DATELINE: HOLLYWOOD: December 24, 2001


Ah, Christmas, the day set aside for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ -- perhaps the original holiday tied to a birthday which is not held on the birthday

There are various theories as to why this was -- first, no one knows when Jesus was born ... they argue about the year even -- as well as claims of his mother's premarital promiscuity and in some quarters whether he existed at all. I can see arguing about all but the last -- I mean Jesus pretty much had to have actually walked on Earth. Why else would a bunch of people join a cult devoted to his teachings if there were none, and if there were none, why didn't the guy who dreamed them up grab the credit -- including the fame and potential for wealth and sex -- after all if Christianity is an opportunistic scam, why wouldn't its inventor take full advantage like any genius con man?

So Christmas is when it is because, let's say, either the Christians during the persecution wanted to hide it under a Roman Festival to (I think) Saturn, or once the Romans took over Christianity for their own ends, found it easier to ease Jesus on other pagans when they were drunk on mead and tripping on mushrooms to honor the Winter Solstice -- whatever -- Christmas is when it is and that is that.

But why in hell are so many freaking bills DUE in December and January?

Anyone else ever note that cruel irony?

For instance, just 2 weeks before the day on which you really want to buy FuFu that expensive bracelet the deadline to pay Los Angeles County at least half of it's ever increasing and if mine are an example, outrageously high, Property Taxes. If you've had a productive year but will be shopping at the dented can store by March, you need to pay double the minimum get the MAXIMUM deduction on your income taxes. Self employed -- or say dealing a little smack on the side to keep up? GOT to send in your Quarterly Estimated Payment to the IRS, which, at a minimum, includes like 17.3% of every cent you made for Social Security.

If you got a magazine subscription for Christmas from a now deceased relative and you liked the magazine, they threaten to cut you off if you don't pay. Ninety-two per cent of all people who were ever fortunate enough to receive a car as a Christmas present receive their vill for a renewal premium in December -- whether it's a year later or forty years and a dozen cars later.

Fortunately rich people, wives and "kept women" get most of the cars for Christmas, but there's a sizable number of "lucky" kids who will always think $100,000 is a lot of money who get their parent's or uncles old battered car who at the least need to make a new, higher monthly payment each December.

Professional organizations to which professionals are forced to belong want dues in January. The California Bar wants like $400 -- plus insists a third of its members (well, 50% of that third) shell out about a grand buying tapes and taking dull classes to stay up on the law. In at least one of these classes they will be told -- for like twenty minutes -- to return their phone calls. Local Bar dues are also due, as are many credit card "fees" (since you got the card in December to help pay for all the crap that month), and if any regular, monthly bill -- homeowners dues, gardeners, trashmen -- increases, the first increase is due in January.

But of course the regular squeeze was not sufficient for ME this year. First, I go to my dentist because I've needed to get a tooth removed for like a year -- it was all loose and I thought "this is a convenient time for me."

Make that "I thought I needed A tooth out." By the time he's sent me to the oral surgeon and I get fitted for the fakes, I'm down $3000 and he starts poking around the teeth he LEFT a week before and claiming "cavity" with every poke ... like 20 times and I don't think I have 20 TEETH. "Geez, Dai, I don't know WHY I didn't notice these when I caught that other one we filled." Meanwhile his assistant is mutating into a pimp for these overstock Fighting Ninja Turtle Braun toothbrushes he's trying to unload. CA-CHING

Next day Lime Flavored Sparkling Water decides it will sparkle all over this computer keyboard. The space bar won't work. Unfortunately the space bar is more important than most would think. $127. Oh, why not upgrade to Mac OS X you think after the commission based salesman makes you think the world will leave you behind if you do not. $100something. CA-CHING

My laptop, which is Windows based decides IT has had it with my beating on it with my fists. "Needs a new Hard drive." I mention memory and they convince me that for $300 bucks it can have a new HD with all my old stuff on it and more memory than I have in my head. They don't mention how putting all this in will cost $200 of labor. They don't mention how the memory they'll install will be defective and totally destroy the laptop which will not be serviced except in spare time and then only after they get some mysterious shipment, or that whenever I'd like to see how far they haven't gotten, I had best speak Lithuanian, because that's the only language my Customer Service Rep speaks. CA-CHING

Then of course as sort of a triple pre-Christmas special touch, first my cable system decides I don't need CBS or NBC and that I should spend more time with my TV by learning all the stations they reassigned really high, never even known about numbers with NO clue they did so except for the fact on all my old favorites (which were the only ones moved) they now feature all Korean programming. The kicker is, somehow I'm getting like 10 HBOs, 5 Showtimes, 5TMCs, and a bunch of shitty channels I know costs money which show foreign films. CA-CHING

Next, the lamp next to my bed decides it needs the same problem the lamp it just replaced had, which is a FROZEN on on/off switch. So I am unplugging it to turn it on and off and yesterday I plugged it in and KA-POOF!!!!! Sparks and smoke and arcs of blue electricity. After I manage to yank the cord out without being electrocuted and am confident no electrical fire is smoldering in the wall, I think of the cleaning lady who of course speaks NO English who usually comers Tuesday and whom I TRIED to advise she had the next 2 weeks off (and paid her), who will almost as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, show up when I'm not here and decide to vacuum and either burn Casa Ricardo to the ground or cause me to come home to find the corpse of her illegal alien self on my floor and I REALLY want to explain THAT to the fucking cops. CA-CHING

Finally, my sister and I are mad with one another and although I am fully in the right, I don't want to be the one who does not send a Christmas present to her, where she is, at my niece's house, in San Diego (my niece apparently hates me and wants me nowhere near them). Of course I don't come up with this brilliant idea until Sunday the 23rd, and I need it shipped, so I'm gouged for a $50 version of a $10 box of candy and it needs to be delivered Christmas Eve. Now it's a national deal. The candy's going from a place 2 miles south of my niece to her house, but that costs... $31 all by itself. Then there's tax and gouging fees.... CA-CHING

The economy supposedly could use a good Christmas shopping season, and while that's over I guess (oh, except for the new printer I need to buy today CA-CHING

...perhaps next year all this other crap people stick there hand out to demand that is specifically non-Christmas related -- including mortgages, car payments, groceries, hard drugs... maybe like it could all be free in December and January and just spread out over the year.

That'd fill Santa's sleigh with X Boxes. Merry Christmas and lets hope 2002 is a better year all around than was 2001.