No Christmas, 1995

Homey don't "Ho ho ho" no more. Instead I go to a movie every Xmas, alone.

Today's movie was going to be Nixon, because I've been delighted by all the news reports and editorials bemoaning that Oliver Stone's movie is "unfair to Nixon." Someone tell me please, how anyone can be "unfair" to Nixon. He was a complete bastard and asshole, liar, narcissistic, kept an idiot war going and actually made it worse, etc. Treating him with respect would be "unfair" to Nixon.

Something changed my plans, though. When the winds were just starting yesterday, someone's San Francisco Examiner blew by my table, and I shoved it into my backpack for later reading, When I read it, there was an article complaining about Stone's political bias.

This is required for all coverage of anything Oliver Stone does, of course, but there's never any corresponding caterwauling about right-wing bullshit when there's a new Charlton Heston or Rambo flick. 

After its annoying beginning, the article went on to list several simple historical lies in the movie. There were several. The paper's been burned, but the two lies I remember were that John F Kennedy and Archibald Cox went to law school together (they didn't), and that after engineering Kennedy's assassination, Nixon chartered a flight out of Dallas (the records prove that Nixon made his getaway on a took a commercial flight out of town).

I don't mind artistic license, but the point of the movie, based on what I've read, is to claim that Nixon was responsible for JFK's assassination. Most people think that's a shocking assertion, but to me it seems plausible, based on what little I know — that Nixon was in Dallas that day, and never explained why.

If you're going to make a charge like that, that one President killed another, you damned well better get everything right. The details have to be immaculate.

If not, all the factual flubs, like those listed in yesterday's paper, only make it easier for petrified pundits like Chris Matthews to brush all of it away. Fucking up the little details obscures the big picture, which makes Oliver Stone's Nixon the work of a fuck-up, and I'm not interested in that.

It's not hard to not screw things up. Maybe next time Stone will send a fact-checker to visit a library. This time, though, it's Christmas, and I want to enjoy my Christmas movie. There must be something better playing, so let's see…

♦ ♦ ♦ 

To my surprise, there was actually heat at the run-down UA sevenplex in Berkeley, so my toes weren't too cold, sitting in what used to be half the balcony of one enormous theater. Now it's "auditorium #3," where I was for the first of today's Christmas double feature.

But before we begin, US Cinemas proudly presents an innovative new insult to the audience: There's now pre-programmed music, with a pre-recorded DJ reading voiceover commercials between the songs. It's bad music, of course, and the DJ sounds like he severely needs a punch in the head.

And of course, there's the now-standard slide-show of ads for McDonald's and Chrysler and United Airlines, and a movie trivia quiz written by someone who doesn't know movies, and the 80-decibel Coke commercial, and all that's before the nauseating self-promotional video for United Artists, before the previews, before the feature, which as always was presented just slightly out of focus.

In addition, my Milk Duds and popcorn were both stale, and one of the Duds unfilled an old filling as I chewed.

Other than that, though, I had a great time at the movies alone on Christmas.

Sudden Death is an action movie set against the backdrop of the NHL's Stanley Cup championships, and the National Hockey League must be on flimsy financial footing to have allowed such abuse its trademarks.

Terrorists have seized the arena, and they're holding the Vice President and 20,000 far less important spectators hostage while the game goes on, but there's just one thing the baddies didn't take into account: Jean Claude Van Damme is in the building.

You know the rest. It's Die Hard with hockey pucks, but it's still fun when done with panache. The terrorists are sufficiently despicable, the hero aloof like he's supposed to be, and as the situation gets more and more unlikely and then impossible, it's always overblown and entertaining.

Peter Hyams, doing his usual double-duty as director and cinematographer, creates at least two wild action sequences unlike anything I've seen before. The movie loses points, though, for what's supposed to be the showstopping set piece at the end, a slow-motion helicopter crash that's sadly kinda hokey. 

When it was over, I had my pick of which auditorium to sneak into for my second movie, and decided on Goldeneye downstairs, in a tiny room that was perhaps a broom and mop closet when this once-grand but now seedy palace was built.

Of course, they ran the same music, same annoying DJ, and the same movie quiz with the same two out of seven answers wrong, but the movie unspoooled in surprisingly sharp focus from beginning to end. Infinite monkey projectionists, I guess.

Bond movies usually disappoint me, and Goldeneye is a Bond movie. It makes more sense than recent episodes, which is not to say that it makes sense, but it's OK.

As with Sudden Death, what you expect is what you get: The bad guys are bad, the babes are babes, the gadgetry is funny, and Desmond Llewelyn as Q keeps getting better with age. He's been handing wacky weaponry to every Bond since Sean Connery in Thunderball.

Pierce Brosnan isn't as bad a Bond as I'd expected, but there's still only one Bond, James Bond, and that's Timothy Dalton. He's the only Bond who seemed to not like what he does for a living, and if we must have a spy as a movie hero, please give me one who's at least queasy about what he does.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

At home after the movies, there were Christmas presents. From Judith, a new wool cap. From Cy & Peter, a flannel shirt that'll keen me warmer than my ordinary t-shirt on t-shirt. 

And from me for them, nothing. I don't do Christmas, which I've said many  times. In 20th century America, though, you're simply not allowed to opt out of Christmas.

When I told Cy I thought I'd made it clear that I don't do Christmas, he said, "Fuck you, too bad," which made me chuckle. Thanks and thanks, and it's nice to have a few friends.

I'll keep trying, though. If I'm alive next year, I'll start announcing "No Christmas for me" in August. Nothing's wrong with a little gift now and then for people you care about, but if it's me, please, not in or around December.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The best part of my Christmas was a phone call from Andrea, a red hot mamacita of my acquaintance. "Please call me," was all she said, and usually I put off callbacks as long as possible, but not for her.

I rang her number right away, and after "Merry Christmas" what she wanted was a babysitter for Saturday night. She also said, "I hope your prices are negotiable," and they are. My asking price of $5 an hour is more than anyone pays a babysitter, and Andrea is a school teacher — garbage collectors make more — so I offered myself at half-price, and she agreed.

It was only after hanging up that I thought of other possibilities I could've offered. Cripes! Why didn't I suggest trading a night of babysitting for dinner with Andrea some other night?

Well, because I'm fat and ugly, that's why. If I'm a fat guy asking her out to dinner, she'll find a different babysitter.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Maybe it was too many Milk Duds at the theater, or maybe I'm sick, but I just came back from barfing mostly in the toilet. I'm warmer than my room is. My throat's all itchy and scratchy. So I took twenty Vitamin C pills, and now I'm going to bed.

But please, when I say "No presents and no Christmas," it means no presents and no Christmas, please.

From Pathetic Life #19
Monday, Dec. 25, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


  1. > "Fuck you, too bad"

    He sounds really nice.

    1. As I recall, he *was* really nice, but you know me — I can't recall much.

      Never punched him or wanted to, though, which is more than I can say for most people.


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