The Special Category

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Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight:
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

The Ballad of Hannah and Leigh

'Twas the night before New Year, when Hannah and Leigh,
Had sat, as the clock chimed, to watch the TV,
Now, in silence, they gazed at the blank TV screen,
He drank his Bass beer and she sipped Irish Cream.

"Another year over," she sighed, "glad it's done;
"'Twas all rather hellish, it hasn't been fun,
"Truth be told, it was horrid the whole time, of course,
"For you just played golf while I worked like a horse.

"You do nowt to help and sod-all to inspire me,
"I don't get affection, like my sister Ivy,
"Her Welsh husband, Dafydd, treats her like a queen,
"All I get's: 'Where's me best shirt? Hell... is it clean?'"

"Now hold hard a second!" Leigh said to his wife,
"Strewth, Hannah, you haven't had that bad a life!
"I'll list all the kind, helpful things that I do,
"And tell me if one single word isn't true:

"Heck, I know I don't work, and finances are stiff,
"So you graft at McDonalds on thirteen-hour shifts.
"When I get home from golf, you're not back from work,
"And though I'm half-famished, I don't act the jerk

"When you beg to rest for a while before cookin'
"I spare time to comment on how bad you're lookin',
"And I nod: 'Hell, then take that well-earned rest, hon.,
"'And I'll take a nap, wake me up when it's done.'

"You don't wash the dishes right after the supper,
"Though a wife's supposed to be chief washer-upper,
"So I whisper: 'I know you're jaded, but hell,
"'Those dishes aren't just gonna wash up themselves.

"And when you complain to me constantly how
"You can't do all the shopping in one lunch hour,
"I take that on the chin and'll helpfully say:
"'Don't fret so, Hannah - stretch it over two days!'

"And, ok, I know that you get up at dawn,
"Which is why you're so dog-tired when mowin' the lawn,
"So I'll smile, 'Ok, stop for a second or two,
"'And you might as well get me a beer when you do.'

"I know that most agein' women like whinin',
"And I'd noticed how slapdash you'd got with the ironin',
"And I want to confess that I do realise,
"Women's hormones are hell, and I empathise.

"Hell, I've tried to keep cheerful and not criticise,
"And not be so harsh when I mention 'the thighs',
"A woman gets stroppy when she's overweight,"
"But I cope with this well. Hmm - I must be a saint!"


Leigh died with a split rectum that New Years Day
Up his back-end a golf club was thrust all the way,
'Twas a Calloway extra-long fifty-inch rammer,
And right next to this was a bloodied sledgehammer.

When Hannah was charged with the death of her mate,
The all-woman jury decided her fate
In three seconds, the verdict: "Not guilty, m'lud,
"The deceased sat, by accident, on his golf club!"

Now Hannah's a widow and she's rich as hell,
The insurance on Leigh's life had paid her damn well!
She has shoppers and chefs; she wears silk pajamas,
And this New Year's Eve she'll be in the Bahamas!

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A Tribute Poem For Nelson Mandela
by Maya Angelou

His day is done.
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela's day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.
Our skies were leadened.

His day is done.
We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.
Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.

We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath.

Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant.

Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.

Would the man survive? Could the man survive?

His answer strengthened men and women around the world.

In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago's Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City's Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison's doors.

His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.

He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom.

When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela's former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.

We saw him accept the world's award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

Yes, Mandela's day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.

He has offered us understanding.
We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
Nelson Mandela's day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say thank you.

Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

We will not forget you, we will not dishonor you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all.


His jury of underworld cronies
Loudly expounds on an unsworn dossier;
Oddly now ignores an unsound exposé.
Heard your cry worldwide:
"Will mourning subside?"

We proudly donned
Your Nelson crown.
Winding crowds wend
Down, down, down.

Sordid wind on wrong plans,
Shoddy minds and puny hands
Drown our unanswered screams,
Handcuff our hopes, manacle our dreams.

Unsung widows ponder;
Shunned sons wonder.
Spurious wrongdoings
Cage our wishes, clip our worn wings.

Furloughs from unsown sorrows
Will now spur our sunny morrows.
Could your soul unchain our longings
Now in windowless surroundings?


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

It always seems impossible until its done.

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.

In my country we go to prison first and then become President.

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.

If the United States of America or Britain is having elections, they don't ask for observers from Africa or from Asia. But when we have elections, they want observers.

No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.

Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

Does anybody really think that they didn't get what they had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment?

I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.

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Office Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: December 1
RE: The Gala Christmas Party

I'm happy to advise you that the Gala Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function rooms #5/6 at the Grill House Restaurant. There will be a cash bar, plus lots to drink!

We will have a small band playing traditional Christmas carols... do feel free to sing along!

Don't be surprised if Mr Parry, our CEO, shows up dressed as Santa Claus! The Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanging of gifts between employees can be done at that time; however, no gifts should be over ten pounds in value to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets.

This gathering is only for our employees!

Merry Christmas to you and to your family,


Office Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: December 2
RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday's message meant to exclude our Jewish employees. We fully recognise that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which can often coincide with Christmas. However, from now on, we're going to call this our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who have their own traditions and those who are still celebrating Reconciliation Day.

There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for you to enjoy (but not karaoke).

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family,


Office Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: December 3
RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note that I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name. I'm happy to agree to this request, but if I put a sign on the table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore.

How am I supposed to handle this?


Oh, and sorry, but forget about the exchange of gifts; no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that ten pounds is excessive and the executives feel that ten pounds is a little tawdry .


Office Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: December 4
RE: Generic Holiday Party

Oh, what a diverse group of folk we are! I hadn't realised that December 20th is the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during the daylight hours.

There goes the party! Seriously, we do appreciate how a fixed luncheon at this time of year may not accommodate our Muslim employees' complex beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can postpone serving your noon meal until the end of the party or can maybe pack everything for you to take away in a foil doggy baggy. Will that do?

Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get a table next to the restrooms.

Gays are allowed to sit next to each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, and each group will occupy their own table.

And, yes, there will be a flower arrangement on the Gay men's table.

To the person wanting permission to cross dress, the Grill House has politely insisted that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms.


We will have booster seats to accommodate short people.

Low-fat food will be available for people on a diet. And there will be mixed "low sugar" fruit as a dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply "nil sugar" desserts.

I am sorry to say that we cannot control or examine the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House recommends that people with high blood pressure try a small sample first.


Did I miss anything?!


Office Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Fucking Employees
DATE: December 5
RE: The Fucking Holiday Party

Mamma mia!

I've had it with you vegetarian pricks! We are holding the Holiday Party at the Grill House this year whether you idiotic imbeciles like it or not, so you can all sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your fucking salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW!

And the rest of you miffed weirdos can kiss my ass. I hope you all have an immensely crappy holiday!

Drive drunk and die,

The Bitch from Hell!

Office Memo
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: December 6, 2013
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party

I am sure I speak for us all in wishing Patty Lewis a most speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards on to her.

In the meantime, management has decided to cancel this year's Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon off, with full pay, on 23rd December.

Happy 2014!


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To S.A.

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house, that your eyes might be shining for me
When we came.

Death seemed my servant on the road, till we were near and saw you waiting:
When you smiled, and in sorrowful envy he outran me and took you apart:
Into his quietness.

Love, the way-weary, groped to your body, our brief wage ours for the moment
Before earth's soft hand explored your shape, and the blind worms grew fat upon
Your substance.

Men prayed me that I set our work, the inviolate house, as a memory of you.
But for fit monument I shattered it, unfinished: and now
The little things creep out to patch themselves hovels in the marred shadow
Of your gift.


A true story of no ordinary man,
one of unusual verve, humour, wit 'n' deeds of high valour.

Fought the mighty Ottoman Empire.
Rode on a camel through the hot empty sandy desert
from Aqaba to Wadi Rum, on to the town of Damascus.
He slew beefy Turks, destroyed trains,
muttered swearwords, shared poverty, trust with the Bedouin,
proud yeomen under Feisal,
yet unsung heroes of the war they won (Arab Revolt).

Now who was he?

Why, if unsure, see footnote:
Exitus letalis on motorbike when in England.
Peter O'Toole played him in the Oscar-winning film.

Yet only now you say: T.E. Lawrence.

O, heed this one wise, savvy man!

"But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did."
(Seven Pillars of Wisdom)