Okay, so I've never gotten the Elf on a Shelf thing for my kids. I've seen it in the stores, of course, and some pretty funny pictures come across my twitter feed (e.g. the elf tied down by a bunch of minifigs, Gulliver-style), but I had to look it up for the full description. Nine years ago three people came up with a great idea that has probably made them a lot of money. They wrote a book about an elf who comes and lives with a family and watches the kids, and at night goes back to report to Santa (hmm, somewhat Orwellian, no?). The key thing is that the book comes packaged with a stuffed elf that the parents move around the house each night, so when the kids wake up they have to go find it. But why should the Christian kids get all of the slightly creepy fun? So now we get Mensch on a Bench and Maccabee on the Mantle. Really. Google them. Before I complain, though, this also seems to be a good money-maker. Joanna Brichetto of Bible Belt Balabusta fame had a laugh at this with her Schlemiel on a Wheel, Schmuck on a Truck, Schnorrer on a Menorah, etc..
First up, the Schlemiel on a Wheel. Joanna is kind enough to explain the terms for all us goys. "Schlemiel is the guy who spills the soup, and the schlemazel is the guy upon whom the soup is spilled." And now I know what Lavern and Shirley were singing about! Yes, I know, I'm dating myself.
Since Joanna lives in the south, she was sure to include the Schmuck on a Truck.
My favorite though, is the Schnorrer on a Menorah. Everybody give a round of applause for really painful puns. A schnorrer is a bum or a beggar.