Friday, December 31, 2010
There's a good reason for this.
According to an Associated Press article written by Matthew Brown, grizzly bear deaths around Yellowstone National Park approached record levels in 2010, with an astonishing total of 75 grizzlies being killed or removed from the wild. As is usually the case in situations like this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken a "blame the victim" approach to explaining the carnage. According to the article, most of the bears were killed by wildlife agents or hunters after they (the bears) attacked livestock, acted aggressively toward humans, or damaged property. Although hunting grizzlies is illegal, at least fifteen were killed this year by hunters who mistook them for black bears. Advocates for the black bears call this excuse "just another pathetic example of racial profiling."
In an isolated incident, two bears (Jocko and Phil) were found dead after hi-jacking a Chevy Tahoe and going for a joyride in the Cheyenne area. You're probably thinking, well of course, they must've been killed in a horrific accident because there's no way a grizzly bear could operate a motor vehicle. But that's not what happened at all. As it turns out, Jocko was an excellent driver who diligently obeyed all traffic laws and practiced DMV-approved defensive driving techniques; however, when the bears stopped at an AM-PM mini-mart to get gas and buy snacks, they were shot dead by the store manager who completely misread the situation.
"I saw two bears rummaging through the Tastykake display and I just panicked," admits Jeb Schifley, the manager in question. "I felt awful when I realized they were just regular paying customers. The big one even had a coupon in his wallet for a free package of butterscotch Krimpets. I'm really sorry that this happened."
Of the 75 deaths this year, only three were listed as "natural deaths" and one (the sad case of Billy Bear) was ruled a suicide.
"In general, if you were going to make a bet on whether a bear died because of people versus natural causes, it would be people," said Chuck Schwartz, a U.S. Geological Survey biologist and compulsive gambler. "When you're talking about deaths in the Yellowstone area specifically, the smart money says to take the deaths caused by people and give seven points. Hunters almost always cover the spread."
The estimate of 75 dead or removed bears comes from extrapolations (from the Latin extra meaning "random" and polations meaning "guess") by researchers who assume not all deaths are recorded. Only forty-seven deaths were listed as "known and probable" meaning there was specific evidence of a dead bear such as a carcass, grave marker, or grieving widow.
The rise in bear deaths in 2010 coincided with a decline in the dietary staples for Yellowstone bears -- cutthroat trout and nuts from whitebark pine cones. Government scientists argue that grizzly bears can adapt by eating more elk. Naturally, leaders in the elk community are none too happy with the government scientists.
"Why the hell do they have to drag us into this?" asked Roland P. Whitehorn-Jones, alpha male of the Yellowstone Order of Elks. "Just because the bears can't seem to locate their nuts or their trout, that doesn't mean they should come after us. What, like we don't have our own problems with hunters?"
One grizzly bear, whose name is being withheld at his request, has a solution to the entire problem. "Just stop shooting at us," he said. "We bears don't want to hurt people. We're just hungry. If humans would be willing to share their pick-a-nick baskets with us, there would be no problems whatsoever. A sandwich here, a couple deviled eggs there, we'd all get along just fine."
Monday, December 27, 2010
By the time my son Ryan was ten years old, he'd already been playing baseball for a few years. He knew the game, was a decent player, and had developed an interest in what was going on in the Major Leagues.
I've been a Yankees fan since I was about five. My grandfather went out to Yankee Stadium during the Ruth-Gehrig days, my dad grew up in the era of Mantle and Maris, and I enjoyed the Munson-Jackson "Bronx Zoo" period of the 70's. In short, our family DNA was encoded with pinstripes. It wasn't until I was 14, in fact, that I found out that "we'll root, root, root for the YAN-KEES!" weren't the original "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" lyrics.
So when my son dropped the bomb on me, right in the middle of the game we were watching on ESPN, I was completely caught off guard.
"Dad, I don't think I'm gonna be a Yankees fan. I don't really like them that much. I have another favorite team."
Not a Yankees fan? Excuse me?
Once the initial shock wore off, I decided I'd be better off staying calm and trying to understand. I mean, Ryan was a Southern California kid, after all. He didn't have the same hometown loyalty that I'd had growing up in New Jersey. I'd just approach the situation lightly.
"WHY THE HELL WOULDN'T YOU LIKE THE YANKEES, YOU LITTLE . . ."
I didn't actually say that. I thought it, but I didn't say it. What I said was, "Okay, this favorite team of yours, is it the Dodgers?"
I felt like a suspicious husband questioning his philandering wife. "Is it that Italian-looking guy that you work with?"
"Nah, not the Dodgers."
"The Angels then?" We didn't live that far from Anaheim, and they'd just won the World Series the year before. Maybe he'd gotten caught up in the hoopla at school or something, hanging out with the wrong crowd.
"No, I hate the Angels. My favorite team is the Red Sox."
It knocked the wind out of me like a clenched Fisk to the solar plexus.
My son, my very own flesh and blood, the child I looked upon adoringly the day he was born and swore to raise and protect to the ends of the earth. The kid who peed in my ear the very first time I tried to change his diaper.
A friggin' Boston Red Sox fan.
The betrayal to the family alone was unforgivable. Imagine a Kennedy not wanting to go into politics or a Corleone treating a snitch with forgiveness and a smile.
At first, I blamed myself. I hadn't schooled him in Yankee history early enough. I assumed too much, thought that the bloodline alone would be enough to make a Yankees fan of the boy. Instead of Green Eggs and Ham, I should've been reading him Bucky Dent: The Little Shortstop that Could. Or maybe The Story of Reggie's Three Dingers.
I talked to my dad about it. He was disappointed, as you would imagine, and he also laid the blame squarely on my shoulders. "How could you let this happen?" he asked.
"Well, it could be worse, right? Ryan could hate baseball entirely."
"That wouldn't be worse."
"What do you mean?"
"Let me put it this way, would you rather your kid hate politics or be a member of the Nazi Party?"
As always, Dad had a point.So now I had to deal with the fact that Ryan was our family's version of Fredo.
"Ryan, you're my son and I love you. But don't EVER take sides with anyone against the Yankees again."
I was distraught. I noticed myself working through the stages of grief.
Denial: "There's no way he actually likes the Red Sox. He's just trying to get my attention."
Anger: "Take off that David Ortiz t-shirt this instant, or you're grounded for a month!"
Bargaining: "Look, Ryan, let me get you a cool Yankees jacket and we'll go see them when they're in town. I'll even throw in an authentic Mariano Rivera jersey."
Depression: "I'm a failure as a father. I've broken the family tradition by allowing my son to root for Team Anti-Christ."
Acceptance: Focus on my other child, Ryan's little sister. "Hey, Lindsay! Let me tell you a story about a cute shortstop named Bucky Dent!"
So now Linds has her very own Derek Jeter t-shirt and Yankees cap.
And someday, Ryan is going to have a son of his own. I'm not going to make the same mistake twice. This time I'm going to nurture the Yankee blood that I know is still in there, and bring true Bronx Bomber spirit back to the family name. I'm gonna babysit my little grandson every chance I get and tell him all the old stories about Mr. October, Louisiana Lightning, Goose and Sparky.
I don't know what my grandson's name will be. Ryan might give him a name like Steven or Michael, Seth or Kyle, Jason or Patrick.
But no matter what his name might be, I'm callin' the kid "Bucky".
Monday, December 20, 2010
Now I've done it. I've gone and alienated my own mother.
Over the weekend, I wrote an article about my ongoing battle with Tele-Nag, my Verizon navigation system. In that article, I implied that my mother has a tendency to be inaccurate when providing driving directions and in some cases has caused family members to get hopelessly lost.
Within hours of that article hitting the Internet, I received the following e-mail:
Now you've gone too far. Criticize my parenting skills? OK. Make fun of my misinterpretation of Christmas gift requests? Fine. But this? Accuse me of having a less-than-impeccable ability to provide driving directions? I'm totally insulted.
I hope your new GPS system takes you to Needles and loses you in the desert.
Happy Holidays and Love Always,
So I guess an apology is in order.
My use of the phrase "While [my GPS] is pretty accurate with the directions, which is more than I can say for some humans I know (lookin' at YOU, Mom)" was a comedic device without any real basis in fact. Over the past forty years, my mother has been our family's own Ferdinand Magellan, guiding us on trips to Nova Scotia, Utah, the Grand Canyon, and an Atlas-ful of other wonderful vacations with nary a wrong turn or missed exit.
Well, hold on a minute. I'm having a flashback here.
It was the mid-70's, and our family was driving from New Jersey to Florida. That is, Dad was driving while Mom did needlepoint in the passenger seat and my brothers and I were in the back fighting because someone, who shall remain nameless, punched Bobby too hard during a game of "Slug Bug." We were making a side trip to Washington D.C. to visit our Aunt Judy when we got hopelessly lost. I mean, we were still within the District of Columbia, but we were just going around in an endless circle with Dad somehow unable to find the proper turn-off. With each lap around the city our father got angrier and angrier, Mom got more and more frustrated, and from the back seat we spotted more and more VW Beetles allowing someone, who shall again remain anonymous, to inflict more and more damage on Bobby's left arm. After several hours of circling the city, and my brothers and I learning a colorful new vocabulary, we finally made it to our Aunt's house.
Now, I'm not saying this was Mom's fault. Maybe she had indeed called upon her "impeccable ability to provide driving directions" and gave Dad a clear and unmistakable route to Aunt Judy's. Maybe Dad just chose to ignore Mom's navigational advice and "wing-it" to see where the road took us. Hell, it wouldn't have been the first time (or the last). So I'm going to give my mother the benefit of the doubt on that one.
On another trip, though, Dad must be held completely harmless as he was not with us. It was another trip to Florida. Mom and I, along with Bobby and a friend of the family who spent the entire twenty-one hour trip whistling the theme from "Bridge Over the River Kwai" made the journey via 1971 AMC Hornet Sportabout. Dad and Eric flew down a few days later. As far as I can remember, this was the only major trip we ever took where Mom did the driving so maybe she just wanted to take the opportunity to show me, Bobby, and the Mad Whistler a more scenic route to Orlando. All I know is that when Dad was driving, we never made pit stops in Indianapolis or Nashville.
Nah, I made that last part up. We didn't get that far off course.
At least I don't think we did, but then again, maybe I was distracted playing "Slug Bug."
So, to set the record straight, Mom, I know you're not nearly as inaccurate with your directions as I may have implied. I was merely making a bit of a joke at your expense, and for that I apologize.
You can put the Hot Wheels tracks away now.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I think it would be awesome if the voice on your GPS automatically picked up the dialect and accent from wherever you happened to be driving. For example in New York you might hear your device tell you, "Okay, ya friggin' mook, youse gonna make a right up here on Toity-Fit Street. And don't slow down, unless youse wanna get car-jacked."
In the south: "Honey-chile, y'all gonna head on down to Peach Blossom Hah-way and make a li'l ol' raht hay-und turn."
And of course in Southern California: "Dude, we are like totally lost. You got any more weed?"
But I think the GPS program on my Blackberry has a learning disability. Either that, or it's a sinister electronic bitch, possibly a distant relative of HAL 9000, hell-bent on orchestrating my bloody demise. I subscribe to the Verizon navigation system known as Telenav, or as I lovingly refer to her, "Tele-Nag." While she's pretty accurate with her directions, which is more than I can say for some humans I know (lookin' at YOU, Mom), she's not as responsible with her timing. For example, last week I was cruising down Apple Valley Road when Tele-Nag informed me that my turn was coming up.
"PREPARE TO TURN RIGHT ON SENECA AVENUE."
I didn't know for sure where Seneca Avenue was, but I figured Tele-Nag would let me know when it was time to make the turn. I maintained a relatively safe speed, waiting for her cue.
"TURN RIGHT ON SENECA AVENUE," she said.
When I was twenty yards passed it. Friggin' idiot.
"RECALCULATING ROUTE," she said, with not even a hint of an apology.
"MAKE THE NEXT LEGAL U-TURN."
Legal, my ass. I flipped a U immediately, and headed back toward Seneca Avenue. Not trusting Tele-Bitch to warn me this time, I made what was now a left turn toward my destination. Eight seconds later, she finally got a clue.
"TURN LEFT ON SENECA AVENUE."
I'm a step ahead of you, moron.
"PREPARE TO TURN LEFT IN ONE POINT SIX MILES ON KWAT-ZACK-COLLET LANE."
Kwat the hell? I'd never heard of this street, and Tele-Mumbles wasn't helping at all. What did that even start with? K? C? I drove very slowly, looking for anything that might be close.
Sitting Bull Road? Nope.
Pocahontas Drive? Not even close.
"PREPARE TO TURN LEFT IN POINT FOUR MILES ON KWAT-SILK-CODDLE LANE."
Cherokee Canyon Lane. Close enough. I hung a left.
"RECALCULATING ROUTE." I think I heard her let out a sarcastic chuckle.
"MAKE THE NEXT LEGAL U-TURN."
I made the next available U-turn. Legal, once again, was someone else's problem. I retraced my steps, and turned back on to Seneca. That's when I noticed the police flashers in my rear-view. Shit.
"I SAID, LEGAL U-TURN, DUMMY. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS TICKET IS GOING TO COST YOU?"
Turns out this is a pretty sophisticated navigation system Verizon's come up with. I exited out of the program so she didn't screw things up with the cop who was approaching from behind. I rolled down the window.
"Do you know why I pulled you over?"
About ten witty replies came to mind, but since I didn't think blaming my Blackberry would get me very far and the other responses would've resulted in either prison time or a beating, I played it by the book.
"Exactly. License and registration please."
Fifteen minutes later, I turned Tele-Nag back on and continued on my route.
Shut up, bitch. And hey, weren't you turned off?
"ARE YOU ANGRY WITH ME, CHRIS? OH, AND TURN RIGHT ON KWAT-SUCK-KITTY LANE."
I looked at the sign. Quetzalcoatl Lane. This must be the place.
Eventually I reached my destination, which was the Verizon store. I'm trading Tele-Nag in for a Droid and whatever navigation program it comes with.
It better not be named HAL.
Monday, December 13, 2010
It reads as follows:
Although you probably won't notice this until a day or two after Christmas since you're busy filling the sleigh, micro-managing the elves, and doing God-knows-what with the ho-ho-hos in the secretarial pool, I've packed my things and have moved out of the cottage. Shortly after the holidays, you'll be hearing from my attorney about division of property and what-not, but in the meantime I'll be staying with my mother in Tampa. I've had more than enough crappy North Pole weather as it is.
This is not a decision I've arrived at lightly. For years, I've put up with you sitting on your fat ass for eleven months eating Hostess cupcakes and watching the Food Network followed by a one-month period of work-related stress and hostility. I find it ironic, and morbidly amusing, that kids all over the world view you as the very picture of kindness and generosity when we both know that it's all an act. Sure, you're all smiles and merriment for them, but take off the red coat and phony beard and you're nothing but a cynical, grouchy old bastard. Why is it, for example, that you'll eat any stale cookie the kids' grubby hands leave for you on Christmas Eve, but if I so much as burn one Snickerdoodle you practically have an aneurysm? You've built an entire career around knowing who's been naughty and who's been nice but take a look at yourself. You're about ten percent "jolly old elf" and ninety percent "bitter old drunk." It's a good thing children aren't privy to Santa's Dark Side. "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night" plays a lot better than "Get me another beer, bitch, or you're getting the reindeer whip again." I'd love to tell the world what a cranky SOB you are, but I wouldn't want to destroy their delusions. Between you and me, you're nothing but a holly, jolly asshole.
I'll tell you, mister, I'm sick of your condescension, treating me like I'm the hired help. Just because the elves' union won't allow them to clean up reindeer shit doesn't mean I should do it instead. I don't have the time or the inclination to be a stable maid. You keep me busy enough baking gingerbread, decorating the cottage, and altering your suit to accommodate your ever-expanding gut. I'm done shoveling Donner muffins.
The next couple things might sound petty, but they've been bothering me for a long time. Why is it that you can remember the names of every single boy and girl in the world and know if they've been bad or good, yet you can't remember to put the toilet seat down after you take a whiz? And really, you give millions of kids wonderful presents each year, fulfilling their every Christmas wish, but remember what you gave ME last year? A fucking vacuum cleaner.
I didn't want to stoop to this, but as long as I'm laying it out there, I may as well get it off my chest. Our sex life is pathetic. I don't know where you got the idea that you're the man of every woman's dreams, but that "Hey, baby, how'd you like to see my North Pole" line wasn't charming in 1843 and it's not charming now. I also don't appreciate your repeated hounding me to try something called "Reverse Sleigh Ride." I have no idea what that means, but it sounds far too kinky for my taste. Truth be told, I haven't enjoyed the physical part of our relationship for decades, not just because of your chauvinistic attitude, but also because that "belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly" isn't so festive when it's bouncing on top of me. That moaning sound you hear isn't ecstasy, it's pain. And not the good kind. Oh, one more thing, and I hope this doesn't insult your manhood. You're not the only one who "comes just once a year." 'Nuff said.
I've already filed for divorce, so you should be receiving notice in the near future. Please do not attempt to contact me directly, as I have no interest in discussing this further. I do, however, wish you a safe journey this Christmas Eve, and please send my best regards to Rudolph. I always kinda liked that little guy.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
When we were young, my brother Eric was our family's Eeyore -- pessimistic, rather gloomy. Experience taught him early on that if something bad was going to happen, it was going to happen to him. Most of the time it wasn't even his fault, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, fall victim to a misunderstanding, or suffer some other stroke of random misfortune like putting his arm through a window or sliding down a wooden bench and getting a foot long splinter embedded in his thigh.
One Saturday afternoon when I was thirteen and Eric was nine, our dad came home with two bikes that were given to him by a friend whose kids had outgrown them. One was a sleek metallic blue five-speed with a banana seat and hand brakes, the other was a small turtle-shit green K-mart model with coaster brakes and a basket on the handlebars. In retrospect, Dad should've decided beforehand which of us was going to get which bike. Maybe he was hoping it would work out naturally, but whatever the case, Dad committed one of the Cardinal Sins of Fatherhood -- he asked both of us which bike we wanted. The result was not a surprise.
"I want the blue one," I said.
"No, I want the blue one," said Eric.
After several minutes of arguing back and forth, firing phrases like "I'm older, I should get it," and "No fair, you always get your way," at each other, Dad decided to flip a coin.
"Chris, you call it," he said.
"Why doe HE get to call it?" asked Eric.
"Fine, you call it then," I said.
"Heads," said Eric.
Dad tossed the coin, caught it, and flipped it over on the back of his hand.
"It's tails. Chris, you get to pick your bike."
I'd like to say that I took this golden opportunity to be the bigger person, to set aside my own selfish desires and accept the turtle-shit green K-Mart clunker so my little brother could have the bike of his dreams, to be a thoughtful and caring big brother who Eric would look up to for the rest of his life.
But I think we all know what really happened.
"I'll take the blue one."
Eric, predictably, pitched a hissy fit and ran upstairs to our bedroom. I felt guilty for about eight seconds, then I hopped on my bike and rode to my friend Paul's house, shifting gears the whole way.
A similar incident had occurred a few years prior only instead of bicycles, the subject was Halloween costumes. Most years, our Aunt Patti took me, Eric, and our youngest brother Bobby to FAO Schwarz in New York to pick out really cool outfits to wear for Trick or Treat. One year I was an astronaut, another time Eric was a snazzy-looking Canadian Mountie, and Bobby spent Halloween 1975 gathering Tootsie Pops and Milky Ways decked out as a four-foot tall Spiderman.
One year, though, all we had to choose from was the family's Costumes of Halloweens Past, those that were recycled year to year and passed along as hand-me-downs. Bobby was a tiger, I was Batman, and Eric was a clown.
Eric, however, had absolutely no interest in being a clown. He griped, he grumbled, he pouted. To this day, no one is sure why he was so against the idea, but it may have had something to do with the time we were all kidnapped by Giggles McYukyuk at one of our mom's Cub Scout leaders' meetings.
It gets worse.
Not only did Eric have to don the clown suit, Mom insisted on stuffing the front of the costume with balloons so he resembled one of those inflatable punching bags. As a result, Eric is the only child in Halloween history to sulk his way through Trick or Treating.
It also led to the most hilarious picture in our family's scrapbook:
So yeah, Eric always seemed to be the one getting the bum deal, which makes what happened on Christmas 1979 all the more pitiful.
Every Christmas, we'd wake up at the crack of dawn, roust our parents out of bed and storm downstairs to unwrap our presents. Once the gifts were opened, Mom would whip up a batch of Pillsbury orange danish and we'd spend the rest of the morning playing with our new toys. In the early afternoon, we'd drive across town to our grandmother's house for round two.
Traditionally, Grandma would give us each a stocking full of candy and small toys, a couple mid-level gifts (clothes were the most common in this category), and finally, our one "big" present. Grandma had a fairly close relationship with Santa Claus, so we always knew that the main gift was going to be something really cool. One year I got a complete set of barbells, another time it was a guitar, and when I got a bit older, I received a top-of-the-line Texas Instruments digital watch.
The 70's were a much simpler time.
So anyway, on the Christmas That Will Live in Infamy, we'd plowed through the preliminary presents and were ready for the main event. Family policy required us to open our presents one at a time, so we all got to see what the others had received. Also, it made the process last longer than twelve seconds.
"Okay, who wants to open their big gift first?" asked Dad, clearly forgetting about the bicycle incident of a year earlier.
"I do!" said Bobby.
"Me!" I shouted.
"Here we go again," muttered Eric.
Since there were three of us involved in this decision coin-flipping wasn't an option, so Dad wrote down the numbers 1, 2, and 3 on slips of paper and put them into a bowl. Eric drew first and pulled out the number 3.
"What a surprise, I'm last," he said.
Bobby had drawn the number 1, so he retrieved his gift from under the tree and ripped off the red and gold wrapping paper.
"Cool! A Johnny Lightning racing set! Thanks, Grandma!" He reluctantly set the box aside so he could watch me unwrap my present.
Mine was wrapped in green paper with snowmen all over it. I tore it open, to reveal the gift I'd been asking for since August.
"An Atari video game set with five game cartridges!" I said. "Pacman, Adventure, Kaboom, bowling, and Tank Battle! This is great, thanks, Grandma!"
By this point, Eric was practically bursting with anticipation. Seeing Bobby and I hit the jackpot with Johnny Lightning and Atari, he just knew his present was going to be something spectacular. Taking his time, he removed the silver paper from the box, revealing his special gift. It was exactly what he'd asked for . . .
A few months earlier, Eric and Mom were watching television when a commercial came on advertising an innovative new product. It was an item that Eric did indeed have a particular need for, even if it wasn't something most ten year olds would have any interest in. As kind of a joke, he said to Mom, "Hey, look at that, maybe Santa can bring me one of those for Christmas." Mom, however, didn't realize he was kidding, so she passed this information along to Grandma who went out and bought Eric the gift he was now looking at with a puzzled and somewhat somber expression on his face.
The Foot Fixer, by Clairol.
Think about this for a minute. Here's a ten-year-old kid who's just seen his brothers open a brand-new video game system and a racing set where you can actually juice up the cars and they rip around the track on their own. It's Christmas, the highlight of every kid's year, and what does he have to show for it?
A flippin' Foot Fixer.
All things considered, the kid handled it pretty damn well. He didn't burst into tears, he didn't throw the thing across the living room, he didn't look at Grandma and ask, "What the hell is THIS?" He just let out a pathetic sigh and said, "A Foot Fixer. Thanks, Grandma."
He wanted to cry, though, you could tell.
Here's the rest of the story.
Eric had flat feet. He was always quick to point this out, and he often used it as an excuse to get out of doing household chores, kind of like a ten-year-old on disability.
"Eric, it's your turn to bring in the trash cans."
"I can't, my feet hurt. I have flat feet, you know."
"Eric, it's time to set the dinner table."
"My feet hurt, I'll do it later. I have flat feet, you know."
Truthfully, he did suffer through bouts with foot pain from time to time, especially at night while trying to get to sleep. So when he and Mom saw the Foot Fixer commercial on TV, he thought it might be something that would help.
But not as his Christmas present.
The real victim here, though, is our grandmother. She genuinely believed that Eric wanted The Foot Fixer, and once she realized how disappointed the poor kid was, that it was all a big mistake, she felt terrible. I don't recall what happened in the aftermath, but I'm sure it involved taking Eric to Toys R Us and letting him pick out whatever he wanted.
But to be honest about it, The Foot Fixer wasn't a total loss. If you filled it up with water and plugged it in, the resulting vibrations caused a tsunami that was great for capsizing our toy battleships.
Note: In no way is Grandma at fault for this. She was absolutely the kindest, most thoughtful, and most wonderful human being to ever grace the planet. Her role in the Foot Fixer Incident of 1979 was simply to provide her grandsons with whatever they asked for. The misunderstanding was absolutely not on her. No, the blame lies somewhere else entirely.
I'm looking at YOU, Mom.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
First, on December 26, 2010, the existing collective bargaining agreements with the International Federation of Elves (IFE) and the Global Reindeer Association (GRA) will expire and all current Santa Claus employees will be officially laid off. According to Iger, "Santa Claus's current system of accepting gift lists by mail and delivering presents to every home on the planet completely free of charge is a concept that goes against everything Disney stands for. The home-delivery policy will be eliminated, making Santa's flying reindeer unnecessary. And since Disney already has a well-developed product development division, we certainly don't need elves to build toys for us. Even if we did, we have seven of our own already under contract." When gently reminded that elves are not the same as dwarves, Iger replied, "Whatever. They're all short and funny-looking."
Instead of writing letters directly to Santa, children will request presents by logging on to the website www.disneyclaus.com and filling out an on-line order form. All gifts will be available for their regular retail price plus a $12 per item processing fee.
Every year, on December 20, all gifts will be delivered to regional "Disney Claus Gift Depots" where they can be picked up by parents in time for distribution on Christmas morning. While Iger admits that lines at the depots will be quite long, for a very reasonable price of $500 parents will be able to purchase a Depot Fast Pass allowing them to wait in an express line with a guaranteed wait time of twelve hours or less.
In January 2011, the current Santa Claus Inc. facility located in Christmastown, North Pole will be packed up and moved to Orlando, Florida.
In addition to purchasing all of Santa's current holdings, Disney has also obtained the rights to the name and image of "Santa Claus," forcing the jolly old elf to resume using his given name, Kristopher Kringle.
"Really, they just came in and bought up everything," Kringle said. "My name, my factory, all of it. I'm not thrilled about this, but given the depressing state of the global economy, it was just a matter of time before I would've had to scale back my operation anyway. Instead of breaking millions of little hearts, I thought it best to turn over the operation to the Disney Company. And what the hell, 247 million bucks does wonders for alleviating guilt."
Iger went on to say that while Disney will obviously play a crucial role in the "toys and goodies" component of Christmas, the company has no plans to obtain the other elements of the holiday season. "We have no interest in buying the rights to Christmas trees, winter, holiday songs, or the image of Jesus Christ. We plan to focus on what Disney has always done best, that is, providing customers with high-quality toys, games, and other forms of entertainment."
When a reporter suggested that this might be because Disney has recently been far more concerned with their bottom line than customer satisfaction, ethics, or human decency, Iger responded, "Well yeah, what else?"