A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Whoop-de-doo

We had a perfect Irving Berlin Christmas this year courtesy of a nine inch snowfall five days before the holiday. The snow stayed through Christmas Day before getting washed away — along with parts of south Jersey — by an all day rain on Saturday. The frozen white scenery fit in nicely with all the sounds of the season in the air.

Now that half of the year end holidays are over, the annual aural assault of seasonal music is receding into our collective memory. For the most part, I do enjoy hearing the Christmas songs for four-to-six-to-eight weeks out of the year. However, I do have a few reservations.

Since Thanksgiving, I have listened to one of the local stations who go all Christmas 24/7, usually in mid-November. I have my favorites, but there is one I long to hear at least once a day during the season. Waiting to hear this song tests my patience, but some days are better than others. Sometimes I only need to listen for a few hours during the day, and other times I end up listening all day until I hear John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over). This song seems to sound better as the years go by.

In the meantime, though, I am exposed to 20 different versions of Winter Wonderland, 12 different versions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and countless versions of other holiday “classics”. Really, how many different ways can you sing about a snowman who may or may not be an ordained minister?

I guess I should be grateful for one favor: there is only one version of The Christmas Shoes played on the country’s airwaves. The fact that only one recording exists (that I know of) is proof that — to paraphrase Ben Franklin — God loves us and wants us to be happy during the holidays.

This year, I’ve grown to detest one song in particular so much that it seriously challenges my wish to extend good will to all men and women: Happy Holidays by Andy Williams. Oh, it starts out all right, but then it gets too glib, and slips and slides on its own schmaltzy gloss. One line in particular sounds like it came out of the mouths of the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr., et al) with the words “whoop-de-doo and dickory dock.”

Let’s get one thing straight. At Christmas we roast chestnuts, sing carols, go wassailing, toast friends and family with eggnog, watch Jimmy Stewart lose his mind, but we don’t - and let’s make this very clear — we don’t whoop-de-doo. This is a summertime activity as in, “Let’s go down to the swimmin’ hole and have a whoop-de-doo.” Do not confuse this phrase with its more vulgar usage in the sentence, “Is that a whoop-de-doo in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

This brings us to the other half of the phrase “dickory dock”. These words are an exploding rhyme of double entendre just waiting to happen. On second thought, let’s leave “dickory dock” alone. In either case, neither one belongs in a Christmas song!

So we end another year at arteejee. Thank you for your comments this past year, and please keep sending your thoughts to me when you can. Your ideas and questions are always welcome...except for The Christmas Shoes. Seriously, if you know that another version of that song exists, please keep it to yourself. I don’t want my bubble burst...

(Thank you for reading! Remember to drink and drive, oh no, I mean drive and, that’s not it...drink a little, drive half-way...oh, prairie shit! Have a safe holiday!)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Gift Suggestions for Santa - 2009

It’s time once again for our annual list of gift suggestions for Santa to bring for some of our favorite people who have entertained and/or otherwise amused us with their antics during the past year.

Tiger Woods...a nice, quiet round of golf with just him and his closest buds, all men. No girls allowed!

Sarah Palin...a job! The most ideal position for her should be humbling, low-paying, with no benefits so that she can empathize with the lives of many everyday Americans who have paid dearly for her memoirs. I know, she could be a greeter at WalMart! You betcha!

GOP members of Congress...all other positions available at WalMart, for the same reasons listed above.

Jon that Kate has gotten the house and the kids, he is free to do whatever he wants for the holidays. We suggest that Tiger send over some of his mistresses; he has more than enough to share.

Glenn Beck...a copy of Mein Kampf autographed by the author, provided he doesn’t already own a copy.

Lou all expenses paid trip to Mexico! Yay! He will be transported in the back of a spacious United Van Lines trailer to a remote part of Baja California, dumped along the side of the road, and pointed in the general direction of the United States border!

John the spirit of bipartisanship which he promised to President Obama in January, we suggest that Santa pay all medical, surgical and rehab expenses to repair Senator McCain’s forked tongue.

Balloon boy and his spend a holiday with two adult role models who will not exploit them for the chance at fame and fortune. Their two real parents may well be spending Christmas in jail, so this might be a good chance for the boys to bond with loving adults concerned about their welfare.

Senate pages...big, fat bonuses which they earned by being forced to read the health care reform bill into the Congressional record in the GOP’s attempt to filibuster affordable health care for all Americans into oblivion!

President that his health care reform deadline will most likely not be met, we hope Santa grants him better luck with his domestic agenda in 2010.

(Thank you for reading! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all!!!!!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Carol Follies – 2009

Recently, the Capital Hill Dramatists Quorum Productions premiered their annual presentation of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. The story is so familiar to every student of English literature by now — a greedy, tightwad capitalist in early Victorian era England is given one last chance to redeem his soul on the holiest of Christian holidays. This year’s production was tweaked a bit by director Karl Rove as he attempted to keep the proceedings interesting with off beat casting and a few script revisions.

Many fans of the original were not surprised that the role of Ebenezer Scrooge was given to radio host Rush Limbaugh. Given Limbaugh’s long opposition to government helping society’s downtrodden, his assumption of the role was seen as an example of Rove’s type-casting. Ah, but this is precisely where the genius of the choice lay!

Limbaugh towered over the proceedings with a genuine conviction that it really was his money that Bob Cratchit (ably played by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) was squandering in the coal scuttle. True, Limbaugh is no Alastair Sim, but who else would you trust with the line, “If they would rather die, they better do it and decrease the surplus population.” Surely Dickens had Limbaugh in mind when he wrote this classic prose!

Then there is the casting of newcomer Barack Obama in the role of Tiny Tim. Otherwise an outstanding orator, Obama has relatively few lines to display his command of the English language. This despite the fact that Tiny Tim has a pivotal role in the drama. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he delivers his lines with a wonderful conviction of Tim’s sweet innocence and naiveté. Still we have to acknowledge that Obama has a hard act to follow: the role of Tim during the last eight years was played by George W. Bush. No one can say that when it came to being naïve, George W. Bush was truly, naturally gifted.

The casting of these lead parts - and that of House Leader Nancy Pelosi in the role of Mrs. Cratchit - certainly raised a few eyebrows in the opening night audience. Yet Rove wasn’t done as he next updated Dickens script to make this year’s presentation more relevant and memorable.

First there was Scrooge’s balking at the charity collectors in Act One. In Dickens Victorian Era the line was “Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?” Now, in 2009, Limbaugh ad-libs, “Is there no Medicare? Is there no public option?” with a dismissive snort.

Then there is the Ghost of Christmas Future, portrayed not as the specter of Death, but as four hauntingly cloaked figures! Rove has given us a delightful visual pun, an entire Death Committee to drive home the final lesson which Scrooge must learn. However, the director does not take sole credit here. Rove graciously acknowledges big game hunter Sarah Palin as the inspiration for this casting in the show's program.

Oh, the production is filled with so many surprises and very little to carp about. I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderfully mute cameos of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter in the roles of Ignorance and Want respectively. Then, of course, there is the climatic scene in which Scrooge renounces his greed and pledges to help little Tim overcome his handicap. In a truly stirring moment of the production, Limbaugh raises Tim’s cane high above him - and although his overall temperament would lead one to believe he will bring it down on Tim’s head — Dickens dialogue serves the moment well. Only then will everyone truly believe that it is a Merry Christmas for every one of us.

The production will continue throughout the holiday season in the well of the Senate and other undisclosed locations in the Capital region.

(Thank you for reading. Any resemblance between the actions described in this review and an actual theater production are wholly and purely coincidental. Please remember to stamp out humbugs wherever and whenever possible.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Golfer Who Can’t Say “No”

What an exciting year Tiger Woods has had! The golfing whiz wunderkind may have had a so-so year on the links, but he’s ending 2009 with a bang! He has so many friends coming forward wishing him a great holiday season. This would not be a bad thing itself, except some of these friends are buxom blondes with an unquenchable appetite for wealthy athletes.

At last count, 11 of Tiger’s mistresses have appeared ready to tell their stories to whomever in the 24/7 electronic media is willing to listen. They have come out of the woodwork faster than a Titliest can circle a cup on the ninth hole! I’ve held off commenting on Tiger’s troubles for several reasons. One, I’ve always admired him even though I’m not a big golf fan. Reason two for not writing about his troubles is because everyone has been piling on Tiger and how could I get a word in edgewise.

I feel bad for him particularly now since 12 women have come forward admitting to be one of his lovers. As a guy, I can imagine the pressure and temptation he must have endured as these women threw themselves at him, many of them clad in low, low cut blouses. My God, what torture! Few men would have the strength to say “no”. Guys reading this know what I’m talking about, right?

Of course, since I’ve never been a handsome, successful athlete with multimillion dollar endorsements, I can only imagine what it was like for Tiger. Only in my most wildest dreams...I mean my most disgusting nightmares of debauchery could I even try to visualize the misery he suffered at the hands of the 15 or so trollops who have been identified as his “special” friends.

Now it seems all of these tales have derailed his career. His sponsors are abandoning him, and his wife has taken the kids to her family in Sweden for the holidays. Poor Tiger is left with nothing but memories of those moments of forbidden love with the 68 women he has encountered on the golf tours.

I really do feel bad for him and his family. Now he knows the pain that his liaisons with 5482 women have brought down on him and his family. At least he is taking steps to try to heal the wounds. This will take time to accomplish. So for now he will step out of the limelight and have some quiet time with his loved ones...and by loved ones I’m not referring to the 10,898 women he has or will be linked to in the media in the coming days.

Throughout all of the tawdry tales to come out of all this is the general letdown that here, once again, we have a role model knocked down from his pedestal. However, this is only the beginning of the lessons we need to learn.

Lesson one: role models are human. Lesson two: humans stumble. Lesson three: humans are capable of redemption. Lesson four: other humans have the capability to forgive the fallen role model.

Tiger is still young and capable of greater achievements not yet realized. For now, he just needs time.

(Thank you for reading. Dad, it’s been four years and we still miss you. Mom, Don, and I always keep in mind the lessons you taught us as we continue to do good in the world.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Fifty-Year-Old Writes to Santa Claus

Dear Santa:

Hi! How are you! I’m doing better this year. I know I didn’t give you a chance to ask, but I thought I’d volunteer that information anyway.

You may be wondering why I’m writing to you this year. Well, it’s like this: a few weeks ago I was helping my Mom sort through some boxes filled with old correspondence, when I happened to find a note I wrote to you when I was four years old. Actually, I didn’t write it all by myself. I had some help from my Mom.

My part of the letter looked like a series of squiggly lines that would give my cardiologist apoplexy if he saw similar lines on my electrocardiogram. Do you remember this letter? Probably not, but that’s okay if you don’t. It’s also okay if you say you do remember when actually you don’t. I understand. Your talent for diplomacy has been unmatched for centuries.

My mom translated my scribblings and wrote her “translation” on the back of the letter. Now I must say this before we go any further: I love my Mom dearly. She was a great cook (as my expanding tummy could attest), and always provided everything I could ever want for (and then some) while I was growing up. However, now that I’ve read this letter, I see that translating the doodles of a four year old child was not her greatest strength.

Well, to be fair, my writing probably put her shorthand training to the test. In any case, now that I have “rediscovered” the earliest example of my writing, I feel an update is in order. So please disregard my previous missive dated December 9, 1963. I believe it was slightly inaccurate in a few places, but I don’t blame my Mom.

Allegedly I wrote, ‘I have been a good boy most of the time this year’. Okay, I can’t really argue this point since I don’t have any actual memories from that year. I remember sitting too close to our Admiral 20 inch black-and-white television when Sally Starr was on every morning. Otherwise, I kept to myself and didn’t bother anyone...very much, I think. Okay, I couldn’t have been good all the time; after all no one is perfect. On this point, please give me the benefit of the doubt.

Then I wrote, ‘I don’t always take my nap when I should’. This is the part I want to dispute. Mom probably thought she was being clever when she had me 'fess up to this transgression. There again, I don’t have any actual memories of giving my mom an argument when she wanted me to rest. However, I do know that this is one area of my life in which I have definitely gotten better.

I have no trouble at all taking naps now. No one has to tell me to lie down now, although Anne Marie will sometimes be helpful in this respect. Naps happen to me quite naturally now. I can stretch out for a cat nap with my cat, Steven, and not have a pang of guilt about it.

Sometimes I’ll get too tired to go up to bed, and I’ll have to take a nap before I can climb the stairs to my bedroom. I know that sounds pathetic, but it’s true! I believe this fact alone qualifies me for some sort of advanced educational degree in sleeping. As of yet, I have not found an institution of higher learning that offers such a degree, but I’m sure it’ll happen eventually.

Then my letter went to ask for gifts for my parents. Dad wanted the “Password” home game, which you did bring to him. Then I asked for various toys for my cousins. I guess they got them, but if you haven’t brought them by now, forget about it. I think they are way past the age caring about dollies and fire trucks.

As for myself, I can’t think of anything I want this year that will really make my life any easier or productive. I am content with my life in general. All I will ask for is that you have a safe trip on Christmas Eve and return home in one piece. And oh, if you feel like your energy is draining, just pull your sleigh off to one side of the Milky Way and catch a few winks. I won’t tell! I know how it is, because I’m older now too.

Merry Christmas! RTG

(Thank you for reading! Please remember that the password is “zzzzzz...”)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sarah Goes to Iowa

Sarah Palin’s book tour for her memoir, Going Rogue, entered Iowa recently, which sent Republican pollsters into spasms of orgasms. They saw her appearance as an early - very, very early — chance to connect with Iowa voters who traditionally have one of the first primaries in the Presidential election year. I thought her appearance there was because someone at her publishing company realized, “Hey! They have bookstores in Iowa! Let’s send her there!”

Silly me! This logic only goes to show my massive ignorance of the publishing industry.

Still, who can blame the Republicans for their excitement? After all, the book tour now has all the trappings of a major political campaign. It has enthusiastic supporters, a private jet (on the publisher’s dime), a private bus (on the publisher’s nickel), a photographer who will allow Palin’s supporters to pose with her (at $15.95 a pop), and a huge media entourage! No, I’m kidding about the last part: the press has been banned from her book signing appearances!

This is incredible! How can Palin hope to reach out to her supporters who happen to be liberal (both of them) if she refuses to allow the liberal media to make fun...I mean, write articles on her political views? This is so unfair, particularly since we must consider that a ban on all media also means that quite possibly Fox News would be left out in the cold, too.

I fear that a public confrontation between Palin and journalists is on the horizon. Any day now we should expect to hear a reporter shouting into a bullhorn, “Sarah...Sarah Palin! This is the New York Times! We have the Barnes and Noble surrounded! Give yourself up and make a statement! Come out with your sound bites above your head!”

Ah, what happened to the fun-loving Sarah from 2008, when she jumped into the thick of the liberal fray and bopped around with a fake moose on Saturday Night Live? I guess she wants to be taken seriously now. After all, the news reports about her Iowa appearance quoted one pollster as saying that all politicians come to Iowa sooner or later.

Politician? Sarah Palin? Talk about padding a resume...

Yes, she did get elected to a few public offices and, on one occasion, she actually completed her term in office. For those of you keeping track at home, that would be when she was mayor of Wasilla, AK. Oh, wait, did she quit that one too to run for governor? (Ed. - No, a quick check on Wikipedia shows that she did indeed serve three full terms as mayor.)

(That last editor’s note is an example of being “fair and balanced”. Are you taking notes, Fox?)

In any case, I suppose she’ll be resigning from the book tour any day now. She’ll give no particular reason for her action other than she wants to seek a better platform to make a difference. Perhaps I can make a about a reality television show like Real Housewives of DC? Oh no, wait! I take that back! I never want to see her living anywhere near Washington!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that the photographer accepts all major credit cards!)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The End of the Political Career of Mike Huckabee

The multiple murders of four police officers in Seattle last week touched off a manhunt for Maurice Clemmons. The killer was never captured; he was shot and killed while trying to escape an officer during a routine traffic stop. The story made headlines nationwide, made more interesting by the fact that the killer had been paroled from a lengthy sentence for armed robbery in Arkansas.

The back story to his parole proved a bit embarrassing to former Arkansas governor and GOP Presidential contender Mike Huckabee. As governor at the time of Clemmons' incarceration, Huckabee approved the parole for the young man who had sent a letter to him. The letter, excerpted in several newspaper stories, had all the usual clichés (“school of hard knocks”) one hears in the old Warner Brothers gangster films. Clemmons wrote that he was a scared young man who had learned his lesson. A compassionate Huckabee exercised the feeling that, no matter what, everyone deserves a second chance and commuted Clemmons' 108 year sentence.

Huckabee explained his rational for the release when his role in the parole was revealed. First, he reasoned that Clemmons' sentence was excessive. The former governor cited that a white man who had committed the same crimes would never receive any sentence like Clemmons was serving. Second, he took the prisoner on his word that he was ready to become a productive member of society. This is the Christian thing to do: forgive, forget, and pray that everything works out well for the prisoner and society. There was simply no way Huckabee or anyone else could predict that Clemmons would commit such atrocities in Seattle.

So, bearing all this logic and common sense in mind, we should give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt, right? Hell no!

Unfortunately, the GOP raised the bar on governors commuting sentences when Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis ran for President against George H.W. Bush in 1988. During that campaign, Bush had a political genius by the name of Lee Atwater running his election bid. Atwater has been described by his contemporaries as ruthless, and this description is borne out by his handling of the "Willie Horton" issue.

On the campaign trail, Governor Dukakis repeatedly spoke about the furlough program available to convicts in his state. He thought highly of this program as he touted it as a way to rehabilitate criminals. Unfortunately for Dukakis, one convict by the name of William Horton — the GOP named him Willie later in the anti-Dukakis television ads — walked away from the furlough program. Within a few weeks, he was arrested on charges of robbery, assault, and rape in Maryland.

Atwater and the Bush camp — sensing a backlash against Dukakis because of Horton’s crime spree — seized on the incident. They created a massive ad campaign that depicted Dukakis as being weak on law and order. The Horton incident became one of the major turning points of the election that put Bush into the White House. He might have been elected to a second term had not Atwater succumbed to brain cancer in 1991.

So today the Democrats have a chance of returning the favor on Mike Huckabee should he decide to run for president in 2012. It’s sad to think that a horrendous crime by one individual will mean the ruin of another person who gave him a second chance. However, this is the way the harsh, bitchy, back-and-forth world of politics works. Huckabee might as well kiss his dreams of living in the White House goodbye!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that many times people given a second chance really do succeed, but no one ever writes about them.)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Snort Notes – December 2009

News from Hollywood: Tom Cruise and John Travolta set to star in a remake of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

What? What did we do to deserve this? God, why have you forsaken us?

It’s not like we humans like to mess with perfection...okay, forget that argument. I know, I know. We build our entire lives out of messing with perfection. Still, why Butch Cassidy? There is nothing on which to improve. It’s not like we demand that you rewrite the Ten Commandments. Yes, we bend them, we break them, but we’ve never remade them.

All right, technically C.B. DeMille did remake The Ten Commandments in 1957. My point remains, what can be improved upon the original? It’s unwarranted, and to my knowledge, no one asked for it.

President Barack Obama’s first state dinner is marred by party crashing high society couple Michaele and Tareq Salahi getting past two Secret Service checkpoints at the White House. The couple has copped the Balloon Boy defense: they were doing it as part of a reality television series, Real Housewives of DC.

As if the President doesn’t have enough on his plate, now he has to worry about getting punked by reality TV. It’s clear to me what he needs to do — after (of course) ramping up military forces in Afghanistan, shepherding health care reform through Congress, and calling his Secret Service detail on the carpet: outlawing reality television.

The whole genre may still get great ratings, but, as a useful component of the entertainment industry, reality television has outlived its usefulness. For the second time in as many months, the public has been endangered by the antics of people trying to get noticed for a reality television show. Balloon boy’s parents forced federal authorities to reroute air traffic in Colorado while officials frantically tracked the progress of a silver Mylar ship that - they believed - had a small boy in it. Thousands of people were inconvenienced, and the whole incident at the very least was a public nuisance.

The crashing couple has, since the incident last week at the White House, boasted about their adventure on the Internet, and tried to cash in further with an interview with Larry King. No, this is wrong and complicates things further. It’s one thing to cause a security breach just to get on television, but it’s quite another to stretch their fifteen minutes of fame further by whoring on television talk shows.

I hope the rest of the media treats this couple like they have swine flu. We don’t need to encourage this kind of behavior. We need to stop this tendency to sensationalize every little news item. I know that this idea will create an upheaval in the entertainment industry. On the downside, cable outlets like the Fox News Network will disappear. On the upside, cable outlets like the Fox News Network will disappear. Speaking of Fox...

Commentators on morning news program Fox and Friends make a bet with former Bush adviser/Dark Lord Karl Rove. The loser has to appear on the program dressed in pajamas.

Again, what did we do to deserve this? God, why have you forsaken us?

Janet Jackson’s very brief flash of nipple on live television was bad enough, but Karl Rove lounging in his pee-jays on national television? I’m feeling nauseous...

(Thank you for reading. Please try to put the idea of balding, middle-aged men in nightwear out of your mind. Watch a good movie, like the original "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.")