Thursday, December 24, 2015

Silent Night

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Winter Solstice!

    Today, December 22nd (which you would know if you looked at your calendar), is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  In the Northern Hemisphere.  It's the longest day of the year in Australia.  I think.  Who cares?  They're all at the beach.
"You do know this is a topless beach, don't you, Sheila?"
    From this day forward, the Earth will begin to tilt back towards the sun and the days will begin to grow longer.  In Australia, the Earth will begin to tilt away from the sun and their days will begin to grow shorter.  Take that, mates.
"It tilts faster when I do step aerobics.
Which is never."
    Eventually, we'll be at the beach and they won't be.


Of course, there'll be this.  So....
    That's about as detailed as I want to get.  I still have Christmas shopping to do.

    And, you lot in Sydney?  You need to put on more sunscreen.


    While you can.


"Happy Winter Solstice, brothers and sisters!"
"Cool!  Do we get presents?"
"Well...no."
"What about a festive dinner with family and friends?"
"No."
"Caroling?"
"No."
"Egg nog?"
"No."
"Sleigh rides?"
"No."
"'A Christmas Story' marathon on TBS?"
"No."
"Stockings hung by the chimney with care?"
"No."
"Well, that sucks."
"But, we do get to sacrifice a goat."
"Well, that's someth...no that sucks, too."
"Hey!  Where are you going?"
"To Mass.  At least the Catholics have wine."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Penwasser Christmas (the Conclusion)

For Part I, visit my December 17th post.  Yeah, like anyone ever clicks on these links. Really no biggie if you don't, though.  But, you should go at least to check out the pictures.  There's one of Nixon and a midget camel.  Although, it's not like you missed any vital plot elements.  If you've come to Penwasser Place expecting "vital plot elements," you need serious psychological help.
I mean, I have a picture of me sitting on a toilet on the street.

**********

    When last we left the Penwasser family, they were returning home from a joyous Christmas celebration at Saint Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church....

And, by they, I mean we.
But, you probably already knew that.

 
"Who the frik needs kung-fu grip?
Damn oven melted my junk off."
   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 Soviet 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 
Some cultures adhere
to the charming "Feast of
the Seven Fishes."
Although one seems
plenty for this guy.
“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. 

    Besides the turkey, dinner featured food you’d only see one other time:  Thanksgiving.  For instance, I can’t imagine any egg nog keggers at a Fourth of July picnic.

"Vat do you mean 'I suck?'
Oh, I'm a vampire.
Good one.
But, I will have some of that 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.
"Whatever Vlad doesn't have, I'll eat."
NOTE:  Second use of Nixon in one story.  

My picture budget has been scaled back, you know.

    After which, we flung dinner rolls at Karen and the dog, Duke IV.

    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.”

Smeared with feces, these are
also a hit with the Viet Cong.
    Followed by a harsh string of colorful holiday expressions of goodwill as he stepped on 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.
Swahili for "Something to do between Christmas and New Years."


Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Penwasser Christmas (Part I)


 As threatened promised, this is the time of year when I really can't be bothered to write anything new.  After all, there's presents to buy, carolers to snub, and parties to attend (whether I'm invited to them or not...I'm generally not).  So, with that in mind, may I pawn off a post which I wrote many years ago and insist on reposting?  Don't sweat it, if you haven't read it before, it's new.  It's from 2013, so it's been a little while.  So, you have that going for you. 

It could be worse, so quit yer whining.

    The following is a true story (as far as you know) of a Penwasser Christmas in the late sixties/early seventies. Sometime around then.  Hey, give me a break.  It was a long time ago.
And I'm really not that young anymore.

    Christmas was always a big deal at my house.

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

    And started to feel sorry for the Jewish kids.  Still, it wasn’t like they didn’t have two weeks off from school.  Besides, they had eight days of Hanukkah, while Christmas was only one.  So, cry me a river, Chosen People. 
On the other hand, while we had Santa,
they had 'Schlomo the Schvitzing Dreidel.'
So, I guess it was kind of a wash.

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

Old broad sold separately
    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 with its uber-classy color wheel(“Now with primary colors! Plus green!”).

    OK, we bought into the whole Santa thing. 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.


It's beginning to sound a lot like...
Christmas.
    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
"Hey, I could come down your chimney.
How do you know I haven't?"
 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.

    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.  

"Seriously?
Santa couldn't do better than a ukulele?
Who the hell does he think I am,
Don Frikkin' Ho??"
    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 petri dishes disguised as holy water fonts?

    Despite the fact that Snooki makes more appearances at Mensa meetings than the Penwassers at Mass (Remember: this was written in 2013), 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 friggin' traffic.” 

    What a man of God, our dad.

    The service was tolerable.  There were a 
"Okay, gold I get.
But, what the hell is frankincense
and myrrh?
And is anyone else creeped
out by that midget camel?"
bunch of mumbled carols, a Christmas sermon about how Baby Jesus didn’t get coal, and the obligatory offering for starving Vietnamese orphans. “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. 

To be continued...

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Politically-Correct Christmas...Err...Winter Holiday



The following is a repost from several years ago.  Well, I wrote it several years ago.  And I put it on Blogger last year and...the year before that.  I think.  I did update it for 2015, though (for those of you who may have read it last year, see if you can find where).


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

With apologies to Major Henry Livingston, Jr.:*

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).
Bill Clinton’s condoms were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that an intern soon would be there.
 
"It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

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
Khameini, Bergdahl, some ISIS guy.

The moon, on the Miley Cyrus 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, Nick...
or maybe Trump.  That prick.
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 Twerker! Lap Dancer!
Simmons, you Prancer and Nixon!
Obama! Ted Danson!
On, Hillary and 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!”
 
"Richard's not the only one!
Penwasser should have given me a chance!"
As dry leaves before the hurricane fly,
which plugs up levees because Republicans want you to die,
so to the subsidized housing the hoofed business partners
with a sleigh full of capitalist loot stolen from me and from you!

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 by-product of the evil exploitation of majestic trees by some Republican nut.
A bundle of toys she/he had tossed in a sack
and I KNEW I was liable if she/he busted her/his back!

But, there was no worry, I had not a care!
Oh, crap, what did you say?
She/he had Obamacare!?

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 Joe Biden clone.
But, he said, “Fear not!  You’ve nothing to fear! 
For now we have Jenner ! Woman of the Year!”
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 had just for effect
as she/he showed me her/his 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.

"Can I interest you in a Yule Log?"
(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, tourettes, heart attack, Governor of New Jersey, an “unfresh” feeling, stroke, erectile dysfunction, skin rashes, halitosis, driving heavy equipment while drowsy, gun control, and rickets.)

She/he was chubby and plump (see NOTE above), a right jolly old fairy/troll/forest nymph/dwarf/Michael Moore/multi-diverse personage of varying-yet valuable-ethnic persuasion/wood sprite/Oprah/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.
The gifts, she/he explained, were crafted by midgets
Err...”little people” those over-sensitive fidgets.
To insult them, she/he knew, will just make them sour
When, after New Years, they return back to work
at McDonalds for $15.00 an hour.
 
"But not Starbucks.
Because screw you, that's why.
Happy Holidays."
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-You-Hater-Besides-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, 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! 

**Like I said, this is a repost, so 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.
 
Jayson Blair
Noted Plagiarist
Former Journalist
Stunt Double for Samuel L. Jackson
***I’m not so sure this is very timely anymore.  But, I managed to include a “twerking” reference.  You’re welcome.

****Okay, "twerking" isn’t really timely anymore, either.  But, I made fun of Bruce Jenner.  That’s gotta count for something.
"Dick."

"OMIGOD! OMIGOD! OMIGOD!
Someone said 'dick!'"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Captain Caption LXXVII

"They promised me if I became Speaker of the House
 and grew a beard, I'd get a kung-fu grip."



"What?  Like this?
It comes in pretty handy.
If you know what I mean."


Captain Caption will be back in 2016.

"So you have that going for you."


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Chanukah Part II

  I had originally planned to go into an intricately detailed description of the Festival of Lights, but alas I cannot.  Time constraints being what they are, I need to go to work soon and cannot devote the amount of time that I would like.    

  I mean, it's not like this is a repost which I can dust off and fling at you like three day old fish.  Similar to a selfish lover, I need to get in and get out.

Lucky you.

These things don't clean themselves, you know.
    I'll just do the best I can with whatever my research (and former experience....after all, the first Mrs. Penwasser was Jewish.  Presumably still is.  Jewish, not Mrs. Penwasser.  Lucky girl) has provided me.  If I can't remember something, I'll make it up.  But then again, Robyn will correct me if I dork things up.
"OMIGOD! OMIGOD! OMIGOD! He said 'dork'!!"
       Like I said, though, this will be brief, because I need to go to work.
"You've already wasted a couple of paragraphs!
Get TO it, ya moeron!!"

Hanukkah
A Goyim's Perspective
Now with Alternate Spelling!

  A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Rebel Alliance was....wait....nuts!  Wrong notes.  Hang on.

  A long time ago (still the same galaxy, so we're cool), Syrian Greeks invaded Palestine/Judea/Israel/Somewhere Over There.  They ruled the local people with an iron fist and insisted they adhere to their dictates, whether it be worshipping pagan gods or eating BLTs at diners.

Because they were Greek.  I hope everybody got that.
    Anyhoo, the locals got seriously hacked off about it and threw off the shackles of their masters (I'm not sure how that sentence would go over with my Creative Writing teachers, but screw them).
"Very rude.  Knuckles, if you please,  Mr. Penwasser."
    They tossed the Greeks out of their country, telling them to return to where they belonged, like New Jersey.
Because there's a lot of diners in New Jersey.
It's tough having to keep explaining the jokes.
    When the Jewish people entered the temple to set up shop again and toss out the Baklava Idols, they realized that it got dark at night.  But, they only had enough oil to light their candle/menorah for only one night.
 
Baklava-A yummy, Greek pastry
  Since the local gas station was closed, they knew they were in a real pickle.
Complicated by the fact that gas stations
wouldn't be invented for another couple thousand years or so.

  However, the oil lasted for eight crazy nights!
"What the f...that's our line!"
  As result, Jewish people the world over gather together to commemorate that time in their history when God miraculously provided them with enough oil to last throughout the rededication of their Temple.


And convince Schlomo to put on the Dreidel Costume
again when he went into a diner.
Okay, I really have to get to work now.  Maybe I'll stop off at the Red Lion Diner on my way.  I hear they have great baklava.

HAPPY CHANUKAH!!!

"So, you're a few days late.  Pull up a chair!
Just wash your hands.  I hear you clean toilets."

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 1941

The tragedy?  It has happened before.  It has happened since.

The reality?  Killing each other remains in mankind's tool box.


If you doubt that, just turn on the news.

  My own personal opinion ("my own personal"?  Well, that's a little redundant).

  I don't think we'll ever see an attack like this again (not that I saw this one in the first place).  I just don't believe nations will send an entire fleet to attack the fleet of another nation.  If nothing else, there is no way in the world that something like this could ever be carried out in secret.

  But, do I think that surprise attacks will continue that will result  in the death of thousands?  Oh...yeah.  I won't insult your intelligence with examples.

  And, I will see those attacks.

  That terrifies me.

My own personal opinion (Part II).  Yeah, can't stop this redundancy thing.
  
I believe FDR knew the Japanese were going to attack.  Not that Japan was full of choir boys, but the US pretty much kept poking them in the eye.  I honestly feel the President wanted to get into the war and saw an answer in the Pacific.

Did he think Japan would kill thousands in a surprise attack?  Of course not. Most people at the time thought an attack on maybe the Philippines was most likely, but not on the Pacific Fleet.  But, if Hawaii were attacked ("PFFFT!  Hawaii!?" they probably thought), how much damage could the little yellow man cause?  Obviously, racism did not just appear in the 21st Century.  

Hubris.  It can be a killer.