X-mas Q & A

This is a long post, so I’ll skip my “ninja-bread man” joke and lewd comments about well-hung Christmas balls.

Every year Santa gets a shit-ton of letters from kids asking for ponies and X-Boxes and big sisters and other unlikely stuff. He also receives a lot of questions from older folks, which he forwards on to me, knowing I am just sitting in my wheelchair admiring my well-hung Christmas balls.

Hanging Christmas balls
Go ahead, touch one

So let’s get to those questions!

Q: WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “X-MAS”?

This just means “Christmas”, and is pronounced the same way. It’s used by:

  • Non-Christians
  • Atheists
  • Satanists
  • Marxist/Socialists
  • Liberals/Elites
  • Christians who think no one is looking
  • College students
  • Lazy people
  • People who like the letter X
  • Anyone who texts

Q: IS THERE REALLY A WAR ON CHRISTMAS?

No, but there should be! Christmas is a disgusting display of greed, gluttony, and wastefulness. It’s naked capitalism run amok, and something should definitely be done about it.

If you’re not from here (the US of A), you might be perplexed by this question, but see, in this country every year about this time, dozens of indignant puckerholes go on the TV and radio to whine about the WAR ON CHRISTMAS. Mainly their panties are in a twist because people are saying “Happy holidays” and “Seasons greetings”, acknowledging the reality that there are a whole slew of winter holidays, events and special occasions, and lots of different types of people, and not everyone gives a shit about every single holiday. These are simply more generic, catch-all greetings intended to emphasize goodwill over specific cultural traditions.

In the aforementioned indignant puckerholes’ perfect fascist fantasy world, there’s only Christmas, and only one cheerful greeting, “Merry Christmas”, and any other greeting is a declaration of WAR ON CHRISTMAS, and by extension of course, Christianity, even though most of these loudmouthed ass-hats probably aren’t really all that Christian themselves. They’re down at the Walmart with the rest of us on Black Friday, bludgeoning each other over the last Pound Puppy. (That’s the big thing this year, right?)

If you don’t believe me, and are concerned about how your side is doing, here is a simple way to find out. Just do a search for “Holiday songs” in your favorite online music app, and then tally up the WAR ON CHRISTMAS ones (Kwanzaa, Festivus, Hanukkah, Saturnalia, etc.). If there’s more than one, you’d better start freaking out!

Q: IS JESUS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON?

No. The season (winter) has occurred thousands if not millions of times, including during Jesus’s lifetime, and there is no REASON to think that he had anything to do with the SEASON. This is simply a phrase that some people find catchy. Did you notice that it rhymes? Catchy! These are often the same people bitching about the imaginary WAR ON CHRISTMAS, and this is their passive-aggressive contribution to the war effort.

Q: WHERE DOES SANTA CLAUS FIT IN? IS HE THE ANTICHRIST?

Ha, ha! Far from it! No, God takes the month of December off every year and Santa fills in for him. God needs to rest up from a year’s worth of wreaking havoc and punishing the wicked (and His children; see: Old Testament), so Santa holds down the fort in his absence. This arrangement does a lot to give peace on earth a chance.

Santa manages some of Jehovah’s day to day tasks, such as taking people’s requests (usually written in letter form), and judging their worthiness or unworthiness to receive them. Coal for the naughty and presents for the nice. He does this exclusively for children, as training for the treatment they will get from God as adults/newly dead people in the future.

Unlike God, Santa possesses limited MIRACLE POWER. Flying sleigh, super speed, shapeshifting (for tight chimneys), and unlimited gut capacity for cookies, milk, etc. That’s about all. He therefore employs thousands of unpaid workers known as “elves” (originally “alves”, an anagram for “slave”) to fabricate the millions of toys for the nice children of the world. This is another perk for Yahweh, who wishes to distance Himself from the criticism He has gotten recently for his exuberant endorsement of slavery (see: Old Testament).

elvesElves

God returns on January first, rested but a bit rusty, so He rounds up Santa and the elves and the reindeer and He exterminates them all, just to get back in the game. The following year He wills them all into existence again, and the whole blessed process repeats.

Q: IS CHRISTMAS THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, OR SOLD, OR WHATEVER?

More like the most confusing! Take my advice: go to church at Christmas and listen to the church version. Better yet, watch the award-winning docu-drama, A Charlie Brown Christmas to get an easily digestible version of it. Unless you are really serious about this question, definitely DO NOT do what I did and read the actual Bible. You may lose your mind, or worse, consider atheism.

You have been warned. Read on only if you have nerves of steel and/or some free time.

First of all, here is what we grew up with in church (more or less):

  • Old Testament prophets told of the coming of The Messiah, King of Israel and Savior of the world!
  • God impregnated a simple virgin (Mary) with His son! His ONLY son! To be the Messiah!
  • Mary and hubby Joseph shacked up in a stable in Bethlehem in Judea to have the most important baby in all of history, there being no room in the inn!
  • Three wise men (possibly kings!) from the East followed a miraculous star to the stable bearing pricey gifts for the newborn Christ child! (Christ <-> Messiah more or less)
  • Assloads of angels visited earth to spread the good news! To a handful of shepherds! Who were grazing their flock at night! In the middle of winter! For some reason!
  • Everyone packed into the stable to greet the Savior of the world, who was snoozing in a feed trough!
  • One of the shepherds was using a lamb as a scarf! Brilliant! (Note to self: great stocking stuffer!)

nativity
Based on an actual legend

BACKGROUND INFO! Growing up in church gave us the following assumption to prepare us for this miraculous tale:

  • The first four books of the New Testament are basically the same stories, written in this order by Jesus’s four most literate disciples: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Assumption: pick any one you want to read about baby Jesus. It’s the greatest story ever told! Why not tell it four times?

BUT IN FACT… only two of the four mention this super great story at all—Matthew and Luke. Mark and John don’t say jack.
AND… they were written decades after Jesus’s execution, by men who never met him or probably each other.
MARK is the oldest, and the others copy 97% of their material from Mark. Before adding the baby Jesus stuff! WEIRD!!! (Interestingly, none of them copy the part in Mark where Jesus’s family think he’s crazy. We don’t like to talk about that.)

AND… the baby Jesus stories contain more weirdness (Why were just a few lonely shepherds and three faraway wise men chosen as purveyors of the biggest news ever? What the hell are shepherds doing grazing sheep in the dead of winter?), omissions (angels and shepherds only in Luke; wise men only in Matthew), impossibilities (stars that act like tour guides), and irreconcilable incompatibilities (sorry, you look that one up; I’m trying to keep this short!).

But an equally weird thing that I just recently learned…

Number one Jesus fanboy and gentile-lover responsible for turning a small Jewish movement into a multicultural religion, PAUL, said nothing about Jesus’s miraculous birth, nor any of his miracles. And Paul was writing before any of these other fools! All he was interested in was the resurrection (OK, one miracle), and peace and love, and how to be a good Christian and make more Christians and not have any fun and get off on being persecuted, and stuff like that. Now why would he leave out THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD?

Come to think of it, though, he was into the Old Testament prophecy part. You remember that from back in the beginning, right? The part that foretells of the coming of Jesus, King of Israel, and Savior of the world? Well, about that…

It turns out it wasn’t about Jesus after all. Disappointing! I mean, if you really wanted it to sound like it was, you could cherrypick words and phrases from it, and then damn! That sounds legit! Where do I sign up? But if you read the whole thing, it’s obviously about something else, and something that was supposed to have happened already. Oops. More stuff they forgot to mention in church. We got the more exciting cherry-picked version.

But even if you assume that prophecy is an actual thing, and Jesus’s birth confirms it…it didn’t come true. Israel never got a king (unless you count David Ben-Gurion, and you have to admit, he had a little help from his friend Harry Truman, and you can’t really say it did much for peace on earth. Wow—this Christmas story sure is getting convoluted.). And Jesus never saved the world, like the prophecy and even he said he would, that is, within one generation. Bummer! But does any of this deter TRUE BELIEVERS? Why would it? The more ludicrous their belief, the harder they dig in.

Remember at the end of Harry Potter when Harry drops out of Hogwarts to join a band instead of vanquishing the evil Lord Voldemort, and they both just kind of fade out of existence, but then an enthusiastic Muggle fan club forms and makes up wondrous stories about Harry and the gang that grow and evolve and endure for generations, no matter how detached from reality they become? There’s your Christmas story.

I could rant on and on, but that would go against the spirit of Christmas. I will just finish up my point that the Bible itself doesn’t make much of the greatest story ever told, and it doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny anyway. That’s OK though, because Christmas gets along just fine with or without Bible stories!

Q: WHAT IS THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS?

To find an unbiased answer to this question, I have listened to over 100 hours of holiday music with my research assistant, who is seven. We have identified the following themes and topics, roughly organized by incidence, from most to least; that is, lots of songs featuring snow, but hardly any about impersonating Santa in order to have intercourse with the women of the town.

We have chosen only “classic” holiday tunes in order to head off accusations of waging WAR ON CHRISTMAS, which is only a recent phenomenon. These are songs long beloved by a broad spectrum of American society, and I hypothesize that this method reveals an unbiased picture of what Christmas truly means to the majority of us.

TONS of tunes about

  • Christmas itself; the holidays, the season, Christmas in the city, Christmas in the country
  • Good feelings; joy, cheer, being merry, love, peace, goodwill, warmth, togetherness
  • Atmosphere; lights, snow, fire

LOTS of tunes about

  • Santa Claus
  • Bells; jingle bells, sleigh bells, church bells, silver bells
  • Stuff; the tree, gifts, decorations

SOME tunes about

  • Bible stuff; baby Jesus, angels, the star
  • Activities; exchanging gifts, singing, feasting, sleigh riding
  • Characters; reindeer, snowmen, talking reindeer, talking snowmen

HARDLY ANY tunes about  

Our research does not take into account the many reasons people DESPISE the holidays, or the fact that not many FUNDAMENTALIST WHACKJOBS are songwriters, i.e. there are many who stand by the whole “reason for the season” shtick, but they prefer yelling about it to writing catchy songs about it, so they didn’t show up in our study.

Nevertheless, it STRONGLY SUGGESTS that people love Christmas for visceral, emotional reasons rather than ideological ones. I speculate that Christmas would survive just fine without any baby Jesus stuff at all, but even the blustery WAR ON CHRISTMAS types wouldn’t like it without the tree, the presents, the food, and all that other feelgood jazz.

Christmas is an ancient and incredibly robust meme that has evolved and gone by different names through the ages. As long as there is a cold, dark, crappy time of year it will thrive. Being a massive commercial bonanza probably doesn’t hurt its chances either.

I love Christmas. I love the season, the feeling in the air, the lights, and the togetherness and all that jazz. I don’t even mind the baby Jesus stuff. But I especially love it because it made this possible:

7Be2uHe’ll be back again someday

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Cease and desist

If my faithful readers are perplexed by my most recent post, Volga P, it’s because I got my first Cease and Desist! Sort of. Let me explain.

A little while back a disgruntled reader sent me correspondence to the effect that she did not at all like having information about herself “in the public domain”, and demanded that all references to her be removed immediately. Apparently she felt that a series of stories I had posted were about her.

This put me in quite a bind, as, although I hate to disgruntle anyone, the stories in question formed the backbone of an arc spanning several years of my younger days. Without them other stories would make no sense. Removing them would leave a giant gap and—how shall I put it—fuck everything up. Not only that, but I would be throwing away months of hard work typing with my eyes.

In the end though, I grudgingly deleted the offending posts. The plaintiff’s shrill emotional tone (while attempting to sound as lawyer-y as possible) led me to conclude that I don’t have time for this shit. I hit DELETE.

Once my anger wore off, I got to work on a little “patch” of a post, the almost entirely fictitious account of Volga P. I ended up having much more fun writing it than I did the earlier posts even, and I sincerely hope it entertains, if not outright gruntles you.

Thank you for your continued support.

Mark

Portland II: The Hell Cows house

Winter 1991

Eddie and Annie’s House of Flying Toasters had been a slice, and I had learned valuable lessons about humanity there. But I needed to regroup after the zaniness, and also I looked forward to living with people closer to my own age. Fortunately, there was attic space available at The Hell Cows house.Read More »

Should I pray?

Good question! But first a joke.

Q: What do you call a paralyzed shark?
A: A quadri-pelagic.
[sardines applaud]

So there you are, plunging off a thousand-foot cliff, and miraculously you have the presence of mind to text me this important question. Not that impressive as far as miracles go, since by now you are either a comical you-shaped pancake lying on the canyon floor, or you just went ahead and prayed and your life was spared. Hosanna! In any case, I’m flattered that you thought of me. Maybe not flatter than you though. (Get it?)Read More »

Portland I: 47th & Flanders

Fall, 1990

Portland, Oregon was both a big town and a small city, and that made the move easier. On the one hand, I couldn’t wait to get the F out of the grimy little town I was from. On the other hand, I’d been in a few big cities during my travels, and while they were fun places to visit, I never wanted to live in one. Portland felt just right. Soggy maybe, but I thought I could get used to that. Plus, my older brother Nathan lived there, so I figured the transition would be a snap.Read More »

Should I go to church? Pt. 2

In Part 1 we discovered that if good vibes, free pastries and threat-free socializing are your thing, you’d better get your ass to church! We also learned of a couple of downsides for the youngsters, and here in Part 2 I’ll let you in on a few caveats for the adults. Otherwise known as…

Things that are SO BOGUS about church
While these are not necessarily deal breakers, the following are definitely worth knowing before you go in!Read More »

Should I go to church?

Good question! But first a joke.

Q: Are God’s farts pretty bad?
A: Not just bad. They’re omni-potent.
[deafening applause]

Recently I was perusing breasts on the Internet, while clacking my teeth together and emitting high-pitched mewling noises (how we quadriplegics express ourselves sexually), when I was distracted by this important question. I immediately closed all 23 browser windows and began formulating helpful insights.

SHOULD I GO TO CHURCH?

The answer is YES, definitely! There are several reasons this is a terrific thing to do, which I will outline below.Read More »