HOW TO WATCH FIREWORKS; A PRIMER BY MAX BURBANK

 

1.) Arrive early. You want a good seat, and you never know. This could be the year they start shooting them off before sunset.

2.) Wait. This early stage waiting is an excellent time to start working toward being abusively drunk, although a seasoned fireworks pro begins this around noon in the privacy of their own backyard, or behind a neighborhood dumpster. Most public fireworks viewing spaces have a ‘no alcohol’ policy, but it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Do you think the founding fathers were sober for even an instant during the revolution? Let me tell you – small arms fire, Dysentery, Gangrene, starvation and all male companionship go down a lot easier with a buzz on.

3.) If you brought your kids with you, now’s the time to yell at them. You want to do this while it’s still light enough so that other families know you have your offspring under control. That way once it’s dark you can let them run wild and no one will guess they’re yours. If you don’t have kids, yell at somebody else’s. It’s a great way to break the ice with their parents who may well have better snacks than you.

4.) Speculate loudly about when the hell they’re gonna get this show on the road.

5.) Tell your kids it has to be good and dark for a pretty long time before they can start the fireworks. When they ask why that would be, see how many reasons you can come up with that make any sense at all.

6.) Wait. Silently question why you come so early every year as thousands of unsupervised teenagers crowd in, obscuring your view.

7.) Spend some time thinking about what the impact on Gay culture in America would have been if halfway through the filming of “The Wizard of Oz”, Judy Garland suffered a stroke and the only one who could take on her role and complete the filming was you. (not everyone does this step, but ask around. I think you’ll be surprised)

8.) Listen as the bovine herd around you wonders if the obviously cheap, privately owned fireworks being shot off by neighbors might be the start of the show, and if so why is this town always so damn stingy with it’s tax dollars. Chuckle knowingly while privately worrying if this actually might be the case this year, even though it never has been before, even once.

9.) When the privately owned fireworks end, see if you can be the first one to loudly joke that it’s now time to go home.

10.) Wait. To amuse your family, play waiting for fireworks bingo. How many different whining, complaining, crying children can you count? How many drunken fathers, hollowly threatening to take everyone home right now? Use your flashlight to pick out silently seething Mothers and Dates.

11.) The show begins. Everyone will want to know your expert opinion on each firework, so make sure you use your ‘outdoor voice’ when you tell them.

12.) Wonder about Aerial Bombs, those deafeningly loud, big white flashes. What’s the point, beyond reminding you that these lovely flashes of light are supposed to suggest wartime lethal bombardment? Does anyone actually like them? Does the Mayor own stock? Are they really cheap? Do you get them free when you order a certain amount of ordinance?

13.) Worry that the small collection of fireworks that just went off together might be a particularly lame grand finale. Recall wondering this every year of your whole life, even though it’s always quite clear when the grand finale takes place. But what if this time it really is a particularly lame grand finale? Allow yourself to experience crushing disappointment coupled with the kind of depression that will put your head in the oven in the instant before the show starts up again.

14.) This small collection of fireworks going off at the same time is a little bigger than the last one. Maybe this is the grand finale. Wouldn’t that be lame? What the hell is wrong with this town? It’s not like they spend the taxes on the school system. Think longingly of your oven again, and it’s soothing, open mouth.

15.) Stare in slack jawed wonder at what is unmistakably, obviously, the grand finale. So big! Pretty light go boom! Thank God for the inventive spirit of the ancient Chinese and this great, wonderful country of ours, its freedoms, the sacrifices of its brave sons and daughters! Then tell everyone around you last year was better.

16) Bitch about the crowds, the traffic and the failure of fat, complacent local cops to confiscate illegal fireworks from dangerous unsupervised teens. Rage bitterly against the triple overtime extorted from the town budget just so the local boys in blue can make vague, non committal hand gestures at the slow motion, Demolition Derby that just hours ago was a semi civilized parking facility.

17.) Tell your family that if this is how they want to spend the 4th next year they can damn well do it without you.

18) in 365 days, repeat these steps with as few variations as possible.

An Open Letter from Santa

GREETINGS TO THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD FROM ME, SANTA CLAUS!! HO HO HO!

I’m canceling Christmas. 
I know, I know, I’ve said it before, but this time, Santa is serious. This Jolly Old Elf has had it. Had it with the Season, with commercialism, had it up to the tippy top of my balding head with those damn elves, had it years ago with Mrs. Claus and in particular and most of all, had it with you. I think I might be able to squeeze one last Christmas Eve run past the rest of it, but you, my little friends, are the straw that broke this fat old camel’s back. You, the Children of the world, and most especially of all, you, David Jenkins of Piedmont, Ohio. If I hollowed out the entire State of Pennsylvania it wouldn’t give me enough coal for your stocking, you awful, awful little child. 



Don’t go looking for any last minute, eleventh hour, John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Special change of heart, either. Oh, does that reference date Santa? Well I guess I’m just about as sorry as hell, you snarky little bastards.  Rudolph is not going to pull your chestnuts out of the fire this time because A.) I’m not canceling due to inclement weather and B.) He’s dead. Bizarre mutations like glowing red noses usually go hand in glove with a heaping Christmas Helping of serious internal disorders, which Rudolph had more of than all the all the hideously over bred dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show combined! 



Santa’s old, old as hell and more than a little bitter. The truth is Santa stopped caring years ago. How often have I hinted I wanted out? But oh, no, you kept dragging me back in. Traipsing up to the North Pole in your “Children of many Lands” ethnic costumes, writing me sad little letters in crayon, singing ‘Blue Christmas’ for Christ’s sake! How much emotional blackmail is one man supposed to take? Well, enough. I’m out. If Herbie can be a damn dentist, Santa can sure as hell be retired. And this is not a ‘symptom’ of Santa’s ‘bipolar disorder’! Damn quack doctors have a ‘diagnosis’ for everything these days and OH what a COINCIDENCE, for everything a fella does that rocks the boat there’s a MAGIC PILL! Magic, sure, it magically makes Mountains of Money for Big Pharma! Well, screw that noise! If Santa’s Doctors are such big geniuses, let them explain how it is Santa stopped taking his pills months ago and HE IS STILL FINE!!

Oh, Manic? Want to talk about manic? How about flying to every house on the planet in ONE NIGHT?! Because that’s what you want me to keep doing. You know what Santa thinks were in those damn yellow pills Mrs. Claus was constantly pushing down his throat? Crack. If you can find someone who can wiggle down six Billion Chimneys in one night without Crack, strap the Red Suit on them, ’cause I am taking it off. And if you all don’t mind a little tough love, let me just add, you don’t deserve me and you haven’t for quite some time. Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, I keep the damn list! I know what you did. Lying, cursing, backstabbing, shoplifting, dope smoking, venomous little creeps! Okay, okay, a few of you are on the Nice list, but for every Amanda Cooper of Salt Lake City, Utah, there are six murderers! That’s right, real, actual kids who killed somebody! And I’m not even talking about the ones where there’s evidence that will stand up in court! The law will take care of them; I’m talking about the kids who got away with it! And you know why Amanda Cooper of Salt Lake City is so damn nice? She LACKS IMAGINATION! I’m sorry as hell but it’s true! The kid is as dumb as a candy cane!

I know you’re all upset, and I blame myself. It’s my fault you expect a full stocking and presents from me, I’m the single most codependent person on the planet. How’s THAT for a diagnosis? Are all you damn Doctors happy now? I never should have gotten into this racket in the first place, it’s Jesus’ birthday, not any of you kids, and he’s been dead more than Two Thousand Years. All the goodie bags and balloons from that party are long gone. 


In conclusion, don’t cry, don’t pout. You’re still going to get a steaming mound of consumer crap far beyond the dreams of Avarice, because your parents feel guilty about the job they’re doing raising you AS WELL THEY SHOULD. They’ll probably mark some of them as being from Santa. Let ’em. Forging my signature is very low on my list of indignities. Frankly, being told I ‘shake like a bowl full of jelly’ bothers me a lot more. Newsflash! Fat guys know they are fat. I may have been ‘shaking’ on the outside, but on the inside? Tears of a Clown, boys and girls. Tears of a sad, fat, old Christmas Clown. 



And you know what? I don’t blame myself. I blame you, you selfish, greedy little sons of bitches. And Jesus wept, Marty Oglethorpe, if you can’t leave it alone, at least stop touching it with THAT! Show a little self-respect.




Love,



SANTA

My Thanksgiving Prayer

Lord, we thank Thee.

For family and friends, for safety, for the beauty of the land as it yields to winter. For home and hearth, though not literally, as we have natural gas forced hot water heating but thanking your for natural gas forced hot water heating doesn’t really swing, poetry-wise.

Thanks unto you for the bounty we are about to receive, and I personally intend to receive a lot of bounty, particularly in the liquor department, a bounty for which I am especially grateful at this time of year. Thanks not just on this day of gorging but on all days of the year when I eat in a single meal what many you favor less would eat in a week. Thank you particularly for the days I tell the wife I am ‘sticking’ to my ‘diet’ when in fact I go to the food court at the mall on my lunch break and they fix me up a triple helping of barbecued pork at the Chinese without my even asking, because they know of my deep, abiding affection for hot, crimson pork. Thank you for stretchy pants.

Thank you for Tryptophan or Booze or Denial or whatever the hell it is that allows me to slip into a near coma shortly after unbuttoning my stretchy pants, thus allowing me the bounty of staying out of whatever old scabs my extended family feels it’s traditional to pick whenever we gather.

Thank you for my children and the Halloween candy I have stolen from them a few pieces a day since Halloween. Thank you also for their piggybanks without which I would not be able to afford the Nip Bottles I hide in desk drawer now the wife has me on an allowance and thanks also to their generous grandparents without whom the children’s piggybanks would not be so regularly stuffed. Thanks for Nip Bottles themselves, so much easier to hide than full sized bottles, and thanks also for the fantasy life they invite, that I am on a plane, going somewhere nice.

And thanks for my colleagues, horrible human cubicle rats though they may be, for without their craven scuttling before the bosses, their fear and trembling before the timeclock, not to mention the copy machine and for that matter the stapler, I would never have those moments between bouts of utter despair where I realize how gloriously superior I am, how perfect and glowing and dominant, so that they are as insects before me, insects whom I might crush without regret or perhaps enslave and force to dance for me, dance in wanton abandon.

Thanks for the internet and it’s bounty of readily available, free, cat gifs and highly specific niche pornography and thanks particularly for access to the internet at work so that the precious soul you gave me might not be utterly crushed by the pointless, inane, drudgery demanded of me by The System in return for enough money to survive and ‘flex time’ and access to barely adequate health care. Thanks for making sure I do not understand ‘flex time’ even a little bit, as the knowledge would surely drive me mad.

Thanks for letting me be born in modern America so that I can feel rage over petty annoyances unnoticed by most people not just on earth but throughout human history, Stinking vermin who never once knew the joy of screaming at the driver in front of them who has not noticed the light turned green well over a second ago, thanks for violent, overpaid athletes and actors and smug, sanctimonious, possibly insane politicians utterly corrupted by what an reasonably overpaid athlete or actor could tell you were relatively small amounts of money; Thanks to all the many, many, many of your children who devoutly believe your message is to kill anyone who doesn’t know your message is what they say it is, up to and including every aspect of my thoughts, my words, and what I do with my wiener which is so obviously not really my wiener, but merely an aspect your Divine wiener on loan to me for the sole purpose of not using it.

Oh, and thanks in particular for not making me a turkey which at this special time of year would particularly suck. Unless you’re about to have an advanced Alien Race visit earth and seem all nice and give us world peace and the cure to several nasty diseases when what they’re really doing is fattening us up to eat at the inter species thanksgiving dinner we’re the ‘guests of honor’ at, and as we howl with indignity, in the distance a Native American, all of whom the Aliens ironically spare, sheds a single tear of irony, a cryptic homage to Iron Eyes Cody who tried to warn us by weeping over pollution but we didn’t give a little tin crap then and we still don’t now so INTO THE ALIEN BELLY WE GO!!

‘Cause if that’s what you’re up to, Lord, you can stuff the ‘Thanks’.

I worked like a dog for this damn holiday.

Pass the peas.

Amen.

A Brief History of Halloween

Ah, Halloween! The Spooky Costume Holiday, the Candy Christmas, the Freeloaders Favorite Celebration! But just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship? Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual? Despite the fears of a small minority of religious extremists and deeply superstitious small town characters in Stephen King novels, scientists, folklorists and historians all agree; Halloween is indeed Demon Worship. The Fun Kind!

The word itself, “Halloween,” like many terrifying words and practices, has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of “All Hallows Eve”. November 1, “All Hollows Day” (or “All Saints Day”), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints, all of whom died in ways that make hideous car accidents look like a Sunday school Picnic. Unless there was a hideous car accident at or on the way to your Sunday school picnic, in which case, Sorry.



In the 5th century BCE, (‘Before The Common Era’ as opposed to BC, or ‘Before Christ’ because it’s less offensive to believe it’s ‘common’ to believe in ‘Jesus’) in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), a Celtic word meaning “New Year” or “Last Day Before the Season in Which You’ll Probably Die of Starvation if you Don’t Freeze to Death First.”

Reenactments are a very sad thing’

One story says that on Samhain (Sam-Raimi), the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this period, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living, so it was a shoe-in for a celebration. 



Some stubborn 5th Century Celts clung to the idea that their miserable, diseased, frigid, filthy, short lives were preferable to possession. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. (I’m referring to the homes themselves, not the Celts. 5th century Celts were already cold and undesirable, despite the fanciful depictions of fire haired, feisty maidens, strapping warriors and mysterious Druids often found in your finer Dungeons and Dragons related publications.) They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess. Today, archeologists believe there is strong evidence suggesting that this professed belief in spirit possession during Samhain (Skowhegan) was merely an excuse to get rip roaring drunk and vandalize the property of irritating neighbors.

Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could renew a sense of community by relighting their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach (Samhain). Unfortunately, the science of orienteering was poorly developed at best in the 5’th Century, and so there was a great deal of argument amongst Druid Priests as to where the exact middle of Ireland was. Many fire-seeking Celts succumbed to hypothermia and died still searching for the Druidic fire, ironically increasing the population of disembodied spirits that would plague the souls of the living on the next Samhain (ham-salad).


‘These lucky Celts found the centrally located Druid Fire’ in what is now modern day Portugal’

By some accounts, Celts would burn people at the stake who were thought to be possessed, as sort of a lesson to the spirits. Other accounts regard these stories as myth. Still other accounts hold that while people were indeed burned at the stake, it was more to relieve the constant boredom of 5th century Celthood, and that the ancient precursors of S’mores were made around the pyre. 



The Romans, who new a good boredom-relieving human sacrifice when they saw one, adopted the Celtic practices as their own, minus the part about freezing to death while wandering around Ireland looking for the Druid Fire. Try wearing a Roamn steel chest plate in Ireland at the end of October and see if you walk even three feet from a fire, let alone put voluntarily putting a perfectly good fire out to go traipsing off looking for some central fire. So with some tailoring in the first century AD, Samhain (Shania-twain) was assimilated into the Roman festival day honoring Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit, trees, and Pagan Torchin’ Tuesdays.


‘Pomona, in addition to her other duties was also Goddess of staring at soap dishes.’

The thrust of many other Celtic practices also changed over time to become more ritualized. As belief in spirit possession waned, the practice of dressing up like hobgoblins, ghosts, and witches took on a more ceremonial role, and roasting someone alive was replaced by the more ritualistic practice of maiming with hot pokers.

 Various versions of Halloween were practiced throughout Europe and Russia for the next several years, but never really took off, perhaps owing to the scarcity of affordable spooky costumes and because the only “treats” on offer were liquor and wheat spoiled by hallucinogenic molds and fungi. 


The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses, unhinging fence gates and terrifying children by dressing up as huge, starving potatoes hungry for child flesh.
 The custom of trick-or-treating for candy is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants and the minced brains (believed to be the seat of the “soul”) of debtors, convicted criminals and Huguenots.

‘This ceramic is titled ‘begging for soul cakes’, although it could just as well be called ‘cheap ass hummel knock-off from grandma’s estate sale that turns out to be worthless’.

The more soul cakes the beggars collected, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the brain donors. At the time, it was believed that torment of hell for debrained undesirables (particularly Huguenots) could be increased through prayer. In 1892, Pope Cletus the Fifth would declare debraining a heresy and replace “soul cakes” with the more acceptable but less fun “Soul and Broken Glass Bags You May Strike Huguenots With at Will.”


The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, a notorious drunkard, trickster, and part-time Huguenot, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down.

According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because he was a Huguenot, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer. Then, while Jack was entranced by the glowing Turnip, Satan bashed his head in, which is where the custom of smashing Jack-O-Lanterns comes from. 

The Irish used turnips as their “Jack’s lanterns” originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they were ridiculed by other immigrants for their “tiny, red pumpkins”. Soon the Irish caught on that if they were ever to get by in the new world, they would have to make their Jack-o-lanterns out of pumpkins. And stop drinking so much. And brawl less. And dye their hair and bleach their skin of the hideous freckles rightly feared as “carrier’s smallpox”, and swear up and down they wereNorwegian, yah, Norwegian, you betcha. 


Halloween really took off in America in the late thirties when the Garment industry discovered that synthetic Polymers could be easily molded into cheap costumes and masks. Historians of Halloween note that the garment industry was, at this time, “Jew run”.

The Golden Age of Halloween took place in the early 1970’s when affordable masks and plastic tunics bearing the name of popular icons could be purchased at the now extinct “Five and Dime” (fie-ven-diame). Sadly, the Golden Age ended abruptly in 1976 with the invention of the “fun size” candy bar.

‘A great costume, if you are dressing up as Planet of the Apes’. If, however, your intention was to be a character from the Planet of the Apes movie franchise, like every other child of the seventies, you were shit out of luck.’

Today, Halloween is once more endangered on multiple fronts. Fundamentalist Christian groups seek to portray Halloween as a recruiting tool for the Satanist Lobby. In fact, apart from royalties paid on Devil costumes and accessories (plastic pitchforks, horns, army surplus flamethrowers) Satanists see little commercial return on their investment.

Suburban soccer moms seek to drain the fun out of Halloween by suggesting “costume parties”, “school parades without weapons or gore” and worst of all, “daylight trick-or-treating.” Some social theorists believe that once this demographic has drained a significant number of “fun units” from the holiday, they will us them to power their hyper-drives and death rays directly prior to the enslavement of the human race.
Perhaps most insidiously, modern day Pagans, or “Wiccans” (wih-cahns) insist Halloween is still Samhain (Soduku) and that all non-religious Halloween festivities constitute religious harassment. While this approach offers certain scholarly and legal interest, it completely ignores that modern Wiccans have as much as much actual historical connection with 5th century Celts ( Pro-to-hue-gen-awts) as I do with the Negro Baseball League.

So we see that despite the adoption of Halloween as the favorite “holiday,” of certain fringe groups and despite it’s vilification by others, the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. Unless you call burning people to death “evil”. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, the Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans, and the thriving synthetic garment trade pioneered by the Jews. Today, many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids, which may well be listed in the community activities section of your local paper. Why not check them out and if you like, burn them down. After all, any so called “church” celebrating Halloween is probably Huguenot, and if not, have no one but themselves to blame for a case of mistaken arson. I’m sorry, identity.

How To Watch Fireworks

Well, the 4th has come and gone. Another year, another cookout, another set of colossal, inflamed insect bites accompanied by hypochondriacal imagined symptoms of East Nile Virus and Lymes disease, another day after spent nursing a violent hangover, screaming at the kids to ‘for Christ’s sake shut up, can’t you see Daddy’s sick?’, wishing like hell you could get their attention by whispering, knowing full well you might as well wish that the tears of rage were diamonds as big as hen’s eggs, and above all, another evening of fireworks.

So why write about it? What’s done is done, right? I like fireworks enough to put up with how much I hate other people and my intrinsic distrust of self-congratulatory spectacle in general and my government in particular, so what more is there to say?

First, it’s good to do a little wrap up analysis of any event you intend to repeat, and ‘B’, there’s always the chance that a year from now you’ll be mopping the floor in a Mexican tattoo parlor and asking La Tourista if they could help a fellow American out with any spare change they might have. Word is, they don’t have the 4th of July down there. Well, they have it, it’s hard to get to 5th of July without it, it’s just not a very big deal.

So. Having stretched my word count to 238 without even starting this essay, I give you…

HOW TO WATCH FIREWORKS; A PRIMER BY MAX BURBANK

1.) Arrive early. You want a good seat, and you never know. This could be the year they start shooting them off before sunset.

2.) Wait. This early stage waiting is an excellent time to start working toward being abusively drunk, although a seasoned fireworks pro begins this around noon in the privacy of their own backyard, or behind a neighborhood dumpster. Most public fireworks viewing spaces have a ‘no alcohol’ policy, but it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Do you think the founding fathers were sober for even an instant during the revolution? Let me tell you – small arms fire, Dysentery, Gangrene, starvation and all male companionship go down a lot easier with a buzz on.

3.) If you brought your kids with you, now’s the time to yell at them. You want to do this while it’s still light enough so that other families know you have your offspring under control. That way once it’s dark you can let them run wild and no one will guess they’re yours. If you don’t have kids, yell at somebody else’s. It’s a great way to break the ice with their parents who may well have better snacks than you.

4.) Speculate loudly about when the hell they’re gonna get this show on the road.

5.) Tell your kids it has to be good and dark for a pretty long time before they can start the fireworks. When they ask why that would be, see how many reasons you can come up with that make any sense at all.

6.) Wait. Silently question why you come so early every year as thousands of unsupervised teenagers crowd in, obscuring your view.

7.) Spend some time thinking about what the impact on Gay culture in America would have been if halfway through the filming of “The Wizard of Oz”, Judy Garland suffered a stroke and the only one who could take on her role and complete the filming was you. (not everyone does this step, but ask around. I think you’ll be surprised)

8.) Listen as the bovine herd around you wonders if the obviously cheap, privately owned fireworks being shot off by neighbors might be the start of the show, and if so why is this town always so damn stingy with it’s tax dollars. Chuckle knowingly while privately worrying if this actually might be the case this year, even though it never has been before, even once.

9.) When the privately owned fireworks end, see if you can be the first one to loudly joke that it’s now time to go home.

10.) Wait. To amuse your family, play waiting for fireworks bingo. How many different whining, complaining, crying children can you count? How many drunken fathers, hollowly threatening to take everyone home right now? Use your flashlight to pick out silently seething Mothers and Dates.

11.) The show begins. Everyone will want to know your expert opinion on each firework, so make sure you use your ‘outdoor voice’ when you tell them.

12.) Wonder about Aerial Bombs, those deafeningly loud, big white flashes. What’s the point, beyond reminding you that these lovely flashes of light are supposed to suggest wartime lethal bombardment? Does anyone actually like them? Does the Mayor own stock? Are they really cheap? Do you get them free when you order a certain amount of ordinance?

13.) Worry that the small collection of fireworks that just went off together might be a particularly lame grand finale. Recall wondering this every year of your whole life, even though it’s always quite clear when the grand finale takes place. But what if this time it really is a particularly lame grand finale? Allow yourself to experience crushing disappointment coupled with the kind of depression that will put your head in the oven in the instant before the show starts up again.

14.) This small collection of fireworks going off at the same time is a little bigger than the last one. Maybe this is the grand finale. Wouldn’t that be lame? What the hell is wrong with this town? It’s not like they spend the taxes on the school system. Think longingly of your oven again, and it’s soothing, open mouth.

15.) Stare in slack jawed wonder at what is unmistakably, obviously, the grand finale. So big! Pretty light go boom! Thank God for the inventive spirit of the ancient Chinese and this great, wonderful country of ours, its freedoms, the sacrifices of its brave sons and daughters! Then tell everyone around you last year was better.

16) Bitch about the crowds, the traffic and the failure of fat, complacent local cops to confiscate illegal fireworks from dangerous unsupervised teens. Rage bitterly against the triple overtime extorted from the town budget just so the local boys in blue can make vague, non committal hand gestures at the slow motion, Demolition Derby that just hours ago was a semi civilized parking facility.

17.) Tell your family that if this is how they want to spend the 4th next year they can damn well do it without you.

18) in 365 days, repeat these steps with as few variations as possible.

A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day is tomorrow and it’s going to go badly for you. Sorry to be such a ‘downer’, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, am I? Significant research I pretend to have read reveals that Valentines Day ends up being a pleasant experience for about Three out of every One Thousand people, and seriously, are you that lucky?

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This lovely Valentine is not for you

Valentine’s day will only go well for a few small, select groups of people. Every couple where each partner loves the other exactly equally and both are perfectly equal in ability to select pleasing gifts and cards and have perfect knowledge of their partners feeling about surprises as opposed to what they have previously led you to believe were their feelings about surprise will have a nice holiday. Add to that one half of all the people who will end up getting pity sex from a unexpected source, and keep in mind that their happiness is only going to last between five and ten minutes. Everyone else will run the gamut from slightly uneasy to suicide.

That’s being said, lets take a quick look at the history of this happy, happy day.

Valentine’s Day contains vestiges of traditions both Christian and Roman, from whom they stole many of their best ideas like Aqueducts, rigid hierarchy and nifty ways to persecute people with different belief systems.

Legend has it the historical Saint Valentine was a Christian Priest living in Third century Rome. The Emperor at that time, Claudius II, had commissioned a military study and after pretending to read it came to the conclusion that single men made much better soldiers than married men in that there wives weren’t all the time reminding them not to die. In what is now sited by many as the birth of modern political science, Claudius II, whose critic accused him of being ‘soft’ on ‘Visigoths’, outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied the Emperor’s decree and continued to marry young lovers in secret, until he was advised that as a Priest he was not allowed to marry at all, no matter how secretly. He then began marrying young couples he was not a member of, until he recalled Christ’s dictum: “Not so much with the polygamy” at which point he hit upon the idea of marrying two young people to each other, neither one of them being him. Claudius found out and was so displeased he had Valentine imprisoned, stoned to death, and then on February 14’Th, 207 AD., beheaded. This may be why so many of us feel like ripping our heads off every Valentines Day, but sadly, there’s more to the story.

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Saint Valentine masked chronic social anxiety disorder by hiding in urinals

During Valentine’s imprisonment, he was visited by the jailer’s daughter, and the two fell in love. The story goes he signed his letters to her, “… Your Valentine”, but it’s far more likely his letters were mostly signed “Please try really hard to talk your father out of cutting my head off.” Try putting that on a card sometime and you’ll see why greeting card companies went with the whole ‘your Valentine’ thing.

On an interesting side note, in 1835 the remains of Saint Valentine were given to an Irish Priest named Father John Spratt by Pope Gregory the XVI after Spratt impressed the Pope with his impassioned preaching, or perhaps because who really wants that kind of stuff lying around anyway? The gift, in a black and gold casket, can be viewed every Valentine’s day at the Whitefriar street church in Dublin, unless they were kidding about that. Note to intrepid tourists, the receptacle next to the saints’ remains is a ‘Font’ and not a ‘conveniently placed bucket for those who find ancient mortal remains nauseating’.

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Pope Gregory XVI’s dour countenance hid the delight he took in gifting visiting pilgrims with desiccated human body parts

Should you find exchanging love tokens on the anniversary of a beheading less than pleasant, there’s always the possibility that it’s just a coincidence. The Catholic church may have chosen mid February for the saint’s day to co-opt the already existing Roman festival of Lupercalia, the festival of wolves doing something it’s best not to interrupt.

Lupercalia, which began February fifteenth, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and doin’ it, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus (after whom Rome is named) and Remus (allegedly a polite request on the part of the peasants, but it would probably have happened anyway.)

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This classic Roman Bronze depicts something you should totally not let babies do

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, (literally ‘wolf voyeurs’) an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, a dog, for purification, and a vagrant, for fun. Young boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips, mostly because you can’t make this shit up. Roman women of the day welcomed being touched by the bloody hides, as it was believed they conveyed fertility, and also because all the bread they ate was contaminated with ergot fungus which makes you just about as crazy as an outhouse weasel and likely to do any old thing.

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The festival of Lupercalia. Gooooood times.

Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. This often led to marriage, but more often to scabies, chiggers and ‘accidental’ death.

During the middle ages it was commonly believed that February 14 was the beginning of bird’s mating season and everybody knows the only thing more romantic than watching birds copulate is being lovingly stroked with a bloody goat carcass.

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. It closed with the immortal lines
‘PS. Please, please try really hard to get the king to not cut off my head’

Valentines day began to be popularly celebrated (i.e. no bloody goat carcasses involved) in Great Britain in the late 17’Th century. By the middle of the Eighteenth century, it had become common for friends and lovers to exchange tokens of affection and hand written notes often pleading for pity sex. Soon, rapidly developing printing technology made mass-produced greetings available and affordable, though if you disliked Barbie, Disney Princesses, Spiderman, Batman or Star Wars you were what the Elizabethans called “Phucked”.

Cupid, the child like winged deity often associated with modern Valentine’s Day celebrations, is the son of Venus, Roman Goddess of love. In Greek Mythology, Cupid is known as Eros, child of Aphrodite. Why present day lovers associate a fat, naked, flying baby with romance is anybodies guess, although a quick Google search for any word at all with the ‘safe search’ feature off lets us know people are willing to sexualize pretty much anything.

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Seriously, this is what lights your candle? Where are you from, Tennessee?

Today’s Valentine’s celebration is mostly about making school children give cards to everyone in their class, as if this will somehow keep the children everyone hates from knowing everyone hates them. Valentine’s day can also be employed effectively as a bribe, threat or both. In the USA, 17 Gabajazillion Valentines cards are sold every year by front companies for the military industrial complex, who use all of the proceeds to research death rays, freeze rays, shrink rays, and other rays too nasty to mention, so go ahead, try to be romantic. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy New Year, 2015!

Oh, boy, here comes the New Year! A totally arbitrary brand new start! A chance to be all clean and new and shed of all the sins of the past year, as innocent as a new born babe or a Catholic spouse abuser just fresh from confession if my reasonably ill informed understanding of Catholicism is correct, which based on the actions of the super cool new Pope it almost certainly is not!

In 2015 I’m going to get fit and lose the last of that damn weight! I’ll eat healthy and exercise, even though I won’t join a health club or even the YMCA because I’m still too poor to afford either of those things even though the wife and I both work full time jobs, so heck, I wouldn’t have time anyway! But I’m totally going to speedwalk from whatever pointless thing I’m doing to the boss’s office whenever he yells for me to tell me I better get on that pointless thing I was doing until he started yelling for me! Speedwalking and repressed rage are a great way to get that heart rate up!

I’m going to spend more time with my kids and it’s going to be quality time! They’re getting older every day and I can’t afford to miss one second of this precious time, and I’m seriously going to cut down on using words around them like “no”, “don’t”, “Quit that”, “Annoying”, “Naughty”, “Little bastards” and anything that starts with unintelligible shrieking and salty language! And I’m going to be way, way more patient with the wife, because she deserves it and when I feel a little angry I’ll just take a deep breath and count to ten, because at their core all marriages are a mutual agreement to jointly crush your dreams until they can be slid under a door and forgotten, and the whole process is just as heinous for her as it is for you!

And I will not enter 2015 so drunk I climb up on the coffee table in only my underwear and beg God to tell me why my life is so unbearable, like I did in 2014. For Gods sake, the kids have been staying up ‘till midnight since they were three, they don’t need to see that kind of shenanigans from their own father, at least not ‘till I loose the last of that damn weight.

Oh, and I’m going to stop sleeping at work. And surfing for non work related matters of adult interest. And pleasuring myself! Good Jesus, I have GOT to stop pleasuring myself at work, for GOD’S SAKE; sooner or later someone is going to catch me and what the HELL am I going to say?! “Sorry for pleasuring myself at work?” JESUS CHRIST!

And the constant crying has got to go; sure, sure I know sensitive men are allowed to cry, but not like this, not constantly, inappropriately, publicly, and Ditto on the sudden, bellowed curses! And no more stripping down to my underwear and crying and cursing AT WORK!

And I’ll watch less TV and do the dishes right after dinner and not let the recycling build up on the porch week after week until you can’t see out the windows anymore and there’s no point in taking it out on recycling day, because there’s TOO MUCH OF IT, THERE’S NOTHING TO DO BUT ADD TO THE PILE, just like that guy who had that crematorium in Georgia who never got around to cremating anyone and they found all these decaying bodies stacked up in his woodshed and all over the back yard, except it’s old newspapers and cans and bottles instead of corpses but it’s essentially the SAME DAMN THING, it’s ONE STEP REMOVED!

And I will try to stop talking about Death all the time, Death, it’s inescapability, how all becoming is essentially decay! In 2015, I WILL stop my incessant, morbid, chilling, constant infatuation with the Grim Reaper especially while teaching Sunday School which anyone could have told you was a disastrous mistake to let me do!

AND NO MORE OF THAT THING WITH THE FISH! I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY I DO IT! I SURE AS HELL DON’T LIKE IT, SO WHY GOD, HOW ABOUT YOU TELL ME WHY?! IN 2015 I SWEAR TO CHRIST I WILL STOP THAT THING WITH THE FISH!

And do the laundry more often. And vacuum every once in a while. And that pleasuring myself at work thing. I can’t say enough how much that one needs to go.

Because 2015 is going to be a great year. Not like that 2014, which will go down in history as the suckiest damn suck year ever on record. Screw you, 2014. Screw you.

2015 is going to be the year my ship comes in. And it’s going to be a big ass ship, full of all kinds amazing cargo with my name on it, and it’s not going to inexplicably sink in shark infested waters killing everyone on board not to mention taking my cargo, MY CARGO, straight to Davey GOD DAMN Jones! Wasn’t ‘Day Dream Believer’ going platinum enough for that little Limey bastard? There, see how I did that? That’s the kind of comedy gold you’ll be seeing here in 2015. Shut up dream stealer.

Happy New year.

Another New Years Again?

If you’re like me, right about now you’re thinking, “Golly, how could it possibly be New Years again? Didn’t we just HAVE one?!” You’ve also missed another meeting with your parole officer and you’re under your desk sipping off brand booze out of a Fresca can. TIP #1: Crouching under your desk doesn’t make you invisible, just like it says on your last performance evaluation. TIP #2: Anything called “Southerner’s Comfort” and costing less than six bucks for a plastic, two liter bottle will probably make you blind. TIP #3: Be less like me.

Well, it is New Years again, and the fact that you can’t recall large chunks of April and May doesn’t change anything. The New year is coming like a freight train and as a human being you are obligated to note and celebrate that fact. You can no longer get out of the way of that metaphorical train than that chick from the ‘Dudley Do right’ cartoon, because the Snidely Whiplash of linear time has bound you to the rails and we have arbitrarily designated December thirty-first as the point in the Earths journey around the sun as the point at which the trip begins ‘again’, just like that means anything at all. I’m sure I could extend this metaphor, but you get the point, which is that you are screwed if you think you can pretend this isn’t happening. The only choice you get is how you go about recognizing it.

Now maybe I’m just becoming an old fashioned ‘geezer’, but I’ve decided I like ringing in the New Year at home. It was fun to go out when I was a youngster, but kids these days don’t know from Guy Lombardo, the chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are about %75 when ‘outside the home’, and the LAST thing I need is another Mexican Tattoo! No, wait, Mexican Tattoo’s are second to last, right after some other bad thing that might happen to me if I wound up in Mexico on New years eve, which I now realize is a not only tired but fairly racist joke structure I don’t need to use, because I’m better than that. Screw you, I am.

Besides, I’ve got kids now. Sure, a lot of parents get a sitter and go out, but my ankle bracelet makes that damn near impossible and if the wife wants to go dancin’ with anyone it sure as hell isn’t me! I don’t blame her, I’m a terrible dance partner, always have been. Maybe it’s me, I just think a dance floor is a very exposed place when a pack of crazed, super evolved baboons is hunting you. Those friggin’ super evolved baboons, man. They ruin everything. When will they ever let me forget? Never, that’s when. So, we stay in.

My oldest daughter came up with a great New Year’s Eve tradition a few years back. Wish bags. Got it out of some family magazine the wife subscribes too. I tried reading one of them once, I mean we’re paying for them, they pile up like dead pets for god’s sake, but I couldn’t make head or tail of the damn thing. It was half ads and no one was naked at all. Anyway, Wish Bags. You take a brown paper lunch bag, decorate it any old way you want with stickers, pom poms, crayons and what all. Then you write your wishes for the New Year on slips of paper and put ‘em in the bag. When they start counting down the clock in Time’s Square you blow up your bag and at the stroke of midnight you pop it. Which I guess is in someway supposed to make God care, I don’t know. It’s from a magazine.

Last year all I wrote was ‘huff less model airplane glue’ which turned out to be pretty useless since I didn’t write ‘keep receipts for all model airplane glue purchased’. Even that wouldn’t have worked because I didn’t keep model airplane Glue receipts from previous years, so how the hell am I supposed to know if I’m cutting back or not? Self-improvement is a lot harder than it looks and may even take more than a Wish bag, but it’s all I plan on doing, so I mean to make the best of it.

I’ve been planning this years wishes since New Years day 2014. First thing I did (well, second, right after Glue because I can’t even shave before my morning Glue, I tried it once and took off an eyebrow) was go through the trash to find my wife and daughter’s wishes. Everything was pretty torn up so I couldn’t really tell whose was whose but they were all good so it doesn’t really matter. One said “Save the animals in the rainforest” one said “Stay on the Deans List” and one said “Think about killing my husband less.”

For most of the year I was set with “Become King of world”, but that just seemed like more work than I could handle, especially since I couldn’t even bother to write “The World” on my wish. Then I was going to go with “Care Less”, which seemed to cover everything but the truth is, I’d much rather have a lot of candy then care less that I don’t have a lot of candy, because I’d still care some and I like candy. I toyed with “Be more mature” but I knew if I wrote down a great idea like that all you bastards would read it and copy my idea. So I’m going to wing it. You know, trust my instincts. They’ve never let me down before. At least that’s what my old buddy “Jack Danielson” always says. And at four fifty a quart, he’s rarely wrong.

The X-mas Faq

Q.) What is Christmas, Max?
A.) That’s “Dr. Burbank”. The word Christmas comes from the words Cristes maesse, or “Christ’s Mass.” Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus for members of the Christian religion. Most historians peg the first celebration of Christmas to Rome in 336 A.D, but it didn’t really catch on until 1997 when HBO’s special “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas” tugged America’s heartstrings, giving us all a case of “Christmas Fever” and a terrible fear of Hillbilly Puppet Otters.
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Give us the clams or the Baby Jesus Gets it

Q.) Why do people give each other gifts on Christmas
A.) Lot’s of reasons, but there are only really three reasons. To assuage guilt, to fulfill obligation and in exchange for sex. Think about it. You’ll see I’m right.

Q.) But what about the Three Kings?
A.) What about ‘em? Don’t believe a word those jokers say. No matter what they tell you, while I certainly appreciated any gifts they allegedly gave me, there was absolutely no ‘quid pro quo’. Especially not Balthazar, is into some very weird stuff.

Q.) No, no, I mean, I thought the tradition of gift giving came from the Three Kings giving gifts to the Christ Child!
A.) Hanh? OH! Oh. Well, I suppose that makes a sort of sense. Forget that other stuff. Honestly, I wasn’t listening all that closely.

Q.) Is December 25’th really the day Jesus was born?
A.) Yes. Sort of. But we count our calendar from New Years Day, and supposedly that’s how old Jesus is. My guess is that Jesus started top be born on the 25’th, but God didn’t want people thinking he was letting anybody off on the whole, “Bring forth your children in pain” thing just ‘cause it was his son, so to avoid the appearance of favoritism, God gave Mary a particularly hellacious week long labor. If you can think of another plausible explanation for the date discrepancy, feel free to put it out there. Honestly, I’m just spitballing.

Q.) Why do we have a Christmas tree, Mr. Burbank?
A.) Dr. Burbank. The Christmas Tree is a German tradition, and we all know how festive those can be apart from the cleaning up afterwards and pesky lingering Nuremberg Trials. It’s just one of the many, many pagan rites the early Christians co-opted in their tireless quest to make the worship of Christ appear as fun as other faiths that involve nakedness and bull slaughter. And it gives your dog a fabulous opportunity to wee indoors.

Q.) Well, why do we decorate the tree?
A.) You certainly have a lot of damn questions. Martin Luther is the first person credited with decoration Christmas trees with candles, one of the many reasons he is the Patron Saint of the Shriners despite the fact that he is not actually a saint. Victorians didn’t learn from his mistake as is related in a much remembered scene in Dickens’s famous “A Christmas Carol Featuring Horrible Third Degree Burns Covering %45 of Old Fezziwigg’s Body.”
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A typical Victorian Family prepared to douse themselves with festive yuletide accelerants

Q.) Yes, but why do we decorate-

A.)I’m sure I don’t know. God said to, probably. Dr. Burbank is getting one of his headaches, so pick up the pace a little, why don’t you?

Q.) Why do we hang Stockings?
A.) For crimes against humanity. I kid of course. Stockings are incapable of even the most minor social infractions. According to a very old tradition, the original St. Nicholas left gold coins in the stockings of three poor girls who had no dowry. They had left their stockings hanging from the mantle to dry, and St. Nick, who had a little foot thing, thought his meaning would be clear, but alas, none of the girls ever called him.

Q.) Why do people send each other Christmas Cards, Dr. Burbank?
A.) Just so we’re clear, you know I’m not the kind of Doctor that can write prescriptions, yes? Okay. And you’re still here? Oh, your question, your question. The answer is simple. The Greeting card industry is controlled by the Jews.

Q.) What are the Twelve days of Christmas?
A.) The 12 days of Christmas are the 12 days that separate Christmas day on December 25 from Epiphany, which is celebrated January 6. Depending on the church, January 6 may mark Christ’s baptism (the Catholic tradition), or it may mark the day Joseph has finally had it with all his freeloading relatives and threw them out the stable, cursing loudly and reminding all present that Jesus wasn’t even his baby (Unitarians)
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Chevy Chase is rarely funny. This movie is no exception.

Q.) What does Santa Claus have to do with Christmas?
A.) The short version is there was this religious Looney, St. Nicholas, who left money in foot related garments. Then some paper published the poem “The Night Before Christmas”, which apparently isn’t even the actual title and isn’t about feet very much at all. Anyway, people went bugshit over that poem because it was before TV. Then the Coca Cola company ran a series of ads depicting Santa as a white bearded, red suited, coke swillin’ fatty, which is pretty much how we picture him today, except for today’s kids who have lately become to confuse him with a fat, coke swillin’ Polar Bear. IMPORTANT NOTE! Polar bears are NOT cute. They are perfect killing machines that will maul you in a heartbeat and keep you at deaths door for hours playing with your organs right in front of you, which is the real reason we invented Global warming.

Q.) Why is Christmas sometimes spelled X-mas?
A.) This is a Jewish marketing scheme to get you to associate Christendom’s most sacred holiday with Marvel Comics “The X-Men” franchise, the supposition being that Santa would move a hell of a lot more greeting cards if he had razor sharp adamantium claws and a great deal of difficulty controlling his frequent fits of berserker rage. Would you do Doctor Burbank a huge favor and reach up on the mantle behind the clock and fetch me down my special medicinal X-mas snuff? There’s a dear.

Q.) What do you want for X-mas, Dr. Burbank?
A.) Peace on earth. But you haven’t a one-eyed pigs chance of getting me that, have you? That being the case, donations of all sorts would go a long way toward refilling Dr. Burbank’s x-mas snuff tin, which, alarmingly does not refill itself. Now, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight, but which I mean, leave. The figgy pudding is not for the likes of you, and I have the police on speed dial.

My Letter to Santa

Dear Santa;

It’s hard to argue I’ve been good this year. In any case, that’s what my parole officer says, ha-ha. (That’s a joke, as you know I haven’t seen my parole officer in months and neither has anyone else.) In fact, I would say that considering the stresses I’m under as a modern Father, Husband, full time grown man employee of a comic book store, Unitarian/Jew and airplane glue ‘enthusiast’, I think I’ve been very well behaved. Incidents of road rage should be overlooked since I don’t have a car and it was the booze talking. Likewise, while I may have told my daughters you don’t exist, I was only being mean to them and I lie constantly so it’s unlikely they took me seriously. I think I more than made up for it by telling her that in a fight between totally made up people, you would beat the crap out of the Pope. Not the new, nice one, probably that German one, the one with the eye patch. I’m pretty sure I didn’t cheat on my taxes which I’m pretty sure I filed, but if I did (cheat) or didn’t (file) it was during blackouts and if I’m going to get coal in my stocking for things I’ve done while in blackouts, hell, I’ll start heating with coal. Like you’re in any position to judge, Mr. “Well-I-Guess-We’ll-Have-To-Cancel-Christmas”.

My point is, you make the naughty/nice list, not me, so I figured I’d hedge my bets and send you a Christmas list. You know, if you’re not too busy with the forced Elf Labor and whatever the hell genetic engineering you get up to with those reindeer. (I’m kidding. I’m sure the Elves enjoy their work, and Reindeer can’t talk, so do what you want, I say.)(Is it naughty to end a paragraph with a parenthetical phrase?)
Anyway, here’s what I want:

1.) Peace on Earth.
I shit you not, Santa. I’m not just saying that to look all goody goody so you’ll give me the other stuff. I mean, I can’t even express how much the news depresses me these days, like I want to hear about terrorism and child slavery and racism and all that crap. Either make me even more self centered and callous or clean this mess up. Frankly I don’t care which.

2.) Booze.
I’m not that concerned about the quality. I don’t appreciate it, it’s wasted on me, I’m strictly talking about utility booze here.

3.) No electronic shit.
If anyone gets me electronic shit I’m blaming you. I’m too damn old, there’s no damn way I’m figuring out how to operate a ‘smart phone; or a ‘blue tooth’or any damn, hand held crap with weeny little buttons my fat, arthritic, shaky fingers can’t even find, let alone push. NO ELECTRONIC GADETRY unless it comes with a teenage slave to make it work. Like a human remote control. And not a big talker.

4.) More Time to Spend With My Kids.
They’re not human remote controls exactly but they still occasionally do what I tell them and my back hurts like hell since that time I was found asleep in the locker at the Port Authority.

5.) A Better Lawyer.
I mean, honest to Christ, Santa, what the hell is the point of a shyster who can’t get me workman’s comp for the damage done to my lower back sleeping in a Port Authority Locker?

6.) A Helper Monkey.
Those things are the coolest and apparently you can’t just have one because you want one, you have some sort of medically recognized disability. I’m not kidding, Santa, it’s apparently some sort of ‘law’. I think restricting me from having my own Helper Monkey is a serious infringement of my civil rights, so if there’s no way to get a Helper Monkey in my stocking, just go back and change number five from “A Better Lawyer” to “A Better Lawyer Who’s Really Good With The Whole Civil Rights Thing vis-a-vis Helper Monkeys.”

7.) Worse Hearing.
I know that sounds odd but at Thanksgiving my wife’s Uncle Leon was there, and he has this hearing aid. And for most of the evening he had it turned way low and whatever you said he’d yell something unrelated back at you, like you’d say “Uncle Leon, how’s the soup?” and he’d yell “BECAUSE THE DAMN JEWS WON’T GIVE ME FULL DENTAL!” and then Aunt Imogene gave him hell and made him turn it all the way up, and he did and it started making this high pitched squealing noise? And then he fell asleep. That was so cool.

8.) Good Slippers.
Every winter my feet get cold and wet until they feel like two, huge lumps of fresh Mozzarella in brine and every year my kids get me some cheap ass slippers that are too tight and my feet can’t breath and they feel like hot Mozzarella instead of cold Mozzarella and I have to pretend I like them. Is a decent pair of slippers too friggin’ much to ask for, Santa?

9.) For Dick Cheney to suddenly vomit up gallons of live leeches on national TV until he dies.
No shit, Santa, I know that sounds pretty un-Christmasy, but I hate that son of a bitch so bad, I am not kidding, if I could have Dick Cheney gagging and clutching at his throat with his eyes bugging out and shit and then keeling over dead on live national TV, I would totally forgo everything else on this list. Either that or make me Dick Cheney. He looks like he’s having a pretty good time.

10.) I’m not even asking for a new liver.
I’m just saying if I could get on a donor list. Because the Hospital says my liver is in okay shape, but I know it can take a really long time to get to the front of a donor list.

11.) You know that movie “Scanners”?
Remember that old David Cronenberg thing where these people had psychic powers and could make other peoples heads go all shaky and then blow up? Can I have that? Not the movie, the power.

12.) Peace in the Middle East.
I swear to God, if these bastards drag us into a Nuclear Armageddon at a point in my life where I have not even thrill killed a hobo or dived into a hill of gold coins that I was then somehow magically able to swim around in like they were water, I will hold you personally responsible.

13.) A Genie.
Like, a Barbara Eden type Genie who’s all ‘master’ this and ‘master’ that and could get me anything I wanted whenever. Then I wouldn’t need to even write you anymore letters and just the thought of you in a midriff exposing harem outfit is very hard to take, no offense. You know what, screw the rest of the list, just get me the Genie, and I’ll take it from there.

So, anyway, I hope you’re having a good Holiday season, even though it’s like, a busy time for you I’m sure, and tell Mrs. Clause I say hello, and tell Hermy (Herbie?) he can be whatever he wants to be, Jesus, it’s 2015 almost. I bet I know what you want for Christmas if that “Polar Express” film is any indication. A gift certificate for a Tom Hanks exterminator! The North Pole is apparently infested with Tom Hanks! Oh, screw you ‘it’s not topical’, that joke was funny as hell the first time I wrote it. Anyway you’re the miracle gift giver, not me. All you’re getting is the plate of cookies just like always.
Love,
MAX