Nightmare Before Christmas


“Nightmare Before Christmas”. . . . . and we’re not talking BLACK FRIDAY super-sales and crowd riots.

In fact, the internet has taken much of the bite out of retail shopping as surely as the spirit of Christmas has turned into consumer-crazy pandemonium.

Nothing but jolly Christmas jingles for six weeks straight, scarcely when the forks and knives have clattered down on Thanksgiving plates and Americans are already out the door and descending on the mega-malls and box-stores, products of instant gratification bigger than the maniacal eyes as gloved hands beat against the plate-glass windows, waiting for the stores to open at 5 A.M.

And what about your local retail mall outlet?

Well, some are blessed more than others. . . . . . but this one is nearly-empty.

And there is “our Batman & Robin duo” IN COSTUME

Yes, Beetlejuice subcontracted out as “Santa Claus” with Lydia as his helper assistant, a surly elf in a jingling green cap stubbing out a cigarette as the manager waddles by.

It’s yuletide redneck commercialism, with the jet-black volcanic edge of a punk princess on the far-flung experience of what makes America such a strange, deth-rocker juxtaposition of roof-top aerials, local cable-television, and sin.

No, Lydia won’t sit in Santa-Beetle’s lap but she will stand to the side, her arms crossed and her eyes rubbering around at the cat-calls with her own righteous sense of absurdity.

And there the foul demon sits on a throne surrounded with puffy cotton-snow, knocking back from a bottle of whiskey and ripping his snaggle-toothed, mush-mouth with the back of his hand as he leers, calling out to customers and laughing like a Mardi Gras fiend.

He shakes an empty, wrapped box—festooned with striped-wrappers and a red-bow, and hurls it off to the side where it rolls and knocks in the back of Lydia’s green, buckled boots with the twisting toe-curls.

What did she do to deserve this?

In fact, it’s an extracurricular project for her college anthropology class on the subject of Santa redneck zombies and the American fool. Her dissertation—namely that zombie and monster films “are about keeping the lurching rubes” away from the citadels of civilization, like bourgeois fear of the hard-pitted country yeoman “CRASHING THE PARTY”, eating your brains even.

Not unlike the phenomenon of the Tea Party in American politics, though she puts “the liberal” in LIBERTARIAN as a matter of course, with little skull and “Hello, Kitty” pasties.

In her Christmas canon, Santa is a robot “and lives on the moon”—as derived from a Japanese animated series, dubbed into English and played on her iPhone.

Last year, ole’ Beetlejuice ran “a failed tree lot” when the scheme was basically stealing the Christmas trees right from living rooms when the owners weren’t around, dragging it out the busted window with the scrunch of branches and falling Christmas ornaments and flickering lights as he drug the cord behind him and out to his idling pick-up truck.

PRE-FAB Christmas trees.

Fabulous? Hardly.

But Lydia snapped pictures. Her “strange, unusual friend” and partner in “field research”—more like a dark trailer in the middle of unincorporated St. Louis county on the outer heaths of this Midwestern hell, the river like a sluggish, glinting worm-slick and above it all, the shining star of near-past winter solistice.

“Zombies ate my neighbors”. . . . . or maybe just “fascination” stalls your but, mostly-untyped manuscript as she fulfilled her inner voyeur for the sullen, sordid, outrageous, and vaguely criminal.

An indifferent “second party” to all the madness, as the spherical dome of world & sky “had no comment”, other than her chuffing breath fogging the air as Beetlejuice cussed and swore and violently swept aside the nest, acorns, and squirrel shit that had invaded his aluminum-tin domicile.

Be his name, “SATAN CLAWS” as hapless oaf of dark principalities and Wiccan prayer-god of “smoke, and glowing red coals” like a demon of destruction and vile oaths, like a laughing miscreant flicking a BIC lighter next to an unlit forest fire.

(Maybe it was just the septic tank, blowing-up like a mushroom cloud)

But here at the mall. . . . . MUZAK. The meat-blossom of the fetid air and the hell of subcontracted wages as she could think of better places to be. Maybe the “Meow-Hawns” cat café, where you could play with adoption-friendly shelter cats while glugging down steaming espresso brew and staring off into the endless sidewalk of night on the other side of the glass.

It was said “the mouth of hell” was guarded by a lion—and maybe it was just the blonde, tangled nimbus of Beetlejuice motor-mouthing the anti-climax of the season. . . . . even as “Edward Scissorhands” tended shop at the “Sally Field’s Cookies” in a cap and apron, snipping his fingers together in idle misery.

It was a Tim Burton world, baby. Watch that festive snake-head poke out of the package like a jack-in-the-box jester and freak out the custodian poking at the marble floor with a mop.

Only the guards behind the security monitors “knew if you were naughty or nice” but they were mostly snoozing under a collision of doughnuts and sweets.

That tinsel glow, “just so”. . . . .


Nightmare Before Christmas

Tales of the Christmas Crypt-Keeper

So how many product-franchises can we tie into this big Beetlejuice project?

Everything is a cross-promotion, all but “throwing in the kitchen sink” as we could use the ghoulish crypt-keeper to narrate the action, throw-in some bad puns from time-to-time.

Otherwise following the adventures of Beetlejuice– either a tour guide at a gator farm or working as a lackey at a Christmas tree lot. Now there’s a vivid image, with the red stocking cap as always. . . . .

This movie would have jokey asides and surreal pivots of direction as it moves from thing to thing and pays proper homage to the kinds of things Beetlejuice– and yes, Lydia– would be up too. Not “a cookie-cutter sequel” by any means, but practically a literary exercise in THE BIZARRE. . . . . just take a look at how this script is developing.

You will be shocked. . . . . you will be amazed. You will be glad that you tagged-along for the journey. Right now, “the muse” is kicking back with a beer– the Yuletide living-room in shambles, like Christmas turkey left-over’s and socks draped in the sink.

If not a kids’ birthday party clown then a repo-man. Home for the holidays– Beetlejuice takes a vacation. But we will be back in three flicks of a reindeer’s tail so don’t you go changin’ and stick around for more madcap fun in the following year to come.

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Tales of the Christmas Crypt-Keeper

Downtown Yuletide

st_louis_magnet   1987 --- Actress Winona Ryder with blond hair. --- Image by © CORBIS

Downtown Yuletide, the holiday season. . . . .

Never a bleaker winter, as The Arch made a friendly bow-line below the faithless clouds.

More real than a post-card (– if grayer) as the dismal afternoon of river-smells wafted over the placid open-face of the great Mississippi like a brown slick.

Your impression from the air was a vast, grid-like swathe spreading out— industrial manufacturing made run-down, sooty, defunct—as if momentum had slowed-down from the anchoring grander narrative of World War II and afterwards.

Like a spider-bite on your arm, an inner crater of necrotizing flesh best describing the downtown and inner city as there wasn’t much traction to hold people’s interest. How the population mostly cleared-out by nightfall. . . . . . towards the suburbs and even further out.

Now it seemed as if things were mostly out-of-gas.

With the narrow, one-way streets and struggle to find decent parking you wouldn’t otherwise fight your way down here unless you were seriously-motivated. It seemed an intractable problem. At least rival Chicago to the northeast had burned-down a couple of times, the opportunity to rebuild and refashion with thriving commerce. Lots of flash. . . . . constant hustle & bustle.

Unlike this urban dot of the sleepy Midwest—as the business at hand WAS public-works.

Incidentally, the single largest employer or else there wouldn’t be a city to bother with.

Woe to you, should you have business in this endless run-around of clerks’ windows that seemed to justify itself with awkward, knobular transactions. Mostly on a cash-and-carry basis and a petty strong-box like some kind of throwback to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Depression-era bank notes.

The floors were brutal and hard on the arches—the cold, cold granite exteriors “no softer”—and you found yourself thinking about Superman and “The Daily Planet” lore, if not film noir and gangster films with the judge’s gavel and civil society of courtroom justice.

Somewhere in the mix, you had bankers back east with industrial integrity of the trans-Atlantic financial system at stake, the pitiless bellow of J.P. Morgan and “great game” for the corners of the earth like “blood & iron”. The threat of the law and golden vaults of treasure that sustained order, itself.

Though today, it was duly-apportioned civil business. . . . . if not the hamstrung nature of the Federal Government., bound by equal opportunity and law. There it rose above the sea of scraggly prarie grass like a lone outpost of the national Constitution, governing more in the cowering fear of lone-nut insurrectionists and domestic terrorism as ice-water pumped through pigeon-hearts.

To buy favor “with the locals”, or maybe “just to change the subject” was the local historical society and constant run of museums young school groups visited. They would come to hear about the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the frontier, the civil war.

Kids would murmur at the apparent outmodedness of slavery and the auction block which took place outside the old courthouse, where the Dred Scott decision was argued.

Or yet, the serene open face of the Mississippi river and the trading-posts where Frenchman held court with the stately Indian, a chieftain with a feather hanging off the cropped-hair of this wolfskin-clad sage—the noble savage. The trade of beaver pelts as a chicken-hawk flew over the Cahokia mounds on the Illinois side. Ancient farming, solar calendars and flint-knap arrowheads.

The waters softly lapped against the riverbank, so slow and timeless.

There was always the floating McDonald’s lashed to the pier, firmly– where the class would board for lunch. A tour-stop with local presumption, as underwritten by the downtown development agency. The working register that endured, transaction by transaction—as the otherwise all-black help grilled burgers and shoveled fries with mercenary concerns.

The main trade was in touristy trinkets—commemorative merchandise with a substantial mark-up. Pick your poison, and all-aboard.

And how the kids stood on the deck of the old Admiral, leaning against the railing as the ship powered up and down the brackish, ailing river as the tour-guide narrated over a loud-speaker.

There, another attraction. . . . . The Annheiser-Busch brewery huddled along the riverfront a-ways down, a German-Irish staple as true to this town as anything—how limestone caves were historically used to naturally refrigerate “the haul” with the oozing smell of loam and natural process.

How the lore of paddle-wheel boats and the twirling cane of “the big spender” was turned into a floating gambler’s haven with the casinos.

Voted by controversial referendum and legalized on the promise of local jobs, tax money for the schools—more “sleight-of-hand” as the blackjack dealer tossed out the cards in a black vest, shirt-sleeves, and a bow-tie “just so”. The local schmos afforded the whimsy of chance by “the gaming commission” with the low-down undertow pulling them in. The taxis carried an ad on their roofs—a schmuck holding up a wad of bills, quick as a ninja. Your ticket to sin-town.

Especially on Christmas.

For indeed, creeping death descended on St. Louis—holiday season or not. It was open season for the sports teams and scratchy old drunks cheering in the grimy grandstands, the poisonous haze edging up and down the run-down limestone squats on the side of the major highway cutting through, sheer to the other side of Illinois across the Poplar Street bridge.

Our battered downtown.

Whatever the dubious vanilla swagger of any local hare-brained developer, the blood pumped through watery veins as toothless as the local inhabitants of the halfway house. Now it was faded Blaxploitation with fast money and jury-rigged solutions, whether payday loan or the local rent-a-center delivering a couch on the back of a rusted-out old truck.

Dregs of the city, law of the world.

All you could reply with was a vacant liberal wish, flowery and penitent for the tragedy of it—“peace on earth and good will to men” and all that stuff. Local boosterism died hard, this center by Union Station that once housed a railway depot—the lore of fast money and prostitutes as the hotel detective arrested check-forgers for wire-fraud.

This was the main event next to the all-ages “pony show” as services—subcontracted out by the city—provided rolling photograph kiosks, hot-dog stands, that sort of thing for the family-friendly stragglers.

It was always a lousy holiday season. . . . . . and there Beetlejuice had a gig working as Santa. Only “Santa” was drunk and having a rip-roaring good time.

It was a useless story, an unclean story, A ST. LOUIS STORY.

How the mighty have fallen, indeed.

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Downtown Yuletide

A Happy Netherworld Christmas

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Seasons greetings– from your favorite pesky screenwriter. Milking a fictive, hoary franchise “for all it’s worth”. For your free dose of entertainment (– and mine), make a Christmas wish and Winona certainly ain’t wrapped in a bow, under my tree.

So conceptual work continues on the “here-today-gone-to-hell” script of elusive repute. Though we certainly come-up with tons of ideas– whether Beetlejuice could actually be turned into a mini-series with all the ideas we’ve generated.

Oh, and here’s the latest. . . . . as the Christmas theme is a rich vein of material where Beetlejuice can worm himself, into.

In certain Christian fundamentalist circles, they actually believe that Santa Claus is a stand-in for the devil– a kind of imposter taking the place of theological soundness.

Santa? The Devil? Really?

Well, the idea is that Santa is a cheery old devil and bit of a mischief maker.

I think I’m smelling the rot of some interesting appearences. . . . . as you could see Beetlejuice in a Santa outfit– or otherwise known as “SATAN-CLAWS”.

Here is the rationale for all of this in a Bible tract, here:

The idea is an evil-deceiver who leads kids out to the faithless snows based on their susceptible belief– and disappears with the brimstone of false promises. And if kids now won’t believe in Santa “on faith”, then what will they refuse to believe next?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence– and I’d tend to see Beetlejuice sleeping-off a drunk in a cold, shivering storage locker. He swiped all the goodies from the stockings and makes his bedraggled haunt like the stink of rum and a three-day’s growth of unshaven neglect with a single, lit candle and a mouldy summer sausage swarming with rats.

From the chimney of hell to the cold, cold grave– I believe in the enduring humor of a wretched American character (– I think he gambled away his money for Christmas presents down at the dog-track).

Well, “DIRT CHEAP” beer & liquor is always open. . . . . so leave you with an image of some debauched old St. Nick and he certainly doesn’t look jolly in this video below.

I’ve seen that on our Bi-State local buses and Metro-Link light-rail cars. Will Lydia and her gang save the Larry Rice New Life Evangelistic Center & Homeless Shelter from greedy local developers? The Plot thickens!!

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A Happy Netherworld Christmas

Christmas at the Folks’s


Who knows what would have happened if the marriage between Beetlejuice and Lydia Deetz actually “came through”? It almost happened, at the end of the original movie before events conspired to rob Beetlejuice of his opportunity, to come earth-side.

In another world. . . . . “if, only”. And funny, how you never know about those things– sometimes “it all works-out”.

Far be it, to be shacked-up “with that pervert, down there” as I call a piece of the unknown netherworld just regular ole’ Missouri, of all places. Somewhere between Texas and Florida, the “Show-Me State” would be a perfect setting for a bit of misadventure.

Say, it’s winter time– near Christmas, in fact. A pair of headlights cuts through the woods, and you find the ole’ BeetleMobile with Lydia in tow, rumbling over a gravel driveway to the log cabin as the tree-line empties out into a clearing, a log-cabin lot.

The truck (– leased on E-Z financing– pulls up by the banks of trees where a scattering of cars and trucks sit, heaped across the lawn– anywhere you can find room to park.

Doors slam, and a certain breathless quality hangs, still in the air as the couple get out of the car. And there, “Old Post”– the half-blind, mostly-deaf black poodle with a giant scrotum that pendulates gruesomely– pops his head, out from beneath the truck and hops down onto the frozen earth.

“Lo, the mortification dear husband”.

Lydia crosses her arms, looking cold as her hubby drags a cooler out of the back.

Continue reading “Christmas at the Folks’s”

Christmas at the Folks’s