Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Carol Qualms

            Ah, winter. Happy near-solstice holiday of your choice! Just kidding, let’s remember the reason for the season, and any season we get to have: axial tilt. So wherever you’re traveling this holiday, remember to thank the Earth for that perfect 23.5 degree tilt we’ve got going on. It deserves it, deep down to its solid iron heart of gold.
            I don’t know about the either of you, but tomorrow I will be celebrating Christmas, the America of holidays. It’s a great time, from the smelly pinecones stinking up my place of employment, to the lights on houses that blind me while I drive at night. Wherever you go, there remains one constant about this time of year (and the six weeks preceding it), Christmas songs. Some are traditional, and some are contemporary, but they’re really all the same in one important way: they’re dumb. So, let’s have a look at the more famous ones.

     Santa Claus is Coming to Town
            My biggest beef with this song is that they keep talking about how Santa is watching us at all times, which is creepy enough, but they add on the fact that you should be “good for goodness’ sake” which is BULLHONKY. You’re obviously being good for your own sake, so Santa will give you presents. Like, Socrates might see a difference (yeah, I’m a sophomore who took a philosophy course, wanna fight ‘bout it), but I’m like “Hey, as long as those kids will shut up and just be good, feel free.” However, I’d prefer we not ruin their ideas of what “Goodness’ sake” is.

     Little Drummer Boy
            Hey, kid, let that freakin’ baby sleep. Get the heck out of that barn! Those poor parents just put him down. It’s three in the morning, quit playin’ your damn drum at this newborn. And if any baby smiled at you, it’s simply because it’s copying your facial movements, not because it’s pleased at your elementary drumming. I mean, come on, a fifth grader can do “rum pum pum pum pum,” I don’t think even a baby Jesus would be impressed.
Hey, kid, go do something productive.
Join the Army, maybe.

     Do You Hear What I Hear
            I really think the line should go, “Do you hear what I hear/ said the sheep to the shepherd boy/ That sheep, that sheep, it totally just talked/ do you want to start a freakshow zoo?” Plus, uh, not that I’m beefing on this for historical reasons, but if you’re going to write a song on the Bible, shouldn’t you get the fact that the king, instead of proclaiming to all his subjects that the child would bring fortune and light, instead had all infants in Judea killed? Yeah, that’s a little tougher to fit into a major key, I know, but let’s try and get the details right, okay?

      White Christmas
            The guy who wrote this was Irving Berlin, the same man who wrote “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” later made famous by the great singing sensation Taco. He also is the only man to present an Oscar to himself. Irving Berling was Jewish, and apparently only wrote a Christmas song to make easy money, like every single other artist who releases a Christmas album ever.

     A Few of my Favorite Things
            Yeah, I know, why is this in a Christmas songs list? Well, it's always on the Christmas station that gets played where I work, so we’re counting it. “When the dog bites/ when the bee stings/ when the Nazis invaaaaaaade!” Look, von Trapps, it’s going to take a little bit more than thinking of girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes to get Hitler out of Austria, now that Chamberlain sold you out.

     Baby, it’s Cold Outside
            There’s no way around this, this song is about rape. Like, way more obviously than it should be. It’s hiding in plain sight. Hey, guy, I don’t care how cold out it is, this woman wants to go home. Stop giving her alcohol. ESPECIALLY stop slipping things into it. That’s just mostly a life rule.

     The First Noel
            How many Noels have there been since? Off topic, I could sing that “Glooooorrrrrururururiaaaaa” part all day. ALL DAY. I feel like such a boss when that comes out my mouth.

      Silent Night
            If you didn’t giggle when you said “virgin” during this song when you were younger, then you, sir, are a greater man than me. Not that it takes a lot. I mean I didn’t shave for a month and two weeks and it still didn’t show up in photographs.

So there you go. I just ruined Christmas for all of yo- OH MY GOD.

Merry Holidays, and to all a secular Good Night!

Mick “Santa’s Favorite” Dickinson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Pride of Iowa

Okay, so some background. If you two didn't know, I live in Iowa, and am very proud of that fact. Recently, Professor Stephen Bloom published an article in The Atlantic concerning Iowa. It's very long, but it really has to be read to be believed just how big of a dick one man can be towards a state. So, I felt it was my responsibility as a loyal Iowan to defend his state. Others have done it before I got done with mine, but I had work and finals. Plus, you know, being a cool guy that has things to do. Not really. My roommate took our TV. So, uh, this is a lot longer than my normal posts but I'd really appreciate if you could give it a look. I will be sending in a copy to the Atlantic itself, but they only accept submissions by mail, so that'll be a bit.
If you don't have the time to read the entire thing (either mine or his), here's a summary. tl;dr: Stephen Bloom is a doodyhead that is mean to my state.

            Perhaps I should thank Professor Stephen G. Bloom for his essay on Iowa. I know that seems a little odd, but even as a born and raised Iowan, I do find myself having this thought. All of my life, I have taken pride in my state, often presenting my views to anyone who would listen. Most of these attempts were met with silence, but now, because of Prof. Bloom, my fellow Iowans are now speaking up like I have been. Because of Prof. Bloom’s unfair and even sometimes slanderous composition, we Iowans have been given a target to unite against, and that is needed from time to time. The essay that Bloom had published in The Atlantic was originally, and supposedly overall, concerned with the fact that the first presidential primaries take place in such a small, out of the way state. Of course, he only covers this topic in the first five paragraphs and the last sentence, thrown in as if he had reached his word limit and needed a desperate way to tie his way back into the thesis statement.

            But, of course, in any rebuttal, perhaps we should start with the major topic first, and slowly move our way down each supporting paragraph as it crops up in the essay. Prof. Bloom starts his paper disparaging the political practices of glad-handing in the state that owns the first presidential primary, although we in Iowa hold a caucus. Why do we cling to this dated practice? Well, you see, I’m not entirely sure. It’s how it has worked in Iowa for some time and since we haven’t had any major problems with it, we Iowans haven’t gotten around to tackling the issue. Although for the record, the Republican Party does not use a caucus like the Democrats do, they subscribe to a secret ballot like most other primaries. And, with respect to Prof. Bloom, I cannot argue that the practice of politicians coming to Iowa to use its unique status as the first major stage in order to vault themselves to further heights is a negative. After they feel the bonus in national attention, they often drop Iowa by the wayside, without breakfast or a phone number.

            The major problem with this essay, other than its treatment of Iowans as a whole, is the assumption Bloom makes at the very beginning and bases the rest of his essay on. He seems to believe that Iowans hold the power to determine who is eventually nominated for his party (or her party, which is a possibility in 2012), and uses Barack Obama as his example. Because Barack Obama (or perhaps a different Obama, as Prof. Bloom does not use his entire name in the opening paragraphs) won the Iowa caucuses with an 8% lead over John Edwards in 2008, Bloom argues, he was given the fame and resources necessary to continue his run, eventually securing the nomination, and the presidency later still. Bloom jumps from this conclusion to suggest maybe Iowa should not be the state that wields this much power.

            What Prof. Bloom happens not to mention is that the Republican candidate that won that year’s caucuses was Mike Huckabee, with only 4% less of the support than Obama (38%-34%). Mike Huckabee went on to be mathematically eliminated some time before the Texas primaries. The man who eventually earned his party’s nomination was John McCain, who finished at fourth in Iowa, with a distant 13% of Iowans’ votes. According to Bloom’s implied hypothesis to begin his paper, Mike Huckabee should have earned the notoriety and name recognition through Iowa to continue a successful run towards the candidacy. Huckabee eventually was named winner of only two other primaries, in West Virginia and Kansas, both within the same week of each other.