Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Magi-cal Christmas Story

The Magi were exhausted. They'd followed the star of Bethlehem for hundreds of miles across all types of terrain, but at last they'd arrived.

“We walked all this way just to get to Bethlehem?” said one. “Why didn’t you just tell me this was where we were going. I know a guy coulda gotten us here by camel real cheap. We woulda been here days ago.”

The two other Magi ignored him, just as they had for most of the journey.

They approached the doorway of the stable and pulled out the gifts they'd skillfully concealed under their robes for fear of being robbed by bandits during their journey.

"Hey, Balthasar, gimme some of that myrrh, will ya? I'm all chafed." said Gaspar.

Though Balthasar was a foot shorter than Gaspar, he still managed the neat trick of looking down his nose at him as he responded.

"The gift is for the child, not for you."

"Come on. It’s not like he's going to notice. He’s an infant for Moses’ sake! Just gimme a little bit."

He reached for the ointment, but Balthasar turned away. A brief tug of war ensued and before long, the two men were rolling in the dirt outside of the stable as they wrestled for control of the jar. Gaspar had nearly pried it from Balthasar’s grasp when he became the recipient of a well placed kick from Melchior. Ointment forgotten, Gaspar clutched his groin and writhing and howling in pain.

Hearing the commotion outside, Joseph strode to stable door. The lack of sleep common among parents of a newborn combined with the persistent rumors that Jesus was not his child had combined to leave him irritable and short tempered.

"What's going on out here?" He growled at the two well-dressed men standing outside the door.

“We followed the star here,” said Balthasar “so that we might present gifts to the savior.”

"What about him?" asked Joseph gesturing at the man laying on the ground and whimpering.

"That's my wife's idiot cousin. He's with us." said Melchior apologetically. He shot a look of disgust at Gaspar - who by this time had risen to his knees and was quietly sobbing and vomiting in the sand.

Joseph nodded in sympathy. "I understand. I have one of those too" he said. "Come in."

Truth be told, Joseph was grateful for the interruption. Earlier that day a little boy had come to visit. He was too poor to buy a gift, so he offered play his drum instead. For some reason, Jesus smiled (Joseph suspected it was just gas), and so the child took that as a sign to keep playing. It was cute at first, but several hours of listening to “pa rum pa pum pum” over and over had left Joseph ith a raging headache.

“Hey kid, take five." he said as he lead the men to the manger in his son lay. Behind him, the two Magi bowed their heads in reverence as they approached. Upon reaching the manger, they made the proper cooing sounds and asked the rhetorical “Isn’t he adorable?” questions that people had come to expect of men as wise as they.

Having dispensed with the rituals, they presented their gifts to Mary and Joseph. Balthasar had brought frankincense and Melchior myrrh. Joseph lit the frankincense in the hope that it might mask the smell of animal excrement that permeated the stable, while Mary placed the myrrh in the nearby pile with the gifts they'd received during the recent baby shower. She thanked them for the gifts, even though she much preffered the diaper genie, the camel seat, and the stroller with the all-terrain wheels that she'd received at the baby shower.

There seemed nothing left to say, so they filled the awkward silence by turning their attention back to Jesus. Upon hearing a small cough at the doorway, four of them turned their heads to locate the source of the sound and saw a nearly recoverd Gaspar hobbling towards them holding a gift in his outstreched hands.

Balthasar’s eyes flashed with anger.

“What is this?” he snapped “Where is the gold?”

“Relax.” said Gaspar. “I was going to give it to him, but then I got to thinking. I mean, what’s a kid gonna do with it? Besides, it’s Christmas and kids expect to get something special, so I used the gold to buy this.”

With that, he kneeled before the baby Jesus and presented him with an Xbox 360.

Upon seeing the console, the baby laughed with unbridled joy and from that moment on 'Uncle Gaspar' was well and truly blessed as Jesus’ most beloved.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Week in Pictures XXVIII

A friend of mine is working on a thesis on "Adult Interaction" and asked me to be act as a subject for one of his studies. I haven't looked at what he's written yet, so I thought I'd post one or two snippets so that we might read them together.

"It becomes immediately evident that the subject has a "reverse magnetic effect" on people. As he stands in place, people subconsciously gravitate away from him and wherever he moves, a force field seems to exist around him..."

"...he stalks his prey like a wild animal, looking for stragglers that he can easily pick off from the herd and engage in conversation. Despite their frantic efforts to escape, he occasionally manages to capture one. It's fascinating to watch him converse with them. The panicked look in their eyes slowly gives way to complete boredom and then finally, near the end of the conversation, the victim is left nearly catatonic - unable to move or speak and reduced drooling on him or her self."

It goes on and on, but I think you get the idea. Now on to the Week in Pictures.

Faced with mounting pressure to end the war, President Bush has authorized a secret training facility that will allow him to replace U.S. forces in Iraq with armed penguins by the year 2007.

Santa and his helpers continued preparations for the upcoming Christmas holiday by spending time in a training device that simulates the G forces they'll feel while dropping down chimneys.

In other holiday news, the Christmas Guinea pig -known for bringing cheese, water bottles, and exercise wheels to rodents throughout the land - has hired a new PR agent in the hopes of becoming as famous as Santa Claus.

This picture was stolen from the lovely and talented The Idle Receptionist.

My first thought upon seeing it was "True, but it's a close as I'm likely to come to heaven."

A recent press conference took a gruesome turn when Ozzie Osborne unexpectedly bit the head off of Kermit the Frog.

A local man suffered serious injuries after failing to properly secure an ostrich he was attempting to have intercourse with.

Thousands of Michael Jackson supporters wrapped up their holiday vigil outside of the Neverland ranch with the symbolic igniting of the hair (sponsored by Pepsi).

Hundreds of movie goers in Ohio were injured in the stampede to leave the theater halfway through "Aeon Flux"

Can you tell that I spent $10 to see that wretched movie? I should have learned from the "Catwoman" debacle that I'm better off going the adult video route when I want to see gorgeous women in tight fitting latex.

And now for our video of the week:

On a side note, if I could do this, I'd never leave the house.

Canada's Jennifer Heil suffered bumps and bruises after her recently invented ski-a-copter failed to work.

Health conscious citizens of Hong Kong have recently begun carrying personal sneeze guards to prevent the spread of germs.

Alvaro Sabrorio and Mark Milligan were the surprise winners in the Tango World Club Championships.

In a related story, Sobrorio later explained to a disappointed Milligan that he wasn't just happy to see him and that it was, indeed, a soccer ball in his pants.

And finally, I was so interested in reading your captions to the picture above during
The Week in Pictures XXVI that I neglected to tell you my own. Here it is:

Investors are worried that Apple's Steve Jobs may have lost his touch after the long awaited iBis - which was released amongst much fanfare - turned out to be nothing more than a bird shaped bicycle helmet.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Story of Joe

It's been over a year and a half since their relationship ended and still can't bring himself to move on. Despite the time that's passed, the idea of being with another woman still feels like cheating.

He wonders if it's worth it to even try. Maybe we only get one shot at true happiness, he thinks. If she was really his "other half" it would certainly explain the emptiness he feels inside since she left.

He only thinks of her a few times a day now but he senses that if he told anyone, they'd tell him that it's still far often and that he should forget her completely. He wishes he could, but he can't seem to find a way.

Mostly, he misses the way she made every moment feel special. When they were together, he imagined that everyone around them was just an extra in the story of their love but somewhere along the way the roles have reversed and he's become the extra in everyone else's life.

From time to time he goes out with his friends - mostly so he can claim to have some sort of life - but those nights have all begun to feel the same. Hearty greetings are followed by superficial conversations designed to hide the fact they have little in common. At the end of the night goodbyes and promises to keep in touch are exchanged and quickly forgotten until someone in the group becomes so desperate for company that they arrange another night out.

Every once in a while, he goes out on a date. He uses the dates to measure just how close he is to forgetting her. The answer is always "not very."

In between these sporadic signs of life, his days are as predictable as a metronome. He works 12 hours a day and then goes home and listens to music. He always plays the same songs in the hopes that if he listens to them often enough the words will lose their meaning. That's yet to happen and so every night becomes an orgy of self-flagellation. He believes that he has to do this in order to properly mourn the past so that he can one day build a future, but at this point the memories seem to have taken up permanent residence in his mind making it impossible for him to focus on anything else.

As he sits in the darkness of his dreary apartment, he dreams of making a clean break from his life - of quitting his job, giving away all of his possessions, and making a fresh start but he knows that he's become a creature of habit and fears that if he did so, he'd rebuild the same life in a different place.

What he fails to realize that the life he's always been the most afraid of is the life he's living right now.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Flu Away

After a lost weekend of steak eating, cigar smoking, and gambling with the guys, I stumbled into work in dire need of a some sort of complex detoxification program that would completely replace my bodily fluids and scrub my vital organs until they shone like a newborn baby's ass. In short, I felt just moments away from certain death.

Since cold and flu season is upon us, the firm at which I work had arranged free flu shots for interested employees. Now I normally forego this little ritual since history has shown that - at least where I'm concerned - getting a flu shot pretty much ensures that I get sick. However, as I stumbled towards my office in my usual incoherent pre-coffee haze, I noticed a poster that made me pause. There, in bold black lettering against a bright orange background were three reasons to get a flu shot.

3. Protects Other People
I'm all for occasional acts of altruism, but I wasn't all that convinced by this argument since there are a few people I wouldn't mind making sick. For example, the woman in the office next to me who cackles like a deaf witch at annoyingly regular intervals would be a prime candidate.

2. Prevents Severe Illness
That makes sense. I mean, if you consider the flu a serious illness then a flu shot would seem to be the perfect way to prevent it. Personally, I look at serious illnesses as a great way to get some much needed rest and a few well deserved days off from work.

Thus far, I'd yet to see any compelling evidence for inoculation but all of that changed when I read the final reason.

1. Prevents Death
The longer I looked at it, the more excited I became. Immortality was finally within my grasp! I rushed over to sign up and when the time came I was the first person in line.

"Have you ever gotten a flu shot?" I asked the nurse - an attractive blonde woman into whose deep blue eyes I could gaze for days - but probably wouldn't because there were a bunch of people behind me waiting to get their shots.

"Yes, I have" she replied.

"What's it like?"

"Its nothing, really. You feel a little pinch and the you're done. Some people feel slightly ill for a few hours afterwards, but that goes away pretty quickly."

A small pinch and slight nausea seemed a small price to pay, so I eagerly rolled up my sleeve.

Five seconds later she'd inserted the needle, injected the fluid, and pulled out, leaving me to ponder the similarities between that experience and the way that women generally describe sex with me.

Before I left, I asked the nurse if she'd be interested in going out on a date at some point.

"I'm sorry, I can't. I'm seeing someone" she replied

"Oh, that's okay. I understand."

Disappointed but not surprised, I rolled down my sleeve and started to leave. Suddenly, I had an idea and I walked back over to the nurse.

"Sorry to bother you again, " I said "but has your boyfriend ever gotten a flu shot?"

"No," she replied "he doesn't like needles."

I saw my chance and leapt for it.

"So when he dies, do you think you might reconsider going out with me?"

"WHAT?" she exclaimed.

Realizing that I probably could have phrased that a little better, I gave it another go.

"I mean, he doesn't get the shot so he's mortal. I just thought it made sense for us to stick together and...you know...make little immortal babies and all..."

Her eyes blazed. "What the hell are you talking about?"

As she spoke, she angrily gestured with the needle, causing me to leap back for fear of being jabbed. After all, I know where I've been and believe me, I didn't want to catch anything by being stuck with a needle that had my blood on it.

"The flu shot...the poster..." I babbled...."It says it prevents death!"

"They mean death from the flu, you f*cking idiot."

Now it was my turn to be incredulous. Clearly, this called for an eloquent, rational rebuttal.

"What?" I replied.

"Go read the poster again, moron"

So I did.

Sure enough, there in the fine print underneath "Prevents Death" it said:

"Each year over 20,000 people in the U.S. die because of the flu - most are over 65 years old. More people die from the flu than from any other vaccine-preventable disease"



On a side note, I'd like to offer a heartfelt public apology to Sarah for accidentally calling her 'Sandra' in Lmizzle's comments section. She deserves better. She deserves to have her name shouted from the highest rooftops in all of NYC. She deserves to be spoken of in the hushed, reverential tones reserved for the true geniuses of the world. She deserves better than to have someone make two directly contradictory statements in back to back sentences.

The only thing I can say in my defense is that obviously I'm not all that bright.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Week in Pictures XXVII

I woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on the ground and a cacophony of television news1 reporters breathlessly telling me about this fluffy white stuff falling from the sky and speculating that it could mean the end of life as we know it.

Just to clarify, I mean that the reporters were on television, not that they were standing in my bedroom.

Upon arriving at work, the weather icon on my company's intranet page indicated that there was some kind of mysterious unknown precipitation, which made me a little leery about going outside for lunch later because "unknown percipitation" in NYC generally means a homeless person urinating on you from a fire escape.

Fortunately, the snow has ended, the sun is out, and mankind is safe...at least until the next time we get a few inches of snow on a slow news day.
1 I turn to the news first thing in the morning because for some reason I seem to develop regular crushes on the WB11 Morning News traffic reporters. It began with Marysol Castro (before she moved on to "Good Morning America") and my current crush is on the breathtaking Lisa Mateo, who makes all too rare appearences when the regular traffic reporter, Jill Nicolini is otherwise occupied.

There's really something seriously wrong with me...

Now on to The Week In Pictures:

We begin this week in Red Rock, New Mexico where the skies were dotted with decoys as the alien hunting season kicked off.

A Swiss man entered the Guiness Book of World Records after successfully urinating in over 18 different streams at one time.*

*A special thank you goes to Sarah for her proofreading skills.

In local news, a caracal suffered only minimal effects after breaking into a medical clinic and swallowing a bottle of Viagra.

Speaking of Wiagra, new studies show that the drug shows promise in treating football dysfunction, which is said to effect 1 in every 250 men.

The United States Army backed off of it's plan to use motocross riders into combat zones after there were several problems with the airdrops.

The "Sidebar Song of the Week" is Taking Back Sunday's "This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know)

In preparation for an upcoming visit by Tara Reid, Brazillian officials have taken the precaution of sheathing The Obelisk with a giant condom.

Meanwhile, right to life groups in the United States insisted that the Washington Monument continue to ride bareback.

It's odd, but somehow those last two pictures remind me of Shakira,2 who is the subject of our gratuitous picture of the week, and is also the star of this week's video.

2On a side note, I've decided to marry Shakira. I plan to propose to her as soon as that stupid restraining order she got on me expires, You are, of course, all invited to the wedding.

PETA activists are picketing the National Zoo after discovering that Giant Panda cub Tai Shan is being forced to carry a pen in his mouth and sign autographs for visitors.

Nicole Linkletter was chosen as America's Next Top Model, entitling her to a $100,000 contract to model for the CoverGirl cosmetics company, the opportunity to be managed by Ford Models, an appearance on the cover of ELLEgirl magazine in February 2006, and the opportunity to be felt up by Tyra Banks.

Recent studies show that even animals are overcome with boredom when reading this blog.

Our bonus video of the week is a special request made my Solyluna of Aimlessly Rambling fame:

Now back to the pics...

Rumors are circulating about the real reason behind the recent broken engagement of Nicole Richie and DJ Adam Goldstein...

...after Santa Claus was spotted sneaking out of Richie's apartment early this morning.

After being unceremoniously fired by Santa in favor of his new motorcycle, his reindeer got a measure of revenge by gluing his hands to the reins and dragging St. Nick back and forth over an ice cold lake for several hours.

Meanwhile, Santa's workers continued to prepare for search and rescue missions like the one they had to undertake last year when he got stuck in the chimney while trying to deliver gifts to Hansel and Gretel.

After a huge Champions League victory over Lille, the Villereal team conducted the traditional strangling of their Capitan.

And finally, rap star Eminem announced that he is retiring from the music industry to focus on his first love - track and field.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Workin' in a Winter Wonderland

There’s no reason for today's entry other than helping Tiffany in her desire to become a trendsetter by having us post pictures of ourselves as children.1

As long as I have to write anyway, I might as well update you on what's going on in my life.

Every year at this time, I renew my campaign to eliminate bias from the Christmas season. This year, I’m focusing on creating a less racist version of the song "White Christmas." Sample revised lyrics include "I'm dreaming of a diverse Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know. Where the tree tops glisten and everyone lives in an environment free from discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, veteran or disability status or any other class protected by federal or state statute." I'll admit that it's a little wordy but I think it gets the point across.

Now you might not know this, but re-writing a classic Christmas carol is actually far more difficult than you'd think, so after a few fitful and unproductive hours of work I took a break from my efforts to wander over to the book store in search of inspiration. On my way in, I was stopped by a stranger and we had the following (true) conversation:

Man: Excuse me sir, you look like a man who could use some extra money.
Me: Wow, that’s vaguely insulting
Man: I didn’t mean it that way. But can’t we all use some extra money?
Me: To be honest, I have too much damn money already. In fact, I’m here to try to spend some of it.
Man: But I’ll bet you don’t have enough time.
Me: Actually, I do. I’m also here to try to kill some of that.
Man: Then maybe you should be the one teaching people how you do it.
Me: But that would put you out of a job and I don’t want to do that - especially since you look like you can use the extra money.
Man: You’re an asshole.
Me: Well, you certainly aren’t going to win people over like that.2

Afterwards, I went to Central Park to go ice skating at Wolman Rink. On my way out, I saw a juggler drop his balls and immediately run after them lest a child pick one up and run off with it. I had to admire his presence of mind. Had it been me, I would have been on the ground clutching my groin and sobbing like a newborn.

Say what you will, but those street performers are made of sterner stuff than most.
1 To be perfectly honest, I'm a little worried that she might be trying to start some kind of pedophile version of HNT.

2 Now that I see that conversation in writing, I have to admit that he had a point about me. I mean, I'm pretty pathetic in the best of times (just ask the famous 'L' or any of my other exes if you need more evidence), but this was over the line even for me. In keeping with the holiday spirit, I'm planning to go back to the store so I can seek him out, apologize, and insist on listening to his entire pitch before I politely decline it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Week in Pictures XXVI

Yes, I'm early again this week.

However, our office holiday party is tonight (though why we'd have it this far in advance of the holidays is a mystery) and if history is any indication I won't be in much shape to come to work tomorrow. Besides, if I don't start using some of this massive volume of vacation days I've accrued, who will?

Anyway, I've decided to declare tomorrow a new holiday. It's called Thanksmas...

or Chrisgiving...

...or something like that.

It's icon will be a turkey in a Santa suit who carrys a bag of gifts and a hatchet (which he uses to chop the heads off of rival turkeys).

To be honest, the details are a little fuzzy at the moment, but I'll work on it and get back to you.

Now on to the week in pictures:

As part of Bush's global war on terrorism, all foreign visitors to the United States will be forced to wear face paint displaying their country's flag for the entire length of their stay.

Two brazen robbers mugged Frosty the Snowman in broad daylight, making off with his old silk hat, corncob pipe, and button nose, but mysteriously leaving behind his two eyes made out of coal.

As winter approaches, authorities are reminding people in cold climates to remain vigilant against ice shark attacks which can occur any time and anywhere.

While in warmer climates the standard warnings about sand monsters - known to sometimes conceal themselves behind small dunes on the beach - are still in effect.

Sadly, Mohamed Syahrul Sami of Malaysia failed to heed these warnings and was subsequently devoured by a sand monster during the long jump competition.

Australia qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 32 years largely due to their innovative style of play which consisted largely of screaming like banshees and charging at their opponents en masse until the other teams were too tired or frightened to complete.

Big Bird moved from Sesame Street to a newly constructed development across the highway where he hopes to live a "more normal life" without being constantly harassed by Snuffleupagus.

Just hours after kidnappers released this footage of a baby panda they were holding...

...a Panda SWAT team hiding in the nearby foliage stormed the hideout and freed the hostage.

Our song of the week is "Miracle Drug" by U2 (see sidebar)

After laying low for a few months, Rapper Busta Rhymes appeared in town this week.

As did singer/playwright Elton John.

New studies show that unicorns were, indeed, real, but were hunted into extinction by trappers who sold their precious hides for use in making windows, eyeglasses, and beverage containers.

This week's gratuitous picture is of my niece Katie.

Isn't she a cutie?

Video of the Week (press play to watch):

And now an update on the Santa stories that we told you about last week:

Stung by his wife's criticism and concerned about his inability to conceive an heir, Santa Claus visited a fertility clinic which released this picture of the jolly old elf's sperm.

Immediately after the tests were completed, Santa fired all of his elves and replaced them with Victoria's Secret models.

And finally, Santa is forgoing lumps of coal in the stocking this year in favor of abandoning bad boys and girls in shark infested waters.