Don we now our gay apparel
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

The Santa hat is atop The Cooler today. Yes, the Santa hat. The surefire, never-let-you-down, party-symbol of December -- the Santa hat.

Frankfurt airport employees
It seems as if everyone's wearing a Santa hat lately.
The Santa hat can take many forms, most of them positive. Granted, there are times the Santa hat should not be worn. It can be worn by your mailman, at which point you think: Man, that's sad. My mailman is wearing a Santa hat.

It can be worn by the United Airlines gatekeeper at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix this weekend, at which point you think: Man, that's sad. The woman who just checked my ID is wearing a Santa hat, working under the fluorescents for a bankrupt airline. And getting no love for the Santa hat.

Or, you can roll into your favorite local tavern on a chilly December night -- say, for example, Shanghai Kelly's on Polk and Broadway in San Francisco -- and your friendly local bar owners Mark or Steve can be wearing a Santa hat. At this point, the Santa hat takes on new dimensions. It becomes the Santa Party Hat.

Sometimes, in December, a cat in a Santa hat can be a very, very good thing. It can boomerang like few other hats. You remember the Boomerang Theory of Comedy: Work a mediocre bit. Continue to work it. Work it until it is no longer funny. Work it some more. Eventually, it returns to funny, perhaps even funnier than it originally was.

The Boomerang.

So the Santa hat, in party mode, sits atop The Cooler today, dwellers. It sits atop a Cooler filled, naturally, with egg nog. That same egg nog is, continuing Cooler tradition, spiked harder than a shortstop covering a Ty Cobb stolen base attempt.

It's time to be festive. It's time to gather 'round The Cooler, and put TBS's perfect reruns of "A Christmas Story" on TiVo pause (don't miss the Leg Lamp scene; or the tender giving of the BB-Gun on Christmas morn).

We have wrapped presents under the Cooler. Gifts from Cooler Nation to the sports world we so dearly treasure, so much so that we would risk Mall Parking Lot Meltdowns to buy the perfect gift for our favorite sports heroes of the past year.

What is this we have here, under the Cooler Tree? It says: "To T.O.; From: The Dwellers." Shake it. What is it? Let's open it up ...

Terrell Owens
Terrell Owens can cheer on the Mean Machine with his new outfit.
Ohhhh! Isn't that cute? A cheerleading outfit, skirt and pompons included, for Terrell Owens! Special bonus: An exact replica of the cheerleading outfit worn by the gender-bending boys of Cellblock C, who so poignantly sang "Born Free," while Crewe led the convicts to victory over the guards. Enjoy, T.O.!

Let's see. What else do we have here? Oh, wait. We have two gift-wrapped packages of the same size, one addressed "To the Series champs, the Anaheim Angels"; the other addressed "To the NL Champs, the San Francisco Giants." Let's open 'em up ...

Ohhhh! How nice! A DVD of the 2002 World Series, with voice-over narrations from Charlie Sheen for Angels highlights, and Darren Baker for Giants highlights! Wait. A closer look reveals a quirk: The Angels DVD is entitled: "World Series 2002, 7 Games of Glory." And the Giants' DVD is entitled: "World Series 2002, 5 Games and 7 Innings of Glory." How thoughtful.

What else do we have? Ooooh. This seems an elaborate package. It is addressed to "R. Moss, Minnesota." Hmmm. Let's open her up ...

Wow! How pretty! A 3-foot, glass-blown, hand-painted water tobacco pipe! Some would call it a bong, but we're not here to quibble about semantics. Nice gift, Randy. Hey, don't make too big a fuss. Remember: The Cooler's home is in the Haight-Ashbury, and water-tobacco pipes -- some would call them bongs -- are as common as a guitar-playing, street-dwelling homeless teenager. No worries!

Patrick Hayashi
Patrick Hayashi can actually do some good with his half of the Bonds home run ball.
OK. What else under The Cooler today? Hmmm. Interesting. A pair of small boxes addressed to Alexander Popov and Patrick Hayashi, the dueling parties in the Barry Bonds 73rd Home Run Ball trial. I wonder who gets the lucky ball? Let's open 'em up ...

Oh! Hard cheese! Both boxes are empty! But wait: Both boxes contain a note. Let's read it. "Dear Al and Pat: We have taken the 73rd Home Run Ball, and auctioned it off. It fetched $4 million, topping Mark McGwire's $3 mil for No. 70. So what are we doing with the cash? Giving it to you? Think again, chumps. The proceeds have been donated to the restoration of Little League and high school baseball diamonds all over this great land. Upkeep, sprinklers, better grass. Deal with it. The game will benefit. You will not. End of story. Oh, and Merry Christmas, boys!

There's one present left. Let's see ... Oh! How convenient. It is addressed: "To All Cooler Dwellers; From: Murph." What could I have gotten you fine, few readers?

Well, of course. Brand-new TiVos for everyone! Now, all dwellers can hit "Season Pass" on HBO's "Inside the NFL." Now all dwellers can hit "Season Pass" on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Now all dwellers can pull the trick pulled by my guy Boneman, and record a sporting event, then switch over to a porn movie, so that the TiVo menu always shows that porn movie as a sporting event on the main screen! Confused? You won't be, as soon as you learn the nuances. Plus, you can pause live TV, and rewind that Bud Light ad where the guy does a pretty damn funny blood-curdling scream when the fridge is out of Bud Light. You know the ad. Come on.

Well! That was a damn fine Cooler Christmas, and took up so much Page 2 space that we'll have to give an Abridged Version of the Weekend List of Five, with best holiday wishes to all:

1. Immediate NFL reaction from Sunday
Aaron Brooks, Justin Smith
Aaron Brooks fumbles and New Orleans stumbles in the playoff race.
New Orleans Saints -- the tribe has spoken. Please extinguish your flame.

Parity is one thing. Losing to the Cincinnati Freaking Bengals is another.

No, wait. Parity is one thing. Losing to the Cincinnati Freaking Bengals -- when you are in a playoff chase -- is an entirely 'nother thing.

What should the Saints do? Disband? Waive all 53 players, and sign 53 new ones from the Bayou Flag Football League? Do like my old high school basketball coach and make them all run "suicides" until they all puke?

Or just let them spend all day Monday staring at game film fixated on the final score: Cincinnati 20, New Orleans 13?

That seems punitive enough, doesn't it?

2. College hoops: Heating up
Gene Keady
Comb sweet comb: Purdue coach Gene Keady does the 'do.
The Cooler loves college basketball, even in this era of preps-turned-pros. Still, give us the packed college arena, give us the match-up zone, give us the game of basketball we can recognize ... give us Gene Keady's Combover.

Yes, that's right. Gene Keady's Combover.

Keady's Combover has been a legitimate source of hilarity/amazement for nearly two decades now. But it seems we have smashed a new barrier this year. It's damn near 2003, and Keady is working the Combover to new heights -- or should we say, lows. The part is damn near the nape of his neck now, and all you can do is stand back in amazement. God bless The Combover. Any man that has the stones, each morning, to reach back behind his head with a comb, and finely shape a part line near the base of his skull -- well, hell, that guy deserves a Final Four berth, in my mind.

3. More NFL reactions
Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson grants Randy Moss his wish.
Gary Anderson kicked a 53-yard field goal to beat Miami this weekend. Gary Anderson. From South Africa. Who is, like, 60 years old. Who wears the Gazoo Helmet. Kicked a 53-yarder for the win, then leapt into the arms of Randy Moss in celebration. Gary Anderson leaping into the arms of Randy Moss was one of those moments of cultural hilarity along the lines of James Woods hosting the NASCAR awards ceremony in New York. Which, by the way, really happened.

And Gary Anderson is an NFL player? You see that guy cut in front of you at an airport and you have no problem giving him the overt shoulder-bump as you squeeze in front of him. What's he going to do? Kick you?

Kickers, man. Hell of a deal.

4. More college hoops
Mike Davis
Indiana's Bracey Wright holds back official Bert Smith as coach Mike Davis erupts.
So, is Indiana coach Mike Davis feeling like a Big-Time Turd in the Punch Bowl, or what? Guy gets hired as the anti-Knight, then has a meltdown against Kentucky that made Bobby Knight look like Gandhi on Quaaludes, with a chaser of NyQuil. You had to think that Davis' freak job spoke to something else going on in his life: Maybe a bogus speeding ticket on his way to the game. Maybe a hassle from the IRS. Maybe he couldn't find that perfect gift for that special someone, and it all spilled over to that moment when he felt his player was fouled, and decided to do the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on the hardwood.

But, hey: Look on the bright side. The congratulatory telegram from B. Knight should arrive from Lubbock any day now!

On another NCAA hoops topic, I read where Luke Walton got his diploma this month from the University of Arizona. This continues a series of depressing news items as regards Luke Walton and Arizona. The Player Who Should be a Bruin now has no homework to worry about? He can now concentrate on honing his pure and beautiful skills to an even finer point, while the UCLA program -- missing a Walton -- languishes in total shame?

Let me pause, while I hang my head in pain.

5. This deserves its own item, no matter how base and immature the topic
Peeking Santa
Everybody wanted a look at the Cardinals cheerleaders Sunday.
Covered the 49ers-Cards game at Sun Devil Stadium this weekend. Couldn't have cared less about the game: the lousy environment, the meaningless outcome, the general existential nothingness of the scene -- until the Cards cheerleaders appeared.

In Santa outfits.

OK. I'm serious. Smoking hot babes -- in Santa outfits. Nearly melted my binocs. I swear, I never thought anything would top the French Maid on the Pure Lascivity Scale, but the Santa Outfit is a serious player.

Then, got home Sunday. On TV, saw the Colts Cheerleaders in the same outfits, only hotter. And in the afternoon game, the Raiderettes went with their usual outfits, only topped with Santa hats.

At that point, it was time for a cold shower. A very, very cold shower.

NFL cheerleaders in Santa outfits: Dwellers, I cannot leave you with a finer gift. Except, of course, TiVo.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.



Brian Murphy Archive

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Murphy: Air force won

Murphy: Whoa, Nellie!

Murphy: Learning to be a hater

Murphy: The Cooler's terrible twos

Murphy: Getting personal

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