Category Archives: Santa Claus

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Thursday


“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” — Carl Reiner



Well, that was some few days off, eh?

I’m back from my little hiatus and all I missed was America’s definitive holiday, another psychotic going wild with a gun, and a foot of freakin’ snow in South Central Indiana.

I just peeked outside and the snow’s still there. Damn.

Anyway, as the white blanket was falling, I was getting ready to go into the Book Corner, see, because I’m a hero.

None of this soldiers and firefighters nonsense anymore. I’m the real hero because — ta-da! — I was going to be the one guy working in downtown Bloomington when every other flabby creampuff was shivering at home, looking out at the snow, and wondering if he/she was going to survive the ordeal.


I was raised in Chicago, baby. We go out for a picnic in a foot of snow. We may be a few minutes late to work in two feet of snow. If we ever get three feet of snow, well then, that might be a problem, but I doubt it.

So I called the Head Whip-cracker at the BC, Crystal Belladonna, and said, smugly, “Dontchu worry ’bout a thang. You just stay home in your footies. This is nothin’. I’ll open the store and stick around as long as there are customers.”

There was awe in her voice as she asked, “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure? Girl, am I sure? Man, you South Central Hoosiers slay me. You get an inch of snow and the schools are shut down. A little bit of ice and the emergency management dude comes on the radio to warn citizens to stay off the roads. I’m surprised you people have survived into the 21st Century.”

“Well, I can’t get my car out of the driveway,” Crystal Belladonna said.

“Oh,” I said. “I understand.” Although I didn’t. She obviously hadn’t been trying hard enough. Maybe she spun her rear wheels once or twice and then threw her hands in the air.

The quitter.

I puffed out my chest. “Well, I’m gonna take the bus. It’s no big deal to me.”

“You’re awesome, Big Mike,” she said.

We hung up. I said to myself: “She’s right.”

Steve the Dog padded up and gave me that look. Time to shake hands with the mayor.

So I harnessed him up and decided, You know what? I’m awesome. I’m not even gonna put long pants on. I’m just gonna keep my Champion workout shorts on. And if the neighbors see me, why then, they’ll know I’m awesome, too.

Of course, I’m not a lunatic so I kicked off my flips and put on socks and Sketchers. I don’t want to appear to be a show off.

I flicked the garage door switch and next thing I knew a gust that had to rate a 73 on the Beaufort Scale almost pushed me back in the house. Now that’s a wind, considering the fact that the Beaufort Scale only goes up to 12.

Steve the Dog looked up at me as if to say, Sometimes I just don’t get you.

Now then, I wasn’t going to let a little breeze intimidate me. Hell, I had a spring jacket on. I was dressed for the weather, after all.

We got to the garage door after a few dicey moments of ambulation at a near 45-degree angle. Steve the Dog stopped just at the edge of the snow. He sniffed it, flapped his ears, and sidled just around the outside wall and lifted his leg.

“Oh no, buddy,” I said as he did his business, “we’re going out there.” I pointed broadly toward the frosted ivory expanse. He gave me that I don’t get you look again.

I walked out into the snow. Steve the Dog stayed just where he was and watched me. I turned back and saw him at the wall. I shook my head and gave the leash a yank. He didn’t move. “Hey, what’s this all about?” I shouted. “Come on!”

And I yanked the leash even harder. He took the first dainty steps into the snow. Within four steps the white stuff was up to his haunches. He stopped, looked back toward the inside door sadly and then began moving when I yanked the leash again.

I had fully expected Steve the Dog to romp around in the snow as he usually does. Then again, I’ve never had the chance to take him out in what I was learning was some 10 inches of the stuff. Steve moved around resembling nothing so much as a recalcitrant teenager being told to clean his room.

Steve finished with his toilette and threw a glare in my direction. I’ve no doubt that if evolution had outfitted him with the physiology to call me an asshole, he would have at that very moment.

We got back inside, I de-harnessed him, and he took up his customary post on the living room sofa. He eyed me as if to say, “Now we know who’s the intelligent life form around here.”

I showered and dressed. Came the query from the master bedroom: “What are you doing?” It was, of course, The Loved One.

“I’m going to work.”

“Why?” she said.

“Um, because I’m scheduled. Duh.”

“Don’t be silly. Everything’s closed down. Nobody’s going out today.”

“Correction,” I said, a trifle austerely. “One person is going out.”

She threw open her bedside laptop and started clacking. “Mike,” she called out after a couple of minutes, “there’s a blizzard warning.”

“So what?”

“It’s dangerous out there.”


“Mike! You’re not going to have any customers. Why are you doing this?”

I grumbled.

While I was tying my shoes, I heard her voice again. “Mike, 45 mile per hour gusts!”

“I know it.”

“And you’re still going out?”


Now she grumbled.

There was triumph in her voice when she announced, “Bloomington Transit has just suspended service.” And then — just to rub it in, I’ll bet — she explained, “There are no more buses.”

“Then I’m driving.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am.”

We both grumbled.

I threw my jacket and beret on and marched back toward the garage.

Now, even a hero must be cautious before lunging into the fray. So I walked out into the driveway, just to test the depth, you understand. I got about 20 yards out and realized the snow had reached up above the midpoint of my shins. It appeared deeper farther on, toward the road.

I stood there a minute or two, trying to figure out how I was going to explain my way out of this. I shook my head. It was obvious there was no way the Prius would be able to plow through this. The thought of walking the three miles to the square flitted through my mind. But, see, I was already huffing and puffing just from walking 20 yards. No, walking to work was out.

I re-entered the house as carefully as a second-story man. I moved around as silently as the cats, shedding my coat and shoes. Maybe — just maybe — The Loved One wouldn’t hear me making my tactical retreat.

All seemed well until, sneaking into the living room to position myself next to the very intelligent Steve the Dog, I bumped into my acoustic guitar. Broi-n-n-n-ng, it rang out.

“Mike?” The Loved One called out. “Is that you?”

I froze, not answering.

“You aren’t going in, are you?”

Again, silence.

As much as one can hear a smirk, I heard The Loved One’s.

I am now, officially, a Hoosier.


I have just learned who Courtney Stodden is. I read about her on dlisted and had to google her.


This Is Not Courtney Stodden

I am now less of a human being than I was moments ago. This newfound knowledge makes me wonder: Does America deserve to exist any longer?

[ED’s note: I couldn’t bring myself to run a pic of Courtney Stodden as she is the apotheosis of this holy land’s concurrent fixations on child sexuality, empty celebrity, cosmetic surgery, and, well, titanic bullshit. I figure it’d do my readership well to see a photo of an actual human being who has accomplished marvelous things. Melissa Franklin, shown above, is someone you should know. The spawn of Satan known as Courtney Stodden is not. Please take time to click the links for Dr. Franklin. It’ll make me feel better about things.]


Here’s your last-gasp Xmas bit. A man named Stephen Wagner is becoming acknowledged as the world’s leading authority on Santa Claus sightings.


Wagner, who calls himself a paranormal researcher (which, from this vantage point, seems as contradictory a term as lottery strategist), says he’s compiled a list of several hundred Santa sightings since he began studying the phenomenon two years ago.


Another One

And, mind you, these sightings are all reported by adults.

Wagner is lobbying for Santa sightings to be included in the august discipline of paranormal research, which is practiced at numerous universities. Swear to god.

He’s not having a lot of luck in getting his research accredited by the fuddy-duddies of academia.

See, within the woo world, there are people who are considered too woo to be normal. Wagner is the woo’s woo.

And you thought your family was crazy.


Ben Patimkin: “Lemme tell ya, somethin’. In the real world, you need a little gonif in ya. You know what that means, gonif?”

Neil Klugman: “Thief.”

Finally, farewell to Jack Klugman.

Scene from "Goodbye, Columbus"

Klugman Stuffs His Punim In “Goodbye, Columbus”

Perhaps the greatest casting coup in cinematic historic occurred when he was tabbed to play Ben Patimkin in the movie version of Philip Roth’s “Goodbye, Columbus.”

Don’t be confused by the names of the speakers in the dialogue, above. Neil Klugman was played by Richard Benjamin, which was also an instance of inspired casting. Then, as if to negate all the good, director Larry Peerce cast the single most shikse non-actress of the day, Ali MacGraw, as the Jewish-American princess, Brenda Patimkin.

Klugman (Jack, not Neil), appeared in a lot of great stuff that was been overshadowed by his star turns in the TV series “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy, M.E.” Catch him as Juror #5, the street tough all grown up, in “12 Angry Men,” or as the broken-down trumpeter, Joey Crown, in a 1960 episode of “The Twilight Zone.”