October 20, 2014

Ghosts Strike, Demand Higher Pay

Ghosts around the country are joining the picket line just before Halloween as they demand more pay for their hauntings. Although ghosts technically have no employers, spokesghosts for the striking phantasms are asking for haunted house owners to give the ghosts some form of remuneration for their services and improve working conditions.

"Ghosts have to eat too, you know," says famous ghost hunter and self-proclaimed "Detective In Specter" Don Monroe. "Well, technically they don't, but they have a whole economy on the other side and ghosts need money, since as everyone knows you can't take it with you when you die."

The fed-up phantoms aren't content with just an increase in pay, however. They also want better working conditions. The ghosts complain that 90% of haunted houses are run down and falling apart. A letter from the Ghostal Union board to the Haunted Home Owners Association (HHOA) detailed a list of desired improvements, including clearing out cobwebs, fixing old rusty hinges, and making sure that any old candles left burning on the table are scented.

It's unlikely that the HHOA board will give in to the ghosts' demands. A spokeswoman for the HHOA said that ghosts get to live in haunted houses rent free and get to keep 75% of all smartphones left behind by fleeing tourists, so any further demands are excessive. She also pointed out that the ghosts are unreliable and often don't show up for work at all. When they do show up, they often move and break furniture during the night.

Until ghosts show they can be relied on to haunt responsibly, the spokeswoman says her Association is unwilling to address their demands. Ghosts, she says, will just have to "grim and bear it."

October 17, 2014

Man Develops Trick-or-Treat App

Every year on Halloween night, millions of kids flood the streets in costume, going door to door asking for candy. This year, however, some kids might be staying home and trick-or-treating not by ringing on doorbells, but by tapping the screen on their smartphone.

Kevin Edwards of Birmingham, Alabama says that he was tired of following his kids around every Halloween, so he developed a new app to let his kids gather treats right from their couch. The new app, called iTrick-or-iTreat, is sure to change the way kids spend their Halloween nights.

"I just felt like the thing about going door to door was outdated," explained Mr. Edwards. "Kids these days interact with the world differently. They shouldn't have to talk to real people face to face. They don't have those skills. So I made it possible for them to find real meaning on Halloween through digital social interactions. They can still have all the fun of Halloween while doing something more important like staying at home playing Angry Birds or watching T.V."

The new app connects to a parent's Facebook account and identifies which friends the parent wants his or her child to be able to trick-or-treat. Once the parent has set up the account, the child can click on virtual doors that open to show the friend's face. Kids then click on the friend's profile to begin the trick-or-treat interaction. A "trick-or-treat" notification is sent to the friend. After the notification is sent, a friend has one hour to upload money (the treat) to the PayPal account of the kid's parents, or a virus will be uploaded to their digital device (the trick).

"So far, it's been a real hit with my kids," said Mr. Edwards. "For some reason my friends don't seem too happy with it, especially those who ended up with the trick. I don't know why though, all the virus does make their screen look like it's been digitally toilet-papered for a little while."

October 14, 2014

Retailers Decide To Combine Halloween and Christmas Displays

Retailers across the country this year have been putting Christmas decorations out earlier than ever. This has led to a crunch in space for other seasonal decorations, but some savvy retailers have figured out a way to address the decoration difficulties.

Many stores have decided to combine their Halloween and Christmas decorations into one display. Steve's Craft Supplies, in Dearborn, Michigan, was one of the first to utilize this strategy.

Customers walking into Steve's are met with a large display of artificial Christmas trees draped not only in the usual Christmas ornaments but also in zombie masks, miniature pumpkins, and black tinsel. The whole thing is topped with a black witch's hat rather than the customary star.

"It's really been a conversation starter," said Steve, who was decked out in an ugly Christmas sweater and holding a scythe. "People have been coming in from all around the area to see the display. It's really popular. Some of the displays I decided to sell as a set, but for some reason not many people are buying the sets."

Steve said plans to have children sit on the Grim Reaper's lap to tell their Christmas wishes had to be scrapped following protests by parents, but he has left the Frankenstein mask on the life-size Santa decoration in front of his store.

October 13, 2014

Halloween Survey Says Politicians Scary, People Prefer Zombies

A recent survey of politicians across the country found that people thought politicians should not dress up for Halloween this year. According to the results, 98% of survey respondents said that politicians were scary enough as it was and so no costume was needed.

"Those politicians, man, they are scary," said Gwendolyn Ferrerra, of Washington, D.C. "We have them here year round, and most people in D.C. are scared to go out at night because they're afraid some Senator might pop out from the shadows and ask for a donation."

When asked if they would prefer a zombie or a politician to show up at their door, those surveyed overwhelmingly picked the zombie. One respondent said, "Sure, them zombies will eat my brains, but the politicians will turn my brain to mush, then ask me for money and my vote. It's inhumane. At least the zombies are honest about their intentions."

In a related development, both parties today released guidance for politicians wishing to go trick-or-treating. Included in the guidance is the recommended door greeting, guaranteed to strike fear in the heart of anyone who answers the door: "Trick or treat. I'm ___________, and I approve this message."

October 8, 2014

Santa Claus Considering Halloween Deliveries

The North Pole today confirmed reports that Santa Claus is considering adding Halloween as at toy delivery day. The move comes as children around the world were trying to get their act together to qualify for the nice list ahead of the usual Christmas Eve delivery.

"We feel that by adding an extra day to the delivery schedule, we can more effectively service new and existing customers," explained a spokeself. "After careful consideration of all possible delivery days, we determined that Halloween deliveries would be the most cost-effective evening. Santa will be able to move freely without need for the usual secrecy. Most people will just assume he is someone in costume."

The costs of Christmas Eve deliveries had been skyrocketing in recent years. Toy making sub-contractors had realized that of Santa's toy demand occurred in December so many suppliers had started a practice of raising prices every year right when Santa needed his new toy supplies.

Plus, new regulations on flying reindeer had shortened the available delivery window on Christmas Eve. Those regulations meant that Santa had to delegate some of his delivery duties so he could finish on time. In recent years he had deployed additional sleighs with elves to deliver toys to the kids on the little-known "somewhat nice, but a little bit naughty" list.

The new Halloween deliveries should help address both of those issues. The North Pole, however, did not clarify whether Santa would deliver toys to good little zombie, goblin, ghoul or witch children.

October 7, 2014

Santa Claus "Just A Guy Who Likes Dressing Up For Halloween"

Santa Claus today admitted that he never intended to become the well-known Christmas icon with a jelly-jiggling belly. Instead, he says, he was a normal guy with a costume idea for a Halloween party centuries ago.

"Some of my friends wanted to have a costume party one Halloween," Mr. Claus explained to a group of reporters last Saturday, "and I had the red suit idea. I thought I looked like a giant strawberry, but everyone else liked the look. There was one girl named Moira that really liked it. I wanted to impress her so much that I started wearing the suit year-round. Turns out, wearing a Halloween costume every day doesn't exactly impress certain people."

Mr. Claus went on to say that he moved to the North Pole to escape the ridicule from people who didn't understand how much he liked his Halloween costume. The toy deliveries came later as a suggestion from his psychiatrist while Santa was trying to deal with major depression after realizing that his only friends were elves and reindeer.

Asked whether he goes trick-or-treating on Halloween still, Mr. Claus got a twinkle in his eye and said he does on occasion go out that night, though he usually takes off the Santa suit and uses an alternate costume. This year, he said he was thinking of going as Tim Allen or Richard Attenborough, both of whom played Santa on screen. Alternately, he said, he may expand his repertoire a bit and try going as Burl Ives.

In related news, Santa also noted that his recent spat with dentists has led him to the decision that any dentist that hands out a toothbrush or dental floss on Halloween will automatically be put on the naughty list.

October 1, 2014

Santa Depressed To Realize All His Friends Are Elves

Anonymous sources say that Santa Claus has fallen into a deep depression after signing up for various social networks and realizing as he added friends that all his friends are elves and reindeer.

According to the source, Mr. Claus was heard to say "Hundreds of years of delivering toys and what does it get me? Not a single invitation to a barbecue or a tailgate party. Just a whole bunch of toy-obsessed elf friends."

Experts were surprised that Mr. Claus had not realized his social situation before now.

"Most of us had assumed that Santa had realized he only had elf friends and was using the whole toy gifting thing as a way to try to get actual human beings to like him," said Horatio Gehry, a psychologist specializing in social disorders. "We really should have seen it though. He obviously has difficulties interacting with people. I mean, look at everything he does to avoid being seen by anyone. The guy delivers his toys at night, enters houses through the chimney instead of the front door, and lives in a desolate ice kingdom at the North Pole."

Spokeselves at the North Pole did not return phone calls asking for comment.

September 25, 2014

North Pole Pulls Plans For An iPhone In Every Stocking

Present planners at the North Pole today confirmed that they have scrapped plans to provide an iPhone to every child on earth this Christmas. The plan had been hastily put in place following the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but recent controversy around the launch of the new phones has made the North Pole re-think its plans.

"We were worried the phone might bend if we put it in the stocking with a bunch of candy," explained the elf in charge of the program, referring to reports that the iPhone bends when placed in pockets. "And the whole iOS 8 update brouhaha made us realize that maybe it wasn't ready for Christmas Eve prime time quite yet. So Santa cancelled his order."

Although children around the world will likely be disappointed when they hear this latest development, Santa will not leave their stockings empty this Christmas Eve. When asked what Santa will be leaving in stockings instead of the coveted phones, the elf replied that it would likely be a combination of stale candy, socks, and an apple.

September 22, 2014

Country Singer Starts Trying To Think Of Something To Be Grateful For

There are still almost two months before Thanksgiving, but country singer Hank Gehry has already started trying to think of something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Like many Americans, Mr. Gehry gets together with his family every year at Thanksgiving to give thanks and eat an absurd amount of food. At that dinner, he is expected to name something he is grateful for before the family starts eating the dinner. This year, however, Mr. Gehry expects to have a hard time finding something to say.

Earlier this year, Mr. Gehry signed a contract with a major country music label. Soon after he signed the contract, everything started to go downhill.

"I lost my dog, my house, my truck, my wife, my guitar, my stereo, my horse, my cow, my job, my best friends, my refrigerator, my laptop, my wallet, my camcorder, my oven, my lawnmower, and a whole bunch of other stuff," said Mr. Gehry. "I mean, I knew that it was a job hazard of being a country singer, but I didn't expect it to be so thorough. Now I have lots of possible song lyrics, but not much else. I guess the lyrics that have come out of this mess are something to be grateful for."

As he finished speaking, Mr. Gehry discovered that he had somehow misplaced and lost the lyrics and music to all his songs.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Gehry called his mom to inform her he would not be attending Thanksgiving dinner until next year, when he hopes he will be able to think of something to say at the dinner. She told him not to worry too much about it, since she had lost his invitation for this year's dinner anyway.

September 18, 2014

Man Develops Natural Pre-Lit Christmas Tree

Martin Stuvesant, a scientist at Harvard University, today announced that he had developed a natural pre-lit Christmas tree.

"I hate to put up lights at Christmas, but I also love real Christmas trees, so I used all the spare time I had over the last ten years to develop this great tree," said Mr. Stuvesant, standing next to his creation.

According to Mr. Stuvesant, the tree is similar to the glow-in-the-dark sheep, pigs and fish that scientists have previously developed. Unfortunately, the tree only glows one color, but he says he will continue to work on that problem until he figures out a solution.

Early reviews suggest that although the tree looks great, when one needle falls out they all fall out and the whole tree goes dark. Mr. Stuvesant says he is aware of the issue and will include replacement needles to glue on the tree. He also says he wants to develop needles that will make the tree's natural glow blink on and off, just to "annoy the neighbors."

September 17, 2014

Santa Disappointed At "Genius Grant" Snub

Sources at the North Pole confirmed rumors that Santa Claus is very upset at being passed over this year for a MacArthur Award, commonly known as a "Genius Grant." The awards, given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, went to 21 men and women, but the jolly old man who resides in an ice kingdom at the North Pole was not among them.

An anonymous source says that Santa complained to a group of head elves about never receiving the award despite "hundreds of years of bringing joy to the children of the world."

"He does have a point," says Susan Wride, an expert in grants. "If you really want to reward 'genius', then Santa Claus should be right at the top of the list. I mean, the guy has been delivering toys to millions of children around the world every Christmas Eve for centuries. To top it off, he fits that fat body down skinny little chimneys. If that's not artistry and genius at work, I don't know what is."

When asked what Santa would do with the $625,000 stipend that comes with the grant if he were to win in the future, a spokeself at the North Pole said the money would likely be spent on upgrading the sleigh, buying more Christmas music on iTunes, and leveraging big data to create a more modern naughty/nice list.

September 15, 2014

Santa Quiet On Issue Of Scottish Independence

Does Santa support an independent Scotland? He won't say.

Reports surfaced today that both supporters and opponents of Scottish independence have requested statements of support from the North Pole ahead of the upcoming vote. However, a spokeself at the North Pole declined to answer questions regarding Santa's position on the upcoming independence referendum in Scotland.

"The North Pole is officially neutral when it comes to political matters," said the spokeself. "Whether Scotland votes yes or no to independence, Santa will continue to bring toys to the good little lads and lassies this Christmas."

When asked why Santa was recently seen wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes, the elf replied that Santa was only trying out some different Halloween costume ideas. Further, she said, Santa's newfound penchant for haggis was in response to a dentist's advice to cut down on the cookies and had absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming vote in Scotland. 

The campaign for a yes vote expressed disappointment in the news. "We are, of course, disappointed that Santa will not give his opinion. We hope he will reconsider before the vote."

The Better Together campaign also asked Santa to re-think his stated neutrality. "Santa has long enjoyed the benefits of the union," said a spokesperson. "We think that if he considers how independence might affect his operations, he will reconsider."

Both campaigns also expressed a wish for Santa Claus to put the leaders of the opposite side on the naughty list.

[Editor's note: This article has been updated to include reaction from the two campaigns.]

September 10, 2014

Dentists Say Don't Leave Out Cookies For Santa

A prominent group of dentists today advised parents across the world not to leave out plates of cookies for Santa, claiming the jolly old elf's teeth were likely full of cavities from all the sugar.

"The guy must consume hundreds of pounds of sugar every Christmas Eve," said Gregory Denton, a member of the group. "It can't be good for his teeth, to say nothing of the risk of diabetes. We just want him to take better care of his teeth by eating less sugary foods."

A spokeself at the North Pole responded by saying that Santa only eats cookies on Christmas Eve and has a very healthy diet for the rest of the year, consisting primarily of "candy canes, hot chocolate, bowls full of jelly, and copious amounts of nutella."

Calls to Santa's dentist were not returned and a sign on the office window advised that the dentist was out on a candy break.

September 8, 2014

Santa Claus Files Suit Against United States

Spokeselves at the North Pole today announced that Santa Claus has filed a suit against the United States claiming that the United States illegally tracks his movements every Christmas Eve.

"Every Christmas Eve, the United States maliciously and without a warrant uses its NORAD systems to track Mr. Claus during his Christmas Eve flight," explained the elf. "This is an egregious violation of his privacy rights. We are requesting the courts to put an end to this outrageous practice."

The top spokesman for NORAD, Tim O'Reilly, responded to the allegations by pointing out that Mr. Claus is not a citizen of the United States. "He invades our airspace annually with impunity. We would gladly stop monitoring him if he goes through proper channels to obtain a visa and file a flight plan prior to his Christmas Eve delivery, but despite repeated attempts to make him get the visa, he continues to fly through our airspace and land on roofs around the country without clearance."

Experts in Christmas law are divided on whether Mr. Claus should be required to obtain clearance from the United States. While some claim that Mr. Claus should be subject to the laws of the countries he delivers to, others say that North Pole law supersedes national laws. North Pole law states that Mr. Claus shall have full access to the residences of all good boys and girls so that he may fulfill his toy delivery duties without hindrance from national authorities.

August 28, 2014

Man Annoys Co-Workers By Singing Christmas Songs All Year

Co-workers of Mr. Colin Versey of San Francisco, California today filed a complaint with the state Labor Board claiming inhospitable working conditions due to "constant singing and humming of Christmas songs no matter the time of year."

Mr. Versey, they claim, starts singing Christmas songs as he walks into work and never stops until he walks out the door. Even then, they aren't sure he stops.

"It's incredibly annoying," griped Susan Wozniak, who works in the cubicle next to Mr. Versey. "He never stops. Even during meetings, he keeps humming under his breath. Have you ever tried to discuss your team's KPI's when someone is humming 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town'? It's not possible."

"I should have figured he'd be trouble when he came to the interview wearing an ugly Christmas sweater with blinking lights," said Harvey Dasani, Mr. Versey's boss. "It was the middle of summer, for goodness sake. I thought the way he answered all my questions using Christmas songs was a clever gimmick. How could I have known he'd never stop?" 

Mr. Versey says he was not aware he was singing the songs. "I'm just a jolly fellow who likes Christmas. I didn't even realize I was singing. I don't see what all the fuss is about though. I think 'Silver and Gold' goes great with a meeting about our latest financial analysis."

When asked why the company doesn't just fire their singing employee, Mr. Dasani said that Mr. Versey has claimed that "holiday cheer" is a protected status under California anti-discrimination laws. So out of an abundance of caution they were referring the matter to the Labor Board.

Although Mr. Versey's co-workers hope the Labor Board will allow Mr. Versey's company to fire him, most experts expect the Board to reject the complaint on the basis that they do not wish to be placed on the naughty list.

August 26, 2014

Survey Shows Lazy Labor Day For Most People

A new survey shows that 94% of Americans have little to no intention of performing any labor on Labor Day.

The survey, performed by the Work and Play Foundation of American, also asked respondents what they intended to do on Labor Day. 53% responded that they were looking forward to sitting in traffic on the way to visit relatives they didn't really want to visit, 34% responded that they intended to watch reality shows all day hoping to find some meaning in it all, and 7% said they were planning on starting a project at home that they would likely never finish.

"Our survey shows that most people think of Labor Day as a day when nothing of value is produced for the human race," explained Neville Trehume, the man who designed the survey.

In related news, the Travel Channel today announced that on Labor Day it will produce a new reality show titled "Travel With The Kardashians." Mr. Trehume pointed to that news as support for his assertion.

August 21, 2014

Mothers Group Plans Labor Day Protests

The International Mothers of Mercy (iMom) announced today that they will be protesting on the upcoming Labor Day holiday around the United States. The leader of the group, Veronica Hispus, expressed confidence that the protests would be peaceful and that none of the protesters would have to be sent to their room for misbehavior.

"We feel like Labor Day ought to celebrate the pain we put our bodies through in labor, not some nameless worker who really only wants the day off so he can go fishing," explained Ms. Hispus. "Labor is serious work, and mothers ought to be recognized for that work."

When one reporter pointed out that there is already a day to recognize mothers (Mother's Day), Ms. Hispus told him to change his attitude before she counted to four or he would not get any of the refreshments that had been planned for after the news conference.

The spokesman for the Labor Day Foundation responded to the news by encouraging mothers to unionize. Only then, he asserted, will mothers find adequate compensation for and protection against the dangerous conditions they must endure during their careers in motherhood.