If you’re like me — not in the dipsomaniacal sense, but when it comes to holiday shopping, I mean — the annual ordeal of trolling overheated, overcrowded, over-illuminated shopping malls in an endless quest for that perfect gift for your nearest and dearest long ago lost its appeal. Especially since the authorities got all cranked up about people, and by that I mean me, driving after a cocktail or two.
So why not embrace the Slattern’s holiday strategy and click on over to Zazzle for slattern-themed gifts sure to please even the grouchiest, grinchiest folks on your gift list? Think about it! How much would your mother-in-law love a “Martha Stewart makes my ass ache” apron? Wouldn’t your Type A sister love sipping the morning jolt from a Kitchen Slattern mug or riding with pride courtesy of her Slattern bumpersticker? I thought so.
So save yourself a trip to hell and scoot on over to the Slattern gift shop. And have another Sazerac, why don’t you?
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?
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…..
Well hallelujah, it’s finally here: the epic, groundbreaking, life-changing movie version of Les Misérables. Yup, on Christmas Day we can all run off to the local movie palace to lose ourselves in three hours of emotional torment, armed conflict and theatrical scenery chewing, the like of which, we are told, has never before been captured on film.
Of course, those of us who are celebrating with our in-laws can experience all of the above (as well as the annual battle for the drumstick) live and in person from the comfort of our favorite barcalounger. This scenario offers the added bonus of support from the affable Mssrs. Jameson and Daniels as well as the distraction of roughly fifty bowl games to keep everybody occupied. The choice seems like a no brainer to me, unless of course between now and Christmas somebody opens up a movie theater with a full bar, but even then I’d have to sit through this dud of a movie, and make no mistake, despite all the overblown adjectives attached to it, that is most certainly what it will be.
In any case, Hollywood’s all atwitter at the imminent release of Les Misérables, the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical which is based on the English translation of the original French novel centering on the improbably named Jean Valjean. Back in college we referred to this kind of product as having been “stepped on” a bit too much, that is, bulked up with suspicious fillers that extended the quantity but diluted the impact of the original ingredient. I’m referring of course to meatloaf for those of you who spent your time in academia studying rather than “cooking” at every possible opportunity. But I digress.
I have sat through the endless promotional video for this exercise in adaptive re-use approximately one hundred times — in the run up to virtually every movie I’ve taken in over the past six years. As a result, I have already seen far more of said musical extravaganza than I ever wanted to. With a running time of four and a half minutes, the Les Misérables First Look video is utterly excruciating. The absolute nadir, the point at which I actually squirm in my seat and feel the need to avert my eyes (every. single. time.) is when Mr Sexy Wolverine earnestly explains the delivery of his soliloquy (“What have I done. What have I done? Sweet Jesus, what have I done?” etc.) in a scenery-chewing moment that showcases all of his acting chops all at once as he emotes and pants his way through three lines of lyrics/dialogue. Watch it at your own risk, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
The rest of the cast is similarly insufferable in their apparent conviction that filming a musical with real singing is second only to splitting the atom in the pantheon of human accomplishment. Director Tom Hooper, who inexplicably chose to follow up The King’s Speech with this mess, observes that there’s “something false about people singing to playback.” Listen Tom, you seem like a nice guy, but you’re an idiot. There’s something false about people randomly bursting into song in the middle of a conversation, backed up by a 70 piece orchestra. I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but there is no way any musical is ever going to be anything but affected and unbelievable, which is why I never watch them.
Then of course there’s the barbering of Anne Hathaway to be endured — I’m referring of course to her movie haircut rather than the unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. I suppose I’d probably sob my way through the filming too if I’d foolishly agreed to have my head shorn for a turkey like this. Really, not since GI Jane have so many locks been sacrificed for so little gain.
Today I read a review of the movie that, inadvertently, sums up my dislike for it.
It simply will not let up until you’ve Felt Something — powerfully and repeatedly — until you’ve touched the grime and smelled the squalor and cried a few tears of your own.
Haven’t we all Felt enough? Isn’t there ample squalor in my living room by four pm on Christmas Day? Why add more sobbing to the holidays?
And don’t you even think of singing your response.
Fill the larder and provision the pantry. Christmas is almost here and Hanukkah is already upon us. I’m assuming Kwanzaa is lurking out there as well, but have never been entirely clear on the dates for that. With all that peace, joy and love in the offing, as well as lots of holiday house guests preparing to infest your already Christmas-crap filled home, I thought this would be a good time to share some of the insights, tricks and tips I’ve gathered over the years to make your holidays as fun-filled and festive as my own.
Just kidding. Here’s the real story:
- Abandon hope. Do not expect the next ten days to be anything other than one long series of agonizing scenes punctuated by screaming arguments, uncomfortable silences, outrageous behavior and gluttonous overindulgence, ultimately giving way to hysteria-induced nervous prostration – unless of course you married into the Waltons or one of those goofy musical families, and I have my suspicions about what was going on up on that mountain. I mean really, John Boy?
- Lower your expectations. If on January 2, you are still alive and listed in the will, it’s a win. You can focus on dealing with the weight gain, cirrhosis and hair loss later. That’s why God invented residential treatment.
- Stock up now. Stuff your refrigerator and cupboard with as much food and drink as you can possibly manage. Hang up a “Self-Serve” sign on both.
- Hide all candles, matches, blow torches, Krazy Glue and lab equipment. If I need to explain why, you may want to consider booking your neuro-psych evaluation sooner rather than later.
Buy a stomach pump (assuming of course you don’t already have one) and write down the poison control number somewhere you can find it, like on the back of your hand with a sharpie. Again, self-explanatory. File it under better safe than medevac-ed.
- Make sure all insurance policies are paid up and in effect.
- And as always, stock the bar.
That should about do it. Any tips you’d care to share?