HOLIDAYPHILE 


Not that I'm partial to thinking, but I'd like to think that if I were a thinky-winky, I would have enough potential pressure in my temple-bound fingers to mentally deposit myself at some event not involving faces-made-for-radio performing live for midsections-made-for-radio-listening, all splattered with gelatinous blobs of Dickensian guilt. But this, I suppose, is what I get for not thinking. I smell a culture clash.

In an annual, static-free rush of holiday generosity, Jim Philips and the similarly middlebrow folk that emit Real Radio (104.1-FM) somewhere near the talkier end of the frequency modulation have come together, in person, to read Christmas lore aloud. All proceeds (tickets are $17) are earmarked for The Mustard Seed, so I suppose it's better than another Daytona wet T-shirt contest for men with back hair in leather chaps (take that, Monsters), but it's still far from aesthetically promising. Even if I do have an unnatural affection for Philips.

"You want to meet him?" winks a bodyguarded Sexy Savannah, leading me by the arm into the bowels of the Hard Rock Live.

"Oh, I think he knows who I am," I close my eyes and pucker.

Somewhere amid the poker-playing sausage party that is Real Radio, I open my eyes to find a red-sweatered Philips, notably not puckering back. He looks cutely nervous, but when his booming Phile voice squeezes some sort of Clear Channel chatter out of his tightly buttoned collar, I'm no longer hanging like mistletoe, anyway. Salute!

"Yeah, I remember you," he shuffles his man-sized feet. "We met downtown years ago."

I quiver.

"I'm kind of like your distant Uncle Frank or something." The distance between us grows shorter, in some areas.

"But I always loved it when distant Uncle Frank came over." I twiddle my fingers as my stockings fill with eggnog.

Actually, Jim's a really nice guy and the only real fluids being produced here are those of reverential conversation, mostly the kind that makes me feel selfish and small. He's been organizing this event for years, even trying to bridge the ridiculous gap of corporate-tooled local celebrity to make this an all-inclusive affair, and he deserves far more than my splashes of imaginary sex-nog in return. In fact, he deserves to be left alone.

What?

Christmas conscience duly coughed up, Savannah and I set out wandering, creeping around the backstage loading doors like a couple of 1978 blondes at a BTO concert. While lighting up our groupie flirtation cigarettes, Savannah introduces me to the fabulous Carol Kane of The Mustard Seed, who details the difficulties of charity work while wondering aloud if her dress is cut too low. She's a white-haired knockout, and if her stories don't trip you into a fit of small and selfish, her piercing stare (one that literally seems to reach into your heart, grab it and squeeze with an unnecessarily manly grip) certainly will.

"People donate the strangest things," she momentarily breaks the tone and lightens the grip. "One time we got these … um … adult toys?"

"Dildos!" I Tourette.

"Omigod," Savannah omigods. "What did you do with them?"

With a flourish of "bless her heart," Kane tells us about a certain employee who didn't know what they were and left them out everywhere, assuming, with some validity, that they were for "massage purposes." She was, reportedly, very embarrassed.

So is Savannah. While taking in this heartwarming account of Fairvilla-sized intrusion, we hadn't noticed that there were cameras everywhere! OK, one camera. OK, one camera from Orange TV (cable 9, y'all). Savannah's currently in between tops (me too!), meaning she's wearing a fleece pullover. I redneck, "You cannot be seen wearing fleece on Orange TV, young lady!"

"Give me your jacket!" she pulls a little too hard. "I am going to be on Orange TV!"

And I'm going to the bar. Somehow in my cockeyed foray into holiday generosity, I've forgotten the greatest gift of all: booze. All will be OK now, I'm certain of it.

"Oh, I see," scowls show opener Michael Wanzie, hip-joined to an elf-suited Doug Ba'aser. "Let's throw the queers to the rednecks first!"

Not so certain now. But following the Wanzie and Doug watered-down homo-schtick ("a Martha Stewart-like glimpse into the lives of Wanzie and Doug," they call it), and a subsequently awful musical appearance by Chief (Jeff Howell) and Snoogie (Bubba "Whoopass" Wilson), things politely settle into a milquetoast haze: Jana Banana reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Moira bleating through How the Grinch Stole Christmas, both achieving the desired result of making me feel like a fat redneck asleep. Only when Philips himself reads through The Gift of the Magi, hovering on the term "brown cascade," am I able to crack a smile. I make my own fun.

Tonight's pièce de résistance is to be a full cast reading of A Christmas Carol, starring Shannon Burke in the appropriate Scrooge role. But since I've already fallen fast asleep 17 times, I'm only able to make it through to my lovely Savannah's go at the Ghost of Christmas Past dream sequence.

As I'm speed-walking down the Universal parking people movers, minding my own spiky-haired business while the blaring speakers thump out Bachman Turner Overdrive, some mullet-with-child interrupts my disaffected saunter: "Dude, you like The Clash?" He's obviously overcome by either my hair or an intense lack of musical knowledge.

"Yes, yes I do," I roll my eyes, people-moving myself faster, ever closer to my own dildo.

billymanes@yahoo.com

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