Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Okay, it's December 25th. See if you can guess what this post will be about. Your one hint: it has NOTHING TO DO WITH MY PLANNED MISSION TO MARS

There's something so satisfying, I think, about wrapping paper.

I love the way it folds and creases as it bends around box corners.

I love the way a single stroke of the scissors can be dragged in a straight line for the length of the incision across the paper, and the Hallmark-pioneered idea of measuring the inches on the reverse side of the pattern with little gridlines, so that the straightness of those incisions is only limited by the strength of your inebriation or the severity of your cerebral palsey.

I love that a silver bow goes with virtually ever color and style of wrapping paper. Even that plain, butcher-style brown paper that clearly indicates someone's thoughtfulness ran out somewhere between buying your gift and wrapping it looks pretty good to me with a silver bow on it.

I love the way the paper tears in someone's hand - the anticipation of revelation building for both the gift-giver and the gift-givee, and the look on the givee's face when they yank out a 32-ounce cut of top sirloin, wrapped so neatly that the blood has pooled inside the packaging and not dripped underneath the tree at all - and thank goodness too, because the dog would totally have eaten the top round otherwise.

I love that the paper is made of trees, just like Christmas trees are, which prompted my fanciful childhood notion that the Christmas tree and the various wrapped gifts are embroiled in December-long arguments about whose death was more meaningful and whose fate is ultimately worse. And I'm betting the Christmas tree probably gets all high and mighty when he sees the wrapping paper get torn up and discarded into unsightly piles on Christmas morning, but then he feels pretty lonely for the next couple of weeks, and then he realizes just as he's being undressed and tossed to the curbside that the paper was the winner after all. I think there's a lesson in that for all of us, and that the lesson probably has something to do with Jesus.

Merry Christmas, to everyone who is inclined to accept hearing that. To everyone else, happy Tuesday.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The irony of a bad dish of Platillo del Mexicano

There's something ironic about a restaurant that serves bad Mexican food, isn't there? I say this not so much as a half-blood Mexican (thanks a bunch, Mom - or, as you no doubt said to your mother, "muchas gracias, calcetines de tomate."), but as a former restaurant manager at a place where, not unlike most of the restaurants in the world, Mexicans are doing most of the cooking. So I find it strange to be sitting at a place where the cooks, who are the same nationality as the owners and servers - AND THE CUISINE - can't get their own food right.

But that's just me. I have very strong opinions on Mexican food, and why people are eating it when there are perfectly good American restaurants out there going broke. In some retarded way, I bet this is all because of NAFTA. Those bastards have screwed us again, those bastards.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ruminations on the closing of another year, and also, bacon

It's quiet at Dole Fruit today. As of this afternoon at 3pm, the Canning Operations department is shut down, Cannery Row is silent (we call it that because it’s where the actual canning happens, also because it’s shaped like a straight line, or “row”), and the entire Dole Fruit Plant (get it? Fruit Plant? I don’t know who thought of that, but I have two words for them: GENI and US!) is eerily dark and somber. We are closed next week because we are not the “US Postal Service” and unlike the mail, we do not “must go through.”

All the peaches and cherries and pineapples that are going to be canned by Dole in 2007 have been canned, pursuant to paragraph 6, section (b) of our Agreement To Can The Following Quantities of Cherries, Peaches, Pineapples, and Other Sundry Goods (hereinafter referred to as, “The Can-Can”). And now the giant, stainless hulks sit downstairs, stilled but nevertheless ominous, with their various tubes and robotic arms sticking out at the kind of menacing angles that would give a child under 8 years old nightmares that would ultimately result in therapy sessions not covered under the Dole Health Plan. The cleaning crew has been through and cleaned the last bits of fruit blood, or “juice,” off of the metal, and even though the scratches and scuffs run too deep for the machines to ever truly shine again, there’s something quite agleam about the whole scene.

It hasn’t always been an easy year, particularly for poor Ronnie Balboa (yes, that is his real name) who began 2007 with a dismal showing at the Briggs-Goering Existentialism-athon in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Thankfully, he managed to redeem himself at the company Pick-A-Nick (co-sponsored by Hanna-Barbera) with a medal-worthy performance in the “Eat Only What You Can” contest. Also, just last month, he found out that he didn’t have The Herpes, so he has that going for him too.

For me, though, I’m going to remember 2007 mostly for the debacle of opting out of my contract with Dole. And also, for my date with Jennifer Love Hewitt before she got fat. Mostly though, my memories of Aught-Seven will be of the uncountable nights that I laid by the fireplace in my suburban house in the suburbs with bacon and a glass of brandy, and how much bacon loved me. And how much I loved bacon. And how I would slather bacon grease on my pectoral muscles and also the bald spot on the back of my head and sing classic bacon love songs while tears streamed down both of our faces. I truly love you, bacon. Come back to me in ’08. I promise it’ll be great.

Up here in the C-Ops break room at Dole, I can see the behemoth silhouettes of the machines on Cannery Row and hear the soft beeping of the coffee maker that someone forgot to turn off this morning. I’m betting there’s a sticky, tar-like substance chemically bonded to the bottom of the coffee pot by the time the rest of us are singing “Old Lang Syne.” I can smell the light and fragrant aroma of bacon from the grease I used to smooth my hair this morning. And I keep coming back to the same age-old conundrum that has plagued philosophers for dozens of years now: how pissed off must Andy Williams have been that he wasn’t invited to join the Rat Pack?

2008 promises to be an exciting year in the Copse. I’m already proposing to ol’ Rex “The Supervisor” Hyman that we look into debuting new product lines, including canned cherries with bacon, canned pineapples with bacon, canned grapes in bacon grease, bacon-wrapped-bacon, and what I hope will be the centerpiece of Dole Fruit’s vegan line: Canned To-Fruity And Facon, which is a tofu-based fruit substitute mixed with a tofu-based bacon substitute. I don’t know how you prefer your fruit – personally, I like my fruit the same way I like my women: stuffed in a can with bacon – but, my friend, this could really be your year to make the switch to Dole. If you haven’t already.

So from all of us at Dole Fruit, have a very merry holiday season, and a bacon-grease-coated new year too.

Medical Myths Debunked! Gays and Britons Cannot Be Trusted!

This is from an article in the online scientific journal BMJ (Helping Doctors Make Better Decisions, they claim...bunch of liars) about some common medical misconceptions that most people think are true. Things like tryptophan in turkey being a sleep agent. Basically, if you think that, they're calling you a moron. And FYI, when they say "you," they're talking about YOU.

Also, they're British, which might help explain the snotty, condescending tone of the article, as well as why they can't spell "theater" or "color" the right way. I can't help noticing that they don't bother to debunk the mystery of why they spell the word realize with an S instead of a Z. (That means REALISE, not SEALIZE, in case you're not to good with your alphabet, since I know most of my reader(s) was(were) educated in American public schools. Ooh, burn - I can be snotty and condescending too, BMJ! Up yours!)

Anyway, the excerpt. (Please pardon the spelling for being British.)

We use only 10% of our brains

The belief that we use only 10% of our brains has persisted for over a century, despite dramatic advances in neuroscience. In another extensive expert literature review, Barry Beyerstein provides a detailed account of the origins of this myth and the evidence disputing it. Some sources attribute this claim to Albert Einstein, but no such reference or statement by Einstein has ever been recorded. This myth arose as early as 1907, propagated by multiple sources advocating the power of self improvement and tapping into each person’s unrealised [sic] latent abilities.

Evidence from studies of brain damage, brain imaging, localisation [sic] of function, microstructural analysis, and metabolic studies show that people use much more than 10% of their brains. Studies of patients with brain injury suggest that damage to almost any area of the brain has specific and lasting effects on mental, vegetative, and behavioural [sic] capabilities. Numerous types of brain imaging studies show that no area of the brain is completely silent or inactive. The many functions of the brain are highly localised [sic], with different tasks allocated to different anatomical regions. Detailed probing of the brain has failed to identify the "non-functioning" 90%. Even micro-level localisation [sic], isolating the response of single neurones [sic], reveals no gaps or inactive areas. Metabolic studies, tracking differential rates of cellular metabolism within the brain, reveal no dormant areas.

Here's what I have to say about this:


Tell it to the woman in the 42nd Street Station this morning wearing a sandwich board and ranting about the end of the world being nigh because Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant. There is NO WAY that woman was using more than like 4 percent of her brain. I bet she was gay too. Why can't the gays leave Britney's precociously whorish little sister alone? So what if Paul Janka impregnated her?
Dear Jesus,

I know it's been a while since we talked, but if You could please do me a favor and for Your Birthday, make sure that everyone down here on Planet Earth has a very happy holiday EXCEPT FOR BRITISH PEOPLE AND THE GAYS AND ALL THE JERKS WHO KEEP CRITICIZING JAMIE LYNN!!!

(And also the Jews. They're the ones who killed You and can't figure out how to standardize the spelling of Chaka Khan, or whatever their wannabe holiday is called.)

Happy upcoming birthday, by the way.

Love and kisses,
Smokey Robinson.

P.S. Please also make a news story about Britney Spears's vagina before it goes kee-razy from lack of attention. Thanks, Dude. I totally owe You one.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Uh oh! What will Britney Spears's vagina do now that we are entering day 4 of the non-stop news cycle about her little sister's pregnancy, which even CNN IS COVERING!?!? That's right, American Teenage Girl-istas, take note: all it takes is a TV show on Nickelodeon, a little unprotected underage sex, and a family history of pathological sluttiness, and your vagina could be making national headlines too!

But seriously, Britney is a girl whose woman parts do NOT like to be upstaged. I'm worried about her, and so is Alex Rodriguez - more than usual, in fact. I think he's nervous that the judge who robbed her of Sean Preston and Demonspawn #2 might also award custody of Britney's privates to K-Fed as well, purely for their own protection.

It's not a half-bad idea, really, but I thought I had come up with a better one - namely, that they replace the light show in Grand Central Station with a great big pictorial history of Britney Spears's genitalia, set to the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey mashed up with Oops...I Did It Again. Seriously, if you were taking your kids on a holiday trip to the Big Apple, what would you want to show them - a light show that they can come back and see EVERY YEAR EXACTLY THE SAME BORING WAY, or Britney Spears's oh-so-fame-worthy naughty bits?

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be at GRINCH CENTRAL STATION didn't agree with me, so on with the light show, idiots. Meanwhile, A-Rod and I are stewing, and now that we have no recourse in the form of Yankee contracts to opt out of, what else can we do except pull a prank to exact our revenge? A prank that will affect all of BLAND CENTRAL, but that won't cause the national terror alert level to go higher than yellow.

Wait...does anyone remember if yellow is good or bad? I completely forget what the desirable color is, although if I had my way, I'd like to see the national terror level hovering at right around a blue iris, which incidentally, is Pantone's choice for color of the year for 2008! So soothing... imagine being told the terror alert level was blue iris. You could totally go right back to sleep.

Then, we would strike! With wheels of cheese!

Enter Alex Rod. What better revenge prank is there than to make all of Grand Central smell like smoked gouda for a few days (which also makes quite a fitting tribute to Britney's stinky hoo-ha, by the way...)? A-Rod, you are so clever! So thematic! So steroid- and HGH-free! So rolling giant wheels of smoked gouda down Lexington Avenue in the 40s with your pinstripe pants at your ankles and your great big giant trackmark-free ass hanging in the breeze, singing "Peanut Butter Jelly Time!" at the top of your lungs. Peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat indeed.

Happy Holidays, midtown Manhattan. A-Rod says so, that's why. What.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Al-Gouda Attacks New York; No One But Me Notices

I love my job in the Dole Fruit Canning Operations division, because who wouldn't love a job where every day was a bad I Love Lucy episode waiting to happen? Also, because we get to eat our mistakes. Still, every now and then, it's nice to take a stroll outside and let the air over midtown Manhattan take you away like an unmarked van outside an elementary school playground.

Then, there are days when the air over midtown Manhattan smells like smoked gouda.

I'm not talking vaguely like gouda either, and I'm not talking some isolated circumstance like just outside of a cheese shop or a haberdashery, which actually might have made sense. I'm talking 45th Street and Lexington Avenue, wafting all the way toward Vanderbilt, basically encasing the Grand Central Station Post Office in a smoke-tinted, cheesy funk. At 2:30 in the afternoon. On a Tuesday.

And where was this mentioned in the news? I'll give you a hint: IT WASN'T. Apparently, the powers that be at the Post, the Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily News think the aroma of smoked gouda is perfectly ordinary happenstance. Birdcage liners AM New York and Metro let it go by without a blip. Even the normally astute news-gatherers at Gawker.com and the Huffington Post missed it, I guess because the headline wasn't quite as sexy as Britney's pregnant little sister or a chemical attack on the Newscorp building (or even what the Newscorp employees got in their holiday gift bags this year).

"Stench of Popular Dutch Cheese Covers Midtown Post Office" [massive spit-take] --- how is that NOT grab-you-by-the-collar, slap-you-in-the-face, yank-the-waistband-of-your-underwear-over-your-head headline writing?
Dear Journalistic Establishment,

You have disappointed me again. It's becoming a nasty habit of yours, and I don't think you want to make me get Jesus and Santa Claus involved. Or Oprah. She will put the smackdown on your silly ass faster than you can fail in your responsibility to accurately and impartially report what's going on in the world.

Smokey Robinson

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another auld lang syne

Okay, if there were a third person in the Fred Rogers-Bob Barker-who's hotter debate in the 70s and 80s - and we're talking a distant third, like the distance between the Franklin Pharmacy in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey and the fourth ring of Saturn - and assuming I didn't give the nod to 80s heartthrob Jack Wagner during his General Hospital turn as rock balladdeer-cum-police officer-cum-man beheaded in South America in a freak accident, Frisco Jones - it would have to be Dan Fogelberg. My vivid recollection of his feathered hair and bearded face from the cover of his greatest hits album still makes the blood run through my instrument, if you know what I mean.

He's dead now.

Hard to believe, I know, but the thing you have to understand is what it meant for Dan Fogelberg to truly be alive. For my part, I can honestly say that my life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man.

Also, I never did figure out which way this album cover was supposed to be oriented. And now, we'll never know, will we?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Here come da Judge Reinhold

Sorry, Barack Obama - if that IS your real name. But just because you landed Oprah as one of your backers does not mean you'll land me. I don't even read the books she recommends in her book club - at least, not since the one and only time I took a recommendation from Oprah and read She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, after which I briefly became illiterate and blind. It was only thanks to Michael Chabon that I managed to recover. (Thanks, Mikey. Much love. W00t. -Smokey R.)

Anyway, just because the big O says so, it don't mean I'm gonna vote for BO.

Ew. B.O.

And just because Hillary "Dennis Rodman" Clinton has Fabio in her camp, it don't mean I'm gonna vote for her neither. Fabio's political endorsements used to carry a lot more weight with me back before he started doing the ads for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter's chest oil division. Seriously, you just can't respect a man who doesn't even use real oil to oil up his fabulous pectoral muscles - or at least, I can't. Or, at least, if that man's name isn't Mr. T, Chuck Norris, or Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, I can't.

Besides, Fabio is totally a B.O. guy at heart. You can completely tell he's just faking it with Hillary for the sex.

Sean Penn can rave about Dennis Kucinich all he wants, but Dennis Kucinich rhymes with spinach, and we can't have a president in this country who rhymes with a vegetable. That's just unacceptable. Not that I'd listen to Sean Penn anyway. Not only was this man stupid enough to MARRY MADONNA he was also stupid enough to DIVORCE MADONNA. That would be like divorcing Leonardo da Vinci, or divorcing Nostradamus, or performing oral sex on a doped-up Rush Limbaugh for anything under 30 of your American dollars. I think we can all agree those things are ridiculous, even if I'm not sure how.

The point is this: it takes a certain kind of celebrity to get my attention. It takes a person with gravitas, with class, with three - count 'em, three - Beverly Hills Cop movies under his belt. It takes a person who can play a close talker on Seinfeld, and who can star in a classic '80s parent-child switcheroo movie with Fred Savage and somehow manage to be less convincing as the parent than as the child. It takes Judge Reinhold, who this week announced his support of Bill Richardson, for whom I shall now gratefully and gladly cast my vote, even though ol' Billy Dickboy (that's what I used to call him) broke my heart when he stood me up for a date at a beach bar on Fiji in 2003 and never called to explain.

Bill Richardson, Bill Richardson, thou has cleft my heart in twain,
Thank you, Judge Reinhold, for restoring it to wholeness again.

Proposed Rules for Santa's Village, by the Parents of the South Meadow Drive Development Association in Naperville, Illinois

1. Only the children whose families are residents of South Meadow Drive Development Association will be allowed into Santa's Village.

2. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied to Santa's Village by an adult.

3. Parents should furnish Santa's Village with a list of pre-approved gifts for their children, in order to better manage the children's expectations.

4. The children who participated in last year's "Satan's Village" prank will not be admitted to Santa's Village.

5. The parents of the children involved in the "Satan's Village" prank shall not be treated like social outcasts by the other parents just because their children act up a little bit.

6. No rules governing Santa's Village shall be written by the parents of the "Satan's Village" hooligans, because Santa's Village is intended for the normal children of South Meadow Drive Development Association only.

7. The parents of the so-called "normal children" can take Santa's Village and stick it up their South Pole, euphemistically speaking.

8. No children shall be admitted to Santa's Village whose parents are making a mockery of the whole rule-writing procedure in the first place.

9. Yeah, that's fair, of course it is. Because Santa's Village is only for the children whose parents are so ignorant that they can’t acknowledge the reality that children have energy and like to sometimes pull innocent stunts.

10. No children shall be allowed into Santa’s Village whose parents think “innocent stunts” are what it’s called when we have to hold a special session of Sunday School to explain who Satan is, and why some people think defacing public property is funny.

11. No parents have the right to talk if all they do is hop their kids up on Ritalin to keep them calm instead of doing any real parenting.

12. No child shall be allowed into Santa's Village whose parents have such a warped idea of what constitutes “real parenting” that they have to spend their time criticizing other parents who give their children PRESCRIBED MEDICAL SUBSTANCES instead of noticing that their kids are the ones buying spray paint cans at the Ace Hardware store downtown.

13. First of all, I’M NOT THE ONE WHO SOLD THEM THE SPRAY PAINT. And second of all, any parent who wants to criticize the way another parent is raising his/her child can come over and SAY IT TO MY FACE and quit being such a chicken about it and hiding behind their ridiculous list of rules for SATAN'S VILLAGE.

14. Jewish children shall still be allowed to visit Santa's Village, since the holidays are for everyone and shouldn't be so exclusive.

15. What? Who wrote that?

16. No children shall be allowed into Santa's Village whose parents are jerks!!

17. Yeah, yeah, wait, though. Look at number 12 for a second.

18. What the hell is that about?

19. I have no idea.

20. I say we ban the Jews from Santa's Village. They don't celebrate Christmas anyway.

21. I know, right??

22. I'm Meredith Greenberg's mother, and I'd like to know what my child ever did to deserve being disallowed to Santa's Village, just because she wasn't born of a Christian womb.

23. Be quiet, Jew!

24. Oh, so now the SATAN'S VILLAGE thing is acceptable, just because a Jewish girl wants to go to Santa's Village?

25. Yes.

26. No Jewish children shall be allowed into Santa's Village.

(Except Meredith Greenberg's parents!)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trader Joe's is seriously straining my holiday spirit and good cheer

It was hard for me to get mad about the pod in my edamame that only contained a single bean when so many of the other pods - which usually only have two beans in them - had three instead. But I did get mad, dammit. I did. It's too late now. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

If we had such lax standards at Dole, there would be a massive worldwide outcry, and probably riots, which is why we have three entire people (it used to be 4.3 people, but that was before corporate layoffs and the amputation of a vestigial extra arm - I won't say whose) whose job it is to count the peaches that go into the canned peaches and the pineapples in the canned pineapples. It drives me out of my MIND when companies can't get their shit together and do something right.

And during the holidays too.
Dear Trader TRAITOR Joe's,

Fuck you.

Your buddy who hates you and who corresponds regularly with both Jesus and Santa Claus, so you better watch out, seriously,
Smokey Robinson

P.S. I mean it. Fuck you.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Another perfect gift

Dear Andrew Meyer,

Merry Christmas. No hard feelings.

The University of Florida Police Department

P.S. Please don't tase us, bro.

[Insert gruff, conspiratorial police chuckling sound here.]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Another reason not to mess with the Lord

Okay, so first, I read this in the New York Times:
Just about any sports movie, airport paperback or motivational tape delivers a few boilerplate rules for success. Believe in yourself. Don’t take no for an answer. Never quit. Don’t accept second best.

Above all, be true to yourself.

It’s hard to argue with those maxims. They seem self-evident — if not written into the Constitution, then at least part of the cultural water supply that irrigates everything from halftime speeches to corporate lectures to SAT coaching classes.

Yet several recent studies stand as a warning against taking the platitudes of achievement too seriously. The new research focuses on a familiar type, perfectionists, who panic or blow a fuse when things don’t turn out just so. The findings not only confirm that such purists are often at risk for mental distress — as Freud, Alfred Adler and countless exasperated parents have long predicted — but also suggest that perfectionism is a valuable lens through which to understand a variety of seemingly unrelated mental difficulties, from depression to compulsive behavior to addiction.

I immediately fired off a quick email to Jesus, the alpha and omega of perfectionist jerkwads.

From: Matt [commander-in-chief@piealamodeproductions.com]
To: Jesus H. Christ [superstar@whatwouldido.org]

Dear Jesus,

Way to go, Jackass. This is what happens when You come along and be all perfect and set the bar way too high for everyone. You spoil everything for the rest of us and give us mental problems. Forget about the fact that Your never-say-die-(except-for-that-one-time) attitude was indirectly responsible for competitive athletics and the hit song "We Are the Champions," You know who You remind me of? You remind me of Sensei John Kreese from
The Karate Kid, that's who! I bet You probably rooted for those Cobra Kai assholes the whole time.

And by the way, what the fuck is with the chocolate bunnies at Easter? How does that pertain in any way to the supreme, set-the-bar-too-high, give-all-of-mankind-mental-problems sacrifice that You made?

I don't know what to say to You anymore. Suddenly all that dying for our sins bullshit seems as hollow as one of the aforementioned chocolate bunnies, doesn't it? I hope You're satifsied with Yourself.

Oh, and if I don't talk to You, have a great birthday!


But then, right after I hit SEND, I found this little chestnut in the archives of The Straight Dope:

What's up with the "lost books of the Bible"?


Dear Cecil:

I am currently reading a book entitled The Lost Books of the Bible. Being interested in Bible history, I thought it might be an interesting diversion, but I was not prepared for what I found. It claims that when Jesus was young, he killed a couple of boys and a schoolmaster because they displeased him. Jesus comes off as an arrogant bad seed in these supposedly ancient texts.

My question is: were these books truly a part of the original Bible, and if they were suppressed for obvious reasons, does the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter, acknowledge their existence? How do they explain Jesus's bad temper? Is this why there is very little about Jesus's youth in the current Bible? --Dan Olmos, West Hollywood, California

Cecil replies:

No question, the kid portrayed in the "lost books" isn't exactly the Prince of Peace. After recounting three murders in two pages, one passage concludes, "Then said Joseph to St. Mary, henceforth we will not allow him to go out of the house; for everyone who displeases him is killed."
Jesus H. Christ!

I think it's enough with the letters to Jesus at this point. It seems safer just to write to Santa Claus, even though that fat bastard knows if I've been bad or good. With Jesus, you can hide it. But at least with Santa, all you get for being bad is coal, not the business end of some hipster's axe planted in your skull.

But because I'm afraid of having my emails intercepted, I had to get help.

From: Smokey [clowntears@piealamodeproductions.com]
To: S. Claus [Santa84883@gmail.com]

Dear Santa,

For Christmas this year, please protect my friend Matt from Angry Jesus. In exchange, I will let you play a game of Michael Jackson and the Eight-Year-Old Boy with me. I'll even be the eight-year-old boy this time.

Love and kisses,
Smokey Robinson

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Friday Afternoon in the Forest with Lizzie Borden and His Girlfriend

Production Notes:
The part of Lizzie Borden will be played by a random, goateed, psycho hipster axe-murderer.

The part of His Girlfriend will be played by the hipster's girlfriend.

The part of the Forest will be played by Simonson's Tree Farm in Cranbury, New Jersey, where you can cut down your own tree, or simply pry it out of the ground with your bare hands if you don't feel like giving the $10 deposit for a saw.

The part of Lizzie Borden's mother (whom she gave 40 whacks, if the legends are to be believed) will be played by a small Frasier Fir tree in the northwest corner of the tree farm. I mean, the northwest corner of the forest.

The part of Lizzie Borden's axe will be played by the hipster's actual axe.

The part of terrified onlookers will be played by me and my darling friend Karyn, who were, in actuality, onlookers who thought the whole scene was pretty entertaining, if a little bit cold, and who at one point were dancing through the "forest" singing
Little Shop of Horrors and waving a $10 saw in the air.

The part of irritating suburban children whose cacophonous screeching made me want to introduce them to the business end of the hipster's axe will be played by irritating suburban children whose cacophonous screeching made me want to introduce them to business end of the hipster's axe.

The part of other people I would have liked to introduce to the business end of the hipster's axe will be played by the smug tree farm operators who think they're so special just because they know so damn much about trees, smug New York-New Jersey drivers who think they're so special just because they know so much about trees, the Pope, Paris Hilton, any of the surviving munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, and Cher.

The part of Jesus will be played by James Caviezel.
Karyn and I showed up at this do-it-yourself tree farm with high hopes that it would yield something beautiful and meaningful. I'm thinking Griswold Family Christmas Tree from the movie Christmas Vacation (starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, and a surprisingly mainstream Juliette Lewis!). Karyn had more specific goals in mind: 7 1/2 or 8 feet of pure, piney Douglas Fir from the swamps of central New Jersey.

What we weren't prepared for was to spend an hour in the freezing cold being chased around by an axe murderer.

I remember the flash of gray in the corner of my eye - a stray swatch of his coat, poor camouflage against the pine-tree background. He was toting around an axe in broad daylight. His girlfriend ambled along in front of him, stupidly, I thought. Lesson number one in dating an axe murder: ALWAYS LET HIM WALK IN FRONT.

Actually, lesson one is not to date the axe murder in the first place. Lesson two, for those dumb enough to ignore lesson one, is, ALWAYS LET HIM WALK IN FRONT.

Moments later, from somewhere to the south there came the telltale sound of oversized car doors, and two parents climbed out of their suburban assault vehicle with two screaming children in tow. Sadly, the axeman was walking in the other direction, away from them.

Towards us!

He turned out to be genial enough when he found us, and even quite understanding about why we were crouched, hiding, our underwear soiled, and our fingers raised in the shape of crosses to ward off his soulless evil. Karyn even complimented him on what a nice axe he had. I thought, why would you compliment someone on their axe? That's like complimenting a mugger on how sharp his knife was, or telling an axe murderer what a nice axe he had. That's Karyn for you, though.

Anyway, apparently he didn't have it in for us. I wish I could say the same for this poor tree though. I actually heard this savage beast of a man whoop with joy upon discovering his victim. Some people are just sick.

After witnessing this unmitigated barbarism, Karyn and I packed it in and went to a garden center 20 minutes away in South Brunswick where we bought a tree that had obviously been killed much more humanely. Then we took the tree back to New York City and stuck it in a corner of Karyn's apartment. Karyn baked cookies to celebrate, and hosted a party where her friends came over and hung lights and ornaments on it. But all I could think about was the brutal axe murder I had witnessed without even speaking up. I don't think Christmas is going to be the same for me this year - maybe not ever again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Merry Christmas, Doc! Love, Marty

I used to swing by Doc Brown's house on my way to school in the mornings, hitching rides from unsuspecting strangers by grabbing onto the bumpers of their cars while riding my skateboard in a manner that would have given George and Lorraine fits. George and Lorraine are my parents. You might have heard of Dad - he's a noted science fiction author, all thanks to me. My mom is really no one of consequence. People tell me she looks like Caroline from Caroline in the City, but I don't see the resemblance. Anyway, they didn't know about the skateboarding. They also never knew the extent of my friendship with Doc - probably another conniption waiting to happen if they found out.

Doc's house was a cornucopia of offbeat scientific experiments and obscene amounts of clocks, a treasure trove for an intellectually curious scamp like myself who liked to play guitars and ogle girls' butts while my girlfriend was standing right next to me. Plus, and I say this without the slightest trace of exaggeration, Doc had the meanest amp in Hill Valley. The thing was heavy.

The thing about Doc, though, is that he is notoriously hard to shop for. If he wants something or needs something, he generally just invents it, leaving me at a loss for gift ideas when the holidays roll around. One year, I gave him a CD of my band, the Pinheads, rockin' out to a bunch of Chuck Berry-inspired jams that sounded remarkably like Huey Lewis songs, but he disassembled the plastic and used it as part of a hologram generator powered by his dog.

This year, I wanted to go above and beyond, in part because I still haven't properly apologized for breaking the aforementioned monster amp in October 1985 with a G-major chord, or for getting his Dolorian run over by a train. And knowing that he has a penchant for radioactive power, I think I may have found just the thing on Amazon.com. Check this out:

Uranium Ore

3.9 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews (68 customer reviews)| More about this product

List Price: $24.95
Price: $22.95
You Save: $2.00 (8%)

Availability: In stock. Processing takes an additional 4 to 5 days for orders from this seller. Ships from and sold by Images SI Inc.

Product Features

We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials. Item will be shipped in accordance with Postal Service activity limits specified in Publication 52.

Product Description

Radioactive sample of uranium ore. Useful for testing Geiger Counters. License exempt. Uranium ore sample sizes vary. Shipped in labeled metal container as shown. Shipping Information: We are always in compliance with Section 13 from part 40 of the NRC Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules and regulations and Postal Service regulations specified in 49 CFR 173.421 for activity limits of low level radioactive materials. Item will be shipped in accordance with Postal Service activity limits specified in Publication 52. Radioactive minerals are for educational and scientific use only.

from http://www.amazon.com/Uranium-Ore/dp/B000796XXM

If that doesn't just scream "holiday" at the top of its radioactive lung, I don't know what does. And at these prices, it sure beats shopping from dangerous terrorist Libyans with shoulder-mounted rocket launchers and VW buses.

I think I may have found the perfect gift.