Inhuman Swill : Christmas

Le mot juiced

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I read the following essay, which appears in somewhat different form in the epilogue to The Accidental Terrorist, in the Essay Fiesta series at The Book Cellar in Chicago, on December 21, 2009.

There is no worse feeling than, five minutes after some unpleasant confrontation has left you tongue-tied, humiliated and confused, smacking yourself on the forehead and exclaiming, "Oh, my God! That's what I should have said!"

This is not that kind of a story. This is the story of how I once delivered the perfect rejoinder, in the moment, when it counted. I tell it not to demonstrate how smart, suave, or clever I am, but because it so rarely happens that way with me. In fact, this may be the only story of its kind I have.

This happened in December 2003, at a Christmas party my wife Laura and I threw at our apartment in Queens, New York. Our parties, if I do say so, were legendary, always with an interesting mix of people, and always with good booze, and plenty of it.

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Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas, everyone!

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The right to equal criticism

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If Bethlehem were Pompeii and Vesuvius spewed molten gold
The house on the corner is a goddamn nuisance.

Laura would probably put it like this: "Someone sure whacked them with the Christmas stick."

It's a big, beautiful house of tan brick, in the Prairie School–derived style that makes so many old Chicago houses so distinctive. We covet this house.

But the Christmas decorations—good lord. Not only is there a half-size crèche occupying half the front lawn, spotlit, but on top of that the whole house is covered in colored lights that flash in sync with the synthesized loop of carols blaring from the hidden speakers. When we walk past it at night, Ella skitters away from the place. I don't know how anyone inside, or even next door, can get any sleep. All together, it's seizure-inducing.

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A very merry Christmas

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A very merry Christmas

When a Christmas gift arrives late, even through no fault of the giver, it really should be, well, this. I have the best brother-in-law ever.

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Via Laura:

I Elfed myself.

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I love Christmas music, but "The Twelve Days of Christmas" can be pretty tedious to listen to. Especially so as an instrumental number, where each verse gets that much more repetitive than the previous one. Something you might want to think about.

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Via Laura, via A Whole Lotta Nothing:

Flickr's Christmas Easter egg: Add a note to your photo with text "ho ho ho hat," and Flickr draws a Santa hat on it. Add one that says "ho ho ho beard" and you get a long white beard.


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I've been working at my present job for two and a half years now—if you overlook a brief absence during the summer to recklessly pursue alternate employment, that is. After returning here in August, I fell quickly back into the old familiar habits. (In many ways, it felt as if my three months at Vindigo were a strange dream, from which I awakened to discover myself in an old changed world.) One of the habits I must recultivate is that of noting the found poetry every day on the A&E Biography sign.

When I leave the office and head south on Broadway, I see the electric sign atop a tall building somewhere in midtown. The sign offers a weather forecast and then announces the subject of that evening's Biography episode on A&E. Sometimes this results in startling poetry. Other times the effect is simply weird. Other times it's more matter-of-fact, like last evening's forecast:

I must keep notes more assiduously. Were I more cabalistic, I would study these notes religiously for clues to the underlying structure of the universe.

Speaking of Farrah Fawcett, I saw her up close nearly two years ago. I was hanging out at the annual Lincoln Center Xmas tree-lighting ceremony with my friend Geoff. We were there to see the Sesame Street Muppets perform, like the hundreds of other small children on the plaza, and to see two thirds of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Geoff and I were standing toward the back of the crowd, and I noticed a stunning older blonde woman walk past me. A few minutes later she walked past me again, going the other way. She looked fabulous, dressed simply but expensively in warm clothes.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Christmas category.

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