Thursday, December 30, 2004

Catfisting update!

Catfisting is now legal in Missouri.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What about Festivus?

I've been taking the ongoing kerfuffle over "Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas" with a rather large grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. The whole thing stinks of astroturf, in spirit if not in actuality, and I really wish Christmas were a much smaller-scale holiday without the spirit of enforced, coerced cheeriness that so many people often seem to demand from everyone else on the holiday. I found the bit in the otherwise delightful Elf in which James Caan's character saves Christmas because he joins in the Christmas carols! And he really means it! And it changes him for the better! to ring profoundly false.

Of course, Bad Santa is my favorite Christmas movie, so what do I know?

At any rate, I hadn't planned to comment on the matter one way or the other, but I want to point out these two recent pieces. The first is from Virgina Postrel:
Why criticize merchants for including all their customers in wishes for a happy holiday season? The holidays do, after all, stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year's, both nonsectarian holidays. "Happy Holidays" includes Christmas, for those who celebrate it. But it also includes holidays we all share, as well as some others only a minority observe.

When you extend these greetings, are you wishing people happiness? Or affirming your Christianity? Do you want people who don't celebrate Christmas to be happy (or merry)? Or do you want to make them at least mildly uncomfortable? The answers will determine what you say.

And this editorial from my local paper, the Star-Tribune, nails it:
What must be dealt with is the misplaced martyrdom of the complainers. Yes, there have been silly incidents, particularly in public schools where Christmas symbols, songs and stories were discouraged while elements of Ramadan, Hanukkah and Kwanza were elevated. There was no need for Maplewood, N.J., to pull Christmas carols -- even the instrumental versions -- from school performances, or for Denver to exclude a religious float from its Christmas parade. Well-meaning people occasionally go overboard in trying not to offend minority cultures.
We are puzzled that those professing faith seem faithless in the power of the Christmas story to overcome whatever small slights occasionally appear. Indeed, it seems a nice gesture to wish "Happy Holidays" to those you don't know well, while reserving "Merry Christmas" for the festival's deeper meaning. It seems a hard task to celebrate a baby's humble birth with a chip on your shoulder.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Books for kids

Every year, Barnes & Noble runs a program where you can buy books for needy kids in the store. They have tags or cards that say "Boy Age 12" or "Girl Age 8" or whatever on them, and you pick one of these up, go buy an appropriate book, and the store gets the books to the kids. It's a great way to do something that actually helps someone during this time of the year.

This year She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have noticed, though, that a lot of cards are going unclaimed at our local stores. We're talking big fat stacks of unclaimed cards. I know it's just a few days before Christmas, but this is important; if you're reading this blog, you're undoubtedly extremely literate and remember just how damn important books were when you were a kid. And this program will put books in the hands of kids who wouldn't have them, otherwise.

So go here and find a nearby Barnes & Noble and go buy a book for a kid who needs one, or go here and do it online, OK?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Quick JLU thoughts

Last night's episode, "Wake the Dead" (a title rich with multiple interpretations), was quite good and an improvement on the previous week's episode. I loved the Swamp Thing poster on the wall in the opening scene, and the Not-Hellboy statue we also saw there. I'm amused by the continuing use of the animated DC Universe's Non-Defenders team, with Amazo now apparently stepping in as a Silver Surfer type. The meat of the story, Grundy's return and Hawkgirl's ongoing issues with herself and her fellow heroes, was nicely done and at times honestly moving. It's a bit disturbing to learn that John Stewart is a serial co-worker dater, and part of me wishes we never learned how the League's vote on Hawkgirl shook out. My one real concern is that I hope we continue to see fallout from Hawkgirl's actions; redemption stories can be done well, (cf Angel and even Spike, in the final analysis) or hideously (cf the waste of screen time known as Andrew).

As for last week's episode, it's not that it was bad so much as unmemorable. The use of the Atom was fun, except for his SuperFriends-caliber exposition to no one and his dialogue was a little too Standard Warren Ellis Curmudgeon off-the-shelf. But it's always nice to see (or hear) John C. McGinley, and the design for the Atom oddly resembled him, to my tired grad student eyes, at least (She Who Must Be Obeyed agreed with me on this, and thought the manner in which Wonder Woman carried the Atom was gratuitous).

An Emily Litella moment

Sigh. I was all set to write an entry about how the New York Times is looking for Bernard Kerik's nanny and how Bob Greenberger's hired her, but it turns out that my memory and reading skills are fuzzy, and Greenberger actually had hired Zoe Baird's nanny, so never mind.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Words that make me feel old

"Jenny McCarthy's Comeback Pictorial."

I mean, for God's sake, she's MY age, and I know I haven't gone anywhere...

Monday, December 06, 2004

I'm gonna freak out with my geek out*

Can I get an "Amen" and a "Heck yeah!" for Saturday's episode of Justice League Unlimited?

Saturday night we saw the League dip its toes into metanarrative waters, as we got riffs on both Super Friends -- represented by the modern series' versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman -- and The Authority -- in the form of "The Ultimen," thinly-veiled versions of lame PC characters Samurai, Apache Chief, and Black Vulcan, plus updated, less-stupid versions of the Wonder Twins. Genius! Particularly since it was the Ultimen who were deferent, respectful, and polite to the point that Superman thought they were corny -- an amusing spin on the tiresome posing we've come to expect from hip, kewl, "extreme" super-teams.

Add to that appearances by late-80s DC mainstays Amanda Waller and Maxwell Lord, and a continuance of the government-conspiracy plot to create its own super-beings and you're really cooking with gas. I also couldn't help notice that the credits included clips from a future episode in which we see the Shining Knight, Vigilante, Green Arrow, and the Crimson Avenger -- that's 4/7 of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, for those of you counting, and we've already seen Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. in previous episodes -- fighting alongside one another. If they actually do a Seven Soldiers episode I think fanboy heads will explode with glee all over the country. Can someone please put Bruce Timm, Dwayne McDuffie, Alan Burnett, and friends in charge of DC Comics?

* with apologies to Stifler.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Sax for sale!

A public service announcement: Amy Lee, Jimmy Buffett's stupendously talented saxophone player, is having a sale when you buy both of her albums.

Fooish inconsistency

Kevin Drum decries the most irritating thing about our haphazard, all-but-useless security screening at airports:

But for crying out loud, can't they make up their minds about what the policy is and then enforce it the same way at every airport in the country? I'd just like to know what they expect instead of playing a guessing game every time I get on a plane.

In the past year or so, I've been told that my sneakers don't have to be removed, because they won't set off the metal detectors, that my sneakers have to be removed, because they could set off the metal detectors, that a blazer needn't be removed, and that a blazer must be removed -- all in four different trips. No wonder nobody takes airport screenings seriously, or as anything but an annoyance between the curb and the plane.