Monthly Archives: December 2011

How to imrpove Christmas.

With Christmas now in our rear views and everyone’s sights set on getting out to the mall to return all the junk we got yesterday, I would like to take this moment to reflect.  Reflect upon the day that was.  Actually for many folks yesterday was the culmination of months worth of stress and agony over buying the right presents, decorating the house, preparing holiday meals, finances, facing the in-laws, and making sure everything is “just right”; and it will be followed by months of stress and agony over paying off all the crap you didn’t need to buy, followed by the sad realization that none of this is worth it.  By the time we finally pay off our financial and psychological debts next September, we’ll be just in time to do it all over again.  The only salvation will come if the world actually does end on 12/21/2012.

Now this sounds familiar because many people understand how outrageous and outlandish of a farce we have turned Christmas into.  Most people will read this and agree with almost every word I say.  So much so, that they will probably think that this is old news that need not be talked about.  But that is exactly what I am curious about.  If everyone knows and agrees that Christmas is overhyped, overspent and overdone, then why does it continue to be this way.  It would seem to me that if everyone sees this and thinks it’s a bad thing that we would alter it to make it better.  But that hasn’t happened and probably never will.  As I ponder the “numbskullness” of this I recount a line from the movie ‘Men In Black’ where Will Smith’s character questions why humans cannot know that there is extraterrestrial creatures living on Earth and Tommy Lee Jones’ character says, “the person is smart, but people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals”.  So each individual person knows that the commercial Christmas is bad but when we get together in society we forget it all and revert back to the craziness and hoopla of the season.

Don’t get me wrong there are things about Christmastime that are amazing, things that I love and look forward to every year.  Not the least of which includes the Christmas cookie!  But there are some things that occur during the holiday season that are truly irritating to me and the large sampling of people that I encountered this Christmas which includes about twelve family members.  As I talked to these people over the last few weeks I found that many of us have the same issues with Christmas.  So I decided to write down a list of ways that we can collectively as a society make Christmas better.

  1. Christmas music starts too early – Let me preface this by stating that I love Christmas music.  The classic holiday favorites like; Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and White Christmas etc. are awesome and I will sing them eight days a week during Christmas.  BUT, But, I will not do this in October.  There is absolutely no need to sing Christmas songs before you finish eating all of your Halloween candy, save it until well after Thanksgiving please.
  2. Christmas music in advertising- There is absolutely nothing more annoying than hearing the first few bars of a great Christmas song only to spend the next thirty seconds listening about “Mazda-days” or how Santa does his shopping at Target.  Advertisers, you have done enough damage convincing us that we really need a brand new car or a blu-ray player for Christmas.  Leave the Christmas songs alone.
  3. Christmas songs sung by dumb people- As I have stated, I love Christmas songs just as much as the next guy.  I don’t need every celebrity, personality, and band doing their own rendition of a Christmas song.  Unless you are going to do an iconic version of the song like Michael Jackson and Springsteen did “Santa Claus is comin to town” or Will Nelson who did “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”, leave it alone.  I don’t need to hear some dumb ass punk bands version of “O come all ye faithful”, or Rascal Flatts singing “Jingle Bell Rock”, it’s dumb, stop it.
  4. Facebook – I propose that everyone should de-activate their facebooks during the holiday season.  I have a few reasons for this.  First, no one cares that it’s ten o clock on Thanksgiving night and you’re in line at Walmart.  Go home and eat some pumpkin pie or something.  Second, people write dumb stuff on facebook.  “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”  We get it, you are watching “A Christmas Story”, we know that’s a famous line from the movie, it’s not original, it’s annoying.  Third, writing what you got for Christmas.  I thought this was the season for giving, why are you celebrating what you got.  All you’re doing is making me violate the 10th commandment, dick.  Fourth, people posting pictures of their children opening presents.  They are your children not mine, I don’t care.
  5. People feign religiousness- The last thing I need is for some guy who hasn’t been to church since Easter telling me about how we need to keep Christ in Christmas.
  6. People who say, “Keep Christ in Christmas”- Usually you hear this from two types of people, the kind I already mentioned and the people who do go to church every Sunday who think they have a claim to Christmas.  First of all, Jesus was a Jewish guy.  Second, he wasn’t really born in December, chill.  I understand that symbolically we celebrate Christmas as the day of Jesus’ birth; there are other religious and non-religious holidays this time of year so if someone wants to says Happy Holidays, who cares.
  7. Christmas is in December, not October, enough said.
  8. Cut back on all the extravagant gift giving- I mean hasn’t anyone seen ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’?  The season is about spending time together and being happy, not about Xbox games and I pads. If you’re Oprah Winfrey and you can afford to buy everyone in your life a new car or an Xbox then go right ahead.  But, for the average person, why are we stressing ourselves out trying to figure out which credit card to use to purchase outrageous gifts for people?  You shouldn’t be putting mortgage payments in jeopardy just to buy your kids Christmas presents while some fat guy in a red suit takes all the credit.
  9. Enough with the blowup Christmas decorations.  This is a suburban soccer mom thing.  I am all about decorating your house for Christmas but not if you are going to be lazy about it.  I mean really, you went to Walmart and grabbed a hideous looking giant elf.  All you gotta do is plug it in and call it a day.  If you aren’t climbing on your roof risking life and limb then you aren’t doing it right.
  10. Don’t act like an asshole at the mall.  Don’t start fights with people over a PlayStation 3 or a place in line.  Don’t yell at the store clerk because it’s December 24th and they are out of what you are looking for.  Don’t shoot somebody over a pair of basketball shoes.
  11. Do give some change to the Salvation Army bell ringer.  Do spend time with loved ones.  Do go Christmas caroling after too much eggnog.  Do kiss somebody under the mistletoe.  Do watch ‘A Christmas Story’ (just don’t write about it on facebook). And do buy a gift for someone special, but only because you want to give them something special, not because some advertiser has convinced you that you need to.

Think about it.  Think of how much more we could actually enjoy Christmas if it didn’t start in October.  If advertisers didn’t shove Christmas down our throats.  If we could buy presents for the joy and spontaneity of it rather than because its such a great sale that we will regret not buying it.  If we could all get along and celebrate being alive and well in 2011 rather than arguing about which holiday to celebrate.  Every holiday is special to someone, so why not share their joy with them instead of trying to take it away.  If we could genuinely walk up to someone, speak whichever holiday greeting (Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah etc.) we choose, and give them a hug.  (Anyone who reads this gets free hug!) So, here’s to 2012 and enjoying the new and improved Christmas season.  Now let’s just hope the Mayans were wrong about December 2012.

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Ranting and Raving: The Mark Twain Prize

Recently the Kennedy Center bestowed the Mark Twain Prize upon Will Ferrell.  I like Will Ferrell.  I think he is pretty darn funny.  Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Old School, Step Brothers, Buddy the Elf, all hilarious movies.  His SNL skits were some of the funniest ever.  That being said, I think his selection for the Mark Twain Prize was premature, if he deserves it at all.  And while we’re at it I would like to sound the trumpet of my even greater disapproval over Tina Fey receiving the award last year.  I mean Tina Fey is ok, she is kind of funny.  I know you 30 Rock people aren’t going to like this but when I look at her I don’t think of comedic greatness that should be honored.  At this point in her career she has had some success but not nearly enough to be honored by the Kennedy Center.  It’s not that I don’t like these two; I think they are both very funny, I just don’t think they deserved an award like this, at least not yet.

Maybe I just don’t understand exactly what the point of the award is.  Is it a lifetime achievement award to commemorate an entire career in the field of comedy?  The title says, “Honoring someone who makes a substantial contribution to comedy”.  It would seem to me that there are others in the world of comedy who could be more worthy of the award than Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.  John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Jon Stewart, Lenny Bruce, Rodney Dangerfield (to name  few) all seem to have made substantial contributions to comedy and have been around longer than both Tina Fey and Will Ferrell and have not received this honor.  Further, when you compare the two most recent recipients to some of the people who have already received this honor; George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, and Steve Martin, do they really compare?  I mean for crying out loud, George Carlin was in show business for fifty freakin years before he was given this prize.

Now with that being said, I am going to try to make my point here as concisely as possible without sounding like too much of a hater.  If the “Prize” is a quasi-lifetime achievement award then I think we can certainly make better cases for other individuals besides Fey and Ferrell.  True they both have had some success in the last ten years.  Tina Fey was even head writer at SNL for a number of years prior to gaining the heavy acclaim with which she is now bestowed.  And though Will Ferrell has probably had slightly more success than Tina Fey, he still in my opinion has fallen short of receiving a lifetime achievement award.  I don’t know what the criteria are for the Kennedy Center when they choose a winner.  But I have come to the conclusion that the selection process is flawed at best and at worst it has rendered this prize pointless.  Just like the Grammys and many of the other industry awards that are given out, it becomes a popularity contest and loses its purity.  Once it has lost its purity it loses its meaning.  This is a sad thing to say about an award given out by the Kennedy Center.

Even sadder still is the fact that there are candidates out there that probably are qualified.  Many of which I have already named but I will point to one whom I think is more than qualified, who has been in the business of comedy for quite some time, who has opened the doors for other comedians, and who is very popular.  Naturally I speak of Jon Stewart.  If the Kennedy Center wants to save some face and add some prestige back to their award they will give it to Jon Stewart next year.  He has been around going on twenty years, his stuff is absolutely hilarious, and he has helped launch the careers of many others in the world of comedy including, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, and Ed Helms who have gone on to do big things; as well as the guys on his current staff like Wyatt Cenac, Aasif Mandvi, and John Oliver.  I think most people would be hard pressed to find a better candidate than that.

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