The results are in! Pigdog Journal's expert array of AI software
essay-judging programs have returned a result -- and what a result it is!
We had a record number of Christmas essay submissions this year. The AI
essay-reading 'bots were smoking and grinding all through the night. I was a
little worried that perhaps we would not be able to determine a winner by
Christmas Day. What would all the hopeful children think then!? Could we live
with ourselves by denying the young ones of the world the joy of a Christmas
Never to fear! At 04:08 hundred hours this morning, Christmas Day, the foreman
of the elite AI jury stepped forward (virtually) and gave the panel's qualified
answer. Lenny Tuberose, prize-winning author of last year's Pigdog Journal Christmas Essay, has scooped up
the Christmas accolades once again with a touching and subtly nuanced story
about what it really means to freeze heads on Christmas. Congratulations, Lenny!
You reign supreme!
HOWEVER, the expert systems demanded that we publish several other submissions
of similar high quality. So we'll be putting out numerous other articles over
the next few days, featuring the essays of the Second Prize Winner and several
Now I have the honor of presenting you this year's touching holiday tale,
destined to become a classic for the whole family,
A Cryogenicist's First Christmas at the Head Freezin'
"Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?"
I remember my first Christmas at the cryonics lab. As it turns out, I would
never have been there in the first place if it hadn't been for Christmas. I
usually work in cryogenics--you know, freezing frogs and hamsters and stuff.
Real science. But my post-doc was up and I needed the money, so when the guys
showed up and recruited me I couldn't say no. They were kind of mysterious
about the whole thing, but the price was right. They insisted that I had to
start that day, which was weird, but those head-freezing guys are pretty
In the car, on the way to the facility, they explained that they needed my help
with a special project, and it was an emergency. That was all they would say,
and they were pretty spooky guys, so I let it ride. Cryonics guys play with
frozen human heads all day, and I feared for what that might do to man.
One we arrived at the facility, I was given a white coat and hustled through
several sets of security doors to a secure laboratory in the sub-basement.
There I met and very intense guy who called himself Rudy.
Rudy shook my hand--it was like holding a dead halibut. "Glad to have you
aboard Dr. Maxwell. Were you briefed on our little problem?"
"Ah, no, not really."
"Oh. Well, have a look for yourself," he said, waving me over towards a large
cooler on the bench.
I opened it. It was full of bags of McCaines French Fries. Crinkly Cut.
"Under the french fries, Dr. Maxwell."
I shifted the bags and found a frozen human head. "Why is this head packed in
french fries?" It seemed like a reasonable question.
"Ah. Well, you see, that head was found on an iceflow in the far north of
Canada. Their cryonics technology is somewhat behind ours."
"No shit. Well, what exactly do you want me to do with this head? I mean this
guy is dead."
"We intend to revive the head. It was frozen solid on the ice almost
immediately after the accident. We need you to defrost it for us without
killing the brain. We have no experience with tissue frozen without
preparation. If you can thaw the head without killing the brain, then we think
we can keep the head alive and revive him."
Yeah right. "What's so important about this guy?"
Rudy looked a little embarrassed. "The orders come from the President
"Take a closer look Dr. Maxwell. The white hair, the flowing white beard, the
red hat trimmed with white fur...would it help if I told you he was found in the
wreckage of a large, red sleigh?"
"You don't mean...?"
"Yes, Dr. Maxwell. That is the head of Santa Claus. He was decapitated in the
accident. You can see now why it is vital that we don't let him die."
So we went to work. I can't tell you exactly how, because there is a patent
pending, but our team managed to thaw that head without killing the brain and to
keep it alive in a tank of artificial cerebrospinal fluid. We hooked up his
cranial nerves X to a computer with a voice synthesizer and waited to see if
Santa would speak to us--if he was still there. He was pretty incoherent, but
he was still there. We got a lot of "Ho ho ho"s and cussing out he reindeer and
stuff--sort like Santa on 'ludes. Once he became very lucid long enough to tell
an absolutely filthy joke about elves. Things were looking pretty good until
I arrived at the lab one morning and found Santa's brain in a deep coma. The
lab was in an uproar. We discovered that one of the technicians had
accidentally filled the reservoir with ethanol instead of the synthetic
Rudy seized the technician by the lapels. "How could you mistake ethanol for
the synthetic cerebrospinal fluid?"
The technician took a step back. "Well, they look the same don't they?"
Rudy took a closer look at the tank. "Is that an orange floating around in
there?" he demanded. "And that looks like watermelon. Why is there fruit in
"And is that a little paper umbrella?" Rudy looked the technician straight in
the eye. "This is punch, isn't it? ISN'T IT?"
"Well, we had the Christmas party last night and..."
"Can I fire you?" Rudy interrupted.
The technician smiled. "Wanna see my union card?"
Rudy's shoulders slumped in defeat. "What am I going to do? The brain is
damaged! It's going to die. Santa is going to die. This union dogfuck has
killed Santa and I can't even fire him for it! Fuck." Then he stopped and
turned to me and he said, "We're going to have to take this to the Spock
"What the hell is the Spock Mountain Laboratory?"
"It's a top, top secret facility--even the President doesn't know about it."
"Well then how do you know about it?" I asked.
"I heard about it on Art Bell's show. They have built a huge supercomputer that
the call 'Deep Brew'. It uses some sort of bubble memory or something. The
rumour is that they have been experimenting with uploading the memories and
personality of a person into a computer, although I also heard they use the
computer mostly to pick winning lottery numbers and optimize their process for
brewing hyper-whisky and surfing the net for pornography. If we can get them to
upload Santa's brain pattern and memories into 'Deep Brew' then Santa will live
on, even if the damaged brain dies! It's a long shot, but what else have we
Santa's brain had flickered back to consciousness and began hurling obscenities
and calling itself "Johnny Buzzkill'. By the time we had it packed for travel,
the brain was unconscious again.
So that's what we did. We took that damaged brain to Spock Mountain, and they
uploaded Santa into 'Deep Brew'. There was some permanent damage--Santa still
frequently hurls obscenities and still refers to himself as 'Johnny Buzzkill'
from time to time, but he is alive. Santa is alive, and with the new support
and distribution system that is controlled by Deep Brew, Christmas has been
saved and everyone will still get their presents every Christmas. But because
of the damage done to Santa's brain before it was uploaded, everyone now gets
exactly the same thing, and it's the same thing every year: hardcore Danish
pornography and Guinness.