Friday, December 20, 2019

Short story – “The Christmas Police”

“The Christmas Police”

When he came around the corner of the food court, Officer Katz saw a cluster of excited people.  As he jogged to them, he keyed his radio and said, “Control this is Forty-Six.  Some kind of disturbance in the food court.”

The people parted as he neared, allowing him to see an older woman lying on the floor.  A younger woman – possibly her daughter – was comforting her.  Katz knelt beside the woman and asked, “What’s the problem.”

The older woman pointed out into the main mall and said, “It was a young man, dark hair, and a sweater.  He-” Tears came to her eyes as she forced herself to say, “He wished me ‘Happy Holidays.’”

Katz placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and said, “I’ll get him.” He then asked the younger woman, “Will you stay with her?”

The younger woman nodded.  She then added, “She’s my mom.”

Katz nodded and stood.  As he started jogging in the indicated direction, he keyed his radio and said, “Control this is Forty-Six.  Two-fifty in the food court, in pursuit of the suspect.”

The mall was crowded, but Katz soon saw a figure matching the description walking away.  Katz jogged up behind him and when he was close enough he grabbed the man’s shoulder.  The man turned and tried to shrug off Katz, but Katz’s grip was too strong.  The man put his hand on Katz’s chest and gave a shove.

Katz drew his baton – decorated as a large peppermint stick – and cracked it against the man’s skull.  The man fell limp to the floor with Katz on top of him.  Using more force then was probably needed, Katz got the man’s hands behind his back and slipped on a pair of handcuffs.  “You’re under arrest,” he stated, “for suspicion of using a malicious greeting.”

Katz looked up to see a small crowd had gathered around him: some were filming him on their phones while others were clapping.  He tried to not smile too much while he walked the man back to the victim for identification.


This was my most recent “War on Christmas” story.  I wrote it a few years ago because it seemed every year it was becoming more and more ridiculous.  So I wrote a story that just took things a bit further.

This story was previous published in November 2015 on a website that’s still around(?).  The original version is still up, but I revised it a bit for this posting.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

My The Rise of Skywalker Prediction

Some people will love it.  More people won’t. 

Now, I know talking about the problems of Star Wars is like shooting mynocks in a barrel, but it’s the internet so what am I supposed to do?  To explain my meh feelings about IX (I’ll just use numbers instead of typing out their names all the time), I’ll have to explain my feelings about VII and VIII.

I thought VII was rather bland and mediocre.  They have to destroy this evil superweapon?  Gee, I’ve never seen that before.  VII was their chance to do something bold and show us a new part of this galaxy that we’ve not seen before.  (New does not always equal good, but I’ll get to that.)  Instead, they played it safe which is why I found it bland and mediocre.

In VIII they tried some new stuff, but there is goodnew and badnew.  An example of goodnew from Star Wars are the AT-ATs in V.  We’d seen Stormtroopers storm a ship in IV, but we hadn’t seen them attack a base.  So the attack in the beginning of V filled in a gap, but did it in a way that fit in with the world already established in IV.  An example of badnew from outside Star Wars would be the portkeys in Harry Potter.  One would think that someone – a teacher, Hagrid, Ron – would have sat Harry down in the first year and given him a crash course on magical things.  So why is it that it isn’t until the fourth book that he first hears about this thing?  It wouldn’t be that bad, but it happens in like every book where there’s something new but Harry has conveniently never heard of it so it can be explained to the audience.  (“They can fly now?”)

There are a couple bits of badnew in VIII.  One are arms dealers.  Where did the Empire get its weapons?  Well, they were probably built by droids in a factory.  Bigger things – like the Death Star – were probably built by the Stormtrooper version of the Army Corps of Engineers possibly using slave labor.  (I wouldn’t put it past the Empire to do that.)  That is stuff that isn’t really explored in the movies, but it’s headcanon that makes sense.  So where did the First Order get their weapons?  They probably took over some factories from the Empire days, or they go to some planet and say, “Give us weapons, or we’ll invade you.” Again, this isn’t covered in the movies, but it makes sense.

Now are there arms dealers in Star Wars?  Sure, but they’re probably small and very local.  They’re more likely to deal with crime family’s fighting over a system or two than dealing with the First Order.  So they’d make some money, but not be the 1% of the galaxy as seen in VIII.  If they had just left them as generic rich assholes, fine, but by calling out arms dealers it became a square bit trying to fit into a round world building hole.

The bigger badnew in VIII was the hyperspace ramming.  Yes, it looked cool, but after three seconds I thought, Why hasn’t anyone done that before?  And that just opens up a mess of contradictions.  Just a movie earlier they had a scene where some of our heroes came out of hyperspace within the shield of Starkiller Base.  Something that would have been useful in VI.  But if they hadn’t come out of hyperspace, would that have caused major damage to the base?  So why do all this sneaking around and attacking with X-wings when you could just send a couple hyperspace missiles?  It feels like the conversation went: “It’s going to look really cool!” “But how will it fit in with the established lore-” “IT’S GOING TO LOOK REALLY COOL!”

In the end, given the marketing for IX about it being an end of a saga and the biggest and bestest thing since blue milk, they make it sound like Star Wars is going out with a bang.  But given the lead-in from VII and VIII, I think the best IX can do is a whimper.  It is all too easy to build a shitty house on a solid foundation, but it’s next to impossible to build a solid house on a shitty foundation.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Short story – “In the Spirit”

“In the Spirit”

Joseph Warner mentally checked off relatives with gifts as he walked along the sidewalk.  Occasionally he would glance at the holiday decorations the stores and businesses had put up, but mostly he ignored them and focused on not stepping on the occasional ice patches. 

His path back to his dorm passed the courthouse, and as he approached it he heard a ringing bell and people talking rather loudly.  His curiosity piqued, he stopped and saw a group of two women and a man standing around the tree the city had put up.  One woman held a sign reading, “It’s a CHRISTMAS tree,” while the sign the man held read, “Put CHRIST back in Christmas.” The other woman was ringing the bell and reading from the Bible.

Looking around, Joseph saw that the other pedestrians would glance at the group then hurry on.  Joseph followed their lead.

About ten minutes later, he reached his dorm room and piled the gifts on his bed.  There was a paper he needed to write, and tests to study for, but there was something else he felt he needed to do.  He grabbed his Bible from the bookshelf and headed back to the courthouse.

He walked towards the group and stopped about ten feet from them.  He opened his Bible and pretended to be reading, flipping through pages.

The woman with the Bible paused her reading and asked him, “Would you care to join us?”

“No.” After a couple more flipped pages Joseph asked, “I’m just trying to find the deep spiritual meaning a Christmas tree has for Christians.  Perhaps you can point out the verse that reads, ‘Thou shalt have a Christmas Tree.’”

The woman stopped ringing the bell and a cold gleam came to her eyes.  She said, “We are trying to save Christmas from the secularists who are trying to destroy this country; those who want to call this,” she pointed to the tree behind her, “a holiday tree.”

After a slight pause Joseph said, “So, when you die and go to heaven you’ll meet with all these early Christian martyrs who were fed to lions who will ask, ‘What have you done for the faith,’ and you’ll reply, ‘We made sure people didn’t call a Christmas tree a Holiday tree.’ At which point they’ll slap their foreheads and say, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’”

The bell ringer took a step forward.  “This is a serious matter that-”

“No it isn’t,” Joseph interrupted.  Pointing over his shoulder he said, “There are people starving out there.  There are people being shot because their religion, or the way they practice their religion is wrong, at least according to the people with the guns.  And you are here arguing over what people call a tree.  This is not serious, it’s ludicrous.”

With her Bible the reader pointed at Joseph.  “We are trying to save the traditional Christmas from those who wish to destroy it.”

“Was there a Christmas tree at the first Christmas?”

Without indicating she heard Joseph, the reader went on.  “By renaming this, the secularists are trying to dilute the values of the traditional Christmas.”

“Christmas Trees have been around for about two hundred years.  How can they be so vital to a two thousand year old religion?  There was no Christmas tree at the first Christmas.  I mean, how much more traditional can you get?  If Jesus didn’t need one, why do you?”


I first wrote this story back in the heady “War on Christmas” days.  I was going through my stories recently, and I figured this one needed to see the light of day again.

Part of the origin of this was an episode of My Hero, a British comedy about an alien superhero living on Earth.  In one episode he goes to his girlfriend’s and is worried there’s some alien invasion because people are putting fir trees up in their homes.  She tries to explain how it’s all for the birthday of Jesus, and he asks if fir trees were important to Jesus and she replies with something like, “I don’t think he ever saw one.” He then says something along the lines of, “That’s an odd way to celebrate his birthday.”  Which is true.  Not that that matters to some people.

This story was previous published in November 2006 on a friend’s website.  The original version is still up, but I revised it a bit for this posting.