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Countdown to Black Friday

BFAds.net guides you to Black Friday ads as they are made available. This year seems to be getting underway early, with Half Price Books already posting their deals.

The site also provides information on store opening times - which seem to get earlier every year, often before the pumpkin pie is served!

Happy Capitalistic Thanksgiving...oh, and Happy Halloween too!

New Year's Resolution Song

"Just raise the bar to walk effortlessly underneath." Words to live by!

DIY Ugly Sweaters (Videos)

Got any extra lights, balls, Santa hats, garland, Spode dishes or any other Christmas detritus lying around? Well, hell, get out that glue gun and start "enhancing" a sweater that was ugly to begin with!

 If you need some step-by-step directions, this is the video for you:

I thought the whole point of an UCS competition was to scour Goodwill stores and estate sales to find the castoffs of little old ladies? These guys make it way too simple (and expensive - seriously, $65 when your cost is $12?!).

Unlucky '13

'13 proved to be a bad-luck year with lots of low points. Here they are set to music and sung rather hellishly:


Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Guide

Want to see some Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties in action? These can help show you how it's done!

The 2006 holiday season marked the fifth anniversary of the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. From my extensive research, it appears that this is the earliest known sighting of this phenomenon, which is reaching epic proportions.

A popular theme for parties these days is to make an ugly sweater mandatory for entry. One invitation reads, "The uglier the sweater, the better the party." Check out Craigslist and you'll find posters desperate for cheesy Christmas sweaters.

Whether it started in Vancouver or elsewhere, we applaud this tradition, which epitomizes hellishness. Want to throw an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party yourself? Or maybe you've been invited to one and don't know what to do--after all, your holiday clothes are so tasteful that you don't have anything appropriate! (Yeah, right.) Here's a helpful guide.

1. Think Ironic. You probably have fond memories of your older female relatives at holiday gatherings wearing sweaters with Christmas trees and Santa Claus. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party pokes fun at these wardrobe choices, and no one wants to be mean to Grandma. So mentally separate the Grandma sweater from the Party sweater. Pretend she wouldn't be hurt by the concept. And for God's sake, don't tell her about it.

2. Think Thrift Shop. Whether going or throwing, you might want to pick up some special specimens, and you won't find a better source than Goodwill. And you can't beat the prices. Just plan on spending a little extra for dry cleaning.

3. Think with a Twist. Move beyond the sweater. Add in a turtleneck,


or a tie.

4. Think Regional. Florida, Hawaii...not the right spots for this concept. Compromise! Hold an Ugly Christmas Tights, Sunglasses or a Hawaiian or T Shirt Party instead so no one passes out unless it's for the right reason: eggnog overdose.

5. Think Unsexy. There's nothing hot about a Christmas sweater, unless you're wearing it in Hawaii (against our excellent advice). No bare midriffs, especially on guys.

6. Think Prizes. Kick it up a notch and add a contest to the mix. And what do you give the partygoer with the uglist, tackiest, most heinous Christmas sweater? How about Christmas socks ? Or everyone's favorite: Fruitcake!

Originally published on Friday, December 15, 2006

Hellish Insurance

‘Tis the season not just for shopping and overeating but for committing to a health insurance policy. The Obama administration just announced a one-day extension of the registration deadline, tacitly advising Americans to spend Christmas Eve selecting a policy that's the least of deductible and provider-choice evils. Ho ho ho.

I’ve spent hours this month on Covered California as well as numerous insurance company sites. I was trying to find a policy that includes Cedars-Sinai Hospital as a provider. Not so easy. Apparently Cedars, the best hospital in town, is also the most expensive, and no insurer wants to subsidize the highest quality. Only the second-rate, the mediocre, merit funding.  

When Clinton announced “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a military policy, it was groundbreaking. Imperfect, but a step forward, a step leading to the current gay-friendly policy. The Affordable Care Act, too, is a step forward. Unfortunately, that fact is being obscured by a poorly handled roll-out and the fact that insurance companies still hold almost all the power. But without this agonizing, infuriating, hellish step, 20 years from now there will still be families losing their homes over hospital bills. The first step is the hardest, but don't take it and you'll never reach the finish line.

What He Said

I love this lazy approach to Christmas decorations.

Turkey Lurkey Time

Wonder why this holiday song never caught on...

The Same Old Things

Another Thanksgiving
drunk in the kitchen, post-turkey
exhausted from family time
“Alice's Restaurant” playing on the radio.
(Damn, that song is long.)
Why can't we spend holidays with friends?
Then we wouldn't fight over:

showing up late
bringing a loser
setting the table
saying grace
carving the turkey
bored with the bird and I thought we were going with Honeybaked this year
cheesy decorations
watching too much football
Iraq and Republicans and let's not fight about the election
not eating enough vegetables
white meat is healthier than dark or is it the other way around?
the freakin' Pilgrims
out of wedlock still means something to me
washing the dishes
the same old things

The same old things.
They should be reassuring.
It should put me at ease
that some things don't change
but I'm down on my knees
praying we stop
going round and round
with the same old things.

Originally published November 16, 2007

Black Friday Mania

Black Friday started early this year, with idiots shoving, threatening, even assaulting to get what they want. They skipped time with family (maybe not such a sacrifice), dinner, even football, to line up in bitter cold for cheap flatscreens, Michael Kors purses and toys that will be discarded by New Year's Day. Seriously guys, it's not worth it!

I Said No Cuts!

Remember Me to Herald Square

Appreciate Your Own Family...(Videos)

...Just compare them to these:

Thanksgiving After-Dinner Joy?

From the unfriendly mom at the sink to the immobile grandparents abandoned at the cleared table, to the beastly kids, this one just screams Hellish.

The Thanksgiving Fight

What's more disturbing: the fighting or the number of stairs this couple has to climb to get to their apartment?

Post-Dinner Scrabble

Brings new meaning to the expression “Just shoot me.” From Columbia, Missouri.

Make It Yourself!

Tip of the Day: Don’t tell the cook that his homemade holiday dressing tastes like puke when he is making the Thanksgiving grocery list.

More Football, Please!

Given a choice between football and listening to family members fiddling, which would you choose?

Thanksgiving Dinners Weirder Than Yours (Videos)

Mashed Potato Fight on Thanksgiving

OK, so this one guy wouldn't give this other guy his phone back? So the other guy throws mashed potatoes at the first guy? And then it, like, escalates? Who says you need to go home to have a fight on Thanksgiving? Caution: language alert.

No Need to Dress for Dinner...

Looks like Great Grandma came straight from the pool to the table.


It's the children I feel sorry for.

"Fear of Flying" on Thanksgiving

This year I'm spending my Thanksgiving alone. I had plans to join a friend's family and was assigned dessert. So I baked three pies (see below) and got a manicure.
But various medical situations put the bulk of her family out of commission, so here I am, halfway through the apple-cranberry.

Sure, there were other places I could have gone. I'm not a pariah. But after the events of recent weeks (all around swirled death, medical emergencies, breakups, job loss and substance abuse relapse), I chose being alone and reading. I sent my son off to his father and settled in for pie and Fear of Flying.

When I was babysitting in the mid-'70s, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong was on every mother's bedside table. A zipper opening to reveal a naked woman's torso, a salacious blurb by John Updike -- the cover was definitely compelling, but the fact that middle-aged women were reading it meant it wasn't for me.

Now that I'm middle-aged myself (OK, 20 years older than those young mothers, but never mind), I decided to give it a shot when I found it at a yard sale. And oh my. Even today, 40 years after its initial publication, it is shocking. Filthy. As Updike promised, "uninhibited." Also a perfect of-the-moment snapshot of the early '70s implementation of the late '60s decree to let it all hang out. Women's lib, sexual freedom, the foundation of the '80s "Me Generation" - it's all here.

So I'm making my way through a bevy of Thanksgiving baked goods and the sexual adventures of a fictional feminist favorite. In the back of my mind I'm worrying about the problems affecting those near and dear to me and trying to feel grateful things aren't worse than they are. In the front of my mind, though, I'm in Vienna and Heidelberg and the Upper West Side with the shrinks and the lustful Isadora.

Thanksgiving Fast and Slow (Videos)

Thanksgiving Dinner on Speed

Where'd the Pie Go?

Yet Somehow Not Fast Enough

This family needs to learn the joys of passing.

Gangnam Style...Holiday Style

Turkey Style

Santa Style

Halloween Style

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