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10 December 2004


I got a call Wednesday night from the Alec Baldwin doppelganger I've been fooling around with for some months now -- he wanted me to come by his place in DC after work on Thursday to help him set up his Christmas tree. ("But not just any Christmas tree -- it's aluminum and it's gold-tone." he said. "A triumph of American engineering and Sputnik Age metallurgy.") I figured it was just a pretext to get me over there for some male bonding via horizontal aerobics, if you know what I mean, so over I went.

As it turned out, there was some eggnog-fueled nude wrestling at the end of the evening, but he wasn't kidding that he needed help setting up the Christmas tree. The tree was to go on a table in a corner of the living room, where drunken guests would be less likely to piss on it, I suppose. It sounds easy, but he had a lot of furniture in not a lot of living room, so getting the table into place became an exercise resembling one of those sliding-tile puzzles that you'd find in a Gifted & Talented classroom, usually underneath a dusty pile of tangrams.

Once the furniture had been moved around to his satisfaction, with the overspill going into the downstairs storage room, the tree went up, one gold-fringed wire branch at a time. I regret that I wasn't able to get a picture of it, because even though four decades of A Charlie Brown Christmas have conditioned us to believe that artificial trees are synonymous with gaudy commercialism -- "Go out and get the biggest aluminum tree you can find, Charlie Brown... maybe painted pink!" -- the thing was retro-gorgeous. (Something in me balks at bringing my digital camera along when sex is implied in the invitation, though -- it seems pushy.) Next time I go over to his place I'll get a photo.

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Anyway, my own Christmas tree is not so spectacular; I've been using the same two-foot tabletop model for years, thinking I would upgrade for next year but then finding myself short of space, money, or Yuletide spirit when next year rolled around. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

The nice thing about a tree this size is that it fits comfortably on my bookshelf -- no furniture to move around; just had to move some plants. As you can see, I've got a -=Xanukah=- menorah right next door, and I'm happy to report that they get along just fine. I've left Christianity with no plans to return, and am dabbling my toesies in Judaism, but with no immediate intention to convert. I'll just go ahead and co-opt their holiday symbols and if Jews or Christians object, well, that's what they get for letting their trademarks go public domain.

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You found Policeman Adam!

The first year I got this tree, I did a "Seven Deadly Sins" ornaments theme, and you can see a couple remnants of that in the picture above. The little airline-sized liquor bottle was supposed to represent Gluttony; the practical rationale for choosing it is that it catches light well. Can you find the deadly sin of Pride, boys and girls? In subsequent years, some of my homemade ornaments were lost and others were added, and this became the "Six Deadly Sins and Five Cuddly Puppies" tree. The lizard is a new addition for this year, representing my friends on LGF.

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This is, of course, the ornament representing Lust -- it's a thumbnail photo for a porno-vid ad wrapped around a matchbox. Since VHS is passe, I really should update it with a miniature DVD case -- and find some models with chest hair.

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Look, it's Fireman Steve, making sure everyone has a safe, flame-retardant holiday season! It's just a coincidence that Fireman Steve is perched next to a pink Christmas light and a giant strand of pearls; Steve doesn't go for drag.

By the way, Steve's good buddy is hiding in one of the other pictures. Can you find Policeman Adam by using your cursor to point at where you think he is hiding?

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When you're little, of course, a Christmas tree is chiefly the thing that presents go under, and I've always made sure to have something under my little tree to keep that idea alive. For a couple years I had an N-gauge circular train track running around the tree, but the cars were prone to fly off the rails, being very lightweight and only maybe half the length of the HO-gauge model trains that most people are used to. This year, I've got some wrapped presents on display (empty cigarette and match boxes covered with paper and bows) along with: a Korean robot thingy that shoots a big blue marble out of its belly (I put it together myself from a kit that I bought while stoned); a collapsing wooden Felix the Cat; and a silk horse ornament from the Pearl River Store at Broadway and Canal St in NYC.

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Finally we come to the controversial tree-topper. The controversy lies in the fact that 4 out of 5* guests who've seen it say, "Oh, how grim, it's the Angel Of Death."


What kind of freak do they think I am that I'd put the Angel Of Death on a FUCKING CHRISTMAS TREE? Christmas is supposed to be about rebirth and joy, not dying and decay. No, this is just your everyday Flying Skull of Happiness, full of non-sectarian gladness and beloved by children everywhere. I don't know why people get confused, although obviously part of the problem is the anti-skull stereotyping that's rampant in our society: people see a disembodied skull and think "Evil."

But just imagine life without skulls, children! Your eyes would slide right into your nasal cavity and out your nostrils, and meanwhile you'd be combing your hair and--whoops!-- you scraped your language center and pterodactyl anglicizes lint movingly?

Ergo, skulls are usually our friends.

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Before landing his seasonal gig as a tree-topper, the friendly Flying Skull of Happiness was part of a Visible Man plastic model that I laboriously assembled and painted in lifelike hues inspired by the fetal pigs that I was dissecting in biology class at the same age. The rest of the model is long gone, but I hung on to the skull, because... skulls are cool.

*Q. If 4 out of 5 guests said "Angel of Death," what did the Fifth Guest say? A. "Skeletor™ in drag." That's wrong, but it's my kind of wrong.

UPDATE: Readers evariste and Aisha (PBUH) think they spotted Policeman Adam in the first photo. Well, he was in frame for that shot, but even knowing exactly where he is, I find it almost impossible to see him -- I can just make out a small light area that I happen to know is his head, but no one else would recognize it as him, so I'll have to rule that their guesses don't count. (I've put an "Image Map" over him, so that you can cheat by rolling your cursor over each picture until it changes to indicate a link.)
There's another photo in which you can clearly make out Adam's face, his forearms, and even the handcuffs that he carries on his belt!

posted by Throbert | 12/10/2004 10:26:00 PM |
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