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Cartoon Review: He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special

Okay, I got nothing today. So instead you get another old review. This time for He-Man and She-Ra’s Christmas Special.
You may want to start a drinking game based on this. Every time they mention that they’re brother and sister to remind you that them being in love would be incest, you take a drink. It’ll be fun and you’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning before the first commercial break. This is a pure cut and paste job, whatever I say here is what I said a year ago. I can’t be bothered to insert profanities and rants. If they aren’t there, they aren’t there! I know it’s lazy, but we’re getting a billion tons of snow today and I can’t be bothered to do real work when it’s snowing this hard. I just need movies and cocoa and stuff.


He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985 Dir. Bill Reed & Ernie Schmidt)


No lights

(PART ONE)
I wasn’t going to review this cartoon. I mean I had planned not to review it. I have a piece ready for the 24th where I explain what didn’t get reviewed and this was part of it. In fact my talk about how I’m not reviewing this cartoon was the opening paragraph. I’m going to have to re-write that bit it seems. I’ll tell you what changed my mind though, I told that I wouldn’t be reviewing this and her little face just crashed. She was really looking forward to having me take He-Man and She-Ra to the woodshed for their effrontery to the magic that is Christmas. I would rather have to watch this dumb special than to disappoint her, so let me just crack open a fresh can of cola (ahh… sweet, sweet caffeine) and let’s do this!


LIGHTS! Sadly the program won’t show where the star is, but its right over the A

This came from the 80s, when a lot of Saturday morning and afternoon cartoons got their own holiday specials. Sometimes they would be called Christmas specials, but just as often they would be called Holiday. I do know that there were a few cartoons that got their first real trial at entertaining kids from these specials. Alvin and the Chipmunks had a special in 1981 which really led the way for the 1983-90 cartoon show. This was actually the opposite though. He-Man was technically done with production at the point that this show was debuted for it’s one and only major viewing. The makers had already shifted to She-Ra which is why a lot of this special takes place on Etheria, or so I thought. (It seems to be more Eternia here. I guess I was wrong about that.) A short note on the DVD, I found an Easter egg on the main menu, above the A on there is a start shape, and if you click it you get the palace decorated in lights as I have here.


Seriously baby, once you go plant, you never go back.

Well, shall we start? It’s winter on Eternia, which means that the stock background images have had badly drawn snow hastily laid over them. We’re told that this is not a Christmas celebration though, but a birthday. It seems that this is going to be the first time the twins (He-Man and She-Ra (or Adam and Adora) are twins you see) are going to be together to celebrate their birthday for the first time. We know this because king Randor and Queen Marlena (why the hell do I know their names without even looking it up on Wikipedia?) discuss how it’s their birthday and how Adora’s friends came all the way from far off Etheria to help them decorate. As a result we see lots of the He-Man and She-Ra characters standing together doing things. This includes Moss Man who is totally trying to mack on the winged queen chick who’s name escapes me (for which I am very glad) in the corner there.


Well! Someone knows how to work that green house dress thing.

Even though it’s winter, Adora doesn’t see the need for pants and keeps working that leotard hot pants outfit for all it’s worth. She-Ra was supposed appeal to girls, and evidently teach them to dress like whores. If you watch carefully, you can kind of see why Cos Play has taken over our generation. Most the guys I know can’t even have a twitch below deck unless they see a girl dressed like something from a fantasy role playing book cover, a cartoon or in a pinch a comic book.


“I look like the fickin’ Burger King!”

Deciding that it’s time for the ‘As you know Bob’ talk to start, queen Marlena (who has quite a pair of perky knockers for someone with two fully grown children) mentions Christmas and he husband of 25 years doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Okay, quick back-story here. Queen Marlena was an astronaut from earth who crashed on Eterina, noticed King Randor checking out her frankly kickin’ bod and decided that it would be better to live as a queen than to argue with NASA over funding for the next 20 years. I still haven’t checked Wikipedia for a single word of this. I think I now know why no one from my generation can tell you when the Magna Carta was signed, or even what it is, all the room in our heads is filled with Me-Man’s mother’s back story. Anyway, the point is that she looks more like He-Man’s girlfriend than his mother. NO! The point is that Randor has been married to her for 20 years and talks about Christmas as if it’s never once come up.


Track Adam’s eyes, he’s looking at those meaty thighs and powerful buttocks… and that’s okay!

While everyone else is decorating, Prince Adam (who would prefer the title queen) and Man-At-Arms are putting together a little rocket ship to spy on Skeletor. They do this while Adam is wearing a pink vest and lavender tights. Duncan (man at arm’s name) is dressed in some sort of kinky yellow armor and all green tights. They do this while wearing furry underpants. Now I’m not saying they’re gay, but I am saying that they’re very comfortable with their bi-sexuality. This will be the only “Adam sure is swishy” joke to appear here I think, and I’m only doing it because there is a law stating you have to mention it once in every review. Actually, I think I’m compelled to mention it three times, I’ll have to check.


Eternia’s Angels

So they walk off and Orko, the most annoying character in either series, decides to go check out the little spy shuttle. Why a ship which clearly is meant to be a spy drone needs a cock pit is beyond me, but it has one. Orko gets in turns on the rocket, sending it into space, then we break for commercial. Orko then flies through the opening credits when we come back, which has the most annoying music. Imagine, if you will, the She-Ra music. Then imagine that after the opening fanfare, the music becomes jingle bells for a moment and then goes back to the She-Ra Music. My ears are currently bleeding.


He-Man’s favorite position is the forced chair squat.

Then Skeletor notices the ship, which is now in the atmosphere again and demands that they catch the rocket. The problem is, and is always the problem with Skeletor, that he put Two-Bad in charge of the controls of his ship. Like all other two headed characters in fiction, this one bickers with itself constantly. I wouldn’t put someone who disagrees with themselves for the sake of doing it at the controls of my evil whatchamacallit ship. This means that they can’t really get the ship.


I admire his ability to look her right in the eye. Cause seriously, those are some perky boobs she has there.

Since the show has been going on for four minutes now, it’s time for He-Man to show up. They see that Skeletor is trying to nab the sky spy on their big screen and… why do they need a separate spy rocket if they can already tell what Skeletor is doing by looking at the big board? Excuse me, I need to go get a bottle of Excedrin. So Adam whips out his big sword and says the magic words, takes off his clothes, gets into kink gear and has fake tan sprayed all over him. He then runs off and Adora’s next line is that her brother might need some help. They only mention that these two and brother and sister about 87 times during the 45 minute episode, one assumes to drive home the fact that they WON’T be screwing. I think the fact that Adam is clearly gay and He-Man is his alter-ego designed for Friday night cruising would have made that clear enough but they have to stress it anyway.


Well, nice to see women’s outfits were as practical then as they are today.

So He-Man goes flying off in a little sky scooter of some kind to try and save Orko. He leaps into Skeletor’s ship, one presumes looking for a booty call, and twists the claws on Skeletor’s ship, slashing them with his big, thick, sword. He-Man gets wrapped up in some of Skeletor’s bondage gear on the outside of the ship, but strangely doesn’t say the safe word. She-Ra shows up, and she reminds the crowd that she and He-Man are bother and sister, which He-Man confirms. While they do this, Orko decides to use magic. Nothing good ever comes from Orko using magic. His magic ends up ending him into space. Skeletor is so ticked he sends his team of four shooting out of the ship with one parachute between them, which shows how budget cuts can really make things hard for people.


Animated upskirt! You keep being classy Filmation!

Orko shoots off into orbit, being followed by He-Man and She-Ra. Now she’s on a winged horse and he’s on some sort of crotch rocket ship, yet they’re in space. I thought for a moment we’d see sweet death and head’s exploding. No such luck. Fortunately, no one knows Orko is in the ship, which means he’s going to die out there. The show begins to perk up as Orko starts to crash, sadly he survives. Long story short, he’s landed on Earth and meets a pair of whiny kids. These kids are so dumb that they think a phallic shaped rocket is a flying saucer. It’s a flying DILDO kids, get your shapes right! The kids tell Orko all about Christmas, but not before ramming their self-centered views about the world down his throat. “Everyone knows that Christmas is!” declares the boy, whose name I refuse to learn. The kids try to explain what Christmas is all about, and then we fade out because no one will actually tell anyone watching what it is. Evidently, we’re supposed to KNOW what Christmas is and if we don’t our neighbors should burn us at the stake.


Look at those eyes, she’s clearly tripping the light fantastic.

For reasons I can’t understand, the people of Eterina decide they need to get Orko back. They need to use the Deus Ex Machina beam to retrieve Orko, but Duncan’s beam won’t actually work without a crystal that isn’t on his planet. What kind of dip powers a quickly thrown together way to get someone home while powering it with a crystal he can’t even get? They need to go to Etheria to get one of these crystals. These people are just plain stupid, but hey, stock footage for a transformation scene! Re-use running animation! Talk about Santa! My urge to kill is rising! Kids must have just been really hyped up about seeing this show on at night because the content is crap!


And here we have… hommina, hommina! Why didn’t I watch this show as a kid?

Anyway, She-Ra goes to Etheria and talks to a mermaid that is… well it’s disturbing. I mean were they just laying out old issues of Playboy for the model sheets? Hottie McMerslut tells She-Ra that she has to fight the Beast Monster to get the needed crystal… or some such gibberish. I’m having a little trouble understanding the faked accent which might be Romanian with a mix of Scottish or might be just plain crappy. Hottie McMerslut tells She-Ra to keep the monster busy while she flounces around like a teen aged boys late night fantasy. They get the crystal and She-Ra gets attacked by some sort of robot or something. I’m a little lost at the moment, I’ve been watching the whole thing with care, but I have NO idea what the hell is going on right now. It’s like the Transformers just came in for a guest shot. Evidently they’re called the Monstroids and are the enemy of the Manchines. I’m out of my depth here, I never watched She-Ra because round house kick panty flashes where never my thing.


Wait… the sword had to be on fire to cut through a plastic bubble? How did she set the sword on fire anyway? Metal doesn’t burn!

They get the Deus Ex Machina beam working and Orko has to remember to walk towards the light or something. He tells the kids about it and they all walk into the light like Carol Anne. Why Orko standing in the light was important I don’t know because the ship, the tree, the kids, and the half a ton of garbage was taken with them. Adora tips her hand as to why Orko is tolerated by calling his name and letting him give her a big kiss as his first act. Orko starts to explain what happened, but we don’t want to hear it so they cut away to some asteroid in space.


She’s a princess and he’s a floating blue torso, but they love each other.

So… um… evidently the kids create a disturbance in the force because Horde Prime feels it. He says there is a new spirit of goodness that has arrived on Eterina. This cloud of smoke with eyes then sends for Skeletor and Hordak. Who is Horde Prime? Beats the hell out of me. I was around for this stuff, I’ve watched this show twice, and even I don’t know what the hell is going on. No, wait, 1985. I didn’t see this the first time because I was busy being in A Christmas Carol at Meadow Brooke. Okay, I feel justified in being totally lost now.


So… is that Horde Prime’s hand or what’s going on here?

In fact, I am so lost I’m calling a snack break! This has gone on for a while and I think we all deserve a cookie. We’ll pick back up where we left off tomorrow. You go eat cookies, I’ll read Wikipedia. You can tell me what kind of cookie you had in the comments.


“Little kids? What am I going to do with them? I’m gay, not a child molester!”

This is why I didn’t want to do this silly thing, I knew this would happen! Now I have a two-parter on my hands!

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS (We don’t really have sponsors but this is an easy way to not have to re-write this review)

(PART TWO)


Yeah, I just used any old transition shot for this.

He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985 Dir. Bill Reed & Ernie Schmidt)


You know, the look like some kind of fantasy based Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

Does everyone remember where we were yesterday? We had a pair of kids, whose names I refuse to learn, transported to Eternia by Orko’s mistake. This means that Horde Prime feels a disturbance in the Force. Good feelings have come over everyone or something. Now, I asked who the hell Horde Prime was and Wikipedia said this…Horde Prime is a fictional character in the cartoon series She-Ra: Princess of Power. He is the ruler of the intergalactic Evil Horde. He is only seen surrounded by green smoke. His true form has never been seen. A metallic arm comes out of the cloud of smoke when he is outraged or angered. Horde Prime has a son named Prince Zed who calls Hordak his uncle. This suggests that Horde Prime may have once looked like Hordak before his transformation. Well, that clears up everything!


Queenie is still smoking in the green dress I see.

So Okro has been explaining everything that’s been going on to the king and queen. The little blonde girl’s only concern is that they make it home in time for Christmas. Man at Arms says that might be a bit tricky as the magic crystals for his transport beam conveniently need a few days to recharge. The girl starts to freak out, but Queen Perkytits calms her down by telling her that they’ll just mix the twin’s birthdays with Christmas so that she only has to buy them one present. The little blue eyed monster though just brings up more problems. What about Santa? Will he be able to find us? Kid! If I’ve learned anything it’s that Santa will find you, and he’ll get you! Adam asks “Who’s Santa?” and Orko, fresh on his conversion, acts like every new convert and insults Adam for not knowing about Santa. He then stitches a big red D for “Dipstick” on Adam’s pink vest and then add an S for “Sodomite” as well. Orko always has been kind of big on hypocritical morality though, I mean look at all those morals he gives when most the time he’s the one that screws things up.


You can really see the wheels in his mind turning as he focuses on her bright red lips can’t you? It’s all so disturbing! Also, in this drawing Adora looks like a badly drawn Jennifer Saunders.

So… Horde Prime is ticked because the spirit of Christmas has landed on Eternia. This bothers him because… um… he’s Jewish! Yeah! And, uh, being Jewish he hates having this holiday rammed down his throat every year. Okay, truthful it’s because good will is bad for his reign somehow. He explains his problem to Hordak and Skeletor, who being bickering like an old gay couple. Horde Prime brings down the boom and tells them that who ever gets rid of the Spirit of Christmas first gets a big prize. Yeah… Horde Prime just put out a hit on Robbie Coltrane. That… um… that’s a joke that’ll make more sense when the Blackadder’s Christmas Carol review gets published.


What Skeletor didn’t understand was that when Hordak called him “Boneface”, what he meant was “I love you!”

So the kids are busy whining and some characters from She-Ra try to entertain the kids with some magic and then… oh another ellipse/pause moment. You know something has to be bad to make me do this ellipse thing and pause so much. I would say *sigh* or something, but the ellipse seems less annoying to me. Anyway it’s a song, and the kids clap, but they do so off beat. They just put in a clap sound when the animated kids hands go together, which destroys any bit of rhythm this song might have had. And the kids can’t sing, so now my ears are bleeding again. And while this is going on, Orko is dancing and smooching some owl looking thing behind Adora’s back. Also, they reuse about 4 second of dancing animation 4 times so that we get 16 seconds of dancing and a full understanding of cheap animating.


OOoooookaaaaay! This got really gay, really quick.

After the song mercifully ends, Hordak shows up in a penis shaped ship and kidnaps the kids and Orko. Why do they need to snatch Orko? No idea! Hordak takes the kids to Etheria, because they have more backgrounds for She-Ra at the moment. The Monstroids show up again and nab Hordak and company. The Monstroids take the kids for reasons I don’t understand. They tell Hordak and company to scram, which his minions do, complete with running in place for a second and having that squeaky cartoon running sound. They leave the kids to the Monstroids, and take off.


This is possibly the most disturbing screen cap of them all!

He-Man and She-Ra go see a Vegas showgirl who can see all… or something. I’ve been watching this closely and I only have a vague idea of what the hell is going on. He-Man and She-Ra with the constant reminders that they’re brother and sister go to save the day. The Manchines then show up and release Orko and the kids from the clutches of the baddies. They all then get on some kind of anthropomorphic car which takes them away from the monstroids for about 3 seconds before they get caught.


Or possibly a penis shaped helicopter is more disturbing.

She-Ra and He-Man then shot up, remind everyone that they’re brother and sister, and begin the pwning we’ve been wanting to see from the start of this. And then She-Ra’s sword becomes a rope? WHAT THE FRICKING HELL? Swords become ropes here? The fighting then really gets going then more of the Manchines show up. There is no explanation why this side if considered good and this other side is bad, beyond one being cuter than the other. There could be lots of social political reasons for this war, but our incestuous brother/sister team just goes with which ever side looks like they could be put on a Burger King cup. Skeletor sneaks in and grabs the kids while no one else was looking and takes off with them.


Um… could you two both stop trying to look up my skirt? It’s really creeping me out. As is the talk of being the filling of a twin sandwich.

Skeletor slows the heroes down a bit, but that doesn’t help because he has to have a dogfight with Hordak. Skeletor and his quarry crash, which I say makes these kids bad luck charms. They’ve crashed nearly every ship they’ve been near. He-Man and She-Ra notice that Skeletor have taken the kids, remind everyone that they’re brother and sister so them screwing would be wrong (so… very, very wrong, an yet they want to, you can tell) and go to save the day. Skeletor decides to start the kids on a death march through the snow. The kids however tell him to have mercy because it’s Christmas, which is a season or love, caring and joy. They then collapse from exhaustion and frost. Skeletor gives them new coats, and all the sudden they’re fine, which proves they weren’t doing that bad in the first place.


A car, person, robot, thing. Sometimes satire is useless.

The puppy that the girl took is also cold, but Skeletor tells them to leave him. Skelly feels bad about the puppy and goes to pick it up and save its miserable life. Evidently, Skeletor feels something is coming over him and he doesn’t like it. The kids tell him it was nice and he keeps complaining that he’s not nice. He then grills them about Christmas, not understanding most the fine details. Skeletor then saves the kids from a snow beast that turns up from nowhere. There are cartoon sound effects and… this thing is going to turn into a Hanna-Barbara cartoon any second now.


Skeletor’s tough guy image just went down the toilet.

Everyone turns up at once in someplace very not wintry and starts arguing about who is going to take the children for the weekend. Very unchristmas like fighting the breaks out, He-Man and She-Ra remind each other that they’re siblings and it would be ever so wrong (but oh so right) for them to go down to the river side for a quickie, and with some tongue lapping from the puppy, Skeletor then suddenly starts fighting on the side of right and good. Evidently the Christmas Spirit over took Skeletor and made him want to save the children, which he does. Horde Prime’s ship crashes, but instead of giving him a finish blow everyone just sort of takes off and then the twins throw him into space. Skeletor doesn’t understand why he saved the day and it’s explained that he’s feeling the Christmas spirit. He complains that he doesn’t want to be good, She-Ra tells him it’ll wear off soon and everyone does a ‘hands on hips laugh’ at old Skelly.


It’s sad when one of the participants has an onscreen attack of “I can’t believe we’re doing this stupid thing!”

So then the party starts and everyone with a model sheet is shoe horned into one big almost entirely unanimated drawing, even the super sexy merslut is brought in for the occasion. They send the kids home, cursing their unlearned names for causing so much trouble. Adam, dressed as Santa walks around for about three seconds before Adora rips off the beard and reminds him that they can never really be together because he’s her brother and that’s where the show ends. Not good, but mercifully shorter than it could have been.


He’s so humiliated, he was the chief bad guy once, now look at him.

OH WAIT! There is a little moral bit at the end too. Adam and Orko admit that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but it’s always there even if you don’t. They remind the watchers that they will never escape Christmas, that it stalks you at every step and you might as well just give in now. They then talk about presents and decide to end it all in a suicide pact or possibly genocide. Genocide seems more likely.


And so you see Orko, by crushing the unbelievers, we strengthen the power of our god that much more.

I have this idea that this was the first He-Man dvd that was put out there. I could be wrong though. There are a pretty good amount of features considering it’s a Christmas Special and they usually get sweet F.A. There’s a documentary, a montage of morals and a music video which will scar you for life if you watch it. I suppose this wasn’t so bad in ’85, but now it’s really so lame it hurts. Also, it gives me a pretty good idea where our twisted views about women came from. I mean have you noticed every woman here is not only about 22 (at a maximum), but also stands and dresses like a supermodel at a costume ball? Of course maybe on Eternia and Etheria they have to in order to attract the tiniest bit of attention from the boys, who are giving off an darn powerful gay vibe. No wonder my generation is so confused.


In case you were wondering where guys get their odd ideas about women.
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December 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

It’s a medical device?

There is a new hand gun out there. A 9mm that looks a lot like the palm pistols of the old west. In fact, the company calls it The Palm Pistol.

So far, so hoopy. Good idea, get a one round shooter for people who can’t hold a regular gun. It looks like it’s a derringer with a different handle design.

What gets me though, is that it’s apparently been designated as a piece of medical equipment. Now, I understand the reason is for Medicare or something, but that’s not the point. The point is that we, as Americans, have decided that guns are medical devices. Not only that, but it looks like tax dollars are going to be used to help buy them. I can hear the hippies screaming now about grandma shooting little Billy with their tax dollars.

The secondary problem is that this is a gun that has to be used because no mugger is going to look at that and think “gun” when some elderly lady is waving it at him. That’s the biggest problem defense wise. The best self-defense tools are the ones you don’t have to use. You would actually have to fire this and risk killing someone before anyone realizes it’s really a gun and not some kind of inhaler or something. And then, to only have one shot, well what if there are two of them? Or you miss? Once you start shooting you kind of have to be able to keep firing because lethal force is normally met with lethal force. I worry this would only create the illusion of protection, which could cause problems in and of itself.

And frankly I can hear the rest of the world now, “Hey! The American’s think guns are medicine! Just shoot something, that’ll cure your cancer!”

I’m all for gun ownership, which is one of the major things keeping me from being a hippy, but this seems a bit misguided. Either it needs more rounds, or it needs to look more like a gun for defense. I think calling a gun a medical device is just a bad PR move, but I could see an argument made for some people. I guess we’ll see if any thing comes from this.

EDIT: Doh! Forgot the link where they mention it being a medical handgun.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hard Boiled Christmas (Day Six)

Hard Boiled Christmas

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Day 6: Solstice Yule

 

            My traveling companion had given up before I reached Folwerville, where I decided to pull over and put some gas in the tank. I must assume that I was getting more miles per gallon of gas than he was getting per donut. I probably stayed longer in Folwerville than I needed to, but I was curious to see if I might come up behind a brown Buick if it had indeed followed me that far. Would the driver be confused if he had known where I was going and got there first only to discover I wasn’t there? I suppose that really I just wanted to find out if perhaps I might see him. If he fell back far enough, he might still come up while I was waiting. I’d thought about getting some donuts, just to taunt him, but I passed on the idea.

 

            When I got on the road though, I was the only car on it for some time. There wasn’t anyone else driving along the barren highway, no one else looking at the blighted landscape with its bare trees and empty fields. I found myself wishing it would snow, just to cover up the emptiness that had come after the fall colors had passed. There were no colors now, beyond the dead colors of brown and gray though. The brown, the gray and the occasional patches of withered yellow were all that remained, and none of it was obscured by even a single flake of snow.

 

            I don’t know why I bother spending every December annoyed that it hasn’t snowed. I’ve lived in Michigan for my entire life, staying behind while most everyone else has left for some place that isn’t slowly dying. Since I’ve been here so long I know it rarely snows much before January. There are usually one or two storms that melt away in a day or two, but it wasn’t at all unusual that there wouldn’t be any snow yet. However, that didn’t stop me from being annoyed about it.

 

            When I got into East Lansing though, things began to look a little more lively. College towns tend to look livelier though. Even in Michigan, this tends to be true. There were young people walking around, there was color from decorations, although some people had no sense of style or imagination. Once again in many places the holiday season had simply vomited its brightly colored regurgitation onto the lawns of the unsuspecting.

 

            My complaints to this end were mollified when I hit the student zone. East Lansing was a college town after all, and the closer one got to the college the better chance one had of seeing the young women in their winter gear. I’ve always preferred the look of fall and winter fashions to those of spring and summer. Tight jeans have always been more interesting to me than shorts and tank tops.  It’s probably some attachment to looking at young ladies rumps that I formed in the eighties. Of course, there is just a lot more one can do with the extra layers, and there is more that has to be left to the thoughts and imaginations of the individual viewer. I didn’t watch the young women walking to and fro so closely that I crashed the car, but I did have to make sure to remind myself that I was driving a few times.

 

            I drove past the college and down a side street, winding my way through the passages until I came to a small two-story house that looked like the sort of place you’d want to visit. I pulled into the driveway and looked around for a brown Buick amongst the student cars, but either my eyes were failing me, or the driver had switched cars. That the tail might have evaporated was not a suggestion that was to be tolerated. One did not live a long time assuming the best.

 

            The house had been decorated for the season, with lights strung about the roof and in all the windows. There were lights on the trees and shrubs in front of the house and I could see a tree in the front window. I knew she hadn’t decorated the place like this. She’s not exactly decrepit, but neither is she as sprightly as she used to be. No, the students come and do this for her every year. It’s like a tribute for them, something you’d do for an old god.

 

            Solstice is a recognizable type. Kids come to college, learn that she was the one who originated most of Christmas’s tricks and get all excited about her. So they come to see her, because she lives near the college, and she’s the sort of old time show biz gal who always has a hundred stories about anyone you can think of. She’s clever, witty, funny, a natural at keeping your attention while she’s on. Even now, in her elder years, there is a lot of sparkle left to her and that causes people to want to come and see her.

 

            I walked up the steps and as I got to the top step the door opened and two young women came out of the front door and stopped when they saw me. I asked myself again when the college-aged girls got to be so much younger than me. I wasn’t that much older than them, but looking at the two of them made me wonder if I hadn’t been doing this detective thing when they were still playing with dolls.

 

            “We’ll see you Solstice.” One of them said and turned to kiss the old gal on the cheek. The other one waved and they started down the stairs. I moved to one side to let them pass and caught the mingled scents of their perfumes as they went down the stairs.

 

            When I looked back, Solstice’s smile had faded and her face looked more careworn than I’d ever noticed before. She looked up at me, and I could have sworn a tired sigh escaped her lips. It was possibly the saddest sound I had ever heard up to that point. What makes things worse is the fact that as I sit and tell this, I know now that there are sadder sounds.

 

            “Well, c’mon in.” she said as if I’d been lollygagging all day, “I’ve got some lunch ready for you.”

 

            We went inside and I smelled something delightful almost immediately. I took my hat off, hung it up on the rack, then took off my coat, and hung that up as well. Solstice’s house was filled with dark furniture that was covered with a tasteful amount of knick-knacks. It looked like the sort of place you’d want your grandmother to live in. Had it not been the middle of the day, I would have even expected there to be a fire in the fireplace. As it was though, there was just a large orange cat stretched out in front of the fireplace, just waiting for what it knew was coming. I followed Solstice into the dining room and sat down at the old dark wood table.

 

            “Just wait there.” She said and went into the swinging door to the kitchen. She emerged a moment later with a plate of perfectly prepared roast beef and potatoes. I won’t go into the details of the heavenly meal, because what interest could you possibly have to read about how grand my meal was? Suffice it to say, my lunch was superb.

 

            When I was done I leaned back and pushed my plate away a few inches. Solstice seemed to stiffen herself up a little as she waited for me to begin, not because of anything I did or even that she thought I might do. She did it because she had to steady herself before we started. I turned in my chair to face her more and then, tapping the table with my fingertips, I started.

 

            “Any thoughts?” I asked.

 

            “How are you funding this venture?” She asked.

 

            “The Fat Man is going to send me a check.” And I waited for he tempest to roll in.

 

            “You’d take his money?” A disgusted look crossing her face as she asked this.

 

            “I’m not working for him he’s just paying the tab.” I held up my hand.  “I’m working for Christmas here.”

 

            “But still.” Leaned back in another gesture of disgust. “To even touch that filthy pervert’s money. Why not come to me if you need money?”

 

            “I don’t need the money as such.” I said defensively. “But this could get expensive and why not waste his cash? His money spends like anyone else’s.”

 

            “Yes.” She said, “But I’d feel better if you took my money instead. Has he paid you a retainer?”

 

            “Supposed to get a check in the morning.”

 

            “I’ll give you a check before you leave.” She slapped the table. “Rather you take my money that that pimp’s money. It was that fat child molester’s fault we ever left for here.”

 

            “When did you two meet him?” I asked.

 

            “When Christmas was still married to Church.” She said. “You might not remember but I was still working with her in those days, consulting mostly. She’s taken over the show by then of course, but back in the day you could hardly tell her from me. I was a bit older sure, but if you saw each of us in our hay day you’d be hard pressed to say which one was which.”

 

            “The Fat Man was working for Church in those days, right?”

 

            “Oh yes.” She nodded. “You might not be old enough to remember that, when he was one of Church’s guys. He worked in Turkey, but he got chased out of there for messing around with little kids. Then he came north and saw me and Christmas performing in London and Paris. He introduced Church and her you know.”

 

            “No.” I shook my head. “I didn’t know that.”

 

            “Yeah.” She nodded. “Then they got married, and things were alright for a while, but then the Fat Man left Church and went into business for himself. Then he lured Christmas away from Church and he went batshit like he did. You of course remember those happy days.”

 

            “Yeah.” I nodded, trying not to mention that some nights I wake up in a cold sweat remembering those days.

 

            “The Fat Man got Christmas hooked on that junk she’s been on since the divorce. That crap that’s taken her away from us.” She looked sad for a moment and then wiped her mouth with her palm. “You seen her lately?”

 

            “I sort of saw on TV last year, and I talked to her on the phone for a little while.” I shrugged and noticed the look on her face. “No, not really.”

 

            “She got bloated.” Solstice said standing. “That garbage he keeps shooting her up with, it expanded her into something that she shouldn’t be.”

 

            She walked away and I noticed that while age had added some softness, Solstice Yule was still the wasp-waisted, fit thing she’d always been. She’d always kept fit, not even for the crowd, but for herself. But then, she hadn’t had the Fat Man giving her the kind of stuff he was said to be giving Christmas. She had acted differently too, only demanding what a person could actually give rather than more than they could give.

 

            Christmas not only demanded your all, but then demanded more. You would quickly get exhausted if you had to be around her too much. What made it worse was that she had a way of making you think you could do the things she wanted you to do, so you’d actually think she had a valid complaint for being disappointed when you failed her.

 

This is part six of twenty-five, come back tomorrow for part seven and every day this month until we’re done to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The HBC tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

 

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Fiction | | Leave a comment