Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Every year its the same story: a small group of bleeding-heart liberals declare war on (terrible) Christmas (songs). For example, last year Funny or Die created a video revealing how rapey “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is. This year, a couple has re-written some of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to emphasize the importance of consent. Based on this short list, you would be forgiven for thinking that the primary objective in this war is to take down “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Other songs are also targeted, however.

For example, A.V. Club has a regular feature called “HateSong,” in which people talk about songs they hate (I know, it is a difficult concept to grasp). Last year, Dan Finnerty, who is in a band called Dan Band (that, as far as I can tell, performs primarily in movies) discussed his hatred for “The Christmas Shoes.” As you may know, “The Christmas Shoes” was named “The World’s Most Offensive Christmas Song” in 2010, so Dan’s hatred is well-deserved. Dan’s band also recorded a song called “The Christmas Flip-Flop” to make fun of it, which I suppose demonstrates more commitment to hatred than simply writing a blog post.

Whether you’re full of Christmas spirit or need a 500-reindeer-powered Kringle 3000 to help you get out of bed this time of year, here are some additional posts from the past about Christmas:

2015: Life after murder for Kevin Mcallister


2015: Preferred pronouns on the shelf

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2009: Christmas spells relief

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links about spreading Christmas cheer via your news feed.

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Late December is not only the time for grading and holidays, it is also the time to repost things that were written long ago as an alternative to writing something new when busy with grading and holidays. (Alternatively, one might also post old things by others!) In keeping with this tradition and the approach of Christmas, here are some Christmas-themed posts from the past:

2015: Life after murder for Kevin Mcallister


2015: Preferred pronouns on the shelf

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2010: The world’s most offensive Christmas song

2009: Christmas spells relief

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook for links to holiday-themed posts a few times a year and non-holiday-themed posts the rest of the year.

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Every year while the Christian world is celebrating Christmas, Kevin McCallister has to relive the night that he murdered two home intruders. Worse than the memories is the fact that the 1990 documentary profiling these events is still aired on TV. Twenty five years later, we have been provided with a glimpse of Kevin’s life as he struggles, however unsuccessfully, to put this trauma behind him:

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links in your news feed. It is basically like Serial if Serial focused on Kevin McCallister but most episodes ignored him completely.

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Today is December 15, which means that there are 10 more days to gear up for Christmas or, alternatively, ten more days until you will stop hearing “Jingle Bell Rock” everywhere you go. In either case, here are some snarky Christmas-themed posts to pass the time:

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2010: The world’s most offensive Christmas song

2009: Christmas spells relief

Christmas Bonus: A subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club? No, its the Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog for 2012, 2013, and 2014

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook and I promise I will stop playing “Jingle Bell Rock” (and doing the dance from Mean Girls).

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Bentham and Foucault might have been interested in the panopticon but every December we get a view of  true social control in the form of an overweight man at the North Pole. Santa Claus (or Sandy Claws, as he is sometimes called) is just the latest in a long line of beings whose sole purpose is to control children through fear (Krampus is another example, as is the Belsnickel, as Dwight demonstrated on The Office). Recently, though, Santa has been doing his spying by proxy (giving him more time to bully young reindeer).

In Santa’s place are his elves on the shelves, a team of small elves who began taking up residence in people’s homes in 2005. These elves observe the behavior of children and then fly back to the North Pole to report their observations to Santa each night. The magical ability to do so begins when the elves are named (before this point they are apparently in some sort of coma during which they can be sealed in boxes and sent to stores around the country) but the elves are in danger of losing their magic if touched. Upon returning each night, the elves hide in a new place and children delight in finding them each morning. Apparently, some of the elves also like to get into mischief, making them both spies and hypocrites.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

If you have continued reading, prepare yourself for a shock. The elves are actually inanimate objects with neither magic nor the ability to report to Santa Claus each night. Instead, adults in each household are responsible for moving the elves around (thus touching them and ruining any magical potential that they may have had). As you can imagine, this creates quite a bit of work for these adults, to the point that there are posts dedicated to dealing with the fact that they forgot to move the elves. The elves have also been copied in various ways. Telling children that Santa can see them when they’re sleeping and knows when they’re awake and knows if they’ve been bad or good seems much easier, especially since adults are likely to run out of creative places to hide the elf after about the third day.

Assuming that the intention of Santa, Krampus, the Belsnickel, and the elves on the shelves is social control, it seems that the elves would be both the least effective and the biggest pain in the ass. Imagine if the prison designed by Bentham made it possible that prisoners could be observed at any time unless they touched the prison wall, in which case a door came down that cut off the potential view of the guards. There might be no escaping Santa’s creepy spying or the Belsnickel’s judgment, but if I was a kid and I wanted to get away with bad behavior you can bet that the first thing I would do is touch the damn elf.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links about ways to control your loved ones via your news feed.

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While many associate December 25 with Christmas, it is also the day that a young boy, having been accidentally left home alone by his parents, nearly murdered two would-be burglars in 1989. Watching the documentary about these events that was released in 1990, I’ve always wondered what sorts of injuries the burglars sustained. Thankfully, the internet has provided an answer. Dr. Ryan St. Clair comments on how lucky McCallister was to get out of the house alive, given that the two burglars had the physical characteristics of superheroes. Luckily, like all superheroes, they had a weakness. Dr. St. Clair comments on what finally brought them down:

At this point, Marv and Harry have both suffered potentially crippling hand and foot injuries. Harry has proved to be nearly impervious to burns, and both managed to retain consciousness after taking a flying paint can straight to the face. Suddenly, a frail elderly man appears and weakly slaps them in turn with a flimsy aluminum Home Depot snow shovel. And, somehow, this is too much for them, and they collapse

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In order to watch some SNL clips on Hulu this morning I had to sit through the following commercial several times (spoiler alert! you are about to get dumber):

This is apparently a recent update of a “classic” Folgers commercial from the 1980s (available below). In an effort to make it at least somewhat academically relevant I will say that this may be what happens when children are able to go through our entire educational system without learning anything other than how to take a multiple-choice tests and then those same children are given jobs in ad agencies. Let’s take a look at some of the problems, “Christmas Shoes“-style:

A cab pulls up to a house and a guy gets out. A girl runs from the window to greet him at the door, where he says, “I must have the wrong house.”

So far, so good.  The guy has been away from home for a long time and the girl has gotten older. This is believable. The next line is not:

The girl gives a strange thumbs up (possibly pointing at herself, possibly not) and says, “sister!” before giggling.

What? This line is completely unnecessary and, beyond that, confusing, since it makes no sense for the girl to say “sister!” upon greeting her brother. Let’s take a look at what happens next:

Siblings hug and the girl says “I missed you so much.” As they walk into the kitchen she tells the guy that she waited up all night for him.

Did she not have his flight schedule? Now she is going to have to cut her reunion with the brother she has not seen in weeks, months, or years short in order to take a mid-morning nap. Also, she doesn’t look like somebody who has been up all night. On to the next non sequitor:

The guy says “It’s a long way from West Africa,” as he walks into the kitchen. Then he leans over a coffee pot and says, “Ohhh, coffee.”

So he has been in West Africa for some reason, most likely to establish the fact that he had a long trip (yet he travels with only a backpack that says “Volunteer”). They apparently do not have coffee in West Africa, because he just showed the coffee his o-face.

The guy pours the coffee, which wakes up his parents who are upstairs in bed.

Clearly, coffee does not give off an aroma until it is poured.

The parents get out of bed and start to head downstairs.

This leaves the siblings with very little time to flirt before their parents interrupt them. They make the most of it.

He says, “I brought you something from far away.” The girl, now sitting on the kitchen counter, laughs and says, “really?”

No, not really. He probably picked it up at the airport this morning.

The brother reaches into his backpack and hands her a small box with a red bow on top.

Is that wrapping paper West African?

She looks at him adoringly, takes off the bow and sticks it on his shoulder. He laughs awkwardly and asks, “What are you doing?”

If this was a movie (romantic comedy or porn, take your pick), they would start making out at this point. It is a commercial, though, so the awkwardness continues:

The girl looks at him and says, “You’re my present this year.” He looks back at her, reminding himself that she is both very young and his sister. He is no doubt relieved when the parents come in and give him a hug.

Seriously, there is way too much sexual tension between these siblings, which I suppose could also make for an awkward hug between mom and son.

“The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”

Not, you know, your son coming home from West Africa. I imagine, though, that Folgers would be better than finding your thirty-year-old son and fifteen-year-old daughter making out in the kitchen.

On the whole, it seems as though Folgers gave an ad agency their 1980s commercial and asked them to update it for modern times where people volunteer in West Africa and are more open to incestual statutory rape. (Or maybe the ad was produced by manatees.) I really don’t see why Folgers didn’t just do a shot-for-shot remake of the original commercial, which had none of these problems:

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I’ve always liked Christmas, but over the years I’ve found that I look forward to it the most during semesters* that I am the busiest.  Given that this is one of the busiest semesters of my life, I was not sorry to see the Christmas decorations creeping into stores just after Halloween.  In times like these, the decorations and lights that start in the stores and spread out into homes and yards are a reminder that Christmas, and the corresponding relief, is on the way.

*It is hard for me to comprehend the fact that most people do not measure their time in terms of semesters.

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