Went shopping. I suppose this is where I should drop the pre-fab whine about parking, crowds, commercialism, and the grating nature of pre-fab holiday music. Oh for the old days, when a man could walk down the snow-choked alleys on Christmas Eve, taking care not to make eye contact with his betters, pushing aside the ragged beggars with their oozing carbuncles and the haggard gin-blasted pox-ridden doxies who chew your unholstered parts for a farthing. Oh for the honest Christmases, when you’d buy a goose and take it home and spend your week’s salary getting the stove hot enough to cook the thing. Remember the year little Tim pitched in his crutch so we could have enough heat to crisp the duck? Merry times, merry times. Now let us sing a carol and thank our stars we do not have to drive self-propelled machines - complete with auto-heat and magical devices that pluck music and voices from the very either - to great broad sheds filled with goods unimaginable. It seems like a wonderland, children, but every Eden has its snake; there are other people there, and they oft do not comport themselves as we would wish. And the songs from unseen minstrels, while short and endlessly variable, are often contrary to our aesthetic preferences. No, be happy we are here together in our perfect Victorian times. Now throw another volume of Dickens on the fire; it grows cold, and Father cannot lose but two more toes.

The mall was fine. I lost my car in the lot, but that has less to do with my own absent-mindedness than the peculiar layout of the lot. It’s difficult to describe, but when they redid Southdale, they created two lots which seem to occupy the same physical space. There are two separate entrances, and each goes to a different lot. So you walk around pushing your remote key waiting for your car to yelp hello. But before that I did some reasonable shopping; no stress, no worries. We’re not going all out this year. My wife does not need her sixth red cashmere sweater, and we agreed the money can be better spent on family vacations and charity. (Forgot to mention the Smile Train, which is another excellent charity: reconstructive surgery for third-world kids with cleft palates.) After I finished I got a cup of coffee and sat in the courtyard, listening to the songs (most of them were high on the annoying scale; while I like Christmas music, I don’t like 65% of the examples, and some versions truly truly grate. Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time,” for example, makes me twitch, and I’m pretty much done with “Winter Wonderland.” Except for the version I’ll play in Friday’s Bleatcast. The sole new song I’ve heard this year is “That’s What I Like About Christmas,” sung by the My Little Ponys, and Gnat’s already sick of it.

Busy day; filed two columns, two more to go tonight and another job I forgot about. Had the furnace guy over, as part of my plan to distribute as much money to highly trained repairmen as possible. Paid bills. (Always write out your charity contributions before you do the end of the year bills.) So it’s links for breakfast.

Anyone whose marrow pines for the future that bastich Hitler took from us will want one of these mugs. The first one, especially.

In his day he was bigger than Chaplin or Keaton – a fact that annoys those who regard the latter as sublimity personified, and who think the former combined pathos and pratfalls like none other. Harold Lloyd? Too eager to please, too much the grinny All-American, too reliant on stunts and thrills. Which, of course, is why he was bigger for a while than his rivals. His career petered out with the advent of sound, aside from one painful talkie. What, then, does an old movie star with enough money and time do with himself in his later years? This.

A GREAT holiday gift:
This was bouncing around the communal sites last month, and I neglected to give it a link. Distinctions between the 1963 Richard Scarry Best Work Book Ever and the 1991 edition. Spot the handsome pilot and the beautiful screaming lady!

Is the Subway sandwich shop franchise tied to Halliburton? Do you have to ask?

I think it was a freak shot, but I still understand why they took those things off the market. Hard on the lawn, too.

I know that the New York Real Estate market is a universe unto its own, but if I’m going to spend $1.5 million dollars for a condo, I’d want at least
one bedroom. (Spectacular spacious photos here. My God.) (Via Curbed.)

And speaking of New York: I have this book, but the web version is free. And just as cool.

I’m waiting for the moment when a teacher comes up and tells me I don’t have permission to film my kid’s holiday play. Believe me. I cannot wait.