Christmas Newsletter 2017

Ho, ho, ho,

This year, Christmas creep has been especially relentless, so I got started on my letter sooner than usual. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, Christmas creep is not a handsy elf who drives a windowless van. Rather, it’s the disturbing tendency for people to start celebrating and decorating earlier and earlier each year. As well as radio stations playing Christmas music right after the Fourth of July.

I have been at war with this concept since 2012. Most of my friends have added this to my laundry list of endearing idiosyncrasies (e.g., my compulsive recycling, irrational fear of mimes, and my refusal to embrace Steve Parry’s replacement in Journey).

Anyway, I was watching the news this weekend, and a story about a “rescue rooster” (I guess that’s a thing?) that was badly maimed. Rather than eat it for Thanksgiving like most of us in the South would do, they got it a special wheelchair from Australia and it is now learning to walk again.

Seeing that chicken learning to walk like it had just recovered from polio was all I needed to shift me from my anti-Christmas creep mood to fully embracing the Christmas spirit. All is well in the Pressley household. I did notice that Dylan took out a larger life insurance policy on me after our trip to San Francisco last month, though I think that was more so from listening to me complain about our 3/4-mile hike to lunch up the world’s steepest hill. I called an Uber to pick me up half way through, but not before inventing several new combinations of swear words.

Dylan and I have both taken on new and exciting-ish opportunities since our last letter, though both of us have jobs that are too boring to write about other than to say we are gainfully employed.

I’m also pleased to report that our creepy neighbor—the one whose apartment frequently sounded like she was skinning a despondent pterodactyl with a chainsaw—finally moved away. This was a relief for me as she kept her Christmas lights out on her balcony year-round, which caused my anxiety to flare up like Mount St. Helens.

Speaking of Christmas decorations, many of you may recall Treegate 2016, in which it took me over a week—and several cups of cheer liters of 80-proof incentive—to get our tree decorated. We are on a much better track this year, and I fully expect all decorations to be up by the end of the day.

To that end, I’ve decided to offer some helpful holiday suggestions:

  • For those of you with incorrigible children/grandchildren, keep a few empty boxes wrapped under the tree. When they misbehave, throw one into the fireplace.
  • If your neighbor still has their decorations up after January 1, consider calling the HOA before you go after the decorations with hedge clippers. Many states consider this a community service crime
  • Adding valium to a bowl of egg nog can put everyone in a better mood, if not getting your warring in-laws to stop discussing politics and take an unexpected nap on the porch.
  • Carolers are typically reluctant to sing ABBA on demand.

As always, we wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and a prosperous new year.

Warm regards (no, really: it’s like 80 degrees outside),

Ty & Dylan Pressley

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Christmas Newsletter 2015


Friends and family:

As many of you know (or may have personally experienced/suffered), I am terrible with cards. From the birthday card that I carelessly selected from the “With Sympathy” section, to the time I sent out several dozen Christmas cards without postage—some of which were delivered C.O.D.—I’ve just never really nailed down the art. I once brought an “It’s a Boy!” card to a wedding shower. I mean, the baby was due two weeks from the wedding—it seemed like a two-for-one kind of thing.

For the last several years, I’ve opted for a holiday email instead. It’s not as personal (Aunt Karen personally signs every one of her cards), but you wouldn’t be able to read my handwriting anyway. The other day, Dylan wrote a lovely note on the chalkboard in our kitchen, and I wrote back, “I love you!” …and then signed my name so he wouldn’t think a serial killer broke in and replied with a threatening message. If the school could have held me back for handwriting, I’d still be in 3rdgrade.

I’ve exhausted most of my great Christmas anecdotes over the last few years, so I’ve been delaying writing this year’s email—that is, until inspiration struck yesterday. I was standing in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, and I stopped to stare out the kitchen window at the unexpected snow fall. It reminded me of a time a few years ago when I was in 4th grade.

My mother had hosted a lovely dinner at our home, and when the guests departed, we were left with several years’ worth of Amway cleaning products. If you remember Amway, or have ever been victim to a similar party, you know that they all have generic labels that look nothing like the popular brands sold at the store. With that said, I’d like to preface this sentence with, “so it’s no surprise,” but my mother would hit reply to all and insist that it was, indeed a surprise, that when I came home from school to do the dishes, instead of dishwasher detergent, I added a heaping scoop of generically-labeled tile grout to the dishwasher and turned on the super cycle with nearly every dish in the house crammed in to the dishwasher. We didn’t subscribe to the idea that dishes could be broken down into more than one cycle, and to this day, that tradition remains the same.

It didn’t take long before it was clear that something had gone horribly wrong. The dishwasher started smoking like a rebellious teenager, and it sounded like a small sandstorm had grown into a drive by shooting inside the dishwasher. Realizing that my afternoon was about to be irreconcilably ruined, I threw on a sweater and made my way for the door. My mother, sensing that I could conceivably go several weeks on the couches of friends to avoid doing a load of dishes by hand, condemned me to the kitchen until the dishes were cleaned.

As it began to snow outside, I found myself tethered indoors, scraping hardened chunks of cement off of coffee mugs that said counterintuitive things like, “My Child is an Honor Roll Student.” In my urgency to get outside and build a snow replica of Ann Richards, I took to breaking the dishes that seemed too tedious to clean or too far gone to save. Seriously, you use a gravy boat twice a year. The colander? It had holes in it… how useful could it be? I don’t think we had glass cups in the house again until after I went off to college.

Anyway, back to yesterday: as I watched the oddly shaped snow fall onto the tarp draped curiously over the bushes outside my window—thinking about how I was still too afraid to use the Heated Dry setting—it occurred to me that what I was actually witnessing were clumps of sheetrock falling from my upstairs neighbor’s window as they replaced a rotting wall panel. And that’s really what New Years is all about, isn’t it?  …Okay, maybe I stretched that metaphor into a hernia.

What I was trying to suggest here is that—notwithstanding my unorthodox, decidedly un-Hallmark way of saying it—is that, this holiday season, I wish each of you a vault of cherished old memories, and opportunities to make many more (which you can also let fester in that same vault for 20+ years before reliving them in an email you send to everyone you know)… and a happy new year!

Love and several cups of holiday cheer,

Ty & Dylan Pressley

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Ty and the Amazon Free Towel Conspiracy

For fuck’s sake,

There was never any chance that Amazon wouldn’t fuck this up.

I ordered a set of towels last week, and on Friday, I received notification that they had arrived. I’ve ordered these same towels before, so I was surprised when the shipping confirmation said the package was left in my mailbox. There’s no way anything aside from a handful of bills and the occasional threatening letter could fit in my mailbox. And sure enough, they weren’t there.

When I called Amazon, the sales rep was apologetic, and agreed that my mailbox was not large enough for oversized Egyptian cotton towels AND hate mail. They immediately agreed to replace the order at no cost. The next day, I had two packages waiting for me on my doorstep. It turned out that the original package had been delivered to the office—not the mailbox—and the replacement package was delivered to my doorstep.

I don’t know why, but I felt guilty. I pictured a starving family somewhere in Darfur or Vermont, sewing my luxury towels by candlelight, supporting themselves with the small profit margin afforded to them by Amazon. I’d already opened the boxes, and I wasn’t willing to inconvenience myself with a return, but at the very least I thought I could pay for the extra order.

Ty: “I called earlier this week and said that I didn’t receive my order. You shipped a replacement, and the original showed up. I’d like to pay for the free replacement.”

Operator: “My name is Syem. What was the order number?”

Ty: “Hold on, let me just check the tattoo on my arm I got to commemorate that. I don’t know it. It was the most recent order.”

Syem: “And you want to order another replacement?”

Ty: “No. Where did you—no. I want to pay for the replacement because I found the original.”

Syem: “Unfortunately, we are now out of stock for the item you ordered so I could not take a payment for that item.”

Ty: “But I already have it. I don’t need it to be in stock. It’s here.”

Syem: “Yes, I understand completely. But the item is out of stock.”

Ty: “Probably because you keep sending out free ones?”

Syem: “What is it that I can help you with?”

Ty: “I got an extra set of towels. And I want to pay for them.”

Syem: “You could return them?”

Ty: “Well, if these are the last in the collection, I’d prefer to keep them. Maybe they’ll be a collector’s item.”

It goes on. And on. At one point, I offered to return them if they would agree to ship them right back to me. It was genuinely an empty gesture. He was insistent that I would be credited the amount for the original price if I did that, and that I’d probably never see them again. I couldn’t live with that.

Clearly sensing my dissatisfaction, the offered a courtesy credit to my account.

Ty: “You want to pay me to make up for the fact that I can’t pay you for something you didn’t mean to give me to begin with?”

Syem: “I am having a hard time hearing you…”

Ty: “That’s because my electric wine bottle opener is a bit loud. Listen, just make a note on my account that I tried to pay for the towels and you wouldn’t let me.”

The call dropped. I’m throwing in the towel on this one. I was frustrated almost to the point of tears, but really, the Egyptian cotton was like an instant healing sensation to my face. As was the wine.

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A different kind of wedding announcement…

Friends and family,

It is my pleasure to share that Dylan Malone and I will be getting married on February 28th.

By now, you’re thinking, “Couldn’t he just have sent a postcard?” The truth is: no. I’m too long winded. Also, my 1936 book of etiquette is very vague on how to announce a planned eloping. (And the chapter entitled “Tips for a Gay Wedding,” is decidedly not what I thought it was going to be about at all.)

Initially, we planned to get married March 14th. I had carefully planned an announcement that started with something to the affect of, “While many of you will be leaf-peeping over the weekend, Dylan and I will be getting hitched…”

Of course, since we moved the date to the end of February, many of you will be sitting next to your fireplaces instead. See, that two week shift really completely changed the tone.

Each rewrite of the announcement reflected a growing anxiety of, “Oh, my God, every one I know is going to be there. Dear God, they’re going to need to eat! We’ll need crowd control. And alcohol…”

Inevitably, I would open a bottle of Cabernet and imagine how my perfect day would be crowned with porta potties lining the aisles of the stadium we’d have to rent for the thousands of family members that would attend. When the reverend asked if anyone knew of any reason why we shouldn’t be wed, the fire marshall would burst in the door and declare we were over the occupancy limit. The family would adjourn to the dining area, where I’d be too panic stricken to eat from the $60-a-plate meals that everyone I had ever met was going to be eating. The night would end with me getting a bill that made Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding look cheap by comparison. Christmas time would come, and my newsletter would begin with, “The doctors say I should be able to leave the sanitarium by Spring…”

So we decided to elope.

Since we are eloping, it’s going to be a courthouse type thing. Our parents will be there and everyone is welcome to attend, but we are departing for our honeymoon shortly after and—really—the court clerk already firmly declined my request for a group singalong of, “I Say A Little Prayer for You,” so truly: you won’t be missing anything.

We do have a wedding registry, although the only thing either of us can’t live without is oxygen each other. 🙂


Ty & Dylan


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Mixups, Mayhem, and a Gangbang

The country club at the end of the trailer park

The first thing I noticed when we got to the country club was the tragic music selection. It was a bi-polar imbalance of elegant Christmas standards meeting an uncertain mix of trashy camp music. You’d hear Silent Night, and then two rounds of songs about overdosing at Christmas set to a piano riff that promised suicide would be swift if you couldn’t stand the song anymore.

The family had opted for an outdoor wedding. At night. Now, in their defense, it was a charming, beautiful set up. Ninety percent chance of rain be damned, it was gorgeous. We explained well in advance that wedding ceremonies at night were a challenge because of the lighting.

Terms like, “Absolutely no refunds,” were used in explaining that we might not be able to get great shots of insignificant moments like their first kiss, or the look on the groom’s face when the bride appears. In case you’re wondering, I had a great angle for that photo and I assure you he looked like an anonymous witness on the news that had been blacked out to protect their identity.

It’s okay, though. I did get some fantastic photos.

Such as the bride’s shoes. She was forty-three months pregnant, so she opted for comfort over fashion. And honestly, that was the best choice. Actually, I think she was probably just in her fourth trimester. For years after their child is born, people will ask what month he was born in and immediately start counting backward.

100% chance of rain

I got several great photos of the bride emerging. That’s probably not the best word. Oh, well. As the country club doors opened—with Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer playing in the background—the bride emerged out onto the patio and it immediately began pouring rain.

Try as I might, I’m pretty sadistic when it comes to memorializing this kind of thing as a photographer. I immediately started photographing their guests—their closest friends and family—fleeing the damn scene like they were being chased by a tyrannosaurus.

When it finally did stop pouring, and guests were reasonably certain we had a few minutes before the real storm started, the event manager for the country club brought out ONE TOWEL. Like one towel to fifty chairs was a reasonable ratio. I pulled Dylan aside and thanked him again for agreeing to a justice of the peace ceremony for our own big day.

I asked the DJ if he could play Alanis Morrisette’s Ironic, but he said he didn’t have it. Which only added to the irony.

Once everyone was back in their seats, the preacher began the longest wedding essay I have ever heard. It was long enough to be a thesis. It may have even risen to the level of being divided in to several volumes.

With the wind howling, a car alarm going off in the adjacent parking lot, and the imminent threat of rain at any second—and the bride being in a see through dress a second after that—I guarantee you he didn’t skip a single line. These things can’t be rushed, apparently. If it had been me, I would have taken the microphone from him in the tenth minute of his personal anecdote about his own experience in marriage—a story sobering enough to convince anyone not to do it.

Finally, they say ‘I do’

For a while, I was taking the occasional photo just for show—so the hostages guests didn’t think I was being lazy. My best guess is that there was Adderall in the grab bags they handed out, because most people didn’t start looking around (for a bar? The exit??) until fifteen minutes in to the ceremony.

I had reached a point where there wasn’t any angle of that ceremony that hadn’t been explored. It felt like it was rising to the level of a stalker. And I was running low on remaining photos, which I didn’t even know was possible. I snapped a shot of the flower girl laying down in the grass and calling it a day, and reserved my photos for the kiss.

Can you photo shop Obama into this?

After the ceremony, I took photos of every conceivable combination of people in the wedding party. The bride laid down on the couch in the hallway, and for a minute, I thought it might be time. I contemplated whether or not any amount of dry cleaning could clean up her water breaking on a taffeta white dress.

It got weird after that. The groomsmen took their shirts off to reveal superhero costumes and asked us if we could photo shop Obama into the middle of their superhero circle. Granted, when you shoot a wedding, you get lots of editing requests. People seem to think photo shop is a cure all, and they’ll ask for you to shave ten pounds off of them or make their trailer look like an estate.

I nodded and smiled. Sure, we’ll tell the editor to put Obama in the photo. Cause thirty years from now, your grandkids are going to think the president showed up to your wedding dressed like Wonder Woman. That’s perfectly realistic.

Later that same decade: a gang bang on the cake

The reception hall was less of a hall and more like a walk-in closet with no ventilation. The cake had melted during the unreasonably long ceremony. I saw the cake before the ceremony… it was stunning. The layers were garnished with strawberries that were elegantly decorated to look like the traditional bride and groom cake toppers.

When the wedding party got to the wedding hall, the edges of the cake had melted, letting the strawberries roll onto the table and floor. The groom’s strawberry was disfigured beyond recognition, the chocolate sauce melting on to the pile of strawberries that were atop the bride’s strawberry. It looked like the bride’s strawberry was being gangbanged in a filthy sea of melted cream.

The groom’s cake was black. I don’t think anyone thought that through. I stopped saying things like, “smile,” and “’say cheese’,” and opted for leading questions like, “Are you sure the contract says we have to stay until nine?”

I cried during the bridesmaid’s toast

In a rare display of emotion, a few stray tears escaped me during one of the toasts. I had realized we had an hour left and the event coordinator had just assured the mother of the bride (we’ll call her Helga) that we would definitely stay later if needed. Like hell we would.

After the toasts, we had thirty minutes left and there had been no daddy-daughter dance, no throwing of the bouquet, no rice throwing, and no exit scene (this is sometimes staged when the photographer leaves before the reception ends). After assuring the event coordinator that our exit time could not be adjusted, they crammed everything in to the last thirty minutes.

Are the children required to marry right away?

A five-year-old caught the bouquet. A different five-year-old caught the garter. Now in defense of the single men who were avoiding the garter like it was a rabid pterodactyl, I’ll add that even the groom didn’t want to touch that thing because of the humidity in the room.

I’ve never been clear: do the children have to get married right away, or is that just the symbolic recognition that no other eligible member of the family will be getting married in the next twenty years?

We coached the bride and groom on the best way to stage an exit photo. It would have been so lovely if we had coached the entire room. The guests—every single one of them—had handfuls of faux snow that they started throwing—nay pelting—the bride and groom with.

I got three great exit photos: the first was the bride and groom oblivious to the fact that everyone in the photo behind them was about to attack them with a powder-like substance. The next photo was the two of them horrified by the sneak attack. There was this look of utter betrayal in the bride’s eyes that hasn’t been seen since Benedict Arnold’s days.

The final photo was an otherwise charming photo of the two of them walking, hand-in-hand down the hall. Actually, they weren’t walking as much as running away, but that’s not evident in the photo. What sets this photo a part from the normal coffee table book covers that every bride dreams of is that the two look like they just spent an hour in Whitney Houston’s sock drawer.

I remember why I don’t photograph weddings anymore. Everybody wants something beautiful to commemorate their wedding with, and instead, they get gorgeous, black and white stills of what looks like outtakes from Jurassic Park.

Sure, I’m available for your wedding as well.

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Christmas Newsletter 2014

Greetings friends and family!

I was just about to pass out from strangling myself with Christmas tree lights when I realized that it’s that time of year again! Buckle up, cause it’s your annual Christmas newsletter!

Baby Jessica fell down the well (again). I don’t have kids, so that really takes away from things to brag about. Sure, I could make up two charming (likely illegitimate) children, but then I’d have to name them. Agnes and Harcort? Amorette and Ripley-Thiago? I may not be cut out for this.

And while it would be lovely to report that my fictitious children are mastering calculus despite the trials and tribulations of Kindergarten, most people would catch on to that when they realized the stock photos I sent out came right out of one of those “your ten cents a day could buy this child a unicorn,” catalogs pamphlets.

So… what’s new this year?

For those of you who may not know, my parents (Terry and Gena) remarried earlier this week. The great thing about getting remarried for a second time is that you don’t need a blood test. Because there’s nothing more awkward than the court clerk looking at you—the product of that marriage—and then telling them they’ll need a blood test to ensure that their potential offspring won’t be the product of… can I say ‘incest’ in a Christmas newsletter? Anyway, the concern for potential children is diminished when you marry someone for the second time. On a serious note (I try to toss one of those in every few paragraphs), please drop my parents a line to congratulate them.

Speaking of marriage, Dylan and I will be getting married in March. We will send out official announcements closer to the date, but honestly: if you can’t brag in a Christmas newsletter, when can you?

Since I have garnered quite an audience on my newsletters, I thought I’d use this opportunity to share some helpful holiday hints to make your season more enjoyable:

  • If a group of people show up outside your door dressed in Christmas attire, it might not be a home invasion. Christmas carolers often show up uninvited unannounced to spread holiday cheer. It’s polite to pause for 30 seconds before dead-bolting the door shut.
  • Always choose a star or ribbon for your Christmas tree topper. Because, really: if you were an angel, would you want a tree up your backside for a month?
  • Christmas music is the perfect way to set the mood for a bar mitzvah most holiday occasions; however, Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want for Christmas is You,” should be played no more than once per decade day—as a courtesy to those who may already be predisposed to suffocating themselves with a Christmas stocking.
  • If you enjoy knitting homemade gifts, a hand-knitted bikini sends a much stronger message than a hand-knitted scarf.
  • If you prefer to add a splash of something 80-proof to your eggnog, remember this rule of thumb: if you look like Keith Whitley after your first cup, you’ve added too much.
  • Christmas decorations should—and must—be taken down by the first week of the New Year. If the Home Owners’ Association shows up on your porch chanting obscenities in unison, you have waited too long.

My fiancé is giving me crazy eyes (I may have left him setting up the tree by himself while pretending to be productive) so I should probably wrap this up like a four-year-old trying to wrap a present with super glue.

Happy holidays to you and yours. (That’s not my politically correct way of getting out of saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ I just don’t plan to send out a newsletter for New Years).


Ty & Dylan (If he’s going to own 50% of what I do, he’d like to take credit for the conservative part(s) of the letter!)

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Drunk News – April 2014

If you’ve ever watched Good Morning America in the bar, you can probably agree that the person sitting next to you—especially if it was me—has a better storytelling angle for the headline than the news anchor.

To that end, I thought it might be fun to take some real news stories and re-pitch them 80-Proof style.

Search for Jet’s Black Box Hampered by Whales

In a bizarre twist in the world’s most publicized game of hide-and-seek, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—which may or may not have ever even left the airport—is being stalled by Shamu and friends.

The equipment used to locate the black box is unable to distinguish between the world’s largest mammal and a titanium shoebox.

Last week, the same international, multi-agency taskforce conceded that the plane had likely crashed, which was validation for every other person on earth who reached that conclusion around two days after the plane went missing.

Clerk Mistakes Suicide Victim for Prank, Throws Body Away

On April 1, a clerk thought a dead body was a mannequin (is anyone else playing Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” in their head?).

Apparently, the clerk thought the “mannequin,” was part of a prank and just left it in the parking lot. When it was still there a couple of hours later, he got two other equally stupid people that happened to be delivering newspapers in the area to help him throw the body away.

Now my question is this: who still has their news paper delivered? did no one think, “Why is it taking three of us to lift up this bloody mannequin?”

The police investigation determined the lady jumped to her death from the 16th floor balcony overlooking the parking lot. These people must shop exclusively at Wal-Mart to see a body that’s been through that and think, “Yeah, this is the same model they use in the athletic gear section.”

Snooki Expecting Baby No. 2

I can’t. The former Jersey Shore harlot that looks like a cross between a crack clown and a broken pinball machine is pregnant once again. She hasn’t even figured out to do with the first baby.

“Jionni and I were trying to have our second baby since November, so every month we kept taking tests,” she told some publication that pretended to give a damn. It’s really sad when the only test you can pass is a pregnancy test.

For Drunk by 4 News, I’m Dan Rather Ty.

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