Monday, December 15, 2014

THE IMAGINED INVENTION OF "THE MENSCH ON THE BENCH" IN THE YEAR 2013

Davy and Debby Hoffman were furious. It was Thanksgiving and at the homes of all of their friends tiny elves were magically appearing on random shelves. Checking their own shelves, though, all they found were books and shit. They ran straight to their father Neal. "Why don't we have any elves sitting on shelves at our house?" they asked.

"'The Elf on the Shelf' is a Christian tradition," said Neal, "and we're Jewish. We don't believe in elves because we don't believe in Christmas because we don't believe in Jesus Christ."

"Oh," replied Davy and Debby. "That absolutely sucks."

Every day Davy and Debby whined a little more. They'd visit another friend's home and see a cute little elf on a book-free shelf, and then they'd go home and scream. "BUY US A GODDAMNED ELF ON THE SHELF!" they screamed in unison. "BUY US A GODDAMNED ELF!"

The last straw came when somebody told Davy and Debby that these little stuffed elves flew to the North Pole at night and talked to Santa about them. "We don't wanna be Jewish," they yelled at their father. "We don't want fuckin' books on our shelves. We want one of Santa's assistants to sit there and watch us!"

Their father shook his head. How could these children see that aside from being outside of their heritage this elf was basically a felt nannycam? Then one day a lightbulb blinked on above his head. "Why," he thought, "I'll make a Jewish version of that infernal toy! Who wouldn't love a little Jewish man hanging around their house keeping tabs on them?" Neal, a former toy company executive, stitched up a crude figure and kept his fingers crossed. Others might have called it a creepy copy of an semi-interesting toy but he dubbed it "The Mensch on the Bench."

"The Mensch on the Bench is even more fun than the Elf on the Shelf," Neal told Davy and Debby, "because he's a nice Jewish man who watches you. If you do good, he's happy. And if you do evil, he's unhappy."

"Every night the Elf on the Shelf flies to the North Pole," said Davy, "to tell Santa if we've been naughty or nice. Where does the Mensch on the Bench go?"

Hoffman wracked his brain. "The senior center," he finally said. "He tells everybody's grandparents about you."

"Oh, okay," said the kids. And a Chanukah tradition was born.

THE END

THE IMAGINED INVENTION OF CHRISTMAS IN THE YEAR 412

Marcus and Augusta Agrippa were furious. It was December 17, the first day of Saturnalia, and all of their friends were hanging ornaments on trees, stuffing themselves with food, getting drunk and screwing and exchanging presents afterward. They went home and complained to their father Flavius. "Why can't we overeat and get presents?" they asked.

"Only the pagans do that," said Flavius, "and we're Christians. We don't celebrate Saturnalia because we don't believe Saturn is the god of the harvest because we believe in one true God."

"Oh," replied the Marcus and Augusta. "That absolutely sucks."

Every day Marcus and Augusta whined a little more. They'd look outside and see drunk people urinating in the streets before going home and giving each other The Clapper. At their house, meanwhile, it was all wrestling lessons and chiseling Latin words into stone.

Finally they threw a hissy fit at the Caesar's Palace Mall when they saw pagan children drinking Jack and Coke out of little sippy cups. "We don't wanna be Christian," Marcus and Augusta yelled at their father. "We don't have any fun. We don't have human sacrifices. We don't get to smash shit up. AND WHAT ABOUT OVEREATING AND GETTING PRESENTS?"

After one last, futile attempt to explain to his kids that only an idiot would celebrate the growth of corn, Flavius got a brilliant idea. "Why," he thought, "I'll make a Christian version of that infernal holiday! Who wouldn't love a religious celebration where you stuff yourself and then get cool shit?" Flavius decorated a tree, wrapped gifts and made green bean casserole, then fashioned a diorama of baby Jesus in a manger and kept his fingers crossed. He knew it was lame but he had high hopes. Others might have called it a creepy copy of a semi-interesting celebration but he dubbed it "Christmas."

"Christmas is even more fun than Saturnalia," he told his kids as they tore at their presents, "because instead of celebrating some stupid harvest, you're commemorating a really nice guy. See, Jesus died because he loved you, then he came back to life and now he and his father watch you all the time. If you do good, he's happy. And if you do evil, he's unhappy."

"Oh, okay," said the kids in unison, and that was the year Christmas was born.

THE END

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once upon a time, a poor bookkeeper named P. X. Warbie had a dream. He loved children, and wanted nothing more than to entertain them. "Why, I'll write a book," he thought to himself. He toiled long and hard on this book, and three years later he had a finished manuscript about a boy named Sammy Spatula who never grows up, wears lots of green, and flies a lot between his home Sometimesland and earth.

P. X. was very proud of his work; now he just had to get it out into the world. He approached his neighbor, Mr. A. McNutley, who happened to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Grimsby Times. "I've got a great idea!" said Mr. McNutley after reading the manuscript. "Why don't we print your book in my newspaper? Say, five hundred words a day? I think it would be a big hit with my readers."

As Mr. McNutley prophesized, the column was a smash. People raced to the news stand every morning to find out what happened to the boy who never grew up. They'd never read anything like it! It was wholesome fun and suitable for the entire family.

By the fifth day, the newspaper's circulation had tripled, but dark clouds had appeared on the horizon. In the latest extract, the three children of Fred and Ethel Sweetie have been put to bed in a middle-class apartment in the Bayswater suburb of London. Just as they start to fall asleep, though, they notice a mysterious light on their balcony. They run to investigate and discover the slightly-undersized, androgynous lad who is Sammy Spatula.

"Hey, kids!" Sammy chirps. "How about flying off with me to Sometimesland?"

"That's silly," says the eldest, a flame-haired cutie named Barbara Ann. "We can't fly! Now go off and bother someone else."

"Sure you can!" protests Sammy. "Anybody can! You just need to try. Ready? Just close your eyes and leap!" The three children are hesitant but finally take the stranger's word for it. They fling themselves off the windowsill and find themselves being lofted up into the stars by gusts of wind, zipping and spinning miles above the city behind their brand new friend.

The night this column appeared in the paper, though, two hundred children threw themselves out of their bedroom windows and fell to their deaths.

"Maybe make it a little harder," said Mr. McNutley. "Like, they can only fly on a certain day of the year. Or they can only fly if their middle name is Humperdinck."

"I don't know," said P. X. "I'll have to think about this." He thought long and hard, and the next time Sammy Spatula flew, observant readers noticed one very small change.

"Do you all want to go with me to Sometimesland?" Sammy asked the Sweetie kids.

"YES!" they shouted in unison.

"Well, then, think happy thoughts and let's go!"

"That's not actually better," said Mr. McNutley after discovering that this latest episode had prompted six hundred kids to plummet to their deaths. #287 was little Billy Damron, whose last words were, "It's my own fault. I should have thought about puppies instead of my little brother."

"Shucks," said P. X. the next morning. "I was sure that would work."

"Were you?" snapped Mr. McNutley. "Did you actually picture kids standing by their windows thinking, 'Wow, I sure wish I could fly but the newspaper says I have to think happy thoughts and I'm coming up fuckin' blank'? I've got ninety angry parents in my foyer demanding some kind of explanation, and aside from the fact you're a complete nincompoop I don't have a clue what to say."

"Give me one more try," said P. X. "I'll come up with something to make all the parents happy."

As the clouds parted, a crisp white beam of moonlight shone on a tiny figure dressed all in green perched on their windowsill.

"SAMMY!" cried Barbara Ann. "Please let us go flying again! Every time you've shown up in the last two weeks you've just talked about alligators and showed us how to fold clothes. Please say we can go flying again."

"We can!" crowed Sammy to the childrens' cheers. "But this part is very important: flying is very dangerous, and shouldn't be attempted by just anyone. Before we go flying, you have to tell someone."

Little Barney sighed. "But you said we can't tell our parents about you," he said.

"I've got it!" perked up Barbara Ann. "We can tell each other!" She turns to her little brother. "Barney, I'm going flying tonight!"

A grin broke out on Barney's face. "Crystal, I'm going flying too!"

Crystal giggled. "Barbara Ann, I'm going to fly all the way to Somestimesland!"

Sammy looked perplexed, but eventually he nodded his head. "Okay," he said, "let's goooooo!"

"I don't know why the fuck you thought that would solve anything," said a furious Mr. McNutley to P. X. as he pasted obituaries into the first twenty pages of his newspaper. "They don't even take it seriously in the fuckin' story."

"I'm sorry, McNutley," said P. X. "I just didn't think."

"No, you didn't. You blew it again. It's a shame: my readership was up five thousand percent." Mr. McNutley gazed sadly at the crestfallen P. X. "Okay, okay, one more go, but this time I make the rules: Kids can only fly if they have something that no English kid will ever have. Ever. Ever!"

P. X. nodded eagerly. "Thank you, sir," he said. "I'll get right on it." He wrestled with possibilities throughout the whole night, and as everyone who's read this classic of children's literature knows, in a close race between pixie dust and clean, straight teeth, pixie dust won out.

THE END

Monday, December 1, 2014

This is truly a great day for movie lovers. I don't understand the whole story but apparently Seth Rogen made fun of Kim Jong-un and in retaliation North Korea hacked the computers at Sony Pictures. They downloaded every film Sony has ever made, and they've put them all online. Everything! I must have copied a hundred movies, and I only got out of bed eight minutes ago. My favorite so far has to be Big Hero 6. It was great! While I love all of the characters, my favorite has to be Baymax -- you know, the inflatable robot that looks like the Michelin man. I was laughing so hard I could barely take notes, but here are some of my favorite bits.

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BAYMAX: Master Hiro, overwhelming evidence suggests that Professor Callaghan set the fire deliberately. Then he stole your army of bots and used them to escape.

HIRO: He couldn't have. That's nuts.

BAYMAX [confused]: No, it is not. My senso-detectors would have registered the presence of legumes.

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BAYMAX: My calculations have determined that there is a 99.9465% probability that the test pilot was Professor Callaghan's daughter Abigail, and his subsequent actions have been in retaliation for her death.

HIRO: What? I don't believe it. That's sick!

BAYMAX [confused]: I must respectfully disagree, Master Hiro. According to my calculation its immune system has not been invaded by either bacteria or viruses.

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TADASHI: Okay, Baymax, now wait just a minute. My brother Hiro gave you a polymantium exoskeleton, internal scanners and sensors, remote monitors, and jet engine feet. You have unbeatable skills in karate, tae kwon do, Western boxing, and Wing Chun. But you don't understand contemporary English? Jesus Christ, you are so freakin' lame.

BAYMAX: Thank you for your input, Master Tadashi. I will initiate a self-test of my lower limb interface.

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HIRO [weakly]: I must apologize, Tadashi. I believe it was my oversight that put us in this position.

TADASHI [in one last spurt of fury]: You think? Like if you'd just bought a Slang Recognition Chip for maybe six yen and put it in Baymax, he would have understood what we were talking about and not completely messed up our plan? And maybe that's why we're chained to a wall of Adamantium crystals and we're roughly six seconds away from having our insides boiled like miso ramen? These may be my last words so remember this forever: you may be my brother but you're also an idiot, and your superhero friend is totally fucked.

BAYMAX [shrugging]: Well, I'll give it a try. But don't blame me if it makes me deflate.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

It's too bad my parents took me camping when I was a kid. Because after that, when all my friends wanted to be doctors or architects, I was just happy being indoors.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coming Soon

Highlights from Musical Movies

Oh, this is the night,
it's a beautiful night
And we call it "Bella Notte."

Who can forget this immortal movie song from Lady and the Tramp? It's truly one of my all-time favorite movie tunes. It brightens a particularly romantic scene with its unforgettable melody, and the lyrics charm with their warm simplicity. If you don't speak Italian, here's a translation that doesn't lose any of the magic:


Oh, this is the night,
it's a beautiful night
And we call it "Nice Night."

I mean, what hard-hearted person could do anything but sigh when they hear that poetry? Of course we all know the songwriters, Frank Sandler and Jerry Wiebler, went on to pen a long string of hits after this. I'm sure every filmgoer can remember their Theme from Cabaret:


Oh, this is a man,
A really strange man
And we call him "Bizarro Muchacho."

Then there's their immortal Love Theme from Man of La Mancha:


Oh, that is a windmill,
A really big windmill
And we call it "Humungo Windmillo."

Sadly, the pair's popularity plummeted with the advent of rap music. They tried to join the trend in 2004 but most agree that even with Vanilla Ice performing it their swan song isn't their most popular work.


Oh, those are some buns,
Some fabulous buns
And we call them "Lotsa Buttockos."

Friday, November 7, 2014


Would you like to try my drink? [PAUSE] YOU BASTARD! SPIT IT OUT!

The Bad Manners cocktail at Nitecap, $14