Cultural notes from all over

Observations from tonight:

People going to an office Christmas party are well-dressed (but not flashy), carry one present each, and look incredibly nervous. I saw about 30 of them tonight. They were being jovial at each other with dead empty dread in their eyes.

The satellite-provided music at the brewpub tonight was eerily perfect for someone of my age and background. It was the greatest hits of college radio from 1984 to 1987. What kind of radio station plays Prefab Sprout’s “Appetite” and Shriekback’s “Everything that Rises must Converge” in the same set in 2005?

At the chain bookstore, where I did not buy a thing, they of course had the whole front of the place devoted to Christmas books. One chunk of bookshelf was entirely given over to… wait for it… Christmas Mysteries. What the FUCK? I’m not sure how things are in your family, but around here if someone got murdered Christmas week we’d call the whole thing off, even if a sharp-eyed local Christian ladies’ sewing club solved the whole thing by the morning of the 24th. Take the tinsel down so we can just stare blankly into space, shaking. We’ll make it up to the kids somehow.

One of the clerks was hugely overweight, so much so that he puffed a bit and walked with the gait of a man whose knees are badly damaged. He had to help a young couple who looked like Vanguard-bots and who were very upset that they couldn’t find some Christian book about the essence of love.

I was gazing at the sad array of self-help books, most of which have titles in the form Stop ________! or _______ no more!, where the blank can be filled in with your unwanted behavior or emotion of choice: Smoking, Loving Too Much, Checking Things Over And Over, Leaving The House Without Pants, Putting Beans In Your Nose, etc. They were arranged in sections: General Self-Help, Addiction & Recovery, Dating. Then I saw a section labeled “Oversize”. Hmm. Odd euphemism for fat people. Oh, maybe it was for people who were “Big ‘n’ Tall” and included the towering as well as the obese? Oh, DOH! It was just the oversize books. Time to go home, substitute. Brain no work good.

12 thoughts on “Cultural notes from all over

  1. Prefab Sprout!? Good grief! What type of marketing genius put Prefab Freakin’ Sprout into the magic list of won’t-offend-anyone acceptable 21st-century muzak!?
    Sure, that was what Prefab Sprout was all about, but only about 18 people in all of America even knew who Prefab Sprout were back then, let alone now, and 17 of them were people who read that first article in Rolling Stone about how they were one of the new bands to watch in ’84. (Yes, that was enough to make me go out and buy “Swoon” on import and start playing it on the radio.)

  2. I can’t process Christmas mysteries, because my brain always bluescreens in December because I hear “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and wonder who the fuck celebrates Holiday by telling scary ghost stories.
    I guess that’s not true because I can think about it. I’ve seen both Batman and Hercule Poirot tackle Christmas mysteries, and both of them involved recovering stolen heirlooms. Kidnappings probably work well too.

    1. very special victims unit
      They’re a subset of “cozies” which alarm me to start with. Adding jingling bells and sugarplums to the CRIME INVESTIGATION makes things even weirder.

  3. “dead empty dread in their eyes.” uh huh. what i think is that it is the seer imparting that feeling, and not the seen.
    but let’s suppose for the moment that you’re right (even though i don’t believe it), and they really were a bunch of unhappy louts going to a christmas party. why were you looking in that direction? why is the theme of your blog “look how bad everything is?” 95 percent of what you write is negative. i suspect you think you’re cutting past the bullshit and seeing the world the way it really is, the way most people don’t have the guts to look at it. what a pathetic load of crap. what you’re doing is projecting your endless negativity onto the world around you, and refusing to see anything good.
    remember when you ran down jacqueline passey ( for finding a boyfriend on the internet in a way you didn’t approve of? you predicted it would end in tears of course, since that’s all you can ever see. she’s still with that guy, and she’s having a great time with him, as documented on her blog and his. i bet you’re not going to do that follow-up story though, are you? your brave, unflinching view of the world isn’t going to allow for the idea that not everything is going to be as bad as you say it is, will it?
    you complain ENDLESSLY about how bad things are for you, while it’s YOU who’s rubbing your own nose in the dirt. small wonder you lead such a small and unfulfilled life.

    1. That’s possibly the most self-referential thing I’ve ever read, Jacqueline. Looks like negativity is contagious!
      I wondered which of my subjects had decided to take me seriously. I should have thought of you first, remembering your determined kibozing before. I’m flattered that you care this much. Just as a tip, though, chasing down and insulting everyone who made fun of you on the internet is going to take an awfully long time, and there are going to be negative feelings involved the whole way through.
      No, I don’t think I have more guts or more perception than others. Nor do I have anything invested in your unhappiness. I just thought your post was hilarious at the time, as did many other people. If it worked, that’s awesome.
      I write black humor, satire, parody, and sarcasm because I’m good at it. I’ll leave the heartwarming inspirational stories to nice old ladies and competent children’s writers who can do a better job.
      Again I have to express my thanks and my surprise to be taken so seriously. This is almost as validating as the time Perry Farrell mailed me some of his own feces because of a bad review.
      Mazel tov!

    2. “, for reference.”
      ah, haha, haw haw, hahahahahafqwdjqygdksqh
      this is so funny. your reputation preceeds you. like six people have linked me to your ridiculous fucking blog, under the auspices of “dude, you gotta check THIS dumb bitch out.”
      oh, man, how perfect.

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