Haters gonna hate

Did you know that there are people that hate Thanksgiving? There are. I googled it. They write about it with such disdainful contempt that its takes you aback. Gotta admit that not only was I unsure how to react but I was really, really curious. I wanted to know why these America-hating, Howard Zinn-loving, foodie-snobbing, vacation-loathing, self-important douchebags despised it so much. I mean its Thanksgiving, not prostate exam day.

After a short bit of looking, I’ve come to the conclusion that their hate was pretty well articulated by Colin McGuire two years ago in his column In Defense of…Hating Thanksgiving at PopMatters when he wrote that Thanksgiving, “…is without question the most meaningless, annoyingly traditional holiday celebrated.”

Um, what? Most meaningless, annoyingly traditional holiday? Valentine’s Day? Hello? If we’re going to start assigning the terms meaningless and annoying to traditional holidays it seems stunningly obvious that Valentine’s Day already occupies that spot. It was entirely created by Hallmark and the chocolate barons as way to make money in an otherwise meaningless month. And if these Thanksgiving haters have proven anything is that they detest anything as traditionally American as making money.

Regardless, McGuire blasts away at Thanksgiving the same way the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, or T-101, treated the police station when it was looking for Sarah Conner. My entirely subjective and utterly biased summary of his argument for Thanksgiving hate is below:

turkeyday#1It’s About Genocide.
Evidently by celebrating Thanksgiving we are not only taking pleasure in the slaughter of millions of native peoples over that last 500 years in the New World, we are also chortling through our bloody fangs at the carnage left by the mass murder of millions of turkeys. Now, I could be wrong but I don’t think I’m alone when I say genocide really wasn’t Abe Lincoln’s plan when he declared the last Thursday of November in 1863 a day of thanks. And I could have this wrong too but didn’t the Pilgrims leave England because they were in search of religious freedom? Or, in other words, they were a bunch of crazy right-wing nut bars who hated the government. Or people who watch Fox News, I guess, to those of you who are Thanksgiving haters. I mean the Pilgrims weren’t walking around with flamethrowers and bulldozers obliterating everything in their line of sight. But I guess, yeah, genocide is accurately blamed on Myles Standish.

ThanksgivingDinnerThe Menu
Bird, stuffing, and I assume by extension, gravy, crescent rolls, any form of potato, pumpkin pie and beer are all bad. They are bland and without flavor. You know, in America, we’re still free to make our own decisions. Unless its about keeping your own doctor and your own health care plan. Sure turkey is the traditional choice but that doesn’t mean you can’t add something. At my in-laws, they make ham balls. I’m told they’re good. Don’t really know because I don’t like to eat anything that ends in “balls.” Or “log.” And sometimes “loaf” if the word right before “loaf” is “cheese.” How miserable must you be if your reason for hating Thanksgiving is because someone invited you over and made you a big meal of turkey, stuffing and gravy? I’m just spitballing here but my instincts tell me the appropriate reaction to this is WTF…followed by derisive headshaking and an exasperated “you’ve got to be f’ing kidding me.” Or the same reaction you had when you were forced to endure two movies with Timothy Dalton as 007.

Turns out Thanksgiving forces folks to get together with family members who they spend the rest of the year avoiding. McGuire describes the day and the travel and events around the day as “habitual torture.” Torture, at least the way I understand it, is something that is inflicted upon you, not something in which you show up for and voluntarily participate. When I was growing up we weren’t really close to family for a good part of my younger years. So we, brace yourselves, got together with friends to celebrate Turkey Day. And sometimes, in addition to friends, my folks would invite some individuals who they worked with that also were relatively alone on Thanksgiving. And we celebrated with them too. Plus, and I’m totally not joking about this, they sometimes brought over their own contributions to the feast that weren’t within our own traditional menu options. And we, you’re totally not going to believe this, actually ate what they brought over even though it wasn’t traditional. Even though it was from the dude who liked NHL more than college football. And that was hard. So, in the interest of space, this line of reasoning in the hater’s satchel is, well, dung.

I had never heard of Dumpsgiving. Evidently this is a phenomenon that occurs every Thanksgiving week when college freshmen come home and dump their high school sweetheart after spending a couple months at college. Something else of which I have never heard? A single person who gives two craps about this. Dumpsgiving? Shut up.

Apparently when Thanksgiving was designated for a Thursday it was huge mistake because it lands in the middle of the week creating an inconvenience for millions of Americans. What is this so-called inconvenience? The inconvenience of being told to stay home from work. Evidently, the haters love work so much they are repelled, possibly nauseated, definitely offended, by the idea of not going to work. I assume that talking to these people is a lot like listening to Nancy Pelosi while trying to follow her logic.

McGuire finally summarizes his hate with this:

“The practice of celebrating Thanksgiving is old and trite and dull and boring and forced and a slave to a kind of tradition that is borderline intolerable. Outside of it solidifying the fact that yes, the calendar year is almost over, and no, it won’t be warm again for a little while (for those of us in the northern climes, anyway), the holiday itself is nothing more than a hollow attempt for poignancy by people who, in all honesty, would have to spend the next 10,000 years saying “thank you” on a loop to justify all the good fortune they have. It’s a manufactured conscience-clearer designed to trick us into thinking that a higher power actually believes us when we say—a mere one time a year, mind you—that we know precisely how spoiled we are. It’s smothered in the type of empty promises and obnoxious grandstanding that proves exactly how pious and obsessed most of us exemplify with our own exaggerated perception of ourselves.”

Yeah, that right there America is why it sucks to be an elitist know-it-all who condescendingly looks down upon the unenlightened masses foolishly duped into celebrating a backward and offensive holiday. While the sheer volume of pompous sanctimonious smuggery wrapped into that one paragraph is astounding, all it really does is make me hungry. For turkey. And stuffing. And beer.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!


It’s Thanksgiving Season Dammit!

Once you get past Halloween, and election day every other year, it’s just a countdown to Christmas. It shouldn’t be, but it is. As many of you know I am of the belief that Thanksgiving doesn’t get it’s due. In past I’ve described Thanksgiving in various ways:

2008: “Thanksgiving! It’s more than just bird and mashed potatoes. It’s the only time of year that everyone cares what the Detroit Lions are doing.”

2010: “Regardless, in 1863 Abe Lincoln was the first to name the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving in America. Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday. Interestingly enough FDR tried to move Thanksgiving from Lincoln’s designated day to earlier to give the country an economic boost. It would seem liberals need to control the economy extends to changing national holidays.”

2011: “Anyway, Thanksgiving gets lost in the corporate commercial onslaught of Halloween and Christmas. Evidently, turkeys and pilgrims aren’t all that marketable. Thanksgiving has pretty much been rebranded as the tailgate immediately preceeding black Friday. Not that anything is wrong with tailgating. Especially when it is centered on turkey, potatoes, corn and beer.”

2012: “We’re all cheating on Thanksgiving and it needs to stop. This truly American holiday gets lost between Halloween and Christmas. It’s Wendy’s to McDonald’s and Burger King. It’s Coors Light to Bud Light and Miller Light. It’s the Admiral Ackbar of minor Star Wars characters. Appreciated? Yes. Quickly discarded? Also yes.”

2013: “Holiday music is to Christmas nostalgia what the smell of toast is to mornings, the smell of burning leaves to fall, the smell of Milwaukee’s Best Light to hangovers. I’m powerless, POWERLESS I SAY, to end my own cheating on Thanksgiving. I’m so, so sorry but its really hard to turn off the songs. Its an excuse, I know. I realize its entirely up to me and I need to take ownership of my failings. I’m sorry to you Macy’s Department Store. You made giant balloons cool and allowed Matt Lauer to host something he doesn’t suck at. And I’m sorry to you John Madden. Since the mid-80’s you’ve made Thanksgiving so much more important than Myles Standish, Abraham Lincoln and FDR could have ever hoped. I’m sorry to you Joey Tribbiani. For it was you who made Thanksgiving pants acceptable. Finally, I’m sorry to you mashed potatoes and gravy…and probably pumpkin pie too. When paired with beer, you make Thanksgiving so delicious I shouldn’t stray.”

You know, Ren MacCormack was right when he was speaking before the Bomont Town Council and Rev. Moore back in ’84 when he quoted from Ecclesiastes that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. And the time for winter is winter. Not November. Winter, you’re getting greedy my unwelcome friend. You’re killing Buffalo for no reason. What has Buffalo ever done to deserve this? C’mon man, they’ve missed the playoffs for 15 straight years and now that they’re actually in the hunt, you hit them with this crazy biblical snow. Oh and it was 12 freaking degrees on Nov. 17 here. This after last November when Rye and I went to an Iowa State game where the kickoff temperature was 8 f’ing degrees. That sucks. Go home. You’re like Green Day at AC DC concert. Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet you cold bitter old bastard. Stop dumping snow on us. I mean I’ll live with the cold temps. Sucks, but I’ll do it. What I don’t want in mid freaking November is ice on the damn roads. I don’t want to be chipping that stuff off my driveway a week before Turkey Day. First it’s Americans rampantly cheating on our own damn holiday. We invented it. It’s ours. Now it’s the weather. I blame Al Gore. Dammit America, am I the only one who this feels way about Thanksgiving?

Election ’14

My thoughts on Tuesday’s election results both here locally in Iowa and nationally:

How do you know if you are doing a good job at parenting? You’re succeeding if your 5th grader wakes you up the day after the election, an election night that you didn’t get to bed until 2 a.m., and asks “Dad, did Joni Ernst win?” And she does a couple fist pumps when she learns that Joni did win.

So good job outta Mom and me.

Halloween ’14

Before I even get to Halloween this year, who watched The Goldberg’s this week? They nailed it.  Again.  Who doesn’t love this show?  If you were between or around the ages of 10-20 during the 80’s you love this show.  If somehow you came through that decade as a teenager and don’t love this show, you my delusional friend cannot claim any affilitation, relationship or link to or with the 80’s, Gen X or, and let’s be honest, any amount of coolness.  You can’t.  You just can’t.  I’m sure you’ll argue this point.  And you will lose.  It’s like trying to show off you’re knowledge of hair bands while bringing up Winger and stating with confidence that Seventeen is their best song.  Again wrong.  Can’t Get Enuff.  Suck it.  Winger by the way just played live locally a couple days ago.  Just saying…

Seriously though The Goldbergs is The Wonder Years for Gen Xers. Pop rocks, Coke and Mikey from Life Cereal?  The ghost in the VHS tape of Three Men and a Baby?  Freaking excellent.  You can only hear that rumor about Mikey so many times before it just becomes part of the fabric of time and space itself.

So as many of you know, we live in Des Moines which has the tradition of Beggar’s Night. Which is nothing more than trick or treating on the night before Halloween.

Yes, it is stupid. And I mean stupid in the strongest most literal sense.  But if you go back and research the reasons behind Beggar’s Night you are really left with one conclusion.  It has outlived its usefulness.  Like public employee unions.  It was put into place by a well-meaning individual to stop vandalism and other assorted acts of hooliganism.  But then the do-gooders took up the cause and screwed it up like taking Thundarr the Barbarian off the air because, well, nobody really knows why but it sucked.

Anyway, because Halloween is awesome, I left work early to carve pumpkins. Went with a traditional geometric design.  Triangles for eyes, square nose with a wide fanged smile.  I’ve found that an ice cream scooper is the best tool for cleaning out the pumpkin brains.  Bails and Kinz, much to my dismay, decided to carve their own this year.  Not bad for their first entirely independent foray in the art of pumpkin carving.  I mean all I did was cut the hole in the top and then engaged in a little bit of trim work and clean up after they were done.  A couple years ago I used some of those glow sticks to light them.  Sounded like a good idea.  Turns out it wasn’t.  Not enough wattage.  So this year, after digging through a couple drawers we have that are filled with candles and other assorted seasonal stuff, I went with the plethora of mini Yankee candles we have.  Sure the jack-o-lanterns smell like mistletoe and balsam fir but whatever.  They looked awesome and stayed lit until well after the trick or treaters were done.

Top costumes this year? Ninja turtles and zombies.  Surprisingly not a single Elsa.  No wookies either.  One kid was James Dean.  Not kidding.  He walked up and we asked if he was The Fonz.  His response?  “Well that was my original idea but I decided more people would know who James Dean is.”

What? You’re like 10 years old.  James F’ing Dean?  Seriously kid just go ahead declare Theater as your major now.  As he walked away, he stops, turns and says, “Hey, I’m surprised you guys know who The Fonz is.”

Again, what? The Fonz?  I’m 44.  I know who The Freaking Fonz is.  I know who Potsie is.  I know who Pinky Tuscadero is and I know what the freaking Malachi Crunch is.  I know Laverne and Shirley worked at Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee.  I know Jack, Janet and Chrissy spent a lot of time at The Regal Beagle.   I know BA ain’t flyin’ on no plane!  I know Nick and Cody lived on a boat and I know what the Blue Freaking Moon Detective Agency is.  Don’t freaking test me on Tuesday night TV lineups of the 70’s and 80’s son.

Geez. Do I know who The Fonz is…

One kid looked exactly like one of the clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Safe to say we kept our eyes on him until he was gone.  Additionally I made the mistake of eating nothing but candy for about 4 hours.  I don’t recommend this.  Nobody is built to consume that much candy.

However the best thing, or worst depending on your perspective, was when my neighbor ordered pizza. Normal standard pizza delivery as the pizza guy pulled into the driveway, got out and walked the pizza up to us as we were sitting in the garage.  However as he was handing the pizza over his van started to roll forward.  Towards the house.

Yeah, he either forgot to put the van in park or it shifted itself into drive.

Pizza guy freaks out and attempts to use his super human pizza guy strength to stop the van from rolling forward with body.  Not kidding, he tried to stop the van with his girth.  And listen this guy was blessed a fine amount girth.  But he’s not stopping a mini van.  Eventually he realizes this and moves with speed he only likely dreamed about and jumps into the driver’s seat.  At this point the rest of us had moved towards the van as well.  None of us however attempted to step in front of the vehicle.  I mean we all were in agreement that the van needed to be stopped and everything it was just that after a quick list of pros and cons, we all kinda decided against the standing in front of the van strategy.  But as fate would have it the van rolled by the corner of the garage and misses it by about six inches and keeps rolling over the walk up to the front door and assumes a collision course with the front window.  Luckily the left front wheel of the van hits a retaining wall.  The grass slopes away from the walk so when the wall engaged in a battle of physics with the van, the wheel had to overcome about a five inch wall.  The van won but the speed was reduced allowing the pizza guy to recover.  But not without incident.  Instead of standing on the brake he accidently hits the gas.  I assume by accident.  Thankfully the amount of adrenaline coursing through his body allowed him to immediately switch his foot to the brake and stop the van from hitting the house.  A couple feet short.  We scored that a win.  Then pizza guy decides that he not only needs to back away from the house but he needs to do it quickly.  So the van again narrowly misses the corner of the garage again…except going the opposite direction at rate of speed that was probably unnecessary.  Unfortunately the excitement was at such a high level I forgot to find out if the pizza was free…