But Seriously...
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    Let's Rethink the Holiday Party Remix

    Frankly, I'd rather eat a pallet of ribbon candy, dive into a vat of wassail, or suffer from tinsel lung, than attend another Holiday Party. I have egg-nogged, mistletoed and Yankee-swapped my way through so many of these parties,  I'm still in therapy.

    Therefore it's my duty to call for a Kringle holiday party moratorium.

    1.  Where in the heck are my crescent-wrapped hot dog weenies?


    1216074-1132326-thumbnail.jpgEntering a Holiday Party is a feat of Oscar worthy acting. You're carrying the hostess gift -- either a bottle of wine or a plate of deviled eggs that may or may not have been left out over night.
    Even if you have Grinch-like thoughts, you are preparing to smile like Tiny Tim when he sees the goose that Scrooge sent over. 
    You enter the party and are immediately escorted to a large punch bowl of foam and raw eggs. While you're holding the drink in one hand someone invariably says "you've got to  try the crab dip."  It's the sort of lumpy dip that may already be crawling with Ebola.  You spoon the dip onto a flimsy paper plate. Then you add a few crescent wrapped mini-hot dog weenies in case the crab dip induces profound dyspepsia. 

    Now you're ready for the human gauntlet.  Here's the problem.  You have two hands -- one carrying a cup, the other palming a plate.  Your host wants you to meet Uncle Wally. "You two should have a lot to talk about."  I'm a writer and he fixes sump pumps. 


    So, I need to put down either the drink or the hors d'oeuvres. There's no place to put either, so I balance the plate on the egg nog glass to shake Wally's hand.  You have be a Shiva with multiple arms to make this work or you're give the Stainmaster carpet an opportunity to live up to its name.

    After many years of this balancing act, I invented the walkable  "Party Tray."  This ingenious device is cinch to use.  Just slip it over your shoulders and put your tray in the down position.  It come with a drink holder and an expandable place for your plate.  Now you are hands free and ready to move away from Wally and to the bathroom to avoid public projectile vomiting.  (You can order the optional napkin/air sickness holder through BakeMuse Labs)

    2.  Cleavagepooloza.

    This may be too risque for the younger crowd.  50 and under. December is official cleavage season. You enter the party and the woman in cubicle 7 who  looks like Dame Judy Dench or Sister Wendy now resembles an extra on a Russ Myer film. cleave.jpg 

    I am not complaining mind you, but as a trained scientist,  I must be a passionate observer.  Women will see the same cleavage and say, "Oh, what a lovely dress."  Men think, well they don't think, they just go into a kind of stupor.  Guys are like crime scene photographers. They need to continually look and snap mental photos of the swell of the breasts. Then your spouse says, "don't you think the dress is lovely?"  You croak out something that resembles a language and then in a act of desperation say, "hey, have you tried the crab dip?"

     3.  Sweatergate.

    Only Bill Cosby can wear a sweater in public and get away with it.  But the holiday party is a social anomaly.  Men are usually draped in a wool sweater with a large reindeer, moose or a cardigan festooned with tiny candy canes.  The sweater smells a lot like mutton and you can see the poor slob trying to scratch an itch that's formed just a millimeter from your farthest reach.  Like a mangy cat, you're forced to move toward the nearest edged wall to scratch yourself.  Just be thankful that one cycle in the washing machine will turn it into a doggie sweater.

    4.  The Bathroom. Part 1.

    40 people. Two bathrooms.  You do the math.  A party of any magnitude will result in a studio 54-like line.  Usually, the guy in front of me turns and says "sorry, this might take awhile."   I've just recovered from the cleavage and now I'm dealing with a stranger's life-long battle with constipation.  You just pray that the host has installed an industrial-sized fan.  One more bit of advice, it might not be a bad idea to bring along your own plumber's snake just in case of emergency.

    5. The bathroom. Part 2.

    toilet.jpgTiming is everything.  If you enter the bathroom late in the party cycle, something is usually missing. No toilet paper.  No soap.  No hand towels. In desperation you open the cabinet beneath the sink and discover the sordid medical history of your hosts. There's always an embarrassing array of items including  fungal creams, feminine hygiene products, soap on a rope with a tiny hair on the soap and a vat of "personal lubricant" which I can only assume is for very dry skin.

    Well, I have to go. My neighbor is pulling a Clark Griswald by stapling 60,000-watt bulbs to his roof and my wife is going sweater shopping.


    Bah Humbug.

    Have a reasonably happy holiday.













    Reader Comments (2)

    While I agree that the holiday party "wars" have gotten a bit out of control, I like to think of the holiday party as the way to give one big gift to all our friends. Its a way to invite them over for some good food and merriment (ie. cocktails), and to relax and enjoy the evening.

    Yes, we have raw egg punch, but there's enough Jack in there to sterilize surgical instruments (or light a menorah), but I make sure to have the bathroom well stocked with supplies. There's nothing more embarrassing to have to call out for "a little help" in the middle of a party. (Yes, it REALLY happened.)

    So yes, I'll be picking the date of the party tomorrow. To beat out all those other parties, and make sure mine's the first to be RSVPed.

    November 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

    David: I can feel your youthful innocence. Once you've attended your 100th party, you will feel the anti-party fatigue that I've experienced. Yes, soon you will be developing ready excuses to leave the party early. Everything from "I have to go to the nursing home to sing carols" to "I have 24-hours to live and my doctor waited a day to tell me."

    Good luck with your party. Send photos.

    November 5, 2007 | Registered CommenterMarty Baker

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    Baker vs. Tree: A Yuletide Story

    History has provided us with many epic battles.  Lee vs. Grant.  Ali vs. Frazer.  Coyote vs. Roadrunner.  And, the surprisingly under reported -- Marty Baker vs. Christmas tree.

    Every year, I find myself dragging a coniferous Godzilla into my home.  First, I get myself into the mood.  I hoist a mug of wassail, put on some Johnny Mathis, and leer adoringly at an old album cover of the Ray Conniff singers.

    Then, I pray to the yuletide spirits that this fragrant monster will fit into the rusted remains of my discount tree stand. 

    It doesn’t.

    Suddenly, I am transformed into a scary and inept Geppetto -- hacking away at my expensive tree so that I won’t have to fork out a few measly bucks for a new one. 

    Well, I finally whittle the behemoth down to a toothpick and place it into the stand.  That’s when I realize that it resembles the leaning tower of Pisa.  In fact, I’m convinced that Pisa was constructed by a frustrated tree owner.

    Now the real battle begins. 

    Four screws in the stand must work like a synchronized swimming team to give the illusion that the tree isn’t suffering from a kind of pine scoliosis. While I’m turning the screws, the tree is quietly plotting its revenge - ready and willing to impale me with a shower of angry needles or to tattoo me with sap.

    Once I get the tree upright, I typically spend an hour trying to hide it’s “bad side,” which in my price range is any side. A typical Christmas tree appears to be benign, but I know better.

    My parents seemed to favor the mighty spruce -- a tree with stubby, bristle-like needles that seem to have the tensile strength to handle a two-ton Hallmark ornament.

    This tree was usually festooned with enormous lights that must have been made in Edison’s shop -- because if one light was bad, the entire strand went out.  Most of our holiday spirit was sucked dry by the seemingly endless task of switching out lights to see which one was bad. 

    These days, I prefer a pine -- a tree with long, soft needles that droop at the sight of even an anemic strand of tinsel. It’s the Don Knotts of holiday trees.

    One year, my hero James Lileks, convinced me to purchase a Douglas Fir -- a tree that supposedly doesn’t shed its needles.  It does, apparently, have the ability to shed your wallet as well.   It’s one expensive tree.  As Lileks says, “at that price it should not only avoid shedding, but walk itself out to the trash on January 2nd.”

    I think I finally understand the tree conundrum.

    No matter how remarkable your current tree, it will never measure up to the tree of your childhood.  And unfortunately, the tree knows it.  So, chances are you’re going to end up with a very neurotic tannenbaum.

    I have a track record of buying the most neurotic tree on the lot -- the kind of tree that makes you think that Crispin Glover and Margot Kidder really had it together. A tree like the one I lovingly purchased a few years ago. 

    By all appearances, this tree was healthy and verdant.  You could almost see the sap bulging in its veins.  But the moment I brought it into the house, it turned a sickly ocher color -- and shriveled up like the Nazi treasure hunters in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    This year, my wife and I decided to avoid the tree dilemma by just draping the lights over small hooks on the wall in the shape of a tree.  Spray a little Glade “Misty Pine” in the vicinity and voila -- we’ve arrived at a kind of  yuletide compromise.

    Ah, now it’s time to have some figgy pudding and hoist another mug of wassail whatever in the heck that is.


    One of my brothers (I won’t mention his name because he often showers me with gifts -- let’s just call him, um… Wayne) has invested in an artificial tree.  This is heresy in the Baker family.  If he wasn’t my fourth favorite brother I’d have him brought up on charges.  Or I could consider a worse punishment,  I will send over the carcass of last year’s tree complete with rusted stand.


    Sexiest Man Alive: Marty Baker

    Recently, I was reading a particularly riveting passage in Mortician’s Quarterly, when People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue arrived.  Imagine my shock, when I thumbed through the pages and discovered that my sexy visage and vital statistics were not included.

    If I may use the F word, I was flabbergasted.  Sure, I can see adding DiCaprio.  Jon Hamm.  And Patrick Dempsey.  Frankly, I would give a pineal gland to have Dempsey’s hair.

    But Andrew Cuomo? Jimmy Fallon? I’m sorry, was Richard Simmons not available? Why wasn’t chef Paul Prudhomme short listed -- after all, what’s sexier than a well-basted and seasoned Cajun lamb shank? 

    And why wasn’t  my good friend Craig Bowlus, affectionately known as the Silver Ferret, included and lauded in the pages of People Magazine?

    It’s time to redefine sexy.

    I want to do for sexy what Gorbachev did for the port wine stain. What Larry King did for the classic dowager’s hump. Or what Flavor Flav did for the Viking helmet. 

    First, let’s discuss the Shetland Pony in the room.  Height.  People mentions Tom Cruise as the shortest winner of the Sexiest Man Alive issue at 5’9”.  (5’9”? I believe that’s when Tom is standing on a stack of Ron Hubbard books.)

     Napoleon was a mere 5’6” and he did pretty well with the ladies. Mickey Rooney is  barely 5’2” and he visited the altar eight times including a marriage to the sultry Ava Gardner.  And I have it on good authority that the Keebler Elves are chick magnets.

     That brings us to the nose.  I have what might be best described as an aquiline nose. (Think Seabiscuit  or Camilla Parker.)  

    Now let’s talk abs.  The six-pack.  Or as it as known in the trade, the McConaughey.  Most of the guys in People’s list look like they treat their bodies like temples.  I treat mine like an Elk’s Club.  

    Do you want a guy who looks like he lives at the gym or a guy who looks like lives the life of  man who’s dedicated himself to feeding the homeless, searching for  cure for cancer and eating a few Twinkies in service for America?

    So instead of Ryan Reynolds or Jake Gyllenhaal, we now have a new standard.  A short, slightly pudgy guy with a fairly prominent nose.  Hmmmm. 

    Look for me on next year’s cover.
















    BakerMuse is back: Male Pattern Blindness

    I apologize to my faithful readers. I haven’t posted to BakerMuse for a few months.  I would love to say I was on sabbatical -- trekking through the Amazon searching for an herb to cure bunions or translating the immortal Green Eggs and Ham into Sanskrit.

    But actually, I’ve spent the last six months staring into my refrigerator looking for a jar of my beloved Marie’s Super Blue Cheese Dressing.

    My wife says it’s on the bottom shelf next to a jar of seemingly indestructible capers, but I can’t find it. I see the capers. I see the Chipotle-flavored mayonnaise.  But no Marie’s Super Blue Cheese.

    Then, my wife comes over to the fridge, and points to the gleaming jar of Marie’s Super Blue Cheese sitting next to the capers.  I think it’s a Jedi mind trick. The jar was invisible and now, “poof” there it is.

    She submits that it’s a progressive and incurable disease -- male pattern blindness. Which in a more technical nomenclature means, men of a certain age can’t see &*%$. 

    I have seen men spend hours, even decades searching through refrigerators, sock drawers and medicine cabinets looking for items only visible to their wives, mothers or significant female others.

    This leads me to believe that the venerable Adam didn’t eat the apple because he couldn’t find it.  If he had a woman on board, Columbus would have found a shorter path to the Indies instead of bumping into America. 

    And I’m convinced without the guide Sacagawea, Lewis and Clark would have ended up in Schenectady.

    I leave it to the neuroscientists and Jerry Springer to discover the root cause.

    Well, now that I have found my blue cheese dressing, I can get back to the business of writing. That is, once I find the bag of baby spring lettuce.  Apparently, it’s located in something called the crisper -- wish me luck.  


    Cavemen, chloroform and chocolates. Rethinking romance.

    My apologies to Cupid.

    According the National Retail Foundation (NRF), U.S. wooers will spend a heart-breaking $16.9 billion on their sweethearts just on the holiest day of love -- Valentine’s Day.

    Most of this money will be spent on flowers (58%] candy (42.9%] and jewelry (27%).  That adds up to 127% which doesn’t say much for the math whizzes at the foundation.  

    Come on men, after thousands of years, flowers and candy are the best weapons we’ve got? 

    Here’s confirmation of how awful we are at wooing.  Confectioners will crank out about 8 billion conversation hearts this year, according to the National Confectioners Association. That's enough candy to stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back again. 

    Yes, give your beloved the gift that will turn her pancreas into aging sponge -- diabetes.

    Basically, we’ve put a mini-greeting card on a piece of candy and we call that progress? “Be Mine.”  Yeah, that’ll work.  It’s not love, it’s an invitation for a major dental surgery.

    If romance we’re a sport, we’d be the Detroit Lions.  Or the worst professional baseball team ever -- 1899 Cleveland Spiders who won 20 games and lost 134 games.

    Let’s review our sordid romantic history.

    Cavemen, our romance-bereft ancestors, thought that a large club was the way to woo a gal.  There’s nothing like a fatal brain hemorrhage to make her swoon.

    In the middle ages, love could be bought with a flock of sheep, a goat, or a truffle sniffing pig.

    In the 18th Century, a fairly sizable powdered wig might win a fair maiden.

    And if my 1940’s movies are a barometer of love, a few drops of chloroform on a rag seems to be the easy way to sweep a girl off her feet.

    Lately, the biggest tool in our romantic shed seems to be the infamous JumboTron proposal.  What this says is that you need the support of 70,000 screaming, beer-swilling fans to get you over the word “no.”

    It’s time we rethought romance.  For example, if you really want to show your love give her some antimatter. Antihydrogen is valued at $1,750 trillion dollars per ounce. Or you could go the inexpensive route and get hafnium at around $480 million dollars per ounce.

    What woman could resist? And an added bonus you can quickly turn her apartment into a worm hole. Goodbye Schenectady, hello Alpha Centauri.

    This next idea came to me after watching a marathon of  NBC’s Dateline.

    It’s the “L” word.  Yes, life insurance. Apparently, if you put $500,000 of life insurance on yourself, women find you more attractive…for a while.  Then after all while,  they find some interesting poison to put into your morning juice.  But in the short term it’s like Ghirardelli chocolates on steroids.

    Well, men we’ve got at least eight months until Valentine’s Day.That should give us enough collective brainstorming time to come up with something that’ll  knock Cupid’s socks off.

    But just in case, I’m calling my insurance agent.