Alternative Captions and the Holidays

Many years ago, when I first visited my future in-laws over the holidays, I saw that they had set up a small crèche as one of their holiday decorations. I may (or may not) have scandalized them by remarking, “It looks like they’re all saying to each other, ‘I’m not going to change Him; are you?’’

In any case, flash forward some three decades and I thought that I might attempt a Nativity scene for my sometimes-annual, always-badly-drawn (for I know no other way to draw) holiday card. For its caption I came up with a related baby Jesus poopoo joke, “Gold, frankincense, myrrh…but nobody brought Pampers?” After a few hours work, it was completed.

And then I thought of an edgier caption. Poopoo jokes are always comedy gold, but given our divisive times, this is the caption with which I finally went:

Holiday card 2021 captioned "He doesn't LOOK Jewish!"However (and it seems there’s always a “however” in comedy) my pointing out the baby Jesus’ religion made me realize that at the Nativity He was just a few short days from his bris, and that led me to this:

alternative Holiday card captioned "I'm just here for the circumcision."

And, if you think that is a far-fetched reason for one of the Three Kings to “traverse afar” to attend the Nativity, you ain’t never heard of the Holy Prepuce!

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Standard Time

Time, as we clock it,
Falls back this week:
And the hour hand
As it retreats
Pulls the dawn with it.
Yes, day will come sooner—but its early light
Portends the coming of an earlier night.

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L.A. Autumn

The L.A. autumn dances in,
Santa Ana in one hand, fogbank in the other,
Bewildering immigrant trees whose forebears
Had grown in climes more orderly,
Where seasons stepped in stately grace
And not in helter-skelter leaps, pliés, and pirouettes,
Where summer, fall, spring, and all
Fell into line, and winter had a place.

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A Sketchy Card for a Sketchy Year

On those occasions when I draw a new cartoon, I spend a lot of time coloring, shading, and cleaning up the lines. For my 2020 holiday card, I liked the rough sketch enough (or was lazy enough) to share it as it was, fresh from my Apple Pencil.

The Knight Before Christmas: a knight on horseback contemplates his holiday shopping list

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Boxing Day 2020

Boxing Day decorations are among the most unattractive of the holiday decorations…

A tower of boxes and packing materials

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The Kugel Joke

[I have heard this joke told a number of times. It is in essence a “shaggy dog” story, a long meandering narrative that is more fun in the telling, in how long one can spin it out and in which absurd directions, than in delivering its punchline, which is not much of a punchline at all. The following is the bare scaffolding of the Kugel Joke; your job is to embellish it as best you can in your own telling.]

Just as the Melish family was sitting down to Hanukkah dinner, the doorbell rang. It was their neighbor Mr. Levitz.

Not wishing to be inhospitable, Mrs. Melish set a place for him at the table beside their youngest son, and invited their visitor to sit down. Levitz sat, saying, “Thank you but I just ate.”

Dishes began to be handed around. When young Fielding Melish passed Levitz the soup, Levitz said, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly…well, maybe just a little,” and filled his bowl.

Next came the bean salad, and Levitz said, “Really, I’m full…well, maybe just a spoonful or two,” and covered half his plate.

Then came the latkes, and Levitz said, “I really shouldn’t, but maybe one…,” and took three.

And the apple-sauce: “Just a dab,” as he ladled on a large heap.

Next came the brisket: “Oh, maybe a slice…at most!” And he took three thick slices, including the coveted end piece.

And then, finally, Fielding handed him the kugel casserole, and Levitz’s eyes lit up: “KUGEL! Now kugel I could eat!!!”

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Turning and turning

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Apple Park to be born?
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Amusements for Insomniacs

I happened to be awake just before 2AM this morning, so I put on my Apple Watch and watched to see what happened when 2AM rolled around and Daylight Saving Time ended. At exactly 2, as the second hand passed 12 on the watch face, nothing. Then, at 4 seconds past 2, the hour hand jumped back one hour.

How exciting!

(As for why California did the Daylight Saving Time Tango this year, blame politics.)

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My Official 2020 Halloween Portrait

Here it is, such as it is.

The photo

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The Star Spangled Banana

There’s been talk lately about changing the national anthem because the song’s lyricist was a slaveholder. Good enough, but, honestly, it should be replaced on its own lack of merit.

First, the song has four verses, though almost nobody knows verses 2-4, and many of those who only know verse 1 don’t even know it that well.

Second, the first verse says nothing about the country, its values, or anything else, really. In fact, all it is is a long-winded rhetorical question:

Can you see the flag this morning? You know, the one we saw last night at sunset. Yeah, the one with the stripes and stars that we cheered about last night. That’s right, the same one we saw lit up by the rockets and bombs all night: is it still waving this morning?

How inspiring: a vision test! My patriotic heart is all a-flutter.

And then there’s the music, which is an almost un-singable (the melody spans an octave and a half) recycled British club song: “The Anacreontic Song” written by  John Stafford Smith for an 18th-century amateur musician’s club. What says “America” more than a song celebrating a private men’s club?

It took until the early 1930s before it became the anthem. At that time, Prohibition was in effect, so maybe the national ability to make sound judgments was at a low level because of all the bathtub gin people were drinking, but, in any event, it has only been the anthem for less than a century! Ditching it for something with better content and an easier-to-sing melody is hardly a slap at the Founders of this nation, who had all been long-dead before the song was made the anthem in the first place.

Replace the anthem! Your ears and your vocal cords will thank you!

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