VOL. 3 - ISSUE 16
Czech towns deploy cardboard police in miniskirts
BLITZ News Shorts Hollywood Profile/Movie Review Music: Menomena’s New Album Stars News Mavs News Cowboys News Redskins vs. Cowboys Preview COVER STORY: 2010 Holiday Gift Guide Christmas Video Game Reviews Christmas For The Filthy Rich Christmas Gifts For Yourself Christmas Gifts For Your Girl BLITZ BABE: Sheena The Don’ts and Do’s For Your Girl Big Pharma Has A Great Fall Modern Dating Santa Takes Back The Holidays Blitz Toys Blitz Food: Flying Fish Crossword / Jokes / Horrorscopes Last Call: Christmas Episodes
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PUBLISHER Kelly G. Reed EDITOR Jeff Putnam CREATIVE DIRECTOR / WEBSITE / GRAPHIC DESIGN Damien William Mayfield COVER Cover Photography: Darryl Briggs Model: Diana Yvette Cover Design: Damien William Mayfield STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Darryl Briggs, Gregg Case, Nathaniel Chadwick, Steven Hendrix, Matt Pearce, Jason Ryan, Ed Westerman CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Yu-Ping Chen, Jay Cutler, Aaron Escobar, Manny Flores, Greefus Groinks, Shawn Lea, Joshua Massel, Chrys Omori, Derek Ramsey, Wigstruck STAFF WRITERS Tony Barone, Geoff Case, Sam Chase, Vivian Fullerlove, Robin George, Frank LaCosta, Pat Moran, Richard S. Pollak and Jesse Whitman CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Joe Avezzano, Jay Betsill, Bronte Erwin, Dennis Hambright, Andrew J. Hewett, Brad LaCour, Joe Lorenzini, H. Todd J. Moore, Gilbert J. Moses, Jr., Tennessee Chris CONTACT US MAIN NUMBER 214-529-7370 FAX NUMBER 972-960-8618 email@example.com
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, wouldn’t it be a Merry Christmas?” – Don Meredith
Authorities say that life-sized cardboards of female police officers in miniskirts placed alongside roads have managed to slow down speeding drivers in several central Czech towns. The mayor of the town of Mrakotin, Miroslav Pozar, said Thursday drivers, including him, automatically slow down when they see such officers. Pozar dismissed allegations this was because the drivers want to look at the officer’s legs, rather than her uniform. In nearby Myslotin, a local radio recently provided a hat and an anorak to help such officer get warm, but they were stolen in a day. Others made away with the cardboard officer itself.
Andrew J. Hewett
A CRIMINAL GIMMICK
On Dec. 7, 2010 national news services reported that Vitaly Borker, 34, the Brooklyn, New York, website operator of www.DecoreMyEyes.com had been arrested and ordered held without bond. To force sales of his counterfeit and inferior products, Borker “encouraged them (the buyers he swindled) to complain online to boost his Internet ranking and drive customers his way.” U.S. Attorney Danya Perry described Borker as the messenger for “absolutely unspeakable and bone-chilling” threats that frightened customers from around the world.
Ga. college instructor stripped in class
Students in a Kennesaw State University business class got an anatomy lesson. Campus police say a part-time instructor took his clothes off while teaching a class at the suburban Atlanta college late last month. Police arrested 57-year-old Raymond Devaughn Taylor of Kennesaw on Monday and charged him with public indecency after a student reported what happened to university officials. Taylor was released from jail Tuesday on $5,000 bond. A woman who answered the phone at Taylor’s home Wednesday declined comment and said the instructor wasn’t interested in talking. University officials said Taylor, who worked in Kennesaw State University’s business department on a contract basis, will no longer teach at the college.
BIG BUCKS BOO-BOO
3 Oregon deer attack and injure barking dog
A Bend, Ore., woman says three deer attacked her barking dog and left the pet with head wounds and a punctured chest, but she’s expected to make a full recovery. Tiffany Rounds says she often sees deer in central Oregon but never had them in her backyard before Thursday. Her small dog, Daisy, clearly thought it was inappropriate and went flying out the door, barking. Rounds told KTVZ on Monday that the six-point buck and two does started beating the dog with their hooves and then the buck tried to get her with his antlers. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Steven George says even if it’s a domesticated dog, deer react to a predator that could hurt or even kill them, so they’ll be defensive.
Just after Thanksgiving 2010, the U.S. Government’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing admitted they’d printed 1.1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) $100 bills with unwanted creases, meaning “some,” maybe “many,” would be destroyed. (Also, an unrelated fact: As of 12-7-10, 10:54:35 PM GMT, the U.S. national debt was $13,839,127,737,158.73 [i.e. $13.8 trillion], so, as U.S. citizens, each and every one of us owes $44,697.35.)
America’s first attempt at putting a satellite in orbit fell a bit short. On Dec. 6, 1957, her multi-million-dollar prideand-joy—the Vanguard TV3—lifted off its Cape Canaveral launch pad, rose four feet, then exploded. FYI: The satellite itself weighed 3 pounds (1.36 kilograms). Using this mind-set, perhaps only teeny-tiny future astronauts need apply?
HOLLYWOOD PROFILE with Johnny Depp
by Vivian Fullerlove “Entertainment’s Real Critic”
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, I haven’t seen a duo that hot in a film—well, since Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith (but we won’t go there!). The two star in the dramatic thriller, The Tourist. Tell me about your character Frank Tupelo. He’s definitely an everyman who is approached by this enchantress who is unbelievably beautiful, interesting, cultured—a vixen—and is taken on the ride of his life. So [the question is] what would you do? How far would you go? And how much danger would you allow yourself to be in, just for the possibility of whatever poetry might commence between you and that woman? That woman being Angelina Jolie. What was it like working with her? She is everything. She has everything. She is kind of a walking poem. She’s this perfect beauty, but at the same time, very deep, very smart, very quick, very clever, very funny and also has a very perverse sense of humor. Yeah, she’s great fun. How did the two of you go about developing your on-screen chemistry? The director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, was very much into having things happen organically. Knowing that when Angelina and I got into the ring together things were going to take shape of themselves, he was welcoming of that fact and of the improvisation. Most importantly, he supported the possibility of chance, whatever was going to happen, and that for me was such a blessing. It worked out very well. What can audiences take away from the film? What I hope they take away is that they’ve had an hour and forty-five minutes of escape. It’s kind of an interesting story in the sense that it’s a throwback in a way to old-school thrillers, but with this modern-day contemporary take on it. I hope it entertains. They get a good look at Venice for sure. If you want to check out all the action and drama of The Tourist, you can do so tonight! The film is playing in theatres nationwide. It is rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.
by Gilbert J. Moses, Jr. – “I think, therefore I write”
The Next Three Days
I admit it, like many of my fellow Americans, I am guilty of having a short attention span at times. Just like you, I like my messages instant, my food fast, and my movies short. Keeping today’s consumer entertained for two hours in a 21st century world where everything is done in a hurry is a tall order. However, The Next Three Days manages to do it and do it well. The movie starts out introducing us to John and Laura Brennan (Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks) in the middle of a dinner date with John’s brother and his wife. After Laura has an angry exchange of words with her sister-in-law, John and Laura call it a night and go home as a happy married couple. Pretty routine stuff, but please stick around past the first five minutes because things take a turn for the worse very quickly. To her husband’s dismay, Laura is arrested at their home the next morning for the murder of her supervisor. John tries desperately through a series of appeals to prove his wife’s innocence but to no avail. John, however, will not take no for an answer and spends the majority of the film crafting a master plan to free his wife from prison. This is not just a film about breaking someone out of prison. This is a film about
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a man struggling to keep his life, his family and his world together. It is a film about a man who is constantly pushed to his limits, physically, mentally and morally. It is a film that chronicles how far one man will go to protect what and who he loves. John Brennan goes from hopeful to desperate, from depressed to angry, from saint to sinner and everywhere in between during his quest to free his wife, and Russell Crowe does a brilliant job of conveying a gamut of emotions. The writers, directors and cast of this film make us connect emotionally with the characters in this movie, and viewers are sure to feel all the emotions that John feels. Anticipation builds to a great climax, which is hard to do in a two-hour film. At some points, you will feel like you are watching an emotional psychodrama, and at others you will feel like you are watching an action-packed thriller. The action does not disappoint, but Russell Crowe’s portrayal of a husband in peril is what makes this movie. Don’t let the two-hour running time fool you. This movie is so good it will have you wondering where the time went. Released a few weeks ago, this movie has flown under most moviegoers’ radar. However, The Next Three Days is a must-see for anyone looking to see an instant classic this weekend.
Menomena – Mines
Menomena – Mines
4. Dirty Cartoons
Menomena – Mines
Menomena – Mines
Menomena – Mines
Menomena – Mines
9. Five Little Rooms
Menomena – Mines
9. Sleeping Beauty
Menomena – Mines
Menomena – Mines
Thursday Night Live Jazz Atrium – Dallas Museum of Art If you haven’t visited the DMA at night, this is one of the best times. Eat, drink and be merry with high-quality provisions at a low price without disturbing the performers. Dallas bonhomie at its rare best.
Train Exhibit NorthPark Center – Dallas Not into model trains as a kid? Now’s the time. This is one of the great displays in the country. Another plus: a stop here fits easily with shopping, movie-going or restaurant plans.
Randy Rogers Band Billy Bob’s – Fort Worth Texas country at its best. From plaintive to gritty, the songs are built on bittersweet lyrics, a backing band in perfect balance and the gorgeous Rogers voice, bruised by experience.
A dirty guitar quickly destroys this serene sound before all fades away, again allowing the vocals to remain in the forefront. Again the sound builds, the background bordering on acid jazz; these many components work together to create a diverse wall of sound. Overall, Menomena have managed to create a real niche sound. The term “experimental” is applied far too often, yet I feel that on Mines, it is one of the best adjectives for the sonic body of work. There is uniqueness in the way the instruments interact; the way in which unnerving sounds in the background soon become what stitches the song together. However, there exists some monotony at times, as evident in most of Menomena’s catalogue. The vocals lacked the intensity that the rest of the instruments possess, and the consistent building-peaking-tumbling of the instruments leaves a sensation that all the songs sound the same. After a few listens, the notes start to create their own identity, and then it is apparent that each song has its own methodology and personality. Menomena will appeal to a wide range of listeners: from those into traditional ’70s prog, to jazz listeners, to those with tastes on the more complex side of indie music. In fact, I have fun throwing their music on when hanging with friends during a BBQ, or after a night out at the bars, without telling anyone who they are listening to. Without fail, and after about the 4th song on any of Menomena’s albums, a few people suddenly perk up and say, “Who is this we are listening to? Strange but cool stuff…” Good luck, and good listening.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Winspear Opera House – Dallas The troupe is billed as “distilling 5,000 years of civilization” and the Winspear is a great place to see dance. Like Chinese aperitif liqueurs, this is sure to be a fiery distillation. Drink it down!
Trans-Siberian Orchestra American Airlines Center – Dallas Well into its second decade, the TSO is still blowing minds with its over-the-top light shows, complete with lasers and pyrotechnics, all synched to eclectic hard rock music of all kinds.
It is evident the progressive music of the ’70s created a lasting impact on our “modern” indie music world. The constant changing tempos and awkward scales naturally bond with much of today’s “experimental” music, and many acts take this innovative base and integrate it into their sound, pushing their output to the limit, all the while staying true to their roots. On Portland, Oregonbased Menomena’s fourth full-length album, Mines, their work has been pushed to a point where no standard genre can describe what sounds they have produced. It is an album that is progressive and experimental in every sense of the word, successfully infusing a modern twist—on the whole, a challenging yet rewarding album. Menomena is a three-piece band where each member shares the vocal duties, and the band alternates through a seemingly endless range of instruments, including various types of bass, keyboards, and saxophones that ebb and flow throughout the mix. Quite strikingly, there is only a small amount of guitar present on this album. The songs themselves all begin with a quiet refrain of delicate vocals over a simple instrumental backbone, albeit piano, bass, or saxophone, before the rest of the band slowly builds and creates a sonic landscape which resonates deep inside the listener. There is constant variation, consistent change, and constant unease in the framework of each song due to a number of elements. It takes a few songs before Mines really hits its stride. The first few tracks are simpler and the vocals appear weakly intertwined throughout the musical cacophony. However, once it does find its strength, the album soars: the songs build quickly, while still retaining their vulnerabilities and a great platform emerges for the more powerful, evocative vocals. On “Killemall,” the opening clean piano sound is soon overpowered by a much darker, more powerful second piano and drums. The sound builds, before falling away, allowing a simple background for the vocals. A piercing keyboard and string section in the background adds richness to an already powerful song. Yet it remains a pop song, familiar enough to keep you comfortable while squeezing you to the limits of your comfort zone. Later, on “Tithe,” a gentle glockenspiel opens, before a classical piano joins the mix.
Dinosaurs Unearthed Nature & Science Museum - Dallas First cause of awe: the 49-foot T. rex and 26foot Triceratops in the lobby. Then the dinos that move about in a soft-lit, 5,000-square-foot jungle setting. Then others activated by sensors as you go by.
by Tennessee Chris
Menomena – Mines
MUSIC: Menomena 1. Queen Black Acid
The Canadian Tenors Bass Performance Hall – FW A quartet known for cleancut looks and sounds, and many incarnations. Present members are the result of a country-wide audition and are presumably the best that Canada has to offer. A blend of classical and pop. If you know of a cool event or concert coming up, send some info our way at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Tony Barone
“The Senior Sports Authority”
Win Streak Snapped On Road The Dallas Stars had a bad week on the a rebound into the open right side of the net. road, losing all three games and in be- James Neal and Loui Eriksson had goals tween managing a shootout victory at home for the Stars. The road power play woes continue for against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes. The Stars did gain an additional point the Dallas Stars. The Stars are now 3 for 49 at Columbus, losing that game in a shoot- on the power play in road games this seaout. Rick Nash scored in the final minute son. Their 6.1 percent efficiency rate is by to force overtime, and rookie Kyle Wilson far the worst in the league. had a goal on his first career shootout at- “We’ve been struggling a lot lately. It’s tempt to help Columbus to a 3-2 victory frustrating,” Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas told reportover the Dallas Stars ers after the Phoenix on Monday night. game. “We’re thinkThe loss snapped the ing too much out Stars’ winning streak there. We’ve just got at six, one short of tyto go back to basics, ing a franchise record. shoot the puck, get Steve Ott and Brad some rebounds and Richards had goals in regulation for the tips. It’s in our heads a little bit right now.” Stars. Former Dallas Next up was the Stars forward Jere defending Stanley Lehtinen took his Cup Champ Chicago time in deciding to Blackhawks, a chance retire. He wanted to for Blackhawks Goalbe sure about the deie Marty Turco to cision to stop playing play against his old the game he loved team. Marty was not and excelled at for so in net, but his new many years. team prevailed any “It’s been your way 5-3 in Chicago. life, and it’s tough to Rookies Bryan Bicksay this is the end,” ell and Jeremy MoLehtinen said after rin scored goals and the Blackhawks were the Stars officially announced his retireable to hang on after ment from the NHL their three-goal lead last week. “I didn’t in the second period have that feeling bewas cut to a goal. fore, but now it’s Returning home there and now I realafter two straight ize that it’s time to do road losses, on Friday it. I am 100 percent night Brad Richards sure of that. I wanted and Andrew Raycroft to get that feeling became up big for the Upcoming Schedule: fore I did it.” Dallas Stars in the 12/16 vs Sharks 7:30pm The decision to shootout, keeping the retire came after 14 Carolina Hurricanes 12/18 @ Blue Jackets 6:00pm 4:00pm NHL seasons, all of winless in Big D since 12/19 @ Red Wings them with the Stars. It Feb. 11, 1996, when 12/21 vs Canadiens 8:00pm was a career that inthey were the Hartford Whalers. Richards converted in the second cluded a Stanley Cup, three Selke Trophies round of the shootout, Raycroft denied all as the NHL’s best defensive forward (1998, three Carolina shooters, and the Stars beat 1999, and 2003) and 514 points (243 goals, 271 assists) in 875 games. the Hurricanes 2-1. Phoenix Coyotes forward Rick Doan, Lehtinen received a lengthy standing the active career leader in two-goal games ovation when he was shown on the big without a hat trick, scored twice and hit screen during a break in the second period the left post late in the third period as the of the Carolina game. Coyotes beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 Saturday night in Phoenix. Doan made it 3-0 with 23 seconds left in the first period, firing home
by Geoff Case “NBA Analyst”
Defensive Chemistry is Key He’s always been able to shoot, but he must LEAGUE PUT ON NOTICE The Mavericks continue to turn heads with get better with age. I don’t think he’s going their start and a winning streak that reached to lose it any time soon. He’s not like one of 12 with Saturday night’s win over Utah. those athletes who has to kind of learn how Division rival San Antonio coach Gregg to make shots as he gets older. I don’t see Popovich recently said Dallas was prob- why he’d have much of a dropoff over the ably the best team in the league right now. next few years.” Even though it was probably said to poke a This confirms what I’ve been saying for needle at his squad and keep them ahead in a few seasons. Dirk has one of the rarest skill sets in the history of the NBA. His the standings, the thought was nice. Across the league teams are starting game is low-contact and mainly jump shots to take notice of Dallas and the way they so that helps reduce the wear and tear on his body. This means are playing in the he might have the young season. Afability to play at a ter the Mavs beat high level up until the Utah Jazz last his late thirties. I Saturday night wouldn’t count on Utah’s all-world that as a GM but point guard and it’s reasonable to The Colony HS believe. One thing grad Deron Wilis for certain, beliams had nothing ing seven feet tall but praise for the means he’ll get his Mavs. shot whenever he “This is the best wants. Mavs team I’ve seen since I’ve DeShawn been in the NBA,” Stevenson Williams said. defining “Across the board his role they have so much DeShawn Steventalent and depth. son may be viewed And they’re just by some as a cerplaying a lot better emonial starter, defensively. This but he continues is by far their best to show he dedefensive team serves to play with we’ve seen. Coach the first unit. He [Rick] Carlisle is scored a seasondoing a great job high 17 Saturday offensively. You in the victory over know you’re gothe Utah Jazz and ing to score points, has been playbut they’re getting ing great defense. stops and making Stevenson has plays when they also been showneed to.” A telling above-average ing statement bepassing skills and cause Deron is from Upcoming Schedule: shooting a blistering the Dallas area and 12/15 vs Trail Blazers 8:30pm 53% from beyond has seen quite a bit of 12/17 vs Suns 8:30pm the arc. After a loss Mavericks basketball. 12/20 @ Heat 6:30pm to Denver early in the season, Rick Carlisle Dirk MVP talk 12/21 @ Magic 6:00pm asked Jason Kidd, Nowitzki has 10 caDirk Nowitzki, and reer games shooting 80 percent or better from the field with a minimum 10 attempts. Jason Terry who they thought should start Four have come this season, including the at the two. They all told him that DeShawn last two games. That’s lights-out shooting, deserved a shot and that vote of confidence has been paying off huge for the team. people—MVP performances. An NBA scout’s perspective per the ESPN article from Marc Stein: “As for Dirk, when I watched him, his shots hit nothing. He doesn’t even hit the rim now.
College Football: BYU vs. UTEP
Sat. Dec. 18 – 1:00PM – University Stadium – ESPN
The annual New Mexico Bowl will pit a pair of 6-6 teams against each other who are making their first appearance in this bowl. The first bowl game of the season, this is also the only nationally televised sporting event in the state of New Mexico. The game hinges on the legs of BYU RB JJ Di Luigi.
NFL: Jets vs. Steelers Sun. Dec. 19 – 3:15PM – Heinz Field – CBS
Having lost their last two, the Jets need a big win to regain some confidence on offense and for team morale. This is the Steelers’ last big test and a win here pretty much wraps up their division. Both teams have great defenses and this should be a grudge match.
NHL: Stars vs. Red Wings Sun. Dec. 19 – 4:00PM – Joe Louis Arena – FSSW
The hated Red Wings will be without Mike Modano. The Stars, especially their goalies, have been playing quite well this season. This will be another benchmark test for the team.
NBA: Mavericks vs. Heat
Mon. Dec. 20 – 6:30PM – American Airlines Arena – FSSW
The Heat have been on quite a streak since their last loss (to the Mavericks), and of course the Mavericks did win 12 in a row. This match-up will be full of star power. It’ll be interesting to see how the WadeJames-Bosh trio performs against the Dallas defense.
by Joe Avezzano
True Cowboy fans may need help in figuring out their feelings about this team. It’s obvious the season is going to be a losing season. That was apparent long ago. There will be no playoffs for the Cowboys this season. That was apparent long ago. For that you should be mad. But then let’s look at the last five games and we see a 3-2 record with the two losses by three points in each game against top competition. The team is talented, playing hard for 60 minutes, showing resiliency, and the progress under interim-coach Jason Garrett is there for all to see. For that you should be happy. Then again maybe you are numb when it comes to the Cowboys because the Mavericks and Cliff Lee are more intriguing at the moment. I’m teed off that this team would be so full of themselves that they thought they could just show up and win—thereby becoming the most disappointing team in Cowboy history. And I am happy to see that there is something there that makes it fun to watch as they try to finish on a positive note. So I’m not sure how I feel, either. Damn. Philly is a real good football team that is made up of talented, young players. They are led by Mike Vick who is having an incredible year and is their undisputed leader. You must contain him and that is difficult. The Cowboys did a good job on him as he threw for 277 yards, didn’t break any runs and threw two interceptions. The only problem was that after falling behind and fighting back to get in the game they were blistered by DeSean Jackson on a 91-yard TD pass and LeSean McCoy who ripped off five double-digit runs in the fourth quarter to ice the game. Again the Cowboys got a good game from Jon Kitna and some turnovers by the defense and had every chance to win the game. The facts are that for the season this team is just not making the plays needed at the crucial times. One can nitpick and question this decision or that call but really this was a good, highly competitive game that came down to a few plays. The Eagles made the plays and came away with the 30-27 victory. Now the home part of the schedule will come to an end with the Washington Redskins coming to town. With a 1-6 home field record there certainly isn’t any advantage to playing at Cowboys Stadium. Nor should Dallas require one to beat a team that has been a soap opera all year. From the trade for Donovan McNabb to the dysfunctional Albert Haynesworth this team has won a few games but it is a mystery as to how. This will be a game that could help determine the basement of the NFC East. OK, now I’ve decided, I’m mad!
Photos Courtesy: Matt Pearce, Wigstruck
9 by Jay Betsill “Man On the Inside”
When this season began back on September 12, the Dallas Cowboys took on the Washington Redskins on the big stage of NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys had aspirations of playing in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium. It was seen as a given that Dallas would sleepwalk through the NFC East on their superior talent alone. The Redskins were full of optimism with new head coach Mike Shanahan and new starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. Then came the worst night of OT Alex Barron’s career and a shock to the system that had anointed the Cowboys the kings of the NFC. We all know how the rest of the season has turned out for both of these marquee franchises. After the Redskins fell to 5-8 when they failed to convert on an extra point against Tampa Bay, Dallas (4-9) played host to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. While the Cowboys hung tough against Michael Vick and company, it was the flamboyant wide receiver DeSean Jackson who buried Dallas with four catches for 210 yards. You read that right – 52.5 yards per catch, including a 91-yard touchdown that ended when Jackson stopped at the goal line and turned around to face the Cowboys defense before falling into the end zone. And just when you thought it could not get any worse, NBC’s cameras caught Tashard Choice getting Michael Vick’s autograph and opened up a whole new can of talk show fodder. Washington will have lost 5-of-6 when they come to Arlington to face Dallas. It will be the final home game of the season for the Cowboys, who are 1-6 at home this season. Donovan McNabb has thrown a touchdown pass in 12 consecutive games, the longest streak for the Redskins since Joe Theismann back in 1984. Wide receiver Santana Moss always feasts on the Cowboys secondary, so look for McNabb’s streak to continue. However, under interim head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are a different team than the one the Redskins faced back on opening week. With Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth suspended for “conduct detrimental to the club,” and Marion Barber expected to still be out, Tashard Choice will have a chance to redeem himself following his autograph fiasco. Look for the Cowboys to come out on top in this battle of the two teams at the bottom of the NFC East.
by Geoff Case & Joe Lorenzini
Christmas Video Game Reviews Medal of Honor PS3/Xbox360/PC
Can the new Medal of Honor reboot itself to take the Call of Duty throne? No, sadly it’s not even close. The campaign is a short, though taut experience with engaging level design, deft pacing and surprising audio and visual touches. Online, the game maintains most of what makes the campaign sing (think Battlefield), but doesn’t quite deliver the number of options today’s shooter fans may expect. Despite the hoopla over modern settings and the inclusion of enemy Taliban, there are no deep messages in Medal of Honor beyond one of the effectiveness of the U.S. military in the Middle East. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
ketball sim. Add Michael Jordan to the mix, and you’ve got a complete package that will satisfy any fan of the game. Call of Duty: Black Ops
This game takes you behind enemy lines as a member of an elite special forces unit. Takes you to locations all over the world with exclusive weapons and equipment. This version of COD kicks ass in multiplayer mode and contains special modes such as Theater mode (view and record game play) and the always popular Zombie mode. If you liked COD: Modern Warfare 2 you’ll feel right at home with Black Ops. Grand Turismo 5
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Starcraft II is amazing. It is in every way what a game – designed to be played for years to come – should look and feel like, and will appeal to newcomers and fans alike regardless of any minor irritations. Depending on what kind of machine you have at your disposal, Starcraft II will either look fantastic, or breath-taking. It’s not always prudent to focus heavily on the board that one’s ship moves on, but the Starcraft universe has traveled the gap from background pleasantries to stunningly crisp visuals. This is a must buy for PC gamers who love battle strategy. PS3/Xbox360/PC
Simply put, this is the best sports game ever made. Few sports games get nominated for game of the year awards (because they come out every year) but this is a totally different beast. NBA 2K11 has managed to piece together the best parts of past basketball video games to create an experience that is immersive, rewarding, and novel. Though there are frustrations that mostly stem from the level of difficulty, these are changes for the better as they make the basketball strategy more realistic. Without the addition of Michael Jordan, this would have been a great bas-
GT5 is why you own a PS3! Ultra realistic graphics and terrain, a garage with 1000-plus cars and a level of accuracy that’s rarely seen make this one game nobody will say no to playing. This version of the game includes cart, drift and NASCAR vehicles (Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. fans rejoice). The controls in GT5 are unparalleled as you can get nauseating realistic or give it to grandma and set it to puke easy. Either way, you’ll marvel at how a video game could look this freaking good! Turn it up and have fun!
Master Assassin Ezio gets help from the Brotherhood in this next generation of the Assassin’s Creed series. Brotherhood takes off where Assassin’s Creed II left off and you find yourself battling the son of Rodrigo Borgia (who you took out in ACII) and traveling to Rome where most of the story takes place. New to this version is multiplayer mode which allows you to create and lead an assassins’ guild. Our favorite is the new weapons and even more Da Vinci gadgets!
by Jay Betsill - “Man on the Inside”
Christmas for the Filthy rich SUPER BOWL XLV FIELD-LEVEL SUITE To be this close to the action in the Super Bowl would seem to be priceless, but it is available on StubHub for $305,580.00.
$8 MILLION iPHONE What better way to show off your wealth than an iPhone that has over 553 diamonds and goes for over $8 million. Word is that only two of them will be made, so chances are slim that anyone else you know will have one. DALLAS STARS Our local NHL team is facing the same trials as our baseball team last year with the worst owner in professional sports. For $227 million you can make the cover of magazines and become a hero to Stars fans for helping us wash our hands of Tom Hicks forever.
NEIMAN MARCUS CAMARO CONVERTIBLE This limited edition car (only 100 available) is one your neighbors will certainly notice if they can see around the private gate that hides your estate from the rest of the world.
MARQUIS JET CARD The most cost-effective way to reach the pinnacle of having your own jet is through a Marquis Jet Card via NetJets. Prices begin at $115,900 for 25 hrs.
TEQUILA AVION PRIVATE PARTY Directly out of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book and featured on HBO’s Entourage, you can introduce 75 of your closest friends to the ultimate tequila for a mere $125,000.
DOLCE & GABBANA SNEAKERS Gilbert Arenas caused quite a stir when he wore some stylish Dolce & Gabbana hightop sneakers during a game. Price tag: $395. MICHAEL JORDAN FANTASY BASKETBALL CAMP Hang at The Mirage in Vegas with the greatest basketball player of all time for four days. Get instruction from coaches such as Roy Williams, John Calipari, Bill Self and Doc Rivers. Price tag: $15,000.
by Frank LaCosta
Christmas gifts for Yourself You’ve worked your tail off dealing with some knucklehead micromanaging boss. You’ve put up with the “Honey-Do List.” You’re dealing with the screaming kids when you get home. You’ve got gifts for everyone but yourself. Well, reward yourself with one or more of these gifts. There is no greater joy than the gift of giving…to yourself!
Roboscooper No one wants to pick up those beer cans you’ve left on the living room floor after a party. Nurse your hangover and let Roboscooper do the dirty work! Now only if the Roboscooper could walk the dog… $69.99 www.wowwee.com
The Telekinetic Obstacle Course Who needs video games when you can use brain waves instead of hands? Look like a mad scientist when you strap on the headband and freak your family out. Remember the headband is only for the game and will not work at the dinner table. $79.95 www. hammacher.com
Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe SxS Shotgun Nothing protects your family and home with more style than this 20-Gauge. The hammerless one-of-a-kind result is worth it.
You’ll also get bragging rights when you tell your friends, “My gun costs more than your house!” $190,600.00 www.hollandandholland.com
Z-Force Rider Mowing the yard has never been easier. Rule the land with professional results. This mower reaches a top speed of 8 mph and has lap bars. Just remember to get your NASCAR sticker for the full effect. $4,799.99 www.cubcadet.com Boker Edelweiss Straight Razor Hand-ground and assembled by expert craftsmen in Germany, this wonderful piece of machinery will keep your ugly mug smooth as silk. On the weekends you can practice your stropping and honing skills instead of completing your “HoneyDo List.” $139.00 www.nashvilleknifeshop. com
2011 Can-Am Commander Nothing will be more fun to be a part of nature with than this machine. You can take your buddy or that adventurous girl in the cubicle next to you. Please note the DualLevel Cargo Box. Great for storing stuff like your food, Snuggie and Blitz Weekly. Prices start at $11,699.00 www.richardsonmotorsports.com
by Frank LaCosta
Christmas Gifts for Your Girl When selecting a gift for your girl, girlfriend, wife, mistress, lover or concubine one must be very careful. We would hate for you to have to go without some loving or worse, having to start all over. This guide is meant to assist. Use common sense or have one helluva lie prepared.
The Spa Finder You need to send your better half on a break for some relaxation. A trip on a cruise won’t work (old people) and neither will a day spent at the mall (too expensive.) Let her enjoy a pile of hot, heavy stones as well as scraping. Instead of trying to find a legit spot on Harry Hines use the Spa Finder’s web site. Price TBD www.spafinder.com
MoMA Logo White Vinyl Tote Help your girl look fashionable with this edgy tote designed by Dan Montefusco. The see-through design reveals glimpses of the bag’s contents (that means her world will be on display!) Order this tote online when she’s not looking! $20.00 www.momastore. org DC25 Animal Vacuum Cleaner Purchase this beast at your own risk! Seriously she might take this the wrong way but hey tell her that the Animal rides on a ball for greater maneuverability. It’ll be like her own little sports cars for the living room. Just don’t come crying to us when you’re spending NYE alone…again. $549.99 www. dyson.com
Terrazzo Blanket Invite your girl back into your arms with the Terrazzo Blanket. The sleek, modern lines delineate the excellent quality in this contemporary blanket. The dramatic geometric design is ideal for the classic villa, urban loft, contemporary home or your humble abode. $198.00 www.pendleton-usa.com
Michael Kors Wallet Clutch for iPhone This classic, chic and luxurious case blends an iPhone case and designer wallet. Each clutch is individually handcrafted and perfect for placing in her MoMA Tote or as a stand alone. It’ll hold everything that she’ll need for a night out! $79.95 www.store. apple.com Flip Video UltraHD 8GB Flash Memory Camcorder Let her record those special moments in life. You might actually be a part of them. Records up to two hours. Mac and PC Compatible. $199.00 www.theflip. com
15 by H. Todd J. Moore
The Don’ts and Do’s of Giving Holiday Gifts If you’re involved with a woman, right about now you may be wondering what to give her. If so, you’re in trouble. There are few things worse than racking your brain to think of something she might like, buying, making, or otherwise obtaining it, then watching her face become pinched when she unwraps it. In public she may offer a polite smile. The worst case scenario is “The Scene,” wherein she leaves the room in tears. In the latter case you may be sure that there are going to be difficult days ahead. If you can find a safe way to avoid giving her gifts in the first place, try to do it. It’s not being cold-hearted—it’s wise self-preservation.
If, after diligent conniving, you still find yourself locked by karma or socially bound to give her one or more gifts, you must first avoid a cold-faced, tight-lipped smile. And there are other things to avoid… So let’s begin with the “Don’ts” of gift-giving. Then, far-fetched as it may be at the moment, we’ll be in a position to turn the situation around and consider some “Do’s.”
Photos Courtesy: Chrys Omori
The Don’t’s Don’t give her cleaning supplies unless she’s asked for something specifically. If she has asked, trust that it will be expensive and mostly useless. Think in terms of high-end vacuums and appliances, not in terms of mops, brooms, or scrub-brushes. The overall rule is: Don’t let the gift tell her that you think of her as a cleaning woman. Don’t give her work-out videos, diet shakes, or books on weight loss or fitness. Again, there are caveats to this – she may have asked for a specific item, or she may already be involved with fitness, and is missing something for her at-home gym. If she has mentioned it more than once, the danger of not getting it might equal getting it for her unasked. The overall rule is: Don’t let the gift tell her you think she is fat. Don’t give her gifts that have no meaning to her. If she has never mentioned a desire to go to the beach, don’t get her beachwear. The overall rule here is: Don’t let the gift say to her that you have no idea who she is.
Don’t get her educational materials. Don’t get her a thesaurus, or a French dictionary, or a book on mathematics—unless you know for a fact she has worn out the old book, and the gift implies that she is such a smart lady, and uses learning tools so much, you need to get her more. The overall rule here is: Don’t let the gift say that you think she is stupid or ignorant. The Do’s Think things through and try to remember the little things she has said or done to indicate her likes. These may be subtle, a cruel test of your ability to discern her machinations. Or obvious, such as insisting you watch the Travel Channel with her or the Jewelry Shopping Channel or the New Home Buying channel when you arrive home tired from work. Overall rule: Remember who she is and what she likes. Take plenty of time and choose wisely. The best, largest, and most expensive gift isn’t right if she’s frugal. That being said, if you can afford it, don’t skimp. Overall rule: Shop and think. Show her you love her. If you’re the kind of guy who comes out ahead because he doesn’t quit, it doesn’t really matter what you can afford. One gift-giving veteran said, “Diamonds the size of potatoes, wallto-wall roses, maybe a Mercedes: gifts like that won’t mean anything when you can afford them.” But maybe quantity and money aren’t what speaks to her, so get something that does. Overall rule: Let the gift say “I love you.” Do a bang-up job of presentation. Think in terms of surprise and uniqueness. A present or two under the tree, a bauble in the stocking—all are nice, but she’ll remember forever the gift she finds under her pillow. Overall rule: Let the way you give her the gift also say, “I love you.” This advice may help you survive this Holiday Season. But maybe not. You might still screw something up. So just try to minimize the damage, will you?
Photos Courtesy: Yu-Ping Chen
BIG PHARMA HAS A GREAT FALL Forty some-odd years ago I worked as a medical transcriber, the highest-paying gig on the civil service opportunities board down in San Francisco City Hall. I won’t say who fell for my pitch, but before you know it I was in a cubicle rapidly looking up big words in Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, 23rd edition. At the time I was also a health nut like a lot of people in San Francisco who gave money to the Diggers, slept on the floor and met up for shots of penicillin at the 33 Hunt St. clinic to sing protest songs about a better society. Part of my diet consisted of lots of raw garlic. I even juiced the stuff for my green drink. Raw cabbage juice was supposed to be a killer prevention for stomach ulcers, but mixed with raw garlic juice it was just killer. I had been assured by friends that thanks to the “allicin” in garlic, I would be spared other diseases. But not STDs, the fault of the transmitters, then as now—not neurotransmitters but two two-legged ones. Why so many transmitters? Maybe a combination of music and marijuana that made people want to abandon the clean-cut images they’d been trying so hard to put over at work and roll around on the floor embracing something called the nitty-gritty… Rather nasty word for it, I now think. Anyway, on a break from “cardiomediastinal silhouettes” I found “allicin” in Dorland’s 23rd edition. Lo and behold… An antibiotic sulfur compound found in common garlic, allium sativum… specific against the colon-typhoid-dysentery group of bacteria, all forms of staphylococcus, bacillus subtilis… There may have been more but these words are etched into my brain. I was triumphant! I’d keep pursuing a career in medicine, supervised by kindly pipe-smokers in white coats.
by Jeff Putnam
Then the 24th edition of Dorland’s Dictionary came out and the entry on “allicin” had been expunged. Garlic had lost its magical properties? I’d become such a booster for the system after having found a job in its bowels that I thought for a moment the editors of the 24th edition had been fooled by people like the ones at the health food store who had tried to kill me with raw garlic and cabbage juice. “Good for what ails you” was starting to mean “good for the microbes that want to eat you alive.” Fleeting thoughts. I couldn’t abandon a crusade that had cost me so much pain. I wrote an indictment of the Dorland’s editors using lots of the medical language I had newly acquired. I remember thinking, I might find one of the younger doctors to vouch for me. I’d discussed alternative medicine with an intern on 24-hour duty in the ER who was trying to stay awake. I knew a medical journal wouldn’t want my letter to the editor, but maybe someone at Harper’s would. I was aiming high. Then my letter got swallowed by one of my roommate’s copies of Art News. My living conditions were so primitive that there was nowhere to file my correspondence or the scraps of paper containing my ideas for novels or stories. Art News had been good to me—I had once found twenty dollars in one. It had to have been mine. My roommate never left money where there was a chance I would find it. In the time that I was separated from my article, I thought again. Maybe the people at Dorland’s had had their arms twisted. I was getting my first sniff of the conspiracy that has come to be called Big Pharma. At the time, pace corporatists, even pharmaceutical salespeople were presumed to want us to be well. I started venting my toxic suspicions to the medical staff at work. All wanted more information. But when I tried to wise up my boss to what was going on—an office manager with no deep-seated interest in the future of medicine, as it turned out—I found myself jobless. That night when I went to my mattress the years ahead were no longer so dark. Being myself and doing what was wrong felt right again.
by Brad LaCour
“Rawest Cat in the Game”
down in anger, let me say I have no issues with people in wheelchairs. I love people in wheelchairs—they’re like slinkys—both are fun to play with on stairs. I do think I was misled on this date though, because under her “Interests” category she listed running and rock climbing. I can only assume she mixed up the word “Interests” with “Fantasies.” Possibly a reason some of these people are still single is the odd requests they have for first dates. My personal favorite is the person who thought bungee jumping would be a good way to break the ice. If you’re a complete stranger I met on the internet, why would I want to be tied to you with a large rubber band and thrown off a bridge? I think plunging to my death with someone is more second date fare. You know, once both people decide they like the same movies. “You like Braveheart? Great! I know a rock quarry with our names written all over it.” The point of all this? Having a person you share your life with—even for a few days—is an irreplaceable sensation that’s remembered forever. Those memories are cherished in the good times, painful in the bad times, but always the most crystal-clear visions that play in your head. Love is an amazing and beautiful thing that every person desires, and however that experience can be found is admirable and there should be no shame in it. I just think maybe we should look back at the caveman and his noble clubbing technique to realize there were simpler ways to finding that special someone. For all you know love could be right under your nose, even if it smells like chloroform.
by Jeff Putnam
When I first learned about Santa we didn’t even have a chimney for him to come down. Anyway, I saw right away that Santa was much too tubby to come down a chimney. And how did he visit so many kids in one night? This was before I learned about the loaves and fishes in Sunday school. Now that I live in a shoe with kids of my own, I’ve changed my tune. I still believe in Santa, but I don’t try to tell the kids he lives on the polar ice-cap. They won’t go for it. How could he have a workshop there, now that the North Pole is all water and there’s no place to stand, much less build anything—even a little birdhouse or a spice rack? I’m not suggesting we stop lying to them! Without lies, life—especially modern life—is way too depressing. More and more kids are killing themselves in school restrooms where healthy kids used to sneak a cigarette or peek at pictures of half-naked women. These days, who but Santa really gives a crap whether they’re naughty or nice? We pretend we do, but it’s all too obvious we love them so much there’s nothing we can’t forgive. Face it: we’re denying them their God-given right to rebel against us! It’s time to change the myth. It’s time for Santa to shed the girth and maybe the beard
and share billing with that other great hoho-ho guy, the Green Giant. Think of everything they have in common: the Christmas colors, green and red; yodeling ho-ho-ho whenever there are people around; the joyous commercialization of their images— Santa’s on all sorts of candies and greeting cards, the Green Giant’s on cans of food, so both are present on the shelves of every supermarket in the land. I’m not saying they should ride together. Santa should have seniority, and keep control of his elves. But there should be a subset of Green Giants in the toy production business just cranking them out on other decommissioned non-nuclear aircraft carriers in the Arctic Ocean. That’s right, you tell the kids: that’s where big aircraft carriers like the John F. Kennedy go when they die. Their warm decks are turfed over with nice green grass so Santa’s reindeer don’t have to get their noses cold looking around under the snow. And the elves make toys in the empty chow halls. True, these veterans of the various American war efforts are just barges now, but they’re Santa Barges. In this way your kids won’t be coming home grumbling about “burn pits.” They’ll know that America’s mighty green war machine isn’t all about “shock and awe.”
And they won’t be coming home with compositions making fun of the grownups who had tried to get them to believe in Santa. Here’s one from my last-born son: I believe as James Agee wrote that each of us is born with the potentiality of the human race. Ideas and images of what we are, or would like to be, blind us to our reality. We start to see ourselves with the eyes of others, and conform to prevailing ideas of what we should look like, how we should behave, even what we should feel. Everything we do, everything we want to do is a kind of selection from known possibilities to convince others—and ourselves, because we have learned to see with the eyes of others—that we are what we think we are, and that what we see is really there. This is what can happen to children who don’t have a good grounding in Santa lore. Nothing is play for my last-born son. Nothing! The things that aren’t possible for him aren’t possible for anyone, even a superhero like Santa! Everything would have been different if Santa hadn’t been such a tub of lard but had looked and acted more like the Green Giant. When his head doesn’t reach the Giant’s ankles, what kid is going to ask for a lot of expensive toys and lie about the times he was naughty?
Photos Courtesy: Shawn Lea, Greefus Groinks
In the earliest known days of dating, a dominant caveman would club a cavewoman and drag her back to his place against her will (although everyone agreed she really wanted it). Meanwhile on the other side of the valley the ugliest cavewoman and the dumbest caveman would mate because no other creatures would touch them. Their offspring would later be known as NASCAR fans. And finally, the less dominant Cro-Magnon male would leave cave drawings of himself with his likes and dislikes, hoping some desperate cave slag would notice him. These drawings are man’s first evidence of internet dating. I understood that I needed to have lower expectations when joining a dating website (after all, you’re basically shopping on the clearance aisle of life), but everyone makes an effort to stay optimistic. Each profile starts with a positive mission statement, like “This is my second chance!” or “The New Me!” and on one profile “Not Going to Cut Myself Anymore!” Unfortunately the good vibes end there… As you start to sift through the profiles each story becomes increasingly sad and depressing. One woman’s husband just left her, another’s fiancé died, and the list goes on. After twenty minutes you start to feel like you’re at the pound; like if you don’t pick one out this week there’s a good chance they’ll be put down by the time you come back. Although I will say honesty is appreciated for profile information. I went on one of these “sadness dates” as I like to call them, and was disappointed to find my date in a wheelchair. Now before this paper is thrown
18 by Dennis Hambright
LIFE JUST GETS BETTER… I’m depressed, and I’m usually the most confident guy you’d ever meet. Some even accuse me of being cocky and overbearing, but that’s how Real Men are supposed to be. I wake up every morning and stretch and pop all the kinks and twizzles that fifty years of living the good life give a man. I snag a cup of coffee, turn on the news, pump out a hundred push-ups, shower, shave, get dressed, and then proudly peek at a picture of my beautiful paramour…and grin like a Cheshire cat. I’m a dedicated member of the “You’re Only As Old As The Women You Feel” brigade, so I feel about…well, I’ll skip that detail, lest radical Femi-Nazis pelt me with stones and disparage my character for dating way below what they believe is a proper age range. But this morning, I’m smothered in a depressive funk, and I think I’ve figured out why. When I checked my e-mail, instead of my usual routine of delete, delete, delete, I decided to quench my curiosity for things better left alone, and actually read all the unsolicited messages from strangers who seemed to have an unusual concern for my well-being. (Note to Self: When meddling do-gooders show impromptu concern for me, viciously slam the lid of the toilet on my dingus seven excruciating times as a painful reminder to leave well enough alone.) Apparently the consensus by those in-the-know is that I’m a terrible, debilitated mess. Here’s some of the depressing data they’ve bombarded me with this morning, and why my blue flame of confidence has begun to sizzle and sputter: Men over 40 can lose up to 10% of their muscle mass every year unless they drink the latest wonder elixir they‘re hawking. Hmm…
since I haven’t partaken of their wonder juice…10% a year after 40, and I’m 50+… egads! I’m nothing more than a muscle-less bag of bones and organs in a skin sack! But wait, it gets worse. Bone loss for men my age ramps up at a rate that rivals the Wicked Witch of the East, and since I haven’t popped their Wonder Pills for bone strength and density, I must be an even more disgusting pile of mush. And what’s this next killer blow they deliver? The Male Enhancement Evangelists say that even if I escape the marauding armies of manly destruction, and still struggle upright and semi-function as one of the male species, I couldn’t possibly fly my flag of manhood without the aid of their magic Blue Pills. Thankfully, for only a small shipping and handling fee, they’ll send me samples in an unmarked brown paper sack to save me from complete embarrassment. According to them, I’m so useless at my age that even if I could find a box of .45 shells, I’d be too helpless to load the gun and pull the trigger to end all this misery. Well, guys, here’s the real truth. Like those “Spray On Hair In A Can” and “Lose 50 Pounds While You Sleep” ads, it’s all BS! Regularly bang a little iron in the gym, eat like a Real Man, find a good woman that makes you howl at the moon, and life after 40, and even 50, just gets better and better. Next time you get unsolicited e-mail advice from nitwits who probably think doing a set of curls to failure means putting perm in their hair until the ends split, and couldn’t get a date in a Tijuana red light district if their pants were made out of hundred dollar bills… well, just hit delete, delete, delete.
What do you get when you’ve got several thousand people dressed as Santa plus lots of alcohol? Hilarity and mayhem, and lots of ho, ho, ho’s. Santa Con started out as an underground movement in San Francisco to protest the mass, frenzied consumerism of Christmas by running around in Santa costumes and partying in the street. It’s common knowledge that women find men in uniform hot, but the Santa suit adds a whole other element to this common turn-on. Ask any employed Santa Claus and they will tell you that they get more a$$ than a toilet seat. You don’t have to be employed as Santa Claus at Macy’s to hook up with hot divorcees or worse, get slapped with a sexual harassment suit for saying ‘ho, ho, ho,’ which is now forbidden in Australia. You can just show up at Santa Con, an annual convention held in major cities all over the country. This year, in fact, Santa Con was held December 10 and 11. First, you’ll need an original costume such as a white wig with dreadlocks, or you can be an elf, a holiday ninja, a Santasaurus, or a Santa Palin. Use your imagination, but as the official website warns: “Just don’t wear your f*cking jeans.” Also, you’ll need presents to give away. You are in a Santa Claus costume in public and kids will naturally expect a present, so don’t let them down. At the very least, have a few candy canes on hand. Handing out coal is against the rules, even to throw at politicians or your ex, unless the coal is needed to keep warm. Christmas caroling is also highly encouraged, and Santa Con has offered a few versions of classic carols that you never learned at Church: TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS – MOTHER VERSION Lyrics by Peter Doty On the first day home for Christmas, my mother said to me: 1. You haven’t got a decent thing to wear. 2. You’ve put on some weight. 3. You should get a job. 4. Visit your Aunt Rosie. 5. Still no girlfriend? 6. What’s that in your suitcase? 7. You smoke marijuana. 8. Esther has two children. 9. Are you still on food stamps? 10. Herbie’s getting married. 11. Your life is a disaster. 12. We still love you. Also, organizers ask that Santas don’t talk to the press. Even saying ho, ho, ho can get you in trouble these days. Just ask Santas-in-training in Australia, who are forbidden to say the traditional yuletide greeting for fear that it might frighten children and offend women.
by Bronte Erwin
hristmas is a time of giving and receiving. And in pawnships – the Ebenezer Scrooges of retail – the giving and receiving is stripped down to its core elements. Perhaps unfairly, pawnshops are perceived as modern-day bazaars where the destitute are forced to take pennies on the dollar for their goods, thieves fence their booty and upstanding citizens sift through low-cost items hotter than a stripper in a Santa outfit. This connotation is not lost on Ol’ Ebenezer himself as none of the shop proprietors wanted to be quoted in this article. The reality is: pawnshops are a fairer free market than any Dallas designer boutique or mega-mart. With the exception of specialty items, sellers’ pawn loans work like a mortgage. An item is appraised then a loan is made to the seller at one-third of its value and interest charged at approximately 20 percent. The rate may fluctuate based on the item or amount of loan. The loan can be paid back early with no penalty, or paid down at any time. The seller can also extend the loan
on a monthly basis provided monthly interest payments are made. If the seller discontinues making payments the item is forfeited and placed up for sale. Proprietors estimate that roughly 80% of sellers repay their loans and reacquire their goods. Because profits are made on loans and not sales, there are potential huge discounts to consumers. Shops do not like the cost of holding and insuring inventory, so pricing is discounted every month on items until they reach the shop’s cost. Because of this formula, shop owners said everything is negotiable in a pawnshop. To dissuade the sale of stolen goods, serial numbers are recorded and sellers must present valid identification in order to sell merchandise; straight sale is paid at roughly the same value as pawned items. Furthermore, most shops are wired into police databases where serial numbers are crossreferenced against stolen property. Police conduct receipt reviews on a weekly basis. If items are identified as stolen property they
are forfeited by the shop and identification records are provided to law enforcement for prosecution. Whether pauper, grinch or atheist, pawnshops are good places for Christmas give and take.
by Sam Chase
THE GOOD TIMES ROLL BOTH WAYS
The Flying Fish we patronize (in Addison) is a rarity in Dallas, or really in any big city these days. There’s more than an ambience here, more than a menu, more than a dedicated staff. Maybe that “something” will emerge when I’ve finished telling about the things that are there for anyone to see. There’s plenty of parking and the terraces sprawl around the rambling structure, surrounded by trees. In the course of the occasional warm day or night that Dallas pops in December these terraces will get busy. The walls of the rooms inside are plastered with photos of customers who’ve caught huge gape-mouthed lake trout and long jut-jawed pike from Canadian lakes, or catfish bigger than they are from lakes in Texas—we’ve seen the like before from Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan. There are also dozens of those idiotic toy trophies that probably wiggle or roll their eyes if electronically stimulated. The recorded music inside is one of the reasons we come here. It’s also one of the reasons we don’t leave right away when we’re done eating. Mostly it’s blues. Mostly it’s Delta blues. Willie Dixon songs like “Back Door Man” in the classic rendition by Howlin’ Wolf. We’ve recognized a dozen of the greats since we discovered this place and kept coming back. Many, many more singers have gone unrecognized, but all have the ability to stop the clock and make us happy. As I told my wife the last time, “I could come here every night.” “I could too,” she replied. The food is only part of the reason, but it’s a big part. We love the gumbo and with an entrée you can get a bowl at a special price. The black beans and rice that comes with fish entrées is not highly seasoned so I spike mine with gumbo. Thin slices of zucchini and summer squash right off the grill are the standard side vegetable, or rice and beans if you order the fish tacos. There’s only one other place I know of— in Austin—that
has fish tacos this good. ’Nuff said? All the grilled fish are superb (catfish, rainbow trout, salmon, tilapia, red snapper). You can also order shrimp grilled or BBQed with slaw, beans and rice. If you order your fish spicy, the trout and the red snapper will be hard to tell apart. These are the tastiest fish, but the spices are important here. My wife worked out of Louisiana for years and swears the gumbo here is as good as the best she ever tasted back in the Big Easy. The spices used on the grilled fish have the same lineage, but when we order fish, we order one spicy, one grilled plain with lemon so that we can share our orders and have the fish both ways. I like margaritas with spicy seafood, and the ones here are okay except when their machine is putting out too much ice. Don’t ask, simply liquefy with limeade from the speed-bar. Other entrées of note: the crab legs are a good deal at $14.95 with corn and new potatoes. The baskets are big sellers and the “Hog Wallow Fry,” with 2 catfish filets, 4 shrimp and 4 oysters will put a smile on the face of the “big appetites” among you. We’ve tasted the fried stuff when we’ve had friends along. Same for the appetizers, including boiled shrimp, wings, stuffed jalapeños, shrimp cocktail, ceviche. The ones I’ve tasted were done right. We’re hoping for the shrimp and grits they have at their Park Cities store. Who knows? The staff is dedicated and pleasant. Tips are shared. The place is jammed at lunch but during the quiet nights, when Chester Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf) seems like he’s sitting right beside us, the “something more” about this place is right there, too: the sense of warm intimacy that will have sprung up between you and the people you share this food with. You’ll remember the first time you felt this warmth, this sense of the complete rightness of being together this way. Then it dawns on you: these old memories aren’t making you sad. You didn’t leave anything to go back to them. Right where you sit, they’ve come for you.
Photo Courtesy: Yu-Ping Chen
FLYING FISH 5100 Beltline Addison - 75254 PH 972-851-3474 www.flyingfishinthe.net
Q: How do you know when there is a snowman in your bed? A: You wake up wet!
Q: What does Santa call reindeer that don’t work? A: Dinner! Q: How do you know Santa has to be a man? A: No woman is going to wear the same outfit year after year. Q: Why aren’t there any nativity scenes in Washington D.C.? A: They can’t find three wise men! There’s More to Life than Reindeer One day a little boy was sitting on Santa’s lap. Santa put his finger on the boy’s nose and said, “I bet your name is (spelled out) J-I-M-M-Y.” Jimmy’s eyes lit up in excitement. Santa put his finger on Jimmy’s nose and said, “I bet you want a B-I-K-E.” Again Jimmy was surprised, then got a weird look on his face and said, “Santa, I bet you like G-I-R-L-S.” Santa said “Yes, how do you know?” Jimmy said, “Cuz your finger smells like P-U-*-*-Y.”
ACROSS: 1. Corduroy feature 5. Possesses 8. Tiny leafy-stemmed flowerless plants 12. “Oh, my!” 13. Ringworm bush 15. Competent 16. Speaker’s platform 17. A freshwater fish 18. Russian emperor 19. Unfixable 22. French for “Summer” 23. Mesh 24. Line of rotation 26. Womb 29. Spreads sleeping sickness 31. An uncle 32. Speak 34. Parisian river 36. City in Peru 38. Strange 40. Means 41. Official tree of Canada 43. Lock 45. Religious sister 46. A metal pot for boiling 48. Pass
50. Dissolute man 51. Anger 52. Music with jazzlike riffs 54. Immoderate 61. Connection 63. Anklebone 64. Chilled 65. A single time 66. Give a speech 67. Catch 68. Biblical garden 69. Half of two 70. Not there DOWN: 1. Dry riverbed 2. Winged 3. Den 4. Ancient ascetic 5. German for “Mister” 6. Dwarf buffalo 7. Give the cold shoulder 8. Welcome ___ 9. Compulsions 10. Louver 11. Arid 13. An act passed by a legislative body
14. Collection of maps 20. South American country 21. X X X X 25. Detail 26. Eskimo boat 27. Moderation 28. Inscribed pillar 29. Banal 30. Endow 31. Shade tree 33. Equal Rights Amendment 35. Poetic time of day 37. Countertenor 39. Overshadow 42. Decorative case 44. Rabbit 47. Slowly, in music 49. Die 52. Gin flavor 53. Warm-hearted 55. Tropical root 56. Flair 57. Speechless 58. Pimples 59. Rip 60. Border 62. Barbie’s beau
22 by Pat Moran
“Man on his Throne”
CHRISTMAS EPISODES I can handle Christmas music. Don’t get me wrong, hearing the same faux-cheery pop crap, year after year, drives me insane, but it can be pretty easy to avoid hearing it. Just don’t go to the store and don’t turn on the radio. Done. But it’s the Christmas-themed TV episodes that are the absolute worst. In a borderline vomit-inducing attempt at getting people to care about their shows, the networks pack December full of cheesy holiday episodes and squeeze every last dollar out of their sponsors and milk every last shred of decency that their viewers may have. They are following the same formula. A problem arises around Christmas, the characters feel down about it and holy crap! They learn a magical life lesson on December 25th! Doesn’t it just make you feel warm and fuzzy? I mean, it’s probably more of a food poisoning warm and fuzzy feeling. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed
a Christmas episode in the past. The Simpsons’ Christmas episode where they find Santa’s Little Helper is right up there with It’s A Wonderful Life. But it’s gotten insane. There hasn’t been an original thought on TV in December in over a decade. And the worst part is that you can’t escape it. Now, one can just turn off the TV and enjoy the wonderful family time, but we all know that’s probably not going to happen. The TV is supposed to be your escape from having to spend time with your insane family. If it’s going to be a constant stream of lesson-learning and sappy sentiment, what are you supposed to do? It’s enough to make a guy grin and bear some family time while the onslaught of Christmas shows comes to an end... Well, it’s almost enough... Extra family time during the holidays might be the one thing worse than sitcom characters who learn lessons.