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December 26, 2005


That is one cute family.

I never would have suspected, but having a Buckethead CD on as background music during dinner was pretty nice, Electric Tears or something.

I was the 1st year that Santa didn't leave the big gift display, just stockings. Kind of bittersweet. My daughter is 15 and does better shopping for herself. She did get a little doll in her stocking.

In New Zealand, the holiday is universally referred to as "Christmas", and saying "Happy Holidays" would be seen as an absurd bit of PC nonsense. But it's still an overwhelmingly secular event. We're _aware_ that it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, but only in the sense that we're aware honey is bee vomit.

NeoDude: every time I consider my family, I think I am the luckiest person ever. Smart, decent, funny, sane, good people, every one of them. It's downright unnerving. Especially since none of them takes themselves seriously, at least in the wrong ways.

And did I mention funny? My Dad and my little brother, in particular, have two of the world's best ever senses of humor.

To pick one example: just think of how many times one stares at an apparently endless mess of things one has let slide, things that must be attended to right now: at such moments, I find, saying to myself, in a dismal, gloomy over-the-top voice, "These are the chains I forged in life!" is truly the only possible response.)

This is absolutely fantastic, Hilzoy.

Merry Christmas!

I remember when three years ago my oldes son had a Christmas celebration at school and was read the bible story. It suddenly dawned on me that that was part of it too, of course...

I have always celebrated it much like you Hilzoy. Family, warmth, being togeter, lots of lights and candles and a beautifull tree. But very secular. I used to say that I didn't even want to do gifts at Christmas, only at "sinterklaas" (santa claus) which is december 5th. But I married an English/Irishmen so I cannot escape presents under the tree :)

We both love family gatherings, so we always invite everybody over at our place for Christmas dinner for a traditional English christmasdinner. This year was even more chaotic than normal, but we still managed to get everybody around the tree and make them all feel cared for - which is the main thing.

My parents were and are very serious about their Christian faith, but apart from that, the Hilzoy family Christmas sounds a lot like mine. Illness and other circumstances require us to scale back these days, but we keep the spirit very much alive and well.

My mother buys a birthday cake, and we all sing happy birthday to Jesus.

No snark and irony.

(Among the traditional German pagan stuff, of course.)

"So: how was your Christmas?"

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons ev’rywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on ev’ryone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev’ry fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

My family Christmas is a lot like Hilzoy's. I, too, love Christmas, everything about it from traditional carols, tree, gift wrap, choosing tings for people, the whole thing. I celebrate twice, once with Paul's family and once with mine. We make a big protracted ritual of the gift unwrappong, one present at a time with lots of oohing and awing between and breaks for eating. We aren't Christians (we're Unitarians) but who cares? Christmas is still fun.

Just about everything I need to say about this, I said last year.

Glad you get some good out of Christmas. For some of us, it's about the most intolerable month and a half out of the year.

Catsy: I think the key, for me, is that "expectations" were never a part of it. That, plus the fact that my parents istilled in all of us a more or less total skepticism about all media messages (not just the Christmas ones), so I always just thought of them as noise to be disregarded.

von: the part about Marley's ghost is just full of apt gems. E.g.:

"“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”"

And, of course, addressed to mental oddities one knows are idiotic, unlike Marley's ghost:

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato."

Our Christmas tradition: watch the 1951 Scrooge with Alastair Sim.

Another choice quote, by the Ghost of Christmas Present, with two waifs clinging to him:

"They are Man's. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy."

Pressies are optional here Catsy :)
We did a few small ones for everybody, my mum did three tiny ones for the kids, my brother did pressies for everybody, British relatives sent pressies for our three kids and my sister & family didn't do anything except compliment us on the food.

It was a nice American Christmas, in other words a monument to excess.

Every year, my Dad, who is really wonderful at reading things aloud, read part of A Christmas Carol.

When I was a kid, my dad would read the entire book to us on sucessive nights leading up to Christmas. He had a wonderful voice for it. If I ever have children, I plan to do the same for them.

My favorite lines from the book came right at the beginning:

"Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

My mom took ill just before Christmas -- nothing serious, thankfully, but incapacitating nonetheless -- so we did a stripped down version this year: no tree, no wrapping of presents (except for my dad, who went above and beyond there), a pre-cooked spiral cut ham, XMas brunch and dinner and dinner tonight [Boxing Dinner?] prepared by yours truly, and the like. Turns out that it was a damn good Christmas all around.

The Unitarian Church I attended for Christmas Eve has a very traditional Christianish service with lots and lots of carol singing, which I like, and nice candle-lit Silent Night and bombastic Joy to the World ending.

"Well, I dreamed I saw the knights
In armor coming,
Saying something about a queen.
There were peasants singing and
Drummers drumming
And the archer split the tree.
There was a fanfare blowing
To the sun
That was floating on the breeze.
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies.
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies."

K. D. Lang version, actually.

All in a dream. But good wishes, and merry happy, otherwise, to all. (I'll try to have content again, real soon now, possibly even before next year; no promises, of course.)

And on Christmas music, I'm with Mark Kleiman:

"On one point the defenders of "Christmas" against "the Holidays" have a clear advantage: they have much better music. Having spent part of today in LaGuardia, O'Hare, and LAX, I was subjected to the incessant drone of non-sectarian "holiday" music, and was reminded of the basic fact about it: it's unspeakably lousy.

Genuine Christmas music, by contrast, is pretty great: compare Good King Wenceslaus, The Holly and the Ivy, Adeste Fideles, Angels We have Heard on High, and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen with Winter Wonderland, Frosty the Snowman, I'll be Home for Christmas, and (shudder) The Jingle Bell Rock. (Somehow neither Bach nor Handel ever made in onto the radio playlist.)"

I'd add: O Come, O Come Emanuel, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and anything medieval.

Anarch: sorry to hear about your Mom. I hope she's better, or will be asap.

Catsy's link reminds me that I miss Edward, by the way.

Presumably he's enjoying himself, wherever he's gone to (no, you really don't have to link to the couple of comments he's made in recent weeks; I did notice, but that's not the point). This was a better blog when he used to hang out on it, back in the day. (I also miss Moe; I'm sentimental; where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, etc.)

I try not to imagine what O'Reilly would think, bad for my mental health such as it is.

I think your Christmas is yet more evidence that you are a superior life form though.

I had a nice Christmas other than the tension from spending time with my stepfather, but I don't think I've ever had a Christmas that was as fun as yours sound.

hilzoy, your story was mine, circa 1960. Thirty plus people in a house on Xmas day.
My grandparents saw their grandchildren nearly every day. Then they retired and got summer and winter places;and their children moved away from each other; and the grandchildren had smaller families and moved away from each other and there really is no extended family anymore. I had two siblings and six cousins in the same high school together. We no longer even phone each other.

At one time I put a huge moral weight to it, that the only real achievement for a good person was to keep the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren within short driving distance. That money, fame, accomplishment were nothing compared to teaching the family to want each other.

But it was probably only a coincidence of the baby-boom and postwar economy.

Gary: I didn't answer your comments before because my response took time. However: there are people who care about you and wish you well. Strange but true.

One of my friends and I once got into the habit of cheering each other up through the somewhat improbably means of sending each other tapes that were even gloomier than whichever one of us needed cheering up, or at least would allow us to plunge into it in an over-the-top sort of way. (This began with a series of Breakup Tapes, sent on the obvious occasions, containing the most desperately sad breakup music the other one could think of, and proceeded from there.) In this vein, I offer you the Gloomy music download page. At least some of it will probably be new gloomy music.

(Please don't think I'm making light of anything. In my experience, this actually works, in something like the way that declaiming bits of Marley's Ghost to myself in my plummiest voice works.)

They are in three classes: gloomy and miserable music; really, really gloomy and miserable music (the big guns); and then, for those occasions when nothing else works at all, gloomy renaissance music involving countertenors (the thermoinuclear weapons of gloomy music.)

I'm not sure 'enjoy!' would be the right thing to say here.

And there is nothing illusory about love.

Improbable, not improbably. And yes: I know that there is no 'i' in thermonuclear.

I have always treasured the benediction in Here We Come a-Wassailing. The urge to bestow good wishes for love and joy is another one that transcends religion, and the secularist can thoroughly enjoy a blessing when he pleases.

But I'd like to put in a good word for a few contemporary holiday songs. Even though I have sung plenty of Bach & Handel in various choruses, I still have a soft spot for the schmaltz-meisters like Mel Torme and Andy Williams. "It's the Holiday Season", "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"--those speak to other parts of the holiday experience than "He Shall Purify", and I like them both.

I'm not defending Frosty the Snowman--it's a horrible song, whose chord structure is transparently ripped off from the equally horrible Rudolph. Nothing good to be said about them.

(Except that Fafblog, always brilliant, ascended to new heights last week in the report from the front about the War on Christmas:
"I hear they got Rudolph today" says me.
"No!" says Giblets "Not Rudolph! ...."

I sent it to my brother, who replied "Fafblog is admirably orthogonal to any universe I inhabit - who are those guys???")

Christmas songs I could do without:

1) 12 Days
2) Little Drummer Boy

Best non-hymn carols:

1) The Christmas Song - Mel Torme was great.
2) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, especially the movie version - so Judy Garland really got to me that once, make what you want of it.

I got Geo Clinton and PFunk live in Montreaux 2004 as a present, and watched that 2 times whilst everybody was out and about, so I was smiling a lot while going through and throwing out old bills and junk mail.

Hmmm... gloomy music... some suggestions (prodded by hilzoy's link):

"Am I Blue" -- I first heard Bette Midler sing this but Google tells me Billie Holiday did too.

"God's Song" (Randy Newman).

"Roses Blue" (Joni Mitchell).

Gary, when I read your post above I thought of Joni Mitchell's "River", now forever linked in my mind with You've Got Mail. As for S&G:

Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.

But, to cheer you up: the Marching Song of the Incompetents, a theme for paleontologists.

"Strange but true."


As I just said on my blog: I'm only happy when it rains.

"..."Fafblog is admirably orthogonal to any universe I inhabit - who are those guys???")"

I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

The sky, she is a hazy shade of winter.

"(Please don't think I'm making light of anything. In my experience, this actually works, in something like the way that declaiming bits of Marley's Ghost to myself in my plummiest voice works.)"

In fact, one of my best tricks to try to move out of the depressed is to make fun of myself for being so miserable.

I used to play Neil Young just for this purpose.

But mostly it's just a matter of patience, and knowing that this, too, shall pass. If I've ever learned anything, it's how to live through depression (a lot of years of deep clinical experience, which is surely genetically based; at least I didn't get the whole crazed bipolar thing, which my Dad would otherwise have likely blessed me with, if not for luck).

Thanks for being nice to me, though. I don't take it for granted.

"How terribly strange to be seventy."

Anna and I used to sing "will you still love me when I'm sixty-four?" to each other. Of course, then she broke up with me, twenty-two years ago this week, so I'm completely nuts for speaking as if it were otherwise, and as if I'd not had subsequent relationships, and whatnot (although not lately). Still, she was the love of my life, and I'm working on letting go. Not quietly, apparently. Sorry about that.

Back to the sloop John B., and more music.

Gary: if this trick works for you, then it's time to play 'Insane Asylum'. Not only one of the most over-the-top gloomies ever, but you get to listen to someone say: 'And this is what the little girl said...', and then have the alleged 'little girl' turn out to be Koko Taylor, the single least likely 'little girl' of all time, at least among females.

Also recommended: playing Neil Young on the guitar while imitating his voice.

(Oh: 'Insane Asylum' is on the Gloomy Music page mentioned above. Everyone should listen to Koko Taylor, imho.)

"...and saying 'Happy Holidays' would be seen as an absurd bit of PC nonsense."

Probably not so many Jews and Buddhists and Moslems and suchlike, around.

I mostly keep my mouth shut on the topic, these days, because I'm older and wiser (typo made that "wider," which is also quite correct; did I mention how badly it comes out before I edit?.)

On the one hand, there's no good involved in over-excitment about being a minority, but, on the other hand, smugness from a majority isn't completely admirable, either.

On the tricks I play with myself, I say, whine, whine, whine, self. Always with the whine.

And then I point and laugh. Because he's just a silly man, and particularly so when whinging. Especially given how constant the drone is.

I can't imitate Young's voice, but I did start laughing at the whining even back circa 1973. (Although I'm still glad Paul Williams turned me on to Mr. Young; Apple Bay wasn't a bad book; goddamn shame I lost the original manuscript years later [part of the whole "losing all your possessions" thing].)

I'm being too self-involved to have yet checked out the gloomy music page, but this, too, will pass.

Funny thing, in the holiday weekend has made me think about in my goofed up way, that Pro Football (go Bears) and P Funk are all about what America should be. It really is about being youself on the one hand and then on the other giving it up for the team. For instance, I read reviews about the PFunk DVD on the one hand saying that what are these old 50, 60+ year old black men doing this Funk stuff when they are obviously past their prime? And why are all these white girls shaking theirs asses fronting for the band?

Now I'll allow that Geo Clinton can't really sing anymore, but he's giving it his all, even with the visible nose hairs and such. And those old guys, are they Grady and P-Nut? On the other hand Billy Bass (the musical instrument, not the singing fish), and Michael Hampton (why does he still love the hard rock so much?),
Bernie Worrell (on the Praxis CD, along with Bootsy Collins, that I got for my son because it features Buckethead.), and BlackByrd McKnight (way too modest, great guitarist) are really looking good for their ages.

But Kendra Foster, Kim Manning on vocals and Lili Haydn on vocals and violin really keep it alive, because they have the funk, and frankly, they are easy on the eyes. They are keeping it going (the show I saw a few years ago, Kim and Kendra handled well over half of the vocals) so why complain that they aren't black enough? Kendra is biracial by the way.

Yeah, it it crass and vulgar. but the respect is given to the older heroes of the past, just like revering Brett Favre, but knocking him down and intercepting him, and hating on the cheesehead Packers. But there is an ethic here that you work hard and get to the point where you can say "Lets Take it to the Stage", and show up the old guys.

And then there are senseless tragedies like Tony Dungy's kid. Which is so much worse than Bobby Wade getting kicked of the Bears. Bobby is apparently the nicest guy that anyone can imagine, but too many mistakes, so he's gone.

I'm not sure now where I was going with this, I think I was trying to demonstrate how common culture transcends identity politics, and that we all are capable of great accomplishments with hard work and good luck, and we all are subject to tragedy that comes without respect to success and or wealth.

Also, I'd like to add that hot Glogg is pretty tasty this time of year, with nuts and clementines.

Also, I don't play guitar, or any other instrument than the blog. As I told someone in email a few hours ago, my only art is bullshit.

I'd be far more interesting and fun, otherwise, I'm sure. I do drum my fingers quite a bit, though. And strum other people's body parts when on offer, but I digress badly. Rhythm, harmony, it's all good, though. No offense intended in the sentence two back. Oh, look, Halley's comet, again.

There must be something in the NY Times I should comment on, now. Or the Washington Post. A DVD, at least. I'm sure there's torture going on somewhere, and not just me to myself, so much more gently than to others.

Happy new year, soon. In a few days, my fourth blog anniversary comes up again. I'd thank the guy who inspired me, if he'd not stopped speaking to me (again) a year or two ago.

Time to look for the sock to jam, again. Or drum the fingers. Much less embarassing, that.

On the other hand, I dont understand how Geo Clinton can approve of his granddaughter, Shonda "Sativa" Clinton taking part in that kind of debauchery.

Also, if Gary had cruised the Wingnut sites, he would have found the perfect holiday card

Gary, I think you are way cool. My comments were written offline and I pasted them in not in response to anything you said, but as an example of how Lovie Smith (Bears coach) and George Clinton (PFunk coach) are just trying to put together a winning team.

And also I want to entice hilzoy to "Give up the Funk".

"Probably not so many Jews and Buddhists and Moslems and suchlike, around."

That's part of it - almost all New Zealanders are at least culturally Christian. But it's also that Christmas is so secularised that mention of it would be unlikely to offend any religious minority.

I'm only very mildly funkadelic, Dave, but many thanks, regardless.

Mostly I'm just stuck on being happy only when it rains. I know it's garbage.

I'd deeply love to visit New Zealand, incidentally. The previous owners weren't Christian, but nonetheless, may or I, or somesuch. Even before Peter Jackson started advertising.

Great post. It was really interesting to know how people made their Xmas :). I've read with pleasure!

I've never been one for the gloomy music. The cheerful optimistic bounce of a Franklin's Tower -- maybe Winterland June 9, 1977 if one has time for some meandering -- is usually enough. Black Peter slid into Chuck Berry's Around & Around in that 1979 show at Red Rocks, and took me with it.

(And yes, I downloaded it before they changed the rules. Ha!)

For down down down, though, it's hard to beat Robert Cray's "Sonny" -- a story we know plays out manyfold any time there's a war on.

But his pain is just beginning I'm so ashamed of what I've done

I've discovered, for me at least, that Christmas is a reflection. I actually married in to Christmas. As my upbringing was simple and relatively humble, so was our Christmas. Dad was a fireman, so every year was a tad different, depending on which day he had to work. As I grew older, our small family was separated more by geographics. The family of my loving wife did the gathering part very well, and I was quickly and readily adopted/adapted into happily making that trip every year. Much of what hilzoy reflected on was present as the brothers,sisters, aunts, uncles and the children met up at her folk's house. Now that we are older and life has affected us all a bit differently, Christmas has also changed, maybe a bit more reflective of those of my childhood. Not sad, not bad. Just a different stage of life. Merry Christmas all you crazy commenters. We're free to argue, debate and harangue amongst ourselves for another Happy New Year.

I love these threads where tastes outside the usual subjects of argument come up. It's a whole different web of ties and differences, and delights me.


I would have never labeled you a P-Funk aficionado.

If you can get your hands on Eddie Hazel’s EP and the double CD Axiom Ambient has Hazel’s rifts drifting in and out, throughout the trip. Worrell and Bill Laswell and Bootsy Collins show up.

I have unearthed some pretty cool bootlegs of Michael Hampton and BlackByrd McKnight, from Japan.

Some Eddie Hazel Listings

"When Will I Be Loved?"

That's always had the right amount of ridiculously over-the-top self-pity.

"It's a whole different web of ties and differences, and delights me."

I blame George Bush.

This was one of the first years I've been "stressed" at Christmas; my girlfriend and I kept remarking on how late we got into the season. Too many things I really enjoy dropped by the wayside-- baking was crammed into two evenings, instead of being a daily wind down. Lots of other little things just didn't happen; the train's not up around the tree, Christmas cards didn't go out... it's the little things that signify the season to me.

Still, it was a good year-- only my brother couldn't make Christmas, and we're getting to do Christmas at New Years with his family, so that's pretty all right. Presents were out of control, enjoyably, and I'm looking forward to my nephew opening up the model rocket we got him. Time with the family is good, as are naps after breakfast.

Thanks NeoDude,

That jams from the heart EP looks intereseting, especially if the Lompoc Boogie is anywhere near as good as the review says.

Also reminds me that I need to get a copy of Standing on The Verge of Getting It On

I was familiar with Parliament way back when, at parties and such, but didn't really know the Eddie Hazel stuff until picked the 1st Funkadelic on a whim. And coincidentally there was a Pfunk show at a guitar factory nearby, and all I can say is that it was awesome. (Though an old feller like me might complain, "too loud") Some of the guitar factory guys got in on the extended jams and were hamming it up so much that BlackByrd kind of got ticked off and showed how it's really done!

I have but a single request as we saunter into this, the new year:

Make my funk the P-Funk.

For I do believe that I wants to get funked up.

"What would Bill O'Reilly make of me, I wonder?"

He's a demagogue, so he will make of you whatever he wishes. After all, FOX apparently had Santa Claus on for an interview, and he revealed he's a Republican ... he was wearing a little button that read "I have courage", or some such.

That's O.K. Jesus Christ is a Democrat and endorses the welfare state and the death tax. He wouldn't mind a tax on reincarnation, too, because he doesn't mind being taxed twice, unlike the sinners in America.

Dave C: "nuts and clementines"

Good name for a blog. You, me, and that clementine, Hilzoy.

John T.,

"After all, FOX apparently had Santa Claus on for an interview, and he revealed he's a Republican ... he was wearing a little button that read "I have courage", or some such.

That's O.K. Jesus Christ is a Democrat"

One of the best things PJ O'Rourke ever wrote (even if I didn't agree with it) was on how Santa was a Democrat, and God was a Republican. I guess he will no longer be invited to participate on Fox.

Little Drummer Boy

This is probably the only song I've had ruined in recent years. Ruined by a The Family Guy commercial, where the dad-guy is singing something like this, to the tune:

I have some gifts for you, they're up in my bum.

Context probably unimportant there; silliness quotient high. The last memorable one was Walkin' Roung in Women's Underwear, which ruined a perfectly good old song.

Christmas was nice and quiet, just us four. Tomorrow it's up to the Atlanta area to flirt with disaster by packing as much of my wife's family into one house as is possible. My family does well under such pressure, but hers...well, the odds of someone having the social equivalent of a psychotic episode increase rapidly with the number of immediate family, and I think we're going to see all of them together at once. Last Christmas we had my mother-in-law chewing my wife out at top volume (which is pretty close to permanent ear damage) with my kids watching, slack-jawed. Me, too. One of those situations that are so completely bizarre as to derail the train of thought until well past time when any sort of intervention was possible.

Which was just about the closest my marriage with her has been to lasting damage. I had to admit that I just couldn't come up with anything. My father-in-law seized up in a similar way, so I've got cover. So, I'm thinking about living on martinis for a couple of days, and staying out from underfoot.

I think the main thing that bothers me about American Christmas is that it is the intersection of two of my least favorite parts of American culture: consumerism and religiosity. We already consume so much more than we should in terms of energy and resources that the hyper-consumerism of the holiday season strikes me as being beyond obscene... it's like someone who lives in a house full of smokers going on a once-a year binge of smoking two packs a day. And that's not even touching on how the increasing focus on accumulation of material goods creates poor financial habits in people who really can't afford them.

As for the religiosity aspect... let's just say that growing up areligious and with a distaste for doctrinal religion leaves one with a very different view than most people of just how difficult it is to avoid having one aspect or another of Christianity shoved down your throat in America. For someone like me, the Christmas season is a month and a half-long reminder of how that line in the Bill of Rights about establishing religions is really more of a guideline, and one that a third of the country would be happy to do away with entirely.

Put the two together, and the end result is that I have to try very hard, from about the end of October until after the New Year, to not become an increasingly bitter asshole to random strangers who genuinely think they're saying something nice to me and have no idea that they're rubbing my nose in something that I loathe for a variety of very well-defined and well-grounded reasons.

Catsy, you've got Japan experience, right? Our family was never a big Christmasy type family, so I don't miss much of it, and to be here and watch the Japanese treat it as a 'we have no idea why we are supposed to do this, but try and pretend like we know what we are doing' is perfect for me, and it sounds like just the ticket for you. Now, you just have to find a job where you can be assigned to Japan for the Oct to Jan period.

(Of course, Japanese do the consumerist thing pretty well, but it always seems like pretending at it rather than actually taking it on board)

Yeah, my ex-girlfriend Mari loved Christmas, but was about as typical a Japanese secularist as you'll find, so I know what you're talking about. It didn't bother me with her, except when she insisted on listening to Christmas music, and I think my reactions (or lack thereof) had less to do with Christmas per se than with the Japanese way of assimilating foreign cultural icons and making them uniquely Japanese.

It was Christmas? I wondered why the roads were clear. They should hold one more often. And, given that the multitudinous true Christians have now, presumably, given away all their belongings to the poor and freed me, for a few weeks, of the task of filling up the donated food bin when I buy groceries, I will have more money to spend on liquor and hookers.

What a great holiday.

I do love the bit about churches trying to decide whether or not to hold Christmas services or not, what with it falling on a Sunday and all. Day off, you know?

No one really believes in religion, its the people who pretend to you have to watch out for.

And holidays are stupid. There is no bad day to have fun.

And, given that the multitudinous true Christians have now, presumably, given away all their belongings to the poor

Ah, why bother? The poor will always be around.

I agree with Bruce; it is fun to find out all of these non-political perspectives on people.

I'm still wallowing in the beauty of Christmas lights and the luxury of not having to get up at the usual time and the extravagant fun of having TIME on my hands. I don't go back to work until next Tuesday, ha, ha, ha. Just me and my dog on the couch with a great big pile of books!

O'Reilly declared war on Christmas--and lost.

Is commenting working again yet? Or is it just me?

Is commenting working again yet? Or is it just me?

It's just you.

Yep -- I seem to be able to comment, but Gary, alas, does not.

"Yep -- I seem to be able to comment, but Gary, alas, does not."

I figured he saw I wrote something nice about him and was in shock...

"Yep -- I seem to be able to comment, but Gary, alas, does not."

Insane grammar quibble - this is parallel, but I get a penumbra of "does" misconnecting. Quibble or just insane?

It works if means "Gary does not seem able to comment."

(Experimenting with a different post, different thread, again, give that the last two other experimental changes I tried led to no joy.)

Okay, but the message I'm trying to post failed again. Another test without it?

Okay, sections, then.
First section failed, trying second.

I'd like to note, though, for anyone unaware, that Craig Murray's saga has been playing out in the newspapers and BBC and worldwide press since his public speech on torture in Uzbekistan in October of 2002, and then all the events between him and the Foreign Office in 2003.

Third section failed, trying fourth.

His has not been an unheard voice nor has his story been secret or obscure or unreported. Just saying, since you didn't feel it worth mentioning, javelina. As usual, I have no larger point here; this is not put forward as an argument towards or against any other point than what I just said.

Oh, and regarding Murray's personal site, I suggest looking

All right. Data suggests that the system is suppressing my attempts to post material, particularly URLS which is where Murray's relevant work can be found.

Make of that what you will. Will try other work around in the morning, like e-mailing my posts to others for them to attempt to post it here. Volunteers may post a comment letting me who is volunteering, and their e-address. I'm crashing, on drugs, extremely fast, now.

Yep, it's suppressing the specific info only.

I couldn't asked for a better demo of these sorts of capabilities, whatever is precisely the case here, whicy turn out to be completely innocuous.

h, and regarding Murray's personal site, I suggest looking here. I'm not bothering to check the Wayback Machine, but you might want to.

kay, yup, there's a March 9th, 2005 archive">">archive still there. Are we sure his site isn't gone because it's amazingly badly designed and ugly?

It won't accept the other passages. I'm crashing and will try again in the mrning.

"but Gary, alas, does not... seem to be able to comment.

If that's the intent, that works. if not, it doesn't. (I may withdraw this at the moment ecause my meds have turned my brains to turgid flaming mud.

The dKos site has a number of links to the Craig Murray stuff here.

The Craig Murray site is here

I've read with pleasure. Maybe it's offtopic, but i just wanted to say, that it's really interesting to read everything this... You discuss here a lot of interesting things on different useful themes. Thanks for that =)

It seems to be a mirror of sorts.

I'm always hopeful for the possibility of 'A Christmas Carol' like transformation in the various and sundry who need it -- we too read excerpts on the Day. I tend to do more giving than receiving, and more after Xmas than on or before.* (It really cuts against the materialist vein, but of course no one gets much of a materialist buzz from either a bottle of wine you aren't supposed to drink for a few years, or a sweetgrass braid). I never get Christmas cards organized, but send a New Year message far and wide.

I do wish three ghosts would visit Bill 'are there no jails' O'Reilly some Christmas Eve. He'd probably learn a thing or two. And might even recognize the face on that child Ignorance . . .

* Kids (mine and my siblings) of course get stuff on time, my son doubly so because his birthday is Dec. 24.

That comment from Kate is spam, in case anyone cares.

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