Archive for December, 2012

FIVE RANDOM FIVE

December 30, 2012

Five Things I’m Honestly Not Quite Sure What They Are

The Fiscal Cliff

Longitude & latitude

Chicory

Flying buttresses

Wiz Khalifa

 

Five Little Known New Year’s Traditions

Making revolutions

Swinging the first axe of the new year

Mocking the bee

Eating chiclets off a cousin’s torso

The Black-Eyed Peas and Atban Klann

 

Five Updated Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Rapunzel, Vampire Slayer

Snow White, Alien Hunter

Cinderella, Zombie Taxidermist

Tom Thumb, Thumb Warrior

Rumpelstiltskin, Stilt Skinner

 

Five Rarely Used Yoga Positions

Plumber’s Moon

Crazy Aunt at Bingo

Pie in the Face

Hot Cheese Burning Roof of the Mouth

Downward Snoop Dogg

 

Five Children’s Book Characters’ Secret Fears

Waldo – Being Alone

The Man in the Yellow Hat – Monkeypox

Peter Rabbit – Hasenpfeffer

The Lorax – Moustache lice

The Hardy Boys – Finding out Nancy Drew’s really a dude

 

Sparky MacMillan is the fiercest robin-sized bird in the world.

ACES HIGH!

December 29, 2012

I have a confession to make. I know it’s wrong. I know I should probably be ashamed for doing it. I know that my friends will more than likely not support me when they find out.

But I can’t help myself. I just enjoy it far too much. And, yeah, I’ll admit that I don’t care whether it’s looked down upon, whether people admonish me or whether anyone will ever truly understand. So there. It’s what I am, part of me, that which makes me who I truly am.

So, I’ll say it. Own up.

a-hem

I like Ace of Base.

Call it innocuous Euro pop. Call them a cut-rate ABBA. Call me a silly prole who wouldn’t know good music from a hole in the head. Go on, I’ve heard it all before. Doesn’t matter. I love the Swedish pop foursome, their jumpy triple bass sound, their chart-friendly combination of pop and reggae. From The Sign to Don’t Turn Around, I just cannot get enough of Jenny, Malin, Jonas and Ulf. When I hear their songs on the radio, on TV, wherever, I dance, I sing, I jive and get down in a manner unparalleled with any other pop supergroup. Katy Perry doesn’t do it for me, not like that. One Direction leave me cold in comparison. Not even my obsession with the Spice Girls and New Kids on the Block measures in pure intensity to my longing for Ace of Base.

Oh, sure, the band’s continued inability to negotiate English-language lyrics with anything approaching subtlety is notorious and, outside of Cruel Summer, 1998’s Flowers was a disappointingly bland affair, not to mention their stateside popularity may be solely attributed to the heavy PR push of both distributor Arista and then pop-video record company lackey MTV, but, hey, their transatlantic chart success speaks for itself, as do multi-platinum albums.

So, scoff if you will. Mock if you must. I stand firm. I stand tall. I stand by my Tech Noir foursome.

Ace of Base, you rock!!

Well, maybe “rock” is too strong of a term.

Ace of Base, you promote generally healthy pop attitudes with your wholesome club-happy hits!

Uh … man.  Do you think there’s a twelve-step program for this type of ridiculous addiction?

Just Lettin’ It All Hang Out

December 27, 2012

“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.” – David Brink

And – what? He can use the blood from his gaping head wound as the mortar?

Squier! Squier! Pants on Fire!

December 25, 2012

A little yuletide goodness from the early days of MTV (when it actually stood for Music Television).

10 Things About Christmas That Really Bug Me

December 24, 2012

I know, I know. “Bah humbug,” right?  No.  Hardly.  I’m not in this to demean the season.  Christmas is cool.  But there are definitely a few things about it that really bug me.  Not the lines and mall parking lots and how people seem to forget how to drive the last few days before the big day.  No, those really piss me off too.  I’m talking the odd things here and there that most people wouldn’t even think twice about.  Like a stupid conversation at the table next to you while you’re dining out, these things just annoy me to the point that my holiday experience in toto is diminished.

Everything’s Closed.  “We will be closed on December 25 so that we can spend Christmas with our families.”  Really?  Honestly?  What about people without families?  What about those folks who don’t celebrate Christmas?  Shouldn’t they be working?  No way.  Christmas is a holiday and pretty much everyone takes it off regardless of religion or intent.  Like how you willingly take Memorial Day off but don’t bother even a second to remember the men and women who’ve sacrificed for our country while you grill hot dogs and sun yourself at the beach.  Not that I begrudge anyone a day off but I just resent having to limit my cuisine choices to Chinese food if I choose to dine out on 12/25.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.  Well, keep it to yourself.  I’m sick of hearing about it.  You want snow?  Then you want traffic fatalities and freezing temps and ice storms and old people being stacked up like cordwood.  Snow sucks.  You like snow?  Move to Greenland!

The music.  Sure Yule ditties like Wonderful Christmastime and Feliz Navidad, just to name two, should be lumped in with water boarding as forms of torture, but I can narrow down my seasonal bile to one song, one moment that so irks me I can barely type this because it makes me think of it.  Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.  The original Brenda Lee version.  I try to block it out of my memory but it’s when she sings, “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.” Then there’s this note – this evil note – that sounds like some instrument being strangled.  It goes up in pitch a bit.  I can’t even describe it.  I don’t know music well enough to understand its origins.  I only know that were I certain what instrument made this sound I might go on a one-man crusade to destroy each and every one of them to ensure this sound was never recreated ever again.

Naughty or nice.  Even as a kid, this moral absolute bothered me.  I could be pretty good all year but do one bad thing and all that good was cancelled out?  How naughty did you have to be?  I mean, I knew some nasty bullies that always seemed to get stuff from Santa every year.  What the heck was the fat man’s criteria?  And no one ever got coal or switches.  The whole thing seemed like nothing more than a way for parents to control their kids.  Which it was.

The Nutcracker. Don’t get it.  Never will.  It’s ballet.  Church is bad enough – now I have to watch ballet?  Dammit.

The science of Santa.  It never fails.  Every year some goon releases statistics on how fast Santa’s sleigh would have to travel to make his rounds and how, using wormholes and tesseracts and whatnot, he could actually deliver the presents in one night – and even how, through genetic engineering, possibly create a flying reindeer.  Every year.  IT’S PRETEND, YOU UBER-GEEKS!  At the very least, it’s magic.  So shut the hell up.

Which brings me to …

Legit news going soft to track Santa.  I just went to CNN’s web site.  On the front page is the headline “Santa makes first US stop in Florida.”  NORAD is tracking Santa, they claim.  I even heard on NPR earlier that the US government had lifted airspace restrictions to allow Santa to fly on his rounds.  Again: IT’S PRETEND, PEOPLE!!!!!  I’m all for creating a mystique for kids but I resent the lessening of legitimate journalism through fictitious means.  Somehow I just don’t see Edward R. Murrow making up this crap.

A Christmas Carol. Not that it’s a bad story.  Hell, it’s a great story!  Wonderful characters and bits and Dickens proved he was The Man!  But every time I read it or hear it read or see it portrayed, I can’t help but think that Scrooge was really a great big a-hole and that he was the last person on Earth to deserve such a wholesale shot at redemption by the entire netherworld. 

It’s a Wonderful Life rip-offs. Every sitcom seems to do one.  Every character seems to have that George Bailey moment.  Every one of us, we are led to believe, has a guardian angel ever ready to make us see the light.  Which, of course, is complete BS.  Would the world really be worse off if Boner from Growing Pains had never been born?  Don’t know.  Love to find out though.

Tangerines and nuts in stockings. Lame.  Just bloody lame.  Even Tiny Tim wasn’t this lame.

Sparky MacMillan still wants a hula hoop.

10 More Things About Christmas That Really Bug Me

December 24, 2012

Last year I regaled you with 10 Things About Christmas That Really Bug Me. I stand by the list.  But it wasn’t complete.  Not by far.  So here are ten more.

How Much the 12 Days Cost. Every year some joker does his sums to come up with an accurate accounting of how much it would run to buy (or rent) all the things mentioned in the 12 Days Of Christmas tune.  Sounds neat and fun in a slow news day kind of way but it’s honestly a total waste of time.  Sure, maybe there was a king or a sultan or some kooky Trump type who at one time actually considered buying all these things for his true love, but for the majority of us the practicality of it all just staggers the imagination.  Granted, the five gold rings might be a nice present (as might be the eight maids a-milking, if we play our cards right) but who wants to go cleaning up after all those swans and hens and turtle doves? 

The War on Christmas.  There isn’t one.  End of story.  So all you Bill O’Reillys can quit your bitchin’ and understand that your paranoia and bluster over nothing more than the rational assertion that maybe, hmm … yeah, church and state really should be separate makes us on what could probably be called “the other side” honestly want to start a freakin’ War on Christmas!

Ads in the style of classic Holiday Specials.  Okay, maybe the first one in the style of a Rankin-Bass special was cute but the second one was just derivative.  And any one that follows is a pale imitation. 

Frosty the Snowman.  I always found myself bothered by this guy.  He wasn’t alive until a magician’s hat got placed on his head.  Then he’s suddenly everyone’s frozen pal!  So does that mean that every snowman is a form of life that’s being deprived of being by the mere lack of a hat?  That’s creepy.  And then he makes his way to the North Pole to hang with Santa. So what?  He can’t really help him with his rounds because half the world is in the Southern hemisphere and therefore in summer during Christmastime.  “Come on, Frosty!  Hop on the sleigh!  Time to deliver toys to all the good girls and boys!  First stop: Australia!”  “Uh … but Santa … I don’t think that’s such a good idea.  I’ll just stay here and hang out in the walk-in freezer, okay?”  Sure you can say that Santa’s magic keeps Frosty frosty but then why not just say the same magic hat that gives him his pseudo-life also affords him an invulnerability to heat as well?  It’s freakin’ magic, people!  No need to overthink it.

Office parties.  Occasionally, they’re actually fun but more often than not they’re boring drudgeries that are only perfunctorily thrown by people who still lament the positive changes brought about by Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.  Plus it’s a party with your co-workers: the people who drive you nuts and have developed backbiting and gossip to a fine art.  Dental surgery without anesthetic sounds more pleasurable.

Mistletoe.  Never works like it does on TV or in films.  There’s always more awkwardness than there is liplocking.  Like when you try to nudge past drunken Uncle Stanley at the family get together and he makes some weird comment about how you’re both under the mistletoe, heh heh.  You’re not quite sure if he’s trying to get out some weak homophobic slur or actually making a pass at you.

Milk & cookies.  They tell you Santa gets hungry on his rounds and so you should leave out some milk & cookies.  You do so and then in the morning there’s a bite out of one of the cookies and half the milk is gone!  Santa was here!  Hallelujah!  Of course as a kid you’ll buy anything.  And that’s what gets me.  It’s like all the adults got together and said, “Okay, we’ll tell the children that this old fat guy goes all around the world in one night and delivers toys to all the good girls and boys.  He has flying reindeer and comes down your chimney.”  “Ah hell.  No way the kids are gonna buy that one.”  “Well then we’ll tell them to leave out some kind of snack item and then we’ll eat some it while they’re asleep.”  “Brilliant!  No child would ever suspect we are lying to them!”  See?  It’s just overkill. 

Santa’s sack.  I don’t know when it became dirty, but somehow it’s now something people can’t say without snickering, like it’s a double entendre in a bad porno.

Bells.  They just seem more prevalent during the holiday season - and therefore more annoying.  Occasionally they can be put to good use as an actual instrument handled by a skilled percussionist.  Occasionally.  More often, it’s wielded by that yokel in front of the Super K begging for money.  Clang clang! Clang-a-clang clang!  Clang clang!  Clang-a-clang clang!  FOR HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS!!!!

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  Cute kiddie song?  Hardly.  The little brat singing the ditty is all a-titter that mommy’s kissing old St. Nick.  He doesn’t know it’s his dad.  In fact, he opines, “Oh what a laugh it would have been if Daddy had only seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night.”  Ya think?  Oh yeah.  Dad would really have loved to catch his wife making out with another guy.  Let’s face it, if the kid is correct and it’s not his pop in a fake beard then mommy is, at best, a flirt and a cheat or, at worst, whoring herself out to get the kid his Christmas presents.

Yet Another 10 Things About Christmas That Really Bug Me

December 24, 2012

I’ve pontificated before (okay, ranted) about the seasonal stupidity that threatens the otherwise festive nature of Christmastime. First, I gave you 10 THINGS ABOUT CHRISTMAS THAT REALLY BUG ME. Then, I penned 10 MORE THINGS ABOUT CHRISTMAS THAT REALLY BUG ME.  Now?  You’re soaking in it, mes amis.

The Gift Card Haters.  Okay, I’ll give you a husband should have more going for him than reducing his marriage to a fifty dollar gift card from Lowe’s.  But anyone who gets pissy because a coworker or friend and distant relative thought enough to essentially give them spending money at a place they might like to spend said money should have their egg nogged.

The Colors. Red and Green? Yeah.  Not the most inspired.  Halloween has black and orange and that makes sense. Green? Okay, the tree thing, yeah, I’ll give you that. And red, the Santa stuff maybe, why not?  But together, these complementary colors just sort of leave me lukewarm.

Traffic cops and whistles. Okay, this one’s personal. I was wrapping gifts for a charity at a mall the other day and the mall traffic was so bad that they had to hire some off duty cops to direct traffic (because most of the idiots behind the wheel don’t know what to do at a four-way stop, apparently). Well, I wrapped gifts for four hours to the sounds of this over-zealous traffic cop tweeting on his whistle every ten seconds.  Tweet!  Tweet tweet!  Tweet! Tweeeet! Tweet-a-tweet- tweet!  You try listening to that and not want to shove coal up somebody’s stocking.

Naughty or nice as double entendre.  Somewhere along the way, some adults thought it would be fun to sexualize Santa Claus.  Naughty elves, a hot Mrs. Claus, reindeer games (you know what I mean).  And each and every one of these bozos will attempt to co-opt the phrase “naughty or nice” as some kind of speakeasy access to triple Xmas shenanigans.  “Have you been naughty or nice?” “I’ve been veeeeery naughty, Santa.”  “Ho ho HO!”

Happy Holidays!  Every year, you get the diehards who bitch and moan about how people don’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore and how “Happy Holidays” is demeaning the Yuletide spirit.  Well, I like to say “Happy Holidays” because there are multiple holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, heck I’ll even throw in Boxing Day.  I may only see folks once at year’s end, so by using the salutation “Happy Holidays” I get ‘em all in.  Anybody whines about how I’m ruining Christmas because I’m thoughtfully inclusive can bloody well suck it.

Switches in the stocking.  What do you get when you cross a festive holiday with the threat of child abuse?  Switches in the stocking.  Always struck me as some Victorian holdover that deserved Social Services to come a-callin’.

Adults believing in Santa.  Why do people think an adult who still believes in Father Christmas is charming?  This year, I’ve been treated to a half dozen television series that played with that premise.  Usually characters surrounding this person go out of their way to keep this belief alive, calling it childlike and innocent.  When in real-life, you know someone over the age of 16 who still thinks Santa comes down the chimney every year and you’re gonna put them on special meds. 

The sad trees. The ones that are left at the Christmas tree lots on December 25. You drive by and they’re all just sitting there, unloved.  Hey, I got picked last for kickball, I know how it feels!

Bad Santa.  Not the Billy Bob Thorton film, the real bad Santas – the ones that are just phoning it in or should never have put on the suit.  You find them at malls and department stores and wherever kids need a lap and a hope.  Most of these guys are okay.  They have real beards and bellies full of jelly and they can manage a passable Ho Ho Ho without embarrassing themselves.  But those other guys, the bad Santas.  They might as well be punching kids right in the face.

Hermey the Elf. He wanted to be a dentist and everyone gave him $#!& for it. What? Santa’s got a medical plan so damn good he can’t add some dental to it? They don’t need tooth work at the North Pole? You tellin’ me with all those candy canes and gingerbread houses around they don’t get cavities? Wait, some of you are defending this travesty – it’s MAGIC, you say, as if magic, that catch-all for lazy writing, explained anything. Hey, magic doesn’t make the toys. Magic doesn’t train the reindeer. Magic didn’t help Santa get through the fog. Magic doesn’t do diddly squat!  Elves need a freakin’ dentist and Hermey was the go-to dude. Instead of razzing the guy, applaud his drive and gumption. Don’t make fun of him for wanting to be a dentist, make fun of him for getting his diploma online from the University of Phoenix!

Sparky MacMillan is the official sentry of the Isle of Misfit toys.

Next, Please

December 22, 2012

Why are we still talking about it? Who the hell cares? I was bored with them before they started sucking up all that unnecessary media time. Basically, here’s ten people, places and things I’m completely sick of…

The Fiscal Cliff

Layaway Angels (more like Layaway Enablers)

Who Ashton’s dating or divorcing or, well … pretty much anything Ashton-related

Cardamom, the most stupidly-named spice of all

Super villains that use hourglasses to time their death traps (no, it’s NOT retro – it’s lame!)

The BCS

Chocolate-covered berries (yes, they are delicious but dipping strawberries in chocolate does not make chocolate healthy!)

Craft beers

Hugh Hefner and his dysfunctional parade of younger and younger fiancées

Crashing things into the moon (call it science, if you like, but it’s just the engineering equivalent of lobbing crap over the neighbor’s fence when you’re bored and it’s only a matter of time until the moon zombies awaken from their millennial slumber and THEY WILL BE PISSED!)

Yes, please, I’ve had up to here with the whole lot of you. Please deposit your 15 minutes at the same door you should not let you hit you on the ass as you leave through it.

Project X

December 20, 2012

Happy birthday to Alan Parsons! He’s much more than just a halfway decent joke in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. So, to celebrate, here’s a 1984 Top 20 hit with a pretty cool video…

Din Mother

December 19, 2012

One time, in fifth grade, I was having a cub scout meeting at my place and this neighbor came over – I think his name was Mr. Hopnagle – and he complained about all the noise we kids were making. (We lived in a crappy apartment with paper-thin walls, a far cry from the crappy apartment with cardboard-thin walls I live in today.) My mom, whom I suspect had been putting up with a pack of screaming Webelos only by way of a bottle of Jim Beam she kept hidden in the toilet tank, tried to dissuade the neighbor from contacting the landlord and having us evicted. Eventually, they both went into the bedroom and put on the soundtrack to Urban Cowboy real loud. After about ten minutes, Mr. Hopnagle came out to the living room and got a couple of Pasbt out of the fridge and some nylon cords we were using to pratice knot tying and he went back inside the bedroom. About five minutes later I heard my mom scream Tom Selleck’s name. Then Mr. Hopnagle left and my mom came out and told all the kids to go home even though we hadn’t worked out all the plans for the upcoming pinewood derby. We got evicted two weeks later, however, not because Hopnagle complained but because my dad was found passed out drunk and naked in the laundry room.