Saturday, December 16, 2006

Santa's Butt Is Comin' To Court

Latest Newspaper Column

I love The Christmas season; don't get me wrong. But I swear, every year it seems to get weirder and weirder. Take, for instance, the strange and terrible saga of Santa's Butt.

It seems that the Shelton Brothers Brewery, located appropriately enough in Belchertown, Massachusetts, distributes an English-made brew called "Santa's Butt Winter Porter." The company swears that the name does not refer to anything naughty. "It was inspired," Shelton Brothers insists on the company Web site, "by this famous line from a well-loved children's story book: 'And Santa sat on his great butt, drinking a hearty brew.'"

A "butt," they hasten to add, is a type of whomping-huge beer keg holding 108 gallons, upon which, one presumes, Santa could take his ease while enjoying a well-earned cold one after a long day in the workshop.

So there's nothing suggestive at all, according to the brewers. This might be a lot more convincing, however, if the label didn't feature a colorful cartoon Santa facing away from the viewer, with his enormous red-clad posterior dominating the frame.

This label ran afoul of the Grinches at the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement, who banned Santa's Butt from the shelves of the Pine Tree State (seriously, that's what they call themselves). The label might cause the beer to appeal to children, a spokesman for the Maine State Police stated.

Yep, nothing gives a drink kid appeal like the exaggerated, bloated rump of a morbidly obese 800-year-old-guy.

Two other beers, a French ale called Les Sans Culottes ("Those Without Pants"), and a Belgian beer called Rose de Gambrinus ("I Have No Idea What This Means And I Am Too Lazy To Look It Up") were banned because their labels featured bare-breasted women.

"Basically, the standard we use is what are people going to see walking up and down a store aisle," the MBLE spokesman explained.

Frankly, I think we could stand to see more bare-breasted women on labels as we walk up and down the store aisles. It'd make things way more festive, so long as it was done, you know, tastefully. Nothing, say, larger than a DD cup. And let's get real, it'd just be the next logical extension of the basic marketing philosophy behind most beer advertising, which is that "if you drink lots of our beer, women with large breasts will want to have sex with you." But I digress.

It's not the first time that Shelton Brothers labels have caused controversy. Their Seriously Bad Elf beer (not to be confused with their Bad Elf beer) was banned in Connecticut. Not because of being risqué, mind you, but because the label (an evilly grinning elf firing Christmas ornaments at Santa's sleigh with a slingshot) might, again, "appeal to children" due to the presence of St. Nick on the label.

I have to ask here: So it "appeals to children." So what? They're not going to be able to buy the stuff.

I have trouble believing that a 5-year-old is going to see a six-pack of Seriously Bad Elf on the shelf , think "Look! Santa! I have to drink that stuff right now!" -- then take it off the top shelf, toddle to the counter, plonk down a sawbuck, and be found passed out in the gutter three hours later. I guess that's the kind of lack of imagination that explains why I'm not on the Massachusetts Liquor Control Board.

Well, you'll be happy to know that the freedom-loving brewers of Belchertown are not taking this blow to our civil liberties lying down.

With the help of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, they've filed a lawsuit in federal court against the MBLE, claiming that their rights under the First Amendment have been violated by not being able to sell Santa's Butt or their other beers with the nekkid ladies on the label in Maine.

"The illustrations on these labels are artistic, and art is entitled to the protection of the First Amendment," said Zachary Heiden, a staff lawyer with the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

Doggone right. If Santa's Butt is suppressed, if the good people of the state of Maine are not free to quaff fruity European beers with partially nude women on the labels -- well, by golly, we just might as well start learning to speak Arabic and eat humus or loofah or whatever it is they eat over there. After all, aren't beer and half-naked ladies two of the very freedoms the Islamofascists hate us for?

The Shelton Brothers may win, or they may lose. But there's one thing I know for sure: I seriously want to party with those guys.

God Bless Santa's Butt, God Bless America, and God bless us, every one!

I'm Not Sure I Trust This "New Blogger" Thing

Blogger keeps trying to get me to "upgrade" to the "new and improved" version. But years of dealing with "upgrades" that occasionally end up rendering programs temporarily and sometimes permanently non-functional have left me deeply suspicious. Plus, the Blogger site tells me I'll have to "sign in with my Google Account" and I'm not sure I have one, and less sure I want to.

How about it, blogosphere? Anyone tried this "new and improved" Blogger (formerly Blogger Beta)? Your experiences?

Non-Viable Strategies For Living, Redux

From My Hometown Paper:

An Ohio man wanted for several bank robberies -- including one in Pinebluff earlier this week -- was arrested Wednesday in Hope Mills after a chase and car crash.

Pinebluff police have taken out a warrant charging Terry Ira Nichols, 48, of Proctorville, Ohio, with the armed robbery of First Bank on U.S. 1 on Monday. He is wanted for five total robberies, according to law-enforcement officers.

Nichols is charged with robbing the Lumbee Guaranty Bank on Main Street in Hope Mills at about 10 a.m. Wednesday. Police responded to the scene, and an officer spotted Nichols as he was driving away in a 1995 Oldsmobile.

Hope Mills police chased the man until his vehicle struck a semi-truck near U.S. 301 and overturned. He was crawling out of the vehicle when police arrived and took him into custody. He had cuts on his head and stomach, and several broken ribs.

Pinebluff Sgt. Chris Sanderson said the suspect was wearing the same clothes that he wore while robbing the Pinebluff bank and that he was covered in ink from two different exploding dye packs.

"You have to thank the Lord for people like that," Sanderson said.

Wait, it gets better...

Nichols will be charged with entering the bank in Pinebluff Monday and handing the teller a note saying that he was armed and he wanted money.

The teller at First Bank emptied the drawer and the man left the bank on foot. As the suspect made his way behind the bank, a dye pack exploded, covering his left side with characteristic dye.

Cue the music from Raising Arizona here...

A bank security camera captured several pictures of the robber. The bank had updated its security after being robbed in a similar way in July.

The images showed a white man, about 45 to 50 years old, wearing a green hat and jeans jacket.

A man fitting that description robbed a bank in Raeford later that afternoon.

After the robbery in Hope Mills, another dye pack exploded.

"The one here got his left side and (the one in) Hope Mills yesterday was on his right," Sanderson said.

You know, I've gotta figure, after that second dye pack blew up all over me, I'd start thinking maybe this whole bank robbery thing just wasn't working out and maybe I should find another line of work. But that's just me.

Nichols was treated for injuries from the accident at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. He was kept overnight and guarded by police. He appeared before a magistrate Thursday.

Friday, December 15, 2006

He Gone and Done It

I've been in denial about this, but it appears the dude was buddy David Terrenoire exits the blogosphere, stage left, as his most excellent, witty, and occasionally fiery blog, A Dark Planet shuts down production.

Damn it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The Federal Election Commission hit the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with a $299,500 fine today for playing too fast with election rules. The Swift Boat Vets were a '527' organization, which has no limits on contributions, but were acting like federal political committees, the FEC charged. 527s are allowed to work for or against certain candidates, but if they have no other 'major purpose,' according to FEC spokesman Bob Biersack, then they should register as a committee.

Have a nice Christmas, you lying sacks of shit.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's Up!

By which I mean the latest edition of Spinetingler Magazine, which features, nestled among some great stories, my noir/sci-fi/horror/vampire tale Behind Every Man.

It's a bit of a departure from my usual redneck noir, but I think it's found a good home.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dear Santa

Latest Newspaper Column:

Leaks drive the news cycle these days. Seems like every day, some memo or report that somebody didn't want the public to see is fed to the press through some back channel.

But so far, one super-secret organization has managed to remain relatively leak-resistant. Until now. This columnist has obtained documents so secret and so shocking that they blow the lid off an organization so clandestine that some people deny its very existence. Without further ado, dear readers, here are letters from Santa's mailbag.

Dear Santa: I have been extra good this year, defending Christmas against those secularists who insist on trying to destroy this wonderful season by saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." I know you'll agree with me, and that you believe as I do. So, at the risk of sounding immodest, I'd like something for Christmas that reflects my contribution to the spirit of this season. (signed) Bill, c/o Fox News.

Note to staff: Is there some way we can gift wrap a swift kick in the butt and leave it under little Billy's tree? Or is there some other way we can get it across to this dunderhead that the "spirit of the season" doesn't include paranoia, small-mindedness, and getting your knickers in a wad over imaginary slights? Please take a meeting on this and get back to me. S.

Dear Santa: I'm in a lot of trouble. I'm about to be confirmed as secretary of defense, which means I'm going to be responsible for this whole Iraq thing. Problem is, I haven't got the slightest idea what I'm doing. The whole place is going to hell in a handbasket, and our troops are going to get caught in the middle. So all I really want for Christmas is a plan to end this nightmare. (signed) Bobby Gates, Washington D.C.

Note to staff: Someone get in touch with little Bobby and give him Johnny Murtha's phone number. They were laughing at Johnny last year, saying he wanted to "cut and run," but something tells me that now they'll be a little more willing to listen. S.

Dear Santa: I don't know what happened. This time last year, I was riding high. I was the Decider. Now the people elected Democrats to run the House and Senate and I can't count on getting everything I want anymore. World leaders are thumbing their noses at me. Even some of my friends are telling me I'm wrong. I really, really hate that, Santa.

I want things to be like they were before, when everyone was telling me how great I was and even the press was afraid to call me on the crazy stuff I was doing. Santa, I want my mojo back. Now. Hey, maybe you can leave some evidence that Muqtada al-Sadr was behind 9/11 under my tree. No one else has to know. (signed) George W., The White House

Note to staff: Someone needs to let Georgie know that Santa's part of the reality-based community. I can make reindeer fly, but even I have limits, especially considering how long Georgie's been on the naughty list. Send him a fruitcake and let him know he only gets that because I'm a nice guy. S.

Dear Santa: Man, getting fired at Christmas really sucks. Now I've got an apartment in New York to pay for, my credit cards are maxed out, and since I'm no longer a U.N. ambassador I don't have diplomatic immunity, which means I have to pay these $40,000 worth of parking tickets from the NYPD. I need a job, pronto. But let's face it, I don't have the greatest people skills. I'm abrasive, arrogant, and prone to scream at people who don't agree with me. Santa, can you help me? (signed) John B, New York

Note to staff: Send Johnny's resume to Fox News. And Court TV while you're at it. S.

Dear Santa: Like, this year has really been a bummer. I had to, you know, kick that worthless loser K-Fed to the curb? And I started, like, hanging out with Paris Hilton, right? And now there's all these pictures of me getting out of limos with, like no underwear on and they're all over the, you know, Internet and stuff? Can you, like, I dunno, give me something that'll like keep that from happening again? (signed) Britney S, La-La Land.

Note to staff: Send Britney a gross of Fruit of the Looms. And maybe she wouldn't have these problems if she only had a brain. See if you can get in touch with the Wizard of Oz. S.

Dear Santa: I have not been bad this year, but if I was going to be bad, I would do so by writing a book about how I would have killed my wife if I had actually killed my wife, which I didn't, and I didn't write the book either, but if I had written it, it didn't get published, so I didn't get the money I would have gotten if I had written it, which I didn't.

Long story short, make this Christmas easy on yourself, and just bring money. How about tens and twenties? (signed) O.J., Coral Gables. Fla.

Note to staff: How's that swift kick in the butt project coming? Please advise. S.