Christmas Will Just Fade Away

By:
ernstluchs@gmail.com

Santa got out of his sleigh, every joint aching with arthritis. In his hoarse, wispy voice he told the deer to stay until he came back as he had done for 500 years. Surely the deer would have stayed there anyway, for they were nearly too tired to go on. Santa slipped on a snow-covered shingle a few feet from the chimney, almost falling. Gaining balance, he got in and started inching downward. Halfway down — five minutes later — the passage seemed to become horribly narrow. But it really wasn’t. Santa had just put on weight through the years. He hung there, twisting and turning, wondering why he hadn’t listened to his wife, who had told him not to eat so much. Suddenly, he gave way like a cork, shooting down rapidly. The impact left him out of what little breath he was still able to hold, and whimpering with pain. This woke up the father of the house, but thinking it was only the dog begging for a few scraps, he went back to sleep. After rising and dragging his bag across the room, Santa took out various presents for every member of the family, including the snotty twins. So senile was he, that he never remembered to give lumps of coal to those who had been bad during the year. Besides, the coal was too heavy for him to carry any more.

The presents he passed out were badly wrapped, with the paper wrinkled. Some even lacked wrapping entirely, for the elves drank heavily as their palsy years wore on. Santa proceeded through the night, everything going the same as before (slower and slower). One woman screamed when she heard him try to laugh with his old jolliness, thinking he was a burglar. Totally exhausted, he stumbled into his sleigh. After many futile and heartbreaking attempts the reindeer took off on their journey back to the North Pole.

Poor Santa had completely forgotten about the children in South America. No presents would be in their houses the next morning. Many hours passed before Santa realized the sleigh was off course. Yelling at the deer to turn 35 degrees to the right, he thought how Rudolph could have guided them had he not died of cirrhosis.

Suddenly, the head reindeer fell from exhaustion. The rest plunged afterward. With the skill of an old and feeble jet pilot Santa crash-landed into a hill of snow. Two of the reindeer died in the explosion. Santa rounded up the others. He made a fire out of the boards from the sleigh and they all huddled up against it. A while later, a tear trickled down the face of one of the remaining reindeer. The Spirit of Christmas had just died.

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The Greatest Story Ever Sold

By:

Constellation Pictures

A Division of Beatrice Foods, Inc.

Sherman Oaks, California

Dear Mark:

Just looked over your treatment for “The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God” (needs a new title; we’ll talk later). I think Bob and Gordon are close to greenlighting this one; it’s got action, it’s got drama, it’s original (“what if God had a son?” — brilliant!), and the ending practically guarantees a strong buzz.

I’ve made a few notes (outlined below) that I hope you’ll take as helpful suggestions from a voice of experience. None of these are big changes. They’re just little tweaks and adjustments that might help you get this thing out of your desk drawer. If you can shoot me a full draft (taking these issues into account) by Monday the 23rd, I’ll make sure it’s on Gordon’s desk before he leaves for Portugal on Tuesday.

* * * * * * *

Opening/Prologue: Love the baptism scene. I have a problem with the Holy Spirit coming down as a dove. Doves are a bitch to train and they crap all over everything. Don’t bring up digital animation; it costs a fortune and Gordon won’t sign off on it unless we get Burton or Schumacher to direct. Can the Holy Spirit appear in the form of a dog? We have a great Irish setter named Churchill who just got done shooting The Boy from Hope Street. You’d like him; he’s very austere. If it has to be a bird, consider a parrot or a macaw. They’re a lot smarter than doves, and you could even teach them to say “This is my beloved Son; in Him I am well pleased.” (Great trailer material!)

The “temptation in the desert:” Forty days and forty nights is a heck of a long detour in the first act. I’d lose it, or do the whole thing as a two-minute montage (possible soundtrack: “Highway to Hell” or “Horse With No Name” — listen for the thematic connections).

Calling of the Disciples: I understand what you’re getting at, but the whole “fishers of men” theme won’t play outside the Village. Here’s an alternative: have Jesus choose his disciples in a pickup basketball game. Set it in the inner city, give Jesus some street cred and open it up to a multi-ethnic cast. I can get Will Smith attached as James, son of Zebedee. (Don’t worry, white audiences will accept black disciples, as long as Jesus is white.)

Love the miracles. I have a problem with the one about the quadriplegic. In your outline, this guy wants to see Jesus, can’t get past the crowds, so his friends “stripped off the roof where Jesus was, and, having made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.” Nice idea, kind of tedious in the execution. Consider this: Jesus is healing people up on the roof of an old building (think the Beatles in Let it Be). The quadriplegic guy gets his friends to shoot him up to Jesus in a cannon. In any other movie, it’s a horrible idea — but here, Jesus heals him anyway, so a rough landing is actually a bonus. (Note: When he lands on the roof, the handicapped guy should make a comment like “Sorry, the elevator wasn’t wheelchair accessible.”)

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes: Why just loaves and fishes? This is a great chance for a party scene. Remember the old Bud commercials (was it Bud or Michelob?) — we cross-fade from a barren desert to the Hefner mansion in five seconds. Also, we can get some serious backing with a little innocuous product placement. I happen to know the guys at Mountain Dew and Doritos would give their left nuts to be part of this miracle.

Jesus Walks on Water: I don’t understand his motivation here. “Hey, it’s a nice day, I think I’ll go for a little stroll across the Sea of Galilee!” I don’t care if he’s the Son of God, you don’t want your main character to look like a show-off. And once again, I think your solution lies in a basketball game. Have Jesus jog past a playground in the “hood” alongside a reservoir. Some kids are playing a half-court game (I can get Lil’ Bow Wow attached). One kid misses a free throw, and it bounces off the backboard toward the water. His buddy says: “You lost our ball, you big loser.” Jesus says: “I don’t think so.” The rest writes itself.

Re: the Pharisees — unsympathetic clergy are a BIG RED FLAG to backers and distributors. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you pick another punching bag. What if the Pharisees were all executives at some big, corrupt chemical company? They sure wouldn’t take kindly to Jesus’ “Blessed are the poor” schtick. So they conspire to eliminate the troublemaker. It’s basically the same story, just told from a different perspective with a different situation and different characters and without all the religious implications. Another thought: If the Pharisees are in bed with the public utilities, they could co-opt Jesus’ slogan “Let your light shine” without paying royalties. Then when Jesus turns the other cheek, they turn around and sue him for trademark infringement. Just try it; I think you’ll like it better.

Peter’s Denial: I like it, although I see a funnier alternative if we can get Chris Rock attached. Instead of Peter denying he knows Jesus, Chris the apostle tries to convince everyone that he knows Jesus, but nobody believes him! (Again, this is a kind of black humor that most whites can appreciate.)

Judas Betrays Jesus with a Kiss: Too risky. But what we could try, if we can convince them it’s good publicity, is betrayal with a Hershey’s Kiss. We’d have to put a positive spin on it; Jesus could say something like “Judas, must you betray me with something so rich and chocolatey?” Also, if Jesus throws the Kiss in anger, the Roman centurions should dive and fight over it. Other possibilities: betrayal with Butterfingers, Hot Pockets, Zima.

The scene before Pilate is terrific. Great courtroom drama. (I see Malkovich or Quentin Tarantino as Pilate; I’ll have Lisa call their agents.) The only thing that’s missing is Jesus’ point of view. He’s kind of tight-lipped, and understandably so, but the audience is going to feel cheated if no one so much as puts up a defense. What you need is a battle-worn but principled public defender to give one final impassioned speech on Jesus’ behalf. Suggestions: Anthony Hopkins (too British?), Wilford Brimley (living??? need to check), Morgan Freeman (only if Chris Rock, Will Smith unavailable for other black roles).

Golgotha (“Skull Place”)…very evocative. I’ll ask Gene if we can rig up an actual skull with jaws that open and shut. Again, great trailer material.

The death scene: This is going to be a tough one, but hear me out. I don’t think we can do a crucifixion. It’s disgusting. We’ll lose our female audience. Plus the three days in the tomb, the resurrection and ascension into Heaven, it’s all a little slow and airy-fairy for a summer release. Imagine this: Jesus is strapped to the electric chair. The guards throw the switch; Jesus starts convulsing (very tastefully; no eyes popping or hair frying), and then his body goes still. Everyone watches. Then, through the power of God (or whatever; Bob thinks we may have to lose the God stuff eventually), the current actually reverses direction, sending the electricity back through the switch and into the hands of the executioners! Jesus stands up, vindicated, and his persecutors are killed — and yet Jesus never harms them directly. That is a satisfying ending, my friend. We can talk about the ascension.

I hope these aren’t too overwhelming. Bob, Gordon and I all really believe in this script. And we believe that you are the man to write it. (Although we may call in Matt and Luke for some punching up — but don’t worry, your contract guarantees at least Story By.)

Talk to you soon,

Russ Redfern

Vice President for Script Development

Constellation Pictures

P. S. Minor note on Jesus: Does he have to be Jewish?

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Shemp Howard’s 1949 Journal:
Random Entries From The Original Third Stooge

By:

The sledgehammer bit isn’t working. It takes too much time and it’s obvious that the thing’s foam rubber. I mean, a sledgehammer to the skull would kill a person!

———————-

Decided to go with “heep heep heep” instead of “oh oh oh” when the monster chases me through the lab in reel two. Moe disagrees, but I feel it in my gut.

———————-

Some days you just have to have pie, and today it’s cherry.

———————-

Snuck the sultan hat home and put it in a box. Love that thing. Wardrobe’ll never miss it.

———————-

Larry had diarrhea again. Pickled eggs and black coffee. All he eats. Heep.

———————-

Accidently hurt Moe with a prop board this morning. Nasty bruise on the left side of his face. I felt awful, but Moe, as always, was polite and forgiving. Great guy.

———————-

Today, some guy at the race track yelled, “You’re no Curly!” I wanted to inform him that I was the original Third Stooge, that Curly wasn’t part of the act till I left for a solo career, and that I came back after Curly had a stroke. But I called him an asshole instead.

———————-

Midgets dressed as leprechauns — comedy gold.

———————-

Maybe I’m paranoid, but I simply do not trust Dean Acheson.

———————-

Stooged out. Think I’ll go bowling.

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A Tale of the Frozen North

By:
grampsoldster@hotmail.com

Chapter 1

Dawn had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, colder and grayer than you could shake a stick at. After all this was the Yukon, the Frozen North, the Land of the Midnight Sun and 2-for-1 snowcone offers, and it had every right to be that way. Yes, the Yukon — where temperatures plunged a hundred degrees in the blink of an eye; the Yukon — where passing clouds froze solid and fell from the heavens; the Yukon — where entire forests petrified overnight only to shatter like glass with the first touch of the rising sun.

Chapter 2

Afternoon had broken cold and gray. Cold cold cold. Brrrr. Up and down the valley as far as the eye could see, a thick blanket of snow lay like vanilla ice cream, smooth and creamy. Through this vast white dessert moved two figures.

Not just any man could survive in this harsh wasteland. A special breed flourished here: Men of the North, tall, beefy and proud. For this was the Yukon, where a man’s worth was measured by the number of leotards he wore under his furs, where a man might not still be a complete man anymore if he dallied outside too long. Such a man was Pierre, a trapper of mostly French-Canadian origin with just a little Eskimo and Japanese and a touch of the sun. Alongside him trotted his faithful canine companion Frisky, a huge shaggy beast of uncertain ancestry whose love for his master and for fresh blood were a legend throughout the North.

The sun hung low in the sky. It was a sign too cryptic for any pampered city-dweller to decipher; but for one whose animal instincts were awake to the primeval rhythms of nature it could mean only one thing: night was approaching. If night fell with Pierre outside he would freeze up like a statue and become the laughing stock of the whole Yukon. People would flock from miles around to gawk and point and pose for souvenir photos. It was harsh, yes — but it was the way of the Men of the North.

All day Pierre had been trudging along the river bank, through snow so deep it was over his galoshes. But now in his haste he ventured onto the frozen surface itself, past the regularly-posted signs that read: CAUTION: YUKON RIVER — NO SWIMMING, NO PICKNICKING. There was less snow out on that wind-swept ice, which made it faster going for him. But Pierre did not trust the river. Rivers, he mused, were like women: beautiful, hard, treacherous. Sometimes with a woman you suddenly discovered that she wore false teeth or had a contagious disease. Rivers were the same: there were places where you could break through and be instantly transformed into an ice sculpture. At least then nobody would find your body and laugh at you. There is nothing a Man of the North hates like being laughed at.

Shortly before nightfall Pierre stepped onto just such a weak spot in the ice — as yet unmarked by warning tape — and fell through past his knees. Frisky immediately clamped his jaws around Pierre’s head like a monkey wrench and pulled him out of the hole, but it was too late. His frozen toes snapped off like so many ice cubes from a tray. Both legs would go too unless he could thaw them out right away. Painfully he staggered to the river bank and gathered a few sticks of driftwood for a fire. Removing his fuzzy pink mittens, he searched his pockets for a match but could only find a butane lighter. Kneeling down by the kindling, he flicked the striker of the lighter. It sputtered briefly, then exploded, blowing off his right arm up to the elbow. “Sacre bleu!” (Aw heck!) he exclaimed, cursing his ill fortune. He would never play the accordian again.

Chapter 3

Night had fallen cold and gray. In fact it was always like that in the Yukon: sometimes a bit colder, sometimes a little more on the gray side, but always both cold and gray. It was no wonder that package holidays to Mexico were so popular.

Francois stood looking out his cabin door, deep in thought, having a last smoke before retiring. Of course he thought about the Yukon, for he too was a Man of the North. But he also mused on his past: Fifi, Gertrude — yes, and Antoine. The seedy night-life of Montreal, a promising career in the ballet…

Then Francois spied two shadowy figures moving toward him out in the snow. As they approached he saw that both were big and ugly and covered with fur. He realized with a sigh of relief that the one walking upright must be good old Pierre, the other one his dog Frisky. Francois could not help but notice that Pierre was hobbling badly and that he was missing the better part of his right arm. He was too polite to mention it, though.

The three of them met wordlessly, went inside and sat near the roaring fire. Pierre took off his galoshes and thrust both feet into the flames.

“Ala mode, Pierre?” (How are things, Pierre ?) asked Francois after about an hour.

“Coup d’etat,” (Oh, not so bad) Pierre replied tersely. “Coma se llama ustad?” (Nippy, isn’t it?)

“Ja, ich bin schwul,” (Yes, quite nippy) agreed Francois.

Several more hours passed in silence. Pierre’s legs burned away in the fire, leaving two charred stumps.

Suddenly Frisky leapt up and sank his fangs deep in Francois’ throat — for he was a Dog of the North, and had his occasional odd moments. They rolled around on the floor, biting and rending, for several minutes until Francois was able to snatch a red-hot poker from the fireplace and beat the dog senseless. Pierre found all this quite amusing and laughed uproariously. He barely noticed the other man coming at him, poker in hand. Francois struck Pierre repeatedly about the head. Pierre seized a heavy stool and returned blow for blow. The tiny cabin shook.

Chapter 4

Dawn had broken cold and gray, as usual. The two men awoke simultaneously, glanced around at the mangled interior of the cabin, and at each other. Then they both broke out laughing at last night’s antics. Francois started slicing up Frisky’s cold corpse for breakfast while Pierre began whittling a pair of wooden legs. For this was the Yukon, and they were Men of the North.

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AskGod.com

By:

Moderator: Welcome to another live online chat with The Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Lord, welcome back.

LG_Almighty: Thank you. It’s good to be here. I’d like to send a special shout-out to everyone at First United Congregational in Milford, NH. Happy sesquicentennial!

Moderator: The Lord has only a few minutes today, so send in your questions! Let’s get started:

Aggie57: hi god u rock

LG_Almighty: Thanks. It’s hard to rock when you’re my age. 😉

Aggie57: thanks 4 the nice day on wed. I went camping

Moderator: Aggie57, what is your question?

Aggie57: my brother got divorced last year and now he is going out with his ex-wife’s mom! she is like 15 years older than he is. I don’t think it’s a good idea but should I say anything?

LG_Almighty: Check out Leviticus 20:14. “If any man after marrying the daughter, marry her mother… he shall be burnt alive with them.”

Aggie57: so they will be burned alive?

LG_Almighty: Depends on my mood. But let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t sit near them at a barbecue.

Moderator: Thanks, Aggie57! rokindokken, you’re up.

rokindokken: Hello Lord, my name is Carl and I’m from Kansas City.

LG_Almighty: I know who you are.

rokindokken: Of course. Apologies. Anyway, here’s the situation: My dad is in his late fifties. He’s always been fairly gregarious but lately he’s become sullen and withdrawn. I can’t even get him to play badminton — a favorite pastime. He recently had minor back surgery. Do you think he’s afraid of losing control of his body? How can I show him that he can still be active?

LG_Almighty: The back issue is a red herring. Your dad is feeling guilt over assassinations he performed in the eighties for the Russian Mafia. Leave him alone and whatever you do, don’t open the basement freezer.

Moderator: LOL! Talk about skeletons in the closet. Here’s our next question.

izzkarryot : Hello I have a friend named Bob who is a really nice guy and he has a friend named JC who is also a really nice guy and JC did a lot of good things for people but he seemed a little manic and he was starting to say some crazy things and Bob was worried so he told some people who he thought would help JC but they arrested him and did bad things to him but Bob didn’t know they would do them so shouldn’t JC forgive Bob because he was just trying to do the right thing?

LG_Almighty: Judas, is that you?

izzkaryot: I don’t know who you are talking about. I’m Bob

izzkaryot: I mean my friend is Bob. I’m Albert

LG_Almighty: Judas, I’ve told you a thousand times, you had your chance. You should have asked forgiveness while you were still alive. I would have been happy to give it to you.

izzkaryot: you’re mean!!!!! Everyone here says I was robbed

LG_Almighty: I told Satan not to give him a DSL line.

Moderator: Sorry, Lord. I’ll put a block on him. Next question:

mo3293: who does the land of Israel rightfully belong to?

LG_Almighty: The Tibetans. And they’re going to come over and kick some serious butt after the Chinese Civil War of 2015.

Hector1nyc: HI GOD MY NAME IS HECTOR I HAVE 4 KIDS AM ON PUBLIC ASSISSTINCE NEED CASH WHO WILL WIN TIRD RACE AT PIMLCO THANXX!!

LG_Almighty: Cornhusker to win, Off-Peak Ticket to place, Jamaican Bobsled to show.

Hector1nyc: THANK U!!!! I WILL GO 2 CHURCH TOMAROW I SWARE! J J

Moderator: Confidential to greyfox4: You want the Living with Masculine Dysfunctions chat at 1 p.m., not the AskGod chat. For those of you staying on, Dr. Greg Sarukhanian will be right here live at the top of the hour; today’s theme is Prostate Complications. Back to God:

John2310: Hello Lord. I have been faithful to You all my life and have three beautiful children thanks to your Providence. Our youngest, Amy, has an extremely rare blood disorder called Kannerstein-Holzapfel Syndrome. She is having a bone marrow transplant on Monday and I was hoping that you would bless her and make the operation a success.

LG_Almighty: Gee, that’s a tough one. You’d be surprised how many prayers I get about Kannerstein-Holzapfel. I try to limit myself to one miracle cure a month and I’m already past my quota — if I do too many of them, they can’t really be miracles, can they?

John2310: But I’m only asking for this one thing…

LG_Almighty: Look, if it makes you feel better, little Amy can make the callbacks for the school production of Annie, although she’ll wind up playing Molly or Pepper.

Moderator: Thanks for your question, John2310! Tell Amy we said “break a leg!”

Beth: My name is Beth Levey. I am 8 years old. Can I have a pony?

LG_Almighty: What the heck. Sure.

Beth: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LG_Almightly: I was feeling bad about the bone marrow kid.

Moderator: I think that balances out your karma. Here’s another question.

J_I_Hadeez: Hi I have a friend named Bill and he’s a really nice guy and his friend Joe was a really nice guy

LG_Almighty: I’m not biting, Judas.

Moderator: Apologies again, Lord. Judas, I’ll remind you of the terms of your restraining order. As for the rest of you lurkers, send in your questions for God!

goveganSFO: Is it true that humanity was made in Your image?

LG_Almighty: Only Danny DeVito. Everyone else is just an approximation.

Cindysuperlips: why is there evil in the world?

LG_Almighty: Define “evil.”

Cindysuperlips: like when a kid puts a hamster in the microwave

LG_Almighty: I find that rather entertaining. In fact I designed hamsters specifically for that purpose.

Cindysuperlips:

Moderator: Cindy, are you there?

LG_Almighty: Sometimes I crack myself up.

Moderator: Just a reminder, folks, at 2 p.m. we’ll be chatting with Sea World otter trainer Kathy Kerrigan. Now more from our Heavenly Father:

RubaiWhat: why in the Koran does it say “Take not the Jews and Christians for friends?”

LG_Almighty: That’s a typo.

RubaiWhat: so what is it supposed to say

LG_Almighty: “Avoid the lamb chops at Akbar’s.”

RubaiWhat: that’s not even close

LG_Almighty: It is in Arabic.

Hector1nyc: I BET $500 DOLARS ON CORNHUSKER IN THE THRD AND HE CAME IN LAST!!! WHAT HAPPENNED???????

LG_Almighty: Oh, did you say the THIRD race? I was thinking of the second.

Hector1nyc: THAT WUZ MY RENT $$$$!!! NOW I GOT NOTHING

LG_Almighty: Pardon me! I should have been more careful to help a man who’s betting his family’s rent money at the horse track! Why don’t you spend your next $500 on some spelling lessons? Then maybe you’ll be able to write yourself a resume and land a decent job! Jeez Louise!

Hector1nyc: OK SORRY I NO I’M BAD

LG_Almighty: You’re not bad, Hector. You just need to get your priorities straight. Listen to the still small voice in the night; that voice is Mine, guiding your conscience. Open your heart and mind to Me, and I will never leave your side.

Hector1nyc: I HAVE $3 DOLARS LEFT TELL ME WHO WINS FORTH RACE I WILL USE IT FOR BUS $$$$ I SWARE

LG_Almighty: Screw him. Let’s move on.

Moderator: DaisyPop, you’re live with God:

DaisyPop: Hi my name is Daisy and I have a friend named Alice and she’s a good guy and her friend Jenny is a really good guy

LG_Almighty: All right already, Judas! Call my assistant, schedule an appointment for next Friday, we’ll talk.

DaisyPop: Awesome!!! Sorry I said you were mean — no offense 🙂

LG_Almighty: None taken.

Moderator: We have time for two more.

tigerlady: Hi God. I’m getting married in September. My fiancé and I wanted to elope but we decided to go with a small wedding — immediate family only. My parents are fine with it, but his parents want a really big wedding. I just don’t think it’s worth the expense. Thoughts?

LG_Almighty: Agree to the big wedding. You’re going to be hit by a bus in July so it’s all going to come out in the wash anyway.

Moderator: Enjoy it while you can, tigerlady! Remember, God is here live every Friday at noon, except on major religious holidays. Here’s our final question.

Janelevey: Why is there a pony in my daughter’s bedroom?

LG_Almighty: No comment.

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