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Medium Large Comic: The Medium Large Arrhythmic, Almost All-Encompassing Holiday Hymn

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 30, 2012

Every December at Vanderbilt Elementary School, the entire school (K-6th) would gather in the auditorium to sing Christmas songs and other holiday tunes (I still know “Burn Little Candles” by heart). Naturally it was a mostly overwhelming tone deaf affair, but to someone who has always loved Christmas it was one of the high points of the school year (being an almost catatonically shy kid, it was also one of my few happy school memories of public interaction).

Another plus was that we would get to keep our lyric sheets, which I would then bring home so my family could sing on Christmas Eve. We also had our own Christmas sheet music book, its pink cover with silver bells a still vivid holiday memory. And all this was accompanied by an electric organ my dad had purchased that none of us ever learned to play except for how to press the rhumba beat button, thus turning every Christmas carol into open mic night at the Buena Vista Social Club.

In addition to minimal musical abilities none of us could sing with the very notable exception of my mom, who had been classically trained and had a beautiful voice. My dad, however, had convinced himself despite all evidence and years of being greeted with pained, horrified expressions that he made Pavarotti sound like Tiny Tim. And so he would sing to the skies at a volume that caused air traffic to be redirected, reverted glass into sand and made the rest of us curl up in fetal balls in the desperate hope that attaining to a pre-birth state would somehow protect us all. Then Dad would finish singing, looking around at us squinting, gritting and writhing, and say, “I don’t get it. I have such an incredible singing voice! Plus, I can imitate anybody!” And thus we would be greeted with a Howard Cosell impression that lasted just a little longer than Howard Cosell himself.

My brother, on the other hand, knew he couldn’t sing but simply didn’t give a damn. He charged full battle into every song like he was going to slay everyone in Helm’s Deep simply by screaming “Deck the Halls.” Though one had to admire this indomitable spirit, this approach also meant one had repeatedly to endure sitting next to him on long car rides as he sang “Hotel California” in such a, uh, unique key that to this day I still think the line goes “STAAAA-AHHH-AAAAAAAB it WITH the-AIIIIR stee-LEEEEEEE KNIIIIIIIIIVES but THEY-AYYYYYYYY-AY ju-UST can’t KILL-ILL-ILLLLL the beeee–eeeeeeee—EEEEEEAAAAASSSSSTTTTTT!!!”

As for me it was one of the few times I could get out of my shell and so I was just happy to be singing with my family during my favorite holiday. And in the spirit of the holidays, my school’s sing-alongs, and my family’s (not including mom) atonal merriment, I present to you the Medium Large Arrhythmic, Almost All-Encompassing Holiday Hymn.

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It’s the Official–and Free– “I Could Pee on This” Gift Tags!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 29, 2012

Yes, give friends and family a curiously worded sentiment this holiday season with the official I Could Pee on This gift tags from Chronicle Books for you! Or your cat! Or someone you wish to spread good cheer, happy poems, and a nod to cat urine this holiday season! Just download them for free, paste them on your gifts, and wait to see what the dog does to all your presents.

Free gift tag download here!

Apparently There Has Been Some Sort of Feline Coup at Amazon

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 29, 2012

To quote The Simpsons: “It was a bloodless coup. All smothering.”

Charlie Brown: Holiday Pageant Director

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 29, 2012

For those who haven’t figured it out quite yet, my love for Charlie Brown and Christmas borders on a rather in-depth DSM-IV evaluation.

The Medium Large TV Holiday Special: O Christmas Tree, My Parents’ Christmas Tree (Interrupted with Classic Christmas Commercials)

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 28, 2012


NOTE: Yes, like all holiday specials this is indeed a rerun. But on the day of the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree it seemed like a good time to post it once more. Plus, to make it truly feel like a holiday TV special, I will occasionally interrupt your reading with classic Christmas commercials. Enjoy!

This weekend I was over to my parent’s house (and my childhood home) to help set up their Christmas tree (and extend the “Thanksgiving with family” period into marathon-like proportions). Although it wasn’t the same color-coded tree kit I grew up with (the Marciuliano folk often chose their evergreens from an artificial forest), the ornaments were the very ones I hung as a child, a teen, a college student and a visiting sporadically-employed adult.

The sheer familarity resulted in a bittersweet process, not only because the decorations recalled a time when the entire family was around to put the tree together (then gather in front of the RCA hearth and warming glow of a Rankin-Bass special) but also each ornament captured a particular Christmas or rite of passage that seems sadly to grow dimmer and dimmer until you hold the very material of those memories right in your hands.

So with your kind permission I would like to review a small sampling of these very ornaments, each their own holiday madeline cookie evoking a stream of self (indulgent) consciousness. Let’s start with clearly the most prized and esteemed festive bibelot of them all…

Yes, your eyes do not lie. That is indeed an exquisite egg carton compartment, delicately turned on its base and brought to perfection with a mere wash of vermilion, a dab of glitter and a pipe cleaner curved so faultlessly yet so effortlessly that one cannot help but wonder if this was brought to life not by a skilled artisan but by the very Son of God himself! Or you may think it’s the handiwork of a kindergarten student circa 1972, devised as a time-killer project by one Mrs. Sharf (who all the students quickly dubbed Mrs. Shark and despite in my mind having the menacing mien and temperment of a Margaret Hamilton was probably no more than 30 and simply slowly going insane spending the majority of her waking hours tending to 20 kids whose biggest accomplishment was almost getting their snowpants off before peeing). Either way, the fact that my parents have managed to keep this ornament in perfect condition (not to mention keep it all) is touching and telling to say the least.

We’ll be back after these words from our sponsor…

The next holiday bauble may seem at first glance to be simply one of many cartoon-related decorations that nowadays festoon store shelves…

But back in the late 70’s and early 80’s my brother, my mom and I were quite the Ziggy fans (I was quite the fan of most comics back then, devouring every strip in the New York Daily News Sunday supplement from Little Orphan Annie to Peanuts to Dick Tracy to such now-forgotten selections as Dondi, Motley’s Crew and Herman). When my mom saw the above ornament in our local supermarket, she not only knew it was the ideal addition to our tree but the start of a family tradition (rightfully believing that the year “1982” indicated this ornament was the first of an annual release). My mom bought two variations, one for Marcello and one for me, and promised to buy two new ones every year from then on out. Alas, although my mom looked high and low come 1983, there was no “second in the series” to be found, bringing to a quiet yet swift end what was hoped to be an ongoing, multigenrational family collection.

We’ll be back after these messages…

Now on the whole Marciulianos like to make more often than buy, and both my parents created numerous decorations for our tree, from the rather ornate…

To the comfortingly homespun:

But around 1973, they decided to start mixing it up…with mixed results. It began innocently enough during a trip to my cousins’ house in Cherry Hil when my family stopped at a small arts & craft store and picked up a collection of wooden, paint-by-numbers Christmas ornaments for a fun-filled, squeaky clean family project. Unfortunately, even though we all managed to say within the lines, the end result of our efforts was a psychotropic phantasmagoria that looked less likely to adorn a Christmas tree and more fitting perched on the shoulder of a piper at the gates of dawn…

Or starring as a “living credenza” character in Yellow Submarine

After these messages we’ll be right back…

This was followed in the mid-to-late 1970’s by what would soon be dubbed my mom’s “Bob Mackie” or “A Cher Christmas” phase, featuring cloth ornaments with more sequins than a Taiwanese drag queen and often in the shapes of such holiday standards as “American Shimmer Indian”…

Let us get a closer gander at the ornament’s sheer volume of “pizzazz,” shall we? Note how every pore of this proud native seems to say–if not scream–that he is going to boogie-oogie-oogie until he just can’t snort coke off the sternum of Bianca Jagger no more…

That happy fellow was soon joined by the traditional Christmas Peacock…

The customary Christmas Glitter Gator…

And something that is either a shiny holiday heart with bow or a sparkling beefsteak tomato.

Don’t change that channel, we’ll be right back…

But no ornament holds a greater place in our family’s heart than the oldest, purchased by my parents for the their very first Christmas tree as husband and wife. The very box for the ornament (still in mint condition) is the epitome of 1963 fashion and fancy (once you discount the curiously almost satanic number code on top), with a description that harkens back to a a time of unbridled optimism when man dreamed of a technological utopia where architecture was sleeker, transporation was faster and kitchens were better for his housebound wife…

That is, until you take out Santa on Stork…

With wings broken, a body held by the merest of fabric tendons and a St. Nick that can perhaps best be described as “bindle-less hobo,” Santa on Stork may appear to be less a relic of the golden “Jet Age” than an all-too powerful reminder to check in regularly on the elderly come the long, winter months. But despite all that (and a tendency to turn to dust upon touch or breeze), this Santa remains perched on his steed a full 44 years later, still ready and willing to careen through the Christmas Eve night air to deliver presents to all good boys and girls or merely slough off feathers, wires and perhaps a foot along the way.

Don’t go anywhere, there’s more after this…

Now over the many years and decades some of the above ornaments have fallen out of favor with our family and failed to make it to the tree (most notably the wooden and beaded). But this Christmas I declared that there would be no benchwarmers. Every ball, every figure, poorly-glued shredded paper thingy would get to shine in the LED light and hang with their brethren on the manufactured branch, from the tradional…

To the traditions sadly cut short…

To the solemn Santas…

And unorthodox Kringles…

The ornaments fashioned in pre-school…

In days of macrame and denim…

Or nights at Studio 54…

The questionable…

The eerie…

And the downright horrifying…

And last but certainly not least, our beloved but not-yet bereaved Jet-Age Santa on Stork, perched ever so carefully on a spray of branches and still prepared for takeoff, bum hip and all.

And so with all the ornaments hung carefully in place (and on every branch possible)…

We all sat down to celebrate with that Rankin-Bass classic, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, complete with the despicable Winter Warlock (“Please, call me Winter”).

And though our family Christmas evergreen may never possess the glitz and grandeur of its nearby big city cousin…

Frankly, I never thought it was a bad little tree.

So to you and yours, may the Christmas bells ring loud and clear this year…

May the stars shine brightly over your home…

May the snow fall gently on your white Christmas…

May we all finally experience some peace on Earth…

And may you receive visits, gifts and joy from the Jet-Age Santa for years and years to come.

Happy Holidays!

And one more for good luck…

Yes, Even More Deleted Scenes from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 28, 2012

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“I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats” is #3 on Amazon Best Sellers in Humor!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 27, 2012

‎Which of course makes it harder to follow it up with a collection of scathing essays written by cats. Oh well, so much for I Could Hack Up Your Political and Social Values and Other Critiques by Cats.

Bob Cratchit: Whiny Ingrate

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 27, 2012

As Christmas Day nears and the country still struggles financially on the precipice of a fiscal cliff, one’s mind turns to thoughts of A Christmas Carol, a holiday tale defined by hard economic times as symbolized by Scrooge’s poor, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit. Yet, upon looking at the story with fresh eyes and through the lens of today’s skyrocketing unemployment, one can’t help but find Cratchit a wholly unsympathetic–if not downright despicable–character.

Although Cratchit is known for his diffident nature in light of his unpleasant circumstances–taking life on the chin while he and his family get it up the ass–the reader can tell he hopes for a better future, one involving regular meals and perhaps names for the two of his six children who don’t have ones in the book. And, yes, on the surface this may seem a thoroughly admirable and acceptable outlook for the character. But does Bob really have it so bad? After all, this was Victorian England, where children were thought of as a potential substitute for coal and people were thrown into debtor’s prison for taking a penny but not leaving a penny. This was an era where factories would work employees 25 hours a day thanks to a glitch in Greenwich Mean Time and people were oft paid in metal dross, which could then be exchanged for a whipping. Women were perceived as chattel, children were considered office supplies and the working man was as expendable as the pandas factory owners would throw into the furnaces to fuel their elephant ivory polishing machines.

And during this horrible, hardscrabble time where the best the lower classes could hope for was Scarlet Syphilitic Cholera Disease, we have Mr. Bob Cractchit, who by comparison has the world hanging by a string of gold. To wit:

• Full-time employment
• Walking-distance commute
• Long working hours probably help him avoid city rush hour for Frankensteins, Draculas, Mr. Hydes, and whatever the hell else seemed to be wandering freely during 1800’s England
• Ready access to office stove
• Time off–with money!–for all of Christmas Day
• A job that asks nothing more from him than copying letters by hand without coughing blood on them due to “Victorian Sniffles,” otherwise known as TB
• His very name means “money” (“Bob” being another term of “shilling”)
• A long, loving relationship at a tim when most marriages ended early due to carriage-wheel ensnarement or one partner turning 30 and thus dropping dead
• Children at precisely the right age to toil in mills or–in the case of his eldest daughter–milliners.
• Owns a white comforter that doubles as both a bedspread and a sports coat!
• Lives in a small village that may have been the very definition of fetid hell in the mid-19th century but now looks absolutely charming on Christmas cards
• Has a roof over his head and either scattered thatch or tightly packed sod under his feet.
• They toast on Christmas, meaning spirits or at the very least some form of liquid is well within their economic means.
• The comforting sense that his financially unwieldy family of eight will soon be cut down to a far more manageable seven.

By all accounts Bob represents a flourishing “middle class” in Dickensian England, one where there’s a job waiting at day’s start and at least a 20% chance of living to see night’s close. And with a daughter working for a hat maker, a son about to earn a full five-and-a-half shillings a week for accepting his inescapable fate, and numerous other children who can probably engage in a crossover with Oliver Twist and making money pickpocketing, Mr. Cratchit is well on his way to a financially secure future.

So next time you read–or more likely, watch–A Christmas Carol (whether in live action, cartoon, Muppet, or 70’s sitcom “holiday episode” format), waste not a tear for “poor” Bob Cratchit. Instead, reflect on the audacity of a man who has it all and yet still feels wanting in life. Bob Cratchit, you truly are the whiny ingrate of English literature.

Medium Large Comic: Linus’s Unedited Speech from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 27, 2012

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Medium Large Comic: Monday, November 26, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 26, 2012

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