Fa-La-La Fail: Every war has collateral damage, and the war on Christmas is no different. In this case, it’s the District’s rush hour that will suffer. The National Christmas Tree is set to be lit this evening, in a big ceremony featuring President Obama, and gridlock is expected. Now you can grumble about Obama for the tax cut deal and for making you late to that holiday party tonight. -1

Elephants Are Strictly Carry-On: The rules for what you can and can’t bring on an airplane these days are strict, and only getting stricter—no liquids, no toner cartridges, and nothing you’d be embarrassed for a Transportation Security Administration agent to find in your underpants. A traveler flying into Dulles International Airport apparently figured elephant tails, chicken feathers, and bloody sheets were okay to bring along, though. Customs and Border Protection agents didn’t agree, and they burned everything—except the elephant tails, which yet another federal agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, picked up. Big government strikes again!  -2

Barryvision: Reality TV shows have already taken over most of the major networks’ programming—but it’s about to get even bigger. The first sneak preview of a reality show featuring Councilmember Marion Barry is out on YouTube. Barry, far and away the most charismatic politician in the District (and that probably includes the national politico types, too), could be bigger than Snooki when all’s said and done. +3

Because the National Portrait Gallery Belongs to Us: Under Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity, two apparently unconnected events may actually be linked in meaning. Which is as good a term as any for the fact that Patti Smith—former muse to Robert Mapplethorpe—is speaking at the National Portrait Gallery this weekend, the very museum where a culture war controversy reminiscent of the fights over Mapplethorpe’s work is currently raging. Remember, though, don’t try to go to Smith’s lecture wearing an iPad around your neck that’s playing A Fire in My Belly, or you’ll be banned for life. +2

Yesterday’s Needle rating: 46 Today’s score: +3 Bonus because Washington City Paper holiday party is tonight: +2 Today’s Needle rating: 51