Collected #XmasTips to help you Christmas better next year

I'm ever so good at Christmas!
I’m ever so good at Christmas!

I keep getting fan-mail from people asking me how it is that I’m so good at Christmas. I can’t give away all my secrets, but this year I’ve made a conscious effort to tweet when I have a good holiday tip that other people can use to make this terrible season a little bit better.

  • Buy a Christmas tree that branches into two at the top. That way, you can put an angel on one branch and a devil on the other. (Dec 8)
  • When a Christmas song includes “fa la la la la,” that means the original lyrics were censored. Add your own obscenities back in! (Dec 9)
  • Tired of Christmas already? Get in a fight with family now and cancel it—then, take the money and have 2 Christmases next year! (Dec 11)
  • Wrapping up a gift of a pair of mittens in an old iPad or MacBook box is an economical way to spice up your gift-giving! (Dec 11)
  • Next year, Christmas falls on Friday the 13th—tell your friends and family about it now, before you think it through very clearly! (Dec 13)
  • Nephew asking for a new PS4? Wrap up an old PS2 and give it to them with instructions to play it twice! (Dec 18)
  • Express strong disapproval of anyone who doesn’t like Christmas! Nothing says “holiday spirit” like stifling dissent. (Dec 21)
  • Unwelcome holiday houseguest? Play on repeat and discuss the homoerotic potential of the Michael Bublé version of “Santa Baby!” (Dec 22)
  • Need a costume for your Christmas party? Nothing says “Christmas” like “pregnant out of wedlock!” (Dec 23)
  • Hurry and clean up as fast as you can before they arrive or your family won’t love you as much! (Dec 23)
  • Mass infanticide, although part of the Christmas story, is best left to fantasy only. (Dec 24)

Of course, by the time this post is published it will be too late for you to abort your impending holiday failure, but if you heed my suggestions next year, you may also be able to Christmas like a pro and win the respect and adulation of your peers and familial relations!

Answering my readers’ questions

Everyone gather ’round. It’s that time again! It’s time for me to answer my readers’ questions!

And by that, I mean, it’s time for me to see what strings of words people have typed into Google that brought them to my blog. Then I look through the search keywords that are (more-or-less) well-formed questions and answer them as best I can. It’s the least I could do, since they took the time to visit my site with these questions on their mind.

“Why can’t the space shuttle leave conventionally from an airport?” (July 26)

Mostly because it’s not an airplane. Those booster rockets that the space shuttle normally uses for take-off are not decorative.

“If I fired a laser beam at my hand would it come out the other side?” (Aug 4)


“How to castle in chess with friends?” (July 31, Aug 7, 14, 17)

Begin a chess game with a friend, castle normally.

“How do you move your king and castle at the same time?” (July 26)

You probably meant “How do you move your king and your rook at the same time?”

“Rook” is the name for the pieces that start at the corners of the board.

In chess, “castle” is a verb. It’s the verb that means to move your rook and king at the same time, two spaces toward each other, provided that the intervening spaces are not occupied and that neither the king nor rook has been moved before in the match (and that you’re not trying to castle out of check).

“Cheat on MCAT tips?” (Aug 1) / “How to cheat the MCAT?” (July 30)

Are you really asking me to help you to cheat on the MCAT? Get out.

“Has anyone ever cheated on MCAT before?” (July 28)

No. No one in the history of mankind. No one whose motives were so pure as to aspire to medical school has ever even considered cheating to attain such a goal.

“Grammar is one of the greatest joys in life, don’t you find?” (Aug 8)

Actually, now that you mention it, grammar is the greatest joy in life.

“How to avoid getting your bike stolen [in] Montréal?” (Aug 25)

Sell bike, and buy Bixi pass with the proceeds.

“How to get your thesis bound at McGill” (July 27)

You gotta do it yourself, I’m afraid. You can get Acco-Press binders at the bookstore.

“How to take someones fortune?” (Aug 21)


“I bought wrong grammar?” (Aug 10)

You sure did.

“I might have strep throat I don’t got insurance?” (Aug 7)

That’s quite the predicament! Are you a Canadian citizen?

“Is there a Montréal métro pass for mature students?” (Aug 19)

Nope. No such thing. Once you’re 25, you pay full price, whether you’re a full-time student or not.

“What happens after you accept a TA-ship offer?” (Aug 4)

Heh … Do you really want to know?

“What is giving you the most problems with Microsoft Word?” (July 26)

Thank you for asking! Mostly crashing, interface glitches and the fact that there’s no separation between content, formatting, comments and meta-data.

“Where can i get hasperat?” (July 28)

Bajor, if you want it authentic.

But if you would make the brine for a really strong hasperat—I mean eye watering, tongue searing strong—you’d make an old man very happy.