To Stuff a Turkey

Their gaunt faces continue to suggest that our days may indeed be numbered. They do not speak, but they make deranged cooing sounds. I have taught one of the gnomes a few card tricks, and he has demonstrated these skills to his brethren. So the gnomes have momentarily put away their bloody cleavers. Sometimes, we hear laughter in the dead of night.

The bargain is this: Things will remain comfortable for us, provided that (a) I prepare the turkey this year (a first for me) and (b) I continue to work on my manuscript. We now have all the supplies on hand for (a). And there has been some substantial editing on (b). But (a) and (b) combined will likely hinder my regular reports for this site — despite the dependable wifi.

Or as Orwell once put it, one egg.

Happy Thanksgiving

There are still deadlines and books to read and emails to answer. And I’m sorry if I haven’t yet returned your email just yet, but I hope to get back to you well after the gorging. I’m stepping away from this crazy little thing called the Internet for some much-needed Thanksgiving R&R, only to return to work not long thereafter, although well away from these electronic backwoods.

turkey.jpgHave a fantastic Thanksgiving. If you’re on KP duty, take deep breaths and realize that there is an end in sight and that the guests you are hosting will be especially appreciative of your efforts. If the immense intake of food is overwhelming, take deep breaths and realize that the postprandial floor plop is likewise an end of sorts — the kind of physical maneuver that offers an entirely unexpected form of gratitude and that doesn’t even involve a deity. And if the five pounds you’ve gained is enough to make you shed more tears than a casual viewing of Terms of Endearment, reject the consumerist impulses on Friday and go for a long walk instead.

Alas, many turkeys have been massacred for this holiday. But, it’s a hard and cruel world. And you can justify the bloodshed with the fact that turkey is pretty tasty.

Thanksgiving also presents us with the beginning of the Oscar movie season. There will be many long and ostensibly meaningful movies for you to enjoy in theaters. If the messages often come across as heavy-handed, cut Hollywood some slack. This is the best they can do.

More important than any of this, be kind to your family and friends. Even the ones who annoy the hell out of you and who you only see once or twice a year. They are often misunderstood and probably aren’t nearly as bad as you think. Take this opportunity to try and understand them, even if it means sitting through the conversational equivalent of a long and boring slideshow. You may be surprised by what you find out.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Bah Humbug

For all those who have offered, “Happy holidays,” thank you for the well-wishes that don’t specifically reference Xmas. Happy holidays and good cheer back to you.

For those who have polluted the air with insufferable carols, for those who have tried to induct me into their hellish Xmas-Christian propaganda with almost complete artifice and ideological solipsism, for those who say hello to their family and friends but once a year (now, but never any other time), for those who think that a pre-printed card with a mere signature below some bullshit Hallmark “witticism” somehow makes up for this yearly discrepancy (not unlike signing an annual blackmail check), for those who have forced the issue, whether it’s the execrable bastards in control of the Muzak machines or the hypocritical assholes who really couldn’t give a good goddam for those alone, friendless or homeless (the true people in need of attention), then either wander off a butte and die or get with the program.

If you’re in San Francisco (or anywhere), I dare you to throw off the shackles of holiday bullshit and actually do something for the downtrodden. Don’t max out your credit cards on trinkets. Just get in there, volunteer a few hours, and selflessly give of yourself to someone who needs it. Think of others for a change on real human terms. Here are a few organizations that could use your time.

That’s about all I have to say about this sham of a holiday. Except bah humbug.

Bad Santa

Like everyone, the Muthafu’in Holidays have kept me so perplexed that I’m dropping key letters from colorful adjectives and creating nonsense. Expect something coherent again on Monday. In the meantime, why not try some of the many fine establishments on the left?

Bad Santa

Bad Santa is a beautiful movie. It’s the kind of risk-taking, no-holds-barred razor held against a sacred cow that comes but once in a generation. I think Alexander Payne’s going to be duking it out with Terry Zwigoff over who gets to fire the satirical howitzers.

Only someone foolish enough to buy in completely to the hypocrisy that is Xmas would hate it. If that’s your thing, go see Elf instead. Bad Santa has at least five kicks to the crotch. It features an antihero who has no compunction about fucking heavy-set ladies in the Plus Size fitting room, but has problems being accused of “fornicating.” It has an indelible image of Billy Bob Thornton and Tony Cox walking across a parking lot in slow-motion, Thornton with a bottle of bourbon and a cigarette. It includes John Ritter in a great role as a politically correct manager who was “against the Clinton impeachment.” It has Bernie Mac as a man who cannot stop putting terrible things into his mouth. It has a sweet, pudgy kid who remains a hapless believer in the face of misery. It has Ajay Naidu from Office Space as a lunatic looking for a fight. It has one of the best dwarf roles seen in cinema since Even Dwarves Started Small. It features a woman who cries, “Fuck me Santa. Fuck me Santa,” in the back of a car.

It is unapologetically dark. It will piss off the prissy. But, strangely enough, you’ll come away feeling damned good about the human race. Bad Santa is probably one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year. Joe Bob says check it out.

In Defense of Scrooge

The Toronto Star: “In other words, don’t question clichés. But this is precisely what Scrooge does at the beginning of the story, when the ‘portly gentlemen’ come soliciting. Here’s their pitch: ‘At this festive season of the year, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.’ Oh? And they don’t suffer in January or February? They don’t feel hungry in July and August? Why should it not be just as ‘desirable’ to help out these wretches in those months? Why not go further, in fact? Why not make some ‘slight provision’ for the poor and destitute every single day of the year?”

Michael Levin: “If you think it is heartless of Scrooge to demand payment [from Bob Crachit], think of Sickly Sid, who needs an operation even more urgently than Tim does, and whose father is waiting to finance that operation by borrowing the money Cratchit is expected to pay up. ”

David E. Bumbaugh: “The problem with Dickens vision, of course, is that the Tiny Tims of the world must wait patiently to be discovered by the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world. What is more, they must hope that when the Scrooges stumble across them, it will be after their miserly hearts have been opened by the visitation of the Spirit of Christmas. Scrooge has the resources to save Tiny Tim, but Tim has no claim on Scrooge except whatever obligation his own redemption has laid upon the wealthy man. In the story, Scrooge learned to keep Christmas and to keep it well, and Tiny Tim was saved, but there is no suggestion that the unjust economic system was in any way altered, or that a thousand other Tiny Tims were not languishing and dying needlessly in that gray old city.”

Robert B. Reich, “Scrooge is Alive and Well in America”: “On the other hand, if you happen to work for one of those 24/7 call centers, you may have to work on Christmas Day. Security guards will be at their stations. Many convenience store operators, too. Also hospital staffs, caterers, hotel personnel, emergency repairers of all kinds, fire fighters, police officers, even the staff at Marketplace.”