(perforated lines -- you can't resist 'em)

(it's the berries)
Mother Nature is more talented than Martha ...
but not by much.
-- Saturday, December 11, 1999 --



3:27 a.m. So today I broke down and bought a Martha Stewart Christmas magazine. I know how bad that sounds, but I have my reasons.

I just gritted my teeth, went from rack to rack in the supermarket checkout aisles, and finally I found one. Most of them are sold out, you know. Women more wretched than I am have already performed this dastardly holiday ritual, but now I, too, have done the deed.

Sure, I also bought a Harper's, and both a Macworld and a Mac Addict -- I haven't completely lost my mind, you know -- I'm only going to gild and spruce it up a little. Once I get through the Martha, I will reward myself with real reading, real playing, real work. But first, I must Martha.

You see -- I've decided to have a Christmas party. It is my karma to overdo. I can never leave well enough alone. I have to make myself crazy and go right to the edge and stay up all night stringing popcorn and maybe this year I'll make the cutest little poinsettia flower napkin rings out of ribbon -- I don't know -- I've only gotten partially through the magazine.

I watched a little of her holiday special the other night, but only as much as I could take. It's the female version of a smack-down event, and I'm proud to say I got through the miserable, pained child-labor segments. As ususal, the poor children of staff members were forced to sit at tables and make insane oddities under the harsh glare of Auntie Martha.

I turned away at the sight of her poor mother, who is now getting quite stooped, being made to stand and arrange some kind of Polish thing or another on a cookie sheet. But I didn't turn the damn show off until I caught sight of Aretha, stuck in that kitchen of despair with the white lady from hunger.

I know if I'd continued to watch, there would have been the indelible image of Martha helping Aretha cut out cookie letters, one by one ... R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... from the world's most perfect gingerbread, and my female synapses would have been permanently fried, my memories ruined, my hopes for a breakout moment destroyed forever.

So, for all I know, Aretha might have paused only briefly before smacking Martha silly ...

But no -- that's a mere figmeat. Nope, she's on a roll now and she's ruining us all, one by one. Susan Sontag is going to show up in that spooky kitchen one of these days, deconstructing a strudel. Joan Dideon will bring her famous egg salad, which she whipped up on the way to the studio, cracking her hardboiled eggs against the steering wheel and screaming with the windows rolled up.

And now I have here on my desk the December issue of Martha Stewart Living, a division of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, publicly traded as MSO. There's no use in fighting it anymore.

Today is Dec. 11th. Time to string tiny blue lights in the yew hedges. Time to plant yew hedges. She sent her Christmas cards out on the 9th and made her gingerbread house on the 10th. As if.

She's got the 18th set aside to assemble mementos for her millennium time capsule. Somehow, that sounds ominous to me -- but not as terrifying as her plans for the hapless guests who are invited for her New Year's do. Those poor saps have a sunrise hike in store for all their troubles.

Can you imagine having the hangover of the millennium and hiking out there in the freezing cold at the crack of dawn -- with that icy enunciation nipping at your heels? She's gonna crack -- worse than a hard-boiled egg -- one of these days, you mark my words.

(cookie bow)


Merely press the tree.

(little tree)

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