Santa’s Big Red Ass

It was on a Christmas Eve, not so very long ago, that two lost souls found each other. One, a mythic man, larger than life, dressed in red, the other a simple ass.

In the mountains of Spain, a powerful winter storm kicked up, suddenly and without warning. Santa Claus, not one to fly willy nilly into whiteout conditions, landed his sleigh. According to the weather elves back at the North Pole, the storm would soon pass. He was running a little ahead of schedule, so he had the time to spare.

Bitterly cold, Santa poured himself a cup of hot apple cider from a spigot installed on the dashboard of his sleigh. Ordinarily he would have hot chocolate, but he had just completed his run in Germany, where thick cream accompanied the delicious cookies. He needed a break from dairy.

As he checked over the reindeer’s rigging, he heard a sad braying on the wind. Santa turned, and through the driving snow could just make out a small brown figure, shivering in the distance. Santa approached this figure with great strides, and soon towered over a pathetic little ass.

“Whoa ho ho,” he exclaimed. “This ass is freezing!” He scooped up the little fellow in one arm, and offered it a sip from his hot apple cider.

The ass sipped a little at first, but was soon greedily drinking up all he could.

“Slow down there, little guy!” said Santa. Santa held the ass up and looked him over. “You are a cute ass!” he exclaimed. Looking around, there was no sign of civilization. “Who would abandon an ass like you?” Santa cuddled the ass in his burly arms, and turned back to his sleigh. 

“Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen! Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen! We have company!” Santa made a little bed for the ass next to him. The ass settled into a big fluffy blanket. “This ass is exhausted! Let’s finish our rounds so we can take him home!”

And so Santa flew off into the night, delivering toys to little boys and girls, while his ass waited for him in the sleigh.

Mrs. Claus wasn’t too crazy about Santa bringing home a strange ass.

“Santa! Why would you bring your dirty ass in here!”

“Aw… he’s just a little ass, after all. And he’s freezing still! Here, put your hand on my ass!”

Mrs. Claus gave Santa a look, but did as requested. “My! Your ass is cold! Let’s get it close to the fire!”

They kept watch on the shivering little ass all night. No matter how hot the fire, how thick the blankets, nothing seemed to warm up Santa’s ass.

Suddenly, Santa had a brilliant idea. Remembering how the ass responded to hot apple cider, he fetched a piping hot bowl for the ass. The ass came to life, and started slurping up the delicious drink. 

Santa laughed, cheeks aglow. “That ass can’t get enough! I’m going to name him Cinnamon!”

And so he did. Months passed, and Santa’s little ass grew larger and larger. It must have been the hot apple cider, because while he grew he also changed colors! No longer was he small and brown. Santa’s ass was big and red!

Another Christmas came around, and to everyone’s dismay, the reindeer had all come down with a reindeer-specific strain of coronavirus. They were in no shape to pull Santa’s sleigh. At wit’s end, afraid he’d have to cancel Christmas, Santa suddenly had a brilliant thought.

“Cinnamon!” You see, asses are known for their ability to pull great weight. And an ass as big as Santa’s could surely pull his sleigh!

“Okay, Cinnamon,” said Santa. “I need you to do me a huge favor tonight. You see, all the good little boys and girls of the world are counting on me to deliver presents. Do you think you could pull Santa’s sleigh?”

Cinnamon lifted his chin and looked out across the starry sky. He knew that out there were hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of children counting on Santa. This was the moment for Santa’s ass to shine. Cinnamon looked Santa in the eye, and solemnly nodded his head.

“I’m going to put some magic reindeer flying powder in your hot apple cider. This is going to make it so you can fly.” Cinnamon drank deep, and instantly felt the magical charge shoot through him. “Let’s go make some children happy!”

And so Cinnamon pulled Santa’s sleigh that night, taking hot apple cider breaks to stay warm against the frigid cold. When they pulled back into the North Pole, all the elves were waiting to cheer. Even the reindeer, sick though they were, came out to beat their hooves on the ground in salute. Mrs. Claus held out Cinnamon’s favorite blanket. She was definitely going to pamper that ass tonight!

Santa scratched Cinnamon’s ears and gave him a kiss on the nose.

“You did a great job tonight. I’m so happy I found you last year! I may have rescued you, but you’ve returned the favor tonight!” For the first time Cinnamon could remember, he felt warm. Not because of blankets or hot apple cider, but because of a job well done.

And that’s the story of Santa’s big red ass.

Going All-In on David Pumpkins

David_S._Pumpkins_dance

I was slow to the David S. Pumpkins party. I haven’t really watched an episode of Saturday Night Live in at least a decade, finally succumbing to that stage of life where you find yourself tut-tutting, “the show isn’t as good as it used to be.” I don’t know these kids on SNL, and damn are they annoying. (I’ll be yelling at a cloud next.)

I was in a burlesque show with my wife, a tribute to the great Tom Hanks. All Tom Hanks-inspired acts. My wife and I did a little duet inspired by The ‘Burbs. This was one of the last shows we did in Los Angeles before the big move, in February, a decidedly un-Halloween time of year.

The last act of this particular show was typically an improvised striptease to a randomly chosen song. This time, they sprung David S. Pumpkins on the unsuspecting crowd. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how they pulled off a striptease version of David S. Pumpkins, and I’d hate to deny your imagination the chance to run with the concept. All I can say is, it was baffling and hilarious.

Naturally, the wife and I immediately searched out the clip of David S. Pumpkins from SNL. It was as baffling and hilarious as we could have hoped. Later that year, SNL broadcast the animated David S. Pumpkins special, and we were in stitches for days. Reviewers were not so kind to the special, but I sincerely hope it becomes a holiday staple. (Ironically, the chief complaint seemed to be that SNL went “all-in on David Pumpkins.”)

Mass-Produced Novelty

Why my devotion? Because David S. Pumpkins is the embodiment of everything wrong with Halloween. Whether intentional or not, Bobby Moynihan, Mikey Day, and Streeter Seidell created a scorching satire of the over-trendiness of Halloween. It’s always been a commercial holiday, at least as long as I’ve been alive, but sometime around the turn of the millennium, Halloween became truly manic.

Halloween became blowing out your house decorations with “Hollywood” special effects, sexy version of everything costumes, Spirit Halloween Stores popping up like toadstools after a rainstorm, and the haunted house mazes–MY GOD THE HAUNTED HOUSE MAZES!!!

And yet, with all the mania, there is a certain generic quality that has creeped in. I think it started before the 2000s. From the late 70s into the 80s, filmmakers gave us idiosyncratic icons of horror. Freddy Krueger, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Chucky, Killer Klowns. They had their own verisimilitude, and a commitment to high concept that sometimes defied any attempt at logic.

1996 rolled around, and Wes Craven, one of the great filmmakers of that movement towards whimsical horror gave us a new nightmare: Ghostface of Scream. A boogeyman born from an off-the-rack, unlicensed, generic halloween mask. Don’t get me wrong, it’s brilliant. Scream is brilliant. But, it heralded the place we find ourselves today, where the same person who begged their parents to help them make a dinosaur costume in the 80s can casually drop $60 at Walmart for an inflatable T-rex costume.

I hope this doesn’t come off as cynical. I do adore the absolute nonsense that lines the racks this time of year. I can browse a Spirit store for hours, marveling at the quality of the wares, and the assortment of costumes and props both licensed and clearly not licensed while obviously that thing from that show everyone knows. I also never get tired of sexy version of everything costumes.

As much as I adore the novelty, it’s a mass-produced novelty. Novelty in bulk. Penn Jillette once opined that “Halloween is for amateurs.” He’s not wrong. At the same time, “amateur” literally means “someone who does something for the love of it.” Love is good, and I would never look askance at those who are enjoying themselves.

The Spirit of Party City Halloween

I do reserve the right to find Halloween mania ridiculous, however, and in David S. Pumpkins, I have a new sort of idiosyncratic icon. This icon is born of the mass-produced novelty that has sanded off Halloween’s edge. He has no carefully crafted backstory. He’s his own thing, man. His motives are inscrutable. His sidekicks are “part of it.” He is the spirit of Party City Halloween.

Pumpkins and his two skeleton friends are as off-the-rack as you can get, like amateurish, postmodern descendants of Ghostface. They fully commit to the gag in a way reminiscent of the transcendent scenery-chewing you could rely on from Robert Englund. The anti-humor of Pumpkins is an echo of the absurdity of 80s comedy horror, from the Evil Dead flicks to Killer Klowns. By somehow bridging the gap between bespoke horror and mass-produced novelty, David S. Pumpkins is also the embodiment of everything right with Halloween.

He can be enjoyed ironically and unironically at the same time. It’s a joke we’re all in on– that might not actually be a joke. It’s ephemera of substance. A straightforward paradox. I’ve gone all-in on David Pumpkins.

Any questions?

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

And what would the New Year be without resolutions? Here are a few of mine:

On the weekends, wear nothing but one strategically placed sock, and run around yelling “Dobby has no master! Dobby is a free elf!”

Start pronouncing “Paul” like “Raul” and vice versa.

Float affirmation memes out into the world that neither make any sense nor are based on any personal experience.

SurfAngry

Whenever someone asks me my name, roll my eyes back and respond, “WE ARE LEGION.”

Occasionally fire up Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” on repeat and wash every dish in the house. Maybe shirtless. And wearing a headband.

Get the band back together. Offer to remove their gags if they promise not to scream.

Learn enough Klingon to get into trouble.

Worf

Put forth more of an effort in my structure of sentencing and grammar and seplling and stuff.

Dress up on laundry days.

Eat healthier. Like maybe start using my mouth again.