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all i want for christmas.
i'm making a list and checking it twice.
by matt morin

Dear Santa,

How are things up at the North Pole? I hope you and Mrs. Claus are staying warm. I wanted to write and let you know I’ve been a good boy this year, regardless of what you might have heard. I know my last column was kinda mean. I swear I wasn’t talking about your bowl full of jelly. And yeah, I did say really bad things about Mark Wahlberg’s acting, but even you have to admit he delivers his lines as stiffly as the stop-motion animation in those 70s Rankin/Smith Christmas specials.

Anyway, all in all, I think I’ve been pretty good this year, so I wanted to send you my wish list. I know I’m asking a lot, but I promise to leave extra milk and cookies by the fireplace for you. Here’s what I am wishing for this Christmas.

I wish the American people wouldn’t believe the hype. I’m not talking about the hype that allowed Spiderman to bring in more than $400 million to date. I’m talking about the government using 3000 people dying at the World Trade Center to hype up to $90 billion in homeland security measures. I mean, that many people die from cancer every two days. More people in the U.S. died last year from just gallbladder cancer than were killed in terrorist attacks. I don’t see the government earmarking $90 billion to cancer research.

I wish you could do something about the price of CDs. Come on, $18 for 12 songs, several of which are sure to suck? When CDs first came out they were like 13 bucks. You can’t tell me production costs have gone up. Is it too much to ask for a $10 CD? It’s not like I’d spend less on music – I’d just get more. I’d even try bands I was unfamiliar with, because for $10 if they suck, oh well. These days I’m afraid to buy anything unless I’ve gone to CD NOW and listened to samples of every single track. I’d appreciate it if you could get your elves to drop their profit margin a bit.

I wish you could make people think “us” and “we” instead of “I” and “my”. Then maybe people wouldn’t say “I need to own a handgun because it’s my right.” They’d say “I know it’s a right, but maybe all of us would be safer if we protected ourselves a different way.” Or instead of “I am going to falsify these earning statements so I can make a profit before my stock tanks,” they’ll say “We are going to be honest about this because it’s the right thing to do for all of us.

I wish Saturday Night Live would be funny again.

I wish Michael Jackson gets even weirder.

I wish you could bring a merry Christmas to the Lee family of East Brunswick, NJ. I don’t know them personally, but last year on Christmas eve, 9-year-old Thomas and his mother were driving to church when their minivan was hit by another car. Thomas died. I always feel really badly for families who lose loved ones around Christmas. The holidays are supposed to be a time to be thankful for what you have. It must be terribly difficult to do that when all you can think about is what you’ve lost. So if you could bring the Lee family, and anyone else who has had someone they care about die this time of year, a little peace – that’d be nice.

I wish you could bring true love for J-Lo. I mean she seems like a very nice, hardworking girl and I think she deserves a huge rock and a fiancée who’s the world’s most beautiful person. Oh wait. Scratch that one.

I wish that every corporation in America would limit the salaries of their top wage earners to ten times that of their lowest wage earners. It worked for Ben & Jerry. There’s simply no reason the Chairman of Citibank needs to earn $200 million a year. There are so many families who are struggling to pay their bills, let alone have a nice Christmas, it’s a shame someone won’t step up and do the right thing – like pay a living wage.

I wish Jennifer Love Hewitt would stop making records. I know you know what I mean, Santa. Nuf’ said. While we’re at it, I wish Norah Jones would make more.

I wish teams would pitch to Barry Bonds so the Giants could win a World Series. In a related wish, I wish that anyone asking for a Rally Monkey for Christmas gets a Furby instead.

I wish the Liza Minelli Show hadn’t been cancelled. Come on Santa, you’re with me on this one, right? I know it’s hard to even comprehend a bigger train wreck of a TV program than the Anna Nicole Smith Show, but there it was waiting to happen in all its washed-up celebrity glory. I seriously would have sold everything I own to be at that wedding. The next best thing would have been 18 episodes of Liza and David’s bizarro universe. See what you can do about that, will you?

I wish you could make it snow again in San Francisco for the holidays. That was so cool a few years back. Just a light dusting will do. Nothing else makes Christmas quite as magical as big, fat snowflakes falling silently from the sky on December 25th.

But more than anything, I wish you'd bring a happy and healthy 2003 for all my friends and family. They mean everything to me. I know I probably don’t tell them that enough. But I hope they know that I really do love all of them dearly – probably much more than they realize.

And if there’s any room left in your bag after all that, I'd love a girlfriend who’ll stick around for more than three months. It’d be nice to have a Valentine this year. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind getting cast on Survivor, either.

Thank you, Santa!

Merry Christmas,


Matt would love to be George Plimpton...welll, except for the being dead part. He supplies the doing and the writing. All he asks of you is the reading.

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tracey kelley
12.13.02 @ 1:27a

P.S. 'N tell Rudolph hello.

P.S.S. I don't think you're that fat, but Joe does.

robert melos
12.13.02 @ 1:46a

Ho! Ho! Ho! No, I'm not talking about J-Lo. I'm just marveling at the fact people can be nice and full of good cheer, and not all Grinch-like and evil, and, well....My heart almost grew three sizes after reading this. I still might chalk that up to the unidentified hors d'oeuvres I ate earlier. I'll let you know if I still feel all joy-to-the-world-like in the morning.

heather millen
12.13.02 @ 12:03p

Geesh, as a friend, all I get is a happy freakin' new year?! I wanted the huge rock and a fiancée who’s the world’s most beautiful person!

jeffrey walker
12.13.02 @ 2:25p

I'd like Santa to bring me a handgun for the "we" and "us" so I can shoot Matt as he continues to complain about not finding a girlfriend. Why not move out of the gay capital of the West Coast and improve your chances?

Oh wait -- he wants to watch the Liza Minelli show. I see -- Matt is gay, and just doesn't know it yet. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just get out of the closet already.

matt morin
12.13.02 @ 3:46p

Merry Christmas to you too, Jeff.

jeffrey walker
12.13.02 @ 4:05p

Bah Handgun-Control. You didn't think I'd let that pass, did ya?

matt morin
12.13.02 @ 4:10p

No, that's half the reason I threw it in there.

megan guertner
12.13.02 @ 4:41p

I wish Santa would get a sex change so he can grant Matt's wish. Just think a girlfriend that comes with many reindeer. Now that could be fun. The sad thing is that he only comes once a year. Sorry Matt...

adam kraemer
12.13.02 @ 4:59p

Who knows. Maybe he'll find a friendly reindeer.

Have you ever heard a Jennifer Love Hewitt song, Matt?


megan guertner
12.13.02 @ 5:14p

Yes I guess those female antlers could be quite enticing...

travis broughton
12.13.02 @ 5:53p

Go back to Russia, you freakin' communist :)

According to the Ben & Jerry's web site: In 2000 the compensation ratio of top-to-bottom, not including stock options awarded and cashed out as a result of the acquisition, was 17-1. So the ratio is closer to 20-1 than 10-1, and it doesn't include stock options. A lot of companies already do that.

Limit the salary portion of an exec's compensation package -- they can still get huge bonus and stock option benefits, and that's what bumps them up to "$200 million per year". I have no problem with that compensation structure. A CEO in a company like Citibank has way more than 10x the mailroom clerk's impact on the company's (read: shareholders/owners) bottom line, and should be compensated accordingly.

matt morin
12.13.02 @ 5:59p

Yeah, once Ben and Jerry were acquired, the salary structure got all screwed up. But before that, it was actually 7-1 for a long time.

And as far as impact on the company's bottom line? If the $169 million/year CEO of McDonalds quit, the franchises would still be making money. But if $169 million worth of minimum wage workers walked off the job for McD's? They'd collapse.

robert melos
12.13.02 @ 11:26p

I think it's time for a McStrike.

Oh, I'm still in a slightly gleeful mood. This isn't a good thing.


matt morin
12.15.02 @ 8:38p

OK this goes to my point about the American public believing a bunch of media hype.

20,000 elderly people a year die from the flu. Yet only 40% of elderly get flu shots.

However in a recent poll, 61% of Americans want to get a smallpox vaccine.

That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a long time and makes me realize exactly how stupid the public really is.

wendy p
12.15.02 @ 10:23p

And now, I'm left wondering how you can be so cynical.

robert melos
12.16.02 @ 12:40a

Matt's cynical? Surely you jest?

erik myers
12.16.02 @ 7:50a

Matt's not cynical, he just loves statistics.

And here's an interesting one!

Matt, did you know that 49% of statistics are just made up?

tracey kelley
12.16.02 @ 10:43a

Matt, I'm surprised that with your advertising accumen you believe one snippet of statistics. Polling 1,000 people in a mall is not an accurate sample.

erik myers
12.16.02 @ 11:03a

Well, it gives an accurate sample of the mall-shopping demographic.

matt morin
12.16.02 @ 11:11a

Actually, both those numbers came from recent Gallup polls. The smallpox number came from a Gallup poll from last week.

Let me know if you want links.

erik myers
12.16.02 @ 11:24a

Is there any actual conclusive evidence that these polls are actually accurate?

Do they just call everybody in Peoria, or what?

matt morin
12.16.02 @ 11:33a

According to the Website they choose 1001 adults over age 18 in a random telephone sample. Results are +-3%. The Gallup or AP sites post the exact wording of the question and other info about the poll.

jack bradley
12.16.02 @ 6:11p

Matt, you got your Saturday Night Live wish. And the Michael Jackson one is a shoe-in.

Statistically (*snork*), you're doing better than some folks out there.

matt morin
12.16.02 @ 6:23p

Yeah, the Al Gore show the other night was outstanding.

adam kraemer
12.17.02 @ 4:45p

I missed it.

robert melos
12.17.02 @ 10:52p

They were talking about it on Hardball, on FoxNews. mostly about Trent Lott, but also about how good Al Gore was.

jael mchenry
12.18.02 @ 2:47p

He was awesome. Mainly because most of it required him to act staid and slightly bewildered.

Although the one sketch where he was the accountant at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory was hilarious, and that's when he really tore it up. The palpable derision in the phrase "I've ridden to work in that psychedelic boat and stepped over piles of Oompa Loompa dung." Awesome.

matt morin
12.18.02 @ 6:40p

I loved the Hardball sketch where he played Trent Lott. I couldn't stop laughing.

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