To all my Jonny Pals,

Thanks for stopping by this, the 21st annual installment of the Jonny Christmas Story. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, I apologize that time and financial constraints have made me unable to provide the lavishly decorated booklet that I've sent to you in years past. I think you'll find that this online version has a lot of the same cool features while providing some new ones as well.

For those of you who are new to the Jonny Christmas Story, welcome to the sick world of my perverse alter ego, the noble muse Jonny M. Every year, Jonny manages to save Christmas for some poor soul despite having his own issues with alcoholism and a rather unique idea of what constitutes acceptable social behavior.

I hope you enjoy this year's story, and be sure to check out the illustrations carefully. You might just see someone you know - maybe even you!

Happy Holidays,

Once upon a time, there was an enormous multinational corporation called Microsoft. The company was started by two childhood friends in a garage and quickly rose to becoming one of the most successful business enterprises in human history, revolutionizing daily life with the use of the personal computer and developing a myriad of software applications that made our existences more organized and efficient and allowing us more freedom by significantly reducing the amount of time it took to perform countless numbers of the daily tasks that distracted us from leading happier and more fulfilling lives.

Everyone on the planet despised the place. The company had grown so quickly and with such a Machiavellian focus on squashing its competition that it was generally perceived as a heartless monster that had gobbled up promising opposition that might have provided even more effective and ingenious tools. But Microsoft’s dominance was waning because of one rapidly growing opponent who provided such vastly superior products that Microsoft couldn’t block its ascendance.

“I hate Apple!” screamed Bill Gates, the company’s Professor Moriarty-like CEO, in the middle of a board meeting. The canny chairman had cleverly announced his retirement from running the day-to-day operations of the company in 2008, but that was just a ruse to keep the public-at-large from being aware of his nefarious schemes (and because he makes a more recognizable antagonist for this idiotic story than Microsoft’s current top executives, Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie). “They’re crapping out remarkable technology like iPads and iPhones on a daily basis while we’re still trying to figure out patches to fix the holes in Windows Vista! Not only that, but they have way better TV commercials than we do!”

“Not to worry, chief,” assured Microsoft’s Marketing Director Lucifer Black. “We’re still the leader in the industry by a wide margin because back when we had no competition, we made international commerce so dependent on the Windows operating system that it would be unthinkable to change now.”

“That’s fine for the moment,” said Gates as he swallowed a pint of virgin’s blood from the skull of a sheep. “But what about twenty years from now? With the way Apple is gaining on us with their clever marketing campaigns and brilliant technology, we can’t keep this up forever!”

“I hate Apple!” screamed Bill Gates.

“I have a plan,” said Black as he absentmindedly stroked the pentagram that was carved into his forearm. “It’s true that we can’t compete with Apple’s advances in technology, but we can outdistance them in Marketing.”

“How?” sneered Gates. “We already tried to humiliate the actor who plays the Mac in their commercials by getting him to appear in that god-awful Drew Barrymore movie Going the Distance. If that didn’t derail their ad campaign, what will?”

“The Mac ads are only seen by a relatively small amount of the world’s population,” snickered Black. “What we need to do is get our hands on a mailing list so massive that we can reach out to more people than Apple could ever hope to touch. Then, we can begin a global plot to discredit the company so badly that Microsoft will once again be hailed as without competition in the industry.”

“Buh…,” gasped Gates, “but there’s only one mailing list so massive that it could achieve the kind of effect you’re talking about.”

“That’s correct,” responded Black as he petted Gates’ three-headed dog that was guarding the entrance to the office. “I’m talking about Santa Claus’ naughty-and-nice list at the North Pole!”

“I love it!” roared Gates with an evil laugh as an ominous blast of thunder crashed across the Seattle sky. “Not only does it return our uncontested dominance in the industry but it gives this moronic story a direct connection to Christmas, which is usually tenuous at best! But we’ve tried to hack Claus’ systems in the past without success because his firewall was constructed by Apple and is therefore not vulnerable to the massive amount of viruses that can topple a Windows operating system like the Big Bad Wolf taking out the first little pig’s house of straw. How can we possibly get access?”

“We must place an operative in Claus’ I.T. department,” sneered Black. “If we can get a man in the inside, we can get him to load the virus onto Claus’ system and it will erase the list from his database and paste it onto ours.”

“Erase?” responded Gates. “Do you mean…”

“The virus only moves files,” said Black ominously, “it doesn’t copy them. Once we have Claus’ list, it will be deleted from his server forever.”

Gates shuddered. “But without his list…”

“His operation will be thrown into chaos,” replied Black with an evil grin. “He won’t be able to deliver any presents because he won’t know who was naughty or who was nice. The reindeer won’t have the addresses of the good little boys and girls to deliver the toys to. Credit Card information will be gone, so even if someone did get a gift, they wouldn’t get a receipt so that they could exchange it for what they really wanted. Christmas will have to be canceled!”

“And since Apple programmed his firewall,” smiled Gates while doing a little jig, “they’ll be the ones who will take the blame!”

“There’s just one problem,” said Black. "All of our operatives are well known to Apple and to Claus’ people. And the plan is so evil that we’ll never be able to find anyone working outside of Microsoft who’s low enough to agree to do it. For this to work, we’ll need to insert someone who is such a simpleton that he has no idea why he’s really there. Who can we get who’s that stupid?"

At about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from his job at the Seattle science fiction convention. The noble muse had been engaged to direct a mash-up of Star Trek with Gilbert & Sullivan but had misunderstood his assignment and instead staged a production of HMS Pinafore as a take-off of A Star is Born. The muse could hear the catcalls from the auditorium as Little Buttercup announced dramatically into a microphone “This is Mrs. Captain Corcoran” and as the angry audience stormed the box office for refunds, the convention organizers threw Jonny into a nearby dumpster on top of a discarded light saber that made an unfortunate bull’s eye into his descending rectum. The muse spent the next week on his stomach in his proctologist’s office recovering from the trauma, and to pass the time perused old copies of Wired Magazine. Just as his traumatized anal cavity was given a clean bill of health, he was distracted by a “For Hire” listing next to advertisements for sea monkeys and x-ray specs on the back cover:

The muse’s eyes widened at the massive remuneration the job offered - more than three times what he was offered when he ran for governor of California in Jonny’s Gubernatorial Christmas – so he high-tailed it to Silicon Valley.

When Jonny arrived at the temp agency, he was shocked at the number of anti-social computer geeks who were lined up to apply for the position. The economy had taken such a nose-dive and there was such a glut on the market of people with I.T. experience that even lowly temp jobs were in high demand. The noble muse looked sadly at the enormous queue of pasty-faced losers in front of him and (taking heart at the idea that the title of this idiotic story indicated that he would probably be the one to get the gig) took his place at the end of the line.

When Jonny arrived at the temp agency, he was shocked at the number of anti-social computer geeks
who were lined up to apply for the position.

“No, no, no!” exclaimed Black as he stood behind the lowly temp agency clerk who was conducting the interviews. “These people are far too intelligent for what I need. I thought you said that all of your temps were either prison parolees or Haitian refugees. Why are they all so smart?”

“It’s not my fault!” replied the clerk. “The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles laid off so many employees that’s there was a huge rush of unemployed people.”

“Ah, yes - The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles,” replied Black wistfully. “The only organization even more evil than we are. But this is no time for bitter, inside jokes about Jon Mullich’s recent layoff! I don’t want any more excuses. You get me the person I need, or Microsoft will e-mail your wife a list of all the Internet porn you’ve been looking at that we’ve been tracking through a cookie in Windows Vista. I need a moron, and now!”

Just as the words were leaving Black’s mouth, Jonny shyly stuck his head in the door. The muse’s vacant stare and sloping forehead were a dead giveaway that he was just the person needed for the assignment. But something was missing.

“In all the past versions of these stories,” said Black, “you always stagger into the room blind drunk and throw up on the person who’s hiring you. Why aren’t you hammered?”

“I can’t afford liquor right now,” responded Jonny as he hung his head in shame. “I won’t be able to get drunk until the traditional gifts of alcohol start coming in for my birthday on December 15th.”

“Makes sense,” replied Black. “Well, go ahead and throw up on the clerk so we can get on with this stupid thing.”

Sadly, Jonny walked over to the desk, stuck his finger down his throat and began projectile vomiting on the temp agency guy. As Black beheld the blank look on Jonny’s face as he unceremoniously spewed the contents of his stomach lining in the man’s lap, the Microsoft lackey knew that he had found exactly what he was looking for. Black put his finger next to his nose as Jonny collapsed in agony at the clerk’s feet, and leaned over and yanked the muse’s head until they were looking at each other in the face.

“Congratulations,” said Black. “You’re the new temp worker in Santa Claus’ I.T. department.”

Jonny hoped that no one at Santa’s Workshop would recognize him from his stints of working there in The Year Jonny Saved Christmas and Jonny’s Easter Christmas. But the strange gremlin who ran the department assured Jonny that he needn’t worry about it.

“Santa and the Elves never come around here,” said the IT gremlin. “They’re allergic to anything having to do with technology. If they had their way, this place would still be operating with kerosene lamps and fairy dust.”

“Why isn’t it?” asked the muse as he beheld the massive servers that were locked behind a thick glass wall.

“Santa and the Elves never come around here,” said the IT gremlin.

“It’s the naughty-and-nice list,” replied the gremlin. “As recently as around 1940, there were only about two billion people on the planet and Santa could maintain the list using an abacus. And it made it easier because he would automatically put all Jews, blacks and gays on the “naughty” list, although all documentation from that era has been permanently sealed in an agreement with Amnesty International. But now there are over six billion people on the planet and it got to be too much for him. So he brought in Steve Jobs and Apple to put together a computer system. But the old man never comes near it – he only wants a print-out of the list on December 15th, which I understand is coincidentally your birthday on which gifts of alcohol are traditionally accepted.”

“So the list is frozen on December 15th?” asked Jonny, his liver grumbling upon hearing the word “alcohol”.

“No!” replied the gremlin testily. “That’s only the date that the list is first printed out so we could plug in another reference to your birthday. The system continues making adjustments to it until minutes before Santa leaves on Christmas Eve.”

“And what do I do?” asked Jonny.

“You need to input all the last-minute updates to the naughty-and-nice list,” replied the gremlin. “You can start by shit-canning the upper management of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles into the ‘naughty’ pile.”

Jonny found that he enjoyed the work. There were lots of last-minute updates to the list so he was always busy, but he was working on a Macintosh computer so his labors seemed almost effortless. And since no one from the I.T. Department remembered him from his past unfortunate experiences at the North Pole, he made many friends there so that when it was finally his birthday on December 15th, Jonny was inundated with gifts of alcohol. But the muse never forgot why he was there and even as the other staffers were getting ripped out of their minds celebrating the muse’s birthday, Jonny was busy printing out the list.

Jonny's co-workers got ripped celebrating his birthday.

“I don’t even know why they make us print this first draft,” slurred one worker as she threw back a shot of Maker’s Mark that was a gift from Jonny’s old buddy Eddie Frierson. “The thing undergoes massive changes up until the very last second on Christmas Eve, so the one we’re printing now is going to be obsolete in a few hours. Hell, Glenn Beck was on the ‘nice’ list until he held that idiotic rally at the National Mall and pretended to be Martin Luther King.”

“That doesn’t matter,” replied the muse as he carefully studied the database. “Christmas is the most joyous time of the year, and the nice boys and girls of the world need to be rewarded for being good. And it gives the naughty ones an incentive to be good next year.”

“Oh, you’re just parroting the employee handbook,” smirked Jonny’s drunken co-worker. “Personally, Santa creeps me out. It’s bad enough that he knows when I’m awake, but I draw the line at his seeing me when I’m sleeping. I don’t wear pajamas, and I’m sure he had some kind of a hand in those steamy pictures of me getting on the Internet!”

Before Jonny could respond, the gremlin approached the muse’s desk and asked for the list.

“Here you go,” replied the handsome muse, stacking the massive printout on his boss’s cart. “I was surprised at some of the people who were considered naughty and some who were nice. I expected to see Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly on the ‘naughty’ list; but to include Jon Stewart just because the Rally to Restore Sanity was lame is going too far. And why is Shannon Tweed on the ‘nice’ list? She hasn’t done a worthwhile nude scene in years.”

“It could all change tomorrow,” replied the gremlin as he straightened the stacks of paper. “And which list were you on?”

Jonny hesitated in replying, sending his green boss into fits of hysterical laughter.

“It’s all right,” chuckled the gremlin. “We all go into the list and futz with it to make sure we come out on the ‘nice’ side. Who the hell wants a lump of coal in their stocking in this economy? Don’t worry about it!”

The muse breathed a sigh of relief as he looked at the clock and saw that it was 5:00 and time to go home. His co-workers were still passed out drunk from swilling down all the gifts of alcohol that Jonny had received for his birthday, so the still-youthful-looking muse skipped over to the North Pole Pub to continue the celebration on his own. When he arrived, the only people at the bar were the bartender and two men sitting on stools who almost looked as though that had been waiting for Jonny to arrive. Jonny recognized one as the man who was at the temp agency when he was hired for the gig – Lucifer Black. The other man who sported a luxurious black mustache looked vaguely familiar but Jonny couldn’t quite put his finger on how he recognized him, and Black had no intention of telling the muse that it was actually his boss Bill Gates in a brilliantly clever disguise.

Bill Gates wore a brilliantly clever disguise.

“Hello, Jonny!” said Black as he moved over to the next stool to give the muse a seat. “You remember me – Lucifer Black; I was the guy responsible for getting you this cushy job. And this is my friend ….”

“Paul Allen!” interjected Gates, using the name of the Microsoft co-founder as a pseudonym.

“Yes,” replied Black, “Paul Allen. Paul and I were here in the North Pole on business and we decidedly to stop in for a drink. Say ... isn’t today December 15th, your birthday when gifts of alcohol are graciously accepted?”

“It is!” replied Jonny enthusiastically.

“Well then,” chucked Black, “Paul and I had better do our part in getting you liquored up.”

Jonny thought that he was in heaven as Black and “Allen” bought him drink after drink after drink, until the muse was finally loopy enough for them to get to the point.

"If I'm not mistaken" said Black, “today is the day that you folks in I.T. printed out the first draft of Santa’s naughty-and-nice list.”

“You shaid it,” slurred the muse as he bent ominously forward, the first warning sign that he was about to violently hurl his guts out on the person sitting next to him.

“It seems a terrible waste of manpower,” sighed Black, not noticing that Jonny was slowly descending into a 45° angle and aiming his mouth right at Black’s $300 shirt. “If only there was some kind of software available that could systematically do the updates for you. The work could get done, and you would have more time to drink and masturbate.”

Jonny suddenly pulled it together when he heard the word “masturbate” and became enthralled in the conversation. Gates saw the opening that he was looking for.

“Why, I know exactly the software you’re talking about,” said the Microsoft CEO as he took a flash drive from his pocket and placed it on the bar. “All anyone in Santa’s I.T. Department would have to do is put this flash drive in any computer on Santa’s internal network at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve and all of the updates to the naughty-and-nice list that you’ve been doing manually would be inputted systematically.”

“And that means I could drink and masturbate?” garbled the Jonny as he tightened his jaw in preparation for the geyser of vomit that was about to explode from his alcohol-drenched stomach.

“And that means you could drink and masturbate,” responded Gates.

There are few occasions in human history which can be reasonably compared to what happened next. The most obvious correlation was the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, but since no one survives from that disaster to compare it to the carnage that occurred at the North Pole Pub, we can only assume that the two events bore comparison. All that is known for certain is that the public house had to be demolished after being flooded with over two feet of gelatinous vomit, the bartender spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum, and Gates spent almost a third of his fortune to have the stench of the muse’s puke eradicated from his and Black’s skin and clothing. The only person who seemed unmoved by the destruction was Jonny himself, who nonchalantly wiped the excess vomit from his lower lip with a bar napkin, grabbed the flash drive from off the bar, and exited into the winter night to find another place to keep drinking at.

The gremlin grew nervous over the next nine days leading to Christmas Eve. Jonny had been his best worker in the preceding weeks, but whenever he saw him now, the muse was reeking of alcohol or rubbing lotion on his chafed and calloused hands. He finally called Jonny into his office for a conference.

The gremlin called Jonny into his office.

“What gives, Jonny?” asked the gremlin as the muse was barely able to maintain his balance to stay seated on the chair. “You used to be my best guy, but now you’re always drinking or diddling yourself in the men’s room. The updates to the naughty/nice list aren’t being made, and it’s going to be a disaster if Santa doesn’t have accurate metrics when he takes off on his flight. It’s not just your career you’re messing with; it’s mine and everyone else in the I.T. Department.”

Jonny chuckled to himself as he patted the flash drive tucked safely in his pocket. “I guarantee to you that the list will be updated on schedule,” slurred the muse.

The gremlin looked at Jonny skeptically. The muse was teetering on his chair with a half-empty bottle of moonshine in his lap. But, like everyone at the North Pole, the kindly green creature was an excellent judge of character, and there was something about Jonny’s vacuous stare that won his belief.

“That’s all I needed to hear,” said the gremlin with a friendly smile. “Santa needs the final list at exactly 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve. If you say it will be ready, then it will be ready.”

The gremlin’s words were falling on deaf ears by this point, as Jonny had already passed out and was sleeping in a pile on the office floor. The I.T. head pulled a blanket out of his office closet and covered the muse with it, and then went into the server room to map the reindeer’s flight for the big night.

There is always a sense of magic in the air in the days leading up to Christmas, and this year seemed even more special than most. The muse spent his days happily flogging his bishop and drinking himself into a state of catatonia, while being sure to be sober enough to go out into the world and take in the lights of the season and celebrate the special time of year with his brothers and sisters in the human family. The gremlin uncustomarily got to spend more time with his wife and kids, confidant that Jonny would come through on his promise to deliver the list on time. And even the dastardly Bill Gates and Lucifer Black were having the time of their lives, happy in knowing that they would soon topple Apple once and for all and have the greatest direct mail list that was ever compiled in the bargain.

When Christmas Eve finally arrived, Santa’s Village was bustling. Santa was taking test runs with the reindeer, the elves were hustling to put together the final shipment of toys, and the I.T. gremlin was running the metrics for Santa’s flight using the obsolete data from the naughty-and-nice list that was generated on December 15th. Normally, the temp worker who ran the list would have put in a week of all-nighters to get the data revised and uploaded; but the gremlin had faith that the muse wouldn’t let him down even as he glanced wistfully over at Jonny’s empty cubicle.

The muse finally shuffled into the office at 11:00 p.m., tipsy from Christmas cheer but still sober enough to do what he had to do. When the gremlin saw Jonny saunter in, the green creature threw his arm around his friend.

“I’m so happy you’re here!” said the gremlin. “I always trusted you, but I was beginning to get nervous. Do you have the data loaded for the revised list?”

“Not yet,” answered the muse as he took the flash drive out of his pocket. “I will in just a minute though.”

With that, Jonny plugged the drive into his USB port. As soon as the computer opened a window that read “New Hardware Detected”, Gates and Black jumped out of a janitor’s closet and began doing a mad twist.

“Success is ours!” screamed Gates. “The second you plugged that flash drive into your USB port, your servers were wiped clean and your precious naughty-and-nice list was uploaded to Silicon Valley! There’s nothing that can stop us now. Nothing!”

The gremlin collapsed in a heap on the floor.

“I trusted you!” screamed the little green man. “Now, not only is Christmas finished, but my career is over. Where do you think a little green gremlin can find work besides Santa’s village? Keebler's isn't hiring, and neither are the Muppets! My life is over!”

It was only then that the trio noticed that Jonny wasn’t paying attention to them, but was instead focused on a video game on his monitor.

“How can your PC be up?” asked Gates. "That virus was designed to render the entire network completely useless.”

“Do you mean this virus?” asked Jonny, holding up the flash drive that Black gave him in the bar. "You don’t think that I’d trust a couple of yahoos like you two.”

It was only then that the Microsoft men realized that the flash drive Jonny had inserted into his USB port was different from the one he had taken from the bar.

“Then,” asked Gates, “what’s on the flash drive you put in your computer?”

“Pong,” replied Jonny. “As far as I’m concerned, still the best computer game ever created.”

Gates was speechless, but the silence was quickly shattered by an anguished cry from the gremlin.

“What does it matter?” shouted the little green man. “The list hasn’t been revised! Santa won’t know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice! He won’t know who to give presents to and who to give coal. Christmas is finished! I’m finished.”

“Why does Christmas have to be about being a payday for what Santa considers proper behavior?” asked Jonny as he watched the digitized Pong ball float out of reach of his paddle. “And who does Santa think he is, being the final arbiter for good and bad conduct? If you ask me, Santa needs to consult a stylist and a personal trainer before he goes pointing any fingers.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” cried the gremlin. “This is my career!”

“Hey, I had some major setbacks to my career this year,” replied the muse. “It was pretty devastating at the time, but once the shock was over I realized that I was giving all of my power away to some people who weren’t any better than I am; just because their names were printed higher than mine on an organizational flow chart. Jobs come and jobs go, but the dignity and maturity that we take to them will follow us forever.”

“So the list wasn’t updated?” murmured the gremlin.

“Sure it was,” smiled Jonny. “You guys paid me to do a job and I take that responsibility very seriously. But I could see that your methods of doing things were redundant and wasteful, so I outsourced the work to the people whose jobs were outsourced to somebody else. The list was updated hours ahead of schedule.”

“And I suppose you made sure to put yourself on the ‘nice’ list,” smirked Gates.

“I didn’t check and I don’t care,” replied Jonny while he made a last, desperate sweep for the Pong ball that floated just past his reach. “All I can do is live my life the way I think it should be lived. If that gets me rewards from the Powers that Be, great. If it doesn’t, I know from experience that I’ll get rewards from someplace else; quite possibly from somewhere where I never expected them. All I know is that I love Christmas, and I don’t need presents or lumps of coal to remind me of that. Sometimes I’m naughty and sometimes I’m nice, and I like to think that the scale tips a little more towards the ‘nice’ side every day that I’m alive. That’s the only present that I need.”

Gates, Black and the gremlin stared sadly out the window watching the elves pile the final toys on Santa's sleigh.

The trio was stunned, not prepared for such a mature resolution in a Jonny Christmas Story. Gates, Black and the gremlin stared sadly out the window watching the elves pile the final toys on Santa's sleigh and wondered if this meant that this was the end of Jonny’s grotesque tradition of celebrating the holiday. Just as everything seemed hopeless, they heard a sound so unmistakable that it could only mean one thing. They spun around to see that the muse had chug-a-lugged an entire bottle of Tequila and was violently puking his guts out, finally passing out in a pool of his own vomit on the office floor.

“It’s going to be a Merry Christmas after all!” screamed the gremlin.

So all was happiness at Santa’s village. It turned out that there was actually a bug in Apple’s latest upgrade of the naughty-and-nice software so that everybody wound up on the ‘nice’ list and got a present, which was great for everybody except about two-thousand people in Siberia who were dependent on the lumps of coal to get them through the freezing winter; so about half of them died. The gremlin was promoted to Santa’s Chief of Staff, whereupon his skin returned to flesh color from not being constantly exposed to the radiation emitted from the server room. Bill Gates realized that it was okay to be #2 in the industry, secure in the knowledge that he went to sleep every night on a massive pile of money. And everyone at the North Pole, rich and poor, young and old, had the best Christmas ever.

But happiest of all was young Jonny M. As he looked around at the joy in the hearts of his new friends, he felt a glow of satisfaction in knowing that he had contributed to it. So giving a final nod of his head to Santa’s Village, he uploaded the contents of the naughty-and-nice list to his Google Docs account and sold it to a direct mail company based in the Cayman Islands for two million dollars.

And happiness to you, dear friend. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa (I doubt if any of you are celebrating Kwanzaa, but it makes me look hip and cool by mentioning it), or Jonny’s birthday on December 15th in which gifts of alcohol cannot be overemphasized as an appropriate gift, remember that the only soul who you ultimately need to be validated by is the one you encounter in the mirror every day. Once you receive its approval, the rest of the world is sure to follow.

And know that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.




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