The Onion Presents - novelonlinefull.com
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Indeed, few could predict that Fosbeck was only moments away from getting the biggest Christmas gift of all. At least, in a just-barely-not-dying-while-tethered-to-a-bathroom-fixture sort of way.
Using his last gasps of air to scream out for help, the flailing unemployed carpenter suddenly heard in the background the faint jingling of Christmas bells. Was it the arrival of a guardian angel, coming to rescue Fosbeck? Or was it simply an auditory hallucination caused by the lack of oxygen to his brain? We may never know.
One thing, however, remains clear. With a sudden jolt, Fosbeck's showerhead ripped clear from the cheap plaster of his bathroom wall, sending the unconscious loner plummeting free, naked as the baby Jesus.
"He was still tumescent when we found him," said neighbor Bob Ngyuen, who followed police into Fosbeck's apartment. "We put a towel over him before we called the paramedics, just to give him the slightest shred of dignity. It was Christmas, after all."
And if that wasn't enough of a semi-miracle, or miracle-ish thing, or whatever you want to call it, when Fosbeck finally awoke in the hospital, his mother, whom he hadn't seen in four years, was standing over him, re-united with her estranged son on Christmas night.
"The police said I had to come, because they legally can't release a patient with potential brain damage unless they're with a relative or somebody to make sure they get home okay," Elaine Fosbeck, 70, told reporters using her electronic larynx. "Herb was always a disappointment, even as a child."
As Fosbeck looked into the face of his elderly, alcoholic mother, he uttered a familiar phrase, one often used to close holiday stories such as these.
"G.o.d bless us, every one," Fosbeck said. "All two of us. Not counting the nurse, who I didn't know."
It Is Not A Wonderful Life By T. Herman Zweibel,
Publisher Emeritus (Photo circa 1911)
Another miserable year on this dismal rock has come and gone. As for myself, this was one of the worst years I've ever experienced. It was right up there with 1892 and 1921. Among the events of this hateful year: I tried in vain to run away from my estate; I was horrifyingly suckled by a wet-nurse; I received not a single application for my official-mistress position; I was stalked by a.s.sa.s.sins; and I was a.s.saulted, on separate occasions, by a lowly mule and an automatic enema-dispensing machine. What's more, my hated rival William Randolph Hearst continues to draw breath.
There is some-thing else, how-ever, that really sticks in my craw. As everyone knows, I am the richest man in the state, and I own virtually all the property in the village that cringes in the valley below my mountain-top estate. I am also the president and majority stock-holder of the village bank, which has a virtual strangle-hold on the meager finances of the impoverished villagers. I charge such exorbitant interest that the debtor is beholden to me to the grave, and, after his demise, his family must shoulder the remaining debt.
There's a building-and-loan in the village, too, but it has only a fraction of the a.s.sets of the bank, and it's always a mere whisper away from insolvency.
Yet, to my great dismay, it somehow manages to stay afloat. If I could just find a way to break this miserable building-and-loan, my conquest would be complete!
There is a soft under-belly of the organization, Uncle Billy, an absent-minded relative of the head-strong young executive secretary who manages it. He's always misplacing important items of business.
One day, one of my goons at the bank managed to s.n.a.t.c.h a large bundle of cash Uncle Billy had laid down, and brought it back to my estate. And all on the same day the bank examiner paid a surprise visit to the building-and-loan!
Well, I thought this would spell the ruin of the building-and-loan once and for all. The next day, how-ever, Standish informed me that all the villagers had banded together and raised enough money to replace the lost bundle. That young executive secretary must lead a charmed life, or perhaps he has some omnipotent guardian angel.
You can see what kind of a year it has been for me. I should just give up. I would ask Father Christ-mas to bring me a big sack of death, but I am certain I wouldn't get it anyway.
Beating The Post-Holiday Blahs Many people report feelings of depression after the holidays. Here are some ways you can relieve the seasonal doldrums: * Coptic and Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate most holidays days or weeks later. Try temporarily converting to extend your holiday mood.
* Get a full-spectrum light and keep it in your closet. The fact that you know it's there and can be taken out at any time should be enough to cheer you up.
* You may have thrown out your tree, but you can still pile your ornaments on the couch and celebrate all over again with a Christmas Cushion!
* Do not read The Road.
* Many department stores have old men who will let you sit on their laps year-round. Best of all, it's free!
* Give yourself one more present by ordering a pizza, shaking the box next to your ear, and then opening it while sitting cross-legged on the floor.
* Why are you trying not to be depressed? Frankly, you're more enjoyable to be around when you're sad.
* Don't forget that no matter how fat you are now, at least one person in the world is fatter. Gross.
* Consider the number of s.h.i.tty presents you received. Remind yourself you don't give s.h.i.tty presents. Now, pat yourself on your superior back!
* Every office has that one person whom nothing seems to get to. Punch that person in the face.
* Compared to your everyday blahs, the post-holiday blahs may not be that bad.
* Induce coma and get woken up on Mar. 20.
New Year's Resolutions Every year, Americans celebrate the New Year by resolving to change some aspect of their lives. What's your resolution?
"Thanks for the heads-up. I'm going to make my resolution now and get a week's jump on all the other chumps."
"I observe the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which has already happened. For that New Year, I resolved to let everyone know that January 1st is not the only New Year."
"I'm glad New Year's is coming up. I've been looking for an excuse to finally take care of this gangrenous leg."
Accountants Pack Times Square For Fiscal New Year NEW YORK-Amidst a blizzard of white, yellow, and pink forms in triplicate, a jubilant crowd of more than 800,000 accountants jammed Times Square Sat.u.r.day night to ring in the fiscal new year.
The Fiscal Ball drops, ushering in the new year.
"Fiscal Year 200102!" shouted one unidentified CPA, a tie wrapped around his forehead and a paper-bag-covered bottle of caffeine-free Diet c.o.ke in his hand. "The expense-accrual forms are completed and the statutory salary recovery requests are in. Now it's time to par-tay!"
The man then climbed atop a garbage can and wildly waved a copy of a PricewaterhouseCoopers end-of-year report before falling back into the crowd.
"Oh, yeah!" yelled 49-year-old Deloitte & Touche accountant David Gelfand, tearing off his shirt to reveal the phrase "In The Black" painted on his chest. "Anyone looking for final approval for payment vouchers subject to post-payment audit can forget it. The Office of Accounting is officially closed for the year! Whoooooo!"
Many present for the annual Times Square mayhem wore hats and carried noisemakers, and floating through the air were thousands of balloons emblazoned with the logo of the Big Five accounting firm Ernst & Young, the event's official sponsor.
Accountants began to gather as early as noon in antic.i.p.ation of the official countdown to midnight, April 15. At first, the mood was calm and genial, with accountants discussing tax code and sharing their Fiscal New Year's resolutions with one another. But as day turned to night, the scene changed, with celebrants yelling, climbing onto parked cars, and throwing items from their briefcases, including pocket calculators, spill-proof coffee mugs, and Parker pen sets. By 9 p.m., the size of the roiling throng had forced police to close off Broadway from 34th Street to 57th Street and reroute all vehicular traffic.
Shortly after 10 p.m., a portion of the crowd began to chant, "Excel! Excel!" in unison, prompting another group to defend its preferred spreadsheet software with shouts of, "Lotus 123! Lotus 123!" As the two sides' intensity increased, the impa.s.sioned yelling turned to shoving, and police had to escort several accountants out of the crowd.
Throughout the evening, the Times Square Jumbotron showed clips of accounting highlights from FY 200001, as well as reflections on the past fiscal year by celebrities such as Gerard Truman, author of The Truman Formula For Estimating Loss Leader Profitability Returns.
"There's no question that 200001 was one incredible fiscal year," said Truman, his words echoing through Times Square. "Microsoft released Windows 2000, everyone changed their methods to accommodate the Euro, and Office Max released its biggest catalog ever. But now, after a long, hard year of accounting, it's time to turn off our NQS batch queues and just enjoy ourselves."
One minute before midnight, the traditional countdown began as the three-ton, Tiffany-made Fiscal Ball slowly descended from the sky at One Times Square.
"That Fiscal Ball is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," said Peter Timmins, 38, a KPMG budget a.n.a.lyst from Philadelphia. "Back when I was getting my master's in accounting at Georgetown, we'd all sit glued to the live annual broadcast of John Kenneth Galbraith's Fiscal New Year's Rockin' Eve. And now I'm actually experiencing it in person."
Lou Dobbs, former star of CNN's Moneyline, officially closed the ceremonies, addressing the crowd from atop a giant adding machine shooting reams of number-filled streamers into the crowd below.
"Let us now, for but a moment," Dobbs said, "look back fondly on FY 200001-the mergers and acquisitions that made it special, the new information systems that came into our lives, the new tax strategies we may have discovered in places we weren't even looking."
Dobbs paused shortly, waiting for the crowd to quiet, before bursting into song.
"Should auld accountants be forgot ..." sang Dobbs, lifting his voice as the swaying crowd of accountants linked arms and joined him in song.
"This is so amazing," said Amanda Lakewood, a tax-code accountant who traveled all the way from Merced, CA, to be part of the Times Square festivities. "When we're all here together, it doesn't matter if you work in budget a.n.a.lysis, auditing, or management accounting. It doesn't matter if you work for the government, a privately held corporation, or a public accounting firm. When we're together here like this, we're all just accountants, every one of us. Happy Fiscal New Year!"
NEWS IN BRIEF.
Leftover Christmas Billboard Stirs Seasonally Inappropriate Emotion.
ST. LOUIS-Local architect Steve Burillo felt a momentary flush of seasonally incongruous holiday spirit Tuesday when he saw a Christmas-themed billboard on South Broadway. "The sign was advertising the St. Louis Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker, and for a second, I felt a stirring desire to volunteer for a charity and spread goodwill amongst my fellow men," Burillo said warmly. "But then I was like, 'Screw it. It's March. I should get to the gym and get in shape for summer.' " Burillo added that they really ought to take the billboard down before someone goes out and spends quality time with loved ones.