NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS:

SEASONAL CELEBRATIONS

December 7, 2008

Its been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The freeways all around have been clogged with such numbers of people, many of them complete idiots who appear to never have ever had any familiar intercourse or instruction with the machine called by you and me "automobile" or that thing known by you and me as "traffic" that the vast majority of Islanders have remained for the sake of safety at home, doing their holiday shopping online with that magical thing called "the personal computer", and because they all have disabled the Microsoft firewall, the antivirus, the antispam fisher-king thing, the malapropism generator, the dingus of AT&T, the Ashcroft Security Center, the Yahoo Messenger, the Yahoo Twaddler, and the Poodleboot, everything goes swimmingly quite against the advice of nephew Albert who is a geek and a programmer in several languages not spoken by any sentient human being, for Oracle's IBM division of Linux and Hijinx

But he couldn't fix your DVD player or your thumb-thing, and now everything simply works despite his worst admonitions so the Vista thing can go take a hike for now.

The latest scuttlebutt has it that the Wii, an essentially unpronounceable device much like the entertainer who used to be known as Prince, produces brainwaves extraordinarily attractive to the German cockroach. The Koreans found this out, and you sure can trust those guys to tell the truth as they see it.

We knew this all along. Put a bunch of acne-impacted college student programmers into a dorm room with stale boxes of old pizza and spilled coca cola and of course, that is what you are going to get.

So now we have made the perfect device to destroy civilization while fostering its inheritors. And every perfect idiot is going to rush right out and buy one to hasten the End.

How comforting.

Over at The Squat on Shoreline, Marlene and Andre wade through the wreckage of the Lupercalia/Sol Invictus/Wicca/Chanukah dinner, a sort of joyous feast of whatever people have managed to scour up with this year being especially bountiful. With twelve people and four dogs and uncountable cats all practicing everything from Unitarianism to Hari Krishna, Marlene and Andre see no reason to peg their holiday on any one theology, so they all celebrate as many as they can.

One day Jesus, Xavier and Pahrump all came home shouting with glee from working a banquet at the Claremont Hotel, and each proceeded to pull out one raw porterhouse steak after another from their coat pockets like magicians doing a bloody hat trick in which the bunny had met some terrible disaster. But from Pahrump's pants leg emerged the piece de resistance: a full rack of lamb!

They all ate well this year, each remembering previous years of Brussels sprout soup in miso.

The place was a mess after the party, but then, it always was in the best of circumstances. In the corner the tree glittered with Marlene's ornaments from Russia in its old washtub and cinderblock mounting.

"Hey!" said Andre. Who threw bones into the Xmas tree water?"

It is otherwise a fairly quiet nice. Earlier, four squad cars had raced down Lincoln to the West End, their sirens all howling, but for now Officer O'Madhauen sits sipping coffee from a Styrofoam cup in his Crown Victoria near the Old Cannery. Which they are planning to turn into tony live-work spaces sometime soon. Put some life back into the old brick warehouse now bordered by weeds and a chainlink fence.

Over at the Old Same Place, Suzie gives a nod to the Season by wearing a fetching Elf Cap while she serves up drinks at the bar. Jose, Javier and Eugene are all sitting there on stools and talking about the dismal Raiders season.

Lynnette and Susan ride up to their flat, switch off their headlamps and lock up the bicycles in the shed out back before coming in with their shopping prizes, blowing on chilled fingers and tossing woolen caps into the closet before snuggling under the down comforter in front of the TV set with hot cocoa and their selection of holiday DVD's: The Ref, Bad Santa, Nightmare Before Xmas, Mixed Nuts, and Elf.

Father Duran of the Church of Many Holy Names is chatting before the hearth with Father Guimon of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint in the Rectory of Many Holy Names after they have wrapped up this year's Pageant, which featured a Medieval Morality Tale that had both of them performing as Virtue and as Saving Grace come to rescue poor Everyman lost in the Dark Wood of Error. Father Duran still has vine leaves in his hair from his costume, looking a bit like some creature from a very unchristian time.

Across the street, Pastor Nyquist and Maria have put all the kettles away from this year's Holiday Banquet and he is nodding off with a glass of sherry. Between the two affairs, that corner of Grand Street had been bustling with little angels, one or two devilish characters, a number of robed saints, and great numbers of Islanders of all sizes, coming and going and shouting in the frosty air, "See you next year!" as if that were some truly original expression. But now the calm and the peace of the full moon shines down on the Island.

Reverend Rectumrod had taken the unusual step of leaving for the Holidays to his native Georgia, abandoning his flock of some four or five souls. But his version of the Liturgy is so stark and bare, unadorned and scornful of any sort of merriment and celebration that it made no sense to keep on with his American Flag tie and his black suit. His is Church of Hellfire and Damnation and These are the Last Days, so there is no jumping up and down or singing in his church, save for dirges. So the members of his congregation all went over to Pastor Nyquist, believing that stern Lutheranism would be a good substitute for Sanctified Brethren of the Third Baptist Church. Quite to their surprise, Pastor Nyquist welcomed them all with open arms and invitations to the Banquet which turned out to be warm and pleasant and full of jolly people and they rather liked this version of Biblical interpretation very much.

So much so, that a few of them decided, well might as well stay with this Pastor and not go back to the other one. But these resolutions were made in secret.

Bear and Susan are already snuggled up and asleep, bathed by the holiday lights wrapped around Bear's Harley, parked as usual, in the livingroom. Percy Worthington Boughsplatt, dressed in satin pajamas of the same color scheme as his vintage 1939 Mandeville-Brot coupe, sips brandy from a snifter while his long time consort and live-in companion, Madeline tidies up in the kitchen, wearing an apron and high heels and, as usual, nothing else other than a fetching silver wrapping bow in her hair. As a member of the Berkeley Explicit Players, Madeline fondly remembers her old associate, the Naked College Student, who passed away this year and a tear escapes her eye.

"I say, Maddy, you still have a fine bumper there." Percy says.

Madeline turns. Looks down. "You are going to ruin those pajamas," she said.

"Am I now?"

"If you do not, I am about to. Take them off." And she removed her apron.

Well, dear and gentle reader, let's draw the curtains now, shall we. That's the way it is on the Island, this peaceful night of a thousand stars. Have a great week.

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