Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Specials You May Never Actually See

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Here it is, another holiday season. And with the season comes holiday TV.

Some of the specials, of course, are perennial favorites, like "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." But every year, we also see some new offerings, and I've got to tell you, they get weirder every year. This year's offerings include:

-- "Senator Larry Craig's Toe-Tappin' Christmas": Live from the men's restroom of Minneapolis Airport (because supposedly the acoustics are amazing), this musical special includes appearances by Elton John, Melissa Etheridge and the San Francisco Men's Chorus. Special comedy routines by RuPaul, Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell.

-- "A Very Special Ho Ho Ho": Radio Host Don Imus celebrates his return to the airwaves with this heartwarming special. Highlights include the Rev. Al Sharpton giving the invocation, the Rev. Jesse Jackson reading "The Night Before Christmas," and the stirring climax, in which the Rutgers women's basketball team stuffs Imus down an actual chimney.

-- "Rudy's Christmas" :This special, live from Rockefeller Center, features former New York mayor and current presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani leading an all-star chorus in a medley of specially "updated" Christmas songs, such as "I Heard the Bells on 9/11," "Angels We Have Heard On 9/11," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Except None of Us Can Rest Because of 9/11."

-- "Christmas at the CIA": Unfortunately, we have no idea what was in this one and it will not be shown this year, because the Agency destroyed all the tapes.

-- "The Democratic Congress is Coming to Town": This modern "re-imagining" of the classic Rankin-Bass animated Christmas tale tells the story of how Kris Kringle (played by Harry Reid) and Miss Jessica (played by Nancy Pelosi) come to Sombertown to overthrow the toy-hating Burgermeister Meisterburger. In this version, however, they end up doing everything the Burgermeister says because he threatens to say mean things about them.

-- "The Nancy Grace Christmas Special": In a hard-hitting interview, the outspoken CNN legal commentator puts Santa, Rudolph and Hermy the Elf on the hot seat, accusing them of covering up their involvement in a rash of L.A. residential burglaries. Tragically, the day after this show was taped, Hermy committed suicide by throwing himself off an ice floe.

-- "Christmas with FEMA": Stung by the damage done to its image during the Hurricane Katrina debacle, the Federal Emergency Management Agency attempts to repair its credibility with the American people by putting on the best Christmas show ever. Unfortunately, this one will not air until March because, according to FEMA "no one could have anticipated Christmas in December."

-- "Barack Obama's Really Really Christian Christmas Special": The Illinois senator's first yuletide event, broadcast live from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (where Obama has been a member for 20 years) includes Obama's wife Michelle reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, a rousing rendition of "Good Christian Men Rejoice" by Obama backed by the church's choir, and a special live Nativity scene featuring the Obama family. Running opposite the show on Fox News will be a special exploring "whether Obama's Muslim beliefs disqualify him to be president."

-- "Christmas in Crawford": We're really not sure what this special put on by George Dubbya Bush will contain. It was supposed to have featured a children's chorus singing carols, and a segment with Laura Bush reading to the kids from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Unfortunately, the President kept threatening to veto any production budget that provided the young singers and actors with on-set catering or first aid. Negotiations between the children's agents and the administration broke down when the children's parents discovered teams of right-wing bloggers lurking in the bushes, looking for evidence that the kids or their parents were socialists or that they opposed the Iraq War.

-- "Mitt Romney's Flip-Floppin' Christmas": Here's another one we're not sure of. At one point, we were pretty sure that Romney's special was going to include a visit from Santa Claus and the elves. But now, we're not really sure if he believes in them anymore. For that matter, we're totally confused as to what, if anything, Mitt Romney actually believes in.

The holidays are a time to be with family. A time to gather together, huddled around our common tribal campfire to celebrate the traditions of the season. And what's more traditional than TV?

Happy viewing!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Well, THERE's a Switch.....

HILLSBOROUGH — Chapel Hill police charged two women and a man with sexual assault and the attempted robbery of three UNC football players over the weekend, according to police and arrest warrants.

The players were not injured, but police said they found them bound with tape and that two said they were fondled without consent by at least one of the women early Sunday morning.

It is the policy of the News & Observer not to name complainants in sexual assault cases.

The arrested were Tnika Nomta Washington, 29, of Greenville, Monique Jenice Taylor, 28, of Durham, and Michael Troy Lewis, 32, of Durham. Bail for all three was initially set at $500,000 but Washington and Taylor’s bails were both reduced to $50,000 Thursday. Lewis’ remained at $500,000.

During a bail hearing Thursday afternoon, Assistant District Attorney Morgan Whitney said the three players had gone to a couple of downtown Chapel Hill bars to celebrate one of their birthdays.

They met Washington, Taylor and Lewis, who gave the players a ride home. Then the players invited the three up to the apartment.

One of the players was very drunk, and taken to his room, according to a police report that Whitney cited.

The other two apparently had some consensual sexual contact with the women, but became uncomfortable and wanted to stop, Whitney said.

At some point the players’ hands were bound with tape, Chapel Hill police said in a news release, and by the time police arrived about 3:30 a.m., two of the men were in their boxers. The third player was clothed.

One player said that when he asked a woman to stop touching him that both Taylor and Washington began to punch him in the head, Whitney said.

In one account given in court Thursday, one of the players said Lewis stood naked with a butcher knife at the player's neck while one of the women fondled him.

Okay, it's not really funny.

But it is a mite strange, don't you agree?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ya'll Are Going to Make Me Cry If You Keep This Up

Over at First Offenders, Karen Olson names SAFE AND SOUND one of her ten best of 2007. Thanks, Karen!

And check out Karen's own Sacred Cows, Secondhand Smoke, and the new one, Dead of the Day. I confess I've only read the first two, but they're great. Annie Seymour's my kind of heroine: tough and sexy, with a mouth on her that can blister paint if you get her riled up.

I Defy You Not to Laugh Out Loud

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


January Magazine names SAFE AND SOUND one of the best crime novels of 2007.

I look at some of the others on their list and I am humbled beyond my ability to express.

I mean...dude. I'm on the same list as Barry Eisler and Megan Abbott? Not to mention Joe Lansdale, John Connolly and James Lee by-God BURKE?


Thanks to Anthony Rainone and the folks at January.

In Which I Share the Spotlight With Paris Hilton

Well, sort of. The very funny Tod Goldberg graciously offered me the chance to participate in E! Online's Cool Stuff - The Books You Must Read: Picks for 2007, where I'm in such August company as Victor Gischler, Barry Eisler, and Brett Battles.

Since the piece had to be edited for length and, in Tod's words "the average E! reader's attention span," Tod posts the "Director's cut" over at his blog.

Thanks for letting me participate, Tod!