Edgar Heard the Bells, All Right
by Erin Abernethy,
with apologies to Mr. Longfellow and Mr. Poe
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
YA’LL HUSH FOR TWO MINUTES AND PLAY NICE!
AND QUIT MAKIN’ THE DOG PEE ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE!
Hear the loud alarum bells–
What a tale of terror, now their turbulency tells!
MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! HE TOOK MY FIRE TRUCK!
YOU PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW!
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.
WAH! WAH! WAAAHH! WAAAAHHHHH! WWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH!
HUSH, OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHIN’ TO CRY ABOUT!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
DADDY, SHE HIT ME! MAKE HER QUIT!
I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll’d along th’ unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.
SOMEBODY TAKE THE DAMN BATTERY OUT OF THE SMOKE DETECTOR!
IT GOES OFF EVERY TIME I OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire
MAMA, THE CENTERPIECE IS BURNIN’!
SISSY KNOCKED THE CANDLE OVER!
And in despair, I bow’d my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
YA’LL BETTER SETTLE DOWN RIGHT NOW OR AIN’T NONE OF YA GOIN’ TO THE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE WITH ME AN’ MAMMAW!
Oh, the bells, the bells, the bells!
What a tale their terror tells
IF YOU DON’T GET TO GO TO THE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE, SANTY CLAUS WON’T COME AN’ BABY JESUS WON’T LOVE YOU AND YOU’LL GO TO HELL!
“For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.”
MAMA SAYS YOU’RE GOIN’ TO HELL, SO THERE!
OPEN THE KITCHEN WINDOW AND CLEAR SOME OF THIS SMOKE OUT!
How they clang, and crash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
GRAMPAW SMELLS FUNNY, AND HE AIN’T SNORIN’. IS HE DEAD?
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
WHAT’S A SEIZURE? CAN I HAVE ONE TOO?
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a Runic sort of rhyme
I AIN’T TAKIN’ NONE OF YA’LL ANYWHERE WITH ME EVER AGAIN–
NOWHERE, NO WAY, NO HOW!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”
NOW HUSH AND SAY THE BLESSING!
HURRY UP BEFORE IT GETS COLD!
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
To the tolling of the bells
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.
AMEN. YA’LL DIG IN.
© Copyright 2004 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015.
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Winter Holiday Affective Disorder (WHAD)
by Patrick Redding & Rob Colfax
Memo to staff psychologists: please insert the following sheet into your copies of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). At this time of year, it is likely that you may see an increase in complaints of depression. Be aware of the diagnostic criteria for the specifier Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) as well as this new category, Winter Holiday Affective Disorder (or WHAD).
Criteria for Winter Holiday Affective Disorder (WHAD):
At least five of the following symptoms have been present over the majority of a two-week period, and represent a change from previous functioning. At least one of the symptoms is either (1) Winter holiday-related complaints or (2) general lack of jolliness.
NOTE: Do not include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition (for example, pregnancy) or delusions or hallucinations (for example, seeing dancing sugarplums during alcohol withdrawal).
1. Winter holiday-related complaints
2. Marked lack of jolliness and good will
3. Loss of interest in nearly all activities (do not include sitting in a stupor in front of the TV during football playoffs)
4. Significant weight gain or increase in appetite (especially cravings for “special” foods such as turkey, fudge, rum balls, etc.)
5. Insomnia (including sleeplessness due to carolers outside who just won’t shut up) or hypersomnia (including overdoses of tryptophan from excessive turkey consumption as well as repeated viewings of “Frosty the Snowman” reruns)
6. Psychomotor agitation (including twitching and “bite reflex” exhibited at the sight or sound of Salvation Army bell-ringers, but not including seizures due to those little chasing lights)
7. Repetitive vocalizations (such as “fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la” or “Ho ho ho!”)
8. Fatigue or loss of energy at the mention of weekend shopping at the mall
9. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt when unable to come up with “the perfect gift”
10. Discoloration of extremities (such as red nose – do not include redness due to excessive alcohol consumption from self-medication)
11. Paranoia, as evidenced by random vocalizations such as “He knows when you’re sleeping! He knows when you’re awake!”
12. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, particularly when changing lanes in downtown traffic
13. Recurrent homicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a homicide attempt (including attacking the mall Santa with a picket from the fence around the “Santaland” display) or a specific plan for committing homicide (do not include shooting at the neighbor’s plastic rooftop reindeer)
Statistics indicate that WHAD symptoms may be more apparent in individuals employed in retail occupations, but WHAD has been diagnosed over a widespread range of demographics.
In most cases, WHAD symptoms decrease significantly after 6-8 weeks, though flare-ups may continue until St. Patrick’s Day.
There is currently no treatment for WHAD, although symptoms may be alleviated by mild sedatives, antipsychotics, or a weekend in the Bahamas.
© Copyright 2003 by Patrick Redding & Rob Colfax. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015.
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The Narcissistic Parent’s 10-Point Guide for a Happy Thanksgiving
by Patrick Redding
[Author’s note: I trust our readers to be intelligent enough to know that this is satire and intended to be humorous. Although it’s not my intention to offend, it could happen. Sorry about that.]
1. Invite all the relatives you can possibly think of, no matter how long it’s been since you saw them. If you haven’t seen them since a funeral, be sure to mention that. Forget love and money; guilt’s what really makes the world go ’round!
2. Invite some other people too – church acquaintances, people you see occasionally at work, your mail carrier – whoever you can drag to the table. Thanksgiving is about sharing. If certain family members don’t seem keen on traditional clan gatherings anyway, having strangers there is sure to put everyone at ease!
3. When people offer to help cook, twist it around and ask them why they don’t like your cooking. If they offer to bring some fancy-pants special dish like cranberry-nut-almond-brussel-sprout stuffing, graciously accept their offer but again, make sure they know that you know they don’t like your cooking. Don’t worry if you sound offended. They’re family; they should understand!
4. If you know that certain individuals in your family have special dietary needs, such as diabetics or vegans, be sure to go out of your way to let them know how special you think they are. Take pains to assure them that you’re making dishes just for them; ask them for recipes if you have no idea what they can and can’t eat. If they feel self-conscious or think you’re being a condescending bitch, that’s really not your problem, is it?
5. Alcohol or no alcohol? It really doesn’t matter; the alcoholics are going to drink in their cars on the way over anyway. If you don’t drink, you can self-righteously criticize everyone who can’t get through a nice family meal without self-medicating. If you load up yourself, though, you have license to say and do pretty much whatever you want and not worry about apologizing later – not that you’d do that anyway, because you’re always right.
6. Before you eat, make everyone hold hands and say grace. You certainly don’t need to kowtow to the sensitivities of a couple of atheists or pagans in your family. After all, they embarrass you every year by not showing up for your church’s Easter programs or Christmas cantata. What would Jesus do? Jesus was a hippie! Don’t listen to that long-haired peace-and-love crackpot.
7. If you skip grace, you can still make people wish they were somewhere else by making everyone around the table take turns telling what they’re thankful for. You may want to skip this part if you have any children who have recently married someone you don’t like, as they’re likely to gush about how thankful they are for their loving spouse, and no one wants to hear that crap at the dinner table.
8. Even though other people’s lives aren’t nearly as interesting and fulfilling as your own, make certain you include everyone in dinner conversation, even if you don’t know much about what’s been going on with them. Surefire topics to start a spirited conversation might include the recent elections, your son’s “friend” and how much he reminds you of that Boy George fellow, your youngest daughter’s weight gain, your oldest daughter’s failure to produce grandchildren. After all, just because you’ve opened a can of cranberry sauce doesn’t mean you can’t open up a can of worms too!
9. After dinner, insist upon making up take-home plates of leftovers for each and every guest, especially the ones who didn’t seem to eat much. There are starving children in Ethiopia who’d be grateful for a good plate of food, and you shouldn’t be shy about pointing this out to the uncooperative little brats who are trying to slip out the door before you’re done with them!
10. Once everything’s done and your guests have managed to escape, take a moment for yourself to reflect on what a good person you are to provide such a loving family home for such undeserving little buggers. Take out pen and paper and dash off letters to let them know how disappointed you are that they seemed upset with you for no good reason. Don’t forget to mention how they embarrassed you in front of everyone by not helping out with dinner or laughing at your jokes. Make sure they know that attendance at Christmas is mandatory and you expect them to be on their best behavior!
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“Pete Rose” artwork © Copyright 1986 by Zengael. Shown here by permission of the artist.
Fall is upon us, and believe it or not, there are a good number of us who couldn’t care less about football. For us, it’s all about the leaves changing color – and, of course, the Major League Baseball playoffs. This year is especially exciting for us here at Gatewood because several of us are long-time Mets fans, and they’ve made the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Mind you, they haven’t won the World Series since 1986, so no one’s holding their breath or anything – but still, it makes the heart beat a little faster, puts a bit of bounce in the step, and makes some of us positively giddy. Baseball has a way of doing that to the people who love it.
We showed you Zengael’s fine rendering of Tom Seaver earlier this summer, and since the Mets clinched their division by winning in Cincinnati, we thought it might be a good time to share this one with you. No matter what your opinion on Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement, he was still an integral part of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” and one of the greatest players ever. Here’s Zengael’s chalk drawing of the man who once said he’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.
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10 Reasons You Should Watch Blindspot
by Johanna Rigby
While I swore I never wanted to write about TV again, or at least for a very long time, the Fall Season has come around with its grab-bag full of new shows. While most will be crap, I’m actually seeing a few that I think will be worth watching, so I may relent and share those with you when I find them. Blindspot is one such show.
I also feel the need to do this because most other people who write about TV seem to do so with an eye toward ratings and the entertainment industry, which is just not my thing. I don’t watch TV just to watch TV. I need something more from it (otherwise I’d be spending my time reading), and that’s why Gatewood runs these pieces. I believe that despite its most prevalent use as entertaining pap for the mindless masses, TV – like film – is capable of being artistic and thought-provoking.
The fact that networks will only give us high-quality shows if ratings are at a level they consider high enough shouldn’t make us despair; those levels vary greatly from one network to another, and networks’ requirements for “success” are arbitrary and capriciously subject to change. However, one thing remains constant: if no one watches it, they’ll replace it with something else. This is why I feel the need to let you know when something of quality turns up on my TV-radar.
Now, back to why you should watch Blindspot. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of the show, here’s the concept: a naked woman with amnesia is found in Times Square with her body covered in intricate tattoos. (If the phrase “naked amnesiac tattooed woman” isn’t sufficient to pique your attention, let me add “incredibly hot” to that.) The most prominent tattoo on her back is the name of an FBI agent, which, of course, gets the ball rolling, as they begin to analyze her tattoos and Jane Doe begins to rediscover her identity. So we’re talking about complex psychological issues plus enough standard crime-show procedural drama to allow the less discerning audience to feel comfortable.
“But I’ve got crosswords to do, dogs to walk, New Yorkers to read!” I hear you saying. “Why should I take an hour of my evening to watch a woman with amnesia tag along while dour FBI agents crash around chasing bad guys?”
I’m glad you asked. Here’s why:
1. Contrary to what many TV reviewers seemed to feel, Jane Doe does not come across as flat or without personality. That would certainly be a possibility with a lesser actress, but Jaimie Alexander does a fantastic job with bringing a fascinating character to life. Think Trinity from The Matrix trilogy meets Charly Baltimore from The Long Kiss Goodnight.
2. Amnesia is fascinating to those of us who don’t have it. We tend to romanticize it somewhat: a chance to start over, a new beginning, etc. But for anyone who looks at things from a neurological or psychological perspective, this is like catnip to kittens.
3. We need to let the networks know when they’ve done something worthy of our appreciation. NBC gave us The Blacklist, and that went well enough for them to take a chance on something like Blindspot rather than more of the same old mind-numbing lackluster crap. The best way to encourage them to give us more quality programming is by watching the good stuff so it gets the highest possible ratings. (Remember what happened with poor Kyle Killen’s excellent Awake when people thought it was too complicated for their little brains to enjoy?)
4. Some of you may enjoy Sullivan Stapleton as the aforementioned dour FBI agent. I found his character flat, but possibly that’s just an artistic pilot-episode choice in order to give room for us to get to know Jane Doe first. I’m willing to cut some slack on this because character development in pilot episodes is extremely difficult. It really is hard to do much more than scratch the surface in the first episode of a show. (For a classic example, look back at the first episode of Big Bang Theory and compare Season 1 Leonard to the Leonard of any recent episode.)
5. The procedural framework is balanced well against the amnesia/tattoo-map concept. These are two intertwining threads, each story moving the other forward. Neither takes over the show.
6. Marianne Jean-Baptiste is always a treat to watch, and her character here is no exception. She’s capable of showing highly complex situations with minimal screen time, and does so beautifully in the pilot. I certainly hope we see more of her during the series. I also hope the writers will allow her to continue to be more than a stock character of harried-supervisor-trying-to-rein-in-her-loose-cannon-agent.
7. The doctor actually sounds like a real human-being doctor. It would be easy to make up credible-sounding-but-inherently-flawed theories for him to expound upon, just to further the plot. And there may be some fast-and-loose “facts” created for him to utilize in his explanations, but it comes across as reasonable, plausible, and not unlike things your own doctor might say if insurance company constraints weren’t a factor.
8. The supporting cast is unobtrusive and mostly believable. Again, character development in a pilot episode is difficult – supporting characters especially so. There may not be much more to them than we already have, and that’s OK. I do think their resident tech geek is questionable, but that may because she just doesn’t seem quirky enough (yet) to be a tech geek. Again, these are supporting characters. It’s not a big deal if they never develop much more than this, provided the main characters can continue to pull off the story as brilliantly as they are so far.
9. We need to give the networks a reason to show us something besides “reality” programming. You’re probably not reading Gatewood if you watch a lot of “reality” TV, but if you’ve somehow stumbled here and truly believe that what you’re seeing on those shows is real, then I need to fix you up with my Nigerian half-brother who’s a professional wrestler.
10. Somewhat related to #3 and #9, when a network steps out of their comfort zone and goes against their typical programming to give us something amazing (I’m looking at you, USA Network, with that fantastic gem of a show Mr. Robot), we need to do whatever we can to support it if we want to keep it. Watch it, tell your friends, tweet it, announce to anyone who’ll listen that you’ve found something worth watching that has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss, singing lessons, or people making big fools of themselves just to be famous for being famous.
So there you have it. I’m definitely watching the next episode. If you missed the pilot, you can catch it on the NBC website here, where you can also read more about the show, characters, cast, etc. Blindspot airs on NBC, Mondays at 10:00 p.m.
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100% Pure Genuine Government B.S.!
by Erin Abernethy
[Editor’s note: Back in the early years of the 21st century, when George W. Bush was occupying the White House, Erin Abernethy kept a blog called “Brimstone Bites,” which consisted of equal parts political snark, overheard conversations, and general silliness. The blog was put on hold when she enrolled in her Advanced Statistical Analysis class, and it was taken down when a hacker turned it into some sort of bizarre real estate phishing scheme. However, some of her original posts were recovered, and we thought you’d enjoy seeing a few of them from time to time. Here’s a series that dates back to the days of the spinach contamination scare of September, 2006. – R.C.]
Need to Bury a Body Fast? Well, Too Bad.
And you know how long it takes to get a committee to agree on anything….
flea (‘flE) n. a small wingless bloodsucking insect
The government and most civil service agencies love acronyms. We’ve got the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, the DHS, the NSA, and you’ll need your ID and SSN or at least a PIN pretty much anywhere you go.
Considering all that, I find it interesting to note that in press releases and news stories, no one ever uses an acronym to abbreviate one of the lengthiest and most common phrases we hear today:
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
Exercise Leads to Weight Gain. Don’t Let Those Infomercials Fool You.
Overheard between a sporting goods associate and a very hefty guy shopping @ a local Wal-Mart:
Assoc.: So can I interest you in one of these exercise bikes today?
Hefty: Nope, I just need some fishing line.
Assoc.: Didn’t your wife say the doctor told you to lose some weight?
Hefty: Yep, that’s what she said.
Assoc.: You oughta get yourself one of them weight machines, start workin’ out.
Hefty: Nope, don’t think so.
Assoc.: Well, you ain’t gonna lose no weight fishin’, I can tell you that right now.
Hefty: No, but I can’t start workin’ out, because muscle weighs more than fat, see? I start workin’ out, next thing you know, I’m gainin’ weight. I can’t be buffin’ up an’ puttin’ on muscle if I’m supposed to lose weight. They don’t tell you that on them infomercials, that muscle weighs more than fat. They don’t want you to know that. They’re tryin’ to sell machines, see. How many you reckon they’d sell if they told everybody muscle weighs more than fat?
Drug Companies Are Evil.
Oh, you want proof? Fine.
Now you know. But hey, don’t let that ruin your buzz.
“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
“The great error of nearly all studies of war… has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics…”
100% Pure Genuine Plastic!
Does the word “luxurious” really belong in a description of a shower curtain?
For that matter, should the words “luxurious” and “vinyl” ever be allowed next to each other?
Bad Spinach: Christian Cow-Eating Government Plot?
I almost hesitated to post this one because I was sure no one would believe what I overheard some big bubba-boy in coveralls saying this morning in a local grocery store:
“You know, that spinach thing, it’s a government deal. Y’all remember how they used AIDS to try and get rid of the homos? See, they’re usin’ this e-co-lie spinach to get the vegetarians. Them vegans, you know, they’re the ones always causin’ trouble, wantin’ to save the owls and keep the ten commandments out of schools and all that kinda stuff. That’s why the government ain’t gettin’ in no hurry to figger out this spinach thing. They’re hopin’ the vegans’ll starve to death and then we can get on with business.”
© Copyright 2006 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2015.
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