Saturday, December 23, 2006

Electric Ice in The Christmas Light

I love Christmastime. Animatronic penguins sing carols to me while I purchase sweet chocolate effigies of St. Nick. Oversized inflatable snowglobes whir on my neighbor's lawn under the off-white glow of electric icicles. It is cold outside, so cold that trees are carried indoors for the season, decorated and doted upon. People complain that the holiday season starts too early, and that gaudy winter decorations should not be seen in the month of November. I don't know what's wrong with these people. Although the swift post-turkey tinsel ornamentation of all your favorite department stores is always a surprise, some people want to limit the early emergence. I guess there's nobility in delaying that special Christmas spice, which is probably just cinnamon, until the days actually leading up to the 25th, but it is also a terribly grinchy notion, made by grinchy people.

Christmastime is a season which extends precisely from the day after Thanksgiving to New Years, and even that's a concession on my part. Ideally it starts mid-November. Thanksgiving doesn't have any mascots besides Pilgrims and dead turkeys, thus allowing Santa to participate in any seasonal branding that he wants. People complain about the commercialization of Christmas. These people are either religionistas, adamant about celebrating their ancient Roman feast in quiet peace, or they are rather normal people who do not enjoy loud robotic Santa Clausitrons ho ho hoing with infrared accuracy as they pay for their groceries. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it's the wrong opinion. Santa Clausitron, I salute you.

It's the season of giving and twinkle lights. Family visits and nonsensical arguments. You wonder why old ladies, old relatives, enjoy pinching the cheeks of youths. This sounds like a fictional cliche, but I have had pinched cheeks. I imagine they're testing the stringiness of the children for some cannibalistic stew, like gently squeezing a tomato, or sniffing a melon. How quickly I move from Christmas to cannibalism.

But I can tie it back together. Snapping the neck of my chocolate Santa, which is disappointingly hollow, I eat the little man's head and crumple the foil into the smallest ball that I can, and in a sudden proud burst of innovation, flick it at my brother. I plan on eating many more Santas.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


P1040894a, originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


P1040875a, originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Friday, December 15, 2006


P1040868a, originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by mr.skeleton.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Donuts

I’ve always associated church with donuts because of Christmas, especially donuts in those pink boxes. Holy donuts! It’s almost a Pavlovian association I have between religion and pastries.

My family’s never been religious, but my mom was raised as a strict Catholic and felt some kind of obligation to instill that into my brother and me. So we literally went to church once a year. I don’t remember if it was exactly on Christmas day, or Eve, or when, but it was for Christmas. We stopped going while I was still single digits in age, so I can only remember it in the sugarhaze of youth.

Oh, there were identical twin nuns at that church. I do remember that. They weren’t very friendly. Maybe they were, I don’t know, but you can’t be five years old and not be afraid of twin nuns. The church was in a strip mall, which I now realize to be somewhat peculiar. And convenient! There was a McDonald’s just across the way.

In addition to consistent religion, my childhood also lacked donuts. I’m not sure why, my parents were not overly health-conscious, but I seriously considered Christmas Mass to be the one time of the year to get donuts. DOUGHHH NUUUTS! Freakin’ ambrosia to a clueless little kid. Almost literally food of the gods. They would have a table of the pink pastry boxes laid out in front of the church. I assume we indulged after mass, because you don’t want your congregation getting sticky fingers all over your pews, y’know.

I definitely assumed that all churches, if not all religious institutions, laid out boxes of pastries at appropriate times. That’s not a belief that held but I know I believed it. Why else would anyone go to church if not for the donuts? Christmas donuts.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Brief Word On Bathroom Activities

I’ve observed an interesting behavior in the men’s restroom and I would love to share it with you. It’s the pee and brush. The pee and brush! A guy will start brushing his teeth, only to wander over to the urinal and suspend brushing, holding the brush in his mouth, to pursue other endeavors. Gentlemen, you are noble multi-taskers, but I am not fond of this. It isn’t even an issue of sanitation. I don’t care what people put in their mouth; I’m liberal like that. But each act is deserving of its own full attention, and you are haphazardly combining bathroom activities. I do not know why I care. What’s next, the shit’n’shave? Floss and shampoo? Please. It’s terrible. Are people really that busy?

The noncommittal nature of the urinal surely makes men more prone to this particular combination of activities than women. But I do not doubt the presence of feminine pee’n’brushers. Frankly, there are many activities which hold potential for combinations, but I will leave the frightening permutations to your silent imagination.

Can you believe that the campus literary journals reject me?

And I really enjoy any bathroom mechanisms that function on motion detectors, especially when the sensors are a little faulty. It's not just the post-future George Jetson Flushotron appeal, it's because I get to give them a friendly wave. Hello Mr. Paper Towel Dispenser! I say as I wave hello. Goodbye Monsieur Urinal! It’s like befriending porcelain robots.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dickens, War, and Mexico

America, I can assure you, your international borders are secure against the illiterate. Or, at least against travelers who know nothing of Victorian literature.

Explain? Yes, I will explain. That's why I'm here.

I was visiting family south of the border, in Rosarito, Mexico, one Saturday evening. (Mexican? I did not know he was Mexican, you say to yourself. Clearly you’ve never seen my sombrero or my agile janitorial skills). As most family gatherings are, it was thrilling. Cake was served, leis were provided. Excuse me for forgoing the specific details of those proceedings, for it is not my focus here.

Jump to midnight or so, when I was in a car with my mother and brother, waiting at the border crossing for quite a while. We reached the crossing, where you are briefly questioned by a police-like agent. Our agent was a nice gentleman, wholly dedicated to his job and his moustache. Have you ever watched a comedy show called Reno 911? No matter. I love that show.

So the agent asked for our passports, which we didn't have because were just popping into Meh-hee-ko for a day. Whatever. We gave him our IDs.

He proceeded to ask me where I was born. "San Diegoooo," I bragged, for some reason. And he asked my brother who the first president was. Were we bringing anything back with us?, he asked. Yes, my mother told him. We had some leftover food from the party in the trunk. So we popped the trunk. I don't know what he did back there, but I assume he tested our chicken leg for avian flu and terrorism. And he apparently saw the Stanford sticker on the rear windshield, meticulous inspector that he was.

"Which one of you goes to Stanford?"
"That's me."
"What's your major?"
I wasn't sure if this was some kind of test to verify my authentic American flavor, or if it was just idle chitchat. "English."
"Who's your favorite author?"

Jesus. He wore a very stern face. He seemed to think that studying at Stanford was a guise to sneak fried chicken into his beautiful country. I wasn't sure who to say. I said Charles Dickens because at the time, I was versed in Dickens like a muthafucka. As they say.

"What do you think of Bleak House?"

Well. I still didn't understand his goal with these questions, but I wasn't annoyed. "It's pretty good." I hesitated when I answered, because I wanted to explain that actually, it's good and complex and all that, but when you study Dickens for ten weeks, his books become methodic. Bleak House is like a second draft of Oliver Twist. But don't quote me on that. Anyway, he wasn't done with his literary quiz.

"What about Great Expectations?"
He was smug with that question, as if it would stump me. Great whatspectations? Come on. Many more people read Great Expectations than Bleak House. His questions were declining in difficulty.
"It's also very good. But I think I prefer Bleak House." He was satisfied with that.

"Next time, bring your passports."
"Is that the law?" my mother asked.
"There's a war going on. That CHANGES EVERYTHING."
Oki dokie smokey. That's means it's not the law. Which war, anyway? On terror? On drugs? On family values? On Christmas? Not sure.

Anyway, you don't need to carry your passport if you know your Dickens.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

cows and flaming helmets

you know, these are my two most-viewed photos? one:

and two:






the end of something.