Bonus Post: A Few of My Favorite Things!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by K-Mo

Since I missed two days this month, I’ll be making them up tonight and tomorrow with bonus posts.

I’ve been doing some form of the Cynical Advent Calendar for quite a few years now (about the same amount of time I’ve been working in retail…) so I’ve gotten kind of a reputation as somewhat of a Grinch or a Scrooge or some other Christmassy villain. Nothing could be further from the truth! I don’t HATE Christmas, I just hate certain things about Christmas.

So, to be a good sport, I thought I’d make a list of the ten things I like most about the holiday season.

Christmas Crunch!

Fuck yes!

10. Christmas Crunch – I know, I know, it’s just normal Crunchberries with a Christmas theme, but goddamn if I don’t love this cereal to death! Nothing says Christmas to me than that malted corn taste and that sick greenish/pinkish milk that’s left over.

9. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – There’s a small list of Christmas movies I can stomach, but this one is just tops. It’s the kind of movie you wouldn’t mind watching in the middle of the summer (and admit it, you probably have!) It was a hard toss-up between this movie and A Christmas Story but ever since TBS started playing it for 24-hours straight on Christmas Day, it’s gotten kind of played out.

8. The Simpson’s Christmas Special- The episode that started the whole phenominon! It’s a little dated by today’s standards and the Simpson’s characters hadn’t exactly developed completely yet, but I still laugh every time Lisa pokes Bart and he goes “Ow! Quit it!” after getting a tattoo for Christmas and then having it removed with a laser.

7. A Muppet Family Christmas – Not to be confused with any of the other Mupper Christmas specials, this one was from the late 80’s/early 90’s when the Fraggles were in full swing and featured not only the classic Muppets but the Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock gang as well. As a little kid I was completely in heaven whenever this special aired on TV. Unfortunately it’s like impossible to find nowadays.

6. Christmas Cookies – Surprise! Fat kid loves cookies! I’m a glutton for sweets and Christmas is just the best time for these things! My mom always makes a ton of cookies but so does everyone else I know so I’m constantly at cookie maximus each December.

5. Stocking Stuffers – Despite being insanely too old to have a stocking, my mother still stuffs one for my brother and I each year. It’s mostly stuff we need like deodorant, a toothbrush, shower gel, etc  with a healthy dose of candy added in. Every year I tell her I don’t need a stocking anymore, but really I think I’d be lost without one. I always seem to run out of the essentials by this point and its nice to get some freebies.

4. Coca-Cola in Glass Bottles – This is what I imagine the three wise men must have drank on the way to see baby J. I’m a glutton for pop, but pop in a glass bottle is like the elixer of life.  They’re usually gone by the time I go to sleep on Christmas night, but it’s still a treasure to behold each year.

3. X-Entertianment’s Advent CalendarEvery year the only thing to keep me going during the holidays is this website’s annual advent countdown.  Something as simple as showing off the contents of the Playmobile and Lego advent calendars has spun into an annual epic episodic tale of hand energy, the many clones of Mare Winningham, giant coconut crabs and Christmas magic.  You must check it out!

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – The best holiday special of all time. Sure, I love the Peanuts, but this has it beat. I used to watch our taped-off-the-TV copy of this movie all the time, despite the season. The Bumble? Amazing. The Island of Misfit Toys? Amazing.  The whole thing is just amazing.

1. New Stuff – What can I say, I like getting new things! What’s the point of Christmas if you can’t restock your inventory a little bit? I know I’m looking forward to not wearing tattered clothing anymore.  Yeah consumerism is ruining the holiday, but that’s not going to stop me from accepting presents. Me love presents.

December 21st – Real Christmas Trees

Posted in Advent Calendar Entry 2009 with tags , , , on December 21, 2009 by K-Mo

This is it folks, Christmas is this week so the blog will be wrapping up, but not before unwrapping more cynical presents for you readers! This week I’m letting out all the stops with the holiday subjects that will be the most controversial.

Plus! Be sure to stick around with the blog next week for a special 5-day “I Hate New Years” countdown to 2010!

Today’s gripe is going to be one of those that divides my readers. People who get real Christmas trees each year have made a pretty stable tradition of it and will defend it to death.  Sorry to offend you real tree psychos but I’m giving a big old thumbs down to this tradition!

I used to be one of you. Every year I got to be in charge of watering the real tree that we lovingly put up in our home. Then one Christmas my mom announced we were going with a fake tree and I thought that the holiday would never be the same again.

And then I got over it.

I mean, for starters, let’s talk about the ecological impact that real trees have.  Sure, they’re grown on specialty farms so its not like you’re going out and actually taking a tree from the wild, but still, it’s completely wasteful.  You kill something, bring it into your home so you can decorate it and watch it die for a few weeks and then dump it unceremoniously on the side of the road for the garbage man to pick up.  It’s a colossial waste for what’s not even a Christian tradition anyway.

It’s not just a waste of resources, it’s a waste of money as well. Every year you go out and pay for a new tree just to throw it out later. It’s like you’re renting it or something. Why not just buy one tree and get a few years use out of it?

Plus, real trees can often look sickly or awkward or just plain weird. If you get a nice enough fake tree it always looks full and can be adjusted to the perfect size for the room you have it in.

Then there’s the needles! Oh my god, why would you ever want to bring that many prickly annoying things into your house? By the end of the whole event, the house becomes no longer safe to walk around in barefoot.

Some people say they can’t live without the smell of a real Christmas tree, that it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to them. Okay, I can understand that and I can see why the smell of fake pine candles or spray might not be the same thing, but when it comes down to it, you’re investing all this time and money and hassle for a scent. That’s kind of weird.

Thanks to Becky!

Thanks to Becky for letting me show off her awesome tree!

There’s some people who skip the whole real vs fake debate and don’t do trees at all. I think that’s a commendable idea! A friend of mine on Livejournal didn’t feel up for getting a tree this year and instead painted a 2-dimensional one that I think is way cooler! The added lights and ornaments really brings it all together.

Whatever tree you decide to do, just remember that the Pagans came up with the idea first, so you might want to rethink all the Jesus-y Christmas ornaments. I’m not sure he’d like that too much.

December 20th – Get Some New Food, Christmas!

Posted in Advent Calendar Entry 2009 with tags , , , on December 21, 2009 by K-Mo

Sorry for missing another day in the C.A.C. yesterday, but like I said before the holidays have a tendency to take up all of the time in a day. I’ll be making up the two entries I missed with double posts on Monday and Tuesday!

Now I’m a fat kid who loves food and any excuse to gorge myself on tasty noms is good enough for me.  Christmas dinner, however, was never a real big draw for me. As a kid, eating dinner at Christmas was like the ultimate test in patience. All you wanted to do was either open presents or play with the ones you already got, but here were these older people shoving food in your face making you choke it down before you could have any fun.

Now that I’m older and don’t see dinner as a distraction, I still have an issue with what’s on the menu. Christmas is like the ultimate rip-off when it comes to dinner. It’s either a re-tread of the Thanksgiving staples like turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and whatnot or a ham is served, much like on Easter. I shouldn’t feel like it’s possible that I’m eating month old leftovers from a holiday that’s only purpose seems to be to kick-off the Christmas season.

After eating these same meals year after year I keep hoping one day my relatives will get all creative while watching Food Network and try something different. At this point, I’d love it if we just ordered pizzas and got drunk, but that’s why I’m not in charge of any of these things.

Variety is the spice of life and there’s a huge difference between tradition and terrible. It’s tradition to get together to eat,  the menu ought to be flexible.  This year, I impore you all to bring a dish that’s out of the ordinary to Christmas dinner and shake things up.  Is it too much to make it a meal that’s actually worth waiting a year for?

December 18th – Shopping Insanity!

Posted in Advent Calendar Entry 2009 with tags , , , , on December 18, 2009 by K-Mo

Today I finished all of my Christmas shopping in one glorious go (except for one more gift, which I am ordering online from the comfort of my own home.) I refused to get swept up in the holiday madness this year and planned all of my gifts out well in advance so I could just swoop in and buy them all when I had the money. Don’t get me wrong, I like shopping, I just hate people and going into a store a week before Christmas is like entering a human zoo.

I know it’s kind of cliche at this point to even moan about Christmas shopping because it’s common knowledge that the stores will be packed and that people will be losing their goddamn minds over stuff.  That doesn’t make it any less terrible and there’s no way I could run a blog like this and not touch upon the subject.

I should be doing all of my shopping online, but the only thing preventing me from doing that is all the shipping hassles. Its not too outrageous if you buy the gifts at the beginning of the month, but as the season winds down and that last paycheck before Christmas comes in, you end up paying double the amount just to get it to ship in time.  In that sense, every year I’m essentially duped into entering the brick and morter stores anyway, despite my attempts to go digital.

This year wasn’t as bad as in recent years, but I also got smart. I went during the day, as early as I could, when many people were still at work. That’s not to say it wasn’t still a complete madhouse of old people, stay at home moms and screaming children, but at least the lines weren’t terribly long.

The worst though is the parking. Why does Christmas have to be in December when it’s freezing out? I have no idea who these people are who get the front parking spots, but I’m always stuck out in the wastelands of the lot and have to use a GPS to find my way back to civilization.  The long trek to the store in the cold is just sickening, but even worse is coming back to your car. You’re guaranteed that you won’t find it right away, causing a considerable amount of wandering around in the frigidness.  Then when you do find it, you’re not treated to that instant woosh of warmth like you get from entering the store.

Even if my shopping is all done, it doesn’t mean I get to completely avoid the chaos. Chances are sometime in the next week I’ll need to run up to the store for some toliet paper or other random item and get to experience the maddness all over again. You can’t do anything or go anywhere during this time of year without it being a real pain in the ass!

Can’t I just hibernate and wake up in a week or two when it’s safe to come out again?

December 17th – Christmas Themed Christmas Gifts

Posted in Advent Calendar Entry 2009 with tags , , , on December 17, 2009 by K-Mo

Okay, so I already talked ad nauseum about how awful Christmas clothing is,  but what’s even worse than that is receiving it as a gift. In fact any gift that’s holiday themed is pointless and kind of a waste of money because the person receiving the gift has to wait almost an entire year for it to be relevant. Oh sure, if you get it a few days early you have enough time to wear the “Ho Ho Ho” sweatshirt your clueless aunt bedazzled for you, but then its just boxed away and forgotten.

Now, there’s been few of these entries where I’ve been able to say I’m a culprit, but when it comes to giving gifts like these I’m guilty as charged — or at least I used to be. My mom used to be one of those people who had a Christmas Village on display, so each year the “safety” gift to get her, the one I KNEW she’d like, was another light-up ceramic  building for her seasonal suburb.

In my defense, however, this was the little kid equivalent of buying my mom a toy and they say most people buy gifts that they’d actually like to receive. It wasn’t my fault all the stuff she wanted was feminine and grown-up. But getting her a new police station for the village was something akin to giving her the Ninja Turtles Sewer Playset or the X-Men’s Danger Room.

These days the village stays boxed up in the basement having grown too large after years of receiving new pieces from me and my brother.  Likewise, my mother’s basement is filled to the brim with other unused holiday junk. That’s because every year my mom and her umpteen sisters and sister-in-laws all exchange Christmas bullshit with each other and so there are just boxes and boxes of unused  snowmen candle holders, Santa serving trays and other brik-a-brak that she’s completely forgotten about.

But who could blame her? Getting some new Christmas merchandise on December 24th is a guarantee of another eleven months of box time before any use can come of it. This summer, the holiday table at our garage sale was the biggest one and there’s still even more junk taking up space in the basement.

From now on, I think I’ll start giving all my relatives presents for 4th of July instead of useless Christmas junk.  That way the wait time until the item is actually useful would be cut in half.

December 16th – Modernized Santa

Posted in Advent Calendar Entry 2009 with tags , , , , on December 16, 2009 by K-Mo

Santa does not need to be cool Christmas is an old-fashioned holiday. The food is old-fashioned, the songs are all old-fashioned and even most of its traditions are old-fashioned, including the holiday’s official mascot Santa Claus.  So its no surprise that in order to reach a more modern generation, companies try to depict St. Nick as being a “cool guy” who wears sunglasses and jams out with a Jimmy Buffet cover band on the weekends.

The only problem with this is that whenever you try to make an old person “cool” and “hip” it always makes them look even more like a doddering old fool. Like they’re so confused from not taking their Alzheimer’s medication that they think they’re teenagers again. Nothing could be less cool than trying to make an old person cool.

Considering the legend of Santa Claus goes back to ancient times, he’s just about the oldest old person around. That also means that the more you try to modernize him, the cornier it ends up being in practice. Of course, you try telling that the the five hundred different companies who think they’re the first one to feature a Santa in sunglasses rocking out on the beach in their commercials.

Santa Claus doesn’t NEED to be modernized and all attempts to do it just ruin the “magic” of the holiday. Like when you start having Santa use a GPS to get around to all the Christ-worshipping children in the world instead of the standard holiday magic, it’s almost as if what’s being said is that holiday magic must be bought at the store (and can be returned for store credit within 30 days if you have your receipt.)

Santa is above all of that shit. I don’t want to see him listening to an iPod while he bumps and grinds in his tricked out sleigh with hydrolics while he Twitters about how much he loves the new Call of Duty for X-Box 360.  All he needs is milk, cookies, some elf slaves, flying reindeer and a little thing called holiday cheer. That’s all! Stop trying to pervert him with all these images that are supposed to make him hip and edgy for today’s web-savvy youth.

Can’t these companies realize that some things are just timeless and that Santa Claus is one of them?

December 15th – Little Saint Nick

Posted in Advent Calendar Entry 2009 with tags , , , , on December 15, 2009 by K-Mo

Maybe it’s just the fact that wailing, high-pitched harmonizing is no longer considered cool but I could never get into the Beach Boys.  And did anyone else find it weird that they were always guest starring on Full House? I mean, I know Uncle Jesse played drums for them but how far do we have to suspend disbelief to accept that this huge band is hanging out in the suburbs with this dorky family all the time, making music in the basement? These guys live in mansions and probably have their own recording studios!

But I digress, we’re not here to talk about the antics of the Tanner family, we’re here to talk about another song I freaking hate around this time of year. “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys is an excercise in holiday themed torture.

First of all, have the Beach Boys ever even SEEN a depiction of Santa Claus? Little is not the right word to describe him.  Portly, chubby, obese, these are all much better terms.  That alone shows you just how much work was put into this song (very little.) The lyrics are just dreadful.

Take the chorus of the song, where the Beach Boys are singing “Merry Christmas Santa” but it sounds an awful lot like “Merry Christmas Satan.” How redundant is it to even wish Santa a Merry Christmas? That’s like wishing for the sun to stay warm.

This little ditty is followed up with a super low bass filled “Christmas comes this time each year.” Obvious much? Yes, Christmas DOES come this time each year because it’s fucking Christmas time! That’s just such an unneccesary observation and it’s like, for some reason, the goddamn hook of this song. The Beach Boys later went on to write such hits as “People in love are sure in love” and “Friday night comes after Thursday.”

The worst thing about this song is that it is EVERYWHERE this time of year and since there’s pretty much no popular covers of the song, it’s always the exact same three minutes and twelve seconds of torture no matter where you hear it. You hear it in the stores, on the radio, waiting in the dentist’s office, at work, on TV, in movies, on commercials, coming out of hidden speakers in the bushes of your backyard, replacing sirens for emergency vehicles and when the moon is full in December, you can faintly hear it playing this song.