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Or so says Terry Gilliam. Be sure to use the “snowflake” feature on the YouTube frame for that added blizzard-in-your-computer effect.

This goes out to all friends and family, especially since every year we fail to send out cards.

xo

~david

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I had a dream during my long winter’s nap last night. In it, I was a teacher attempting to get a class full of inner-city elementary school kids to perform an obscure play by Ionesco. I kept leaving my keys everywhere and the principal kept threatening to fire me for it (Please do! I implored him). After less than a week of rehearsal we had a performance in front of an audience and kids kept throwing up on stage. I didn’t so much wake from this dream as i sort of faded away while choruses and lines of the following verses echoed throughout.

The patron saint of Peace on Earth
Has come to deck the halls!
With deals busting down the doors
Of crowded shopping malls!

Let’s hack a sapling from the ground –
The shortening days are nigh!
We’ll give it ornamental life
Then happily watch it die.

The children hang up dirty socks
Or leave a boot outside.
They’ll dream of fairies crusted sweet
If not rodenticide.

Gretels can’t be choosers,
And Hansels never win.
The feasty ghosts have come to host
So let the Fat Man in!

Some crackers promise candy fire,
Some crackers become princes,
And some use food as weaponry,
Like cakes of fruit and minces.

With ginger roots and peppercorns,
With nutmegs and with maces,
To Winterize our Winterfoods
And spike our cheery faces!

Prepackaged cups of festive cheer
Begrudgingly be-toasted.
The fatted goose who chose to roost,
Rewardingly be-roasted!

They say this day comes once a year
But then that’s true for all.
The spirit’s given up the ghost
For festive shopping sprawl

A Hansel’s lousy witch food,
And Gretel’s never lost.
The Panto Horse has run its course,
The Fat Man’s hit the sauce!

It is safe to say I have had a lot of the holidays on my mind lately, but strangely it’s all been good. Only in the half-light of a half-awake winter morning do my thoughts run cynical. This is about as raw and automatic a poem I’ve ever written, where I couldn’t remember the words I could see the images. Seriously, I’ve been in the best mood this year-end than I have in many previous, and I don’t know why.

It’s Poetry Friday on the last school day of the year as my girls have joyfully pointed out – ah, the carefree life of childhood. Anyway, poetry abounds over at Dori Reads, so check it out. And now, if it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll take a nap and see if I can parse out the origins of some of those verses above!

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We blew it again. Every year we say this is going to be the year we get out act together and pull together a holiday card to send out. We talked about it back in July, started researching options in November, vowing to get a great shot when the first snows came.

The snows never came. Our back-up plans kept getting back-burnered by this-and-that. And when the cards from friends started tumbling through the mailbox we thought we might be able to pull together something last-minute but no less heartfelt.

greeting card deluge
when it’s too late to reply
the holiday’s close

That was my poetic interpretation of our younger daughter’s observation, that whole frog in the pot of water thing, that when you see the deadline on the horizon it’s too close to change course. Of course, the fact that we didn’t manage to get our act together this year means we don’t have to think up something new next year.

all the ideas
that never reached fruition
are second chances

That’s a nice little bit of spin, but as I look around at everything involved with the holidays it suddenly comes to me that between cards and letters, decor and home heating, packaging and wrapping, things could look very different in an alternate universe.

holiday season
is impossible without
trees or paper

It almost seems like the more responsible thing to not send out holiday cards in that light. At least, that’s my reasoning for the seasoning this year. We’ll see what happens next year.

Poetry Friday, coming in on the end of the year 2011! Kate over at Book Aunt has the round-up for the week.

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A few days ago on Thanksgiving I bombed Twitter (#tdayvidbomb) with Holiday-themed videos and clips, a sort of tribute/send-up for our National Eating Holiday. It occurred to me that not everyone who visits here might be on Twitter, or saw all the day’s tweets, so I’ve collected them here along with some annotations to explain some of what’s going on.

First, no American Thanksgiving is complete without that most noble of beasts, the turkey. And here they are, fattening themselves up for your enjoyment!

Wait, reducing the grain surplus? Wasn’t this during the depression?

Now, what would Thanksgiving be without the Macy’s Parade?  Second to Christmas, it was the one holiday we wouldn’t sleep in because we wanted to turn on the TV and watch the parade. Living in California we also hoped to see snow and cold. Weird, I know. Here’s what it looked like in 1935.

That’s right, you bark and show you don’t approve!

Now, time to truss up that bird and make it golden brown. The secret? It’s better with butter, baby!

Bake your turkey the American Dairy Association way!

How about a Tex Avery cartoon to keep the kids busy while you’re in the kitchen? A little “Jerky Turkey” coming right up. And for those who can stream to their TVs, this is an exceptionally fine copy.

Time for a little football, perhaps? This is some old home movie (1929!) from my current home town’s rivalry game. This field is still in use by both the high school and a nearby college.

Everyplace I’ve lived there was always one radio station that would play Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie from beginning to end. It was pretty much the only way they could ever give it any radio play. It was made into a movie, which I still have yet to see, but here’s an original (and longer than normal) trailer for it.

Alright, looks like the bird’s out of the oven and we’re ready to eat. Let’s let Jimmy Stewart deliver the thanksgiving prayer (from the movie  Shenandoah).

Charlie Chaplin reminds us that not everyone can afford Thanksgiving. Maybe this isn’t going to be so funny in the future.

(By the way the shoe was made of licorice, which posed quite a health risk as two pounds of licorice is enough to cause serious heart arrhythmia!)

A little light dining music? Yes, nothing better for the appetite than classical music. Ladies and gentlemen, Liberace and his take on “Turkey in the Straw.”

Say what you will, the man could play.

And for a little after dinner entertainment, the children will put on a little play. Leave it to the Addams Family to teach us the true meaning of the holiday (and with Swedish subtitles).

Let’s work off some of those calories Little Eva and do the “Turkey Trot.”

In the days before DVDs and VCR and cable and movies on demand, many a family enjoyed the annual Thanksgiving tradition of watching The Wizard of Oz on TV.

I kind of miss those shared TV events. Aside from live sports events and awards shows and the occasional marathons, is there anything like this these days?

Looking ahead, while the adults are out doing shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, what are the kids supposed to do? Watch TV of course! This promo is from 1972.

Or, if you were a little more sophisticated, you did the Godzilla marathon.

Finally, if Macy’s announced the arrival of Santa and the holiday season, the deal wasn’t sealed for us on the West Coast until the Santa Claus Lane Parade took place (usually the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving). Proximity to Hollywood made it easier to draw big names, and floats towed by tractors replaced large balloons. Oh, and Gene Autry wrote “Here Comes Santa Claus” back in 1946 as a reference to his participation in this parade.

BONUS TIME!

I found some more videos during the holiday that people posted elsewhere that I didn’t tweet. You can call these leftovers or seconds or the feverish dreams of a tryptophan nap, but here they are. This first one features Christina Ricci making a repeat visit, this time from the movie THE ICE STORM. Another sarcastic holiday dinner prayer.

Red Skelton delivered this homily during one of his TV shows back in 1952. Was he talking about a Communist invasion?

This recently discovered home movie footage from 1939 (in color!) shows the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade that took place on what we consider the modern Thanksgiving era, i.e., the first year the holiday was moved to the third Thursday in November to lengthen the shopping season an stimulate the economy. I think to do this today we’d need to have Thanksgiving sometime around the middle of July. Note, this would be the first appearance of the Tin Man from THE WIZARD OF OZ which came out earlier the same year.

And for all those turkeys who made it through the holiday without ending up on the table, a disco tribute.

And that’ll do it. Hope you and yours had a fine holiday and enjoyed the traditions that were uniquely your own.

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Said the Marshmallow Man of Luxor:
“Trick or Treat! Give me what I’ve come for!”
So we gave him a scorch,
With a creme brulee torch,
Then we dined on a forty pound s’more.

Recognizing that the limerick is oft considered juvenile form of poetry, more appealing to boys than girls, I have nonetheless come to embrace the format as a perfect platform for a collection of holiday-themed poems I am working on.

Here I have followed Edward Lear’s lead in starting with a ridiculous person from a particular place, followed by an outlandish statement, leading to a twisted resolution. There is nothing political intended or implied in the choice of place, only its ability to fit the patter and the rhyme. In this case I began with an idea of a giant marshmallow on Halloween being turned into a giant s’more. From there the rest of the limerick practically wrote itself.

While Lear often has a last line that’s a slightly, often judgmental, variant on the first line (That contemptible man from Luxor) I find that solution a bit of a cheat and go for the full punchline when attempting limericks.

Yes, I probably should get back to my school reading…

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Why are guys afraid to shop?

How will boys learn to shop if they don’t see grown men shop?

Why don’t boys browse bookstores and shop the same way women and girls do?

How does “the market” know what boys want if (a) boys don’t know how to ask for it (b) boys don’t know how to shop for it and (c) it’s bought for boys but not by boys?

Yes, the retail season is upon us, and the statistics still hold: 98% of adult shoppers in our children’s bookstore are female and easily half of the books they’re buying are for boys. Oh, but they want something special for the boy, something he will enjoy.

I suggest I’m the Biggest Thing In the Ocean; they want Velveteen Rabbit.

I suggest the Sports Illustrated Almanac for 2008; they prefer Treasure Island.

I suggest some adventure, like Into the Wild; they would rather give something “meaningful” like the Kingfisher Collection of Poetry to Be Read Aloud.

People. I have no qualms with you wanting a gift of a book to be special, something that can have meaning down the road, but lets face facts: all your best efforts are turning boys off from reading more than anything else. Worse, if you are a female adult at least ten years older than the boy in question, and you insist on pressing your ideas about what constitutes a good book onto a boy, you are guaranteeing that the boy will never trust a woman to recommend a book to him.

Think about it. You’re a child — you can pick any age that you prefer to imagine — and it’s the holiday season. You get some time off from school, you get to see relatives and loved ones you don’t see often, there are holiday specials on television, you don’t have bills, you don’t have a job, and you’ve got a few years before you even understand what it means to be a responsible citizen in the world.

Now, what kind of a book do you want?

Don’t let your adult self answer, let your inner child speak. You’ve got all the time in the world, and for the sake of argument let’s say you’d love nothing more than to sit around and read your way from meal to meal, sunup to sundown. What do you really want?

One year, when I was that boy, I got a two-foot tall stack of collected Peanuts comics, the digest-sized ones. My parents were poor and the books were used and I couldn’t have cared less. I had days worth of reading and I re-read those books a brazillion times.

Another year I received from a female relative a collection of Australian aboriginal tales, boringly retold by a white man with dull paintings by another white man. I think I eventually got around to reading a few of the stories after I finished college.

One family friend — a librarian no less — bought me a field guide for rocks and minerals one year (I never collected or expressed an interest in geology, ever) and followed it up the next year with Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Oy! I’d have much preferred my own copy of Martin Gardner’s Perplexing Puzzlers and Tantalizing Teasers, a book I checked out from my local library a dozen times a year I think. But nobody ever asked me what I was reading, no one ever asked me what I was checking out at the library, no one asked me if I even wanted a book on rocks or birds.

So I meandered a bit, but here’s the crux of the biscuit. Women know how to shop in general but not necessarily for the men in their lives; men and boys haven’t got a clue and until they know what and how they will always find themselves with the crappy end of the stick. Somehow men learn how to buy things like cars and sports equipment so I know it’s possible for them to learn what they like and how to shop for it.

Parents of the world, teach your boys how to shop and to know what they like!

And buy them lots of books, the kind they will actually read.

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