We may be on the third night of Hanukkah, but for Lemony Snicket, our guest advice columnist this holiday season, the "oil" has now "run out." It's been only a mild irritant to cede our space to him every Tuesday in December, and we've been pleased to see so many questions submitted in the spirit of the season and of Snicketry. Whether your gift-giving deadline is December 25 or the eighth day of the more ancient winter holiday, we urge you to consider Mr. Snicket's recent picture-book collaboration with Brett Helquist, The Lump of Coal (aren't there many people on your list you've long wanted to give such a thing to?), or his previous heartwarming holiday tale, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, or, yes, those thirteen deliciously miserable stories that first brought him to our attention, the Series of Unfortunate Events.
Thanks to Mr. Snicket and his various intrepid intermediaries for their help in bringing his wisdom to us all month, and to our Omni readers for asking the questions we've all had on our minds. Unhappy holidays to you all.
Dear Mr. Snicket: Is it really a wonderful life?
With all due respect,
Dear Michael: There are only two novels by the name of It I can name offhand. One is by the British novelist Elinor Glyn, and it describes various decadent goings-on in the aristocracy, particularly an unbridled sexuality fueled by bohemian philosophy and jazz. The other is by Stephen King, and if memory serves is about a killer clown. In my opinion, one of these Its is a wonderful life and the other is not.
Dear Mr. Snicket: Having written so much about beautiful young women in misfortune, I hope you can help me. For the past few months, my life and job have become a nightmare. Strange people with cameras and microphones have started following me everywhere. When I was considered for a promotion, people accused me of wanting to murder my colleague. And on a family outing to a turkey farm, a lovely photograph of me was spoiled by a turkey being slaughtered in the background. Life under these circumstances has become unbearable. What shall I do, Lemony Snicket?
With all due respect,
--Sarah from Alaska
Dear Sarah: Though we do not always receive the fates we deserve, it never hurts to examine one’s recent actions to see if we have received our just deserts, a phrase which here means "circumstances which are the direct consequences of our actions." Have you announced yourself as a capable, qualified candidate for this promotion you are seeking, only to have revealed yourself to be so inarticulate that others suspect you of utter dimwittedness? Have you dishonestly insinuated terrible things about other candidates for the job? Have you attached yourself to individuals and organizations who proclaim honesty and integrity but have revealed themselves, in recent history, to be contemptuous of the very principles they espouse, leading to a flagrant disregard for one's fellow man and woman? If so, change your life. If not, move away from Alaska. You may be mistaken for someone who ought to change their life.
Dear Mr. Snicket: Did the Baudelaire parents have a recipe for eggnog?
Dear Anonymous: Indeed they did, and it is a recipe I follow every winter:
One dozen eggs
Milk or heavy cream
Cognac or brandy
A loaf of good bread
First, determine who in your party is not qualified to drink alcohol, such as people operating heavy machinery and/or children. For everyone else, place one sugar cube in each cocktail glass, and then pour two parts cognac with one part Cointreau and the juice of one Meyer lemon into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and pour into the cocktail glasses. Garnish with slice of Meyer lemon and serve. These are brandy sidecars, and they are delicious, particularly in the later sips, when the sugar cubes have dissolved.
In the morning, some of your guests may feel a bit groggy, and you may revive them by mixing the eggs, cream, and cinnamon in a large bowl, in which you soak the loaf of bread, cut into thick slices. Fry this bread in small batches and serve. This is French toast, and this is also delicious.
People may ask you where the eggnog is. Tell them never mind, because eggnog is atrocious.
Dear Mr. Snicket: I am a recent college graduate, and sadly I am not working in my chosen career. As an Anthropology Major there are many things I can do, such as dig up really old pots, piece together the human skeleton, work with animals, and study various cultures around the globe. I have also worked on the College newspaper, and Children's Museum, and a Pizza Parlor.
What would you suggest that I do in general, since I have no idea. What should I do to get employed, which skills are most important?
Are you looking to hire in the near future, I know the job would bring much unpleasantness, but I feel that I am a good candidate, since I have experienced much hardships while doing archaeology, such as mosquitos, scorpions, rain, heat, cold showers, and killer bees.
Dear Queequeg: I suggest a career as an advice columnist. My research indicates that virtually no skill whatsoever is required.