in sick to work.  Karma's a bitch.  And so was Mrs. Penwasser #1.

    For those of you who haven’t paid attention (or who’ve visited Penwasser Place solely for the kick-ass pictures), my family and I lived at the U.S. Navy air station in Keflavik, Iceland from 2003-2004.
"This whole pillaging Europe thing has gotten boring. Whaddya say we go over to what'll be called Canada and kick some Indian ass? Plus, it'll really piss off those Columbus groupies."
    The base, opened during World War II, has since shut down and returned to the Icelandic government.  I suppose it was felt the money to keep it operating could be better spent elsewhere.  After all, the threat of Viking raids has pretty much petered out. 
Permits!?  Permits are for pussies.
And Americans.

    During the time we were there, we experienced a rich culture.  From ogling New Year’s fireworks displays which were truly “shock and awe” to lolling about geothermal spas in sub-freezing temperatures, we immersed ourselves in all that was Icelandic.

    Except for that holiday where they ate rotted sheep heads.  We gave that one a pass.
Sorta makes you appreciate
fruitcake a little more, huh?
    One of our favorite traditions happened at Christmas.  Readily acknowledging Santa Claus as the favorite of children worldwide, Icelanders add their own unique way of celebrating the run-up to December 25th.  For the thirteen nights prior to Christmas morning, legend has it that they are visited by the Yule Lads.
Disappointed he didn't get
that Butt Sniffer gig
    From Sheep Worrier to Candle Beggar, each Lad has his own specific identity (luckily, Butt Sniffer didn’t pass the audition).  Never malicious, they play tricks on each household, whether by drinking all the milk, or rearranging the furniture.  They also leave presents in children’s shoes, unless they’d been naughty that year.  In that case, they leave potatoes.
Seriously, if I was that sheep,
I'd be worried, too.
  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 pay a visit that night.  To be ready, they needed to place one of their shoes on their windowsills so that he could leave them a present.
    Or a potato, I kidded my son.
    Several hours after the sun went down and the kids had gone to bed, my wife and I set the stage for the first of the Yule Lads’ visits.  Since the military didn’t allow us to transfer our sheep from the States, we opted for the modern tradition of placing empty milk cartons in the fridge.
    Certain the kids were asleep, we stole into their rooms to place small presents in their shoes.

To be continued (really, what did you expect?  This has gone on long enough)...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Have a Politically Correct Christmas

NOTE:  Even though I'm done with the major gorilla work of destroying the kitchen (and the professionals are here to fix the damage), I'm still churning out reposts like Hollywood sequels (Rocky XXXV: Eye of the Catheter).  And, even though I have time to write new material now, I still like to torment you with things you've seen before ad nauseam (like American Idol).  I have included some new lines to this, but it's basically the same crap as last year.  And the year before that.
NOTE #2:  Of course, if the Mayans are right, then this whole Christmas thing is moot.  Like typewriters.  And George Bush.

"Tapioca's mine, Grandma."

Have a Holly Jolly, Politically Correct Christmas
C. Clement Moore (?)

With apologies to Major Henry Livingston, Jr.:*
"No, I'm not that A-Hole, Moore.  You'll find out why below."
Twas the Night Before December 25th

‘Twas the night before December 25th, when all through the place of residence (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 wherever it chooses).
The government-issued condoms were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that a federal official 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-fat, non-transfats, non-threatening tofu 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), to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I feared that I’d spy
A Weiner, a Beiber, that Chaz Bono “guy.”

The moon, on the Janet Jackson 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 endangered eagles, her/his coursers they came
and she/he whistled and shouted and called them by name (though not as subservients; rather as equals in the mutual exchange of commerce).

“Now Streaker! Lap Dancer!
Elton, you Prancer and Nixon!
Obama! Ted Danson!
On, Lindsay! Mel Gibson!
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 is a by-product of the evil roasting 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 Sandusky clone.
Her/his droll little mouth was drawn up no, not in a frown
from some anonymous, “tsk-tsking” government clown.
The stump of a pipe she/he stuffed with some pot
she/he picked up in Seattle on her/his way to my lot.
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 free of “little round bellies”, as they may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, tourettes, heart attack, an “unfresh” feeling, stroke, erectile dysfunction, skin rashes, halitosis, driving heavy equipment while drowsy, and rickets.  Well, maybe not erectile dysfunction, but do you want to take that chance?)

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/Snooki/elf,
and I laughed when I saw her/him, in spite of myself (although, to avoid being sued, 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 work
and filled all the condoms when allowed by her/his attorney-the aforementioned jerk.
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 away as equals 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 the New York Times’ Jayson Blair**.  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 passed away.  In fact, Moore, who wasn’t known by any other poem, incorporated the work into one of his own books, Poemsin 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! 

**As this is a repost of a repost, the inclusion of Jayson Blair may leave you scratching your head.  Mr. Blair was pinched several years ago for being a plagiarist.  A plagiarist, of course, is someone who tries to pawn off someone else’s work as his own without giving credit to the actual author.  You know, a lot like Joe Biden.  There, how ‘bout that?  Timely and funny.
"Well, at least I didn't say I invented the Internet."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Facebook Funnies XXVII

"Hmm...well whaddya you know...that Netanyahu was right.  From this angle, you can
 see something in the hangar.  And Sarkozy...? 
Man, dude's got a monster flopping around in there."

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  For context, please visit Facebook Funnies XX.  It won't take you long and it'll make the above make so much more sense.
Oh, and I still don't have the use of my kitchen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Thought He Was Born in Bethlehem

Not outer space

Well, how else can you explain Mary and Joseph being astronauts?

NOTE:  I find it fascinating that He isn't wearing a helmet.  Turning water into wine sounds a little less remarkable now, doesn't it?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tis the Season to Tear Apart the House

Kitchen:  November 18th

Kitchen:  December 9th

Me:  December 10th
The contractors are here to put the new stuff in.
Which is great.
Because I worked my ass off.
And, apparently, misplaced my skin.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah...Chanukah...Festival of Lights

THIS JUST IN (that's what she said...my GOD, I just can't help myself):
The following is a repost.  Of course I updated a few things, but I left it virtually intact because I still have the money pit to attend to.  

I will say this about Hanukkah 2012, though.  The Jews really have it together because it ends before December 21st.  

Enjoy those latkes while you can.

Starts before Christmas.  Ends before the end of the world.
Up yours, Mayans.
    Sunset this evening marks the beginning of Hanukkah (I finally had to look up the spelling), better known as the Festival of Lights or, according to that cinematic wunderkind, Adam Sandler, Eight Crazy Nights.

  Much like Easter, the exact timing of Hanukkah is probably a mystery to a lot of people.  Interestingly enough, like Easter, it has to do with Jewish folks (yes, Jesus was a Jew.  He wasn't born in a Catholic manger, cranky fundamentalists notwithstanding).  This, of course, means that the average Joe (or Herschel) must consult with his rabbi, ancient Talmudic guidance, a Magic 8 ball, the entrails of an owl, and the calendar he got from his heating oil supplier last January to figure out when exactly he's supposed to dust off the family menorah  (and Aunt Sadie).

  But, for those playing at home, it occurs on 25 Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar.  Which, I'm quite sure, clears it all up.

Could be worse.
She could be your mom.
  Needless to say, it's sometime in December.    Last year, it straddled Christmas like Snooki on that guy who sells Kettle Korn on the Ocean City boardwalk.  This year, though, the hoopla starts tonight and concludes next week after that sweater from Cousin Sadie has been exchanged for an iTunes gift card.

  Growing up Catholic, I don't know an awful lot about Hanukkah (I know a helluva lot about getting smacked on the knuckles with rulers, though).  What I do know I picked up on street corners and from Mrs. Penwasser #1 (who actually was more like #2.  If you know what I mean)  

  But, I'll give it a shot...

I'll bet this isn't historically accurate
  A long time ago (I think it was the second century before Christ.  Well, before Facebook, anyway) in a place called Judea (which became Palestine which became Israel which became the world's punching bag), a group of people called the Maccabees were seriously hacked off about something.  I think they were ticked off at their oppressors who were some kind of Greeks.  But, I suppose it could have been anybody.  After all, that part of the world has been conquered by pretty much anyone with a chip on their shoulder:  Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canadian Geese, Chaldeans, Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Persians, Parthians, Arabs, the Republicans, Crusaders, Crusader Rabbit, Arabs II, Godfather III, Normans, Guys Named Fred, the French (yeah, no kidding), Martians, Up With People!, Ottoman Turks, the Salvation Army, the cast of La Cage Aux Folles, confused Vikings, tourists from Iowa looking for a "nice, clean rest room," Germans (I'm not exactly sure, but it's a good bet), the Amish, Mormons, Arabs III, the night shift at the Peoria 5 Guys, Sylvester Stallone, and Batman.

I have a strong suspicion
these dudes are Christians.  And midgets with halos.
I don't give a flying crap what Google says.
  One of their leaders, Judah (or Morton) led a revolt.  The revolting people (ooh, bad choice of words) held out as long as they could against the bad guys (can't tell the players without the above list).  Supplies were getting pretty low; they were running perilously short on food, water, chocolate coins, potato pancakes, and Barbra Streisand records.  But, for some reason, starving to death wasn't as important as keeping their lamps lit in the temple.  In fact, they only had enough oil for one night (made worse by the fact that Thomas Edison  wouldn't be born for another 1,900 years.  Yeah, bummer.  Coulda used a light bulb.).
"What's that?  Stubbed your toe in the dark?
Yeah, cry me a river and
give me a shout in the 19th century."

  But, the Lord (all sources are pretty clear on this) provided enough oil for eight days of light (for those of you who didn't pay attention, this is where we get Festival of Lights and Eight Crazy Nights).  Not for nothin', he should have provided enough lunchmeat and bread for the revoltees to make a sandwich.  And machine guns.  We never really covered that in Sister Caligula's World History class, though.

  So, the Greeks, figuring they were beaten, decided to relent (Interesting Vocab Tidbit:  "Relent" could also mean a "Lent" do-over).  This being the case, the Judeans won their freedom.

  And even had enough light to see the invading Roman legions. 

  But, that's another story.

  DISCLAIMER:  The preceding is what I can remember of the Hanukkah story.  I really could have consulted a reputable source like the online Encyclopedia Britannica or Wikipedia (because they're never wrong) to make sure I got all my facts correct.  In that case, you'd think I was a genius.  In this case, you may think I'm an idiot.  Heyyy.......... 
  For what I got completely wrong, I apologize.  I meant no disrespect.  OK, maybe a little disrespect.  But, you know me.  I even tell Pope jokes.

  In any event, for my Jewish friends (or even those who like getting presents for eight straight nights), have a blessed and 
Happy Hanukkah!

I checked. You can spell 'dreidel' this way.
This is what they played before Call of Duty.
P.S.  Just make sure to keep enough oil in your furnace.  Let's give God a break.  He's had a rough couple of millennia.