Friday, December 26, 2008

It’s Pulled Pork Time In Georgia!

A Georgia resident recently shot an 1100-pound wild hog says the Associated Press. The man shot the animal when he spotted it in a neighbor’s yard, which makes you wonder how many dogs his neighbor has lost, if you catch my drift, which you probably didn't. However, jokes are never funny if you have to explain them, so we'll just move right along...

After shooting the hog, he took it to a weigh station to see just how big it was. This guy is just like me. Whenever I kill something, my first reaction is to drag it to the closest scale. Unfortunately, flies, mosquitoes and moths don’t weigh that much so the thrill is kind of lacking. Although it’s still not determined whether this hog is the biggest ever found in Georgia, it does weigh a few hundred pounds more than the famous ‘Hogzilla’ that was killed a few years ago. I guess that makes this pig Mothra-hog? Now if you are not familiar with the Godzilla Trilogy, that made no sense. Let's try it this way: if the previously known biggest pig was that one guy on 'The Odd Couple,' the new bigger pig is that other guy that the one guy lived with on 'The Odd Couple.' Kind of. Again, perhaps we should just move on...

The pig is now hanging from a tree in the man’s front yard, which is a good thing since houses always seem to look so bare after all the Christmas lights and decorations are taken down. The fact that it’s a dead obese animal and will probably start to have a horrible stench within the next few days is completely irrelevant of course. I can’t think of a better way to keep those pesky neighborhood kids off the lawn than a dead feral pig swaying from a tree.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Obligatory Christmas Post

Well, December 22nd has descended upon us, which means the Christmas season is in full swing. I guess that means I better devote a few paragraphs to the holiday season. Let me help you set the mood. While I am typing this, Johnny Mathis is crooning ‘The Christmas Song,’ I am drinking coffee with peppermint mocha creamer, I have been stoking the fire, printing copies like a mad man of this year’s Christmas CD for our friends and family, have the twins beside me begging me not to pile them into the new minivan (yeah, I sold out, but it’s so convenient, so mind your own business) and lost my job. And I’m doing all of that while wearing my Santa Suit complete with wig, beard and old man glasses. I’m just kidding. Seriously, that suit needs to be handled with care at all times. I took it off before having breakfast this morning.

Yep, that special holiday feeling is here! Have you wished a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings to everyone you meet yet? If you haven’t the time is quickly running out. Have you already had to replace 2 strings of lights on the tree and had the highest, most unreachable light on your roof line go out yet? Did you buy that most specialist gift for your mom, only to have your dad whisk you upstairs during a recent visit to show you that he bought your mom the most specialist gift, which just happens to be the very same most specialist gift you got her – and he got it much cheaper! And most importantly, did you get your children, the sunshine of your life, that amazing gift your wife wouldn't let you get so you bought it 'for the children' that you just can't wait to see them open on Christmas morning? I mean really, what 6 year old twins with poor hand/eye coordination wouldn't just LOVE getting 'Guitar Hero' from Santa? Right?

To say I love this time of season would be about as obvious a statement as saying the scent of bacon can actually attract mean to a tea party. The lights, the great music, people having to be nice to me being nice to me out of their own good will, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things. Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, silver white winters that melt into springs, These also are a few of my favorite things – though I think way too many were listed there to qualify as being 'a few.' Gheesh, sorry about that. I just started and had to keep going (that's what she said). The holidays will do that to you, man!

Name any other time of the year when Andy Williams or Robert Goulet get as much airplay as Justin Timberlake or Beyonce. For that matter, name any other time of year where we watch 15 different versions of stop motion puppetry about a reindeer who has a highly cancerous bulbous extension on his nose that makes him a social outcast in a place where you'd think goodwill, peace, harmony, love and tolerance would be preached all year round.

I guess it sounds like I am coming off a little cynical about Christmastime, especially to those that really know me, by which I mean those who have been around me and have seen me weep when I find just that perfect piece of cheddar on the cheese plate at a social function. The truth is that I love this time of year – freakishly so and am trying to downplay it for this post. My joy of Christmas is about as freaky and strong as the teacher in Alaska or wherever who fell in love with her student, went to jail and then ran away and married him. Wait, I get the sense that isn't giving you quite the impression that I wanted it to.

Let me just say that I love Christmas and bask in it from Thanksgiving on - lights, music, merriment and all. I guess I was predisposed to liking the holiday in a stalker type way because of my birth date, which just happens to be Wednesday, Christmas Eve. Though don't worry if you didn't write it down; I'm sure I'll remind you again, Speaking of my birthday, why just this week I've watched 5 different versions of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' I've seen so many versions in fact that I now find myself unable to sleep at night for fear of being visited by spirits, which is far worse than being unable to sleep each night for fear that the twins will want to get in bed with us and talk the entire night about mundane things like the color of our dog Mabel's belly or how they remember that time (like 2 days ago) when they ate that really good corn dog at Disneyland. On second thought, I welcome the spirits. Ok, I realize that entire last paragraph really had nothing to do with my birthday, but it sure seemed like a good segue. You know, that part about me telling you that my birthday is this week...

So in conclusion (though I have no idea what I am concluding here because I never really did state anything – but I did get in one 'that's what she said' and one reference to cheese – so I guess this post was successful), enjoy these last few days of the wonderful holiday season. Remember the reason we are celebrating and have the merriest of Christmases with those that you hold dear or those that you like but have no desire to hold whatsoever. Also, thank you for being my friend and continuing to support my writing, even though most of it has been accomplished while under a haze of prescription meds that I am pretty sure have already begun embalming me from the inside out.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Ode To The Brick Of Sugary Christmasy Goodness

Perhaps it’s because my friend’s wife made me her personal fruitcake recipe recently or the terror induced giddiness that can only come from being one week away from Christmas and realizing I have only played 34% of my Christmas music collection, but I find myself unable to resist writing about the fruitcake.

I know what you are thinking- ‘that $#$#%#^%$ hasn’t written anything new all December and he chooses to make his first post about fruitcake? The Hitler of all Christmastime goodies?’ I guess the answer to that is yes, but don’t you think your use of the words ‘Hitler’ and ‘Christmas’ in the same sentence is akin to calling Engelbert Humperdink untalented? Let me help you out there. The answer is yes; yes it is akin to that. Very akin to that in fact. By the way, that’s a-kin, not Aiken as in Clay. No Clay here. Ever.

While the fruitcake has been maligned like Sarah Palin next to Katie Couric, I happen to like it and enjoy its candied taste. Yes, it’s a redheaded step child to other Christmastime offerings like candy canes, apple cider, eggnog, gingerbread men people, sugar cookies and ham basted in bacon salt and topped with drizzled honey and bacon fat, but it deserves its time in the sun, partly because its petrified outer shell is impervious to the sun’s rays, but that really defeats the argument I am trying to make here.

About now I should admit that I have never written an ‘ode’ before and am having trouble telling the difference between that and a ‘discourse,’ but will carry on. Not only is a fruitcake tasty, it is colorful. As humans, we are genetically predisposed to be attracted to brightly colored things, much in the same way that female birds and other lady members of the animal kingdom are attracted to brightly colored males of their species – for mating purposes, not for eating. Sorry, I should have pointed that out a little sooner. At the same time, we are also genetically predisposed to be wary of some brightly colored foods because many brightly colored berries and other fruit like offerings of native plants are actually poisonous. As you can see, we are essentially hardwired as humans to find the fruitcake as a pleasant sight, but are leery of actually consuming it because it can pose a risk to our health.

Also, I made that entire paragraph up, but admit it, my use of the word ‘predisposed’ made it seem very believable and gave me the sort of credibility that I am not normally known for. I was worried about using the word twice, but I think it helped my case – just like when I slip in the fact that I read Time Magazine for the articles. By the way, have I mentioned recently that I just renewed my subscription to Time? I did because I read it.

To be honest, I have no idea why people don't like fruitcake. Just like dipping apple slices in Ranch dressing, if more people tried it, they would realize how much they like it. Because it is the butt of jokes, most people ASSUME (and I don't mean 'assume' in the heroic 'I am venturing a guess based on way too little information' sense) that it isn't good and therefore choose to pass it up and make fun of it like they ridiculed the kid on the playground who used to dress like David Letterman and write his own Top 10 lists for his unappreciative classmates. If only they had bothered to listen to my that undisclosed person's Top 10 lists! Those fools!

Well, I guess I have run out of things to say, or to 'ode' about. In retrospect, I really didn't offer up any good reasons to actually go out and get a fruitcake but I am hoping that my enthusiasm for it and bravery in admitting that I do enjoy them will make you want to try just one slice. Let me be your fruitcake ambassador as it were. Wait, I'm not sure how that title will be interpreted...

To quote Obama - look, here's the the thing. Fruitcake has nuts (that's what she said), it has fruit, it has sugar, some even contain alcohol AND it's a lot more fun way to promote tooth decay than something like gum or coffee. See, you just can't argue with that. In fact, I am eating one while typing this. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I chipped a tooth...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Is Not Only Getting Too Commercial, It’s Getting Too Violent

That’s one of my favorite quotes from a Charlie Brown Christmas. Of course it was uttered by Linus facing an assault from his sister, but it applies nonetheless. I read 3 different news stories this morning that make me think the holidays are getting out of hand...

Will Feeling Up The Big Guy Guarantee You A Spot On The Nice List?
According to the AP, a 33 year-old lady in Connecticut is sure hoping so. She was accused of groping her local mall’s Santa. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume she was tugging at more than Santa’s beard. I am also trying really hard to avoid describing Santa’s manitalia as ‘Jingle Bells,’ although you can just imagine how rosy his cheeks were when they were rung. Oops. Hey Santa, is that a candy cane in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

You have to wonder if this was part of a dare or if the lady was overcome with the spirit of the holiday season. She’s 33 and the mall Santa is 65, so I guess if you’re looking for an older sugar daddy you can’t do much better than Santa. Even if he does turn around and dress as the Easter Bunny in April. I just feel bad for all the other kids who didn’t get to sit with Santa that day because of what the groper did, now that Santa’s lap is a crime scene and all. The Santa who was groped was reportedly very upset with his female harasser. Apparently he kept calling her a ‘Ho’ over and over again…

I Guess He Should Have Taken His Sleigh
Remind me to avoid going to Rio De Janeiro any time soon. Reuters reported that a helicopter carrying Santa was shot at in Rio as he flew over slums that are the home to drug traffickers. The helicopter actually had to return to its base because of bullet holes. It was discovered later that the drug traffickers shot at the helicopter because they thought it was a police chopper. Well, that’s ok then.

I mean heaven forbid we shoot at Santa, but if it’s the fuzz, then it’s acceptable. I doubt that dressing up as Santa pays very well, but hopefully in Rio it earns you hazard pay. So, if you are keeping score, dressing up as Santa at Christmastime puts you at risk of being sexually assaulted and becoming a murder victim. I think Britney Spears has better odds being elected to the United States Senate than a Santa does of making it through Christmas intact. I blame the yuletide cheer. Admit it, EVERYBODY hates being around someone who seems TOO happy. Come on, you know you feel the same way. Lost here is the fact that the Santa being choppered over Rio was going to be passing out little plastic bags of white magic ‘candy cane dust.’ Ok, I made that up.

Why No Virginia, Reindeer Can’t Fly
I don’t mean to dash the hopes of kids from 1 to 92, but kids no longer need to wait up to see if reindeer know how to fly. The AP ran a story today detailing this in no uncertain terms. It seems a deer went through the picture window of a Maryland home. It damaged curtains and the couch before being subdued by the homeowner. While there were no specific details of how the homeowner was able to ‘subdue’ the frightened deer who crash landed through the window of the home, we do know that venison has coincidentally been added to the family’s Christmas dinner.

And speaking of reindeer (and really bad segues), I was at Disneyland the other day and saw what the Happiest Place on Earth was insisting were reindeer and they looked more like small moose (or mooses or perhaps meese?) with antlers. To be honest, I’m surprised they could even jump through a window, let alone fly. But then the Mary Poppins I posed with looked more like Marie Osmond than Julie Andrews. And the smell sure left a lot to be desired. I mean the smell of the reindeer, Mary Poppins wouldn’t let me get close enough to sniff her.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Exploitation Of Rudolph, It’s Animagical!

It’s that time of year when those famous Rankin-Bass cartoons and stop-motion puppet (Animagic) specials like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty can be seen on TV as frequently as wreaths on long-haul truckers’ rigs. I think the only person that comes close to having produced more Christmas fare than Rankin-Bass was Johnny Mathis, who I’m pretty sure just released his 100th Christmas CD, or something close to it. The ABC Family Channel usually airs most of the Rankin-Bass productions all December long and my girls watched a few of them last night. Among them was ‘Rudolph’s Shiny New Year’ and ‘The Christmas without a Santa Claus.’ It got me thinking that at a certain point, the Animagic Christmas treatment may have been stretched a little too thin.

Obviously, ‘Rudolph’ is as much a part of the holidays as Bing Crosby and fish-stockinged leg lamps giving us the glow of illuminated electrix sex in our windows. It has to be good television for it to have been broadcast over network TV for the last 42 years. Although I seriously doubt that there has been an American child named Rudolph since the first airing of the special in 1964. There probably has also not been a child named Adolf for even longer, but that has nothing to do with deer that have red light bulbs screwed into their noses. It's just that the two names rhyme and my mind tends to wander when I write. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the TV classic. It’s the other Rudolph shows that prove maybe there can be too much of a good thing. Apparently, Rudolph has to find Baby New Year after he runs away in ‘Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.’ It seems the little baby ran away because he was embarrassed by his big ears. Of course, Rudolph could sympathize (as could I, unfortunately) because he has that nose and all, but really, is that worth an hour children’s program?

Then there’s the very confusing ‘Rudolph & Frosty's Christmas in July,’ which just leaves me speechless. I’m still not sure what it was about but it featured Frosty for the first time as a stop-motion puppet. Should this be aired in the summer or in December? Combining the two seems to make as much sense as having Hank Williams, Jr. do a slow and reverent version of ‘Away in a Manger.’ Although if Hank did cover a version of it, please let me know so I can add it to my collection. At least Rudy was left alone for a while until ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys’ came along. That was done digitally though so I won’t consider it for the sake of this post. Also, it was really bad and very annoying and Lucy and Ethel insist on watching it far too often. The phrase "gratuitously often" comes to mind.

There were however, several holidays that Rankin-Bass apparently chose to have Rudolph not celebrate. Maybe they figured having a reindeer and snowman enjoy the 4th of July together was the bottom of the barrel. Think of all we missed if they had decided to continue milking Rudolph. (I'm sure there is something extremely inappropriate I could say after just using the phrase 'milking Rudolph," but I am going to resist the temptation. That would be udderly disgusting. Dangit! I couldn't resist.) There could have been ‘Rudolph’s Thanksgiving’ where he has to coax Tom the Turkey back to the turkey farm so he can be euthanized and ‘processed’ for Thanksgiving dinner. What about ‘Rudolph’s Haunted Halloween’ where he befriends a ghost who is afraid of dark haunted houses but has to haunt someone before he gets his official ghost status? Yep, they cook up a scheme with Yukon Cornelius to pretend to be scared by the timid ghost. It sounds a lot like Casper, but Casper is friendly and this ghost is timid. Trust me, if just for litigation purposes only, there is a difference in the two.

Rudolph would shine (if you’ll pardon the phrasing) in ‘Rudolph and the Leprechaun.’ In that one Rudolph searches for the pot of gold that Louis the Leprechaun lost in a cock-fighting bet. ‘Rudolph’s Meaty Memorial Day’ would follow the reindeer as he rounds up enough meat for Santa’s big ‘Start of Summer BBQ.’ Unfortunately, Santa feels like grilling venison this year. The hour long finale to the Rudolph dynasty would be ‘Rudolph’s Long Lazy Labor Day,’ where he sleeps all weekend before escorting the kiddy elves to their first day of school, but slips on a skateboard while on the way and breaks his leg, resulting in the need to put him out of his misery. Oh the mayhem that could ensue in that one. Wow!

As you can see, while he may have been exploited after the success of his original holiday special, it could have continued and been much worse. The lackluster Rudolph sequels seem to have done little to tarnish the little misfit’s street cred though (you know, that's the first time I've ever used that phrase. I feel empowered by it. Maybe using it just helped my street cred. Ohhh, I'm liking this...) . They are making Rudolph themed everything these days. I actually saw a Rudolph version of Monopoly the other day. As Burl Ives would say, it seems that Rudolph is worth a whole lot of ‘silver and gold,’ no matter what he’s asked to do. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go open another roll of Rudolph toilet paper for the twins.

**The Wonderful World of Nothing Worthwhile’s useless observation for the day: Have you noticed in the original ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ that all of the hands on the puppets are dirty? Especially Santa’s. I don’t know why this is, but you can only watch something so many times until you start looking at things other than the plot…