Friday, December 22, 2017

How to Have Yourself a Merry Little Psychobabble X-Mas


A real evergreen decked with handmade ornaments. Choruses of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” around a roaring fire. A ham dinner with all the trimmings for you and yours. Midnight mass. These are the things that make up an old-fashioned Christmas. But there aren’t very Psychobabbley.

Here on Psychobabble, old-fashioned does reign supreme, but it ain’t that kind of sweater-vest brand of old-fashioned. It’s the stupendously, tremendously retro brand. Don’t understand what I mean? Well, don’t fear, don’t panic, and don’t throw yourself in front of the next oncoming reindeer-drawn sleigh. My holiday gift to you is the following 24-hour schedule for having a very merry Psychobabble-style X-Mas….with all the groovy trimmings.

December 25

Midnight: Wake up. Ideally you spent the entirety of Christmas Eve sleeping and building up reserves of energy, because the following is—as I’ve already stated—a 24-hour schedule. No sleep ’til Boxing Day. And you’re really going to need that energy because the first task on our holiday schedule is stocking up on the gifts. No lazy shopping in front of your fancy home computer. We do it the old-fashioned way: Midnight Sale at Toys R’ Us.  Be prepared to gouge out the eyeballs of a fellow loving parent for that last Cabbage Patch Kid on the shelf, because in Psychobabble Land, that kind of thing still happens.

1:00 A.M.: Now get all that booty home and wrap it as fast as possible because it is time to deck some fucking halls the Psychobabble way. If you’ve already set up projected LED snowflakes or any other newfangled decoration, tear that shit down and replace it with toxic melted plastic peanut snowmen on the windows, garish blow-molded Santa and reindeer display on the roof, and flaming hot C7 ½ multicolored bulbs around the eaves. Tarp up that brick fireplace and hang your stockings from a vintage cardboard fireplace by Toymaster. Finish it all off with an aluminum tree sprinkled with satin-covered Styrofoam balls and bathed in the artificial glow of a motorized color wheel.  

2:00 A.M.: You’re going to have a few hours to kill before the kids wake up. Fill them with the traditional marathon viewing of A Christmas Story on TNT. I know, I know. Most years you would watch this eighties holiday classic (and, unfortunately, NRA advertisement for children) many more than a mere two times. But considering everything you have to accomplish over the following 20 hours, you simply don’t have time to watch A Christmas Story more than twice. Ohhhh... fudge.

5:00 A.M.: Right about now, the tots should be toddling out of bed and down the steps to take in the marvelous X-Mas tableaux you’ve created. They stand before it in awe for 11 seconds. Then they immediately tear into the gifts you lovingly placed beneath that aluminum tree like rabid wolverines. Watch as little Johnny’s eyes light up as he unwraps his very first 1962-edition Barbie’s Dream House! Look at little Song dance around the room cradling her Kenner AT-AT complete with light-up laser cannons! Spend an hour on the floor with Aaliyah making skyscrapers out of Lincoln Logs!  Help little Santiago set up his bundle of Mego Super Heroes and Planet of the Apes apes in a variety of exciting action poses! But you only have an hour, because now it’s time to…

6:00 A.M.: …turn on the TV! Yes, folks it would not be a very Psychobabble X-Mas without a very lot of vegetating in front of the television. What brings a family together more than two hours of classic holiday episodes? That’s right: Not a goddamn thing. Begin with “Night of the Meek”, the 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone in which Art Carney plays a drunken department store Santa who undergoes a classic Rod Serling twist! Follow it up with “The Monkees’ Christmas Show” in which Mike, Micky, Davy, and Peter teach Eddie Munster the true meaning of X-Mas before singing the glorious “Riu Chiu”. Next is “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, the inaugural episode of the funniest series of the twentieth century (and the unfunniest one of the twenty-first century!)! Finally, desensitize your kids to depictions of murder and psycho-Santas with “And All Through the House…”, perhaps the finest episode of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt.

8:00 A.M.: Turn off the TV. There will be plenty more time for that later. Now it’s time to spend 45 minutes with the Fab Four at their most festive. Gather the family around the phonograph to giggle along with The Beatles and the daffy Christmas records they released to their British Fan Club from 1963 through 1969. I know that Universal Music recently reissued these discs on vinyl for the first time ever, but listening to them would not be very retro. You must listen to the crappy quality, exceedingly rare, and horrifically expensive flexi-discs produced in the 1960s. A Psychobabble Crimble requires a certain degree of commitment.

8:45 A.M.: You now have 15 minutes to fill until our next festivities. Maybe drink some eggnog or something. But it must be expired eggnog. Drinking nog manufactured in the 21st century is hardly retro.

9:00 A.M.: Finished puking yet? Excellent! Now turn that TV back on, because you have some more couch-potatoing to do. It wouldn’t be X-Mas without those delightful Rankin/Bass stop-motion creatures twirling around and singing festive tunes such as “We Are a Couple of Misfits”, “Silver and Gold”, “The Snow Miser Song”, and “The Heat Miser Song”. So your next two hours will be filled with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus. No time for Frosty the Snowman because there’s so much else to do and watch today! It’s not even animated with stop-motion anyway.

11:00 A.M.: Time for more family fun away from the boob tube. You will now collect up all those Mego figures the kids got from under the tree and stage your very own Action Figure Recreation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker! Cast Zira as little Clara! The Joker as the Mouse King! Kirk, Uhura, and Mr. Spock as Sugar Plum Fairies! And finally The Incredible Hulk as the Nutcracker! For the most Psychobabbley experience, try using Duke Ellington’s funky version of “The Nutcracker Suite”.


12:00 P.M.: OK. Enough culture. It’s time for more TV. So you shall spend the next hour with Mulder, Scully, Ed Asner, and Lily Tomlin as you decompress to the classic X-Files episode “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”. Get choked up all over again as Agents Mulder and Scully get trapped in a haunted house and hallucinate that they murder each other in bloody detail! Feel free to answer Mulder’s “left cheek sneak” with one of your own.

1:00 P.M.: While we’re in Christmas-stealing mode, do the natural thing and watch Boris Karloff voice Dr. Seuss’s most lovable villain in Chuck Jones’s timeless adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You could get all book-wormie and actually read the story to your family, but I’m guessing your brain has now atrophied to the point that that would be nearly impossible.

2:00 P.M.: I think you and your family have now spent enough time sucking each other’s oxygen. Why not get outside for some festive winter fun? Build a snowman! That’s the kind of thing we did back in the days when it was still cold and snowy on X-Mas. Don’t let the horrors of climate change get you down if you aren’t lucky enough to live in the North Pole or one of the two or three other places that still get snow on December 25th. Just pop open the freezer, yank out a hunk of frost, and start building your personalized Frosty! You can always augment it with a few blasts of Reddi-Wip. Don’t forget the carrot nose and corncob pipe!

3:00 P.M.: Your limbs are probably all achy from all of that movement. You’ve earned yourself some more TV-centric relaxation. Why not pop your Gremlins tape into the Betamax and have yourself a regular hoot as an army of reptilian demons wreak havoc on a Norman Rockwell-esque town at Christmastime?

5:00 P.M.: Oops! With all this merry TV watching, it seems we forgot the life-sustaining activity of eating. Time to get caught up with a true Psychobabble-style holiday feast! Gather around the table with your family to devour a retro style smorgasbord of festive fare. On the menu: a Panettone fruitcake, two bushels of candy canes, a dozen mesh stockings full of prison-grade chocolate wrapped in colorful foil, a couple of sacks of Hanukkah gelt, gingerbread men shaped like Mr. Bill, and more of that delicious expired egg nog. Tuck in!

6:00 P.M.: There’s a major holiday element we’ve ignored thus far. Well, we shall ignore it no longer. Time for some good old-fashioned Christmas music! And since this is a very Psychobabble X-Mas, we won’t get any more old-fashioned than the 1960s. So give The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album and A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records your annual spins. Don’t be ashamed to surf along with “Little St. Nick” or break out into slobbering sobs as Darlene Love belts “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

7:00 P.M.: Don’t stop the tunes there! Now it’s time to spike that nog with some Old Grandad and get rowdy as you drunkenly scream along with a snatch of punk X-Mas records: The Damned’s “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”, The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas, Baby (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”, and The Kinks’ “Father Christmas”. Feel free to smash a few ornaments while you’re at it.

7:30 P.M.: Now that you’re fortified with a bevy of holiday tunes (and Old Grandad), get the kids together and go knocking on the neighbor’s door to force them to listen to your own versions of these seasonal chestnuts! Make sure your caroling adventure does not resort to the usual numbers. Keep things sufficiently Psychobabbley by crooning such merry music as The Who’s “Christmas”, Smokey and the Miracles “Christmas Everyday”, The Waitress’ “Christmas Wrapping”, the Stones’ “Winter”, Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run”, XTC’s “Snowman”, Throwing Muses’ “Santa Claus”, Procol Harum’s “A Christmas Camel”, and Guided by Voices’ “Kicker of Elves”.

8:30 P.M.: Nice singing! You’ve sure earned yourself some more TV time. Use it wisely with viewings of A Charlie Brown Christmas (8:30-to 9:00) and the super spooky 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim (9:00-10:30). Then use it unwisely with a merrily tedious viewing of the Star Wars Holiday Special (10:30-11:30) starring a bunch of grunting wookies— the eldest of whom watches space porno starring Diahann Carroll—Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, and Jefferson Starship!

11:30 P.M.: By now you must be completely tuckered out, and possibly hallucinating. Give those sugar plums dancing in front of your eyes something to dance on by gazing at the traditional Yule Log on New York’s WPIX (not Netflix, you ultra modernists!). Allow yourself to dose off. To paraphrase Paul McCartney’s finest song, it’s simply been a wonderful Christmas Time… and if you’ve followed Psychobabble’s retro holiday schedule to a T, you’ve spent it well.


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