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Pigdog Journal Second Annual Christmas Essay Contest WINNER

by Lenny Tuberose

1999-12-25 10:55:10

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 essay?

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 Honorable Mentions.

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' Lab


"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 intense.

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. "French fries?"

"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 himself..."

"But why?"

"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 the 'incident'.

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 cerebrospinal fluid.

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 this tank?"

"Well, I..."

"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 Mountain Laboratory."

"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 got?"

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.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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