Tuesday, December 30, 2008

First Thing We Do Is, Maim All the Doctors

I despise doctors.

It was a doctor that misdiagnosed me with bipolar disorder (I am, actually, suffering severe depression in tandem with a family tradition called anxiety disorder) and put me on two medications that made me gain 25 pounds until I took myself off of them.

It was a doctor that just recently recommended Celexa as an antidepressant with "pretty much no weight gain profile at all". The quote is fresh in my mind, as this practitioner of health and well-being and making as much money as you possibly can wrote out a prescription just yesterday. Eager to not have a repeat of the "sneak attack" I experienced with the other drugs, I researched for myself the likelihood of weight gain on Celexa. I discovered that, well, pretty much any drug could make you gain weight. So I'm refusing medication. I'd rather suffer with the occasional blue period than be the obese pig I am now.

One productive thing did result from the visit, however: I've been eating between 1200-1400 calories per day and exercising five days a week, one hour a day at least. I'm doing the stationary bike, the treadmill, and weights. I am also not losing weight. So this white-coated mercenary recommends I try to boost my metabolism with six small meals throughout the day. Despite the rather sneering tone of my post thus far, I am going to try this. I will try anything.

I've given myself a year to lose 50 pounds. I'm not sure what will happen if I fail at this goal.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Never Forget That Bob Geldof Is Irish

Last night as I lay in bed, NBC's Sunday Night Football "game" between the Broncos and Chargers on the TV, I realized:

--The Chargers are getting into the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Meanwhile, the Patriots miss out with a record of 11-5. No one outside the state of Massachusetts is upset about that last one.

--The Chargers completely deserve to be in the postseason, just off the Week 1 "Hochulima".

--I can't wait for Brett Favre to leave. Matt Ryan is more than ready to step up into the role of "white boy QB the media can't wait to blow".

--U2's "New Years Day" is one of the most engaging songs of the 80s, a decade whose musical legacy I defend to the death, or at least the cousin of. You got The Edge using guitar effects tastefully, a killing fields bass line, Bono not singing about lemons. Where did it all go wrong? Well, they're from Ireland. All good things from Ireland drop more precipitously than good things from other countries. U2's music, James Joyce's eyesight, Samuel Beckett's writing. It's a total legacy.

--The Vikings probably won't make it past the first round, but so what? They won the division, and over the course of the season beat the other three NFC division leaders while they were at it. Happiness is a warm field goal. Bring on Kevin Kolb!

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. I'm a Rib-Breaker

Let's see if the weekly bag can cheer me.

Hey, someone sure had fun with Santa Snoopy. Well, you know, I got a pic taken with Count Snoopula once.

Cool, succinct piece on the awesomocity of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Not to mention the Senators suck. Go Caps.

No, Peyton is Linus. Eli is Rerun.

Biggest insult to the blockhead ever...this year.

The Patriots, the Cowboys, and the Jets out of the playoffs? Meanwhile the Vikes win the North? Beautiful.

Dumbest thing I've read this year, and that's amazing considering I am a faithful peruser of the comments on Brooklyn Vegan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anatomy of a Fantasy Football Champion

Is there anything better than winning a fantasy football championship? Of course there is. Sex, for one. Pizza, also. Getting all 120 stars in a Mario game, sure. Seeing Sonic Youth live, no doubt--just so long as the date isn't August 17th.

That said, finishing a Fantasy season triumphant is the dogs balls. It's immensely gratifying to see "1st place" or "league champion" next to the fantastic nickname you chose to represent your immaculately-selected gaggle of number-munchers.

My fellow SY head "Rob Instigator" has run a Yahoo-based fantasy league for seven years now, the last three featuring yours sincerely as the leader of "Snoopy's Smash Squad", a handle that evokes nothing less than the sublime visual of a coolly rabid beagle with a facemask-free helmet on his head and a chilled football in his hands, as he plows over some hapless would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. My first year--2006--I finished in second place for the regular season and captured third overall, losing in the semis to my boyfriend (arguably the Charlie Brown-iest moment of my life so far. And then he promptly gave up on the whole fantasy racket, complaining it was "too taxing". What a friggin' pussy.)

In 2007, I ended the regular season in third, and felt I would just sashay my big ass to the big dance. In a turn of events that should be minor legend in the Fantasy universe, the top four seeds lost their first round matchups, and the eighth seed overall ended up taking top honors. Meanwhile my ass finishes seventh of ten.

I entered the 2008 Fantasy Football world with Lincoln-esque determination. The year before I had the top pick in the live draft and didn't even make the semis. For '08 I got sixth--and there were ten players again in the league. My first pick was Patriots megabeast receiver Randy Moss. By draft's end, I could sit back and gaze with parental pride at what I just knew would be the most powerful Squad incarnation yet. I had two studs at QB: Tony Romo and Philip Rivers. In addition to Moss, I acquired Chris Chambers, a former Dolphin who I figured could sneak up on a lot of defenses. Other than Antonio Gates at tight end, Rivers didn't have a real go-to option through the air. Despite a suspension which would cause him to get ass-splinters for the first two games of the year, I could not pass on Steve Smith of the Panthers. To help the cause, though, I snatched up dependable Derrick Mason.

Tight end, being such a notoriously scatter-pointed (and thus ulcer-inducing) position, was very much on my mind. I beat the other coaches to the punch in the draft and snapped up the first TE pick with Jason Witten. Santonio Holmes would serve well as my flex player, and no one as far as I could tell was fuckin' with Jones-Drew and Fatboy White as my dual RB corps. Just because I could, I took Rudi Johnson as my backup. And prayed devoutly for the health of my frontline.

The kicker is the party skank of your team, so not only is that position undrafted mostly, but is unquestionably the most interchangeable. Of course this year we had some tardboy who couldn't be there at his comp for the live action, so he pre-set his players for the system to pick for him as they became available. Which is not what makes him a tardboy. That would be selecting Adam Vinateri in the fourth round. How the hell do you pre-set a kicker? You could kinda tell dude's season was gonna be cow crap mixed with hog maw after that. I ended up getting Josh Scobee off the wire just 'cause I had to get somebody.

For my first two romps in the Instigator park I used the vaunted Baltimore defense. This year, though, I really believed in my Vikings. I bought into all that shit about their stupendous defense, how it wasn't just gonna be stopping the run this year, hell no, they're gonna be shuttin' down some passin' game too! However, I noticed as the draft wound down that none of my fellow coaches had snatched up the other purple team. So, out of tradition and seeing so many of their games on local TV that I actually know first-hand what they're capable of, I got the Ravens as a back up.

Like kickers, defensive players are also sluts, unless you stumble upon a super stud that you want all to yourself. To further display my Purple Pride, I selected Jared Allen. Then Phillips, then Ekuban, and finally Atogwe, mainly 'cause I dug the name. Which is as close to stereotypical "girl coaching" as you'll ever catch me doing.

(Being a female coach in Fantasy Football is really no big deal. Being a female coach who directs her team with intelligence, cunning and guile--thereby making her a certified "boach"--is the best deal. Even when the dudes you compete with act like they're not fazed, they quite fucking are. A few philistine leagues still ban women, well aware of the admonition given by Cato the Censor way back in 215 B.C.: "Suffer women once to arrive at an equality with you, and they will from that moment become your superiors.")

Now let's take a look, week by week, at my championship season.

Week 1

Green Bowl Packers 70.62
Snoopy's Smash Squad--68.97

Each of the previous Week 1's I walked away from my glowing screen victorious, convinced that a 1-0 start was the ultimate rabbits foot for the season ahead.

So of course I lost my first match this year.

My opponent was another Sonic Youth fan I knew via the Interweb (although he's a sight more than an SY fan; he's one of the most ecumenical fans of music I've ever encountered). He had a good lineup, but I felt super confident. Romo did get his points, but should have put up even better numbers versus the Brownies. Even with Tom Brady gone for the whole year with a poetic knee injury, Moss got over 100 yards and a score. The pickup of Chris Chambers proved fortuitous as well.

To be a successful Fantasy coach you really need your backs to be productive. So LenDale White's touchdown and 40 yards total (the most he can run at one time without vomiting, incidentally) was tempered by Maurice Jones-Drew's 2.50. Holmes let me down badly; sub 1 is never anything but sucking spermwhale wang. And Minnesota lost their first game of the season. To Green Bay.

The only thing shitter than my point total was the fact that I lost by less than two points! It was the TE and flex positions that really did me in. Then I scoured my bench afterwards and saw I'd sat Atogwe and thus lost out on nearly six points. Oh, and Rivers, my backup QB? 24.68 points with 3 TD's.

Week 2
Snoopy's Smash Squad 98.00
The Glass Wrath 52.63

The rebound was quick, with a smashing of some fucktard who would quickly lose his heart for Internet coaching. Romo delivered with over 24 points and Chambers scored yet again. The effects of a Brady-less Pats hurt Moss, but both of my backs scored, creating that numerical symmetry that us FF types dig like bacon-fried bacon. Witten attained 100 yards receiving, which is really like 200 yards for a tight end.

As far as Rudi Johnson at flex--it was only week 2. I had no inkling that the Lions were destined for historical suckassness and that their players (save for their party skank) were to be shunned like the works of Jack Kerouac from my bookshelves.

I noticed Rivers got over 30 points. And I remember feeling proud that I had two studs, in case one got injured. But...was I starting the premium stud?

As for Ass Bath, a good rule of thumb is that any time your quarterback finishes with less than a single point you will lose. (We hadn't received the office memo about Browns players, either.) And when you have a receiver with no points? That means you fell prey to the sophomore slump and picked Colston! Also his TE put up the goose egg. And two of his defensive guys didn't even suit up.

Week 3
Snoopy's Smash Squad 101.52
Sonic Life 82.67

Whupping the commish is awesome like riding a Super Monkey Ball over steaming hot lava, 'cause he's the dude making your glory possible and you get to show him up. Understand that Rob did not lose this game. I won. Five positions garnered 10-plus points, including exactly 30 from my backs combined and a stab-happy 20 from the Ravens. I also picked up Chris Gamble for D.

And yeah...Rivers doubled up on Romo again. How much longer could I let ol' Marmalard kill it on the pine?

Week 4
Snoopy's Smash Squad 115.15
Blindbandits 53.75

Blindbandits is a Fantasy pro, and a multiple winner in Rob's league. This gave him the balls required to dis my ass with some inspired pre-game smack talk that referenced my gender and my Snoopy fetish. So naturally I destroyed his ass. Double up, like that bullshit Mase album.

Romo lost to the Skins, but still managed 3 TD's and over 300 yards. Rivers beat the Raiders, but only got eight points. That's how important real life scores are to Fantasy.

I decided to christen my backs 8Ball & MJD.

Week 5
Devilsluts 115.07
Snoopy's Smash Squad 91.37

It was poor Devilsluts who'd drafted Brady in the first round. But he picked up Delhomme and trudged onward. Slutty is Rob's bro, and he sucks, pretty much. That's why this loss stung. Like on some "Devilsluts bit my bottom! Now my bottom's big!" type nonsense.

I can't blame it on my decision to bench White for Johnson, 'cause they each fell under 2 points. Actually, LenWhale managed but 0.20 points. Other than that, my squad was straight antihistamine money, homey. I just couldn't beat a team with two receivers who go over 10 and a back that racks up 23. Reggie Bush, what a numbnuts.

Week 6
Snoopy's Smash Squad 106.70
Son of a Bookie 77.88

Cracking the century mark again, and how good it felt. Like cunnilingus good.

If I am to reflect upon the actual head-to-head, however, it was a bittersweet victory. Like an elephant crushing a flea circus. Guy had over 12 points from a receiver and a combined 31 and a half from his backs (including that brittle shitface Portis). But he forgot that his TE and a Defensive Back were on a bye! And then another DB slot is empty just 'cause he forgot to fill it, just like he never fills a vagina.

Starting Minnesota's D against Detroit over Balto's D facing Indy was my move of the week. But what the hell was I thinking, leaving Atogwe on the bench still? He put up eleven points!

Week 7
Snoopy's Smash Squad 116.38
Les Existentialistes 55.65

Romo's injury forced me to start Rivers--who promptly puts up 11.88 in a loss to the Bills who at this point were still not entirely naked in the eyes of the NFL.

My decision to fill a WR slot with a return guy--just like Cribbs last year--backfired. A Jags bye week meant one more week of Rudi Johnson's woeful incompetence, but the Space Age Pimp scored three times and made a happy boach indeed.

I have now decided that Balto must be my main defense. I love the Vikes, but they're not the purple sage to ride. More to that end, I dropped Jared Allen.

Week 8

Snoopy's Smash Squad 118.37
Dildoughnuts 109.70

This was the match of the year for the regular season. I had only two losses and sat in second, underneath only Dildobreath, who was undefeated. If anybody could take his smug ass down, it was the boach. My team fucking brought it: Rivers 27+, Smith near 20, Moby Prick over 12, and Balto's D in double digits yet again. Even Return Guy scored to justify his flex spot.

Dildo damn near stole it away on the Monday night game with Rob Bironas kicking his way to 16 points, but luckily Fat Boy found the end zone twice to save me. Good job, Lard Lad--I owe you a Mountain Dew.

This game marked the point where these fuckboys had to recognize me as a general in this shit. I even added Ray Lewis because I could.

Week 9
Alief Street Frogs 99.60
Snoopy's Smash Squad 76.73

Hanging around the upper echelon was ASF. Letdown was inevitable.

With Romo nursing a boo-boo and San Diego on a bye, I chanced it with the Jags' David Garrard (he's no Byron Leftwich, but at least he's playing). Well, he sucked. No TD's, 1 pick and three sacks against the Bengals. Moss sucked too, although seeing the Pats lose to the Colts is always hilarious. Blame Wes Welker for that.

My running backs are taking turns being studs. Oh that's wonderful, that.

In the what the fuck moment of the season, I benched Witten for Bo Sciafe. His 1.30 was a full half point better than what the bench-bound 'Boy managed. What a fuckin' position tight end is.

New kicker! Pass 'em around....

None of which stood a chance against Kurt Warner's own private Arena-ho, Eddie fucking Royal, and a ten point game from the Redskins kicker. Oh man...that hurt. (It's much funnier hearing that in Alex Rocco's voice.)

Bye week really kicked my ass.

Week 10
Snoopy's Smash Squad 106.98
Green Bowl Packers 76.35

Revenge is a dish best served al dente.

Week 11
Snoopy's Smash Squad 71.37
The Glass Wrath 63.00

This was too close. Oh the ethereal nature of crap shoot glory.

Romo returned, but I was skeptical and rode Rivers--against the Steelers. Romo ended up with eight more points. Out of print.

New kicker!

Week 12
Snoopy's Smash Squad 130.52
Sonic Life 103.57

Commish tried hard...aww, Commish always tries hard! But I had Romo, Moss and the D all over 20. MJD and JLH each over 10. *cues "Bridge is Over"*

But, again, Rob coulda beat anybody else that week. Pennington beasted, AP was AD, and hell even his kicker beat the ass of my kickers, inasmuch as the pussiest player on any given team can beat another team's pussy. But he faced the Squad. Story over.

Week 13
Snoopy's Smash Squad 115.93
Blindbandits 96.18

This fucker again.

Once more Romo surpassed 300 yards with 3 TDs. Unbelievably, my promotion of Derrick Mason pays off and WideAss White finds the end zone twice, thanks to some strategically-placed Carl's Jr. burgers.

Can't believe I sat Witten. Only got 115 yards and a score. As for the BB pellets, if only two of his guys hadn't thrown shutouts, he mighta pulled it off. Must be fucking awesome to lose when a player gets 30 points, huh, BB?!

(Before we go on to the next week, I would like to apologize for the baseball metaphor in the previous paragraph. Because if this week has taught us anything, it's that baseball fucking sucks and fuck the Yankees and MLB get a fucking salary cap because your sport is becoming a goddamn joke that a consecutive games streak won't be able to "save" this time. Idiots. Those ridiculous contracts look real good to the public in a recession, you sickening wads of vomitous fuck.

Can you imagine playing Fantasy Baseball? 162 games! I'd rather play Fantasy Chess or some nonsense.)

Week 14
Snoopy's Smash Squad 101.95
Devilsluts 68.92

Again I serve up a plate that would make the offerings on this season of Top Chef look awesome, thanks quite much to a top-heavy roster for my opponent. I started Romo against Pitt's crazed D, because Rivers was facing Oakland again--and he did quite piss-poor in the initial meeting. So of course he bombs their secondary for 26.08 Fantasy points. Football, you drive me crazy!

Pleasant surprise--Mason with another score. Really, Flacco didn't have much else.

New kicker! The Pats dude.

Week 15
Snoopy's Smash Squad 111.38
Blindbandits 76.57

11-3, ranked first overall, and in the playoffs. My third tete-a-tete with BB pellets is the most crucial yet, and he choked like Mama Cass didn't. Whew! I mean other than Turner, damn. That shit just makes you wanna crack screens.

Starting Rivers at KC was disastrous until he engineered an unbelievable fourth quarter comeback that had me gaping at the TV like I was about to accept a long-distance wadshot. Add in some boss catching numbers and another trip to the Cribbs well, and I could not help but destroy.

Bonehead move of the week--picking up Robert Mathis and his ass doesn't even play!

Week 16
Snoopy's Smash Squad 122.00
Dildoughnuts 87.90

Dildo beat ASF in the other semi matchup, and it could only be that way. We were the best two teams all year, and he desperately wanted to avenge his first loss of the year. I feared him, mainly due to Brees playing the Lions. I could just feel the 40-ness creeping up on me. But I had to put together the best team I could with what I had available. I thought, If I cannot win right here right now--cue the Van Halen and I'll wound you--I don't know if I have the heart to do this for another year.

My biggest sticking point was Saturday's Ravens-Cowboys game. As I don't get NFL Network, I'd have to depend on the Internet to drive me crazy with updates. I couldn't fully trust Philip Rivers against a stingy Bucs pass D, so I started Romo against my own defense. I started Witten (with fast-rising John Carlson on the bench) and picked up--on Saturday afternoon--faster-rising 'Boys back Tashard Choice. I had a real good vibe about Choice because Marion Barber was likely not going to suit up and Choice was riding a hot streak in the last couple games, including 100-plus cumulative yards against the Steelers.

It all paid off. Romo got 15 points thanks to late scores, Witten scored, and Choice ran in the first TD of the game.

The third receiver slot got run a train on for sure. I couldn't trust Cribbs, a return guy who may see some snaps at QB, may catch some passes, may run the ball. Randle El, shit no, I'm not trusting a Redskin in the most important game of my life. Between Mason and Holmes, I chose the latter, figuring Big Ben had a slightly better chance with his secondary matchup.

So Mason got a touchdown Saturday night and I about shit marble.

Another pickup was Sammy Morris, part of the Pats platoon of backs. I trusted him way more at home against Arizona than Moby against the Steel Curtain.

Come Sunday, I had a 20+ point lead on my opponent, and I never lost it. Holmes made a fantastic TD grab in an otherwise butt-ass game. Morris didn't score, but gained solid yards.

But then Rivers got 33 points against that "vaunted" pass defense and I'm like, fuck! Shit! Dildo had his backs playing 4 o'clock games, and my cynical mind could see Thomas Jones and Steve Slaton running roughshod over bullshit defenses.

But then something happened. The Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day! He went to Seattle and shat a bunch of snow upon the field! Merry Christmas, Jets! A field goal for your stocking! He visited the Texans and the Raiders and piled presents so high in the Texans end zones that not a ball could break the plane!

And Dildo's receivers? Calvin "Megatron" Johnson was straight cheeks! And Bernard Berrian, why children, he was mo' cheeks! And by Monday night, with Chicago's D needing to surpass forty points to win, Dildo knew he was done, and the mighty Smash Squad boach rejoiced even as the Bears win meant the Vikings could still blow the division lead.

I'm a winner...but some shit never changes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peanuts is Timeless, Pt. The Cowboys Suck

It's a Snoopy snowman! Although really, the ideal Snooman is the one depicted on the flag hanging outside my house: two large mounds of snow with Snoop's behatted head sticking out the top.

I've written about many Peanuts specials, including all the "major" ones. There remain three, however, that I've desperately wanted to review but could not, thanks to their non-presence on DVD. The first would be It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown, the pre-Roger Rabbit attempt at mixing animation with live action. Believe it or not, it remains the only Peanuts program I have not seen. The other two are ones I've watched repeatedly on video: Snoopy's Reunion and It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown, two specials that are sorely underappreciated. Well, two of my dreams are about to come true when Warner releases Snoopy's Reunion on DVD April 7th. The bonus special? It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown.

2010? Futz me.

I think growing up to be a member of the Browns is actually worse.

Yeah, except Peppermint Patty wasn't in the show. Oops.

I can't believe someone with the username "Edina Monsoon" attacks Peanuts. Deep down you know it's fabulous, sweetie darling! Sweetie. Darling.

And...Patsy! Et tu, sweetie? Leave the reviews to me, darling.

Friday, December 19, 2008

R.I.P Slinky Woman

WalletPop just put out an article highlighting some people and products that will not last to see 2009.

It's kinda sad to see Zima go, if only because growing up as a young alcholic dilettante in Hagerstown, I learned it's not about the label, but the buzz. And if you drank enough Zimas, no matter how much they tasted like lime mixed with yak wiz, you'd get drunk.

I blame Sonic Youth for the CD bust at Starbucks. Proudly.

My mother will sorely miss the Diet Dr Pepper Cherry Chocolate. You know what else should go missing in 2009? Aspartame.

Crown Pilot finally got toppled by Allied Biscuit!

So sorrowful, the departure of Arena Football. All we as a nation can hope for is that Jon Bon Jovi takes this bittersweet experience of champion one year, oblivion the next, and writes a song that has a heartsearingly anthemic chorus made to be shouted along to in one's vehicle.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Just a Fantasy. It's Not the Real Thing.

So after three years in the Instigator Fantasy Football League on Yahoo, I've finally reached the championship game. My opponent is a fellow Sonic Youth fan who stood at number one for most of the season until being defeated and usurped by my awesome ass.

If I lose, I finish second. A position in which there is no shame, at least not when you're talking about internet-based competitions.

And a loss is a real possibility. Although I do have the edge in head-to-head battle, can I do it again? I'm a 17 point underdog, thanks to the presence of Drew Brees (playing fucking Detroit! The Lions!), Steve Slaton (the Texans don't suck anymore!), LaDanian Tomlinson (one TD, 63 yards), super-kicker Rob Bironas and DeMarcus Ware on his team. On my side I have Pro Bowl snub Phillip Rivers, Randy Moss, Steve Smith, Maurice Jones-Drew, and the Baltimore defense.

I will likely not win. My main hope is, then, to not lose by a lot. I have no players taking the field in the Monday night game, while my opponent has the Chicago defense against the Packers. It's like a clash of the shitans, but there's always the chance Aaron Rodgers could not gulp 'n' blow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Peanuts Is Timeless, Pt. Pack Your Troubles In Your Old Shit Bag

Seems I posted a similar story last holiday season. Some people got no respect.

The couple that picks together sticks together.

Ron Santo, you know I've had it up to here with Cubs fans desperate bitching. It's reaching Red Sox proportions, y'all, it really is. Of course, yes, sure, Ron Santo deserves to be in the Hall. Although if he played any position other than third base with those numbers, he wouldn't even be considered.

Ahahahaha...one of the best moments of the modern NFL. Let's watch again! And here's another sporty one.

Political writers--lazy or awesome? I choose, lawesome.

There are literally far too many blogs and news sites that reference the Charlie Brown tree this time of year. Seriously, way more articles than needles on that sad tree. Google it you don't believe. You'll get 70 jatillion hits, even more than if you typed "hot asian bukkake hooker S&M". So here are links to the stories that I found the most interesting. (Note on that last one: it would probably break the author's heart to find out that Coca-Cola had blatant advertisements in the original airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, eh?)

This is awesome. But spell his fucking last name right. (Related: I am now officially in the finals of my fantasy league. More later in the week.)

I always forget Gremlins is a Christmas movie. Who can forget Phoebe Cates filling our hearts with warmth and laughter telling that story about the time her pops dressed up as the big boy Claus!

Number one in all conceivable ways.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Allied Command Ignored All Of Its Men

Doing the "Peanuts is Timeless" posts that kick off every week here in Trapper Jenn Land, I endeavor to scour the internet for the most significant, interesting, and entertaining references to the greatest comic strip to ever grace the world. It is only inevitable something will miss my gaze.

I can only imagine that Thanksgiving dinner clouded my judgment and caused the oversight of a New Zealand site's Best and Worst Christmas Songs poll printed on November 25th of this year. Readers of the NZ Herald decided, in their infinite sagacity, that the worst holiday tune of ever-ever must be "Snoopy's Christmas" by the Royal Guardsmen.

Now, let me explain something. While I am a Snoopy fanatic, I do not instantly approve of something just because it contains the name Snoopy, or features his face and/or body. Despite my mega-fandom, I am able to use my powers of discernment and decide for myself whether or not a book, shirt, song, or cookie jar is worthy of my support.

(The preceding paragraph was bullshit. I'd buy a Snoopy shirt that said "Sonic Youth sucks" if Snoopy was winking on it.)

But, I don't think "Snoopy's Christmas" is the pinnacle of seasonal tunes. However, it is far from the worst. And all New Zealanders who deemed it such are worthless sacks of poo. The lyrics are a fictional recreation of the World War I "Christmas Truce", for starters. How's that for substantive lyricism? Not to mention that every other line namedrops "Snoopy", lest you forget who our hero is.

"Snoopy's Christmas" was followed by:

Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano (1970)
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - Randy Brooks (1979)
Santa Never Made It Into Darwin - Bill & Boyd (1975)
Mistletoe and Wine - Cliff Richards (1988)
The Christmas Song - Alvin and the Chipmunks (1981)

I am proud as hell to say I've never heard the third and fourth songs. One great thing about being an American of a certain age is Cliff Richards just doesn't mean shit to you at all. The others are OK, save for "Grandma Got Run Over", which is a terrifyingly bad song even if you do find the twistedly humorous demises of the elderly knee-slap hilarious.

The best list is, well, da best:

All I Want for Christmas - Mariah Carey (1994)
Last Christmas (I gave you my heart) - Wham (1984)
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues featuring Kirsty McColl (1987)
Christmas Is All Around Us - Bill Nighy - as Billy Mack in Love Actually (2003)
Do They Know It's Christmas Time At All? - Band Aid (1984)
Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon (1971)
You're a Mean One Mr Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft (1966)

Again, numbers 3 and 4 have never passed by my ears. (I cannot imagine Shane MacGowan filled with any spirit that can't be contained in a glass, anyway.) The Band Aid track is only passable in parody (just last night I could be heard regaling my mother with a rousing "Do They Know It's Arbor Day"), although as far as altruistic asshole anthems go, it knocks piss out of "We Are the World". I've already posted my thoughts on Lennon's protest fluff. And heh, Thurl Ravenscroft actually did the voice of the "No Dogs Allowed" guy in Snoopy Come Home. I'm getting all these signs that I need to review that film.

New Zealand must be real pop-friendly to put Mariah best-evah, although to be honest, it is pretty much the only Mariah Carey song I like. It starts out all smoky-diva and then bursts into a bell-happy boisterous bop, while the former Mrs. Mottola actually reins in her runaway pipes for once. It speaks to the ineffable quality of Christmas that the season of presents and decorations and cookies can inspire singers and musicians who normally make me puke green stuff the texture of hair conditioner to create actual listenable tracks. In addition to Mariah's anomaly, there's also Bryan Adams' "Christmas Time" which mainly gets by on the chorus melody. But seriously...Bryan goddamn Adams, people! Mr. Cuts Like a Knife! Sir Anything I'd Do I'd Do It Just to Get Him To Shut Up Before My Brain Evaporates! He actually did a good song! That's the power of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's Black and White and Hilarious?

Gaki No Tsukai's annual Batsu game, this year held in a newspaper company.

I like my idea of a prison much better still, but oh well, gaijin scum get no input.

Also, just like last year, all five cast members will be participating. Seems they've abandoned the pattern of playing a smaller-scale Batsu game amongst themselves to determine who will help dish out the punishment and who will take it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Peanuts is Timeless, Pt. Chiki Chiki

Tonight marked the first showing this year of A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC. Despite the presence of the DVD in my collection, I totally watched that shit.

Another reason why Japanese people rule/suck.

Well, as the saying goes, "Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold."

This article reminds me that I need to fit a Snoopy, Come Home review in here sooner rather than later. Big ups to the writer for the killer reference.

Simple, touching.

This is actually very relevant to my life. One must remember that, in song at least, the Red Baron once treated Snoopy to some holiday bubbly.

Either the football gag refs are slippin', or my standards are getting higher.

This is good news for them people there. And for anyone (like me) who can't get enough of that logo.

I never could stand "Baby, It's Cold Outside". I don't want sexual innuendo in my Christmas music, thanks.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fantastic Firsts, Sloppy Seconds, and Thorough Thirds

Sean Avery received a six-game suspension from the National Hockey League for an indirect insult to a much better player, Calgary Flames defensemen Dion Phaneuf. I don't take umbrage with the substance of Avery's words, no matter how crude, and certainly don't find distasteful verbiage a legitimate reason to temporarily deprive a man of his livelihood. What does rub me the wrong way, though, was the way Avery went about it.

Reporters were waiting to speak with Avery about disparaging remarks he'd made last month about Flames star Jarome Iginla when Avery walked over to the group and asked if there was a camera present. When told there was, he said, "I'm just going to say one thing."

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada," the Ontario native said. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight." He then walked out of the locker room.

How unstoppably douchebag is that? Avery must have been up all night not only planning the exact words to say, but the manner in which he'd say them. He probably approached the media quicker than planned when he realized he was about to forget what he wanted to tell them, and just managed to get his so-clever comments out in the nick of time. Phew!

The worst part of this whole debacle is Avery was forced to sit out that night's game against the Flames, thereby denying hockey fans the chance to see Phaneuf--one of the league's fiercest hitters--put hockey's leading metrosexual through the plexiglass.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

From the Land of the Flag That Looks Like My Face

You know...red on white.

News that video site Joost is now working with Nippon Television Network and Yoshimoto Kogyo to legally broadcast Japanese comedies over the Innaweb. But wait there's more! These shows will also feature English subtitles. As I'm really not much on anime at all, the biggest news to me personally is that the Gaki No Tsukai "Yamasaki vs. Morimon" series will soon be up on Joost. Beyond brilliant. I have always wondered what the hell those two were yelling at each other before Morio inevitably knocked the yakisoba outta poor Hou-san. Could more subbed Gaki follow?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An "Unbeatleble"* Christmastime

Mix 95 has been rocking Christmas tuneage for three weeks now, showing all who tune in that holiday playlists are as repetitive and predictable as those of the rest of the year. But instead of the latest smashes from T.I and/or Li'l Wayne, our ears are treated to "Do They Know It's Christmas?", the Chipmunks, that goddamn song about the shoes, and several hundred versions of "O Holy Night", the holiday equivalent to "The Star Spangled Banner" for vocalists worldwide. I even saw Patti Smith do a version live.

The assumption that anyone who's ever entered a recording studio has cut at least one yuletide number is not too ridiculous. There's David Bowie with Bing Crosby, Destiny's Child, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill, Jim Croce, and lest we forget the Brit-pop clusterfuck of the previous paragraph.

Also, a couple former Beatles.

Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" and John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" pervade the airwaves this time o' year. Neither is a great song. One is universally derided--to the point where even its notoriously self-loving creator has disowned it. The other is considered a brave, moving song of hope. I'll let you guess which is which, if you promise to think real hard. It's amazing that those guys couldn't even do Christmas songs without inspiring the same old weary choir to sing their older, wearier choruses that continue to dog each man's legacy.

"Wonderful Christmastime"--now, what's the official party line on Macca? Trite, cutesy, shallow, fluffy, utterly without edge. A walking, talking, thumbs-upping Family Circus panel. Well, let it be known that the only "party line" I've ever toed had Allison Wolfe in it. It's fucked, but brother James won't get his due as one of the most brilliant song crafters ever to grace any planet till he's composed his last melody. And even then some smartass will say Lennon died better.

"Happy Xmas"--Lennon, on the other hand, was worshipped during his life as a passionate vessel of peace, love, life and harrassing Harry Nilsson. The non-conspiracy that ended his time on Earth served further to elevate him to modern-day sainthood, as death is so wont to retroactively color the events of any life in the most agreeably profound hues.

But, just as McCartney wins the battles of "Who wrote the better Beatles songs?" and "Who had the better post-Beatles albums?", so he bests his former partner-in-crime here. Which is still like being the tallest Oompa Loompa. But the reasons he comes out ahead are strong.

--No pretentious hooey. "So this is Christmas/And what have you done?" Confronting the listener into some kinda-sorta soul-searching at what is intended to be a celebratory season? Unexpected! "War is over/If you want it". No it very fucking well is not. The people have the power all right; they're called, "the people in power".

--No children singing. Macca mentions a "choir of children sing(ing) their song" but he wasn't dense enough to toss a gaggle of off-key dirt merchants on the song. As far as Lennon, well, I see that Pat Benatar's "We Belong" taught him nothing. I understand that song was recorded four years after his death, but that's still no excuse.

--Celine Dion never covered "Wonderful Christmastime". Also blessing us with their versions of "So This Is Xmas"--NSync and Maroon 5.

--Dipset "interpreted" Paul's chorus for "Dipset Xmas Time". De La Soul sampled the song. Hip hop rides with Macca.

--Much is made of the galling simplicity of so many Macca lyrics, but what then is "A very merry Christmas/And a happy New Year/Let's hope it's a good one/Without any fear"? That Wham song about getting diddled around on the day after Christmas has better words.

In the end, Elton destroys both songs anyway. Dude made "merry" a one-syllable word.

*(Don't blame me for "unbeatleble"; Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth actually used that word to describe the band's catalog in the "Top 100 Beatles Songs" issue of Uncut. As if the fact "Things We Said Today" didn't make the list wasn't hard enough to stomach.)