the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Growing Old in Department Stores…

In humor, life, observations, writing on December 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

The other day I hung out with my wife while she did her Christmas shopping. My initial idea had been to hang out at Starbucks and write while she faced the angry hoards, but she bribed me with a free lunch, and I am a food whore. There are many signs that I am getting old: I run slower than I used to, I sometimes ache a little in the lower back, I have to actually trim my nose hair, etc., but I realized my middle-aged status while with my wife. As she went off to look for her mom’s present, I zero’ed in on this comfy couch in the middle of the floor where I found another middleaged guy. We gave each other the man-nod, which can mean many things depending on context but in this case meant, “Ah, you too are stuck in hell until the female in your life releases you.”

That alone wouldn’t have proved my age. What did show me exactly who and what I am was the fact that as I sat there, I kept noticing the looks I was getting by the young women who frequent the store. I’d like to say they were looking at me the way a niece would her charming uncle, but I can admit that some of them were young enough to be my own kids. Either way, they were amused at the two old-ish guys sitting on the couch, waiting for their wives.

It’s a telling thing that Rites of Passage are no longer dramatic episodes in one’s life, they are gauged by visits to the mall. So I am no longer a kid waiting impatiently with his mom, or a boyfriend hanging with his girl. I am now of the couch-dwelling class. Hear me sigh!


Do You Hear What I Hear? is the WORST X-Mas Song EVER–and part of Satan’s Plan

In humor, media, observations, Uncategorized on December 20, 2011 at 9:01 am

I am a Gen X‘er–you remember us? Supposedly, we’re ironic by nature. I’m not sure if we’re responsible for the wave of snark that drowns a lot of humor nowadays–I hope not. I think we might have something to do with hipsters and skinny jeans, and if so, I apologize. Snark and hipsterism, in general, are fine for a while, but it’s all kind of like candy: it eats away at you and leaves cavities where your soul is. I say this even though I’m about to snark out about one of the worst songs ever and THE worst holiday song currently playing at your local mall–and I’m including Hark the Herald Angels Sing in this, so you know I mean business. In my defense, I would say that the stakes are high. There’s a fake earnestness about Do You Hear What I Hear? that fools a lot of people into thinking that it means well.  It doesn’t. Do You Hear What I Hear? Well, do you? If you’re not hearing awfulness, then that’s a problem–a problem I want to solve right here, right now.

Let’s start with the lyrics: the song is a blow by blow of the night Jesus was born. Fine. It is Christmas, and there are people who actually think of Christmas as being a Christian holiday, so the content is what it is. The syntax of the lyrics is where the trouble really begins. It’s repetitive like a child playing a game of telephone in which the message gets out about the birth of baby Jesus starting with the wind and a lamb right on up to a mighty king. The structure of the story told is not very interesting– kind of like a proto-Tracy Chapman song, but without as much detail. Thanks be to God for that one. Still, repetitive and uninspired lyrics are not unusual and not exactly harmful. The problem comes in when the lyrics are combined with the music.

The repetitive structure of one character telling another character about the birth-event pushes the listener toward the end, which means that the composer had to write music that did the same thing. This is where I start cringing. Almost any version you listen to starts with simple music that then grows and grows in volume and intensity until by the end, you’re stuck with a deafening blast of sickly-sounding choristers singing through holy smiles, which in turn, causes the lead singer to do his/her damnedest to cut through all of the horns and drums and lame singing with his/her own lamer, louder singing. It’s all so earnest–too earnest, which ironically, makes it false. There’s no sense of humor here or wonder. There’s just this heavy, imposing wanna-be sanctity about the whole thing. It’s like the difference between a good person who doesn’t go announcing his goodness and the other guy who is always talking like a saint but who in reality is cutting up a goat and sacrificing it to Satan.

Too strong? Am I overstating the case? Well think about this: when I was a kid, there was this whole movement to uncover satanic messages in records. I don’t remember exactly, but I think the argument was something like if you played the records backwards, you’d hear someone tell you to go kill a goat or some other barnyard animal in the name of the Dark Prince. Look, talk all you want about Led Zepelin’s album covers or AC/DC’s secret lyrics, that stuff was in your face, at least. You might not like it. You might not want your kid listening to a song called Highway to Hell–FINE. But you can deal with the problem. Do You Hear What I Hear? on the other hands hides behind Jesus, but it’s a false prophet, my friends. The title itself should give it away. Do You Hear What I Hear? Cause the I in that title is hearing voices and they are evil and fake and they are everywhere. Do you hear it? I know I do. I hear something that is so awfu that only Satan could’ve produced it. It’s sneaky I’ll give the Dark One, but then what do you expect? It’s Satan..

I mean on the surface, it’s all goodness and light, but that’s how the dark one gets you. I

drives me up the wallI can’t tell you how many times students tell me I “shouldn’t trip”, which for those of you not in the know, does not mean I should watch where I walk. It means I should stay calm. But fuck that!  I am not a calm man, and Do You Hear What I Hear is awful–truly so. In fact, though it’s supposed to be all good and light, I think it’s Devil Music.

Secret Santas Suck…And They Shoudn’t Be Secret, Either

In humor, life, observations, Uncategorized on December 15, 2011 at 12:17 am

Look, I’m cheery. I am. I don’t like forced community put upon me by holiday parties at work, but the holidays themselves are nice, great even. I wholeheartedly accept the power of the Santa or the Dreidel or claymation Frosty the Snowmen to make people feel warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t even mind the music I have to put up with in every store I enter–unless it’s The Little Drummer Boy–THAT SONG IS UNBEARABLE!! But then there’s the Secret Santa thing, and that just makes me sad and angry. I’m ok with the idea in the abstract, but where I work, the Ladies (and yes, they are all ladies) have decided that we have to give presents and that we can’t give gift cads or money. AND that we have to keep it secret until the day of the party when we all have to watch each other open each other’s gifts. Yes, this has the makings of sadness.

I point out that my enemies in this are ladies because, rightly or wrongly, I have noticed a gender divide on the question of gifts. I usually hate these kinds of divides. I am not a subscriber to the men are from mars and women are from…where are they supposed to be from again? See, I don’t even know the title of that stupid book. But there might be a real difference between the sexes when it comes to gift-giving philosophies. First off, I’ve never met a guy who said he didn’t like money for a gift–never. And gift cards, most men agree unless they are hard-core cash lovers, are almost as good. But I have met many a woman who, like the Ladies at my job, resist the practical beauty of cold hard cash and/or gift cards. Why? I ask this simple question.

Look, I understand the principle involved in this stance. It kind of sucks when you see spouses giving each other money. And maybe I get it with siblings, too. In both cases, we’re talking family members, intimates. Hopefully, you know your family well enough to know what to buy them.  But really? With people you work with, people you don’t know well, why not give cash? The guy I was assigned this year is a nice guy, a good person, but I see him once a month at staff meetings. I know he’s a new father. I know he drinks coke. That’s it. And good reader, these two facts don’t give me much to go on as far as what to buy him. Should I give the guy a case of coke and a baby bottle so that he can get his son started early? Should I buy him…Fuck, I don’t even know him well enough to make ridiculous over-the-top jokes about what I should give him.

So screw it. Screw The Ladies and their principled stance on gift-giving. Screw the Secret Santa silliness. Tomorrow, I’m going to talk to the guy and I’m going to break it down for him: he needs to tell me what to buy him OR he needs to accept a gift card from Babies R Us or Target or some other store of his choosing. And let me say this now: I’m not only doing this for myself. I do this for men everywhere who want badly to give money and/or gift cards to strangers at their workplaces. God bless us. God bless us all.

Santa Rats Do Not Christmas Cheer Make

In life, observations, writing on November 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I can’t get my Twitter thingy to link up with the IPhone thing-a-majig, but if I could, you’d be entertained or horrified–probably a little of both–by a photo I just took on my way to my morning dose of charred caffeine.  Not more than a block from this Starbucks where I am presently slamming down a special-blend espresso–read burned and bitter–there is a home and in this home, there is a bay window and underneath said window is a smaller window that is packed top to bottom with Christmas dolls. It’s a small window.  Probably it’s the basement window, which means that it’s already a little creepy. (I lived in a basement for a year, and it was creepy, but that might just be my experience.) Anyway, even if let’s say you really like the basement-living experience you once had, this window would still hit the creepy-mark because the Christmas dolls displayed are not really cheery. They’re old-school toys–not in the Old World sense mind you. Rather, they’re old-school as in they’re from an old, sad, dilapidated school from the depression. There are gnomes, which are awful AND creepy like my basement apartment experience. Who had the idea that they’re for Christmas?   There are also reindeer figures and faded stuffed animals wearing jumpers made of green felt and Santa caps. The most prominent of them being a giant Santa Rat at the center.

OK, let me say this now: you can’t just take any old toy and dress it in green felt and think you have achieved XMas cheer. There’s more to it, which makes me think that maybe the owner of this basement was not after cheer.  Maybe it’s a cry for help. Maybe, the person living in the basement is a captive and is hoping that a passerby will call the police instead of blogging about it. Maybe I’m the damaged person in this equation–though I have to say that the idea of a Santa Rat is pretty awful and if this captive I’ve imagined was really calling for help, I think he or she might not want to try so hard. I mean I was willing to look closely at the exhibit precisely because I lived in a depressing basement once. So you could say I have a taste for the disturbing, or at least, I ‘m not completely put-off. But how many other people really going to spend tie looking at a big Santa Rat? There are limits. Even cops would be frightened.

Look, I’m hopeful that there is no captive living in that basement. In the greater scheme of things, it’d be much better if there was just some old shut-in living down there spreading questionable cheer with his/her Santa Rat.  Yes, as disturbing as the exhibit is and as weird as it would be for a person to actually assume that a Christmas Rat and other dingy old toys would make children and adults alike happy, I am hopeful that that is the case.  And if that’s the case, I hope that this old shut-in will take down the display on a timely basis and not wait til next Halloween–even though it would be a better fit for that holiday.


Thanksgiving Road Trip, part 1

In life, observations on November 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm


It’s Thanksgiving night and I’m on my way down to see my folks in LA. No, that’s not totally true. Right now, I am pulled over at a Denny’s in Pismo Beach. I would’ve pulled over to Starbucks, but alas, even Starbucks closes on Thanksgiving. My reason for pulling over and writing is that this is a very momentous Thanksgiving for me. I imagine that at least for the next 18-19 Thanksgivings, I will not be able to catch up with my off-the-grid- brethren. I am going to have a child in May and I am getting more and more excited about that, but like in everything, there are trade-offs. A child fin exchange for my off-the-grid Thanksgiving experiences.
I’ve had some really strange Turkey Days, and I am thankful for that. The one I spent with a friend at a convenience store in Boston eating Turkey subs with homeless people—that might my favorite of them all. Let me say it now: I’m not looking down on the people around me. Part of the reason that I tried to avoid a place like Denny’s is that here, I’m surrounded by people who want to celebrate the day. It’s just that for whatever reason, Denny’s is as good as they can do. So I’ve got widower or divorced dad and his kids on one side and old guys with Mickey Mouse sweaters on the other. These aren’t the people I’m interested in. I prefer those souls who are just completely uninterested in the holiday and in doing what everyone else does.
Why do I care? I’m going to admit it: I’m interested in people who choose to go off the grid. They fly in the face of tradition because for whatever reason, they choose not to care about something that most of us thoughtlessly accept. That might seem heady, but there’s something to be said about those small moments when you fight against social norms.

OR, I’m just a screwball, an odd-bod. Either way, if you love turkey and this day, more power to you. But if you are one of those people who just doesn’t give a rat’s ass about this holiday, then please know I’m raising a lukewarm cup of shitty coffee to you from somewhere between LA and San Fran.

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