Rudolph, The Grinch, and Frosty have dominated the holiday airwaves since time immemorial. I have made it a personal holiday tradition to root for the underdog. Tirelessly, I scour IMDB lists, estate sales, and burned-down Blockbuster Video stores for festive films that have been lost to the sands of time. Then I abandon this effort and just make things up.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash
  1. Christmas in Coal Country (1955)

Paid for and written by The West Virginia Coal Association, this educational film extolls the wonders of coal in a world dipping its feet into atomic energy.

On Christmas Day, little Timmy-Ray is disappointed to find a lump of coal under the tree. Wondering what he did wrong this year, he is surprised by the sudden arrival of Santa-Ray Claus. Santa-Ray explains that coal is actually a gift, and to Timmy’s delight, a flurry of fly ash begins to fall on the town. What follows is a magical tour of an active coal mine as Santa-Ray explains the impeccable safety standards of the 1950s coal industry, the Communist lie of black-lung, and the folly of nuclear energy. …

When I saw the preview image for “Bad Chicken”, I was amped to see some terrible acting in chicken suits. Even these valley-low expectations were dashed in the first five minutes when the titular chickens were revealed to be puppets.

To be fair, the best performances came from the chicken puppets. “Charlie Chicken” is a sociopathic blend of Goofy, John Goodman, and Hannibal Lecter. He is accompanied by his drugged-out comrades Caesar and Carl, who masquerade as his sound and camera guys when they’re not stealing women’s underwear and Vicoden.

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I feel like I still managed to capture the sex offender vibe that these chickens give off

Aside from our squad of chicken puppets we have Norah and Isaak. Norah is an aspiring reality TV actress. Isaak is mainly there to make common-sense observations, and then do whatever stupid thing Norah or the talking chicken tell him to do. He seems to be unacquainted with the concept of acting, as he becomes agitated and confused every time he is asked to pretend to do something. …

Ellen does not know I exist but I feel it is time to share my ordeal

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Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash


A “nice” person from my email inbox offered me cheap tickets to a taping of “Ellen”. In my naivete, I accepted and began the laborious and expensive process of booking travel from Stirling, VA to Burbank, CA. 4 trains and one shaky crop duster ride later I arrived at a heavily-graffitied warehouse. Star-struck and very much a country-mouse, I wandered in expecting cheering audiences and the sort of childlike joy that is said to follow in the footsteps of Ellen Degeneres. Instead, I found Ellen Pompeo perched on a 3-legged stool beneath a spotlight, brow furrowed in concentration. For 2 hours and 45 minutes I watched her eat a series of plain bran muffins and read lines from an episode of “Law and Order” in front of an 8mm camera while several severe-looking men and women in English-cut suits nodded and scribbled on clipboards. I consider myself lucky; in my experience, this sort of bait-and-switch usually results in organ theft. …

Originally I was going to write this little short story in which the director, Brett Kelly, sets out to fulfill his dream of making the best local furniture store commercial the world has ever seen. He would eclipse his more successful cousin, Machine Gun Kelly. However, he loses control of his production as greedy investors demand changes, add shark puppets and random scenes of women in bikinis, etc… It culminates in his work going live on Amazon Prime but Kelly is a broken man.

Then the last 10 minutes of this movie happened and I said fuck it, it’s funnier to just list the various things that happen in this 70-minute icecream-truck fire. …

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Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

Summer is bearing down on us and the odds of fulfilling your vacation plans are about as high as finding an extra roll of 4-ply toilet paper between your couch cushions. However, there are alternative “staycations” that let you enjoy the escapism of an exotic locale without surrendering the comfort of your recliner and zebra-print pajama bottoms.

The Parisian Catacombs

Vacation: These gloomy subterranean halls are a popular destination for thrill-seekers with a macabre bent. While not strictly legal, an entire industry exists for sneaking willing tourists into the forbidden segments. You might call it… an underground industry. …

A Beginner’s Guide and FAQ

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the federal government has recommended that the population follow “social distance” guidelines for at least another month. Many states and local governments have implemented “Stay at Home” orders to render these guidelines enforceable. Apparently remaining at home is a novel concept to some people, as nationwide cellphone data shows that many are struggling to comply with these orders.

There’s no need to fret! I, a seasoned veteran in the art of not moving around very much, am here to answer any and all questions you may have about how to remain in your dwelling for the duration of this pandemic. …

Rest assured that everything is perfect except for the things that aren’t.

A woman sobs in a dilapidated old house with broken windows
A woman sobs in a dilapidated old house with broken windows
Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Hi, Greg here.

First of all, I wanted to say thanks again for taking a chance on me. Times have been tough for Craigslist house-sitters. MindMyHouse and “trusted friends and relatives” have gobbled up market share. It’s tough to trust a stranger to take care of the pets, let alone leave the electrical wiring unpawned, but you did it. Faith in humanity restored!.

Second, and more to the point, rest assured that everything is perfect except for the things that aren’t.

I’m sure you’ll want to know how the cats are doing. I’m happy to report that all 4 of them are doing okay. Or 3. …

Only you and the demons that live under their mattress really know your child, so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what you can expect

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Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. Meritocracy as a rule rather than the exception. Parenting is a minefield of little lies we tell our kids to ease their passage into adulthood. I say “we” but I mean “you” — I’m not having kids. …

Most popular sit-coms and light-hearted television programs feature at least one episode that deviates from their chipper tone. TVTropes refers to these episodes, in which gravitas is injected in order to deal with some sort of real-life issue or expound a moralistic lesson, as Very Special Episodes. Whatever the reason for their existence, all of them are terrible and would have been better if I’d written them. For your edification I have included some examples.

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Photo by aj_aaaab on Unsplash

Happy Days — “Smokin Ain’t Cool”

Joanie develops a taste for cigarettes, to the dismay of family and friends. Eventually, Fonzie gets through to her and she quits.

Happy Days — “Kuru Ain’t Cool”

Joanie develops a taste for human flesh, to the dismay of family, friends and the vagrants that Joanie kills and devours in secret. As Joanie reverts to a feral state, living in an abandoned malt shop and attacking hormonal teenagers parked at “Lover’s Leap”, Richie begins to lose hope of ending the bloodshed and returning his sister to normal. Fortunately, Fonzie is able to pierce the rabid blood-lust that has consumed Joanie through a jazzy musical number in which he warns her of the dangers of prion disease. As the refrain of Fonzie’s song states: “Kuru ain’t cool-ru”. …


Brandon Dockery

It’s not about the destination, it’s about complaining every step of the way there. Writing published in Slackjaw, The Haven and Robot Butt

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