Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Grumblings

I'm not a big fan of the Christmas season. It stresses me out. I don't know whom I should buy gifts for, how much I should spend, or what to purchase for the few lucky souls that I deem worthy of my munificence. I loath the cultural takeover America has pulled on Christmas.

Celebrate Christ's birth? Sounds like a great idea to me, maybe something the reverent should emphasize more on a daily basis and dissassociate from a single, arbitrary day. Give gifts to remind each other of God's gift of salvation to us? Yes! I'm down with that, but why do we feel pressured to go into credit card debt to do so? I'd rather give (or get) one thoughtful gift than several pricey ones.

The drive to shower each other with presents compels us to drive to the malls where we realize that everyone else in the city has decided to meet us there for some fun "crowding around the Rock/Pop A-D section" and "standing in check-out lines." The worst part of this arrangement, however, is the soundtrack.

I don't like Christmas music, folks. Now I do enjoy singing the occasional "Joy to the World" or the "cradle song" version of "Away in a Manger" (but who knows that one anymore?) one Sunday morning out of the year, but the rest of it stinks. I got "Winter Wonderland" stuck in my head the other day when I was cleaning pools and seriously contemplated putting my finger in a spinning impeller just so I could have an excuse to go home. The most vile Christmas tune ever perpetrated upon the innocent public, however, has got to be "Feliz Navidad." What a pretentious piece of tripe! That tune is so horrible yet catchy, and the way the lyrics are sung with an affected Spanish accent just grates on the intellectual nerves. (Gary Wabshaw, wherever you are, I hope God makes a special place in purgatory for you. Thanks to you, I cannot listen to "Feliz Navidad" without mentally singing "Fleas on My Dog").

Fortunately, back in 1965, Charles Shultz hired the Vince Guaraldi Trio to come up with some music for "A Charlie Brown Christmas." That music remains fresh and fun forty years later. It redeems (although I wouldn't say justifies) the whole awful Christmas genre. I love it. I don't know why I haven't bothered to buy a copy.

Time for me to do some shopping! I almost look forward to it. Why? Because I am blessed to have several people in my life who not only give thoughtful gifts, but several thoughtful gifts (I'm talkin' 'bout you, Amanda--and others). The kindness of my friends and family inspires me to give back and pay forward. That's my motivation to wade through the Christmas crap.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handy

Contrary to what most people say, the most dangerous animal in the world is not the lion or the tiger or even the elephant. It's a shark riding on an elephant's back, just trampling and eating everything they see.

As we were driving, we saw a sign that said "Watch for Rocks." Marta said it should read "Watch for Pretty Rocks." I told her she should write in her suggestion to the highway department, but she started saying it was a joke - just to get out of writing a simple letter! And I thought I was lazy!

One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to DisneyLand, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said, "DisneyLand burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real DisneyLand, but it was getting pretty late.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Forget Santa Claus...

The greatest 80s band ever--Styx--is coming to town. (Props to my wonderful girlfriend Amanda for the heads-up). Now you might disagree with me about their precise status as the greatest, but who can deny the alternatively relaxing and rocking power of "Come Sail Away"? Who can listen to "Lady" without being moved? Who can resist the awesome persuasion of "Mr. Roboto"? Who among us has cannot identify with having "Too Much (clap clap) Time on [Our] Hands"? Styx dives into our souls and surfaces to express our most basic needs--"Gimme a job, give me security"--and our innermost spiritual desires--"Show me the way/Take me tonight to the river and wash my illusions away!"

Oh Daniel DeYoung, what angelic vocal overtures! Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom of using synthesizers to rock!

Those of you who would not deign to give audience to Nugent (I guess that would be all of you), now is your chance to redeem yourselves. Join me in Fort Worth on January 20th for a night you will not soon forget. A paltry $12 is all you need to experience the magic. To paraphrase Ray Stevens, put your cares on ice--it's cheap at twice the price.