Why “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” Is The Perfect Dark Comedy

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Every TV show, from sitcoms to talk shows to adult cartoons featuring dimension-hopping super-genius, attempts to capture a certain theme and hone it to the utmost. They try to craft the right kind of characters who exhibit the necessary traits to convey those themes while still being memorable, likable, and endearing. On top of that, they have to do it for multiple seasons, at least until they achieve syndication.

It’s an enormous challenge. Few shows succeed and even fewer do so consistently. Even among those select few, there’s a risk that the characters and stories will get stale. Due to the nature of half-hour TV shows, there’s only so much you can do before Archie Bunker’s casual bigotry becomes more pathetic than funny. That doesn’t even get into shows that end up crashing and burning in the series finale.

Then, there’s a little show called “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” In the annuls of TV history, this show is basically a unicorn wrapped in gold, covered in diamonds, and encoded with the browser history of every active politician.

Pragmatically speaking, this is a show that should not have lasted 13 seasons. For one, it airs on FX, a network most people probably don’t know they have, if they actually have it. In addition, the show’s budget is incredibly limited. The pilot was allegedly shot for less than $100 by a cast of aspiring actors who had zero name recognition, at the time.

On top of that, there’s the premise of the show. In its simplest form, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” follows the shameless misadventures “the Gang.” This crew consisting of Charlie Kelly, Ronald “Mac” McDonald, Frank Reynolds, Dennis Reynolds, and Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds basically take every traditional approach to making an enduring TV show and punches it in the kidneys.

This is a show where the characters will buy a boat with the intention of entrapping women.

This is a show where the cast will make an unauthorized Lethal Weapon sequel, complete with blackface, homoerotic subtext, and gratuitous sex scenes featuring Danny DeVito.

This is a show where two people are tricked into digging up the body of their dead mother.

This is a show where you’ll see people hold a funeral for a baby to get out of a tax audit by the IRS.

These are not the activities of lovable characters. Even Shelden Cooper had moments in “The Big Bang Theory” where he came off as genuinely compassionate. With the Gang, there are none of those moments. Sometimes, they’ll be teased. In some episodes, the Gang will give the impression that they’re about to finally realize just how deplorable they are.

Trust me, they’re doing exactly what you think they’re doing and then some.

Ultimately, they don’t just revert back to their less-than-reputable selves. They demonstrate that they never had any intention of changing their ways. Anyone who believed otherwise either hasn’t watched more than two episodes of the show or are deluding themselves. As antithetical as this is for crafting a compelling TV show might be, it doesn’t change one inescapable fact.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” is funny, enjoyable, and obscenely entertaining.

It almost sounds like a paradox. As someone who only recently became a fan of the show, I have hard time explaining that appeal to most people in a way that doesn’t sound weird. It takes a moment to appreciate the appeal of watching a cast of self-absorbed, narcissistic alcoholics. However, within the tone and context of the show, it doesn’t just work. It achieves something profound.

Specifically, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” is the perfect manifestation of dark comedy at its finest.

Comedy, in any form, can be difficult. Jokes, gags, and bits can become overplayed and stale. There’s only so many times you can watch Charlie Brown fail to kick a football and still laugh. Dark comedy is even more difficult. It involves taking distressing, taboo subjects and trying to make them funny. Some, like George Carlin, can pull it off masterfully.

I like to think that if George Carlin were still alive, he would be a fan of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” The show’s approach to dark comedy isn’t overly complex. It’s just exceedingly overt. It doesn’t try to balance out those dark themes with something serious or nuanced. It blatantly takes things to an extreme and dares to laugh at the absurdities.

Trust me, it gets more absurd than this.

Take, for instance, the funeral for the dead baby that I mentioned earlier. There are only so many ways you can make funerals and dead babies funny, but this show never shies away from a challenge. It also helps that every character in the Gang has the moral fiber of a Big Tobacco lobbyist on crack. They won’t just cross lines. They’ll make it a spectacle.

In this particular case, Sweet Dee is getting audited and for good reason. She acted as a surrogate to carry the child of a transgender woman that Mac used to date. Trust me, it’s more absurd that I can ever put into words. However, Dee didn’t do this out of the goodness of her heart. Nobody in the Gang is ever that altruistic. She did it because she got paid. Then, she decided to list the kid she gave up as a dependent for the tax benefits.

Naturally, this put her at odds with the IRS. Like every problem the Gang faces, she tries to run away from it or pass off the problem to somebody else. However, the problem only escalates. In most TV shows, especially half-hour sitcoms, this is the point where the characters face the consequences of their actions and try to learn from it. Instead, the Gang tries to resolve the problem by holding a baby funeral.

It’s undeniably dark, but the way it plays out is still funny. The way Dee and the rest of the Gang conducts themselves is so irreverent that the inherent darkness of the issue only makes it funnier. It shows just how far the Gang is willing to go to shirk responsibility and avoid consequences. It gets bad and it belabors just how irredeemable these characters are, but it’s still funny.

A big part of what makes that approach funny is how blatant this show is when it comes to the time-tested tropes that TV shows have relied on for decades. Take any show, from “Breaking Bad” to “Friends,” and you’ll see a concerted effort to develop and progress the characters over time. Ideally, they achieve some sort of ultimate goal by the end.

Instead of growth, the Gang actively avoids any effort at growth. Their only goal is to continue being the unapologetic assholes they’ve always been, drink heavily, and recklessly pursue whatever crazy ideas they come up with. Who they are in the first few seasons of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” aren’t considerably different than who they are in the latest season.

In any other show, characters who don’t grow and progress usually derail the underlying themes. Sometimes, that’s unavoidable. The very structure of a TV show, especially a half-hour sitcom, ensures that the characters can only grow so much. Even after the show achieves syndication, it tries to stick to a formula, even if doing so undermines the very process the characters need to evolve.

By going out of their way to not evolve, the Gang insures “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” never deviates too far from the qualities that make it funny. It even channels its use of dark comedy to poke fun at the same tropes that other shows heavily rely on. From the frustrating use of clip shows to turning romantic sub-plots into a case study for excessive stalking, the show seems to revel in spitting on these time-tested methods.

What makes that comedy even more potent is that after 13 seasons, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” has lasted longer than some of the most iconic TV shows in history. It has outlasted the likes of “Cheers,” “Mash,” “Friends,” and “Frasier.” Moreover, it keeps finding a way to be funny and relevant. I think a non-insignificant part of that is how it uses dark humor.

There’s plenty more to be said about the show and why it has lasted so long. Even some of the show’s cast members have a hard time explaining why the show is still on the air. Even more likely wonder how the show can keep getting away with being so brazen about using dark comedy to tackle issues surrounding race, religion, gender, sexuality, mental health, and bird law.

There are likely many factors that have contributed to the success and longevity of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” It helps that the actors and crew of the show really enjoy working together. There’s something to be said about a show in which the original cast have a genuine passion for their work. It’s well-documented how a toxic environment behind the scenes can derail successful shows.

At the end of the day, though, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” works because it’s funny and entertaining. It found a way to take the best aspects of dark comedy and run with it. As long as it can keep doing that, the show will have an audience. If it can include more episodes that involve Mac dancing or Danny DeVito getting naked, then that’s just a bonus.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Superman #18

Anyone who has read superhero comics for a sizable chunk of their lives knows the difference between a gimmick and a genuine plot upheaval. Gimmicks are shallow. They’re sales tactics disguised as shocking twists that promise to change a character, world, or team forever. Most of the time, they get retconned within a few years.

Plot upheavals that are real, genuine, and permanent are rarer, but that’s what makes them more precious. They often become defining moments in their own right for a character or a franchise. For comic fans, they’re like major life-changing events.

In the same way you vividly recall your first kiss or your first car, you remember where you were when Superman married Lois Lane.

You remember where you were when the Joker brutally beat up Jason Todd.

You remember where you were when Barry Allen died during Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In that same tradition, you’ll probably remember where you were when you read “Superman #18.” This is a comic that promises to change Superman’s life and his story in major ways. It’s the comic in which he finally reveals his secret identity to the world. It’s not a gimmick this time. This is real and it has an impact that will likely resonate for years to come.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has built a career on powerful, dramatic moments. He did it for years at Marvel with Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men. Since he began his run on Superman, he’s taken the Man of Steel through his share of upheavals. Superman’s semi-stable family life with his wife and son became a lot less stable, but he still hung onto the same identity that had kept him grounded for decades.

That finally changes in “Superman #18.” It’s not a snap decision, either. This isn’t Tony Stark going off the cuff at the end of “Iron Man.” That’s not how Superman does things. He’s thoughtful, thorough, and very much aware of the implications. He doesn’t agonize or brood over it, as many other heroes are prone to do, especially if they have egos like Tony Stark. He simply tries to determine the right thing to do.

It’s not easy. Before the big reveal, Bendis takes Superman through a round of self-reflection in which he goes over all the reasons why he maintained his secret identity as Clark Kent. Some of those reasons were entirely valid. They weren’t excuses that kept demanding more excuses. They genuinely felt like the right thing at the time.

Superman lived as Clark Kent so he could be human. That has always been important to him, going back to the Golden Age. He’s an alien from another world, trying to live and be part of this new home that he has come to love. Being Clark helped him be human, even though he is objectively not human.

While that might have been important before, a lot has changed for Superman. He no longer has anything to prove. He’s built a life as Clark Kent. He has established himself as Superman, a hero among heroes who sets the highest standards for humans and aliens alike. He couldn’t have done this without maintaining his secret identity. The only question is what more can he do to justify keeping that identity?

The tipping point in “Superman #18” comes when Superman recounts what happens when others in his life have kept secrets. Even if they were kept for good reasons, it never ended with just that secret. One secret demands another. As they compound over time, they become dangerous.

That’s still only part of the issue. Beyond the secrets, having that identity sends a message to the same people he’s trying to protect. It says that he doesn’t trust them to handle him being both Superman and Clark Kent. Maybe that made sense when he was still winning their trust, but it doesn’t make sense anymore. It also helps make the right thing to do very clear.

That effectively ends the debate. Whenever Superman is faced with a decision, his first and only instinct is to do the right thing. That’s exactly what he does in “Superman #18.”

It’s what helps make the big moment in “Superman #18” feel like something other than a gimmick. Bendis makes sure that Superman revealing his identity to the world is the right thing to do. It never comes off as the end of something, either. Whenever Superman’s identity has been revealed in the past, it has always been a complication or a last resort. That’s not how it’s framed here.

Superman #18” feels like another step in Superman’s journey to be the hero by which all other heroes are measured. He’s lived as a human. He’s become an iconic hero. Those lives no longer need to be separate. In Superman’s eyes, they shouldn’t be. He’s still the same man, whether he’s wearing glasses or his iconic cape.

In principle, it’s a minor distinction. However, at no point in “Superman #18” does it feel trivial. Superman acknowledges that this is going to change things. His life is going to change, both as Superman and as Clark Kent. He knows there will be difficulties, but he’s willing to face them. He’s also willing to trust in the same people he protects to face them with him.

It’s a beautiful, powerful moment made all the more memorable by the art of Ivan Reis. It doesn’t require Superman to save the world, defeat Lex Luthor, or punch a planet into dust. It just requires him to do the right thing. That doesn’t just make him a hero. That’s what makes him Superman.

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July/August 2020: A Local Baby Boom Triggered By DC Sports?

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As a lifelong fan of sports who lives in the Baltimore/DC metro area, I’m very aware of major events and achievements in sports that affect these areas.

I was very aware when the Washington Redskins won the Superbowl in 1992.

I was very aware when the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012.

I was very aware of when Robert Griffin III took the league by storm in 2012.

I’m also aware that Lamar Jackson has the Baltimore Ravens looking like Super Bowl contenders this year.

When there’s reason to cheer, I tend to notice. After 2012, however, this area didn’t have many reasons to be cheerful. The Baltimore/DC area has had mixed luck at best when it comes to major sports. The DC area was especially unlucky in that, until very recently, no major sports team had won a championship since the Redskins did it in 1992. That’s a long drought, albeit not the longest.

That finally changed in 2018 when the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Make no mistake. This was a big deal for the area. My ears are still ringing from some of the cheering I heard. It also made the area subject to an interesting, but sexy side-effect of winning a championship. It may or may not have inspired a bit of a baby boom in the area.

Now, that makes sense intuitively. When your team wins, especially after a long drought, fans are going to celebrate. Sometimes, the celebrations get sexy. When things get sexy, babies sometimes get made. That’s just the nature of celebrations and they’re a beautiful thing.

While it’s hard to determine how much or how little of a baby boom there was once the Capitals won the cub in 2018, there was a notable uptick in babies being named after players. There has also been some previous research about cities or regions that win the Super Bowl on whether a championship causes a spike in birth rates. To date, the research is inconclusive.

However, there is some reason to suspect that championships in certain areas cause a baby boom. When the Chicago Cubs won the world series in 2016, ending a championship drought that was over 100 years old, there was a documented uptick in births nine months later. That implies that whether or not a baby boom occurs after a championship depends heavily on the city.

This brings me back to the DC area. Just a month and a half ago, the Washington Nationals capped off a historic playoff run to win their first World Series since the franchise moved from Montreal back in 2005. It also marked the first World Series won by a DC baseball team since 1924.

As someone who lives near the area, I can confirm that this was an emotional achievement. I have family members who remembered vividly when DC lost its baseball team back in the 1970s. It was a sad time for the region. Some thought they would never see baseball in DC again.

Then, the Washington Nationals came back and, for most of their early history, they were terrible. Even when they got good, though, they developed a reputation for choking in the playoffs. For them to win it all this year, especially after starting 19-31, was nothing short of astounding.

The celebrations this achievement triggered were a sight to behold. It also had me check my calendar. The Nationals capped off their championship on October 30, 2019. That means in late July, early August 2020, we’ll find out just how much celebrating DC sports fans did after that historic achievement.

I’ve already got my calendar marked. I’m going to be keeping an eye on the local news to see if there’s an uptick in births throughout the area during that time. If I find something, I’ll be sure to share the results. Honestly, as a long-time resident of the DC/Baltimore area, I hope there is a bit of a spike. If nothing else, it’ll show the people in my area know how to celebrate in sexy ways.

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Selling (And Exploiting) Human Enhancement: An Ominous Lesson From “Superior Iron Man”

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How much would you be willing to pay for perfect health, perfect beauty, and a greater capacity to enjoy life as you see fit? This is not a rhetorical question. I would even argue that it’s an increasingly relevant question. In the coming years, answering it might even become more urgent.

I’ve talked about the prospects of human enhancement through emerging technology before. From its impact on our concept of beauty to how our society will function, there are many impacts to consider. Some of those impacts are already manifesting before our eyes. Just last year, the first genetically modified babies were born in China. Like it or not, this is happening.

It’s impossible to overstate the benefits, risks, and upheavals that human enhancement will have on our species and our world. Nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen as this technology matures or how societies, economies, and governments will react to it. Even so, it’s worth contemplating. It’s even worth imagining elaborate scenarios in fictional worlds.

While plenty of noteworthy stories have imagined such scenarios, some more dystopian than others, there’s one in particular I’d like to single out. It’s not entirely dystopian, but it does offer some distressing lessons about the larger economics of human enhancement. It also helps that those lessons come through a forgotten, but criminally underrated Iron Man comic.

Given the rapid rise of Iron Man’s star power over the past decade, his character is uniquely qualified to explore these difficult questions surrounding technology and how we use it. He is, at his core, a visionary who uses technology to solve problems, save lives, and occasionally fight invading aliens. In the series, “Superior Iron Man,” he takes that vision several steps further and cross many lines along the way.

While there are some convoluted circumstances surrounding this series, the ideas it explores are profound, even by the standards of superhero comics. You don’t need to know the specifics of those circumstances. They involve forces like magic and inversion spells, which are far too complicated to explain to those who haven’t followed Marvel comics for more than two decades.

The only detail anyone needs to know about “Superior Iron Man” is that the Tony Stark in this story is not the same lovable character that helped make Robert Downy Jr. one of the most lovable stars in Hollywood. This version of Tony is less bound by concepts of heroism, selflessness, and sobriety. That’s not to say he’s evil, but he’s definitely no hero.

Within this ethically bankrupt state, Tony embarks on a new initiative that’s as selfish as it is lucrative. It revolves around Extremis, an exotic cocktail of nanotechnology and biotechnology that effectively rewrites the blueprint of the entire human body into something better, stronger, and more robust. In essence, it is the ultimate tool for human enhancement.

While the initial version of Extremis was lethal to most people who used it, Tony creates a more commercialized version in “Superior Iron Man” that gives everyone a chance to enjoy its benefits. He calls it Extremis 3.0 and people can access it through a simple smartphone app. With it, people can achieve what Tony describes as physical perfection.

Everyone can be perfectly healthy.

Everyone can be young and beautiful.

Everyone can be functionally immortal.

It sounds like a miracle drug and by every measure, it is. This isn’t some Dr. Oz wannabe pitching vitamins that do nothing other than give you false hope. This technology actually works. With it, Tony gives the entire city of San Francisco a chance to experience the fruits of human enhancement.

Understandably, once people get a taste of what Extremis 3.0 has to offer, they love it. They also take full advantage of it. At one point in the story, Pepper Potts says it’s turning the streets of San Francisco into a non-stop parade of debauchery and self-indulgence. Tony does not see this as a bad thing. If anything, it perfectly complements his plans and his renewed appetite for self-indulgence.

This is where “Superior Iron Man” attempts to answer that question about putting a price on physical perfection. Writer Tom Taylor, alongside artist Yildiray Çinar, doesn’t hide from the disturbing parts of that answer. By the end of the first issue, Tony puts a literal price on that perfection. Needless to say, it causes plenty of conflict and it escalates quickly.

When he initially released Extremis 3.0 onto San Francisco, he gives ordinary people a taste of what it’s like to be as fit as Captain America, as beautiful as Emma Frost, and as physically endowed as Thor. It’s not a drug that just attempts to match that feeling. It physically changes their bodies and their capacity for using them. That taste, however, was just a free sample. To keep enjoying it, they must pay $99 a day.

It’s crude trick right out of the playbook of subscription apps. People get a free trial period that’s just long enough to get them hooked. Then, before they even realize they have to pay anything, they get hit with a paywall. It’s a cruel bait-and-switch, but this isn’t just another streaming video service. This is physical perfection and unlimited self-indulgence. Is $99 a day really that unreasonable?

It certainly rubs plenty of people the wrong way, including many of Tony’s long-time friends and allies. Both Daredevil and Pepper Potts turn against him for such devious tactic. It also has some noticeable effects on the people who use it. By the end of the first issue, a stark class divide emerges between those who can afford Extremis 3.0 and those who can’t.

Naturally, it causes crime and conflict among the residents of San Francisco. Tony, now both feared and beloved by these people, takes it upon himself to manage it. He gains power, wealth, status, and an endless supply of eager party guests for whenever he seeks to indulge. It’s a perfect cocktail of recklessness and irresponsibility.

Without spoiling the rest of the story, which ended too soon, I think it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture that “Superior Iron Man” presented. If you take away the iconic characters and the superhero themes, you get a story about a selfish business tycoon who has sole possession of the ultimate biotech product.

The goal isn’t to heal the sick, ease suffering, or evolve the human species. The goal is simply to make a lot of money, feed an inflated ego, and indulge in every conceivable vice without consequences. It’s a worst-case scenario for liberals and conservatives, alike. At the same time, it makes a compelling case that our current system can’t handle the impacts of large-scale human enhancement.

That doesn’t mean it can’t succeed in our current system. The size of the current biotech industry is already measured in the hundreds of billions. Overpriced drugs are nothing new, either. Just this past year, the FDA approved a drug called Zolgensma, which costs $425,000 a year for five years to treat a rare genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy.

By comparison, Extremis 3.0 is a bargain with far greater value. Even at $99 a day, the yearly cost of enjoying that physical perfection amounts to around $36,500 a year. That still takes up a good chunk of the average income for most Americans, but considering all the benefits of having a perfect body, is it still a bargain?

For anyone who has overpaid for inflated medical expenses, I suspect they would gladly pay that high price for Extremis 3.0. Tony Stark banked on that in “Superior Iron Man” and he was right. People did pay and it was very lucrative for him. The population of the San Francisco Bay Area in which he unleashed Extremis 3.0 is around 4.6 million. At $99 a day, that’s a potential annual revenue of $167 billion.

In terms of business ranking, that would put Tony’s venture in the top 20 in terms of largest companies by revenue. If he were to unleash Extremis on the entire United States, the potential annual revenue would be near $11.8 trillion. That’s a little more than half of the entire US economy.

Imagine one company, let alone one person, having that much money and influence over a population. Tony was already a billionaire before “Superior Iron Man,” but Extremis 3.0 rewarded him with more than just money. Tony, being the sole provider, held a great deal of power and influence over San Francisco. As is often the case in superhero stories, that power goes to his head.

That story plays out in the real world just as often. In some cases, it brings out the worst in people. For a product like Extremis 3.0, which provides human enhancement into a simple commercial package that anyone can access through an app, the potential for abuse is much worse.

Beyond the greed it would inspire and the recklessness it fosters, it would also widen and solidify a gap in society that might be impossible to close. The wealth gap is in the non-superhero world is already egregious. Adding something like Extremis 3.0 to the mix would only make it immeasurably worse.

More than a few people has expressed concern about the prospects of such an enormous societal divide. “Superior Iron Man” showed just how bad it could get and how quickly it could escalate. While the series only managed to explore this conflict to a point before it got canceled, Tom Taylor did enough to get a powerful point across.

In a world where human enhancement is real and commercially available, how do we go about distributing it among a population? Should we put a price on it? How high should that price be? Who should be in control of it?

Worst case scenario.

Superior Iron Man” never got a chance to explore the answers, but these are questions that will become increasingly relevant as advances in biotechnology accelerate. We may not be close to having a product like Extremis 3.0 and it’s uncertain whether we’ll even develop something like it in the next few decades.

Even if we do, “Superior Iron Man” made one thing clear. We, as a species and a society, are not ready for it.

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Filed under biotechnology, futurism, health, human nature, Neuralink, Sexy Future, superhero comics

“Wonder Woman 1984” Trailer Is Here (And It’s Wonderful)!

We live in a strange, yet wonderful era when it comes to movie trailers. It’s strange in that sometimes, the trailers are basically the movie. It tells you pretty much everything and if you go to see the movie, you don’t get much more than you got out of the trailer. That’s basically how I felt about “Suicide Squad.”

That’s a downside. The upside, however, more than makes up for it. When done right, a great movie trailer can take your excitement for a movie and turn it up to 11. You might have been excited about a movie already. In the internet era, that’s easier than ever. Then, the trailer comes along and suddenly, you feel like there’s liquid awesome flowing into your veins. It’s a great feeling.

That brings me to “Wonder Woman 1984.” It’s the sequel to the first movie that was groundbreaking in so many ways. I did plenty to praise it when it came out. I even made a wish list on what I wanted to see in the sequel. I didn’t know how much I would actually get when more details came out.

Now, those details are here! The first trailer of “Wonder Woman 1984” has officially dropped. All I can say is, it’s a wonder to behold and if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it at least 10 times, like I did.

Sure, other movies can promise a lot, but can they promise a female warrior demigod swinging from bolts of lightning from a magic lasso? I didn’t think so.

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Jack Fisher’s Sexy Sunday Thoughts: Romantic (And Sexy) Manners Edition

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When it comes to sex appeal, manners rarely rank near the top. In fact, they tend to lag behind the the inherent appeal of bad boys, deviants, and other traits every metal band in the 1980s took to an extreme. While there will always be certain women who are attracted to bad boys and men who are attracted to bad girls, there’s still a unique appeal to good old fashioned manners.

I had to amazing parents and several siblings who instilled in me a strong appreciation of manners. I’ve noted before how they taught me the importance of little things like holding the door for a woman. I like to think I’ve taken those lessons to heart and not just with respect to holding the door. When I’m in the presence of a lady, I raise the bar for my mannerisms.

While every situation is different and every woman responds to behaviors differently, I’ve learned over the years that everyone wants to feel valued. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, as well. Manners help us convey that message. They help us communicate that we value them as people. We want them to feel happy, comfortable, and safe in our presence.

It doesn’t always have to include sex appeal, but it certainly can serve as a foundation. It’s true. Manners can be sexy. I saw this first hand while I was dating my ex-girlfriend. When I did something as simple as pull out a chair for her, she responded favorably. It meant a lot to her and she returned the favor in other ways, some of which were very sexy.

Manners may never be as sexy as the bad boys and bad girls of this world, but they’ll always have an appeal on some level. That appeal is worth acknowledging and celebrating. I hope this edition of my Sexy Sunday Thoughts helps contribute to that effort. Enjoy!


“Honesty won’t get you laid, but it will limit the damage to your ego, genitals, and bank account in the long run.”


“Practically speaking, it’s impossible to give a man a blowjob without him noticing.”


“Giving someone oral sex won’t win an argument, but it will make compromise a lot easier.”


“The fact that some people can have sex while sleepwalking proves that we’re horny even when we’re unconscious.”


“On some levels, we want our lover’s to be good listeners so we don’t have to overtly tell them our kinks.”


“Breasts don’t directly cause sexy thoughts, but they do plenty to inspire them.”


“To some extent, being a workaholic is just an unsexy version of S&M.”


Good manners aren’t that difficult to exercise. For the most part, they’re just a byproduct of common sense and basic human decency. Simple or not, they go a long way towards showing someone we care about them. It may not get them overly excited, but it will send a powerful message about the breadth of your passion.

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“Decorating Love” A Sexy Short Story (About Christmas Decorations)

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The following is a sexy short story about love and decorating a Christmas tree. The holidays are upon us and this part of it is near and dear to my heart. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved putting up Christmas decorations and decorating Christmas trees. As an adult, I’m often the first one to put his up and if I ever meet that special someone, I hope share my love of this festive activity with her.

Until then, enjoy this sexy short story inspired by one of my favorite holiday activities. Enjoy!

“Perfect! It’s finally perfect,” said a beaming Christopher Krane.

“Are you absolutely sure this time? Because you said that twice before and the sun has set since then,” said Karen with a bemused grin.

“I’m sure this time. I’m completely, totally sure!”

Karen shook her head and rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop smiling. No matter how many times she saw it, he never failed to amaze her. There were people who just enjoyed the holidays and there were people who went the extra mile. Then, there was her husband, Chris. He was in a class all his own.

Around the same time every year, her high school sweetheart turned transformed into a different person. It started just a few days after Halloween. When most people were still eating candy and planning their Thanksgiving travel plans, Chris was breaking out the Christmas decorations and plotting how to turn their modest suburban house into a holiday haven. Many teased him for putting his decorations up so early. A few, including some of their neighbors, were annoyed by it.

That never dissuaded him. If anything, it encouraged him. Chris was rarely content with just putting up a few lights. He had to make it a work of art. He turned a bare, artificial 9-foot tree into a dazzling spectacle of multi-colored lights, a diverse array of ornaments, and a silver star that his grandmother gave him when he was a kid. He also strung up lights along the walls, put custom-made wreaths on the doors, and swapped out pictures for various holiday displays.

It usually took up half a weekend. Before they got married, Karen used to reserve that weekend for errands or a spa trip or a day with friends. However, shortly after they got engaged, Chris’ grandmother took her aside and told her how important it was to embrace her son’s holiday spirit.

“It means a lot to him, Karen,” she’d told him, “and it’ll mean even more for you to become part of it.”

His grandmother died just a year after their wedding. Before then, she’d told Karen how she and his grandfather made Christmas such a spectacle for their grandchildren. Growing up, Chris’ parents worked all the time and rarely had the resources to make Christmas special. His grandparents took it upon themselves to pick up the slack and, much to his parents’ chagrin, they overcompensated.

It left an indelible mark on Chris, more so than his two younger sisters. He made it clear while they were dating that if he had the means, then he would do Christmas in a way that would make his grandparents proud. He even joked that he would overdo it. When he achieved those means by co-founding a biotech business with his college buddies, Karen realized that he hadn’t been joking.

“I’d say you’ve outdone yourself this year, but I know that would just jinx it for next year,” Karen teased as she watched her husband marvel at their work.

“You know me, Karen. I like to raise the bar,” Chris said proudly.

“There’s raising the bar and then there’s you on the holidays. That’s not a fair comparison.”

“You almost sound worried.”

“I’m not worried. I just like to remind you that it’s okay to be content with your work. You achieve so much throughout the year. Don’t just reserve that sentiment for the holidays.”

“I try not to,” he said, “and I think I’m getting better at it. That’s still not going to stop me from appreciating this time of year more than most.”

He kept on smiling like a kid on Christmas Eve as he took several steps back to get a full view of his work. Now standing beside her, he slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her in close as he gazed upon the festive display before them.

Jinx or not, her husband had once again created a dazzling holiday spectacle. The tree was fully lit, fully decorated, and radiating with Christmas spirit in all directions. The entirety of their living room had been rearranged to make room for the tree, so much so that Chris moved some of their furniture down to the basement. That included a few lamps, which meant their primary source of light during the day had to be the Christmas tree. She doubted that was an accident.

As difficult as it was to keep up with her husband’s Christmas spirit, Karen still found herself enjoying the moment with her husband. It was hard not to feel an impact from such spirit. While admiring the tree, she took his hand in hers and leaned on his shoulder.

“I would never try to stop you from celebrating the holidays, as only you can,” Karen told him.

“To be fair, my family did warn you before we got married,” Chris joked. “If you’re going to be in my family, then you’re going to have to go the extra mile during the holidays.”

“Trust me. I knew that came with the territory before we walked down the aisle,” she said. “What I didn’t know was how it would affect my own feelings towards the holidays.”

“What do you mean?” he asked her.

Karen’s demeanor shifted. As much as she enjoyed her husband’s festive spirit, it contrasted heavily with how she’d handled the holidays in the past. Being with Chris had changed a lot of things in her life. She just didn’t expect her perceptions of the holidays to change so significantly.

“You’ve met my parents. You know my family’s attitudes towards holidays, parties, and anything that’s needlessly elaborate,” said Karen.

“I haven’t forgotten,” Chris said. “I believe one of your father’s biggest rules was that if it cost more than a nice steak dinner, then it’s too much.”

“In his defense, he spent the first 10 years of my childhood fixing a bankrupt company that my uncle ruined,” she said. “He prided himself on doing more with less. That extended to the holidays. The man wouldn’t even let us get a tree until the week before Christmas, just to save money on the electric bill.”

“That’s just cruel,” he said.

“It was also a habit he tried to impart on me and my sisters. Given my taste for premium dresses, I don’t think it took. It still showed in other ways, though. Even before we got together, I saw the holidays as more a formality than a celebration. I knew you loved to take is seriously, but even after I could afford to be less stingy, I didn’t get into the spirit. Hell, I used my Christmas bonus from the travel agency on a new toaster oven.”

“Guess your spirit needed an extra spark,” Chris said.

“More like several,” said Karen, “and you gave me more than that.”

She drew him into a deeper embrace, turning him away from the dazzling Christmas tree that now dominated their living room and towards her. He quickly gave her his full attention, snaking his arms around her waist and gazing into her eyes with a love befitting of any holiday.

“I needed to start seeing things as something worthy of extra effort. I needed to stop looking at everything as a measure of cost and resources,” she went on. “It’s okay to go over the top. It’s even okay to go overboard. You just have to make sure it’s worth all that effort.”

“Well, I’d say the holidays are definingly worthy,” Chris said.

“I wasn’t just talking about the holidays, Chris.”

Her voice echoed with heavy emotions. Her embrace deepened as well. Under the glow of their oversized Christmas tree, the same love that brought them together shined brighter than ever. It seemed so fitting. It also reminded Karen of how much effort she’d put into her life with Chris.

Now, standing in his arms within a nice home laden with holiday decorations, she could say it with certainty. Their love had been worth the effort.

“I see,” he said, his smile now beaming with a different kind of spirit. “To be fair, I always sensed a brighter spirit within you, Karen. It was one of the many reasons I fell in love with you.”

“You helped draw that spirit out, Chris,” Karen said. “For that, I’ll always be thankful.”

“So will I,” he told her, “but if you really want to thank me, you’ll join me in celebrating the next part of my elaborate holiday effort.”

“Which part? You have so many,” she teased.

“I think you know which one I’m talking about,” he said in a deeper, manlier tone. “It just happens to be the one we can only do together.”

As if to leave no room for ambiguity, he reached into his pocket and used his phone to turn on their gas fireplace across the room. Having also decorated the fireplace with stockings and a garland, its crackling embers glowed with a more festive hue. It signaled that he was ready for one of their favorite holiday traditions, which often occurred weeks before the holidays even arrived.

Karen got the message. Without saying a word, she followed her husband to the area just in front of the fireplace where he had laid a Christmas-themed rug atop the plush carpet. The heat from the fireplace was already making her clothes feel uncomfortably itchy. Again, that was likely by design.

“Oh…that one,” Karen said playfully, pretending it was a revelation.

“I know we usually wait until the Sunday night after I’ve put everything up,” Chris said, “but if you’re already feeling the holiday spirit…”

He let his words trail off, but it didn’t take a Christmas miracle to seal Karen’s choice. Once again, her husband’s uncanny holiday spirit had inspired her in unexpected ways.

“I’m feeling quite spirited already,” she told him, “too spirited for these clothes.”

“I can help with that. Some gifts, after all, are worth unwrapping early.”

She laughed, but Chris remained dead serious as he kissed her under the many holiday lights, feeling her up with those strong hands of his. The same hands that helped decorate the house with so much holiday cheer were now on her body. The prospect of feeling those hands on her naked skin turned Karen on in just the right ways.

That prospect became very real, very quickly. As her husband tenderly kissed her lips, he went to work undressing her. He started with her pants, undoing the zipper and pushing them down to the floor, revealing the simple black panties she’d worn all day. Had she known her husband’s Christmas spirit would turn her on, she’d have worn something sexier.

Chris didn’t seem to mind. It didn’t slow him down, either. Just as she kicked off her pants, he removed her sweatshirt and bra, leaving her almost naked, except for her panties. Almost immediately, Chris shifted those skilled hands of his to her breasts, giving them a nice squeeze to get her passions and her juices flowing.

As much as Karen enjoyed that feeling, she hadn’t forgotten how overdressed she was. With the heat radiating from the fireplace, she imagined that sweater he was wearing felt very hot.

“I’m already feeling the spirit,” she said seductively. “It makes me want to unwrap a gift of my own.”

“Well, since you’ve been such a good girl…”

Again, his words trailed off, leaving her to fill in the blanks. She answered with another kiss before undressing him as well.

Karen was more urgent in getting her lover’s clothes off. Whether due to the holiday spirit or just having such a wonderful husband, she craved his intimate touch. Just as he’d done with her, she started with his pants, removing them along with his underwear. Before he could even kick them off, he pulled off the sweater and T-shirt he had on underneath, rendering him fully nude. In the festive light of the fireplace and the Christmas tree, her love’s naked body glowed with a special radiance.

“A good girl can still have naughty thoughts, right?” Karen said seductively as she pawed his chest and fondled his penis.

“I don’t know. I don’t think Santa Claus has a policy on that,” Chris said, reacting favorably to her touch, “but I do know his policy with respect to those who satisfy their lovers.”

“Do you, now?”

“Want me to prove it?”

“I admit, I’m curious!”

They shared some naughty laughter before coming together in a semi-naked embrace. She kept pawing his chest while rubbing her thigh up against his crotch, causing his penis to stiffen. He returned the favor by fondling her breast and squeezing her butt, something he knew got her wet. In the same way he knew how to decorate a Christmas tree, Chris new how to get her in the mood.

Utilizing those skills to the utmost, he took her in his arms and laid her down on the rug just in front of the fireplace. He was gentle and careful, not unlike he was on their honeymoon when he carried her into their hotel suite. Once she was on her back, he hovered over top of her, kissing and caressing her body with loving reverence. No matter what form their intimacy took, Chris never failed to make her feel love. Like everything else he did on the holidays, he made sure he put in the extra effort.

“Lie back. Relax,” he told her. “I’m going to make you feel nice and naughty!”

“Mmm…sounds challenging,” Karen said coyly.

“You know me. When it comes to the holiday, I love going the extra mile!”

He continued his festive efforts, kissing her again and showering her with loving touch. Karen let out joyous gasps, the warm tingles of his gestures adding to her arousal. Like adding logs to a fire, Chris intensified that feeling bit by bit.

He steadily worked his way down her body, trailing his lips down her neck, shoulders, and chest. He continued giving special attention to her breasts, kneading her fleshy mounds with both hands and giving her nipples a light pinch. That sent chills down her spin, which contrasted perfectly with the heat from the fireplace. It also intensified the heat between her legs, which made her panties more of a burden.

Chris must have sensed it. With his face buried between her breasts, he slipped his hands down to her panties.

“Just one last present to unwrap,” he told her.

“Please…unwrap it,” Karen told him.

Already breathing heavily, she elevated her hips so that he could get them off. As soon as Chris discarded them, he shifted his attention away from her breasts and towards her inner thighs. Now lying completely naked under her lover’s impassioned gaze, she welcomed the next part of their little tradition.

Moving with more urgency, he trailed his lips down her torso, over her naval, and eventually arrived at her inner thighs. Once there, she eagerly spread her legs so that he could get a good whiff of her hot arousal.

“Wow! I can already sense your holiday spirit,” Chris teased as he inhaled her feminine scent.

“What can I say? You turn me on. The passion you put into the holidays…the passion you put into loving me…it just makes me so hot!”

“And you know me. I like my holiday treats nice and hot.”

Looking up from between her inner thighs, he cast her a seductive glance. It was hardly necessary at this stage of arousal, but it reaffirmed his commitment to going overboard on the holidays. True to that commitment, he turned his focus back on her womanhood. Then, with a passion every bit as intense as his holiday spirit, he began giving her oral sex.

He approached eating her out with the same attention to detail that he did when decorating the house. He used both hands, exercising focused care in stimulating her folds. He probed her depths with his tongue and fingers, making sure to hit all the right spots to evoke all the right sensations.

In short order, those hot sensations coursed through her body like ripples of pure bliss. Karen let out sharp moans, bending her legs back more so that her lover could probe deeper. She also began arching her back and fondling her breasts, a common reflex for whenever her husband got her extra excited with the prospect of intimate lovemaking.

“Ooh Chris!” Karen moaned out. “That’s it! Enjoy your treat!”

Chris replied only with a deep moan, but never lost focus. He continued eating her out, building the extent of her arousal to the utmost. Karen knew how he liked to prepare her. He got her close to orgasm before uniting their flesh. During the holidays, he was much more thorough with his preparations.

Whether it involved decorating a Christmas tree or giving her oral sex, Chris went the extra mile and then some. The results were as enjoyable as they were festive. They also set the stage for the next part of their holiday intimacy.

“Karen, my beautiful wife,” Chris said, looking up from her inner thighs once more.

“Yes, my wonderful husband?” Karen said, already dazed from his sensual efforts.

“Are you ready to make love…down by the fire…under the light of our Christmas tree?”

“Yes!” she said without hesitation. “I’m ready for your holiday loving. I’m so…so ready.”

She was short of breath, but full of spirit. That gave Chris all the assurance he needed that she was prepared for the holiday loving that they’d come to love.

Having ensured her arousal, he got back on top of her. In doing so, he revealed that he had a raging boner. Eating her out always seemed to turn him on. That, and the holidays seemed to turn him on more than most. It made for a potent combination, allowing him to align their bodies in preparation for that final festive union.

“Chris…my Christmas stud,” Karen said to him. “Take me!”

He willingly followed her into that sexual daze. As she caressed his face and gazed lovingly into his eyes, her holiday-loving lover unleashed the full force of his loving passion onto her.

He started with a loving kiss to her neck. From there, he grabbed hold of her thighs, held her legs apart, and thrust his hips forward, driving his erect manhood into her. Like a culmination of shared Christmas spirit, their flesh united, her inner folds eagerly embracing his rigid length. Through that intimate union, a flood of wonderous pleasures ensued.

“Karen…my Christmas angel,” Chris whispered into her ears.

“Yes! Yes, Chris! Ohhh yes!” Karen joyously exclaimed.

Their love, combined with a little holiday spirit, took over from there. Chris set the sensual tone, working his body with hers, their naked flesh rocking and undulating in a steady rhythm. That rhythm quickly intensified as the desire escalated.

From such desire, chaotic gestures followed. Karen wildly roamed her hands over her lover’s back, leaving a few light scratch-marks along the way. Her lover didn’t seem to mind. If anything, it inspired him to rock her world harder with more fervent thrusts. Along the way, he hungrily kissed around her lips and neck, even nibbling on her ear lobe, which he knew drove her wild. He also kept using those skilled hands of his, squeezing her hips and feeling up her feminine curves. Even during heated lovemaking, he caressed her body with such reference.

It was a beautiful manifestation of their love amidst such festive surroundings. Grunts and gasps filled the living room as their skin seamlessly meshed through every motion. The heat from the fireplace and the lights from the many Christmas decorations bathed their naked bodies in a unique glow. Despite the bitter cold weather outside, they worked up a good sweat. Something about that made their sex even more special.

“Perfect,” Karen gasped, mirroring her husband’s words from earlier. “It really is…so perfect.”

There was no other word to describe it. Making love to her husband while surrounded by such a holiday spectacle felt so appropriate. After spending much of her life keeping holiday festivities to a minimum, it was a major change, but one she gladly embraced.

Sharing in her husband’s holiday enthusiasm, she played a more active role in their sex. Their passionate moments often began simply, usually involving basic oral followed by basic missionary. It rarely stayed that way. She’d learned early in her relationship with Chris that keeping things basic rarely sufficed.

Once he got the rhythm going, Karen helped balance out the erotic effort. They alternated positions with her getting on top, riding him cowgirl for a while before getting on her hands and knees so that he could take her from behind. She dared to be playful with him and he knew how to keep up with her. In the same way he loved drawing out the holidays, Chris loved drawing out their lovemaking. Like waiting until Christmas morning to open presents, it built anticipation and excitement.

His approach made the gift of orgasmic ecstasy even more meaningful. After following her through a variety of intimate positions, Chris had her on the brink. He must have planned it out as effectively as he planned decorations because he had her in the perfect position. While lying on her side, facing the tree he’d just finished decorating, he spooned her from behind. He angled her body just right, allowing him to thrust into her from behind. It also allowed him to reach around and fondle her clit with one hand, guiding her towards her release.

“Chris…I’m close. I’m really…really close!” she panted while gazing up at the dazzling Christmas tree.

“I am too,” Chris whispered into her ear. “Enjoy the feeling and the sights…while we come together!”

As their naked bodies moved with more urgency, she took his hand in hers and interlaced their fingers. Together, they held on for their coming peak. With so much festive ambiance around them, it promised to usher in the holiday season in the best possible way.

“Oohhh Chris!”

“Oh Karen!”

Their euphoric moans rang out like an erotic holiday spectacle. It signaled the unraveling of a wondrous gift and, true to the season, they shared it eagerly.

Karen felt it first. A hot, orgasmic release washed over her. Intense throbbing muscles in her lower body coincided with waves of raw pleasure. Chris soon joined her, the extra tightness in her womanly depths sending him over the edge. He squeezed her hand harder and let out a deep grunt as he released his manly load inside her, their sex coming together in a potent mixture within her. She could feel the breadth of his ecstasy in his touch, their bodies perfectly synchronized to their release.

As he bathed in the orgasmic afterglow with her, their bodies parted and she turned over to face him. Now lying side by side, still naked and surrounded in a perfectly decorated living room, the power of the holiday season really sank in. Karen hadn’t appreciated it while growing up, but she definitely appreciated it now.

Thanks to the dedicated love and uncanny Christmas spirit of a very special man, she understood the true magic of the season.

“I love you, Chris,” Karen told him.

“I love you too, Karen,” her love replied.

“I know it’s early. I know you’ve got all these amazing holiday plans,” she went on, “but rest assured, you’ve already given me the greatest gift.”

“Good to know,” Chris said with another one of those beaming grins, “but don’t think for a second I’m done making the holidays special. There’s plenty more to celebrate. And it’s going to be special. That, I promise you!”

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