"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 16 December 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CCVII



In 1996, Columbia released a CD

called Play This and They Will

Buy. Its message of commerce is

repeated again and again, from

Starbucks Coffee's 1998 CD

Hi-Fidelity Holiday to the

moving liner notes on the

treasured classic holiday album,

Arista Holiday Sampler ("Dear

Friends of Arista, You've made

1986 feel like the holiday

season, all year long...."). But

only a celebrity can bring the

true joy of the Holiday Season.


Sadly, even though the liner

notes of Christmas at

Liberace's promise "Anyone lucky

enough to be invited to

Liberace's house on the night

before Christmas is in for a

rare and wonderful treat," most

Christmas albums tend to get

recorded by performers who hope

Santa's bringing them a new

career. Pity the endless crop of

Bing Crosby wannabes crooning

holiday favorites and dreaming

of a green Christmas with their

voices piped into the cultural

mainstream at malls across

America. As the years pass,

failed celebrity Christmas

albums serve as a reminder of

simpler times — when Disco

Noel actually seemed like a good

idea and there really was a

market for the cast of Bonanza's

Christmas on the Ponderosa album.

Not to mention

The Star Wars Christmas album

or Christmas with the Three Stooges.

In honor of this industry ritual,

we give you our own

"naughty" list — Suck's

holiday sampling of the

stupidest celebrity Christmas

albums ever produced, and their

incriminating titles.

Boyz II Men, Christmas Interpretations
Babyface, Christmas with Babyface
Cyndi Lauper, Merry Christmas ... Have a Nice Life
John Tesh, Family Christmas
Kenny G, Miracles
Mike Douglas, The Mike Douglas Christmas Album
Chicago, Chicago XXV: Chicago's First Christmas
NRBQ, Christmas Wish
Donna Summer, Christmas Spirit
Vanessa Williams, Star Bright
Barry Manilow, Because It's Christmas
B. J. Thomas, Scenes of Christmas
Neil Diamond, Christmas Album
Bobby Vinton, Santa Must Be Polish and Other Christmas Sounds of Today
Zamfir, A Christmas Portrait
Jimmy Buffett, Christmas Island
Don McLean, Christmas Dreams
Jackie Gleason, All I Want for Christmas
Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Exciting Christmas Stories
The Six Million Dollar Man, Christmas Adventures
California Raisins, A Claymation Christmas
Fats Domino, Christmas Gumbo
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, The Christmas Album
Paul Revere & the Raiders, A Christmas Present ... and Past
Jimi Hendrix, A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Louis Armstrong, Christmas in New Orleans
Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra
Robert Goulet, This Christmas, I Spend with You
Harry Belafonte, To Wish You a Merry Christmas
Henry Mancini, A Merry Mancini Christmas
Burl Ives, Christmas Elf
Johnny Mathis, Give Me Your Love for Christmas
Mario Lanza, Lanza Sings Christmas Carols



Censors have hit the toy market!

Trademark defenders from Etch A

Sketch had already squelched the

Web-A-Sketch applet that

entertained a reported million

visitors at 16color.com. ("I

think they're just pissed off

because I did it first," the

site's webmaster told one

columnist — who also notes

that the process server

delivering the subpoena barked,

"Welcome to the real world.")

Now the toymaker's Web site

etch-a-sketch.com — is

asking young visitors to enter a

name to draw on a GIF — but

first the geeky toy runs a

cross-check to ensure young

minds are not corrupted by

either profanity or the dirty

words that might be embedded if

your name happens to be Cumpston

or Titania. It refuses to

cooperate if your name is "Cass"

— or, for that matter,

"Nipple" — and had the

foresight to change "Hi,

Suck.com" to "Hi, Kids." They're

apparently disturbed by the

thought of third-graders typing

"raunch fuck" or "slutmeister"

while Mrs. Crabapple looks on,

only to see it being drawn out

by their site's Java Etch A

Sketch over the words "Buy it!"

But it's yet another indicator

of censors who take it upon

themselves to screen content and

to do it incompetently. You

still can't create a chat room

on AOL called "Christmas Gift

Ideas" due to a 1996 attempt to

crack down on GIF traders. And

international geeks spent last

week playing with the BBC's

"E-mail a friend" page, which

ran every message through an

overzealous filter blocking

uniquely British obscenities

like "bum" "arse," and "shag,"

plus any adjacent occurrence of

the letters "b" and "j."

Generating asterisk-punctuated

email remained the online

equivalent of teasing the palace

guard until the BBC abandoned

its quest for decency altogether

last weekend. Unless your

favorite holiday wine is

Chardonnay ...



"The low-hanging fruit of the

computer market has been

picked," says a report from the

Benton Foundation. What's left,

obviously, is the really

low-hanging fruit, which may

explain why Benton is a strong

proponent of President Clinton's

new initiative to "close the

digital divide." Clinton says he

wants to see universal access to

the Web, and so, professing

concern for the 90 percent of

American families with incomes

of less than $20,000, flacks at

AT&T and Microsoft (as well as

the smaller-time salesmen at

ZonaFinancera and NewDeal, Inc.)

have come out strongly in favor

of subsidized — or even free

— Internet access and

computer training. One recalls a

quite different reaction to

Clinton's call for universal

health care, but then universal

Internet access isn't a welfare

program, it's a business model.

You might in fact see this as a

Chrysler-style corporate bailout

— a way to put eyeballs

behind the IPO boom and ensure

shoppers in every virtual mall.

Considering the Internet's

actual uses, crossing the

Digital Divide would seem less

equivalent to universal phone

service (as most would have it)

than giving every family in

America a television and a

subscription to Hustler.



Chaos engulfs the

end-of-the-millennium Christmas,

as armies of rampaging Santas

continue a growing

culture-jamming tradition of

"naughty Noel mayhem."

Not-so-jolly St. Nick is now

being tracked by Norad, and one

site has uncovered disturbing

footage of a row of Santas

confronting armed police at

Seattle's WTO protests.

Meanwhile, Santa's revolutionary

little helpers tried a new

tack while answering Santa's

email ("Santa is dead. I killed



Left to their own devices,

disillusioned consumers have

suddenly realized just

how bad mass-produced toys are,

and began rebelling against corporate

control. In an evolving quest

for meaning, mid-December now

finds sophisticated shoppers

making the ultimate purchasing

decision: to not shop at all.

Free-software guru Richard

Stallman is stoking the flames,

calling for a boycott of

Amazon.com for its bullying use

of patents, and RTMark has

launched a zany counter-striker

against the Grinch-y e-commerce

toy-retailer that's threatening

legal action against an Internet

art group named eToy. Without

knee-jerk purchasers and faced

with an army of unopened wallets

and purses, merchants might

actually have to confront the

ultimate lump of coal: What if

they threw a holiday and nobody

came? Are these the first,

much-feared signs of society's

breakdown — or just

long-overdue steps toward

freedom from encroaching brand

names? We'll all find out come

December 25. Here's wishing you

and yours an independent and

personally meaningful Christmas.

And thank you for visiting


courtesy of theSucksters