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The feasting has summarily been concluded and I have repaired to my room, far from relatives most fractious and grievances oft repeated to no avail except to sway Aunt Ecclesianne to dip once more into the sherry and regale even the most unseasoned family member what a total arse they be.
I had stepped not one manfoot into the repast quarters during the time of preparation when I was immediately struck with comments most thunderous about my unkempt head fur and demeanor quite displeasing. Our family—being all well recovered in health and having all things in quantities good and plenty—apparently could not keep close their fowl holes for even one damnable moment. Rather, they took to the occasion of my verbal lashing yet again with great practice and flourish, once more rekindling my passion for a native onslaught, great blaze or some warbler of alarming size to finally rid me of these blood fellows.
While I was instructed vigorously on how I was slicing most unwell the almonds for the greens, my valueless sister arrived, short in wanting to assist in our cooking endeavors but long in attributes of a canine feminine. She then took the moment to shine but on herself as was her want, introducing her new swain to relatives no doubt astounded that a woman of such cretinous demeanor could land a man without ammunition or rock most sharp. For his part, the man I readily surmised to be no greater possessed of intellect than the nuts I angrily cleaved. Yet within but a moment our feast had miraculously transformed into a celebration not of our great harvest but rather a fete in honor of two people who could not look less like that of God’s image if their hands were cloven.
Soon the relations not so immediate arrived, complaining of foot traffic unending and sharing long tales whose points even the great native scouts could not manage to uncover. Grandfather himself directly embarked once more into his yarn of how the very idea for the Frobisher Expedition had been vilely stolen from him, only rather than a Northwest Passage Grandfather stated he would have explored for “tobacco mermaids.”
Meanwhile, several of the nonmaleperson’s arms groaned heavily from the prepared meat they carried into our dwelling, notwithstanding my mother’s pleas that she was well in capacity to prepare the feast. Said nonmalepersons countered that guests oft like a selection—especially more than one lone pie—and not everyone takes to the singular aridness of my mother’s turkey. This put my mother in a humor most abominable, which my Aunt Benefice sought to allay by stating that this is why they really ought to have held the feast at her house instead.
I asked to be excused, fearing being confined with such persons would soon make me disembowel my feces and utter remarks untoward yet unerring, but even such a simple request was furiously denied. Alas, I was harshly instructed to set the manner of the table alone while all manguests sat before the large fireplace, preparing for an afternoon of watching whose pine cone would blaze in great, colorful glory.
After what seemed to this author an interminable era wherein I tried to make myself scarce whenever chance allowed—only to be utilized repeatedly as the beast of burden unassisted—the food was brought forth to the banquet surface. I had not one hand on a ladle of potatoes mashed when I was scolded for impertinence and told by my mother to proffer thanks.
“For what?” came fast my reply, only to receive a slap wholly sharp on the posterior of my head. Knowing that I had no choice in the endeavor and seeing this as my only moment to speak undeterred, I chose to educate my family most disagreeable with the atrocities they have brought upon not only the initial inhabitants of this land but on this very person.
“Oh Lord,” I commenced with great solemnity, giving not a soupcon of what was to come, “We thank you for allowing us to defile your earth with contemptible persons who want only for themselves and care not for their fellow man or creature. We thank you for the ammunition with which to blow asunder more animal than Noah himself could board, even if he dismantled and stored them in containers non-perishing for later utilization. We thank you for the arrival of my sister and her manfriend, whose very countenances surely makes His Lord question His own powers. We thank you for the wisdom of our parental folk, who sought to keep me from enjoying but a seventh a fortnight skiing with peers on Plymouth Inclines, rather imprisoning me here to toil at their unkind will while the most contemptible lot of individuals ever gathered not before a barrister or executioner gorged themselves on appetizers and imbibed great quaffs of ale as if the end were near and you Lord would only welcome the plumpest, most pickled, most execrable vermin to skitter into the gutters of thy kingdom. Amen.”
Sadly, I was not six words into my oration when great cries and several blood pressures rose from the table, seeking to shout me down only to be met with great failure. Great paternal Uncle Cotton was first to damn my good name, swearing that my absence of piety was no doubt grave indication of my maternal side’s deficient breeding. My mother’s father Cotton was swift to take umbrage at this assertion, declaring that Uncle Cotton could take nourishment from his manmember for as long as he sought to suppose such twaddle. That was when my Aunt Cotton, for reasons still unknown, thought it best to bring up the curious displacement of departed Great Grandmother Cotton’s china most fine, mere days before the reading of her will. My mother, locating great offense in this, took the occasion to mention to the gathered that Aunt Cotton’s daughter Impudence had been seen “plowing the field” with the Reverend Increase’s niece not two days ago. Said daughter, turning crimson as the harvest beet, then summarily countered that her brother Barrett had most recently acquired a stamp of ink fully permanent on his reaping arm, fashioned in the visage of a skull immolated. My detestable sister then wailed fiercely that everyone was churning gray clouds on what she took to be her, and hers alone, special day, whereupon I with tremendous skill hurled an acorn squash at her proboscis. Soon all family took to flinging pies at one another with violent force. And it was at that very moment, when the dining hall sky was thick with mincemeat and butternut, that my Aunt Ecclesianne stood up, swigged from the sherry bottle she no doubt stored most secretly in her garments, and bellowed “A pox on you all!” It was then that we learned that she had the devil’s pneumonia and soon, alas, we would as well.
I pray this be the last time we visit this holiday.
36 Years Ago Today the “Star Wars Holiday Special” Aired for the First and Last Time: A Ted Forth Celebration
Thirty-six years ago today—on November 17, 1978—the Star Wars Holiday Special aired for the very first and very last time. And while a single episode of Seinfeld managed to make a throwaway joke into the now almost universally-recognized celebration of Festivus, a two-hour special spin-off of the then most popular movie of all time failed to get even the most diehard fan to warble Carrie Fisher’s stoned carol in celebration of Life Day.
That is, except for one man.
For the past several years. every Friday right after Thanksgiving, Ted Forth has gathered friends and family around the TV to watch his bootleg copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Yes, Ted knows it is bad. Yes, Ted realizes the only saving grace is the Boba Fett cartoon, and that really is just in comparison to the rest of the televised debacle. Yes, Ted knows the entire special was written by Bruce Vilanch, the man responsible for The Donny & Marie Show, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, and every time you threw your shoe whenever a scripted joke was made during an Oscar telecast.
But despite all that, despite even the prequels and George Lucas himself, Ted Forth still believes in the magic of Star Wars. So sit back, relax, and watch Ted watch the Star Wars Holiday Special again and again over the years.
Tis the season to deck the halls and punch someone out on Black Friday, so enjoy it all by following Angry Santa Elf on Twitter!
Some moments in your life you can date to a precise moment because of a certain song you heard when it happened, because it was a personal milestone such as a birthday, or because the economic bedrock of Western civilization had just transformed into a cavernous sinkhole.
Which sounds like as a good of an introduction as any to discuss just how much I loved R.E.M. in college.
Until I went off to university my musical tastes consisted more or less of Motown (specifically The Four Tops and mostly thanks to my Dad playing oldies radio station WCBS in New York), whatever popular songs I actually liked or thought I should like, and The Ramones because my friend James and I always covered one of their songs on our Coach albums. Coach, of course, being the band we formed in junior high, originally consisting of James on clarinet and me on a drum set made up of a Duraflame box, a teapot filled with screws, and a Gunsmoke lunch box. James would immediately switch to electric guitar while I would eventually switch away from lunch box snares for fear of ruining their resale value. In the end we recorded 12 full albums—including a “Live” album featuring the audience from Cheap Trick at Budokan—all on eight-track tape and all featuring cover art I shamelessly copied from Atari 2600 video cartridge boxes. Needlessly to say, all of this will be revealed to be Ted Forth’s own backstory in an upcoming Christmas plot line, including how a band name that originally sounded sports-related now sounds to me like it was inspired by a luxury handbag.
But all this changed my sophomore year at Duke when I heard Lifes Rich Pageant. Now, any self-respecting diehard R.E.M. fan including myself (who started to peel away after Up but still believes New Adventures in Hi-Fi to be severely underrated) would tell you Lifes Rich Pageant was remarkably late to jump on the R.E.M. bandwagon. And it’s not like I was completely unaware of R.E.M. beforehand, thank to the rather steady rotation of “Can’t Get There from Here” on MTV. But from the very moment I first heard “Begin the Begin” kick in I was an instant fan. This immediately led to some serious backtracking as I bought up all the R.E.M. albums up until that moment, including the EP Chronic Town, whose entire track listing I tried to “Easter Egg” into a Sally Forth strip only to realize I couldn’t make “Gardening at Night”—one of my very favorite songs—fit into already surreal dialogue:
Which leads us to the mention of R.E.M. in today’s strip. Back in October 1987—specifically the weekend of Junior Year Fall Break October 17—20—a group of college friends and I rented a cabin (read: really house) in the North Carolina woods. By all accounts it was great vacation aside from my then disturbing inability to climb what I would then call a significant summit and now a moderate hill. (Although by the time we finally all managed to reach the top we were greeted by a happy little dog, who we nicknamed “Hillary” after Sir Edmund Hillary for his obviously pronounced scrambling and climbing skills, only to realize there were steps on the other side of the mountain.)
One day, while driving around the towns near the woods, some friends and I stopped into a record shop (as if the title of this post didn’t date this story enough), and it was there I made a wonderful discovery. It was limited edition. The graphic design reminded me of 1972 Topps baseball cards (the very best Topps baseball card year of all time). And it was my absolute music obsession. Thus, I made what I thought was a remarkably prudent investment and immediately purchased R.E.M.’s “Mudd Island, Memphis Tennessee” concert poster, which both hangs on my very apartment wall to this day and on Ted’s childhood bedroom in the first panel of today’s Sally Forth Sunday comic:
As mentioned, it was a indeed very enjoyable fall break. And so on Tuesday, October 20th, we headed back to school, the group split between two cars. One car went straight back. Ours stopped by a nearby dump to deposit our trash from the weekend, only to then realize the car would no longer start. (And for some reason I just now recalled that I used to carry my books—and apparently vacation clothes—in a Benneton drawstring bag, which is not something I say with anything resembling pride unless pride is the thing that makes you crawl in a hole until everyone in the world has walked by.) And so two of our friends—Tony and Charlie (Charlene) went off to find a phone to call for a help (this being way before cellphones but way after civilization had spread far enough that apparently shouting did not work). When they eventually returned we learned two things: 1) Tony and Charlie had come across a diner, wherein they placed a call only after they leisurely enjoyed some homemade blueberry pie and 2) Something apparently had happened just the day before, thanks to a newspaper they brought with them back from the diner.
Fortunately, some of us had already thought ahead and started diversifying our investment portfolio with concert posters.