Thursday, September 22, 2011

The (Bad) Elf on the Shelf

I am dressed in all green from my head to by toes,

except for what's red, my eyes and my nose.

Santa sent me to sit on your shelf,

and not cause he thought it was good for my health.

I am here for one reason and that is to spy

on you and your habits while I get high.

You probably wonder how I come up with trickses,

it's to occupy time in between all my fixes.

And with all my habits I am just where he wants me.

Saint Nick and his dope, he constantly taunts me.

And so it is that on the first of November,

I come to your home to watch and remember.

I will sit here all quiet, I'm a toy you will think.

I sit and I sit and I never do blink.

But all of your actions and all of your deeds,

will go right to Santa through satellite feeds.

Like that time in the bedroom, your nose you did pick,

Santa saw that down to the last lick.

When you took from your brother his favorite car

there was a loss of another gold star.

Nothing alarming, just simple infractions.

On the nice list you were still gaining traction.

Yet for me all these things this just were not enough,

I was waiting for fuck-ups, the really bad stuff.

There was that time I was sure would just suffice

to put you on naughty and take you off nice.

That time you and Susie locked all the doors,

and she showed you hers and you showed her yours?

St Nick saw that one too and twas he that insisted

posting to YouTube (which I thought was twisted).

Santa loved what you did, he was so entertained

to the point on the nice list you were maintained.

So I sat on the shelf and bided my time

still as a statue, silent as a mime.

I thought and I thought and I thought once again,

how could I screw you, my naïve little friend?

First I put down a few lines on your dresser,

with just a few snorts you'd be that much the lesser.

Instead when you saw them your fingers you flicked,

the lines blew away and I thought, “What a dick.”

I picked up your juice and I spiked it with gin,

you smelled something off, in the trash it went in.

The the bottom of your drawer, I filled that with porn,

no way you'd resist cause a boy you'd been born.

The moment you saw it you threw it all out,

and me, the bad elf on the shelf, had to pout.

Surely I knew there's a way to cause trouble,

a way I could burst your goddamn Christmas bubble.

So I slipped a crisp 20 out from your mom's purse,

took it to your room and then hoped for the worse.

Of course your mom found it, she's nosy like that,

she went to your closet and grabbed your own bat.

Here we go, this is it, now we are talking.

When Santa sees this, out of Nice you'll be walking.

On Christmas Day with the lights all a'blinking.

When mom's finally sober and dad's eyes are a'twinkling.

You'll rush to the fireplace and rip down your stocking,

cause you know what's inside will really be rocking.

But reach deep inside, you dumb little troll,

cause all you'll be finding is one lump of coal.

Times are so tough, even at the North Pole,

and to make all ends meet we have only one goal.

The level of naughty must reach 30 percent,

or else there's no way Santa can pay all the rent.

While Santa gave out all those toys by the millions,

he was racking up debt in the billions and trillions.

Though he loved to shout out, “On Donder, on Cupid.”

he did finally mutter, “It's the economy, stupid.”

The elves went on strike, and it only got worse.

Santa poured a neat bourbon to take care of his thirst.

And you know that reindeer whose nose is so red,

last week in a snowbank he was found to be dead.

The man who had done it was a sad little runt,

an elf who'd gone rogue when he decided to hunt.

With Rudolph deceased it was found to be time-a,

so Santa sold out to a consortium in China.

And that, my young friend, is where I finally come in.

My role here to play is is to encourage the sin.

I am here, don't you know, just to fill up one list.

I must find all the naughty as my bosses insist.

With elves out of work and no money for toys,

I'm an assassin for hire, here to kill Christmas joy.

I am Santa's one out in his odd little game,

Finding bad things with which you I can frame.

By reducing the lists of the kids who are nice,

By reducing the gifts that all come with a price.

Then Christmas for me and for you and for all,

Will go on for now, if at a slow crawl.

While it may seem right now that I'm bad for your health,

who's saving Christmas? The bad elf on the shelf.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I watch a lot of TV. OK, I will clarify that. I watch too much TV. But if I did not watch too much TV, I never would have stumbled upon my next too-good-to-fail career.

I am going to be the Demonic Collector.

I had no ides such a career path existed unit I found "Haunted Collector" on SyFy. The title alone hooked me. Who wouldn't want to see a guy looking for cool stuff while being stalked by spirits ("Ooooo, that antique gaaaaassssss puuuump would so niiiice on your patiooooooooo!!").

As it turns out, the white-haired Haunted Collector isn't haunted at all. He seeks out items that are haunted, placing them in his Haunted Museum where they will no longer bother anyone.

He and his team (apparently one guy cannot possibly find and isolate haunted objects) spend a night in the house where odd things are going on. It could be cold spots, a tapping when no one is there, disembodied voices, apparitions, objects that skitter across tabletops, or the feeling you are trapped in your own bed and unable to move (which describes my usual morning when the alarm goes off).

In one episode he'd determined that antique swords were responsible for the oppressing sense of dread a young man felt each time he walked into his bedroom. After the investigation, the team was feeling somewhat the swords could possibly be a potential cause (when you are dealing with haunted objects, proof disappears along with the ghosts).

"Though these swords are for decoration only and have never seen battle, the people who made them do so with the intent they are making a weapon, which can deposit a lot of negative energy into the object," the Collector said. "Anything can set off that energy later, usually with dire consequences."

Every item has some sort of energy, the Collector says. And all of them could harm you. Though I will admit, the only objects that I've ever felt threatened by are Precious Moments figurines. Porcelain has never been so creepy.

In the last scene, we usually see the Haunted Collector place the dangerously haunted object in his museum, putting in under glass, apparently the one substance that can contain the evil (and perhaps why no one has ever heard of a haunted greenhouse).

The Collector has hit on a brilliant business plan, one I will replicate (OK, steal) in such a way as to beat this recession. And once I establish it locally, I will gladly franchise it because every community is going to need a Demonic Collector.

I am not demonic (though some might argue that finding), but I will look for and confine demonic objects.

Did you know, for example, that the substance capable of holding the densest concentration of malevolence is gold, followed closely by diamonds? The molecular structure of each not only holds evil, but actually invites it in (thus the biblical saying, "money is the root of all evil," which actually was "Gold and diamonds are incredibly malevolent" in original Aramaic).

As the Demonic Collector, I will isolate these items through careful detection ("Is that 24 karat? Yes? I'll need that") and contain the evil the only possible way -- sell it on Craigslist. Because when the evil of the object meets the evil of most people looking to score bargains on Craigslist, the malevolence cancels one another out. The evil-on-evil reaction turns what is beastly into bliss, as all parties (the original owner, the Demonic Collector, the demonic buyer) are happy.

By the way, I could not help but notice all the negative energy flowing off your watch. A Rolex, right?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Have you ever noticed those "encouraging" or "peaceful" phrases on some highbrow foil-wrapped chocolate (Dove Promises, I'm talking about you). Stuff like "Carve out time for yourself today" (I'm eating chocolate, aren't I?) and "Look for the peaceful soul" (what, it's not here?).

It's all marketing bullshit of course. Does anyone read those things? "Oh wait, before I devour this momentary delight of 100 calories, let me read the wrapper assuming I didn't pretty much shred it when ripping it off. Damn, it's a jigsaw puzzle now. Something about relaxing, enjoying the moment."

If Dove really wanted to make a difference, here's what those wrappers should say:

--Welcome back, Chunky.

--Listen carefully, and you can hear your heart straining too.

--What part of "moderation" don't you understand?

--What the hell. You are already one seriously fat fuck.

--Jesus, again? Really?

--Another one would have been fine when you were 18. But that was a long time ago.

--Looking for answers? You might try another place other than in this bag.

--Just two more, then vomit. We'll still be here.

--Yes, this is better than sex. Because for you, it's attainable.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Holy goodness

It came to me in a dream, as I stumbled about a scorched landscape under a harsh sun, where what little life there was struggled to survive.

Yet on the horizon was a warm golden glow, a richer, more inviting place to which I was inexorably drawn. And as I approached the landscape was less scorched and more baked, and I soon felt inexplicably comforted. For in front of me it stood, asking for nothing but faith in reward for its unending love.

And when I bowed at the feet of my savior Cheez-Its, I knew I had been baked again.

I awoke knowing that Cheez-Its had fried for me, so that I may revel in a love of cheddar and, more recently, white cheddar, cheddar jack and hot & spicy.

Going to the pantry, I placed one of the delicate crackers on my tongue, the body of Cheez-Its, and I could taste the cheddar, the enriched flour, and the riboflavin, a holy trinity of goodness.

I knew this is what I had been seeking to many years, and am now studying to become a Chezuit.

I know that not all share my passion of Cheez-Its Christ, but once you see the sign as I have, you too will believe.

cheez-its 007

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Race relations, retro style

In the summer of 1972, the one movie I really wanted to see was “Superfly,” in which a badass dude killed lots of people (really all the plot a 14-year-old needs). It starred Ron O’Neill as the badass dude, and I have no idea why I remember his name. But I think he wore a hat and a badass coat. But he definitely killed a lot of people. Drug dealers, I think, making it morally OK.

“Superfly” and dozens of similar movies (badass dude killing lots of people) would come to be known as “Blaxploitation” films, because it starred badass black guys killing lots of people, with a decent share of them being white.

But all I knew at the time was, right, badass dude killing people. The whole race thing never occurred to me, partly because I grew up in a very white town in the Bay Area. How white? I would not meet my first black acquaintance until the following year, who also was the only black person to attend our school. But our real understanding of race relations was stunted because A) his name was Willie and B) he was a starter on the basketball team despite a unique combination of inabilities to dribble and shoot. And Willie also would be the most popular kid in school, as much a reflection of his personality as it may have been guilt – it just wasn’t something we thought about then.

And it was on a Saturday morning I eagerly looked through the entertainment section of the Oakland Tribune and was dismayed to see “Superfly” was not playing in any theater within 10 miles of us. That seemed odd for a film about a badass dude killing people. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

I mentioned that to my dad, who had promised to take me to “Superfly.”

“Dad, is Telegraph Avenue far from here"?” I said.

“I’m not sure where it is,” dad said. “Why?”

“Because that’s wher ‘Superfly’ is playing. At the Rialto.”

“Nothing closer? What about the Regency?”

“Nope, just at the Rialto.”

My dad looked at the newspaper, because it’s well-known fathers do not take anything at face value, particularly the ability of 14-year-olds to accurately read a newspaper.

“Hmm.” he said. handing it back to me. “Well, that’s pretty far, but I did promise.”

And with that we chose the early afternoon show and soon set off in our green Pinto station wagon toward the heart of Oakland.

Within 35 minutes, we exited the freeway and cruised along streets that decidedly were not suburban. No yards, no redwood fences, just a lot of concrete and chainlink. As we turned onto telegraph the Rialto came into view, with “Superfly” on the marquee.

And there was already a huge crowd lined up outside.

“Gee, son, I’m not sure I can find a parking spot,” my dad said, slowing as we passed the theater. “And to be honest, I didn’t think it be so crowded, you know, and it looks like we’re a little late to get a good seat.”

But here is what I was thinking.

“Holy CRAP, look at all the BLACK people.”

And though my did was talking about parking and lines, this is what he was thinking.

“Holy CRAP, look at all the BLACK people.”

As far as I knew, we were the only white people in that area code. And I was positive we were the only people driving in a green Pinto station wagon. We circled the block once, mutually agreeing that even though it was about a badass dude killing a bunch of people, it was too crowded so we would try another time.

We never tried another time.

I can look back now and appreciate what my dad did. Of course he knew what the audience would be in the heart of Oakland, but he took me anyway, perhaps hoping both of us could overcome our discomfort in a time when race relations were still rather strained.

We couldn’t, of course, but it was another story to add to the family lore, and yet another reason I’ve had so much respect for my father.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

All about the beer

Scene: The small bar behind the country restaurant at Schnepf Farms, site of the annual Pumpkin and Chili Party where thousands of kids are making life absolutely miserable for the adults who really need a drink.

Here, in this oasis of calm and alcohol, adults whose kids are old enough to wander by themselves, or who have pawned their children off on visiting grandparents (suckers) have gathered for a respite from noise and dust and little ones. Especially the little ones.

The players: The bartender, (B), whose unenviable job not only includes dealing with parents who have maybe five minutes to get on their drink before returning to the chaos around the corner, but explaining just why a glass of wine of bottle of beer costs upward of $8 (a price that, for a few, seems reasonable, because what price escape?)

The customer, (C-1), who is interested in getting something, anything, that does not cost her more than a few bucks.

The other customer, (C-2), who really just wants a couple of beers since he and his co-drinker have maybe 20 minutes of peace before being called back to the din by children.

CAMERA focuses on bartender, both her hands on the bar, leaning toward CUSTOMER 1, and as camera pulls back, it reveals a short, 40-something brunette, her palms braced against the edge of the bar, a credit card wedged between the first and middle finger of her left hand.

ENTERING frame from left, CUSTOMER 2 places left elbow on bar, he holds a $10 bill in his left hand. He listens to the conversation between C1 and B.

C1: But you said it was two for one.

B: No, I said it was half-price. Which, if you order two, is two for one.

C1: Right, but you said it would be $8. That doesn’t sound two for one.

B: It’s $4 a glass. So two is $8.

C1: How is that two for one?

B (still calm): It’s not two for one. Half price. When happy hour is over, it will be $8 a glass. But right now it’s $4 a glass. Half price.

C1: You mean $4 is half price?

B: Right.

C1: Oh, well, that’s just too much. Do you have anything cheaper?

B: You can get a bottle of beer for $2.

C1: Beer? Well, I don’t know … (looking off camera) Beer? You want beer? Because wine is $4. No, for one glass (nodding) OK, then, beer? Beer, right. (Looking back to bartender). We’ll have beer, then.

B: Fine, what would you like?

C1: Well, I don’t know, I don’t really drink beer.

B: Everything we have is on the shelf behind me.

C1: I can’t … I can’t really see them. What beer is $2.

B: The domestics are.

C1: Domestic? What’s that?

B: That’s beer brewed by the big companies. Budweiser, Coors.

C1: What else do you have?

B (hint of exasperation): They’re behind me. The bottles.

C1: Well, I guess, I don’t know … (pointing) how about that one?

B: This? Sam Adams?

C1: Yes.

B; That will be $4.

C1: Wait, $4? You said it was $2.

B: Right, for domestics. But this is $4.

C1: Hold on just a second. You just told me it was $2, and now it’s $4? Why is it $4?

B: Because this isn’t a domestic. This is a more expensive beer. Only the domestics are $2.

C1: I don’t understand. Beer is beer.

B: No, not really (slightly more exasperated). Some are cheaper, some are more expensive.

C1: Well, fine then. I don’t care what it is as long as it’s $2.

B: That would be Budweiser or Coors.

C1: Anything else?

B: That’s all we have.

C1: What was it again?

B: Budweiser or Coors.

C1: Oh, I know. Corona. I’ve heard of that before. Do you have those?

B: Yes.

C1: OK, two of those.

B: I can do that, but those are $4 each. So it would be $8.

C1: What? Why?

B: Because Corona is an import-

C1: Look, I don’t care-

B: –from Mexico-

C1: You are telling me more than I want to know.

B: –so it’s more expensive.

C1: I don’t care where it’s from. What I care about is paying $2.

B: That would be Budweiser of Coors.

C1: Let me see Coors.

B: What?

C1: Coors. Let me see the Coors.

B reaches into the beer cooler to her right, takes out a bottle of Coors from the bottom shelf, places it on the bar in front of C1. C1 stares at it for a few seconds. C2, in the background, is shaking his head.

C1: Yes, that’s good. And that’s $2, right?

B: Yes. $2.

C1: I’ll have two of those. $4, right?

B: Yes, $4.

B grabs another Coors, and holding both bottles in her left hand, reaches under the bar with her right and in one quick and practiced motion, extracts a bottle opener and opens the two beers.

C1: Wait, why did you open them? We didn’t want them yet.

B (exasperated): By state law you have to drink them here, so I have to open them when I sell them to you.

C1: Well, why didn’t you say that before? We really weren’t ready to have them, we wanted to walk around.

B: I’m sorry, but I can’t let you have them unopened. That will be $4.

C1: Fine. (Thrusts credit card toward B). Put it on this.

B: I have to go into the restaurant, if you don’t mind waiting a few minutes.

C2 (interrupting): No, wait, I’ll be happy to get it.

C1: What? no … why?

C2: Really, it’s my pleasure. Put those on my bill.

C1: I don’t … I don’t know why you’re doing this.

C2: Because it’s my pleasure.

C1: Why? It doesn’t make any sense.

C2: I’m happy to do it.

C1: Are you sure? You really don’t have to.

C2: I know, which is why I’m doing it.

C2: You’re not … we don’t … we’d prefer to drink by ourselves.

C2: Of course.

C1: You really don’t have to.

C2: Please. I’ve got this, go enjoy your Coors and have a pleasant evening.

C1 (taking beers)” Well, thank you.

C1 turns and departs to her table, where her friend is waiting, leaving B and C2 alone at the bar.

C2: I apologize for her. Some people just don’t get it.

B: Oh, you know her?

C2: No.

B: I thought you were together.

C2: God, no. No way.

B: Then why did you pay for her drinks? Like a pay it forward kind of thing?

C2: More like I-just-wanted-my-beer kind of thing.

B: I understand that.

Fade to blackschnepf farm halloween 2009 023

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What if all types of insurance were sold like health insurance?

“Hi, I'd like to buy some car insurance.”

“We can certainly help you with that. Do you smoke?”

“Uh, well, no.”

“How old are you?”

“I'm 57.”

“Is this just for you or will other people be in the car?”

“Mostly me, but I'll probably be driving other people at some point.”

“OK, your premium is $849 a month.”

“What? You don't even know what I drive.”

“What do you drive?”

“A 2008 Lexus CRV.”

“Wonderful. Your premium is $849 a month.”

“How can you charge me that much without even knowing anything about me or my car? I've never had an accident. Ever. I haven't had a ticket in more than 30 years. I pride myself on my safe driving record.”

“As well you should. It's very impressive.”

“Now that you know, it seems $849 a month is a little excessive. And we haven't even talked about deductibles.”

“Sorry, but based on everything you've told me about yourself, there it is on this chart. That's $849 a month.”

“But I bought one of the safest cars on the road. Airbags up front, side-curtain airbags too. Earned a 5-star crash rating. You would literally have to have yourself run over by this car in order to get hurt by it. It's a womb on wheels.”

“Yeah, Lexus makes great cars. There is one way I can reduce the price. Drive alone. If it's just you, the monthly premium goes down to $699.”

“I can't do that, others depend on me to get around.”

“Then we're back at $849.”

“Fine, I'll take it but only because I can't go without insurance.”

“Good, is there anything else I can do for you?”

“I was in the market for home insurance.”

“Let's see, based on everything, that's $399 a month.”

“But you don't even know what kind of house I … oh, never mind. I'll take it.”