Nostalgia

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“Merry Wenceslas!” the old man shouted. He’d been at the tavern all afternoon, getting tanked up on cheer.

“You’re dragging in mud,” the old lady muttered, to no effect. She suffered. How she suffered.

Me and my sister sat near the tree, dry pine needles prickling our tender bottoms, attempting some x-ray eyes shit on the poorly wrapped packages. We willed them to be good toys, but they’d end up being socks, underwear, and plastic toys that would quickly break. But on Christmas Eve, those packages were tabula-rasa-full of possibility.

The old man heaved on the rug. The old lady sighed. The dog made a beeline for the pile of semi-digested peanuts and bits of pickled egg that had been simmering in bottom-shelf whiskey and Carling Black Label deep in his guts.

“Every year,” the old lady lamented. “Every year!” She was busy cooking a goose until the fat dripped over the lip of the pan and set the kitchen on fire, which she put out with a box of Arm & Hammer. Tradition! You can’t beat it.

Father Hubert awaited our attention for Christmas eve mass. We put on our itchy clothes, rode in the back seat while the old man weaved all over the road, lip-synced a bunch of nonsense at the church, and left.

Driving home from church, we looked out the window at all the homes, with the lights strung up, the blaring of fire engine sirens stirring the Christmas spirit inside our tiny souls.

After some rawhide-tough goose, soggy stuffing, and Campbell’s soup-enhanced vegetable matter, we retired to the den and opened one present apiece, killing one bit of hope in the process.

“Socks.”

“Mittens.”

“More eggnog,” said the old man.

“Get it yourself,” said the old lady.

Happy fucking holidays to one and all. Christmas is all about Jesus, not your fucking presents. Got it? Good. Move along now. Nothing left to see here.

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post From Your Pals at Paragraph Line

Pop Thanksgiving Quiz!

Q: Did President Truman pardon a turkey?

truman

A: No. Not the man who dropped the bomb. He most definitely did not pardon a turkey, not after vaporizing two cities filled with The Enemy. What’s not shown in this photo is Truman whipping a straight-razor out of his pocket and slicing the throat of this bird, then rubbing the spurting turkey blood all over his face and screaming out the battle cry of Battery D, 19th Field Artillery: “Fuck all of you! Fuck you all!” And then there was the cackling. The hideous cackling. Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach had a gripper on the spot and died next to the twitching turkey carcass. 

Now we shall take a moment to say a prayer that turkeys can fly.

Done a-prayin’? Good! Mainly, what I’m thankful for is that we have the best Congress that money can buy. If I was German, though, I’d be thankful for Heino.

What’s the real meaning of Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown? Why, it’s commerce, you blockhead! Remember: If you don’t participate in Black Friday, our annual patriotic orgy of consumerism, Jesus will appear in a pancake and smite you.

The gutless world of McSweeney’s

This is a weak bit of satire. There are no laughs to be had in this piece, merely a few wheezy hee-hee-hee’s. It’s lazy imitation Chandler.  And it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

If you’re going to satirize something, finish it. Go all the fucking way. But that’s not the McSweeney’s/Dave Eggers way, is it? Their version of irony apologizes for itself as it mocks. It doesn’t mock hard. It giggles at itself, mouth hidden behind both hands. It risks nothing and shows us nothing.

If you’re going to be a satirist, you had better be ready not to be liked. But the McSweeney’s bunch all want your smiles and your hugs. They want to share their pecan sandies with you over a glass of lemonade.

This kind of satire changes nothing, sheds light on nothing, because it doesn’t take sides. It isn’t even on the sidelines. It hides beneath the bleachers and whispers, “Are you my special friend? I’ll tell you a joke, but it’s not a good joke and I’m so sorry if it offends you and please won’t you like me anyway?”

Mr. Mike with Knife
Michael O’Donoghue should rise up out of his grave and beat them all to death with a shovel.
So, hmm. How to end this diatribe? Oh, right: Fuck you, McSweeney’s.

On David Lynch’s Art Not Being David Lynch Enough

Six-men-getting-sick-featureSo David Lynch has an art exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. And Ken Johnson at the New York Times has accused it of not being “Lynchian” enough. I’ll let you read more of the argument over at Dangerous Minds:

David Lynch not being Lynchian enough according to New York Times | Dangerous Minds.

My first thought on seeing the headline was “oh shit, that new Twin Peaks is gonna suck.”  But then I read half of the art at the show is stuff he did before he was even a filmmaker.  And looking at the walk-through on youtube makes me think the art critic is full of shit.  Then I remembered all critics are full of shit.  (And I’m a critic too, and so am I.)

Anyway, check out the aforementioned YouTube link.  And for fuck’s sake, if you’re east of the Mississippi, go to this thing; it closes in January.

King Dong and Moron Movies

Do you remember Moron Movies? They were short little 8mm movies that Johnny Carson showed back in the 80s.  Len Cella was the one-man shop that directed, filmed, narrated, and acted in all of these little capsules of absurdism, stuff like Jello Makes A Lousy Doorstop. Just the titles alone were hilarious, like An Exercise to Prevent Fat Ears and Hitler In First Grade.

The Moron Movies were a perfect example of a brief blip of absurdism in the 80s, a time when things like The Far Side and Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts were hilarious capsules of surrealist humor. (I know Deep Thoughts was shown on SNL in the 90s, but it all came from National Lampoon in the 80s.) Cella’s work was the great granddaddy of some of the funny stuff we see on YouTube or Vine, much like how Handey’s work is a direct precursor to some of the best twitter humor.  The Moron Movies are also an amazing demonstration of the DIY ethic, because Cella was banging these things out in his house on a cheap 8mm camera, without any help, and then mailing them off to Carson.

There is an (unfortunately named) documentary short from a couple of years ago called King Dong.  (Be careful of what you click when you search for that.)  It’s on YouTube now, and is worth the 20-some minutes to watch it.  There’s also an old VHS tape that I remember finding at Blockbuster in college and watching at three in the morning, and part of that has also surfaced on YouTube.  It’s all incredibly dated, which makes it perfect.

Johnny Rotten

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. I prefer my truth to be unsullied by facts. But another autobiography by John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, the hero of my youth)? Count me in! The Guardian has a review ready for your perusal.

What was the home life like, Johnny?

His mother, he says, suffered several miscarriages: “It’s quite a thing to carry a bucket of miscarriage – and you can see the little fingers and things in it – and have to flush it all down the outdoor toilet.”

Any other traumatic experiences?

The most moving passages in the book describe how, at seven, he contracted meningitis (from rats), endured a long coma, and lost most of his memory. “I hadn’t forgotten how to read, yet I couldn’t talk – language was gone,” he says. When his parents came to take him home from hospital, nurses and doctors “told me that they were my mum and dad, and I had to believe them”.

More at the Guardian.