Category Archives: Holiday fare
Dear Friends and Loving Family,
As most of you know by now, this year the Slattern family left behind the stress, grime and outstanding bench warrants of New York City for a fresh start in sunny San Francisco! After all that fuss and nonsense about young master Slattern’s alleged “hacking” and our subsequent
flight to adventure in Kazakstan, the Slattern clan was feeling the need for some sun and fun, so when a position opened up in the San Francisco sorting facility of the good old USPS, Mr. Slattern jumped at the chance. Sure, it was a lateral, some might even say downward, move, but as you might expect, the taint of a mail fraud accusation — even a baseless, trumped up one — tends to linger, and so the family got behind “the old man” and packed up the truck and a-moved to Beverly. Well, actually Oakland, but you get the picture.
Upon arriving on the left coast, we soon settled into our charming little bungalow by the freeway (handy off and on!). Out here they call this kind of property a “project house,” and what a project it’s been. Luckily we left the spot welder and acetylene torches back in the NYPD impound room, safely beyond the reach of our family contractor, Uncle Fred. With just a hammer and a handsaw, he worked miracles shoring up the place. I’m pretty sure ours is the only bungalow in the East Bay with flying buttresses, but when the big quake hits, the Slatterns will be ready. “Bring on the tremblers!” says Uncle Fred. Of course there’s more than a little left to do, but with only two rooms, the list is quite manageable. Isn’t it lucky we thought to hitch that pop-up trailer to the minivan before we left? Between the
shack house, the trailer and the Caravan, every member of the family has a little corner to call his own.
With his domestic tasks complete, intrepid traveler Uncle Fred has begun to explore the city and seems to have found his niche at a little cafe over in the Castro where he spends most days nursing a cappuchino and watching the world go by, happily surrounded by like-minded free spirits. As an added bonus, his inner thigh psoriasis is responding beautifully to all that sunshine. And I’m absolutely thrilled to have finally found a use for all those orphaned socks in the laundry basket!
Grandma, too, has found her “peeps” in the wild west. Upon arrival, it was for her the work of minutes to master the bus schedule and make a beeline for Haight-Ashbury, where she’s pretty sure she spent a blissful couple of years back in the Sixties.
You’d think an octogenarian with a walker might have trouble with the transfers, but the old girl says she’s “found a new spark.” We think the spark is her friend, Mr. M-dot Six, whom she met over at the senior drop-in center. It’s so sweet. Every week they take the Cannibis-Rex senior bus to Big Sur together and spend the afternoon chasing trails and chair dancing to the sweet sounds of yesteryear — bootleg Dead, the Airplane, the Stones. Apparently, Mr. Six has the lyrics to Panama Red tattooed on his back, which makes bus sing-alongs a whooping good time.
Between work and his five-hour round-trip commute each day, Mr. Slattern is busy, too. He’s finding the workers-first spirit of San Francisco a welcome change from the grind of New York’s rigid rules and regulations, and of course the six-hour work day is quite a boon. Between the city-mandated karma breaks and his drive time, he’s made real progress with his Kazakh language tapes. As he says, “With this family, you never know when a trip to a Central Asian non-extradition state may be necessary, and next time I want to know how to order a goddamned whiskey and something other than goat.” He’s such a panic.
Young Master Slattern seems be settling in despite the upheaval and detentions of the last few years. A real trooper, our boy is following his court-ordered technology ban to the letter, which made it much easier to refute last week’s loose talk and allegations about connections to the DPRK. Now, instead of working on computers, he spends his off-time at the local gym practicing the martial arts, something called UFC. I’m not sure what it is, but he tells us it’s a very spiritual, energy-focused multi-disciplinary sport. We’re just glad he’s found a new
obsession hobby. As an added bonus, his baby-fat love handles and computer-screen slouch are both things of the past. We are told the concussive damage passes quickly and is seldom cumulative, so it’s all good.
As you may have heard, our daughter decided to stay in Kazakhstan as Mrs. Nikolai Nikolaiovich, at least until the twins arrive. Last time we spoke, the newlyweds were planning to join us just as soon as the confusion about Nik’s status could be resolved with Homeland Security. Apparently, owing to some business with camels and rocket fuel, his name landed on a watch list, but he is sure it’s all a misunderstanding. What else is new for this family?
As for yours truly, I soldier on. The freeway noise, at first a constant sensory assault not unlike living in a running clothes dryer, has become, for me anyway, more like the sound of waves breaking on the shore, a kind of white noise with diesel fumes. It lulls me to sleep at night, and in the morning the jake brakes and air horns gently rouse me from my Ambien-induced slumber. The doctors out here are lovely and generally agree that my alopecia is most likely stress-induced and temporary. They seem to feel the bald spots on my head will start to fill in on their own as soon as the Lithium kicks in. The good news is, no need for another bout of residential treatment — or ECT — for your favorite slattern!
Once again, we wish all our friends and family (even the ones who no longer speak to us, or accept our calls, or send money) a happy and healthy holiday season. For those of you still in touch, we can best be reached at General Delivery, Daly City Post Office. Or through the Red Cross/Crescent. Happy New Year, everybody!
Greetings Slattern friends and family members!
Surprise, surprise, 2013 was (yet another) thrill-packed year for your favorite all-American family, the Slatterns! Although anyone who tunes in to HLN will already be familiar with some of the more sensational chapters of our story (where would Nancy Grace be without US this year?!), there’s more than that silly extradition business to fill you in on.
First the good news — and couldn’t we all use a little more of that? Owing to this year’s “recreational use” decriminalization statute, Grandma’s case was dismissed back in April before it ever went to trial. To tell you the truth, I think the Legal Aid lawyer was a little disappointed at not being able to try out the innovative “oldfluenza” defense he came up with, especially since this was going to be his first real case, but he perked right back up when Mr. Slattern pointed out that with all the “zero tolerance” policies at the assisted living facility, sooner or later the old girl is bound to run afoul of the law again. Next time she ends up in a holding cell, Grandma has promised that Counselor Schenkman will be her first call.
And speaking of involuntary confinement, Uncle Fred is finally back in the bosom of his family after that little misunderstanding at The Mustang Ranch in Nevada. Last summer, thinking he was headed for the dude ranch vacation he’d always dreamed of, our favorite “cowpoke” was more than a little surprised to find himself in a cathouse instead of a horse barn. Still, it was the work of a minute for him to rally the old Slattern spirit and go with the flow. By checkout time they had to use a crowbar to get him out of there. Literally, they chased him out the front door with one. Unfortunately, there was some additional unpleasantness about the bill, which included a long list of expensive “extras” that weren’t part of his package, but in the end management agreed to garnish his Social Security for the next fifteen years in exchange for his prompt and permanent departure. Thanks for all those get well soon wishes! We’re pleased to report that the doctors did finally find an antibiotic that worked. They say that the lesions should heal up eventually, and when they do, Uncle Fred’ll be as good as new.
As our cable-news viewing friends will know by now, young Master Slattern has become a real computer wiz. Although we’ve been advised not to make statements about his case, I can say that the allegations of his CIA database hacking and downloading, however sensational, are nowhere near the truth, and we are one hundred percent certain he will be cleared and our return to the US approved any day now. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that Khazakhstan really is lovely during the winter holidays, with all the snow and ice out on the steppes, and in the parking lots, and the hallways. And our hotel room.
After two weeks in country, we’ve already mastered a few essential phrases in Kazakh, and boy, do they come in handy. Roughly translated: I’m sorry, but we ‘re not in the market for a camel today; We may look like Uzbeks, but I assure you we are not; and of course, No, my daughter is NOT for sale. With the help of these and several other little cultural tricks, we find that daily life goes on much as it did in the good old US of A with meals to prepare, housework to do and extended visits to the various embassies, consulates and police precincts to negotiate our legal status.
Supplies are a bit scarce over here, but in the outdoor market, I find I can trade my Klonopin and Valium for almost anything, and Mr. S has even developed a taste for the national drink, fermented mare’s milk, which he claims goes well with Russian vodka (it’s cheaper than tonic water!). Most days he can be found comfortably settled on his pony-skin floor mats with gallon jugs of both by his side, listening to the Voice of America. He almost never cries anymore.
I’m finding the combination of a crushing load of stress plus the local goat-based diet has made it possible for me to lose that pesky twenty pounds, and owing to the lack of internet connectivity young Miss Slattern has traded her Facebook and BuzzFeed habits for daily instruction in kick-boxing at the local gimnasia. As an added bonus, she seems to be picking up some Russian from her trainer, Nikolai Nikolaiovich, who is also quite the fashion photographer and cossack-about-town!
And that, my friends, is all our news. We are looking forward to having the warrants lifted and returning home soon. In the meantime, all donations to the Slattern Family Legal Defense Fund are greatly appreciated. The good folks at WikiLeaks have assured us that, although donations are not tax deductible, they’re not remotely traceable either.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
Let’s beat the whole crazy season into submission by turning October, November and December into one long Euro-style holiday for the 99 percent!
Regular visitors to this yeasty, entirely overheated corner of the blogosphere by now will have noted my less than sunny views on the holiday season. Each year, Halloween ushers in the annual frenzy with a vodka and Twizzler orgy that more often than not ends with me climbing to the roof to burn Martha in effigy, inadvertently blowing up the portable bar or otherwise frightening the children. Soon after, Thanksgiving red-lines my culinary stress meter and pushes my frazzled psyche to the limits of sanity, so that by the time Christmas rolls around, I’ve been on a liquid diet so long I can no longer tell the difference between a Bloody Mary and a large gazpacho, and even if I could I wouldn’t care, as long as there’s enough Stoli for my soup. Then like clockwork, on January 2nd it’s back to Betty Ford.
Just as predictably, it seems to me, every year the holiday decorations go up a little earlier, the carols start a bit sooner, and the event horizon on my liver transplant slides ever closer. I know I am not wrong about this — the holiday creep, I mean.
And so it was with real horror that I encountered something very like this in the local bookstore. On October 30th. Owing to the unseasonably balmy weather, I was wearing sandals as I passed the festive display of holiday titles, which gave the experience a kind of surreal, even menacing quality.
Imagine if you will an average housewife on an average day. She enters the bookstore on a harmless birthday present-buying errand only to encounter a bewildering array of Christmas paraphernalia — in the month of October. Has she lost three months due to dissipated excess, is she merely a victim of overeager marketing, or are more sinister forces at work? Perhaps she has entered . . . the Holiday Zone.
Sends a shiver up your spine, does it not?
Well, it did mine. So as soon as my purchase was complete, I hightailed it toward home, only to encounter this in my neighborhood. Was it any wonder that, shaken and disoriented, I staggered into the local watering hole, which became a kind of sink hole, and eventually a black hole? At evening’s end, Mr. Slattern was somewhat less than pleased at being called to collect me, though he got over it eventually. Thank heaven the man is handy with a stomach pump.
Anyhow, now that my head has cleared and I’ve taken the pledge — again — my recent experiences have got me thinking, and I have come up with a heck of an idea. Let’s beat the whole crazy season into submission by turning October, November and December into one long Euro-style holiday for the 99 percent! Over the three months, we’ll all work about one day out of every five, as our Continental cousins appear to, while the one percent (retailers, marketing companies, advertisers) continue to clock-in as usual in a frantic effort to flog the decorations, specialty foods and gifts we can’t be bothered to shop for because we’re too busy lolling on the beach, sipping espresso in cafes and binge-viewing all five seasons of Fringe in one weekend.
Then instead of discrete holidays, we can just decorate for one. No more changing from jack o’lanterns to turkeys to Christmas trees or menorahs. Just throw it all up at once in October, and take it all down in January. Or never. What difference does it make? Think of all the time you’ll save. On October first you can festoon your Christmas tree with tiny pumpkins, dress your dancing Santa up as Dracula and fill your cornucopia with fake severed fingers. Spin your pentagram dreidel, stuff the Thanksgiving bird with leftover Charlestown Chews and Red Vines, bob for drumsticks, go caroling in your Pilgrim get-up. The possibilities are endless. See?
Because I am still (happily) in a malt beverage and Red Sox-induced delirium, the last thing I’m going to do is ruin an otherwise perfect October 31 with thoughts about my least favorite holiday. Instead, I’ll just recycle my standard Halloween post. The original, and still the best, folks.
Holy Mother of God, is it Halloween again? Already? How I could have missed this given the flurry of Martha Stewart Halloween hints that clutter up my email this time of year is a mystery. Perhaps it’s because this is the first year the little Slattern has not been home for the holiday, and as such the first year I have not had to make or even think about costumes. Anyways…in recognition of this, my least favorite holiday, I give you…drum roll please…last year’s post. Don’t be disappointed. It was a corker.
I hate Halloween. The costume hysteria, the sugar meltdown, the sugar coma, the instant weight gain, the toilet paper in the trees, the stink of scorched pumpkin innards, and that’s before we even begin to deal with the children.
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Merry Christmas everybody!
The holidays are once again, unavoidably upon us, and as you might expect, Christmas Eve finds me a tad behind schedule. As such (and because last year at this time I had approximately four regular readers) I’m going to go ahead and recycle 2011’s Christmas advice post. I hope you’ll all forgive me, but it’s nine am and already the stove is smoking, the tree is listing and I’m eyeing the Jameson’s bottle that’s dangerously close to my coffee cup. I’m afraid something fresh and new is completely out of the question at this point, and in truth, has been for some little time. So, for your skimming pleasure…..