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Happy Chanukah!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 21, 2011


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How to Be an Office Secret Santa without Becoming a Well-Known Cheap F*ck

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 20, 2011


It’s hard enough trying to come up with holiday gift ideas for your parents. (After all, unless your folks have a particular fixation—golf, cooking, a new pet they obsess over with a level attention usually reserved for flu-stricken infants—there’s really nothing you can get them that they won’t open up, study for a second and then say, “Oh, I didn’t even know there was a market for this.”) But deciding on a Secret Santa present for a random coworker, perhaps even one you’d rather give the plague than a $5 McDonalds holiday gift certificate? That requires a degree of finesse and careful politicking rarely seen outside of SALT treaties.

Be too specific in your selection (say, telephoto snapshots of the looker in Sales Development leaving her apartment) and you may reveal a character trait your coworker is not yet willing to share in public. Be too vague (say, $10 in loose change, minus quarters for the laundry machine) and your coworker may wonder how you can know so little about a person who has not only sat next to you for eight ears but organized every single office birthday party thrown in your honor. Furthermore, fool yourself into thinking, “It’s the thought that counts” when choosing a present and the consequences are bound to be dire. That’s because we’re talking about the office, not a toy drive, and business is nothing if not about money. So while your final purchase will obviously depend on both your personal budget and your professional standing, best to spend what you can rather than what you actually desire. You’d be surprised at the yawning gap between the two options.

Still at a loss as to what to get? Then take a look at the following Secret Santa Dos and Don’ts. They may not provide you with all the answers but they may prevent you from asking any questions like, “I wonder if my coworker likes collectible miniature representations of mid-20th century furniture as much as I do.”

Secret Santa Dos:
• Gift Certificate: The plus side to giving a gift certificate is that it ensures the recipient will be able to find themselves something nice, even if you obviously couldn’t be bothered to scan a store shelf for five lousy minutes. The downside is that—desperate application of White Out aside—there’s no hiding how much you chose to spend on your fellow employee. Sure, everybody loves Target, but not everyone goes there specifically to purchase a single candy bar. So to make sure your certificate seems more like a gift and less like a fancy coupon, try to choose a dollar amount that at least indicates you had to make a trip to the ATM before you picked it up.
• Gift Basket: A gift basket is like a more thoughtful gift certificate. That’s because instead of just pointing your coworker to some store and saying, “I trust you know where they keep the shopping carts” you can present them with a selection of hand-picked goodies that say, “If nothing else, you can use the basket when weeding.” Besides, as opposed to purchasing a single present, a gift basket greatly increases your “hit-or-miss” ratio since the recipient is bound to like at least one of the items, if for no other reason than the fact that everybody enjoys a nice sesame cracker from time to time.
• Entertainment: Music and movies make great presents, as long as you keep in mind that you want to get your coworker something they’ll actually like, not something you believe they are less of a person for having missed. This is not the time to introduce them to the spiritually instructive Christian rap of “MC JC” or a harrowing cinematic expose of humanity’s basest nature like The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. They call it a “present” for a reason—because people actually want to be there when they open their gift, not wish they had fled to the hills the moment they undid the wrapping. Plus, some CDs are called “popular music” and some DVDs called “blockbuster films” because most people genuinely like them. So avoid any recordings featuring tracks listed in Latin or any film featuring the blurb “Klaus Kinski in the most gut-wrenching performance of his career” and you’ll do just fine.

Secret Santa Don’ts:
• Flowers: Unless delivered to a hospital room or given shortly after the passing of a loved one, the gift of flowers says one thing and one thing only—“I’ve been watching you and I likes what I sees.” Sure, you can stress how you chose yellow roses over red or how you thought they could use the vase afterwards. But unless you want to give everyone else in the company the truly cherished gift of office gossip, best to invest your cash in something a tad less controversial…like, say, a photo of your naked ass.
• Clothes: No one likes getting the gift of clothes from relatives. So why on earth would they want to get a sweater from the guy in Accounting? One’s wardrobe is a very personal statement and few long to take sartorial suggestions from staff members they can’t even stand getting emails from. Besides, when given as a gift, clothes have a tendency of saying one of two things, neither particularly pleasant—“I think it’s about time you wore something decent to the office” or, far more disturbing, “I want to dress you.”
• A Donation Made in Their Name: Nothing says, “screwed on the holidays” like opening up a card only to read “A donation of $__ has been made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in your honor.” Is a dying child far more deserving of a gift this holiday season than a healthy, employed adult? Of course! Deep inside does that healthy, employed adult know this to be true? Certainly! Will that healthy, employed adult immediately demand back the Wii they gave you this year? Without a doubt! That’s because people like tangible gifts. Even a gift certificate promises sooner or later that person will be holding something between their grubby little hands. But a donation? How do you put your hands around that?!? Yes, the holidays are a time to think about others, but many people take that to mean others should be thinking about them. So make a donation to your favorite charity either anonymously or in your own name and get your coworker a gift certificate to Starbucks. After all, do you really want to go through all of January hearing the person in the next cubicle constantly mutter, “What if the kid croaked before the check cleared? Then no one made out this Christmas!”

Finally, don’t fret. Some coworkers are just happy to get a present. Others would complain if your donated kidney fits too snuggly in their body. Just buy something, wrap it and hand it over with a tight, forced smile. After all, it’ll be great practice for when you have to go through the whole procedure all over again with your family in less than two weeks.

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Ted Forth’s Guide to Long-Forgotten Holiday Specials

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 19, 2011

Much like a recently orphaned nine-year-old who is left not only to look after his younger siblings but also the day-to-day operations of Exxon Mobil, Christmas Day has far too much riding on it for just one holiday. Marketers need Christmas to succeed on a financial level because Kwanzaa has yet to live up to its promise as a cash cow. Parents need Christmas to succeed on an emotional level if only to prove that the family can occasionally be a focal point for love and giving, not just during televised wife swaps. And children need Christmas to succeed because, well, if some poor kid in a manger could score both frankincense and myrrh the very least today’s kid should expect is a Nintendo 3DS.

But for Ted Forth he only needs Christmas to succeed on a family entertainment level. And now thanks to Netflix and YouTube, not only can we repeatedly enjoy such accomplished and acclaimed holiday chestnuts as The Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Santa Claus in Coming to Town but also such little-known and rarely-aired programs like:

A Q*Bert Christmas
Straight from the 1980’s—when arcade game characters such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong appeared on everything from cartoons to Sunday TV political roundtable discussions—comes this confused retelling of “The Gift of the Magi” in which the mute title character sells his favorite watch only to wind up evading coiled snakes on a multi-colored pyramid in the dark, foreboding abyss. But what the special loses in regards to O. Henry’s poignant storytelling flair and bittersweet sense of irony it more than makes up for with a cataclysmic ending straight from the “Game Over” sequence in “Missile Command.”

Frosty the Businessman
Everybody’s favorite gelid jolly man returns yet again, this time in search of regular employment and a credit history. Thanks to the impressive networking skills of the now-grown and successful venture capitalist Karen from the first cartoon, Frosty is soon up to his eyeballs in mind-numbing hedge fund activism, corporate raiding, “poison pill” boardroom defenses and SEC inquiries, all culminating in an exhaustively detailed proxy fight set to the catchy holiday ditty “ValueAct Capital LP vs. Acxiom Corp.” While parents may find themselves at a loss to explain the mechanics of “chastity loans” and “standstill agreements” to their thoroughly dumbfounded children, working adults everywhere will no doubt will be tapping their toes to a percussive score that perfectly captures Frosty’s celebrated joie de vivre slowly being drummed out of existence by the relentless beat of corporate life.

Donny the Dreidel Saves Ramadan in Time for St. Nick–A Multicultural Holiday Special
Good intentions beget grave consequences in an all-inclusive program from 2000 that not only manages to inadvertently insult three of the world’s major religions but also features Kelly Ripa and a clearly uncomfortable Elie Wiesel performing a duet of “O Holy Night” to klezmer music.

A Quotidian Christmas
Mom heads back to the stationary store after people she had long written off as friends send her a Christmas card. Dad begrudgingly realizes that apparently no one else can be bothered to go shopping for gifts he can give his wife. A coworker decides the office holiday party is the perfect occasion to showcase their lightening celerity with alcohol consumption. An in-law concludes that this year the entire family is going to celebrate the holidays her way. A child’s greed is once more overindulged, resulting in low self-esteem and crippling dissatisfaction later in life. A sibling goes ballistic over the proper placement of dessert forks. No one waters the tree.

Girls Gone Wild Christmas Carol
Ebenezer Scrooge is a despicable old miser with a heart as warm as a dying ember and a life as cold as the thin gruel he dines on nightly. That is until one Christmas Eve when he’s visited by wave after wave of nubile college girls just dying to flash their funbags for the camera and your holiday cheer. Watch Ebenezer’s unexpected guests jingle their bells and check out the boughs on Holly as these fun-loving freshmen doff their tees and drink until their hearts are pumping Cuervo Gold. This is your chance to re-experience a festive favorite or just spot your daughter gyrating topless to Nelly. Also of note: “Girls Gone Wild Meet Oliver Twist,” in which a poor orphan is forced to eke out a pitiful existence as a street urchin…until he’s picked up by a Range Rover packed with 15 of the most stacked sophomores ever to appear outside of a Russ Meyer film.

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Medium Large Christmas Flashbacks

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 19, 2011


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20 Rejected Holiday Cards

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 16, 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to find just the right words to express how you’re feeling during the holidays. Sometimes you shouldn’t say the following.



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Medium Large Christmas Flashback: “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 16, 2011


The Seventies were an odd time for television. For the most part the broadcast landscape was still in the hands of an entertainment “old guard” who asserted their control through constant variety shows, Match Game PM appearances and especially the type of personality-driven Christmas specials that have long since disappeared from prime time schedules but then kept reminding people of the white-hot start power of guests like Elke Sommer.

However, some of these elder TV statesmen understood that they were in danger of becoming marginalized due to an increasing “youth market.” (A “youth market” they thought they had already satisfied by letting whippersnappers Room 222 and Mod Squad on the air, as well as showing the occasional longhair shoot up–or get shot–on Dragnet.) This certainly was the issue Bing Crosby faced as he prepared to film what would prove to be his final Christmas special (airing November 1977, a month after his passing). Though his recording of “White Christmas” was–and still is–the best-selling single of all time, he knew that to remain a vital entertainment commodity he had to prove he was “hep” or “jive” whatever the hell he thought kids said back in the mid-70’s. To ensure his special would reach an audience wider than those who remember bringing their kids to see The Bells of St. Mary’s, he realized he had to appear with someone who at the very least was born after The Battle of Guadalcana.

Enter David Bowie. Like Bing, Bowie was at the time experiencing his own public image issues (public image issues that would only get worse for Bing after his death). After confounding and alarming parents with his extraterrestrial Ziggy Stardust and coked-up cabaret Thin White Duke personas, Bowie further complicated matters by saying “Britain could benefit from a Fascist leader” and appearing at London’s Victoria Station in an open-top Mercedes giving what many thought was a Nazi salute (a thought understandable given the Bowie had just been detained on the Polish border for having Nazi paraphernalia). Many of these weird actions could be attributed to the fact that he was snorting mounds of coke through any orifice he could find, resulting in a severe identity crisis and the belief that he could bring Kraftwerk-style music to the American pop charts. In short, Bowie needed to do something, anything, that would make him seem like a normal human being–or at least a human being–to viewers everywhere.

And so Bing and Bowie met on soundstage in 1977 in a variety show musical number that like so many before them had to be shoehorned into a framing device, this one being Bing housesitting the castle of one unseen “Sir Percival.” As Bing wanders aimlessly around the set Bowie suddenly knocks on the door saying Percival said he could use his piano, since apparently few rich, famous musicians back then owned their own instruments. The two then have a little awkward banter as Bing makes a wink-wink knock on his own age and Bowie makes sure he mentions he has a son to quell those wondering if his kind can procreate. Soon the two find themselves at what one is led to assume is the only piano in Great Britain (and which neither play despite the sudden appearance of music). And so with Bowie clearly thinking, “Hopefully this will make me mum happy” and Bing thinking, “Who the fuck invited the Beatle?” the two join together to sing a reworked, counterpoint version of “The Little Drummer Boy” that allowed both to have their moment. And the end result is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

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Medium Large Comic: Friday, December 16, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 16, 2011


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6 Very, Very Unique (REAL) Holiday Traditions

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 16, 2011

Red-nosed reindeer. Talking snowman. Cyber Monday. The holidays are full of odd traditions. But some really do stand head and shoulders above the rest.

See all the merry madness of the world at Smosh. Thanks!

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Deleted Scenes from “The Star Wars Holiday Special”

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 15, 2011


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How to Survive Your Office’s Holiday Party with Your Dignity Intact, Your Job Still Secure and Your Fool Mouth Shut

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 15, 2011


‘Tis the season to spread good will. ‘Tis also the season to spread the flu. And somewhere in between ‘tis the season to attend your company’s annual holiday office party, a nondenominational, often nonsensical affair in which staff and supervisors come together to exchange such heartwarming remarks as “Is that gouda or cheddar on the buffet table?” “Get me a glass of red” and “You work for me, don’t you?”

I’ve attended my fair share of such festive gatherings—from opulent Bacchanalian soirees replete with full orchestras, multiple carving stations, make-your-own sundae bars, sushi chefs, animatronic ice sculptures, high-wire acts, personal massages and the vague sensation that the open bar is in lieu of any Christmas bonus, to smaller scale events consisting of a single Entenmanns’ Danish Coffee Ring and multiple admonishments to quickly get back to work—each indicative of how business has fared that year.

But no matter if your company goes all out this holiday season—or just goes out for a Taco Bell run—make certain to review and remember the following crucial office party guidelines. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to show your face in the office the following morning without having your coworkers say, “Well at least you’re not showing us your ass again like you did last night”?

1. For the love of God, do not hit the dance floor: With the exception of concerts, people usually dance for one of two reasons: because their significant other asked them to or because they wish not only to bust a move but also put a move on someone, often in the form of rhythmic thrusting. And since many office parties don’t allow you to bring a date and most offices frown on public displays of erection, there really is no reason for you to show your inability to follow even a simple bass line. In fact, all you’re likely to get for your efforts is a little sweaty and a lot of stares. So before you make your way to the dance floor with drink in hand and pride in absentia, think twice. After all, just because the gin is free doesn’t mean flailing like a drowning victim to the tune of “Hey Ya” in front of your entire department won’t come at a steep price.

2. Drink until you have a good buzz but before you have a great idea: Ever noticed how many “brilliant” ideas arise when you’re drinking with friends. Ideas such as, “Hey, hey, hey…shut up! I’m trying to…I’m trying to say something important, guys. Guys? Guys! Will you listen? I just had a great idea. A really great idea. What if we…get this…what if we all quit our jobs and open up an ice cream parlor that serves nothing but vanilla? We can call it ‘Whitey’s’!” And have you ever noticed how the very next morning you thank God no one had the presence of mind to draw up a contract or tell their supervisor to go to hell? In short, what may sound like a statement of pure genius after six vodka tonics will certainly seem less so after eight hours of sleep. So to ensure you don’t go into exhaustive detail with your CEO about your idea to telecommute through Ouija boards—complete with schematics hastily drawn on most of a cocktail napkin and some of the bar top—know your alcohol intake limit. You may not remember who you talked to the next day but there’s a good chance you wrote your name on your boss’ tie so he’d never forget.

3. Make sure you’re seen but not remembered: When attending an office party, it’s important that your supervisor, the vice-presidents and the chairman know you knew to show up. Make the rounds, thank the senior members for arranging the affair (then thank their assistants for actually putting it together), joke with a few coworkers, have a few drinks and appetizers and then get the hell out of there. After all, the point is to make your presence known, not your actions recalled. Better your department head ask, “Did you have fun last night?” than “Did you tie one on last night or what?!?” That’s because while people may have trouble placing names or recognizing faces, they can always point out the person who screamed over the DJ’s speakers “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!” And they will always, always talk about it. In other words, be the minor footnote of your company’s party, not an entire sad chapter in your company’s history.

4. Nibble for the night, don’t store for the winter: For many younger employees, the holiday office party may be the first time in ages they’ve had a meal that did not come with the instructions “For best results, cook until raman noodles are al dente.” Even the more established coworkers may see the spread and think, “They took 50 hours a week away from me, I’m taking the fucking lobster roll tray away from them!” But this is a professional affair and some social decorum must come into play. While you certainly should help yourself to the buffet table, don’t take so much food that people will wonder if you have family members waiting just outside the exit door or a tapeworm residing somewhere in your lower intestine. Don’t try to maintain a conversation with senior executives between bites of a chicken/smoked turkey/honey-glazed ham/lasagna/Chilean sea bass/chocolate truffles sandwich. And don’t walk around with two or more plates piled high with hors d’eurves unless you’re planning on making a run for an idling cab. Eat sensibly, maintain a reserved demeanor and never, ever say, “Give me four more just like that” when the cater-waiter cuts you a slice of raspberry cheesecake.

5. Should all else fail, seize the moment: Sometimes despite your best efforts, everything just goes to hell. You stop at one glass of wine, you avoid food with red sauce, you make eye contact with all department managers and still one verbal or physical slip can bring the whole evening crashing down around you. People stare wide-eyed, comments are muttered, supervisors shake their heads in disgust, all while you keep trying to make it known that what you actually said was, “Please pass the peanuts.” When this happens, you have no recourse but to forsake decorum, forfeit shame, forget you still have several boxes of personal belongings in your cubicle and just tear into everyone like a hobo into can of beans. Name names. Highlight faults. Reveal secrets. Keep pointing fingers, keep badmouthing, keep uttering one slanderous remark after another until everyone either shares your pain or is calling for your immediate dismissal. You may not have a job to go back to, you may not even have a career to salvage but you will have the memory of that one great day you weren’t afraid to tell it like it is, to finally speak your mind to your so-called superiors and to run out the fire exit, sirens blaring, with dessert cart in tow.

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